Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Time For Reflection

It appears that the Yankees do have a youth movement.

We have, in the last two games, unearthed two fine, young pitchers. ( Montgomery -24 and Severino-23 ).

From the outset, Aaron Judge (25)  and Gary Sanchez (24) have flashed potential stardom, if not better.

Greg Bird (24), once he learns that being able to play is better than playing hurt, could become a
major asset.

A few dudes in the bullpen are pretty young ( Gallegos -25; Chad Green - 26: Jonathan Holder - 23;  Brian Mitchell - 26; Chasen Shreve -26

Didi is young ( 27 ), and a dude.

Castro is young ( 27 ), and a dude.

Romine ( 28 ) and Torreyes ( 24 ) are pretty young and of higher quality ( as depth ) than we are used to.

In the minors, some top prospects:

Andjuhar 3B is 22
Tyler Austin ( IR ) still only 25
Refsnyder - still only 26 ( seems like 80 )
Williams - still only 25

The above players are on the 40 man roster.  The real studly prospects are not.  But we all know they are young and chomping at the bit for opportunity;  Chance Adams, Torres, Frazier, Fowler, etc.

If we can get lucky, and stay with the plan, this might be a great team to watch for several years.  Because you just know that someone we never heard of is going to emerge from obscurity.  And that will be even better.

The other night, John & Suzyn spoke of an appearance in Syracuse with Graig Nettles...


...and I'm Bill White has vowed to uncover the details.


Blogger I'm Bill White said...
John recalled a speaking engagement in the Salt City "some years ago", accompanied by Suz and Graig Nettles. Nettles made a good point about the game of baseball that John thought relevant to last night's game, but I have since forgotten it. It was a very good point, though, and isn't funny how baseball is always repeating itself. I tried to triangulate Graig's appearance with John and Suz's offseason/ hot stove schedule, but I'm not having much luck. What I can tell you is that Graig Nettles appeared at the 2012 New York State Fair on August 30th of that year, from 2 to 4 pm. I bet he stayed longer because, by all accounts, it was a pleasant day with a high of 82 degrees under sunny skies and with low humidity. What I don't know is whether John and Suz stopped by good old State Fair Boulevard that day. I just don't know. I'd hoped that a little digging would uncover that the trio were in town together when John and Suz were elected to the NYS Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, but we all know that took place in 2016. If someone reading this post knows anything, I mean ANYTHING, about when Graig Nettles, John Sterling, and Suzyn Waldman appeared together in Syracuse, please respond. No lead is too small. This is important. Thank you.
May 24, 2017 at 3:23 PM
 Delete
Blogger I'm Bill White said...
I cannot stress enough how important this is. Please, stop what you are doing, use the Internet browser of your choice, and help me--help America--find out when John, Suz, and Graig were in Syracuse together. Thank you.
May 24, 2017 at 3:27 PM
 Delete
Blogger I'm Bill White said...
I am literally a Brett Gardner throw away from the White House today, but all I can think about is Nettles-Sterling-Waldman-Syracuse. It's that important.
May 24, 2017 at 3:39 PM
 Delete
I'm Bill White's last entry gives me a particular shudder, because I've read Borges' The Zahir: 
My friend Borges once described a Zahir, which in Buenos Aires in 1939 was a coin, a ten-centavo piece, with the letters ‘N’ and ‘T’ and the numeral ‘2’ scratched crudely in the obverse. Whomsoever saw this coin was consumed by it, in a manner of speaking, and could think of nothing else, until at last their personality ceased to exist, and they were reduced to a babbling corpse with nothing to talk about but the coin, the coin, always the coin.
While I'm Bill White's curiosity about a meeting in Syracuse between John, Suzyn & Nettles is not a concrete object like a coin, its maddening persistence suggests a relationship to Borges' Zahir.

On the unlikely chance that answers can satisfy I'm Bill White's excruciating hunger, I am pleading with anyone who can provide even the most insignificant-seeming details of John, Suzyn & Nettles' Syracuse meeting to please come forward.

Tanaka Time in Hope Week

This afternoon, the Empire will seek to take three out of four from the rapidly diminishing Royals, and Masahiro Tanaka will seek to achieve the Zen-like tranquility that comes from avoiding the MRI.

Lately, Tanaka has insisted that nothing is wrong, he feels no pain, all is groovy, and he never even thinks about that billion dollar opt-out clause - a notion he dismisses like Melania slapping away the Donald's groper. But in his last two starts, he's been Sidney Ponson, which means he's one more shelling away from the horror tube. And we all know the reality: If Tanaka gets scanned, he'll be carrying mental printouts of a glowing elbow for the rest of the season, if not the rest of his career. He can opt out of the Yankees, but can he opt out of his own insecurities?

