Friday, July 3, 2015

When the Yankees get Bryce Harper, he won't look like this

Bryce Harper says his body is "unbelievable." But he loves his mom's cookies.

Ten thousand cookies later, he'll end up in NYC.


It's Brian Roberts time, posing to the Yankiverse the ultimate question: Just how bad is Rob Refsnyder's fielding?

Last July, the Yankees expressed absoute, 150 percent, smell-the-glove confidence in the esteemed 2B statesman, Brian Roberts... right up to the moment when they dumped him like a plate of bad clams. One minute he was a pillar of the franchise. The next, he never happened. Joe Stalin would have been proud.

Surely, Stephen Drew these days cannot turn on the radio without hearing Bob Dylan.

Any day now,
Any way now... 
I shall be released... 

Poor Drew. He's gotta be the most screwed man in history by the MLB-Players Union rules. In 2014, Drew was classified as Type A free agent. Thus, any team that signed him lost their first-round draft pick. As a result, nobody touched him, until Boston cut him a deal, and then dealt him to the Yankees for Kelly Somebody (I've blocked out the memory.) By then, Roberts was disappeared, and Drew had forgotten how to hit.

Last year, Drew hit .176 for Boston, and then .150 for us. This year, he's batting .183. He makes Brian Roberts look like Joggin' Robbie Cano. I hate to say this about a guy who seems to be liked and respected in the Yankee clubhouse. But the end is near. Whether he deserves it or not, fans will hold parades when he's gone.

Which makes the debate about Triple A 2B Rob Refsnyder so angry... and strange.

At Scranton, Ref is hitting .280 with 5 HRs. Last month, he was hitting over .300, fell into a slump, and now he's somewhat hot again. The question is his fielding: How unbelievably bad is it?

Refsnyer has 13 errors on the season. Last year, he made 12. But most of the errors this year came early - the first two weeks - when the Yankees were said to be "tinkering" with his footwork. (He's a converted OF.) To hear fans on website peanut galleries - mostly among people who have never seen him play - Refsnyder is a human version of the Holland Tunnel. Or not.

An example from today's River Ave Blue echo chamber:

So how much longer do we have to wait for a real major league audition for Refs? HIs OBP is over ,370 now and climbing. Drew is at .250. I remember reading somewhere back in the 1980s that not making outs was a good thing. Oh and defense? Check out Drew's metrics. ESPN has him at the very bottom in range factor. BR has with a dWAR at -0.1. FG Def has him near the bottom at -.05. So lets finally discard the notion that Drew is a superior defensive 2b. He most certainly is not. And now that Refs has overcome the Yanks pre-season tinkering with his fielding mechanics, he appears to be doing just fine with the glove.

To which another replies...

You've lost it. A minus 0.1 on metrics? He's so bad!!! Maybe Refs isn't getting any serious thought because he's not very good. Just like pirela his defense is crap. Crap is worse than minus 0.1.

I've seen Refsnyder play twice this season. Both times, nothing happened. He made routine plays. So what does it mean? Damned if I know. The Yankees tracked through Didi Gregorius' early season miseries, and he's become serviceable. They let Carlos Beltran stand in RF all year and pretend he's an outfielder. Soon, they must make a decision on Drew.

If they trade for another Drew/Roberts, we might as well file Refsnyder in the lost category of Austin Romine. That is, somebody in the Yankee system doesn't like him, and that's that. Whatever he hits, it won't be enough. I get that baseball guys know more than fans. But it sure would be nice to think that the baseball guys were running a productive farm system... not a graveyard for 27 year olds.

At some point, the Yankees have to show faith in young players. Or, seriously, is Ref that horrible?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My All-Star Ballot


You have 'til midnight.

Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away: Let the weekend begin with a new classic: CASEY AT THE SHIFT

CASEY AT THE SHIFT

The Sportsline odds looked awesome for the Mudville ten that night.

The Twitterverse was raging, Google trends were out of sight.
The Fox announcers struggled to express their full regard
For the team FiveThirtyEight had picked to win the Wild Card.

