Bottom of the sixth. Tampa up. Assume the positions and think:
God have mercy upon our souls.
CASEY AT THE TWEET
Friday, July 29, 2016
Bottom of the sixth. Tampa up. Assume the positions and think:
Factor in the long-term talent on the line, along with the potential free agent class of 2019, and this ridiculous trip to Tropicana could be the most important three-game series of the next decade, too.
I know what you're thinking. I've gone Chicken Little. I've been smoking the Astro-Turf again. Well, this isn't just me. Across the Yankiverse, the urgency is everywhere. Here's George King in today's Daily Murdoch.
When the Yankees’ 2016 schedule came out, who would have believed three games with the Rays in late July would carry so much weight?
There is one glitch, though, in King's assessment. George says the Yankees need to win in Tampa.
He is completely wrong.
We need to lose. Preferably all three. Three blowout losses to the lowly Rays - I'm hoping for two shutouts and a shoot-out - (I don't root for the Yankees to be no-hit, though that would get the dirty job done) - with homers from Tex, Gardy and Beltran in the finale, on July 31.
The stakes have never been higher. If we sweep the last place Rays, we will climb to 5 games over .500 - giving the illusion of a team within striking distance of contending for that final Wild Card berth, the door prize of mediocrity. If we win all three, Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner can sit on the pink brocade john cover and read comic books for the rest of the summer, thinking he once again put a contender on the field.
Ah, but if we lose to the lowly Rays, realistic hopes for 2016 will vanish like sewer water draining from the sludge pond.
Two nights ago, the YES team actually had us playing scoreboard baseball - in July. They gobbled and cooed about the Yankees being only 3.5 games out of the last Wild Card berth (though behind four teams and barely ahead of Seattle.) Well, I have news for the YES men:
The glass IS half empty. I'm already playing scoreboard in another race.
Today, there are 13 teams with more losses than the Yankees. The worst 10 in baseball will go into the winter able to sign free agents without surrendering their first-round pick in next summer's draft. Right now, we have 49 losses. We are tied with the Mariners (also with 49) for 14th worst record. We stand just three losses behind the White Sox, Royals and Rockies (all with 52.) The A's have 55, and the Angels have 56. With a three-game debacle, we can gain ground on each of them.
Instead of rooting for the last remaining Wild Card berth, I'm ready to root for the Worst 10 records, because we are just as much contenders for that thorny crown of shit.
Listen: It's horrible to be sitting here in July, rooting for the Yankees to lose. I apologize for this traitorous post. If that Republican oil can in New Hampshire is a Yankee fan, the one who wanted Hillary lined up and shot, he would probably want me waterboarded with hot oil. But our problems are long term. Our pitchers are not going to be instantly transformed by Larry Rothschild. Our old sluggers are not going to be suddenly become 28 again. If we win these three games, it won't mean a goddamn thing to the outcome of this season. But if we lose, who knows? If we lose... there is hope.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
For the Yankees to win 90 games this season - the traditional bar signifying a memorable team - they must go 38-12 the rest of the way. They must win eight out of every ten.
What a joke.
Of course, we're not chasing the divisional title. The Astros last year took the majestic Away Field One Game American League Wild Card Berth with 86 wins. Two years ago, the A's took it with 88. Let's imagine that MLB - run by the socialistic billionaires - is inexorably moving toward pure statistical parity. Thus, thus 85 wins could take the coveted Wild Card nothing sandwich. To get to 85 wins, the Yankees must go 33-17. They need two out of every three. Not impossible, I guess. Do you believe in Bigfoot? Fairies? Mermaids? A-Rod?
To imagine such a streak requires magical thinking that strains the limits of juju. We must believe that A-Rod and Tex will suddenly get molten hot, that Pineda, Eovaldi and Nova will continue - for the first times in their careers - to pitch lights out consistently, and - here's the craziest notion of all - that nobody will get hurt.
What's maddening here are the under-stories of the Yankiverse. Interesting things happening below the surface. Tyler Austin, a 24-year-old former 1B prospect who was pretty much written off by fan blogs - is killing it at Scranton. He hit his 12th HR last night and raised his average to .323. Yes, it's nutty to get an erection from Triple A box scores. But Tex can't even climb above .200. Could Austin do worse?
We look at under-achieving Yankees and wonder: How much worse could the youngsters do? Brett Gardner seems to be stuck at .260 with no power and diminishing stolen base numbers. How much worse would Ben Gamel or Mason Williams be? Brian McCann, who homered last night, can't solve the over-shift. Would Gary Sanchez be that much of a letdown? (I'm not even sure I buy the "McCann as team leader" line; every catcher is a team leader.)
