Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After two weeks, it's official: The NY sportswriters have declared the Martin Prado deal a success

First, the obvious: Martin Prado is a nice player. He hits 10 HRs a year, bats .270 and plays three positions. The Yanks could do worse. And Prado hit well during the team's recent 5-game winning streak. (Not last night, though: He went 0-4.)

Still, isn't it rather early to start congratulating the Yankee front office for trading power-hitting prospect Peter O'Brien for the 30-year-old Prado, who will be paid $11 million over each of the next two years?

Well, not too early for the brown-nosing NY sports media.

Today, John Harper of the Daily News details the heart-stopping final trade deadline moments, when the fates collaborated to bring the Great Prado to Gotham. The upshot? Wow, the smart Yankees have done it again, gotten something for nothing! Start framing the CF plaque for Brian Cashman! After all, Prado has helped lead the Yankees back to within 7 games of Baltimore, and now three of that final, away-field, one-game Wild Card slot.

O'Brien has been hurt lately, so there's no instant metric for determining the outcome of that deal. Apparently, Arizona wanted a package of prospects, but Cashman didn't cave. (Apparently, they didn't want that package of prospects as much as they wanted to get out from under Prado's contract, but that's another story.)

Even if O'Brien completely tanks as a major leaguer, there is another intangible, conveniently overlooked, in the Prado deal.

Last week, the Yankees passed in the bidding on Rusney Castillo, the 27-year-old Cuban outfielder who became a free agent. One reason: absorbing the last two years of the Prado contract pushed them over the luxury tax budget limit. Boston signed Castillo. The Yankees weren't even in the final bidding. So all we can do is cross our fingers and hope the Redsocks didn't just acquire the next Puig or Cespedes.

No problem, though, not here in New York.  Prado had a good week, so the Yankees win, thuuuuuugh Yankees win... thuhhh deal.

Remember how they marveled last year about acquiring Alfonso Soriano? Oh, well, we had a good week and stretched out the wild card race for a few more days. Isn't that all that matters?

So much for Shawn Kelly's horse head

Listen: There's something about juju that everybody needs to know:

Once you tell the world your secret, you always wonder if you didn't just blow it. In the back of your mind, a voice is always whispering, "Once you tell everybody, it's over."

In my book, "The Juju Rules, or How to Win Ballgames from Your Couch" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) the first rule of Juju is simple: DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB. (See what I mean? We don't even mention the j-word.)

I'm sure Shawn Seabuscuit Kelly is wondering today if he should have mentioned the horse-head mask that he had donned for five straight games - five straight victories - to a Yahoo sports reporter. The story moved nationally and, for a few hours anyway, raised hopes among Yankee fan-fools, of which I am one.

Listen: Juju does exist. It's beauty - it's success - stems from the most powerful performance-enhancing drug known to humanity: The placebo. 

In study after study, over generations of clinical work, scientists have found that people who believe in the snake oil always get a little more boost than those who do not. This won't help the evangelical preacher who attempts to faith heal Ebola in the Congo. But when Martin Prado steps into the box against David Price, it might just sharpen his confidence just enough to pull the trigger on a belt-high fast ball.

Baseball players are not always the sharpest knife in the butcher block. Can you imagine driving across the country with Paul O'Neill talking all the way? Keep in mind, his sister wrote for The New York Times. If ballplayers believe there is a nation of nutcase fans who are pacing in their rooms, holding up amulets and photographs of Thurman Munson, then - at least for some of them - there is always a trace of hope, even in the worst of situations. I believe the New York Yankees have built the largest army of practicing wackos. We have the juju to win the World Series every year - though the Redsocks certainly have built a sizable juju war machine, as evidenced by their beards last year and the zealous belief that Boston was a city fated to win the championship. You could feel that juju coursing through September.

And maybe the Yankees felt it Monday night, after they crushed Kansas City. Frankly, Shawn Kelly should kept quiet about the horse head. Last night, it probably wouldn't have mattered. Maybe we were fated to lose. But once Kelly mentioned it publicly, he had to know that he looked like a fool and that he was jinxing his secret good luck charm.

A juju rule: Never jinx your secret good luck charm.

The Yankees lost. Tonight, Kelly can wear the horse head, but he'll only feel like a fool. The placebo only works when people believe. It's getting harder and harder to believe.

The end shall come not with fire or ice, but via the double play

What a fool I am. What a gullible, sad, home-bound, idiotic fool. Last night, I could have been out clubbing across Syracuse, bounding from rage to rage, twerking away the final days of summer in a vortex of champagne and showgirls. Instead, there I was - staring at the TV, pacing the dungeon, snorting the snake oil, grasping at strands of hope and belief. What a fool.