And in the first, Ed Barrow poked a single just past third.
When Cruz followed with a double, not one doubter could be heard.
For up strode mighty Casey, the team’s icon of success,
With a Fangraphs’ WAR of 10.6, and league-best OPS!

“Time out!” the shortstop waved a hand, his smirk quite unconcealed,
As his teammates relocated to the far end of the field.
Now a thicket of defenders on the right side slowly spread,
 “Lay down a bunt!” a young boy cried, but Casey shook his head.

“They won’t fool me,” he muttered, as he sauntered to the plate.
“They want to rob my power stroke, but I won’t take the bait.
“I’m paid to hit home runs, ‘cause bunts won’t make the yokels happy.
“My name is Casey,” Casey said. “Nobody calls me Slappy.”

So hard into the floating orb, he swung with all his weight,
And if he’d undercut that ball, it would have left the state.
A laser shot into the gap; it looked like certain trouble.
The only question: Would he merely settle for a double?

But as the Fates are known to do; they conjured up the worst;
The shortstop caught it on one bounce and threw him out at first.
He kicked the ground, he spat some spit, and huffed some angry air.
“It aint my fault,” said Casey. “Fielders don’t belong out there.”

And then, two innings later, it was Casey up again,
His team down by a couple runs, sacks full of Mudville men.
Again the defense shifted place; to bunt became a dare,
Again, he swung with all his might, and this time hit just air.

In the sixth, he reappeared… a hero, still divine.
Two outs, two on, a two-two tie, the Wild Card on the line.
The fielders moved, and Casey grinned, completely self-aware,
A routine pop to left would drop, with no one standing there.

“Just bunt!” the young boy pleaded. “There’s no need to crush the ball.
“A grounder to the shortstop hole will roll straight to the wall.
“Just check your swing. It’s easy. You won’t suffer mock disgrace.
“You needn’t send each ball deep into interstellar space!”

But Casey grinned with menace, as he leaned into the pitch,
And swung clean through the cowhide, no suggestion of a hitch.
A fearsome drive roared out to right, the ball was soundly hit,
It might have killed the man, had he not caught with his mitt.

And so the game continued, as the final inning loomed,
Down by one, with one last out, the outlook now looked doomed.
But Barrow beat a drag bunt on a replay-challenged call,
And Cruz, splitting a splitter, laced a double off the wall.
Now up stepped mighty Casey, with a chance to clear his name,
With a million thumbs a-tweeting, “OMG! This is the game!”
“Choke up!” they Twittered. “Lay 1 dwn! U’ll never feel regret.
“A walk-off bunt by Casey? That will break the Internet!”

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
And now the Jumbotron explodes with fireworks, on cue,
And half the world erupts with joy; the other half yells, “Boo.”
Oh, somewhere in this favored land, our sluggers show restraint,
And like Wee Willie Keller, batters “hit them where they aint.”
Yes, somewhere, children laugh, and not one soul is cast adrift.
But there is no joy in Mudville: Casey couldn’t beat the shift.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bobby Bonilla Day in Met World

It could be worse, A-Rod critics.

Every July 1, the Mets send Bobby Bonilla a check for $1.2 million. This will continue until the year 2035... (if man is still aliiiiiive...)

Yankee batting heroes last night


For Yankee fans, the worst thing that can happen... might be happening

Question: To a God-fearing, two-nutted, Stottlemyre-raised Yankee fan, what's the absolute worst thing that can happen?

Answer: We miss the playoffs, and Boston wins the World Series. Pretty horrible, eh? Makes you want to buy some Draino and measure the nearby bridges, right?

Well, how about this for a worse scenario: We fall apart, and Boston comes back from a huge deficit to win it...

Oww. Just typing the words hurts.

Look, I don't want to terrify small children - or myself - but last night, Baltimore, Tampa, Toronto and the Geriatric Ward known as the Yankees all lost - solidifying our grip on the 2015 garbage list. Boston won. Believe it or not, the Redsocks are now a mere six games out. Six. It's as if the last three months didn't matter. Six games out.