Today, we learn if Tanaka can forestall a visit to that limbo of the lost - Tampa - where the Yankee brass sends all who are getting hammered, without a known reason. If Tanaka can succeed - I'm thinking six innings with less than four runs - we can enjoy our Memorial Day barbecues knowing that everything in the Yankiverse seems to be working. We are two and a half games ahead of the AL East, baby, two and a half games up. Consider...

1. Eleven days into Aroldis Chapman's shut down - which was expected to last a month - we are 6-6 without him. The problem is not in the ninth, where Dellin Betances last night appeared to strike out the side on eight pitches. It's the sixth and seventh, where Adam Warren has mysteriously turned into Mr. Hyde. Warren always goes through a lean stretch - last year, around now, the Cubs gave up on him due to it - but he is definitely not helping us. Maybe Bryan Mitchell or Chad Green can pick up the slack. Or maybe we just have a starting pitcher get us into the seventh?

2. Jacoby Ellsbury - the official IIH rented whipping mule - injured his neck with a heroic catch last night. He'll be out for a week, though in Ellsbury time a week can mean 30 days. With due respect to Ellsbury - who always gives his best - we should be just fine. Watch that neck heal after Aaron Hicks smacks a few home runs. As fourth outfielder, we can call up Brigadoon Refsnyder or Classical Gas Mason Williams to fill the void. Meanwhile, last night at Scranton, the three contenders for any long term stint - Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler and Clint Frazier - all homered. (And Gleyber Torres, playing 3B, batted third.)

3. Luis Severino, holy shit! Last night, he was throwing the change-up effortlessly and for strikes. On top of that, his last pitch of the night - deep into the eighth - came in at 98 mph. If he continues like this, the Yankees will be light years ahead of pace in rebuilding projections. 

It's Tanaka Day in Hope Week, folks. But no matter what happens... two and a half games up, baby! Two and a half. That's a cause for hope.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Winner .....

For the world to know:

El Duque, our revered leader, nailed it yesterday.

He accurately predicted, almost to the last out, Monty's performance yesterday.  And Monty nailed it, also.  He did exactly what I said he had to do; go seven innings ( he went 6 2/3 ); 98 pitches; 1 run or less, 6K's and no walks.

He stood tall when he needed to stand tall.  One can only hope that this will help establish his confidence in himself.

El Duque was, hands down ( what the fu*k does that mean, anyway?), the contestant who most closely predicted his performance and his stats.

 The one thing that prevented him from earning the new BMW ( did I forget to mention the prize yesterday?), is that Duque did not identify and respond to the, " diabolical factor," of the poll.  Specifically, he failed to identify if the Yankees would win or lose, following Monty's great performance.  Stats are one thing; but it matters if you win or lose the game.

My guess is that he would have, in his juvenile enthusiasm, prophesied that the Yankees would win such a well-pitched game.

Sadly, they lost.  A true pineapple loss, as the bullpen ( mostly Adam Warren ) imploded.

So Duque will just have to keep driving his heap.

See you next time.

The "Judge's Chambers" thing in right field is a horrible mistake

Listen: I donna wanna be a downer. I wanna do the hopey thing. I wanna see a 2-1 count as half-full, not half-empty. If the scoreboard says "MOO," I wanna make cow sounds with my hands and mouth. I donna wanna be the crotchety old perv who always reminds people that Hideki Irabu killed himself during Hope Week. Nope. I donna wanna be that guy. 

But this "Judge's Chambers" thing in right field? Too soon. 

Way too soon. 

I donna recall Reggie getting a special section in right. (Wait: I do vaguely recall something about a "Reggie's Kids" bleacher area, but it would have happened long after he'd won acclaim in Oakland and Baltimore.) I donna remember Paul O'Neill having one. I'm all in for Aaron Judge - he's the biggest hope in Hope Week - but this bleacher thing is a craven p.r. marketing ploy - a notch above a bobblehead night or the rally monkey - orchestrated by a franchise that used to own NYC and squandered its success via 10 years of pole-dancing management hubris. Now, to cash in quickly, we're piling tons of needless media pressure on a kid - yes, Judge is still a growing boy - who hasn't yet swung a major league bat in the month of June. Bad idea, Yankees. Too soon. Way too soon. Does nobody else see this? Are we all such cheery band-wagoners that nobody wants to address this? WE'RE SETTING THIS GUY UP AS A YANKEE LEGEND, COMPARING HIM TO JETER, PUTTING HIM ON A PEDESTAL AND PREPARING TO PUSH HIM OFF. IN A TIME WHEN WE SHOULD BE DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO PROTECT HIM FROM HYPE, THE YANKEES ARE CRASSLY TRYING TO INFLATE HIM. WHAT'S NEXT? A MACY'S PARADE BALLOON?

Bad idea, folks. Too soon. Way too soon.