We'd put runners on base. I would rise. We would leave them. I would sit.

One on in the first, McCann hits a DP grounder. (The man runs like Amos McCoy.)

Two on in the third, Jeter strikes out looking.

Two on in the fourth, Prado and Drew fail to move them.

One on in the sixth, Prado grounds out.

One on in the eighth, McCann another DP.

In the ninth, the Empire spares me from the temptation of hope, which appears in the form of closer Joe Nathan, who has thrown gasoline-dipped blasting caps all season. They go down 1-2-3, like Valium tablets.  

Technically, summer is not over. But spiritually, emotionally, psychologically - damn, we have been dead for a while. In hindsight, I'd put the flat-line moment two weeks ago in Baltimore, when Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones hit those home runs off Dellin Betances and Seabuscuit Kelly, blowing a 2-1 lead in the eighth. We ended up losing five in a row to Cleveland, Baltimore and Tampa. At that point, I was ready to trash the season and turn this site into a self-righteous blog about the need to stamp out twerking during the Video Music Awards, something like that, which would allow me to post photos of scantily-clad women, while pretending to be outraged.

But then we won five in a row, and last night, there I was - needing to believe again.

What a fool.

We can still win this series, I suppose. All we need is for Shane Greene to out-pitch David Price, for Brian McCann to take the concrete out of his shoes, and Derek Jeter to regenerate - 15 years younger. Stranger things have happened, I guess. But only fools are willing to believe it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The sacrifices I make for the Yankees ...

A few days ago, I went on my annual scouting trip, scouring the beaches and tropics of this hemisphere to find the great Yankees of the future.

While I have not found that great prospect, despite great effort and too many Utica Clubs to count, I see that the Yankees have not lost since I left. I left with the team a crumbling mess and I now look and see hope.

I did not anticipate this powerful juju. So, in the name of all that is good, I guess I will have to stay here and continue soaking up the sun and Utica Club. All in the name of helping the team, of course.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

You know what they're doing. They're doing what they did last year. We resist, we cringe, we try not to watch. But we must. They may be a bunch of strangers who managed to hit .218 over an 11 game stretch leading into Sunday's game, but they're wearing pinstripes. Somewhere, deep in the lizard brains we all have, we don't want to miss one of the greatest season comebacks in team history. So we pay attention. We put our hearts and nervous digestive systems on the line. Even though we know...
this is not a great team. This is not even a really good team. This is a 1928 Porter, My Mother the Car fans, held together with old chewing gum, spit, baling wire and dried-out rubber bands that can give at any second. It's simply crazy to think they can get anywhere, even the one-game Seligrama, and if they do they'd lose anyway. You know it. I know it. Bo knows it. But just like last year, they'll string us along. They'll beat some bad teams and then they'll beat some very good teams because the rotation will suddenly turn into Cy Young, Christy Matthewson, Bob Gibson, Walter 'The Big Train' Johnson and the 1968 version of Denny McLain. Just for a week, maybe two. Enough to suck us in, make us emotionally committed, feel a stirring in our metaphorical loins. And then they collapse. They revert. They raise the Burberry plaid banner of mediocrity and we realize, nope. Not gonna happen. And inside, we die a horrible and painful death of tortured disappointment, the last glimmer of summer's hope wrested from our moist, believing, little palms, our hearts and souls torn out along with it.

Don't bother looking under the bed in the middle of the night. Forget checking the closet for bogeymen. Stringing garlic around the French doors to the patio is not going to help. 

It's coming. It's coming, and we can't stop it.

Here we go: Time for a Yanknado... or Yankeegeddon

In the course of a season, there is always a handful of series that you can see coming from a vast distance, like a swirling dust storm full of rabid Curt Schillings.

Usually, it's a three-game set against Boston, or a West Coast swing, which has all the trappings of a 2 a.m. visit to an emergency room, with your stomach-pump working overtime.

Tonight, the Yankees start perhaps the most frightening series since the All-Star break: We play the mighty Tigers, our playoff nemesis in recent years, and a team that - if you compare lineups and pitching staffs - makes us look like a collection of laid-off Walmart greeters from Scranton, or maybe Wilkes Barre. Two weeks ago, the mere notion of the Yankees - with Zelous Wheeler and Chase Whitley anchoring the team photo - battling Detroit for a playoff spot, conjured a feeling of hopelessness not experienced since Alfonso Soriano last lifted a bat.