This was the going to be a summer when the open wounds of Yankee fans would at least be salved by the supremely sorry state of the Redsocks, who spent a fortune last winter on love handles and bad Cuban cigars. No matter how bad we were, Boston would be worse.

Six games out. So much for snickering. One of the hallmarks of the late nineties was how the Fenway Nation loved to chant "Yankees suck!" one inning too early. Remember how they popped the champagne in the ninth inning of the 2003 Aaron Boone game? Ah, those were the days...

Gone. Long gone.

A month ago, we were drunkenly laughing at Papi's .222 average and Joe Kelly's Cy Young season. But did we start chanting an inning too early?

Once again, we are facing the new Yankee tradition - that sinking feeling that arrives July 1. We are gasping for air like a marathon runner with a carton-per-day habit, and our big hopes are now for Ellsbury's swift return - (How often over the years have teams yearned for that?) - and that Cashman somehow strips another team's roster bare, an increasingly rare event. We aren't chasing the pennant. We are chasing the Trade Deadline, aka: The end of Stephen Drew.

Last night, our bats again turned flaccid - our second 2-hit showing in the last three games. The only wins on this road trip came gift-wrapped by Houston. Also, Carlos Beltran is now down with a rib-cage injury, perhaps the most mysterious affliction that an ancient hitter can face. He could back Tuesday or out until September. It's hard to cry about losing Beltran, who played RF like a zombie, but he was slowly starting to hit. Now, if he does miss time, must we then go through another month of him hitting .220, shaking off the rust that comes with being 38? The only thing worse than injuries are old players who try to play through them. (See Beltran, 2014)

We started this year with a sick feeling that Boston had out-smarted us - that the worst thing that can happen... could happen.

We were wrong. It might be worse than we imagined.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Yankees star of Monday night's game answers your mean-spirited questions

Never thought I'd see this. The fan who ran onto the field - yes, the one that John and Suzyn so disdain - shares his moment of triumph.

Some of the comments:

Question... How are you able to run so well with your head so firmly jammed up your own ass.

Do you wish your parents had spent more time with you growing up?


"HEY EVERYBODY LOOK AT ME WHILE I INTERRUPT THE GAME YOU PAID TO SEE LEL"
Yeah get lost.

But his response is best:

I'm just confused how during the game everyone was wildly cheering yet now all of a sudden it's 90% disapprovement all of a sudden. #IDidItForThePeople

Yankee terror threat elevated: The Redsocks have played far too poorly thus far to be only seven games out

Everything has gone wrong this season, and now Dustin Pedroia is hurt: By now, Boston should be out of the race - done, kaput.

Over their last 10, the Redsocks are 6-4. They beat Toronto last night. The sheer crumminess of the AL East has saved them. They remain too close for comfort.

Two Things....both ugly and rotten



The first thing is minor, but opens a window to the truth.  That is;  in today's poll about what the Yankees should do as the trade deadline looms, a crucial choice has been omitted.  And it is the choice the Yankees will make;

"Trade whatever prospects it takes to get  bloated contracts of lousy, old guys with excellent CA's, but no ability to play. " That is;  get more Beltrans.

The second thing is;  the Yankees are getting too predictable.  I stayed up last night to watch the beginning of the west coast game at whatever ungodly hour it was.

I was encouraged when Brett continued his hot streak by blasting a double to right center.  Then, predictably but inexplicably, Young ( a former Met remember ) doesn't bunt him over to third.  This is the top of the god-shit first inning.  And no one is out.  A run would be good.  Instead, Young hacks away and  weakly pops out ( thinking HR, I'm sure ), leading to the end of the inning courtesy of the guys who won't hit against the shift.

As early as the end of the first inning, when the Angels only ( note only ) got one run, I fucking knew this game was over.  And it is because the Yankees refuse to play baseball.  They never bunt the runner over.  Not even when every text book calls for it.

This is a team desperate for offense.  Desperate for runs.  Bunt Brett over and give the team a chance.

 Girardi is a shitty manager.  Cashman is worse, as a GM.

We are going down like Greece.