I joke about "Babe Benintendi" of the Redsocks. On April 23, he was hitting .361 and ready to go straight into Cooperstown, if you listened to the nearest Boston fan. Today, he's at .287 - having hit .230 in the month of May - and he no longer bats third. It's a long, hard season, folks. He'll have plenty of time to turn it around, but first, he'll have to close up the hole in his swing that pitchers have learned to exploit.

Listen: I donna wanna get too down here. The Yankees are nine games above .500 and leading the AL East. Let's be wise enough to appreciate when the going is good. But here is a little reality.

1. Without that eight-game winning steak, an otherworldly carnival of timely hitting and great starting pitchers, we would be in fourth, a game behind Boston. 

2. Several players who soared during that streak - Chase Headley, Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes, in particular - have crashed to earth. In Headley's case, it might be a career death spiral.

3. Our bullpen, which we were touting as the best in baseball, is on the verge of complete collapse. No lead is safe anymore. Adam Warren is getting clubbed, and without Aroldis Chapman, we simply are not the same team.

4. And we still cross our fingers whenever Judge comes to bat. During that eight-game streak, he hit 4 HRs and drove in 10. He started it batting .211 - finished it at .276. He's been the source of Yankee pride, even (ridiculously premature, in my opinion) being compared to Jeter. If the Yankees lose, but Judge goes 3-4, I'm happy, in a weirdly triumphant way. We so desperately need a homegrown slugger, and here is a kid with all the glory in front of him; already, he outshines Holliday, Castro, Didi, even Gary Sanchez. But one of these days, Judge is going to hit an 0-for-20 slump - they all do - and every time he jogs out to right field, he'll see the people in the robes and wigs, and his stomach will only grow tighter. 

Too soon. Way too soon. Bad move, Yankees. The first rule of Fight Club was always, you don't talk about Fight Club. Bad move. Will rally monkeys be next?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Time To Put On Our Wizard Hats

For today's class, we are going to predict Montgomery's pitching line.

As a matter of context, he has been the Yankee management's, " darling" of the season, forcing his way into the rotation with a consistent, sensational record in spring training games.  He is 24 ( soon to be 25 I think ), lefty and, per the Yankee brass, has unlimited potential.

Kansas City has talent, but they have been underperforming.  They need a win against the Yankees to begin a "turnaround" to their season  They are highly motivated to win.  They could taste victory yesterday, but it eluded them on Yankee home runs from somewhat unexpected sources.  So they are angry and committed.

Montgomery is " fresh meat."  They knocked him out of a game earlier.

So far, he has been " mediocre" at best.  His last two outings have been horrid.  And the length of the " darling string" is beginning to shrink.  If he is to justify Yankee evaluations of, and confidence in, his ability, he needs to throw a great game tonight.  Chad Greene is knocking on the door.

He needs seven solid innings; 6 K's no walks and one run.  And a Yankee win.  He needs to get a lead and hold it.  Shut the Royals down.  Period.

So, what do you all think is going to happen?

My sorcerer's hat predicts the following line:

1.  4.1 innings.
2.  97 pitches
3.   4 walks
4.  2 K's
5.  5 runs ( 4 earned )
6.  One 3 -run homer ( second or third inning ).

" Have a highball at nightfall....."

This poll closes at 7:10pm EST.  Vote soon and vote often.

Pineda does it again. (So, once more, where is Jesus Montero?)

The other day, I screwed up. I wrote that, without Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees had no viable Wild Card one-game starter. (What I meant to say was, without Tanaka, the Yankees have no chance of reaching the one game wild card.) In fact, we do have a pitcher who could win that game. His name is Michael Pineda, the Yankee ace.

Chew on those words for a moment: 

Michael Pineda, the Yankee ace.

Wow. Quick now, show of hands: Did anybody ever expect to see those words on this web site? I sure didn't. It felt weird just now, typing them. In the entire haunted hayride Yankee career of Ivan "Super" Nova, with all its ups and downs, we never remotely pondered him as an "ace." (Though Supe is having a great year in Pittsburgh: 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA and two complete games.) But who else would qualify as top dog? Tanaka has fallen apart, and everybody else is a bingo board. In what will likely be his final year as a Yankee - (he's a free agent next winter) - Pineda, now 29, has become our best starting pitcher. Last night, he took us into the seventh, beating the Royals 4-2. 

It was a game from an alternative Yankee universe. Chris Carter homered (and didn't strike out.) Brett Gardner hit his 9th HR in 21 games - a dizzying, McGwireian pace that would project to 70 over a full season. Hicks, Judge, Sanchez and Castro - the Yankee war machine - went 0-13. Yet we won. And Pineda - who won a million-pitch duel with Salvador Perez, their best hitter - today has us shaking our heads. It's been five long and crummy years since Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on Jesus Montero, creating a debate that looked like it would go forever between Yankee and Mariner fans... though it soon became a comparison between herpes and chlamydia. 

