Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pinpointing a bend in time.

Brock Holt.

That's when Luis Severino's arm started to go, and when the Yankees' next dynasty began to fall apart.

It's amazing how precisely you can trace it, if you care to look.  The evening of July 1st, 2018.  Yankee Stadium, the Bronx.  Top of the 7th inning, in what already seems like a distant place and time.

It was another big Sunday night game, in which the Yanks extended a collective middle finger and joyously told all of Red Sox-loving America to suck it.

All in all, it had been a rollicking, glorious evening.  The Yanks were leading, 9-0, having done their customary pulverizing of Mr. David "X-box" Price.  The Bombers, who would go on to win 11-1, would hit six home runs, five of them off Price.

Aaron Hicks hit three.  Aaron Judge hit his 22nd (he would hit only 5 more all year), The Gleyber hit one.  Even Higgy hit one, leading to his teammates giving him the hilarious silent treatment back in the dugout.

Everybody was hitting—9 hits and 8 earned runs off Price in less than four innings.  Giancarlo Stanton (now there's a blast from the past!), recovering from his slow early start, had a single and double, raising his average to .266.  AnDUjar had two hits, Didi had a double.

Even Brandon Drury had a hit, subbing for Stanton.  And Neil Walker actually singled to drive in a run!!

The joint was jumping.

And why not?  The win gave the Yankees a 45-18 record over the past two months, leaving them 54-27, on a 108-win pace at the halfway point.

They had reeled in the Sox, who had jumped 7 1/2 games out in front of our boys at one point, thanks to a 17-2 start.  The Yanks had won the first game of this series, 8-1, behind CC, then lost, 11-0, with Sonny Gray on the mound (Oh, Sonny!)

But now, after taking the rubber game, they were tied for first.  Even-Steven, headed into the second half, and who was to say the Yankees, who had just come within a (tainted) game of the World Series the year before, wouldn't take it?

"As the Yankees were laying their most recent beating on Price, Yankee Stadium hopped and it shook and it throbbed in a way that we've only seen on rare occasions," Mike Vaccaro waxed rhapsodic in the Post.  "If you closed your eyes, you could almost believe you were back in the old park, with all the old acoustics, where the sound of Red Sox-Yankees could cause your heart to quicken and your pulse to race, April to October, as long as those two ancient combatants were sharing the field."

Neither Vaccaro nor any other scribe expressed any concern about the night's starting and winning pitcher.  Why should they?

Severino had become the first pitcher in the majors to reach 13 wins (13-2), lowering his ERA to 1.98.  He had been masterful all night, limiting the Sox to just two singles and three walks, while striking out six.

His only hint of trouble came in the fourth inning, when the Sox put men on second and third with two out, and Sevvy fell behind J.D. Martinez, 2-0.  Disaster loomed.  But Severino fought back, and fanned Martinez with a devastating change-up.

"I thought it was the best spot to throw it, it was the key to the game," the young Yankee pitcher said afterwards.

Could it really be?  Somebody this young, this good?  A pitcher with not only a vibrant young arm but a sage old head?

Afterwards he was showered with praise by his manager, who called him "our ace, and one of the best pitchers in the game."  George King of the Post predicted that "Luis Severino's name will be front and center in the AL Cy Young race..."

What nobody talked about—what nobody noticed—was when Severino came out of the game.

It was the top of the 7th, the Yanks with that comfortable, 9-0 lead.  Sevvy, getting ahead on every hitter now, induced Rafael Devers to ground to short.  He got Brock Holt to ground out to second.

Brock Holt.

Suddenly, Ma Boone was trotting out to the mound, and Sevvy was trotting off to a rousing ovation, Dave Robertson trotting in from the bullpen.

But why?  Why then?

The next batter was Christian Vazquez, a righty hitting .217 at the time, with two harmless fly outs to center on the night.  Severino is a righty.  Robertson is a righty.

Why?  Why then?  With two outs in the inning?

It's not the sort of thing you question on such a night.  Hey, Severino was up to 99 pitches, Boone just wanted to be ultra-cautious with his pitch count.  Good thing the Yanks are so careful about looking after their young arms, heh-heh.

Yeah.

You know the rest of the story.  Luis Severino never pitched that well again in the major leagues.  But the Yankees kept saying he was tipping his pitches.

His record the rest of the way was 6-6, with an ERA near 6.00.  Had to be tipping his pitches.

Cut to October, against the now mighty, division-champion Red Sox.  David Price was still getting pounded by the Yankees, but in his start against the Sox, Sevvy surrendered 6 earned runs in 3 innings, and was gone.

Rumors started circulating that he had shown up very late for the game.  Could drugs be involved??? More pitch tipping?

Well, you know the rest.  The Yanks let their ace dangle.  Talked about minor injuries, and rehabbing.  Brought him back for a few, gallant but futile innings at the end of last season.

Then came the torn rotator cuff.  But how long had it been since the Yanks knew something was really wrong with Luis Severino?

I think it had to be that at-bat against Brock Holt.  It was too subtle for the media boys to catch but somehow, in some way, Sevvy let it be known that he needed out.  Nothing else accounts for the abrupt hook in that situation—and Severino was never the same pitcher again.

Something was going, or had gone.  And rather than seriously examine that, the Yankees swallowed their own line of tried-and-untrue malarkey, and kept pitching, and kept damaging a young man who might have had greatness in him.

