Friday, February 12, 2016

The pre-season NothingSpeak begins: Cashman says Yanks will contend... if nothing bad happens

Yesterday, Brian Cashman told reporters the key to 2016 is the Yankee rotation staying healthy.

He added that the sun is warm, 2+2=4, and he hoped that we still feel small when we stand beside the ocean, that whenever one door closes, we'll see one door open, that we'll promise to give faith a fighting chance, and if we get a choice to sit it out or dance... he hoped we'll dance.

Write this down: The key to 2016? No injuries. Got it?

If nobody gets hurt, everything A-OK!

“Our starting rotation’s health is really the keys to the kingdom for us,” Cashman said. “It normally is for anybody, but I believe when we’re able to run out our healthy starting rotation that we have on paper, we can match up with anybody.”


Okay. Get a grip. Take a pill. It's just the NothingSpeak that comes every February. It's just Cashman saying things to say things so the things that get said say nothing.

But... for the sake of saying things... let's play out this baby: Tell me a Yankee starter whom we should expect to go the season. CC? Uh-huh. He'll be 35. Last year, he crumbled like a chunk of bleu cheese. Pineda? Tanaka? Eovaldi? Granted, they're young. Each missed time last year. Severino, at 22, gives hope. He threw 62 MLB innings. How far do they stretch him? Above 150? If this guy ends up in TJ surgery... I cannot be held accountable...

Bullpen? That's our wheelhouse. But both Miller and Betances missed time last year, and whenever a guy throws 100 mph - as Chapman does - you wonder how long? (He's only 28.) After those three, it's all scrap-heapers and kids. Bob Shirley, you jest.

The OF? Gimme a break. Neither Ellsbury nor Gardner can be counted to play 140. Beltran at 39? Tex at 36? On any swing, poof. A-Rod's hips and knees belong in a freak museum (along with Cashman's mustache.) Didi and Castro could go the season. Headley looked older than 31 last year. McCann will be 32. He's a work horse, but we're already thinking about Gary Sanchez...

Conclusion: I agree with Cashman. If nobody gets hurt, we'll be okay. And if you get a chance to sit it out or dance... um... keep it in your pants.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The annual debunking of the myth

You know, the myth that the NFL is more competitive than baseball. 

From The ESPN Article About Sabathia And The Yankees' Rotation

 "From what we know of Cashman, it seems likely that the best five starting pitchers to come out of training camp are the ones he will take to Yankee Stadium, regardless of resume, length of service, or size of paycheck."

While fans zone-out on long-range strategies to land Bryce Harper, Yankees penny-pinching extends all the way to the bargain basement

Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves outbid the Retrieval Empire for a flea-market, spare-tire ex-Met named Carlos Torres, proving that when the Yankees go cheap, they go cheap from the top of the penthouse all the way down to the bodies in the bottom of the sinkhole.

This happened as River Ave, the pre-eminent Yankee interweb lug nut, fulminated at length on whether the top brass has committed the Empire to some secret Blofeld-level scheme to obtain Bryce Harper three years from now. This is the new parlor game for Yankee fans who see little hope for 2016.

The notion goes this way: Three years from now, Harper will be a free agent, so the secretly smart Yank brain trust is sitting on its cards, letting fat contracts die, so we can make Harper a $500 million Yankee. That's where the dream sequence ends, because it's hard to decide whether investing so much money into one player is a winning strategy. But - hey - when your team can't outbid the Atlanta Braves for Carlos Torres, you need something stronger than mouthwash to get through the slush of February. You need shoe polish, if not LSD.

Yesterday, Mike Axisa devoted about 1,200 words to the Harper "Endgame," eventually reaching one point: It's pointless. If the Yankees do have a secret Harper strategy, it will be irrelevant, if not incoherent, by 2019. In three years, Harper could be injured. Or a head case. Or a lifetime Nat. The most likely scenario: Washington trades him in his final year for a mountain of prospects that wrecks a team's farm system for a decade. He's being represented by Scott Boras. Do we need to think any more? Between now and then, there's a lot of bones to be put into the sinkhole.

So yesterday, the Yankees missed out on Carlos Torres. I won't pretend to care. The guy is 33, was ditched by the Mets, and got cuffed around pretty badly last year. He's no Justin Wilson. He might not even be Nick Rumbelow. If anything, it's sort of nice to think Cashman was even involved in a bidding party. The free agents still out there seem almost as pointless as pondering Harper, yet one could be the next Yangervis Solarte - the poster child for Cashman's scrap heaping.

We're a week away from the annual avalanche of crapola about players who have worked harder than ever before, found God, grown up, gone gluten free, whatever - the annual glut of gobbling. Bring it on. Anything beats this cheapo winter, when we couldn't even outbid the Braves.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Donald Trump's victory speech last night, refitted to the Yankees

Let's face it: Donald Trump should own the Yankees. 

These are his closing words from last night's victory speech in New Hampshire. My edits, of course, are in blue.

We are going to start winning again.
We don't win anymore.
As a country  team, we don't win on trades,
we don't win with the military bullpen,
we can't beat ISIS Boston.
We don't win with anything.
We are going to start winning again
and we're going to win so much,
you are going to be so happy,
we are going to make America the Yankees so great again,
maybe greater than ever before. 

In exchange for doing everything the Yankees want, gracious Andrew Miller might still get traded

Yesterday, Andrew Miller once again said he's fine, just fine, with being moved from the closer role, where last year he was the best in baseball. He told the Murdoch Mud:

“I will show up and be ready to pitch in whatever role they ask.”

So here is Miller - who kept alive the last great Yankee tradition: closer - saying and doing all the right things, while the franchise 1) Replaces him with a volatile, NL-tested, potential whack-job, who might be suspended for the first month, 2) Traded a valuable innings-eating chess piece, Justin Wilson, for two potential fifth starters in 2017, 3) Continues to eye potential deals for him.