We have a week to trade the bloated contracts and dead weight that has reduced this team to rubble. A few wins have done nothing to change the reality: Do you see this team going 38-and-12?
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Empire Writes Back: "It's called the art of the deal and Cashman managed it brilliantly."
River Ave: "... this deal is as good as it gets. The Yankees played this perfectly."
Pinstripe Alley: "... excellent work by the Yankees GM, and shows how truly under-appreciated he is."
This, after one day. One day. And let's be honest: It's all predicated on prospect lists and Yankee bluster.
Listen: I'm not saying writers are cooking-up praise, looking to curry favor - (wait, "Curry" is an interesting word, since Jack Curry moved to YES from the Times) - but with newspapers collapsing, working for a team-owned Yankeeganda mill does offer security that no honest journalist with a family can overlook. (Also, I like Curry; don't mean to hit on him.) In this economy, I wouldn't blame anybody for jumping ship on Rupert Murdoch or Charles Foster Kane. And if you're a writer who now and then thinks about leaving the Daily Planet, the last thing you want to do - subliminally - is trash the people who might hire you.
Again, anybody can look at this trade and say Cashman did great. I just get suspicious when a choir of angels forms in the sky to give the Yankees an Oscar, or a Pulitzer, or the Nobel Peace Prize. The Yankees haven't won a goddam thing since 2009 - Boston has two rings - yet some writers actually think Cashman belongs in Cooperstown. (I'm not making this up; Sports Illustrated suggested it.) I know some fans think this web site is too negative about our chosen obsession. Well, that will change, folks... if we start winning.
If the two teams' situations were reversed, if the Yankees had traded - let's say, Jorge Mateo, Mason Williams, Jake Cave and Chad Green for Chapman - I can't help but think today we'd be hearing inside source whispering about Mateo's attitude, or some purple blemish on his butt, or a thicket of reasons why the others had no future with the Yankees. (In fact, the Yankees now have arguably a log-jam of young shortstops and outfielders, and it's worth asking how they will get playing time. I guess Mateo is now a 2B? And what about last year's first rounder, SS Kyle Holder? They drafted him for his glove, not his bat. Is he now irrelevant?) Most of the media looks at the Yankees in the way Fox News assesses Republicans.
Again, I'm not whining about this deal. It seems like a good move, and it beats sitting on our hands. Maybe much of the goody-goody stems from the Yankees being hot. (That will change soon.) But unless Chapman tweaks a gonad and misses September, this trade simply cannot be assessed for a long, long time. Let's hold off on the Canyon of Heroes, okay? And what the hell is Ruben Rivera doing these days? Still stealing Jeter's gloves?
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
That's because it's the One Game Wild Card Away Field berth, the shitty door prize of Major League Baseball. It's like the Golden Globes, where everybody who shows up gets an award. After five long months, MLB has effectively eliminated from the Wild Card race only nine teams: Tampa, Minnesota, Anaheim, Oakland, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego and Arizona. Everybody else is a contender, sorta.
But let's be real: Even if the Yankees go on an out-of-body winning streak - say, taking 15 out of 20 - it will not change the fact that they traded their closer for an excuse to check box scores at Trenton. If the Yankees do come close, it will just make El Chapo's absence more painful. What if the bullpen blows the last game, causing us to miss the One Game Wild Card Away Field prize? We'll go to our graves thinking Chapman would have saved us. We might even blame Geyber Torres.
Frankly, I doubt this team gets within a Hollywood restraining order of a wild card berth, but we'll still be thinking of what we might be with Chapman. That's not good for my lumbago. Fearful of this team landing on a perpetual Treadmill of Trouble - the Purgatory of .500 - I have been close to actually rooting against the Yankees. That's no way to be.
In pro sports, you're either all in, or all out. Yesterday, the 2016 Yankees made their choice. I'm fine with that. But now, what I fear is Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner second-guessing himself - he did it in the past, chasing the $186 million payroll cap - and trading youth for some old slugger. (We already have plenty, they just became slugs.) The Yankees must unload more bloat. Hal has made his bed of rusty nails. Now, he should sleep on it.
Gardy must go. I say this with respect and love. He deserves to be in a real race. We have two Gardy clones - Mason Williams and Ben Gamel - at Triple A. (That's not counting Aaron Judge, who could be back next week; I'd almost forgotten how quickly young players heal.) They need a chance. We may not get much for Gardner. It doesn't matter.