But make no mistake: The Yankees won that deal. Montero has a .311 lifetime batting average in the minors, where he has been serving a lifetime sentence. He is now in the final weeks of a 50-game suspension for juicing. He is a first baseman in the Orioles system, and will likely report to Triple A Norfolk around June 1. The O's have Chris Davis at first and Mark Trumbo as DH, so good luck to Jeez. Too bad we can't give Baltimore a handful of magic beans and bring Montero home... to the happy fans of Scranton. But what would be the point? We've got Greg Bird and Tyler Austin on rehab. And somewhere down there is Gi-man the He-Man. First basemen are leaping out of the streams like Asian carp.

Of course, I can't write a glowing post about Michael Pineda without mentioning the possibility that it's just a drug flashback, and next outing, he'll surrender six runs with two outs in the third. And when Montero homers in Norfolk - his 123rd lifetime HR in the minors - we'll drag out the debate, for old time's sake. But let's be real here.

Michael Pineda, the Yankee ace. Wow. What a concept.

Monday, May 22, 2017

World in flat-out awe of Aaron Judge





If I ran the team...

Screw Meat Loaf: Two out of three aint good, especially when you lose them to Tampa, and fan 17 times in one game. I'm officially rattled. It's Yankee Defcon-4. That means, like any good fan, it's time for postulating and prophesying, strategizing and soliloquizing, blathering and bloviating about what to do. 

Here's my trademarked IT IS HIGH Action Plan, or IIHAC (TM).

First base: The truth isn't out there. Chris Carter isn't working. We signed him as 15-minutes of Geico insurance, in case Greg Bird failed. Well, Greg Bird failed, and he still hasn't paid out on the policy.

Though Carter isn't the stone statue fielder we feared, the whiffs are mounting, and we can no longer say he's merely a streaky hitter who needs at bats. Dear god, he's a free-swing, undisciplined turnstile pinwheel, and this team cannot absorb another 200 strikeouts.

I say bring up Rob Refsnyder, and audition him at 1B for the next two weeks, while Bird and Tyler Austin untweak their swollen gonads. Keep Carter as a backup, for now. But when Bird and Austin return, unless he dramatically improves, eat the money and waive him. This lineup doesn't need more home runs. It needs more line drives, more sac flies, more groundball singles to the opposite field. A couple of the above, and we would have won Tampa. 

Second base: Move Starlin Castro up to the second in the batting order, replacing Gary Sanchez. He's our best hitter, and he's certainly faster than Sanchez, who is a terrible base runner.

Shortstop: Move Didi Gregorius atop the batting order. Has anybody noticed? He's our best hitter. Why is he batting sixth or seventh? 

Third base: Stick with Headley for the time-being - Tyler Wade, who made an error last night at 3B in Scranton, just isn't ready - but move Glyber Torres to third. (The Yankees promoted Torres to Scranton last night.) Sometime in July, install Torres at thirdbase - the way he once did with Robbie Cano at second, over Tony Womack - and never look back. If first base remains a problem, move Headley there and cross our fingers. At least he won't be throwing balls into the right field stands.

Note: Under no circumstances should we trade for a veteran 1B or 3B. Teams like the Rays would love to steal the Yankee future for a twilight player like Evan Longoria, but such a move would kill us. We have solutions in the farm system. 

Outfield: Come July, package Jacoby Ellsbury with a shit-ton of gold bricks and a viable 24-year-old, and see if we can find a decent starting pitcher. If we can't - and, let's face it, we probably can't - dump Ellsbury on whatever team will take him for whatever they will give. Think of him as an old Ben Gamel. Bring up Dustin Fowler or Clint Frazier, and play Aaron Hicks in CF. Accelerate the youth plan. 

Pitchers: Not much we can do here. If Masahiro Tanaka doesn't figure it out, we're screwed. If he's hurt - if we find that elbow is finally shot - at least that means he won't opt out of his contract next winter, and he will be a Yankee for life. Let's keep him, and let's be happy. He's a great competitor, a great Yankee. Same with CC Sabathia: At this stage, why trade him? Let's be thankful that he lasted this long. 

As for Michael Pineda, we should weigh the odds of playing in a meaningful October, and come late July, perhaps try to peddle him for prospects to some hope-addicted team. (Would the long-suffering Mariners, clinging to the chance of winning a divisional title, accept Pineda, the prodigal son, and West Coast nature boy Ellsbury for a couple long-term projects?) Of course, if the Yankees are still atop the AL East, we'll never trade Pineda - (nor should we.) But if we keep losing two out of three, and fanning 17 times per game... well... those aint the ways of a world champion, eh? As Meat Loaf would say, all dressed up and no place to go.

Mailbag Q&A on being a nasty Yankee fan

QUESTION: You seem so reasonable, wise and kind. Yet I keep hearing that Yankee fans are mean, obnoxious, piggish… ruthless, horrible, rude… awful, truly disgusting... horrible, stupid, awful people. What’s going on? Why do they say such things about Yankee fans?