But the Tigers are floundering, to the point of hearing boos at home. And now the Yankees have won five in a row - even beating a contender (though KC did look a little cowed last night, as if they had reverted to old, Jerry Lumpe - R.I.P. - form in the presence of pinstripes.)

A mark of the 2014 Break-Even Empire has been the team's uncanny ability to follow winning streaks with losing skeins, two stutter steps forward and two stutter steps back, like an insider-trader "correction" in the price of pork commodities. If it happens again, so long, Cashman!

Over the next three nights, the team will either tie or flip past Detroit, or it will topple like convenience store beer displays in the next Napa Valley aftershock - maybe even behind Cleveland.... and Labor Day is wayyyyyy too late to be looking up at Cleveland. (Hey, it may be too late already.)

Yeah, if the Yankees win in Detroit, it only means they will live to play next week. They could tank against mighty Baltimore, or fall into the teeth of the toothless Redsocks, who'll play with nothing on their minds but spite.

But this is a week yearning to define the '14 Yankees. We either break the .500 roller coaster and make a run into September, or the post-season becomes an afterthought, and from here on in, it's just drinking heavily, chanting "Der-ek Jet-er" and pretending that its 1999. It starts tonight. Yanknado or Yankeegeddon. Who knows?

Yanks undefeated thanks to Seabuscuit juju

Last week, as the Yankee barge was tanking against the Astros, bullpen cog Shawn Kelly came across a giant horse head mask, probably while clearing out an old bin of A-Rod's party supplies.
As everyone knows, horse head masks - made by the company known for the Yodeling Pickle - serve as powerful male sexual enhancements, famous for turning women's loins into apple butter. There's something about staring into the dead doorknob eyes of Mr. Ed that makes a lady yearn to be saddled up and ridden around the back forty. (Mine is somewhere in the basement, unused since the night long ago when Rudy Giuliani dressed in drag, hosting Saturday Night Live; that horror vision still haunts.)
Mesmerized, Kelly donned the juju-laced head piece and walked around the Yankee clubhouse. The rest is history.
Five and oh, baby, five and oh.
Folks, this is old-time, John McGraw, Phil Linz-harmonica-in-the-bus-level, 140-proof juju. We may yet have a chance at this season.
One of the problems faced by current Yankee teams is the ownership's insane ban on facial hair. This prevents the Yankees from growing playoff beards, one of the great late-season traditions in the methods of ignorance. Nobody shaves for the playoffs. It's just not done. And to deny the Yankees a shot at magical thinking, it's almost cruel.
Now, we have Shawn Seabuscuit Kelly.  
Five and oh, baby. Five and oh. And we are heading into the home stretch.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yankees excited about saving money and avoiding the Cuban "Brett Gardner with power."

Once again, the Yankee front office is delighted with itself, big in the britches, proud of the discipline it has shown by holding the line against wasteful spending. The newest evidence is the brass' decision to not go over $40 million in the bidding for Rusney Castillo, the 27-year-old international man of mystery from Cuba - the so-called Brett Gardner with power.

Over the weekend, the Redsocks signed Castillo for $72 million, beating out the Tigers. Clearly, neither of those front offices don't respect U.S. currency, as much as the Yankees do.

Instead, the Yankees three weeks ago traded Pete O'Brien, the best HR-hitter in their farm system, for 30-year-old Martin Prado, who will be paid $22 million over the next two years. This weekend, Prado tore the cover off the ball against the White Sox, hitting two home runs - to bring his seasonal total to eight. Yes, eight! This hitting spree has allowed the Yankee front office to declare the trade a complete success and award themselves pats on the backs.  

Castillo has no MLB track record. Unless Boston straightens out his entry VISA, he might not even get to play this year. So next year, we'll learn whether he is the next Puig, Cespedes, Abreu, etc. - or the next Ronnier Mustellier.

Prado, on the other hand, comes with a clear skill set, based on his career in Atlanta and Arizona. Baseball Reference lists for him these statistical astral twins:

Yep, there you have it. When Prado steps up to bat, think "Les Bell!"

Let me abandon my usual snarkiness for a moment and state categorically that I have nothing against Martin Prado. He looks like a decent player, a nice lug nut, who could add a lot to a really good team. He plays three positions and hits 10 HRs per season. And if Prado hits 10 over the next month and leads the Yankees to a 2014 World Series - well - I'll happily eat crow.

But from where I sit, $11 million per season is a lot to spend on Les Bell... or even Mule Haas.