Brock Holt.

And so does the world turn on a dime.








Giancarlo Posing For the Fans....




This is a grade 1 calf strain





This Is What I think of Stanton


For the Yankees, injuries were already a pandemic; but now comes the real thing

A month before it even begins, the 2020 baseball season looks like nothing we've ever known.

One team, Houston, has literally become a national pariah; meanwhile, Boston appears on the verge of escaping penalties.

The lords of the game are seeking to jettison the farm systems that, for generations, tethered the sport to its rural American base.

A future work stoppage looms, in part because players believe the owners have widely colluded to keep down salaries.

And now, the season will unfold as coronavirus hits America.

Now, a caveat: It's one thing to blather doom and gloom scenarios about the Yankees, while farting in the cheap seats. That's what fans do, dammit, and to my dying day, I'll fight for our right to rant. It's another thing to sound off on politics or world events, and I generally try not to do that, without a joke or a wink. That said, we might start to ponder the coronavirus' impact on baseball this year. 

Let's face it: The Yankees already face a pandemic of muscle tweaks and gristle strains, and it can no longer be attributed to chance. As Auric Goldfinger said, "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action." What the Yankees face is "enemy action," or something like that. They have a collection of finely honed china dolls, players who - for reasons beyond their control - are injuries constantly waiting to happen. I do not mean to question their character. They want to play, and when they do, they give it everything they've got. They run into walls. They dive into bases. They throw hard. And they pull something. We know these unfortunate players. None of them can stay on the field. They are:

THE DOOMED PATROL
Aaron Hicks
Giancarlo Stanton
Aaron Judge
Luis Severino

James Paxton

Meanwhile, there is a second tier who, historically, have often gotten hurt. Their next injury - any day now - will vault them into the above list:

THE WAITING ROOM
Gary SanchezClint Frazier
Miguel Andujar
Luke Voit
Zack Britton
Aroldis Chapman
Mike Tauchman
Jonathan Loiasiga

Ben Heller
Jordan Montgomery
Michael King

Brett Gardner

If we are looking for Yankee "iron men," guys who play 140 game seasons, the list is short: DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela... damn, that's about it. 

Add to this a potential outbreak of respiratory flu, and 2020 could swing in any direction. Attendance would likely be depressed. Any team hit by just one player, or coach, or franchise official, could find its roster quarantined. If and when the virus gets into major cities, MLB could conceivably play games in empty stadiums, simply for TV audiences. It could be the strangest season in our lifetimes. 

And in this case, it won't matter whether players are injury-prone or veritable Lou Gehrigs. The virus won't care. 

Maybe I'm overstating these fears. Maybe it will be - as many media-fed scares turn out to be - just another load of hype, another Y-2K. I sure dunno. My guess is that last night, watching the Prez on TV, MLB started pondering reaction plans for the coming season. Hold onto your hats, folks. This was supposed to be the Yankee resurgence. Now, everything is on hold. This is going to get crazy. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I Always Said...This Guy Is A Loser !



Let's hear it for Giancarlo !!

Even though he hasn't played a lick.....Boone says, " He'll be down a bit."  Last year " a bit" was all but three games?

He suffered a grade one calf strain moving from the bubble gum tub to the pumpkin seed vat. 

Personally,  I prefer to see him out for the year.

Signing Giancarlo was the only deal more stupid than the ones for Jacoby and the re-signing of A-Rod ( when the Yankees bid against themselves ).

If Hal were in real estate, he would bid $25 million on the apartment that is asking only $10 million.

Why isn't he running for President?




Right now, somewhere in Florida, this man is smiling.

A Strain, by any other name...

I mean, I'm just amazed at the entire idea of a calf strain that you know will keep you out for over a month.  A calf tear, a calf...I dunno what.

But a "strain?"  This makes the entire word meaningless.

Well, hey.  As a plucky little English comedy group once told us, always look at the bright side of life.

This means that we really will get to see if The Red Menace has anything, and if Tauchman was more than a one-year wonder.  It means that Mike Ford will be sticking around to DH for a good long while.

It means that Miguel Andujar isn't going anywhere, and may even be in left field.  It means that Tyler Wade and, yes, Thairo Estrada, will get a shot at being regular back-ups.  

And it means that we won't have to watch Giancarlo Stanton grimace and grind, and look perplexed as his big, beautiful swing once again flails uselessly through the strike zone.

We love you, Mikey.  Enjoy Florida.  Only 9 more years to go...

STANTON DOWN WITH CALF STRAIN

Who coulda seen this one coming?

Time To Face Reality......


I can tell by the tone of contributors and commenters that many of you are 
still " drinking the Kool-Aid" that: "this is the Yankee's year. "

It isn't.

And we might as well get used to it right now. 

You cannot have the following occur and still believe in anything good:

1.  Lose Paxton to back surgery until June ( likely longer until he is " game ready").

2.  Lose Severino forever.  

3.  Rely on a post-surgical Tanaka to be as "clutch" as he was last season.

4.  Lose German for another half season plus ( he will have to get into game shape, have several starts in the minors, and remember what the fuck he is doing when not beating on his girl friend).