The Adam Warren story: Unless you have a big, bloated contract or faerie godfather at the top, you'll never be good enough

Now and then, some poor sap rises up from the Yankees muck farms with an "X" scrawled onto his back, signifying where the top brass intends to put the ice pick. From our cheap seats, we fans never get to know what the guy did wrong: Did he not flush the toilet, or use the right fork for lobster? Whatever the reason, the Yankees never value him.

Whatever he does, it's never enough.

Melky Cabrera was such a player. He was the 24-year-old starting CF on our last World Championship team. (Johnny Damon played in LF.) Melky hit .274 with 13 HRs, with a great arm, and he seemed poised for a fine career. So Cashman dealt him (with Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez, Version II.) You can crunch numbers and create alternative universes until Danny Tartabull deserves a CF plaque, but a soggy deal is a soggy deal. Melky has had a nice career. Was he too close to Cano? Was it the PEDs? Or did he just use the wrong fork? I dunno. But the Yankees couldn't wait to ditch him. Cashman was chasing Curtis Granderson. Melky was in the way. And there was that "X" on his back.

Another such player is Francisco Cervelli, currently one of the best catchers in the NL. Not a week goes by without some writer extolling Frankie's virtues (the Pirates "quiet MVP," according to Sports Illustrated.) You'd think the Yankees would have loved him. Twice, he went to a hospital in an ambulance, still wearing his Yankee uniform. He always seemed to hit in the clutch. Numerous pitchers cited his ability to run a game. But in the last day of 2011 spring training, the Yankees made one of the cruelest moves in modern memory: Frankie was in line to be the back-up catcher (to Russell Martin), but they traded for Chris Stewart and dropped Cervelli to Scranton. It was the year when Scranton played home games on the NY State Thruway. It nearly broke him. Cervelli got off to a terrible start. He thought of quitting. Somehow, he came back. Last season, he hit .301 - the highest average on the Yankees. But he couldn't erase that "X." The Yankees traded him for Justin Wilson, a serviceable bullpen lefty. And the fans knew we had done a favor, fostering his escape from the Yankee Dannemora Prison. He is now hitting .303.

Now comes Adam Warren, a longtime farm system lugnut, whose 3.59 ERA is the best among Yankee starters. The team announced yesterday that Nathan Eovaldi (4.81 ERA) will start Wednesday, bumping Warren to the bullpen. The YES team will spin this by saying Warren is a valuable long man - the pitcher that Esmil Rodgers and Chris Capuano (two Cashman projects) have failed to become. Thus, Warren takes one for the team.

It's the typical Yankee move. Year after year, it's the reason why this team cannot unstick its head from its butt.

Warren's crime was rising through a system that the Yankees simply do not feel invested in. Nobody at the top traded for him, or signed him to a bloated deal - and that means he can never be appreciated and will always be expendable. He doesn't have Sabathia's contract. He doesn't have Cashmnan on the block for a big trade. He's just another Melky or Frankie. If he blows out his shoulder from pitching every other day - well - no loss. Come winter, some team will be happy to take him off our hands.

Oh well, that's the Yankees way. We owe Sabathia $50 million over the next two seasons. Need anything else be said?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Crying time for Cashman starts Thursday


Hey, want it to hurt even more?

David Carpenter has now pitched in six games for the Nats - four and two-thirds innings - and not given up an earned run.

(Though, to be fair, Chasen Shreve hasn't given up an earned run in the month of June.)

Whoosh. That was not only the sound of Yankee bats Sunday, it was the sound of Baltimore passing them in the standings

Move along, everybody, there's nothing to see. Go on, get! There's a long way to go. It's way too early to panic. YOU THERE, STOP GAWKING! MOVE!

When Garrett Jones and Carlos Beltran play OF, the 2015 Yankees pay the price for their original sin: Wanting to screw A-Rod

In our brief, recent sight-seeing excursion to the Confederacy, the damned Yankees gave the world two spectacular OF blunders, each worthy of a season ending low-light reel.