And no matter what happens to O'Brien - moments after he was dealt, the Yankee blogosphere immediately started declaring him a failure - I just hope people remember that it was the Prado acquisition that effectively took us out of the bidding for Castillo. According to various reports, Hal Steinbrenner simply wouldn't authorize further spending over the current payroll, because of the crushing luxury tax. Thus, Boston had an open path to sign the next big name from Cuba. We weren't even close to running up the price tag.

So we get two more years of Frank Demaree.

Like I say, who knows how this will turn out? We have a nice little spare part with Prado. But is that going to win a World Series? The way I see it, the Yankees can either be the big spending, bombastic, Gotham-based Evil Empire - and throw their weight around, whenever a new star appears on the horizon - or they can be the team that counts its nickels and occasionally overpays for Les Bell's statistical doppelganger.

Next August, if Castillo turns out to be Brett Gardner with power, I'm wondering whether Prado's 10 HRs are going to feel so nice. Of course, by then, we all know the deal: The Yankee front office will be congratulating itself on another Moose Haas. Some things don't seem to change.

Welcome to Yankees Shark Week

Well, campers, we're finally here, bivouacked on the edge of the watery Abyss. The calendar says five weeks remain. That's a mirage, created long ago by Bud Selig. In fact, we have run out of time. Tonight, we march into the cold surf and start crossing the sea. The waters will not part for us. And the waves will be crashing.

From now on, we have no time to heal, not time to rest - no time to play W.B. Mason commercials and flip the channel to the Little League World Series. Instead of watching scoreboards to see how KC, Detroit and Toronto are doing, we'll play them ourselves. And make no mistake: We are no longer facing the toothless blue gills from Houston or Chicago. From now on, we play teams that bite. And god help us, if the waters become scented with blood.

Ah, did someone mention the White Sox! What a treasure! May they always play against us! And before the world anointed the 2014 as a team of destiny, we must take a moment to respect Robin Ventura's club as a team of crapola. Their LF muffed dropped a routine fly, opening the flood gates against Chris Sale. On Saturday, their catcher didn't even reach for a throw to the plate, he just smiled at the ball as it whizzed past. They botched grounders, made base-running mistakes, handed us three victories like checks to Derek Jeter's charity. They answered the age-old question: Is there life after death? The answer: Yes, if you are lucky enough to play the White Sox.

Now, they'll help other teams. We'll swim with sharks.

Imagine: A meaningful game against the Royals... in August.

Imagine playing the mighty Tigers... after having clubbed them around two weeks ago.

Imagine, the powerful Blue Jays, which - aw, screw it - they'll always be Toronto; (do they still have Jesse Barfield?) But you know what I mean. They're not the White Sox. And this is Shark Week.

From now on, if we get swept, it's over.

If we lose four out of five, it's over.

If we go on one of our patented 20-scoreless-inning hitter streaks, it's over.

Meet the wrong shark, and we could be all but mathematically eliminated by Labor Day.

Imagine that: Done before Labor Day. Last year, as horrible as the Lyle Overbays were, we at least managed to stretch out the collapse until the season's final week. Now, if we get eaten by the sharks, we'll still have a month to play Scantonians, write speeches about Jeter, and ponder all the things that went so horribly wrong.

It's Shark Week, campers. Prepare to get wet. We have run out of land beneath our feet. If you see someone go under, odds are, they won't be resurfacing again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

To protest protests against the Washington Redskins, Fox News will no longer use "Washington" in any mention of the team

They will just be called "Redskins." Please note.

Three in a row, Tanaka throwing, Phelps healing, Beltran hitting, Prado sizzling, no useless "6" jersey clogging the locker, and a lineup capable of scoring FIVE RUNS IN ONE GAME. (Did we die and go to heaven?)

How about some adorable puppies!

We are making our charge!
Watch out, Detroit and Seattle!

Having run out of numbers, Yankees to start retiring letters

First up, "E."

Congratulations to Jo Torr, Drk Jtr and Yogi Brra.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pissing ) Passing ) on Hope

You can see it in the wake of our 2 game win streak.

Or our 2-2 record against Houston and the White Sox, so far.

We don't need a potentially game changing young guy from Cuba, we need more 35+ pitchers.  It is in the air.

The thought is;  we have a killer line-up with Beltran, Ichiro, McCann, Texiera, Gardener and Ellsbury.  We have filled in the infield for next year with Drew and that number 12 person.  And, we have Prado to play everywhere.  Not to mention a healthy Francisco.  The thought is:  all of the above ( or most ) have just had, "off years," and in 2015 will rock.