They are fools. 
   That said, some Yankee fans feel they must be hard on others. We must keep up our reputation.
The fact is, some people can't be happy unless a Yankee fan breaks into their house, drinks their liquor and steals the TV. They want us to mock their shoes and not recycle. It makes them feel better about hating the Yankees.
At their wits’ ends, some of us simply throw up our hands and pretend to be insufferable, boar-headed louts.

QUESTION:  Being hurtful and obnoxious is not my style. I’m not sure I can do it. Will that keep me from becoming a Yankee fan?

No. Here are tips for dealing with Redsock or Met fans, once you recognize that they are desperate for you to fulfill their nightmare expectations.

“Small-market = small brain.”
Use the phr
ase "small-market” as if it means "stupid." Example: "I know you’re small-market, Eddie, but I’m asking you to try and understand the big picture." Or, “Yes, John is a small-market fan, but that doesn’t make him a complete idiot!”

Accent: 
Don’t talk like a native New Yorker.  If people think you’re from New York City, they’ll forgive you. What riles them is the notion that you root for the Yankees with no relationship to the city. Use a pompous British accent, with big words, preferably without meaning. Example: “Aaron Judge is absolutely scinnn-tillating!” Or, “Don’t you agree that Joe Girardi can be profoundly titular?”

Angry taxpayer: Never hesitate to complain about the millions of dollars in luxury taxes that you – that is, the Yankees – pay annually to other teams. Act as if it comes out of your pocket. Remember: You are the taxpayer, and they are the freeloaders and welfare moms.  Example: “All we want is Major League Baseball to get off our backs. These small teams, do they our tax money grows on trees?”

Appearance:
Wear an eye-patch. Black. If possible, grow a beard.

The tab:
After spending the entire dinner talking about all your Yankee wealth, make them grab the check.
 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

There Is Nothing To watch !

For the last several games, I have been ranting that there is no reason to watch the Yankees.

They never do anything.

They just strike out.

Today, for example ( though the Yanks are temporarily in the lead, due to a 2 run HR by Gardner, some good defense, and CC not yet getting lit up ), the Yankees have had 12 outs ( 4 innings
of play ).

They have had 10 strikeouts.  Two each, for five guys.

So when I say there is nothing to watch, it has meaning.  Watching 10 strikeouts in 4 innings is like watching first time little leaguers who can't make contact with a ball sitting on an elevated tee.

I mean;  it is pathetic.

 They lunge at pitches out of the zone, and watch the fastball down the middle. Most of the Yankees don't make contact of any kind during their at bat.  Just air moving.

There is nothing to watch.

Nothing.

It is maddening.  What kind of game is this?

I would rather watch a chess match in the park.

Top 10 all-time greatest humans with first names of Aaron

1. Rodgers
2. Judge
3. Hicks

4. Burr
5. Eckhart
6. Boone

7. Carter
8. Paul
9. Small

10. Sele

Trouble in Tampa

We are now in second. We have now lost seven of our last 10 games. We are now in danger of being swept by a team that was under .500 before the series began. We are now a team without an ace. We are now a team in trouble.

If the season ended today, all the excitement of the last two months - Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks - would have netted us the home field advantage in a one-game wild card... and not one starter we could count on to pitch it.

But the essential question in the Yankiverse remains the same as it was last week: Will the Yankees stick with the rebuilding process of youth, or go back to the policies that put us in this hole?

Last week, when asked, Hal Steinbrenner gave no clear answers. But if we squander the victories of April and start trading young players for veterans, I'm going to start following golf.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What Did We Learn From This Easy Loss?

1.  We learned that Tanaka is a, " reason for concern."  How much are we paying him, again?

2.  The Yankees are striking out like crows in a hayfield.  Always there.

3.  The Rays scored more on one home-run than we did on two.

4.  Tommy Layne was freed up by Boston for a reason.  He needs to be released.

5.  Shreve seemed to be okay, but when he kept shaking that shoulder after throwing a strike
three " zinger," to the first batter of that inning, I blinked.  He simultaneously flashed some sort of a grin, unlike his normal demeanor, and not out of any disrespect for the batter.  Just odd.  Made me wonder if he was feeling something he did not intend to talk about.

6.  Sanchez keeps getting hit by foul tips in the head.  I hope that is a good, protective helmet.  I worry about concussions.

7.   The threat of the Yankees coming back from a late inning deficit has dwindled into the land of fantasy.  Two strikeouts looking, and a caught foul ball, just don't mount a threat.  Even Hicks' two out walk in the 9th should have been called strike three.

There is no point watching Yankee games.  We get behind, early, and we lose.

Run the story, Danno.

And run it again tomorrow.

Let's Take A Poll.....