Saturday night, Carlos Beltran pivoted around neatly to watch a fly ball land over his head and bounce against the wall - a sense of daring-do that would have made Bobby "The Wallflower" Abreu look like Minnie Minoso. Carlos merely turned, pounded his mitt, and waited patiently for the ball to return. It came during a 6-6 tie. Fortunately, the Yankees won and, thus, the play never happened. If a ball falls in the forest, nobody hears it, right?

Yesterday, Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner rendered unto us what one blog rightfully called "a little league home run." They nearly collided, both flinched, and then Gardner compounded matters by trying out for the NYCFC. Technically, it was Gardy's error. And Brett apologized to Michael Pineda. But I'd say resumes need to be considered. And here is one element of Garrett Jones' thumbnail: Wherever he plays, the guy is an absolute abomination. Last week, he nearly cost us a game playing firstbase on a bad throw to the plate. He was drummed out of the National League. He is a full-time DH - and the Yankees have three. Yep, three.

Brian Cashman last winter made a big splash by emphasizing defense. He signed Headley, traded for Didi, and has kept Rob Refsnyder on double-secret probation at Scranton - all because of defense. I have no problem with the strategy. But... well... then we watch Beltran and RF and Jones in LF - two bookends, who move like bookends.

Of course, we blame the injuries. Tweaked gonads turn every team into the old KC Keystone Cops. And Jones does hit RH pitching. Trouble is, every time he staggers under a pop fly, he reminds us of Hal Steinbrenner's 2015 original sin: He wanted to screw A-Rod and save a few bucks on milestone money.

The Yankees figured Jones would be the lefty DH, platooning with somebody. Thus, they could ship out A-Rod for a bucket of fried chicken, as they did with AJ Burnett. I don't blame Cashman for being skeptical about A-Rod's ability to come back. But the Yankees sure have launched crazier flights of fancy - Stephen Drew, a prominent one - and when Jones in the OF, they might as well be summoning the Babadook.

We are a team with three full-time DHs.

Hey, if the Redsocks shop Papi at the deadline, should we go for four?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Austin DeCarr: SURGERY. Ty Hensley: SURGERY. Domingo German: SURGERY. Ian Clarkin: NEXT?

In today's Post-Rupert Retirement Review, Joel Sherman notes the past Yankee hype about their mediocre farm system, but says the system now looks productive... according to unnamed scouts. In other words, they're still hyping, but now it's true... according to people who do not attach their names to words.

For years, I've viewed Sherman as the best Yankee beat writer in NYC. Throughout the A-Rod lynchings, he stood apart from the mob. He says of six scouts he interviewed - (he does not say if they are Yankee scouts - a big distinction, because Yankee scouts have a vested interest in praising their system) - opinions ranged markedly. The Yankees are definitely improving their development of positional players. Are they still competitive with - say - Tampa, or even Boston? That's a different question, altogether.

But there are some issues. More young pitchers are going down with elbow issues.

Sherman says Austin DeCarr, taken in the third round of last year's draft, had Tommy John surgery. He was our second pick after Jacob Lindgren, who is out with a bone spur on his elbow.

Then there Ty Hensley - aka: the Reverse Lou Gehrig - (the unluckiest man on the face of the earth.) - our first pick in 2012. After suffering a pile of injuries, he's out with TJ surgery.

Domingo German is a 22-year-old who came over from the Marlins in the Evaldi-Prado trade, and was immediately hyped as one of Cashman's secret squirrels. He's out with TJ surgery.

And now Ian Clarkin, one of our three first-rounders in the 2013 draft - one of the top pitching prospects in our system - may be headed to the surgeon, according to Sherman. He hasn't thrown a pitch this year.

This isn't the first time the Yankees have seen a TJ avalanche. A while back, they were viewed as the franchise that didn't shy away from cutting young elbows. The Yankees drafted both Andrew Brackman and Mark Melancon, despite concerns that each were headed for TJ, (which they had), and they traded for Mr. Humberto Sanchez, even though his elbow was a bit suspect. They learned their lesson - as exemplified by their decision to rest Masahiro Tanaka, rather than send him to the slicer. But now they face another wave.