McCann should go. He's not the hitter we signed. The defensive over-shifts took 30 points off his batting average, and the 30 HRs we figured - they're not coming. We thought he could play out his contract at first base, but he's not a good-enough hitter. He's no slouch as a catcher. Last night, Austin Romine delivered two hits. He's played better than McCann, and then there is Gary Sanchez - perhaps our best prospect - who doesn't need another year at Scranton.
One of the three starters - Nova, Pineda or Eovaldi - should go. Let's hope they keep pitching well. The better they throw, the more we might get. But if we've seen anything about this trio, it's that they run hot and cold. Also, their contracts are running out. Trade one, at his high point. Go with the ghost of Luis Severino.
Of course we should trade Tex or A-Rod, but why bother? We'll get nothing in return - their contracts are poison - and we'll disrespect two tribal elders. Then there is Carlos Beltran, who might bring something. He's a free agent next winter, and I can't imagine the Yankees re-signing him or even making a qualifying offer. It's time for Hal to man-up and play for the future. The Redsocks have been doing it for years. If we play our cards right, we might actually win something in this decade.
Monday, July 25, 2016
El Chapo to Epstein's Cubbies for the Gleybermeister, a lottery ticket, a Zolio Almonte and Adam Warren. No, not this one.
He is wondering if he'll need a home run call for someone named Gleyber.
The Yankee home stand was too good.
Hal will not be proven wrong.
He needs the rest of the season to prove he is not a cheap, do nothing, dullard.
Tune in next year, to the older, slower version.
Give up all hope.
Nothing good will happen.
The opportunity train has just abandoned us.
In the high A Carolina league, the Venezuelan Torres is currently hitting .275 with 9 HRs and 19 stolen bases. He bats RH and would be the second Cubs infielder sent to NY this year because of the young talent overload at the mother ship. This is what happens when teams systematically retool - they end up in first place with prospects to trade. Between now and August 1, let's hope the Yankees deal away more high-contract bloat than merely Aroldis Chapman, the third closer on a team that seldom closes. If you heard Suzyn Waldman's pre-game show yesterday, she practically pitched in the towel on 2016, describing the wisdom behind a trade or two, and asking listeners if they really believe this team is World Series caliber. She doesn't, and I doubt John disagrees. They don't disagree on much.
Obviously, we have no inside source on this deal, and it could be another Hillary email of misinformation - (seriously, Cashman almost never flags a trade before it happens) - but Torres was scratched from yesterday's lineup, a move widely believed as confirming his new destiny.
If it's true, Torres brings to NY a Mel Kiper-esque rankings pedigree: He's listed as the Cubs No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline - and he's No. 24 overall in baseball on that site. This would make him immediately our highest rated prospect. (Jorge Mateo, with his recent attitude adjustment, is ranked 26th, though he ranks first in Yankee hype.)
Torres signed with Chicago at age 16 and has hit about .290 at every level. (His MILB career average is .285.) He bats second, strikes out a bit too often, and - thus far this season - hits righties better than lefties. He's 6'1," which means he could fill out and hit HRs. He's probably three years away. I'm already thinking of 2020, when Didi would move to third. (Mateo has already been moved to 2B, and their other once-high SS hopes - Cito Culver and Kyle Holder, both first-round picks - also are playing other positions, suggesting they've been relegated to future utility roles - ugh.)
Last winter, we gave up two decent prospects for El Chapo (plus two organizational lug nuts). Neither made any Top 100 lists, if that's what floats your boat. I think the rankings are parlor games, but you have to be concerned. For example, Boston has three prospects ranked even higher than Torres - one being Yoan Moncada, Hal's ultimate crime. Yes, these rankings are crapola. But sometimes, when everybody says it's raining, it's raining. .
This still could be the worst Yankee decade in history, the lowest ebb for a once-great franchise. We've quietly ditched Hal's once-strident notion that the Yankees must contend every season. We're facing a team that could easily fall apart and lose 85 games. It's time for the front office to show guts and do what's right. And by that, I mean by trading other pieces, including CC, Tex, Gardner and even the great and mighty Carlos Beltran. Suzyn knows it. Cashman knows it. Everybody knows it. Gleyber Torres? Bring him over. It's time to break glass.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
So much for that.