Poll:  How many of you knew, the moment you saw our starting line-up, that we were going to lose this game?

I have long maintained, that when Girardi trots out a line-up card that starts:  Gardner, Ellsbury.....the team has no shot.

Sprinkle in Torreyes,  Romine and Carter, and we are trying to steal one.  The first two played, and hit, like seasoned pros when they started.  Both over .300 at that time.  But as guys trying to play once every five days ( and Torreyes not at his best position ), some of that edge got lost.

Carter is a once in a blue moon contributor on offense, and usually in games the Yankees win 14 -2.  He, of course, plays due to Bird's injury cover-up, which will cost him at least 50% of this season.  Please note, this now aging future star ( Bird ) missed all of last year, due to injury.  We should really start thinking about the kid playing first at Scranton.  Bok Choi, or some similar name.  He is tearing the cover of the ball.

But the persistent problem is our pitching;

1.  Tanaka - no longer the assured ace.  Now, a risk element every time he pitches.  Sometimes, he'll go 7 or 8 innings.  recently, he went 1 inning and left us in shambles.  We were all looking
for the " mercy rule" to be employed.  If this happens again today, for example, ......

2.  Pineda - the 2017 surprise.  Our best pitcher so far.  But does this fact give us a gnawing terror, or comfort and satisfaction?

3.  CC - Mr. inconsistent.  But he always gives effort and at least 5 innings.  When in a rhythm, he is still a fine number three or four starter.  When not, he is like every no name we have trotted up and back from Scranton, only to see them drop off the forty man roster.

4.  Luis - I don't know what we have here.  Lately, it is about 5 innings of work which leaves the team in a position to win.  But he can't seem to get the big outs.  He also has a tendency to get his fastball whacked.  Usually, as luck would have it, right at somebody.  But you can hear the contact of the bat on the ball from here.

5.  Montgomery - I am already tired of hearing how young he is (24 ), and how much the Yankees love him. Desperation can make strange bedfellows.  This guy has no out pitch and I don't see him with the command of, say, Jimmy Key ( for those of you old enough to remember ).  As a result, he goes 4+ innings, and leaves us with a 4 run deficit, and a bullpen required to secure 15 outs.  If he ends up a .500 pitcher, will we all say, " great?".....  a learning year?  If he is any good, he
must " shock " us with an outing next game he pitches.  Enough with this mediocre crap, where he has no command and gets into trouble with two outs and no on on ( and an 0-2 count).  Chad Green is much better, from where I sit.

The bottom line is, and we saw this in the last few losses, our bullpen is being burned out.  When they have to earn, day after day, 12 -15 outs, it is taxing.  Not to mention that El Chappo is down and out.

As for the line-up, I turned off the game as soon as Gardy struck out.  I just fuc***g knew it was going to be another " pineapple" day.

The ship is beginning to list.


Something today reminded me of Bud Selig

It was a squirrel standing on a stump. I thought of hairpieces and - boom - there I was...
As Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig used to make $16.5 million per year.
Sixteen point five million per year.
In tough economic times, it’s hard not to see the kingly incomes of baseball players and think them greedy. Then you think of Selig. 
In 2010, he floated a master plan: America’s World Series champions should play the Japanese World Series champions in a post-World Series World Series. It might be called the World World Series Series.
The quality of Japanese baseball is often described as AAAA – a notch slightly higher than the Toledo Mud Hens. Middling American players such as Tuffy Rhodes and Greg “Boomer” Wells moved to Japan and became Ruthian legends. The Yankees’ $20 million import, Kei Igawa, led his Japanese league in strikeouts for three seasons. Today, Iggy remains the all-time strikeout leader for Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders.
Could the World World Series Series be a letdown?
You just beat Clayton Kershaw. Next up, Wally Whitehurst.
       Sixteen-point-five million per year.
But Selig won renown for his time as Commissioner. The reason? MLB made a lot of money under his stewardship.
So let me get this straight:
The Pope is a success, because the Church made money?
The cure for cancer is a success, because the drug made money?
Your life is a success, because you made money?

Sorry, folks. If your team is a success, it’s because they won the World Championship. 

What is the trouble with Tampa?

Born in 1998, the Tampa Devil Rays consistently finished last in the AL East, with one exception - 2004, when manager Lou Piniella coaxed an emerging lineup of Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Aubrey Huff - into 4th. The city rejoiced. 

In 2008, the franchise owners deleted the word "Devil" from the team's name, succumbing to backwoods Florida stupidity and satisfying Jesus. For the next six years, this evangelical juju worked. The newly blessed Rays reached the postseason four times, even making the World Series (where they were torched 4-to-1 by an even more cursed team - the Phillies.)

In 2014, the spark died. Tampa started losing again. They have done so ever since. The neatest way to sum up Rays history is to ponder the team's three retired jerseys - Wade Boggs, Don Zimmer and Jackie Robinson. Of this Holy Trinity, only Boggs ever swung a bat in a Tampa uniform, and that came at ages 40 and 41.