5.  Expect Montgomery to be a healthy version of Andy Pettitte.

6.   Think your bullpen is "lights out" with Betances pitching for the Mets.

7.  Really believe that there is a legitimate starter ...and maybe two....amongst:  Cessa, King, Loaisiga, Schmidt or that 19 year old.  Get fucking real!

8.  Imagine that there will be no more major injuries. We won't get out of spring training without another " hit to the roster," unless everyone just stays in their motel rooms and watches Netflix.


We have to accept the fact that we are already chasing a wild card play-in game.  Accept that Stanton will strike out 230 times with runners in scoring position. Accept that Hicks will hit .220 when he returns.  That Sanchez is not the second coming of anyone.  Accept that Frazier and Andujar will have to be dealt for old, stale, ineffective pitching meat.  

 Expect nothing.  

Drink heavily when the Mets appear headed to the WS.  Drink more when we lose to Toronto and Tampa on a regular basis.  

I don't mean to be negative;  but if we expect nothing, we shall not be disappointed. 

Judge Report...



A new level of concern about the health of Aaron Judge has surface with the revelation that Luis Severino is now dead meat.

So here is an update:

1.  He won't be seeing Grapefruit League action , at least, until after the Monday "off-day."

2.  " The Bomber's slugger" is working his way back from a nagging shoulder injury ( did this, maybe, surface last Fall?"

3.  "He has been shut down from throwing and hitting" - note;  this "official" Yankee comment seems contradicted by the following Yankee statements:

     -  The depth of his soft tossing has increased

     -  He is in the cage, swinging at soft tosses

4.  Aaron has said; "I have no concern about getting the at bats I need to be ready for the season opener."

Editor's notes:

     -  that does not say he expects to be 100% healthy.  It just says there is still enough time for him to get 30-60 at bats ( as he misses game after game, do the math and assess the credibility of this belief).

     - Luis Severino also recently expressed confidence that his " tweak" was no big deal.  Then, after a year of ineffectiveness, followed by an off season of rest, someone finally did the correct medical procedure necessary to view the damage.

I have to ask;  what were the "doctors" doing prior to yesterday?  Having him stick out his tongue and say, " aaah?"

Why didn't they do the proper test in the first place?

Was Hal trying to save on the team's health insurance premiums?

Does any one on the Yankees have a brain?

The Yankees have mastered the art of injuring players while they are out with injuries

Used to be, when a player went on the DL, you could target a return date and figure nothing would go wrong in the meantime. The good thing about injuries: You had reinforcements on the way.

Pavano. Bird. Ellsbury. Stanton. Severino...

Used to be, when a wave of injuries hit, you chalked it up to the usual grind; in the end, they would average-out. For every period of tweaks and tears, you could expect a spate of good health, while other teams suffered. 

Pavano. Bird. Ellsbury. Stanton. Severino...

Used to be, an MRI revealed the problem. 

Pavano. Bird. Ellsbury. Stanton. Severino...

Used to be.  

Not anymore. 

Let the record show that the fabled 2020 New York Yankees "won the winter" of 2019-20. Everything went our way. We signed Gerrit Cole. Boston traded Mookie Betts. Houston became a pariah. Then, as soon as players started reporting, the worm turned. Ever since camp opened, it's been one Yankee setback after another - and no end in sight. We entered as the odds-on favorite to win the 2020 World Series. Another injury or two - which now seems inevitable - and the so-called "Death Star" will be back at normalcy, chasing another wild card, as it did throughout the last, wretched decade.

In a way, yesterday's news about Luis Severino explains Hal Steinbrenner's brief surge in generosity, in the signing of Cole. Hal knew what we didn't: That Severino was feeling forearm pain, that James Paxton's back was barking, and that the Yankees had no legitimate No. 1 starter. 

Thus, they had no choice but to sign Cole, which meant jettisoning Didi Gregorius, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances and Edwin Encarnacion - and then holding onto J.A. Happ, despite conventional wisdom that expected his contract to fly out the door. 

Last night, I hope Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman went out drinking. Surely, he needed to hit a bar, cut loose, sing kareoke. Maybe Gordon Lightfoot's Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. ("Fellahs, it's been good ta know yaaaa...") Cash earned a night off, because today, he's back to the reality of Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Michael King, Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt - pitchers who should be competing for the 25th and 26th roster slots - as the fourth and fifth starters.

Suddenly, the horizon looks pocked with desperate trades and murky free agents. Suddenly, Andrew Cashner looms, reminding us of the days of Sidney Ponson. Meanwhile, we find ourselves exhaustively studying Nick Tropeano, who pitched two scoreless innings yesterday. He's 29 and last year pitched at Triple A, with an ERA near 6.00. Suddenly, we're back to turning over rocks, talking hopefully of a "next man up" surge of pitchers - no-names who come to our rescue - something so rare that it is almost unprecedented. 

A month ago, we looked like the deepest team in the AL, if not all of baseball. 

We didn't know. 

Now, we do. 

Pavano. Bird. Ellsbury. Stanton. Severino...

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Just in.....

Early this morning the Yankees put out one of their pre-packaged lies.

Now I know the truth...

Luis is gone for the year.  TJ surgery.

What a shock.  All last season they took the " rest and do nothing " approach.  Same with the off-season.

Why did the fans all know last year?  Why did we say, "do the surgery now and gain a year."