Read the article. Should we actually have hope?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Banuelos is looking like the one that got away

Last winter, after Brian Cashman traded him, a few of the Yankee "prospect" blogs conveniently downsized their assessments of Manny Banuelos. He went from being a big-hope-for-a-comeback to a never-gonna-make-it. Excitement was building over the Yankees big acquisition: David Carpenter!

The fact that longtime Yankee executive Gordon Blakely had jumped to Atlanta - where he orchestrated the deal - might have raised questions. But, hey, David Carpenter!

Well, get ready to file this one in the Tyler Clippard Biz Bag.

Banuelos threw a two-hit shutout the other day for the Braves' Triple A Gwinnett Paltrows, and he's leading the International League in ERA. Of course, it don't mean squatola until he's doing it in the majors. But brace yourselves, comrades, because it's really going to hurt, if Manny - the guy we watched for most of four years - becomes a star in Atlanta. We can't hold it against Chasen Shreve - the other guy we got in the deal - but David Carpenter turned into an abomination, and trading a future starter for a middle innings LOOGY is not going to get Cashman a centerfield plaque.

Buckle your seatbelts, everyone. Because I can already feel Mt. Alphonso preparing to seethe.

Chris Young saves the night, the series, the road trip, maybe the season... and most of all, face

So shoot me. I was wrong about Chris "Forever" Young. Since April, whenever he's come to bat, I'd turn in the direction of Tampa and fart. I've had it with drain-circling ex-Mets, five years past peak foliage, who take a roster slot from a kid who shall never see the light of 100 Yankee at-bats. As a juggalo-level fan, I reserve the right to throw Faygo cola at Yankee teams that are built from the scrap heap. It is galling and insulting to watch prospects, year after year, rise up from the primordial ooze of Charleston and Trenton - the Danemora Correctional Facility of farm systems - and then get cockblocked because the front office iPad-Facebookers signed another Brennan Boesch... or... yep, a Chris "Inappropriately Named" Young.

It drives you even battier when the Boesch or the Mark Reynolds, or the Ben Francisco, or the Youk, or the Pronk, or - listen: I can go on forever - the Chris Young, fails to hit for us.

While we're on the subject of Hell... The other day, I was watching that four-Kleenex Stephen Hawking movie, where the Hawk is hooked up to the Univac dishwasher, speaking through a vaccum cleaner, and he says, "... where... there... is... life... there... is... hope..." and everybody boots it. Everybody but me. All I could think was, there is no life on a team of 39-year-olds, and where there is no life, there is no hope, nada, nope, nuthing.

And until last night, I was right.

So shoot me. You know by now that Young last night hit the game-winning, face-saving three-run homer (and Carlos Beltran - my other personal Yankee whipping mule - also deserves a foot massage for delivering a key base hit.) We were about to lose to Houston, a franchise exploding with youth - this year's KC Royals - when Young saved our sorry butts. (That wasn't even his first Yankee moment: Last year, when they picked him off the scrap heap, he went Ruthian for two nights, then tweaked a Higgs boson and went on the DL.)

Well, I was wrong about Young... but not about young players. Right now, the hope for the Yankees will not be found in the MLB discard pile or the July heat wave of salary dumps. It's down at Scranton and Trenton - the Heathcotts, Floreses, Mason Williamses, and the emerging nation known as Aaron Judge. The Severino kid last night threw seven shutout innings for Scranton. He's 21. Could CC have done that? DON'T ANSWER. 

Soon, the Yankees will do what they always do - trade prospects for this year's new old wave. Maybe we'll score a seasoned vet without giving up the future. (Jury still out on Pete O'Brien.) Or maybe we'll give away another Mark Melancon. But damn and gloriosky! - either way, take a bow, Chris Young. That was one helluva hit. Everybody, sing! ... where... there... is... life... there... is... hope...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Science made easy: Explaining the CERN Large Hadron Collider through baseball

It's hard for us to understand what's going on at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, which is about to be turned on in Europe. It might unveil the presence of worm holes to alternative universes - you know, where the Hulk goes to the Skrull planet and falls in love - or it could destroy the fabric of all universal matter, ending our existence, with the Yankees only one game out in the loss column, Suzyn.