This morning, Ken Rosenthal is claiming the Yankees will trade El Chapo, and that the move is imminent. Nobody knows where Chapman will go, or what feast of future disappointments he'll bring. (That's the pessimist in me, which still holds sway.) But it better be more than Rookie Davis, who is pitching well (8-3, 2.68) for Cincinnati's Double A farm team, and Eric Jagielo, (7 HR, .220 at AA) who is still a former first round pick. As long as we receive more than we gave up, I guess you can say trading for the scourge of women and garage-doors was a positive transaction in the thick and stinky ledger of mediocrity.
If Rosenthal is right, let's hope it opens the floodgates. I want Aaron Judge playing RF in August, but that requires an opening. I want Gary Sanchez catching, and it too requires an opening. I want Luis Severino to get another shot, and that requires - well - actually nothing, because there are plenty of openings on this staff. Most of all, I want to see Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner's self-imposed contract deathbed period - in which I'm Not Cheap won't bid on anybody, until the money bloat clears, a timeline that currently extends through 2017 - to be crunched into the next three months. We cannot sit through another year tethered to the contractual whales of Tex, CC, A-Rod, Ellsbury, McCann, Headley, Gardy, etc. - the "Core Bore." It's house-cleaning time. Trading only El Chapo holds the strange tinge of settling on a scapegoat. If we're throwing in the towel - which is exactly what I hope we do - trading Chapman and keeping everyone else is more like throwing in the Kleenex.
A LH OF named Ben Gamel is hitting .300 in Scranton, now for the second year. He's 24. He has little power but decent speed. Is he going to die in Pennsylvania? Probably. Gamel is not the player I would clear a highway for, but I'll happily watch him in September and dream. The fact is, I'm tired of this team. I'm tired of veteran players - rented Yankees - who swing at the first pitch with the bases loaded and one out, with a season on the line. I don't mean to heap all my bile on McCann, but that's what he did, and we have a rising young catcher who needs MLB playing time. We don't need two more years of McCann... which is what we now face.
Yesterday's brutal loss reminded every Yankee fan in the world what this team isn't - a world champion. No more playing for third place. No more settling on scapegoats. There is nothing worse than a .500 Yankee team. That's what we are. It's time to put this dog down.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Last year, we sat on top of the world during the first half. In fact, we were doing great at the end of July, at 57-43. July was a good month.
And then came what seemed like The Collapse, ending the regular season lamely and culminating in the pathetic one-game display where everyone was on Xanax.
On the other hand, we finished 87-75. So really, The Collapse wasn't exactly a collapse. We just went 30-32 in the second half. At the end of August we were 72-58, the same number of games over .500 as were were two months before. At the end of September we were 86-72, again 14 over. And we finished in October, 12 over, going 1-3 in four October games.
In essence, we didn't collapse in the last couple of months. We just were intensely mediocre. We were basically a .500 team. The plus side of the season record was all logged by the end of July.
Here we are in 2016, and so far it seems like an extension of those last two months plus. We have put in almost all of the first four months of the season, and we've basically been a .500 team.
And here's the fantasy. Somehow, for some weird reason, 2016 becomes a mathematical inversion of 2015. Instead of starting off like champions and then falling into mediocrity and rarely getting the key hits and exceptional performances down the stretch, we've spent four months in mediocrity, rarely getting the key hits and exceptional performances. OK, been there, done that.
Let's say that, counting today's game, we go 3-5 the rest of July. We end the month at 52-52.
Now, fantastically, let's say we spend the next two months semi-terrorizing the majors. During August, September and the few games in October, we go 14 games over .500, 36-22. We have a pretty tough schedule during that period, but instead of folding we play up to the standards of the competition and then some. (Which we've done on the downside, playing down to the standards of the supposedly easier teams in the first four months.) We end the regular season at 88-74.
That would be one game better than last year, but it would seem miraculous and we might even have a shot at the actual wild card and not the one-game crap shoot. We'd also be going into the playoffs with momentum, as a team that gelled in the last third of the season and got the timely hitting and pitching and plain good luck it needed. Does that team lie down and die against its playoff rivals? Probably not. Can it get to the World Series? Probably not, but maybe. Can it win the World Series if it gets there? More probably not. But, ya never know. Crazy things happen if a team is hot or lucky at the right time.
Remember, it's just a fantasy. The inversion season. Highly unlikely.
Highly, highly, highly unlikely.
I though I had done enough, but the Yankees are beating everyone. They are getting early leads and hanging on to them with the nine up, nine out bullpen. Even when imperfect, it is enough.
So if nature won't do it, I will.
This team must sell old wood for prospects. We have to have a reason to think the future will be better than the present, or the immediate past.
Now other hot teams come in and catch the flu, or take a ride on their worst losing streak of the season. So the Yankee's performance against them looks good.