Now the brilliant Yankee decision-makers waste:

$10 million last year
$10 million this year

And by the time he is ready to pitch again ( in late 2021 at best ) ;  he will have to be re-signed.  And the Yankees will let him walk to Boston, where he will become a reliable super star.

And no one is going to "pay a price " for this idiotic management of a key resource?

Cashman still gets to rappel down buildings and bang waitresses in Tennessee?

Nothing happens?  No accountability?

Oh that's right.  He works for Hal.

The Judge Report - For Those Who Don't Find Politics and the Mexican Beer Virus Sufficiently Boring


" Aaron Judge graduated to " soft toss" Monday."

" He's going to hit here in the cage, soft toss and then do his tee work."  Editorial note;  this statement is incoherent ). 

" He'll progress and we'll take it kind of slow."

" We are in no rush to get him into Grapefruit League competition."  ( manager Boone)

Editorial note;  When there are only three games remaining in Grapefruit League play, this comment takes on new meaning.

History;  Judge was shut down " about a week" before the Yankees began full-squad workouts.  "About a week" can be any length of time in today's society of lying.

Recent Medical: " His MRI showed no new damage."  So, Mr. Boone, how much old damage is there?

Get used to it folks, this is the kind of news we shall be hearing about Judge, Severino, Hicks,  Paxton and those  ( soon ) to be named. 

We must prepare the back-ups to perform yeoman duty....again.  These injury prone guys will remain damaged and fragile.

The non performing superstars must be reduced to " cloud memory."  Only those able and ready to play merit interest. 

Searching for meaning when - ah, forgetaboutit - there is none

Don't mean to be gloomy-doomy here, but should we start pondering the impact of a coronavirus pandemic on the 2020 season? It's a nasty flu bug - not Thanos, destroyer of worlds - but once it creeps into America, which now seems almost inevitable, MLB attendance would likely plummet (though not as much, you'd think, as with indoor events like the NBA and NHL.) This could be year of YES and the Radio Network Driven by Jeep. (Note: The Master must immediately be enveloped within a protective, sterile cone, and not emerge until the danger has passed.) This could be the year of watching the Yankees on TV, which - to Boomers, anyway - is every year, am I right?

Anyway, the Death Star yesterday continued to slog, and here are some box car takeaways: 

A: Clint Frazier now 0-4 this spring. Worse, he grounded into a DP. Let's hope this doesn't become a thing, because if/when Crimson Thunder gets thrown back to Scranton - his fifth stint in the Anthracite capital - they better confiscate his shoelaces. Of course, until Aaron Judge returns - (he's yet to swing a bat) - there's hope for Frazier and his granite glove. 

B: Jordan Montgomery followed Gerrit "Clean" Cole with two sweetly efficient innings. Dare we believe the loss of a Luis Severino could so be instantly remedied? No. Monty won't replace Sevy - at least not the ace we fantasize - but he could fill the fourth rotation slot. Remember: His rookie year, they were comparing him to a young Andy Pettitte. All we'll need from our fourth and fifth starters will be six innings and a lead. From there, it should be a lock-down, clockwork bullpen, which would be rested at least once a week when Cole pitches his shutout. Right?

C: Speaking of bullpens, you know what? I'd totally forgotten Jonathan Holder, the Holder of Holds. Last year, he was easily forgettable - either lights out, or the reincarnation of Colter Bean, mostly the latter. He pitched 41 innings with an ERA above 6.00. Ugh. But Holder is only 26, and guys like him seem to peak when they hit 28, grow a beer gut and turn mean. Who knows? If we use a bullpen starter, Holder might be the guy. (Also, how 'bout that Adonis Rosa? Three batters, three strikeouts, in the eighth. Yeah, the batters were Double A scrubs, but I'll take it. Three up, three down. Breakout pitcher? Rosa is just 25.)

Finally, for whatever it's worth, I think John may have unveiled his new Miguel Andujar homer-holler the other day. He yelled, "THE DU CAN DO!" I don't recall hearing that one in the past. Does anybody? (Ah, the discoveries of spring!) Now, where's that face mask?

Monday, February 24, 2020

It's not me, I swear it


This lineup wins 100 games


I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.


We Yankee fans sometimes enjoy debating the various ways the sky might fall.  

We should thank our lucky stars we're not Mets fans. This article is the topic of much discussion today at work.  





The Mets fans in the adjacent cubes are all doing pantomimes of hanging themselves.  Imagine the chatter that would go on here at IIHIIFIIc if rumors were swirling that Dolan was looking to buy the Yankees from Prince Hal...

Whither goest the Knicks....


Searching for meaning in a meaningless infield

One of the great evolutionary upgrades improvements in Steinbrennerian brain pan function is abandonment of the need to need to win spring training games. Remember how George would blow a cork if his Yankees weren't winning in Tampa? What a waste of indignation. Hal - (the artist formerly known as "Food Stamps") - has his flaws, but at least he's not hovering over Boone, whining about exhibition losses.

That said, WTF? ARE WE EVER GOING TO WIN? We are 0-2, can't hold a lead, and we damn well better show up tonight with Gerrit Cole on the mound, right? 

So, yesterday's tidbits...