So we need more pitchers with huge contracts.  The thought is:  Greene and McCarthy aren't really any good.  Nor is Phellps and Pineda is unreliable.  CC still haunts us.  And Tanaka will have surgery.  So let's add a few more starters whose arms are dying, and leave the offense alone.  Let's not add spend on run producers, or clutch hitters.

We have plenty of pop ( pardon the irony ).

Just let Cashman's convoluted reasoning, and poor player selections, continue to interface with the Steinbrothers' feigned interest in the team.

Money for old guys.  Take no risks.  Bottle up all prospects' hopes forever.  Don't get into a bidding war for anyone who is a position player.  Remember that drugged out bum we signed out of Cuba a few years back to play third.  Don't do that again.

The thought is:  the Yankees are a magnet for guys whose careers are shot and who are looking for a cushy retirement in," the pinstripes I have always wanted to wear."

The thought is;  we are screwed.

Do Fear the Reaper: The Yankees have become a nostalgia act

I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends/ A chance to share old memories and play our songs again. /When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name. / No one recognized me, I didn't look the same...

Today, the Yankiverse honors Joe Torre, the last truly successful Yankee manager - the latest in a progression of oldies concerts, designed to fill the void of an August without otherwise meaningful games.

GeezerFest began with Tino Martinez, moved into the masses with Old-Timers Day, picked up steam with Paul O'Neill, hits its stride today with Torre, and will reach a cresendo with the farewell to Derek Jeter, when all the singers collaborate on a version of the Beatles "Yesterday." Seriously, who needs a pennant race? We've got Night Ranger, Styx and Foreigner.

To commemorate this great day, manager Joe Girardi last night drained his bullpen, Torre- style. (Brian Cashman should be on the phone to Tanyan Sturtze and Scott Proctor. Unless Hiroki Kuroda goes eight, we'll be visiting the land of David Huff.) And with the walk-off celebration last night, you'd think the original members of Blue Oyster Cult had reunited to take the stage and play "Don't Fear the Reaper." Either that, or somebody gave Francisco Cervelli an ice unexpected bucket challenge.

I certainly don't want to throw cold water over a Yankee win. Not me. I'm ready to hoist Alfonso onto my shoulders, shirtless, so he can wave his Bic lighter in the air. And who knows? Maybe Mr. Torre has one miracle left to bestow on his old team. But the speeches and the plaques - the songs and the dances - cannot obscure the fault lines on the giant video board, when the camera zooms in for a close-up:

Four games above .500. Thirty-six to go. Three behind in the loss column. Two teams ahead of us. All for a one-game, half-court shot... almost certainly in Oakland.

I'm not biting. Not yet. Two wins - against Houston and Chicago - nope. Not enough.

Well it's all right now; I've learned my lesson well...
You see, you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dark day: The Redsocks just outbid us for the Cuban "Brett Gardner with power"

The international man of mystery known as Rusney Castillo has signed with Boston, potentially tipping the balance of power in the AL East next year. At the least, the balance of hope has turned markedly in their favor.

Of course, the Yankees have managed to set the bar pretty low on hope.

Basically, they offer none.

Tonight, the Murdoch/YES p.r. Zambroni machine will smooth this over with words dipped in rose-water. They'll tell us how Castillo isn't worth $72 million, and the Yankee "baseball men" - which may include the chain-smoking ghosts of Stump Merrill and Syd Thrift - analyzed the situation and ruled against spending Hal Steinbrenner's hard-inherited money, and - of course, they are second to none, when it comes to identifying Cuban talent.

After all, they saved us from the likes of Puig, Chapman, Abreu, Cespedes, et al, and lured to the coal mines of Scranton Ronnier Mustellier and Adonis Garcia. Yes, they know Cuban talent the way every third-rate Hollywood celebrity knows the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So Boston enters 2015 with an overhauled team, including a 27-year-old Cuban outfielder who might just be a future superstar. They will claim the cover of Sports Illustrated and the national spotlight.

We'll have Martin Prado.

Damn. This is a dark day, a truly depressing Friday afternoon. This is what I most feared - that Boston was hording its money to buy impact players, rather than over-the-hill LOB machines. You know what? I hope the Yankees lose tonight! They deserve to lose. I hope they get swept by Chicago, fall into fourth and get booed off the field, and then I hope Brian Cashman develops a nasty ugly rash - I'm talking shades of purple - in the center of his forehead, so he doesn't want to go to parties, and I hope that Hal - while piloting his yacht - cuts his foot on a broken gin bottle, and it gets infected, and they have to cut off his big toe.

No. Actually, I don't hope for any of those things.