Throughout Tampa history, one other consistent theme has emerged: Pure, hate-filled jealousy of the Yankees. Rays management resents the local Yankee presence - spring training, radio broadcasts, sightings of Derek Jeter - the whole Pinstriped traditions. When the Yankees come to town, every night is the Army-Navy game - every meeting is that pressure point in the confrontation where the mouthy little pug takes a roundhouse swing at the bouncer.

Last night, Tampa connected. 

Listen: I don't blame the people of Tampa for hating the Yankees, or - for that matter - life itself. Everybody famous from Tampa came there from somewhere else. (Salvador Dali? Dale Chihuli? The retired jerseys?) They play in one of the last monstrosities of a bad historical experiment - domed baseball parks. Their blaring sound effects offend the thinking fan. Last night, some fog-horn voiced asshole - did he have a megaphone - never once stopped shouting below the YES mics, driving me to turn down the sound. (I would have listened to The Master, except I can never sync the two feeds; the radio part is always 30 seconds ahead.) 

This season, we are now 4-3 against the Rays. If the 2017 Yankees are true contenders, and not just a mirage, we need to beat the Rays like a filthy rug.

Last night, we lost a completely winnable game.

I am not going to scream about how we did this, or why Gary Sanchez didn't pinch hit in the ninth. (Frankly, I think it was cool to show confidence in Austin Romine.) Next up is Tanaka. It's a long season. All is groovy. No cause for alarm. 

But we will learn who we are by how we play Tampa. And last night, we didn't play them very well.

The most important thing that happened last night

Friday, May 19, 2017

This New Kid, Montgomery, Could Be Decent, If Only.....

Overtime I watch Montgomery pitch and listen to the endless praise ( second hand smoke, passed along by the voice over people covering the game ), I have high hopes.

He is young, lefty and tall.

Okay, if baseball did not require anything more of its best starting pitchers, we could all have a Julep and relax.

What this kid is lacking is the following:

1.  He only has two pitches;  slow and slower.

2.  His command is terrible ( he is usually pushing his 100th pitch somewhere in the fourth inning ).

3.  He gives up a three run homer every game.

4.  He has no " out" pitch.

Other than that, we are blessed.  He is on a track to be a solid .500 pitcher, in a really good year.

I say this;  if he doesn't, "see the light," in his next outing, and give us a solid 7 innings with no more than one run ( unearned ), he needs to start working out at first base.

We are getting under five innings per game from him, and we are always training by 4-6 runs when he departs.

He sucks.

It's time we had a talk about Jacoby...

Last night, Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 4 with a bunt single, raising his average to .280. He's having a typical Jacoby Ellsbury season in his regular Jacoby Ellsbury continuum: In 136 at-bats, 4 HRs - (last year, he hit 9) - and 8 SB, ranking 12th in all of MLB. In September, he'll turn 34. He's ours, at $21 million per year, through 2021 - age 37 - when Owner Hal can buy him out for $5 million. He is "The Yankee Fixture."

Of course, you already knew that Ellsbury is the signature on the contract from Hell. But he remains a fine player and person. He hustles, hits .280, chases down flies, and nobody claims he steals the soap. All his negatives relate to a ridiculous contract bestowed upon him in early 2014, when Owner Hal sought to blunt the impending departure of Robbie Cano. (One can argue that the worst part of losing Cano was that it resulted in the Ellsbury deal.) I happen to believe we must never blame players for the contracts they sign. They are merely feeding their families. When a bad deal happens, it's the front office that deserves to hear booing. 

But here we are, staring at Ellsbury for three more long, uninspiring years. In recent seasons, there was no controversy: Zolio Almonte was not the heir apparent for CF. Besides, who cares if the Yankees overpay the help? Owner Hal counts his gold bars in the billions. 

But this season, Ellsbury has become a tanker truck stalled on a blind curve. All traffic is grinding to a halt.

The fact is, Aaron Hicks is a better CF, and it's not even close. In 90 at-bats - about 2/3rd of Ellsbury's - Hicks has 7 HRs, 6 SBs and is hitting .311. Every game that Hicks is not in CF, we are conceding power, speed and defense. Every game.

But wait, it gets worse (depending on how you look at it.) In Scranton, CF Dustin Fowler and LF Clint Frazier have heated up. Both are 22, both solid prospects, both knocking on the door. Fowler is hitting .298 with 5 HRs. But it's Frazier - the consensus top prospect - who is on the verge of creating the logjam. Last night, he hit two doubles and a HR - his sixth - raising his average to .261. That doesn't scream at you, unless you consider that Frazier spent the month of April mired around .200. Two weeks ago, a light seemed to come on. If he continues hitting - let's put it this way: This is not a kid you can bury at Scranton, like Rob Refsnyder.