A: Tyler Wade plays SS, goes 0-3, hitting bouncers to the right side. Insert sigh here. Of course, it means nothing, but to make this team, Wade needs a solid spring. With speed alone, he should make it. But if he doesn't hit, I mean, goes 0-20 or something, he could face his fourth stint in Scranton. Fourth. He's 25, and this is his time.   

B: Miggy plays 3B, no errors! homers, and we have to wonder: Are the Yankees subverting themselves by switching him to OF? Of course, everyone loves Gio Urshela, and yes, there is no way Andujar supplants him on defense. But last February, we viewed Andu as a generational talent, a future plaque in Monument Park. And this year, he's homeless, looking for a slot? Well, he has one: 3B. And remember: This guy is just 24. Is it too soon to punt at 3B?

C: Thairo Estrada plays 2B, turns two DPs, goes 1-3. He was one of last year's greatest surprises, lost in the wave of "next man up" talent. In any other year, on almost any other team, he'd be competing for a starting role. Here, he's just another talent battling for the 26th spot. He turned 24 two days ago. 

D: Johnny Lasagna throws a perfect first. This guy has two historical trends: 1) He always wows the scouts with his stuff. 2) He always gets injured. Last year, at age 24, he threw a measly 49 innings. It's hard to imagine him giving us 100 innings - but here's the beauty of it all: We only need three months, until Paxton and German return. (And that's forgetting Severino.) The Yankees are touting their pitching depth - the 15th to 30th man. Well, we only need one or two to make it. Can Jonathan stay healthy?

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Teed up


Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

Like the hopeful restoration of an endangered predator, the resurrection of the New York Yankees has begun. (Fingers crossed.)

The Yankee talent curve should crest in 2020. That means the revival either happens this year, or probably not at all.

So, what do we glean from yesterday's nine- inning YES infomercial? (Aside from that Ken Singleton is a Baltimore Ravens fan.) A few tidbits...

A: Last year, Chris Gittens won the Eastern League MVP, in part because he didn't get promoted. He homered yesterday, also botched a rundown, leading to a Toronto run. Big Texas guy (6'4", 250). Could be next Luke? He's 26. Ticket to Scranton. Too bad he bats RH.

B: Kyle Holder, the 2015 first-round pick that mystified fans, is supposedly best ping-pong player in camp. (That, and a dime...) Said to be defensive wiz. Been hurt a lot. A LH bat, looked bad against a LOOGY. Also drew a walk. Could we need a defensive wiz? He's 25.

C: Clint "Red Thunder" Frazier, played LF with red glove. No errors, but looked shaky chasing first fly. No longer precocious with writers. Reason: Unless somebody gets hurt, he's destined for his fifth stint in Scranton. Yeah, five times. That's torture porn. He's 25. Nobody will recall the first game of spring, but to make this team, Frazier needs to hit .350, and he's now 0-2.

D: Staten Island boy, by way of Seton Hall, Zack Granite is said to be best fielding CF in camp. He's 27, spent all of 2019 lost at Triple A. Fast, stole 34 bases. To make it until Hick returns, Gardy might need a CF caddie. Twenty-sixth man? 

E: A year younger than Mayor Pete, J.A. Happ now sits No. 3 in rotation. Looked great yesterday, probably because he came to camp early. That's what a cagey vet does. Last year was disaster, but Happ has redefined himself before. Comeback? Or is he just prolonging the end?

F: Touted by Michael Kay from the minute he came in, Michael King did not look good. Hard-hit balls, trouble with command - a walk, two hits - bummer, all around. Reminded me of Chance Adams getting lit up in camp two years ago. Oh, well, he's just 24, and this a meaningless universe. Otherwise we would worry.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Here It Comes...Just As I said


"Judge has another good day."

"Aaron Judge hit off a tee Friday."

" It was the first time the Yankee slugger was allowed to swing a bat since he was shut down earlier this month."

"He kind of gave me a smile and a thumbs up, " said manager Boone.

"So everything is moving there I think the way it should."

"But do not expect to see Judge hitting in grapefruit league games, anytime soon."

Pause here and throw a bottle against the wall....

Is it possible to become bored so badly you would rather die?  Why do sports writers carry on?  Is it the booze?  The overweight Floridian snow birds?

Save us.  Please;  not another word about Judge until the operation.  Okay?

It's Come to This.

Meanwhile, on YES, they have a "Yankees Classic," from August 11, 2019:


"Masahiro Tanaka and Aroldis Chapman combine on a four-hitter, Brett Gardner has an RBI double, and New York defeats the Blue Jays, 1-0, to end a two-game skid."

WTF?  

Since when does a routine August win over Toronto the year before qualify as a "Yankees Classic"?  

I thought at first I must've accidentally turned on SNY:  "That game last year when the Mets rallied from two runs down to beat the Padres.  Woo-hoo!"

This is what it's come to.  This is what we have to look forward to if something miraculous does not happen and this Dynasty That Never Was continues to fill the DL.

One thing of interest:  Mike Ford made two consecutive, full-length stretches/jumps to save errant throws to first from going into the stands.  I think these were the feats of agility that awed Ma Boone last year:  "How did his every hamstring not snap?"

Maybe it should be a classic just for that:  a Yankee made two fairly routine plays in the field and did not injure himself.