I wish I could. Because they have a better chance of happening than the Yankees do of winning anything memorable this season. Damn... How did it get this way? How did we get so screwed up? The only thing we have left is Derek Jeter - everything else is collapsing - and we couldn't even give him a decent send-off. It's exactly the same as what happened with Marinano. The Yankee organization - like its team - can't deliver in the clutch. But hey, isn't that the ultimate mark of mediocrity?

Derek Jeter blew it. He should have named John Sterling to take the Ice Bucket Challenge

"And now, as young White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez steps up to the plate, stepping up to the microphone is the Radio Voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling!"

"Thank you, Suzyn, thank you, everybody, and I want to welcome you all to an absolutely perfect night here at Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees will be hosting the Chicago White Sox. Joe Girardi's team is four games behind in the race for the second Wild Card slot, which makes tonight's game especially critical for YEAAAW! FUCK ME! WHAT THE FUCK! HOLY SHIT, THAT'S FUCKING COLD! GODDAMMIT, CANDY, WHO THE FUCK TOLD YOU TO DO THAT? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? I'M GODDAMM FUCKING FREEZING! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! WHO THE FUCK DID THAT? I'M GONNA FUCKING KILL 'EM? I GONNA FUCKIN... well, excuse me, everybody. I'm being told that Derek Jeter called for it, a great human being, Derek Jeter, and, heh heh, Hiroki Kuroda checks the signal, thuuuuuuuugh pitch..."

Joel Sherman says it (He said it last August too): "Maybe these Yanks would be better off getting clobbered by the lowly White Sox this weekend, having their fate fully defined and taking advantage of pitching needs with the Angels and Dodgers to see if they could trade McCarthy and/or Hiroki Kuroda/"

It's what we all know: If the Yankees last August had accepted their dismal, starkly apparent, also-ran fate, imagine the implications for 2014.

1. No trade for Alfonso Soriano, who through July sat in our bellies like a State Fair deep-fried pat of butter.

2. We could have traded Robby Cano for a front-line prospect, or maybe three. If we scored a young 2B, we would have been spared the Brian Roberts Experiment.

3. Maybe we could have traded Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and/or Joba Chamberlain - for a pile of prospects.

4. Tried Adam Warren as a starter. Given J.R. Murphy and Zolio Almonte 150 at bats.

5. Maybe avoided signing Carlos Beltran for three years and Brian McCann for five.

Yes, hindsight is 20-20. Anybody can look back, postulate moves that could have been made, and criticize. But when you study the Yankees' quest to chase the one-game wild card windmill, and to trade youth for veterans, two arguable views of Hal Steinbrenner emerge.

1. He is a Quixotic hero for refusing to concede a season - as some owners do - even in the face of overwhelming odds. He just patches the lineup and exhorts his army to "step it up" (as he did this week.)

2. He is a coward, who hasn't the guts to face the abrupt rage of sportswriters, call-in-show experts and paying fans, who would spend the next month criticizing management.

Trouble is, I don't think Number 2 really applies.

It's interesting how Redsock fans have accepted - even embraced - their 2014 collapse. Come next spring, they anticipate an overhauled roster, new young players and another World Series chase. Right now, as bad as their team is, they have more hope than most Yankee fans.

The Yankiverse is about as troubled as it's been since 1990. I don't know one Yankee fan who thinks this team could win the 2014 World Series. Most doubt we're a contender for the Wild Card. And here's the real rub: Most expect us to be down and out next year, too.

Next year, the Yankees won't have Derek Jeter to showcase in the lineup. In fact, they'll have no player with star power whatsoever - unless they drain the system for somebody, a thought that causes fans to cringe. The quick fix would be to sign John Lester and Max Scherzer - who have already logged a lot of innings in their careers - to Sabathia-length contracts. Are you cringing, too?

Joel Sherman is right. Perhaps the best that could happen would be for the White Sox to sweep us at home. But even then, would Hal get the message?

Damn. It's like standing on the deck of the Titanic and watching the ship bore full-speed ahead.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yankee formula for success: A complete game shutout

They. Are. Toying. With. Us.

They. Are. Trying. To. Raise. Our. Hopes.

They. Think. We. Will. Bite.

They. Think. We. Were. Born Yesterday.


From the mouth of Mustang...

Spoken last night, during beer number three:

What is the only cure for Lou Gehrig's disease?

Tommy John surgery.

What Does It Take?

I have said this all year.  I have said it for 2, maybe 3 years, actually.

The problem with the Yankees is Brian Cashman.  Get rid of him.  Bring in a talent.  Clean house.