Certainly, Owner Hal can trade Frazier and/or Fowler, but the fan base would grab pitchforks. The franchise has been promoting the "Baby Bombers." and everybody would see such a move as choosing Ellsbury's contract over the team's future. For better or worse, Frazier has become part of the Yankee brand, while Ellsbury represents the recent and unmemorable past. If Frazier keeps hitting, something must give.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: What about Brett Gardner? Isn't he the LF that Frazier will replace? Yeah, but we are only lashed to Gardy through next year. (The following winter brings a $2 million buyout.) Gardner's contract is not a 500-pound anvil. 

Listen: At some point, the Yankees will have to eat Ellsbury's deal. Already, he's not worth $21 million per season. Already, he's not even our best CF. Already, he is compromised in what we could get in a trade. But imagine what we would get in three years? Frazier is coming - maybe Fowler, too - and then there is Mason Williams, a perfectly capable fourth left-handed hitting OF. (Last year, we traded LH CF Ben Gamel, just to get rid of him. This year, LH CF Jake Cave is tearing up Trenton, because there is no room at Triple A.) We can't just continually bury players because we're on the dime of a bad deal. Why delay the inevitable?

Obviously, Frazier and Fowler need to keep hitting and playing everyday. They are still gaining experience. And Ellsbury isn't hurting us in CF. This is not the worst problem to have. But we need to be talking about Jacoby. We need an exit strategy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

One Way, Please


A ticket to Scranton on this vehicle costs, $12.33 and a flake of green hay.

Just saying, Mr. Gallegos.

Last year vs. this year... and the difference is one man

One year ago, the Yankees beat the miserable Arizona Dirt-backs to reach a record of 17-22, five shy of the magical .500 mark that defines wild card contender status in the Selig-verse. Nobody was hitting. A-Rod was dating a six. Our biggest offensive threat - the ever-chugging Carlos Beltran - was batting .245 and barely capable of scoring from second on a double.

Last night, we clawed the stumbling KC Royals like a catnip-scented ball of string, (though Gio Gallegos' enshrinement into the IIH Hall of Fame might be delayed.) Everybody is hitting. A-Rod has become side-candy for J-Lo. Our biggest offensive threat - Aaron Judge - has already done a Sports Illustrated cover and sketch comedy on the Tonight Show. What's next? Saturday Night Live?

Yet a question remains: Are we flat-out better than last year, or just a hotter version? Most of the lineup remains the same. They're just hitting.

Last May 18th, here's where our batting lineup stood, (with their current numbers in parenthesis.) 

Then... (Now)
Ellsbury CF: .278... (.272)
Gardner LF: .240... (.285)
Beltran DH: .245... (Holliday .272)
McCann C: .268... (Sanchez .293)
Teixiera 1B: .203... (Carter .230)
Castro 2B: .283... (.351)
Gregorius: .238... (.319)
Headley 3B: .207... (.256)
Hicks RF: .208... (.326)

A-Rod: .220... (Judge .320)

With the exception of Ellsbury, who remains an inert substance, every single Yankee in the lineup has at least a 27-point improvement over last year. The lamest boomlet is at 1B, where Greg Bird is hurt and Chris Carter remains a ghostly version of Heathcliff Johnson (he'll turn 70 in July; anyone feel old?), with a few more whiffs. The fact is, last year through July 31, we got squattily doo from our RF and 1B slots, and this year, thus far, one position has changed: we have the emerging nation of Judge. 

But but BUT... the real litmus test is not in right field. It's at second base. And the real question about 2017 is whether Starlin Castro is on the verge of career-breakout, MVP-level season, or simply having a banner spring.

Do we really expect Castro to hit .351? It seems crazy, but keep this in mind: He is 27, prime age for an infielder. In Chicago, he twice hit higher than .300, though with marginal power. Last year, he finished at .270 with 21 homers. If this turns out to be his career year - as it now seems to be - it's easy to imagine Castro batting .300 with power. He still isn't taking enough walks - last year, he accepted 24 bases on balls (a pathetic rate of .041). This year, he has seven walks, (.058, still pretty awful). But right now, he leads all MLB second-basemen in hitting and is second in HRs, one behind a certain Jay-Z hanger-on who is known to jog out grounders. (Suck on it, Seattle. Our 2B is outplaying yours.)

It's easy to get down on Castro when he lunges at a 3-and-2 third strike over his head. But his on-base percentage thus far in 2017 is the best among all 2B with more than 100 at bats. He is killing it.

Listen: We can expect Gardy, Headley, Gregorius and maybe Hicks to decline in production, migrating to their regular numbers. (Though Didi and Hicks both seem ready for break-out years.) And who knows how far Judge can go in his first full season? (He hasn't yet hit that summer slump that affects every rookie.) But it's Castro who has transformed the lineup.