It's on


Actually, it's quite simple: Rob Manfred should resign

It's time for Rob Manfred to go. 
He has squandered whatever trust he once held as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. 
The botched and bogus Houston cheating scandal has exposed Manfred as an ownership lackey, a cover-up artist, unworthy of managing a major sport, especially one that heralds itself as "the National Pastime." 
The more we learn about the scandal, the more clearly we see Manfred's unwillingness to take action, even when the essence of the game had been corrupted. 
He will never recover from this loss in trust.
Consider the following facts...
Since 2017, speculation about the Astros cheating had been rampant. Several teams publicly suspected Houston of stealing signs.  
Manfred did not investigate. 
In 2018, after catching a Houston team employee taking pictures, the Cleveland Indians went so far as to warn other teams about the Astros in the upcoming post-season.
Manfred did not investigate. 
After game one of the 2019 ALCS, the Yankees asked MLB to look into the whistling sounds that were coming from the Astros dugout. Houston manager A.J. Hinch mocked the Yankees, saying, "It made me laugh." After fateful game six, the Yankees accused Houston of using blinking lights beyond the centerfield fence to convey messages to batters.
Manfred did not investigate. 
Instead, before the 2019 World Series, MLB warned both teams not to use electronic sign-stealing. (Only one team was accused of doing it.) Meanwhile, players from throughout the league were calling the Nats, telling them to be watchful. One Nats player later told the Washington Post, "It was amazing... how many people were coming out of the woodwork to let us know."
Yet Manfred did not investigate.  
Only until after Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers told The Athletic the specifics of Houston's cheating did MLB finally launch its probe. 
What are fans supposed to think, other than - without a public expose to force action - Manfred would have continued to look the other way?
For sitting on his hands while three entire seasons have been tainted, Manfred should resign.
For doling out minor slaps on the wrists of the Astros - (a $5 million fine? draft picks? no players punished? Pete Rose remains banned for life, while MLB links itself to lucrative gambling sites) - Manfred should resign. 
Sportswriters keep telling us the scandal will soon burn itself out, and fans will return to hot stove gossip. More and more, MLB and its spokespersons have become uncomfortable with the topic. They just want it to go away, before it affects the bottom line.
This scandal is not going away. 
Anger continues to grow. 
It is becoming Manfred's legacy.
He should resign.

Friday, February 21, 2020

And So It Begins


The Daily News, today, was first to report:

-  that Aaron Judge has been " soft tossing", and

-  soon, he will consider taking some swings.

This horror ....these tales of Judge considering the batting tee....and taking ( god forbid ) a full swing...are the images from which nightmares are made.

And boredom to the point of INSANITY.

Cashman was quick to report:

Boone said that, "Severino felt that tweak the last time he pitched, in October."

So in mid-february....the same tweak remains?

Supposedly, MRI's ( 2) and some other form of Xray- type exam revealed nothing, as to the source of the problem. 

 Doctors say; " the floating thing in his elbow is not the likely cause, either."

So here is my solution;  put the guy on the mound and let him pitch.   Full out on all four pitches.

Just proceed as though there is nothing wrong. 

Maybe there isn't.

And if something is seriously amiss, it will show up in spades.  There is no point resting his arm another four months, only to learn the tweak is still there when he throws his change-up. 

You are paying him $10 million.  Make him do something other than rub aloe on his arm and sleep on a divan.

It doesn't matter if surgery happens now or then. If he needs a new arm, find out now. 

 Here is the red flag warning;  resting him all off season did nothing.  It is a year and a half post surgery to recovery, so why waste another four months?

"I want to attend every Houston Astros game this season with a trash-can lid and bang it every time one of their sign-stealing cheatballs comes to bat. I want to find Commissioner Rob Manfred and pelt him with Stay Puft marshmallows for his pillowy-soft punishment of the most crooked team in baseball history. Chicago Black Sox? Please. That scandal was eight players in one series. This was the whole team, and coaches, for two full seasons."


"The Crookedest Team in History," by Rick Reilly. 

The Brainstrust

Just an idle thought while waiting for my copy of the 2020 Bob Klapisch/Brian Cashman's sequel, Inside the Ruins to arrive:

The assembled baseball acumen we have here, as displayed by people spending maybe 5-10 minutes a day around our having to do real work—or, okay, real drinking—far exceeds that of the brainstrust (yes, that was the original spelling of the word, and we're nothing if not Old School here) assembled by Brian Cashman, the man who has taken more victory tours than you can shake a stick at, but has yet to win anything on his own.

I hate to ever contradict our Peerless Leader, El Duque, who has been killing it of late (and pretty much always).  But I didn't cheer or clap when Cashie inked Sevvy and Hicks to those crazy contracts, and I don't remember anybody else doing so here.

Despite all the Kremlinese coming from the Bronx, I ALWAYS thought that there was something wrong with Severino beyond his "tipping pitches," and I ALWAYS thought it was ridiculous to sign up a player such as Hicks—a speed player, in good part, whose game would inevitably decline even if he somehow avoided the plague of injuries that has always beset him—to such a long deal.

But how is it possible that our collective wisdom here, at a single, whiskey-soaked blog, exceeds that of the best baseball money that Steinbrenner cash can buy?

Just look at the comments on the state of our ballteam in the last post comments:

Warbler:  It would have cost $10 million a year to sign up at least one more, highly serviceable starter.  TRUE.