So... what IS going on?

I've heard it said that baseball can be... a metaphor...  for life!

Consider this edited quote from a Daily Beast thumb-sucker about the Hadron collider. 

Dark matter (Pitching) is a real problem in physics today. It’s one of the big puzzles,” CERN physicist Dave Charlton told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation this month. “We don’t understand what 95% of the universe (league) is made of. We know from astronomical observations that there is dark matter (pitching) in the universe (league) – probably five times as much as the normal everyday matter (pitching) that we can see. So what is it? We don’t know. One very good possibility is the theory of supersymmetry, which predicts that dark matter (pitching) is due to particles (players) that we should be able produce at the LHC.”

Great moments in the 2015 Redsocks (continued)

Team says of future Cy Young Award winner Joe Kelly: "Tuck it!" 

Staggering toward July, and chasing another Wild Card, the Yankees face their annual Cashman culling of the herd

It's easy to over-exaggerate the importance of a Yankee defeat, especially when your psychic existence orbits around the health of - say - Carl Pavano's buttocks. And last night's shutout was as predictable as a sugar hangover on November 1. Watching the Evils coast through the 7th and 8th innings - flailing at first pitches like they had one of A-Rod's private girlie shows to catch - you knew the night was lost long before Central Standard Time reached beddy-bye.

So here we sit, one-and-a-half games behind tepid Tampa in the AL East (or as The Master would stress, "... only ONE in the loss column, Suzyn!") If the season ended today, we'd face our traditional playoff whipping mules - the Twins - for the Nine-Inning Bud Selig Memorial Wild Card Cup. Think: Tanaka vs. Hughes, in the Land of Lakes. The winner - us, of course - would head to Kansas City or - (gasp!) - Houston, to face Dallas Keuchel and A-Rod's after-game furry delights.

But... the season doesn't end today. It hasn't even begun. Soon, the Yankees will launch the annual Cashman Midseason Makeover, a series of bloated contract acquisitions that has become as much of the Yankee experience as the selling of $39.99 ceremonial keepsake dirt. Soon, we will the launch the annual culling of the herd - when the franchise cuts bait on an Alfonso or a Roberts, while sending a "prospect" - always one the team craftily realizes has no future - for next year's Alfonso or Brian.

Some blogs scan MLB rosters for future Yankees. That's absurd. Last year, nobody foresaw Martin Prado, Branden McCarthy and Chris Capuano. Some immaculate births just happen. Nevertheless, we can study the Yankee roster to discern who is likely to go.

So... who is a goner?

1. Stephen Drew, if anyone will take him. The occasional two-HR game cannot justify an average below .200. I don't know who the Yankees get to play 2B. But the fan base is clamoring for a change. We went from "Robbie Cano Doncha Know!" to "Stephen Drew, everybody, boo!" Somewhere out there, we can do better.

2. A prospect. I'm thinking Gary Sanchez, the Triple A catcher who will play in this year's Futures Game. In recent years, the Yankees have been trading their former Futures Games kids (De Paula, O'Brien), and Sanchez has been hanging around so long, he should be on a Trenton zoning board. He could bag us a decent mediocre veteran. So, why not?

3. Heathcott/Flores/Williams - one of the three Riders of the Rail. Of course, before anyone goes, Jacoby Ellsbury has to heal, and it's fair to start wondering how bad his knee really is. Also, Heathcott and Williams have to heal. (Is there something toxic in CF that I don't know about?)

4. Someone from the vast soldiers of the Night's Watch that the Yankees have poured onto the bullpen during the month of June. Last I looked, we'd gone through 23 pitchers this month. I can't begin to fathom which ones are running out of options. But some will surely be either traded or eaten by a dragon.

5. Hal's money. He apparently doesn't like to spend it during in the winter. (I'm thinking he gets so infused with Christmas generosity, that he lavishes it on expensive pens and bottles of perfume for loved ones.) But Hal has no problem opening his purse at the end of the fiscal school year. He would make a fine Board of Education president, if any district is looking - (thinking of you, White Plains, hint hint.)

So how are Pavano's buttocks, anyway?