Looks are deceiving.
This Yankee team, if left intact, simply spells total disinterest for next season.
Watch me work.
Sadly, all we have done is give the Yankee front office a reason to stand pat at the trade deadline - or worse: Deal prospects for some ancient vet.
The horror, Mr. Kay, the horror: Your team is hot, and you can't even celebrate.
I hate to be a broken record here, but this hot streak - actually, a lukewarm streak - could not come at a worse time for the future of the Yankees. All season, I've rooted for the Yankees - until recently. So what happens? They win seven of 10.
This is what Hell looks like.
Supposedly, the White Sox are pondering the trade of Chris Sale, the best pitcher in the AL. Boston is ready to pounce. They have prospects to trade - possibly Yoan Moncada. If so, they would cash in on their investment from the auction of two winters ago, when Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner clutched his fanny pack and called in sick. This is what happens when a team actually develops a farm system. Over the last few years, when you compare the organizational success of NY and Boston, it just doesn't seem fair. What the Yankees do well is congratulate themselves. They do it better than any other professional sports team in America. But Boston could trade Moncada, and its farm system would still be comparable, or maybe even superior, than ours.
Meanwhile, Yankee fans are supposed to wait for the gold-plated international class of 2014 to inch its way through our meat grinder. Two years ago, the Yankees went on a spending spree for 16-year-old Latinos - a horribly amoral system, if you think about it. (But, hey, morality is nothing we associate with the Yankees.) The youngsters - now 17 and 18 - are moving glacially through the Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues - (does anybody know where Pulaski is?) with anonymous scouts surely changing their swings and throwing motions. One extremely wealthy player named Dermis Garcia - seriously, that's his name - is hitting HRs at a Balboni-esque pace. But he's a long way off and strikes out at a Grandersonian level. It would probably be 2020 before Dermis or anybody is near the MLB level. In the meantime, we cannot spend big on any Latino talent - MLB has rigged the system; this year was San Diego's turn to buy up the sweet sixteens - and with "I'm Not Cheap" pinching his purse on free agents, we should just sit and wait. For the next two seasons, maybe three, we can root against Boston and chase the vaunted Wild Card Away Game berth.
Seven out of 10. Damn. This should be exciting, a reason for hope. It's not. How horrible have things become, when you can't even celebrate a winning streak?
Friday, July 22, 2016
They win four straight, knock Uncle Buck out of first, and suddenly, Michael Pineda is Jesus, resurrected. You almost feel the Tingle... Four in a row. Could they do it? What if this is 1978 again? Can they do it? They were really behind in 1978. Could they? (Answers: No. It's not 1978. No. This is different. No.)
In a weird way, ardent Yank fans are aligned with Trump supporters. We want to make the Yankees great again. We think this team is a complete disaster, and we trace every problem to ineffective leadership. We've seen enough of this administration. We want a top-down overhaul. We want Food Stamps Hal indicted for his crimes against the Yankees. We're not going to be "servile puppy dogs." It's time to tear up old trade agreements and make new deals. Don't ask us about specifics. We have no specifics. (Besides, we don't want to reveal our plans, so the Redsocks don't know what we're doing.) We just want deals. Good deals! Better deals! We want to build a team, and we want Mexico to pay for it.
But there is a problem with deals: They don't always work. If we trade Andrew Miller - the great Andrew Miller - we better damn well get somebody great in return. We don't need four rebuilt versions of Humberto Sanchez. I cannot imagine the Yankees holding onto Aroldis Chapman, considering that he'll soon become a high-priced free agent, (whom Food Stamps won't sign.) But we can't just give the guy away for another Aaron Hicks. We must shake up this roster and this team. But more importantly, we must shake up this franchise...
Watching us take three of four from the O's was a strangely painful experience. At times, I actually rooted for Baltimore. The wins didn't matter - I can't see the 2016 Yankees doing anything memorable - and a few wins could allow Hal to justify trading prospects - (Luis Severino - the Malasian Flight 370 of the Yankees - as the next Manny Baneulos?) - and sacrificing our future, even more than it already has been. When I look at 2017-18, I see Boston's lineup - with Yoan Moncada - as the AL East power, the way the Yankees used to be. We've been waiting on our farm system now 10 years. We have Dellin Betances, a converted starter, and not much else. The problem isn't the Yankees 25-man roster. The problem is a 25-man masthead full of family meatballs and heel-clicking sycophants. Between now and August 1, the trade deadline - every win comes with a cost. Feeling the Tingle will be one scary sensation.