ALL-CAPS:  The Yanks should have played it straight and got Sevvy the operation he obviously needed back in 2018.  Now we're likely to be without him until 2022.  TRUE.  (This is especially true because I wrote it, too, in an earlier comment.)

Joe FOB: We can't keep wasting money on frail players.  TRUE.

RichieAllen1964: Despite his suspiciously Philliean moniker, he points out that taking Severino from 133 innings in two years to 384 innings in two years was not a good idea.  It's a figure so crazy in light of what we know about young arms today that I had to go look it up.  You know what?  It's TRUE TRUE TRUE.

Hammer:  Aaron Hicks, hardworking and likable though he is, was never more and never could be more than a wan imitation of Bernie Williams.  Why the hell would you possibly give him all that money?

Incidentally, in Bernie's last year he hit .281, with an OPS of .768, and was firmly shown the door because he was making the ungodly salary of $1.5 million a year.  Hicks, who if we're lucky we'll get our usual one-half to one-third of a season from this year, has a lifetime BA of .236, and a lifetime OPS of .729.  He'll be making nearly $11 million in 2020.  TRUE.

Other Anon:  "...a good 2020 from Severino is...neither likely nor necessary...His overall career has been at best average...and his performance in the playoffs probably the worst of any Yankee in the modern era."  FALSE.

I respectfully disagree.  First, Severino had an outstanding 2017, and halfway through 2018 was one of the best pitchers in the majors, with an ERA under two runs a game.  His potential was immense.

As to his postseason performances, yeah, they've been bad, particularly his first-ever outing in the wild card game against Minnesota.

But consider:  In his one start in the 2017 ALDS against Cleveland, he came up big:  3 runs and 9 Ks in 7 innings, as the Yanks tied the series.

Against Houston, IN Houston, he did less well.  Hmm, why would that have been?

But it still wasn't awful, considering what we now know he was up against:  1 run and 2 hits in 4 innings in his first start there, before Girardi gave him a quick hook, down 1-0; 3 earned runs in 4 2/3 in Game 6, before another quick hook.

Yes, there was that disastrous start against Boston—when we now know he was pitching injured.  Then, last year, 4 scoreless frames against Minnesota, and 2 runs in 4 1/3 against Houston.

When, as we now know, he was once again—ludicrously, crazily—pitching injured.

And finally, YES, we desperately needed him for 2020, considering how weak and injury prone the rest of the staff is, save for Mr. Cole.

All of which is not to say that we're all geniuses here (although, you know, we kind of are).

It's that this once blooming Yankees dynasty, with so much promise, has been nipped in the bud by the sheer, inattentive incompetence and stupidity of Brian Cashman's actual brainstrust.

Just look at the record above:  wasting money on players who obviously weren't worth it (and then crying poor), pitching injured pitchers, and above all, always, always hoping for something to work out when there was no indication at all that it would.

It has been said of one of New York's more infamous mayors, James J. Walker, that he hoped like a child.

He had nothing on Brian Cashman.







Will the Yankees, twice burned, abandon long term contracts to emerging stars?

Last February, the Yankees broke from longtime policy and signed Luis Severino to a four-year, $40 million contract. It made sense. He was 25, still ascending, and the deal would avoid arbitration and ensure that his future Cy Young seasons happened in New York. Across the Yankiverse, citizens cheered. I can't lie: We at IT IS HIGH certainly did.

A few days later, the Death Star doubled-down: They signed Aaron Hicks to a seven-year, $70 million deal, filling CF for the foreseeable future. At 29, Hicks was coming off his best season, and he looked like the next Bernie. I can't lie: We applauded.

The real news here was the change in Yankee fiscal strategy. We were following the lead of small market franchises, investing in young(ish) stars, rather than waiting until they hit free agency, as old George Steinbrenner did, and then wooing them with tractor-trailers full of money. 

Welp...

The first results are in! With 90 percent of the precincts reporting, the outcomes are - um - awful. 

However wise these deals seemed last year, they now look like the most epic disaster since The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Hicks is a walking bag of shards; and Sevy? What is there to say, aside from, "Good luck in rehab!" His forearm hurts, he's getting tested, and until we know otherwise, we shouldn't count on him in 2020 - or for that matter - maybe ever. 

Severino's problems came without warning. Who knew? But if the 2020 Yankees are, once again, emulating a coronavirus cruise ship, maybe the problem is not the trainers. Maybe it's management's continual disregard for injury backgrounds on the players it seemingly "steals" in trades.

Case in point: Nobody should have been surprised last spring, when Giancarlo Stanton went down for virtually all of 2019. Any cab driver in Miami could have predicted it. This is not to rip Stanton; injuries are part of the game. But they happen to some players more than others, and we are learning that big, lumbering OF husks have a tendency to tweak. 

Nobody should have been surprised when James Paxton recently went down with a barking back. Any bellhop in Seattle - (are there still bellhops?) - could have predicted it. The problem with Paxton was always injuries. When the Yankees traded for him, they knew this. He's good until hurt. Then he disappears.

We should not have been surprised when Hicks went down, only days after signing his contract extension. His track record was clear: He'd play two months, then miss one. The Yankees knew this. 

Just as they know Aroldis Chapman misses more time with each passing season. Or that Masahiro Tanaka, who has pitched nearly seven years with a slight tear in his wing, is coming to camp after off-season surgery on chips in his arm. More than anybody in baseball, the Yankees should be aware of a player's injury record.