And begin anew.

Cashman has only one strategy and it consists of the following tactics:

1.  Have idiots in charge of the draft.  Waste picks by trading them, or focusing on family friends like Mariano's kid, Dante Bichette's kid, or Cito Culver.

2.  Trade everything we have, picks and prospects, for pitching.  Which, as it turns out, is not the fuc**** problem.

3.  Keep making the team older and slower.  Pay outrageous sums to players whose best years are so far in the past as to create laughter from the teams who deal them to us.  It must be like Christmas every day during the off season for them. Wasted players whose contracts other teams were prepared to eat, all of a sudden are redeemed at par and usually we throw in a bonus in the form of a, " player to be named."  The shock and laughter at the Yankee's stupidity must bring tears.

4.  Fire the guy who cleans the locker room when we fail to make the playoffs.  But keep the incompetents who are in charge of scouting, evaluating and developing talent.  Doesn't anyone notice that we have no one we are willing to bring up from the minors at any position other than pitching?  Whose responsibility is it that we have no talent?  Whose?

5.  Constantly, without fail, make trades that hurt us and help others.

6.  Sign 15 year-olds from the Dominican, and give them millions.  By the time they are major league eligible, they are zonked out on drugs and/or don't give a crap.  They are already
 millionaires ( zillionaires compared to their lives in the Dominican), and could give a crap about working hard, traveling forever and, perhaps, being revealed as without talent.

I am telling you, as I have endlessly, that  Cashman and his band of useless hangers on are the problem.
Incompetence, incompetence and incompetence.  The three musketeers of Cashman's approach.

We have spent millions, loaded and re-loaded the team and, if Derek were already gone you would see a total collapse.  These .225 hitters are trying as hard as they can because they are on his team.  Don't even contemplate what next year will be like.

They score 2 runs a game, and have no clutch hitters at all, save perhaps Ellsbury.

Cashman has failed in front of everyone's eyes.  Isn't it time?

What will it take to dump him?  His damn contract will be up at the end of this season.  Which, to us, is today.

Our fate....

It's time to celebrate some personal milestones on this great Yankee team

When outfielder Ichiro Suzuki drives in his next run, 
it will be his 15th RBI for the season!

Speaking of RBIs, Yankee team leader Jacoby Ellsbury
 - with 54 - is currently on course 
to finish the season above the magic number of 60!

With his impressive .291 on-base percentage, 
Yankee hitting machine Carlos Beltran is now 
within just two of reaching an elusive 40-run season! 

Bullpen lug nut Rich Hill's scoreless inning streak 
is now up to 2!

The Yankee Contracts Poem

Three more years of A-Rod,
Each, twenty million-plus.
Three more years of C.C.,
Blown tires on the bus.
Six more years of Ellsb’ry,
Just where did we go wrong?
And two more years of Beltran...
I will not live that long.

Two more years, Teixeira,
McCann, until ’18.
Gardner through the following year,
By then, I'll have no spleen.
We’ll play no one at shortstop.
Our system's hit the wall.
And two more years of Beltran...
Who cannot throw the ball.

Six more years, Tanaka.
Already, looking frail.
And Prado for another two.
By then, we'll own Chris Sale.
We punted in the bidding,
And so jettisoned Cano.
For two more years of Beltran...
Dear God, please let me go!

Our Father, up in heaven,
Where contracts loom so large,
Two hundred million buys a boat
That steers just like a barge.
We’re dead throughout the order,
A slugger? No, not one!
With two more years of Beltran...
God, wake me when it’s done.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It is time for Yankee fans everywhere to start demanding a new plan

Sometimes, the fulcrum point of history hinges on a person who otherwise would have been forgotten.

Hence, a question to be shouted at the unblinking, unresponsive Mount Yes:

Jose Pirela? W.T.F?

Down at Scranton, Jose Pirela is a 24-year-old 2B-utility fielder, who might just win the International League's MVP award. He's batting .306, with 9 HRs, and playing almost everywhere. Pirela has slowly risen through the Yankee ranks, year after year, on a steady climb to Mt. Nowhere. He's just another piece of organizational fodder, I guess.

The "line" is that the Yankee scouts don't see Pirela as a true major league 2B. And let's be realistic here: They certainly know more than clods like me, who simply read box scores and yell W.T.F? Maybe the guy has a critical flaw. Maybe he bats cross-handed, or throws underhanded, or has a contagious rash - I dunno - but it doesn't show up in the stats. At a certain point, we simply must trust the Yankee scouts, just as we are supposed to trust the NSA, or the EPA, or the CDC, or whatever formal apparatus is supposed to protect us from the Martians, or the Redsocks. They are the experts, right?

Ah. But that's just it.

What if you've lost faith in the Yankee scouts? After all, they're the guys who said Eduardo Nunez could play SS, and assured us, over and over, that Jesus Montero was a future MLB catcher. (Wait: On that note, they were famously lying to us, right? So they could peddle him for Michael Pineda, right? It was a campaign of disinformation, designed for our own good.) Yep, those Yankee scouts.

In a perfect world, Jose Pirela would seem to be the perfect September call-up. He plays five positions. Good grief, we only have three guys on the bench. But now, we are told the Yankees simply have too few roster openings to pour poor Pirela a cup of coffee. There's just too much outstanding (definition: high priced and injured) talent on this team, as it chases the coveted Bud Selig Memorial One-Game, Away-Field Wild Card Trophy. (Can we call it The Selig Cup? When a team clinches the last spot, the Cup should appear, and the captain should run around the field, drinking from it.) There is no room for Pirela. Forget about him. If he wins MVP at Scranton, well, maybe he can do it again next year. Maybe he can become "Mr. Baseball of Scranton."

But something seems wrong here. The Yankees spent the entire first half of 2014 with Brian Roberts at second base, (before cruelly waiving Roberts, just two at-bats away from a significant bonus payout.) They never gave Pirela so much as a sideways glance. After all, playing 2B at Scranton, Pirela made made six errors - a .978 fielding percentage. (Note: Roberts this year made 10, a .974 percentage.)

But again, that's just statistical stuff. The experts know better than me. I accept that.

Listen: It's a lost cause for me - or you - or any fan - to argue the fate of Jose Pirela, as if we know something the Yankee coaches don't. When we make such arguments, we sound like loony coots or a 12-year-olds with an internet connection.

But as a fan, I hereby reserve the right to throw up my hands - as high as I can - and yell at the unblinking YES mountain: 

W. T. F?

Over the next month, every Yankee fan in captivity should be doing the same. Why NOT Jose Pirela? Why NOT try youngsters? Why NOT look to the future?

It is time for a loud, angry fan-based Yankee s*t storm. We may not be the experts. But you don't have to be a cow to know that the milk is sour.


The NY State Fair announced its 2014 butter sculpture today.

Food Bank. Do gooders.

Derek Jeter is leaving. Twenty years of sacrifice and leading the Yankees, and he doesn't even warrant a butter sculpture?

This is the same State Fair that once unveiled a butter sculpture of Daryl Strawberry. DARYL STRAWBERRY. AS A MET.



As far as I'm concerned, there is no 2014 Butter Sculpture. It's a margarine sculpture, and the brand is, "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT JETER."

For the 20th time this year, the Yankee season is over

Remember the great Torre teams? How every night, a new guy stepped up and delivered a key hit, a shutdown inning, or a great play in the field?

Girardi's Yankees are the team that always, somehow, springs a new leak.

Last night, it was David Robertson, who was just starting to be appreciated. But the loss wasn't his fault. If Robby had pitched a perfect ninth, would it have mattered? It would have been Rich Hill in the tenth. Some new pigeon would have stepped forward, booting a grounder or leaving the bases loaded. Somehow, Brian Cashman built a team destined to lose, to be forgotten - that is, if we can drink enough to forget.

Now, we're supposed to settle for winning the home series, 2-1, against the Astros? Gimme a break. Haven't we already seen this episode of "Lost?" Of course, we have. And we know the outcome: THEY DON'T EXCAPE THE ISLAND. NOTHING GETS EXPLAINED. AT A CERTAIN POINT, THE SHOW ENDS, BUT THEY'RE STILL STANDING THERE, LOOKING EMBARRASSED FOR HAVING WASTED OUR TIME. IT DOESN'T TURN OUT HAPPILY.

Last night, Martin Prado did look solid - just as Alfonso Soriano looked 10 years younger last August. Already, the YESIRs seem to have anointed Prado as "Yankee 2B of the future." Yeesh. The same experts seem to think Cashman should re-sign Chase Headley, who two weeks ago sported a Soriano splurge, but now is settling back into the LOB machine he was reputed to be in San Diego. Are we going to add him to the long-range payroll?

Listen: When you sign players from the scrap heap or the municipal salary dump, you eventually face one grim reality: There is a reason why the previous team decided to part ways. It may not show up tomorrow. Just wait, and it will.

And when it does, your team will have sprung a new leak.

And a game you desperately had to win will fly out the window.