Then there is Jacoby Ellsb-[STOP: THIS IS YOUR AUTOMATED CARDIAC MONITOR. A DANGEROUS RISE IN HEARTBEAT HAS BEEN DETECTED. IT IS ADVISED THAT YOU STOP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING, OR WRITING, AND REFRAIN FROM SAID ACTIVITY. ALL WORDS WILL BE BLOTTED OUT, UNTIL NORMAL HEARTBEAT RESUMES...] -imagining Alan Ludden's and Betty White's marriage night, yowzer, am I right?

And soon, the team must decide on its future core four: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. Of that group, only Gleyber has been durable; the others crumble like fresh Cheetos. (And know this: Gleyber is indispensable; if he's hurt, Code Red.) Will Hal Steinbrenner - the owner formerly known as "Food Stamps" - bestow upon any of them a long-term deal that cements his future as a Yankee? Or, twice burned, will we return to the days of old George? (Or for that matter, should we?)

This winter, the Yankees avoided arbitration with all their players, seemingly sailing towards a pennant... and more. But without Paxton and Severino, everything has changed. Suddenly, even floundering Boston has a stronger rotation, and Toronto and (especially) Tampa are rising nations. It's certainly too early to panic, and the team still has trade chips - Clint Frazier, Estevan Florial, Luis Cessa, Thairo Estrada. But yesterday morning, before the news broke on Sevy, the future looked a hell of a lot brighter. And today, aren't we all just waiting for the next shoe to drop? Who else out there has been waiting until now to report that twinge of pain? Class? Anybody? 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Nope. I'm Not Going To Even Quack.


"Things floating around," you say?

And who might this transportation device be awaiting?


Let me guess:  Would Dr. Andrews be involved?

Would the patient's last name rhyme with "The Bambino?"

" Please pass the Crown Royal.  That's OK, I can drink it straight from the bottle."

Severino, gone?



Going to see the doctor.

Another Carl Pavano?

Season on the brink...

Time seems to be running out on MLB's investigation of the Redsocks

Here's a sign that we don't need a centerfield camera and specialized software to decode:  

The longer that MLB delays unveiling its case against the Redsocks, the more likely it is that Boston will skate.

The probe surrounds ex-Redsock manager Alex Cora, "ringleader" to the ongoing Houston scandal, according to the Commissioner's first report. Ever since the volcanic accusations against the 2017 Astros became public - prompting Boston to fire Cora - MLB investigators have hemmed and hawed on the matter of Boston. They have three times delayed a public release of their findings. The longer they wait, the more likely it seems they will come up empty. 

You have to think: If they had anything, they'd have gone public by now. 

So, what's happening? Commissioner Rob Manfred said recently: 

"There have been a couple of developments in the Boston thing that slowed us down, people who had to be re-interviewed as a result of things."

Hm-mm. 

Long ago, I was an "investigative journalist," a phrase that today is pretty much a punch line. On many occasions, we were on the verge of breaking a story, but waiting for one more person, one more source, to wrestle with his/her conscience and decide to go public. Thus, we held the story for another week. My guess is that's what happening here. The investigators have smoke but no fire. They suspect something but cannot prove it. Soon - to use the wrong sports metaphor - they'll simply have to punt. 

This week, in camp after camp, MLB players are reporting to spring training and immediately sounding off about the Astros scandal. But not the Redsocks. Chris Sale spoke his peace, mentioning some bad outings in Houston, but he's a pitcher. Overall, it's as if the Redsocks suspect something might be out there, and they don't want to look bad by denying everything, only to be later proven a liar, on top of a cheat.

Yesterday, Ian Kinsler - now retired - weighed in. He's practically the first 2018 Redsock hitter to give an interview on the matter. He told MassLive.com: 

"I don’t know what [MLB] is going to find, but in my opinion, it’s not anything close to what’s going on [in Houston] .The Red Sox were just a very tight-knit group. When I was injected into that team in the middle of the season, it was a lot like the Rangers clubs I was on, where it was just a very tight-knit group and their system was flawless. They just had a very good system of relaying from second base to home plate. That was it. Honestly. We’ll see what happens with the commissioner’s report.”

Clearly, I have a grudge against Kinsler, a great player in his day, who killed the Yankees many times. But in terms of integrity, he seems a stand-up guy. My guess is that he's telling it like it is, from the standpoint of a veteran who joined the team relatively late in the season. Tight-knit group... Very good system of relaying from second base... We'll see what happens... 

The Astros scandal continues to dominate baseball. Certainly, every Redsock player, now and former, is taking notes. They see Astros being personally condemned, mocked, even threatened. No players, not even the pitchers, are emerging unscathed. Boston has had two months now to polish its stories and shut down any potential whistle-blower.  

We know that, in Houston, Cora was one of the architects of a complicated sign-stealing system, which broke down codes via algorithms. We know he was not Stump Merrill, and that Boston had a video room near the dugout. We know that after Cora came to Boston, the Redsocks enjoyed the greatest year in franchise history. They won 106 games - 13 more than in 2017. At home, they won seven out of every ten games. They were practically unstoppable. A team for the ages. 

And here's the ugliest part of this scandal's second half: 

We will probably never know if the Redsocks cheated.