We know why the Yankees must shop Miller. The owner, Food Stamps Steinbrenner, nixed spending on any of the big free agent pitchers, who didn't carry a draft pick price tag, and the Yankees (wisely) won't sign anybody who costs them a first-rounder. The franchise is playing Moneyball, not Yankee ball. Thus, to get a good starting pitcher, they must trade something of high value, and Miller is baseball's best closer, even though he won't be closing for us.

Some of you (rightfully) are shaking your head right now, thinking that spoiled Yankee fans squawk when they don't sign every free agent on the market. And you're right: In my perfect world, we would sign every player, and then cut the ones who don't measure up. Once upon a time, the Yankees were unique among American pro sports teams, and for reasons that might involve genetics as much as socialization, we are hopelessly drawn to the team.

Those of you who vow to not watch YES next year, or to boycott games, I say this: Don't kid yourselves. You're one five-game win streak from vaulting back onto the liquor wagon, just as the wheels tumble off. If you think you can walk away from a lifetime habit, you must be taking advice from Girardi's binder.

The 2016 Yankees, as they straggle into Tampa, look like a potential Wild Card team. They are one solid pitcher shy of winning the AL East, and the pathway to that one pitcher was simple: It required an owner who would to step to the plate. Instead, we have Food Stamps, who banks his money and talks long term strategy, like a 14-year-old with a pack of Strat-O-Matic cards.

As a result, Andrew Miller - the best closer in baseball - may still only know one year in pinstripes. Cities can trade players, but not owners. That's a shame, because Tampa would be a perfect fit for the one we have.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When good news goes bad: Cuba's best remaining player has defected and wants to be a Yankee.

Yulieski Gourriel, viewed by some as the last great player in Cuba, has defected with his younger brother, Lourdes. The guy is just 31, plays 3B and 2B, hits for average and power, and he wants to be a teammate of Alex Rodriguez. Yeah, his longtime dream has been to play for the New York Yankees.
This should be great news. This should have our owner donning his kinky boots.
So why do we all feel sick?

Feisty Food Stamps Steinbrenner has Yankees tweeting like it's October

You'll be excited to know that the Yankees traded snarky Twitter barbs yesterday with the Redsocks and Cubs.

Some websites say we got the best of them in the tweetwar. I cannot verify this, mostly because I could not bring myself to read the reports. I tried. I clicked on the site, but after reading the opening paragraph, I felt chest pains. When I clicked away, the diminished. I was afraid to go back.

This is a lost time of winter... a lost time of a lost, lost winter. The big baseball news yesterday - aside from the Yankees' great triumph on Twitter - was that two Cuban stars have run northward to play in America. This was the kind of news that used to excite Yankee fans, because the ownership was always interested in international talent. But yesterday's news simply meant that two other teams - possibly in our division - will sign players, while Food Stamps sits on the sidelines, counting his money.

But chin up, everybody. We won the day. Twitter War over. Yankees tweeted. Thuuuuuuuh Yankees tweeted.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Could the Redsocks be stuck with a puny Big Papi?

Two years ago, Yankee fans were offered one basic reason to root for their team: The farewell season for Mr. Derek Jeter. We got to thank and bestow gifts upon the man who led us back from nearly 20 years wandering the desert - (a lost exile we may only now be revisiting.) Our month of September became a Seinfeld nostaligia marathon on ME-TV. The last day in Boston, instead of two rivals playing for a pennant, is remembered for Bernie Williams' mournful guitar rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Jeter never got a shot at the World Series.

The record shows Jeet hit .256 with 4 HRs, 50 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He didn't cover ground but didn't flub easy grounders, either. As the season withered, and we fell out of contention for even the one-game Wild Card, Joe Girardi never once moved Jeter from his perch atop the batting order. The team never considered a replacement SS. They honored him all the way to the final game, even though - who knows? - a lineup with him batting eighth might have scored more runs. It was a respect thing, and now that it's over, I'm glad we did it. But at the time, we were not so happy. Jeter grounded into 15 double plays that year, and every one of them was a kick in the nuts. What were you going to do, boo?

Which brings us to the 2016 Boston Pre-Dynasty Superteam, which will spend the season honoring its gaptoothed, smiling World Ambassor of Peace and Love, David Ortiz. On opening day, Big Papi will bat third or fourth, and receive the loudest applause that Redsock fans can make with their piglike voiceboxes. And, as we are learning from the Boston media, this will be the year the Redsocks win the AL East and prove once and for all how smart the city is. (Thank you, Food Stamps Steinbrenner, for letting them get Yoan Moncada.) This is also the year they will say give Papi a proper goodbye.

Speaking on behalf of the Yankiverse, I say this:

Good luck with that, Boston. And welcome to our world.

Remember: If you're going to honor such a fine chap as Big Papi, he needs to be in the lineup every day. And an all-time beloved DH cannot bat seventh, eighth, or ninth. He needs to be in the middle of the action, up there with the Panda and Hanley Ramerez, who I hear is the new reincarnation of Lou Gehrig.

Last year, Papi - at age 39 - hit .273 with 37 HRs. He also hit into 16 DPs. I'm sure Boston would love such numbers to be repeated. We'll see.

Farewell seasons are great for ticket sales and memories and mournful tunes on a classical guitar. But the trouble with farewell seasons is that they last the whole season. Welcome to New York, Boston.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

At last: Cause for Yankee hope... the Gammonites are declaring Boston's victory

Yankeewise, it's been a crapola winter. We churned up a few trades, hoping to win on dice rolls (Hicks, Castro) and dealt four kids for a scary closer (El Chapo) who might also be a trainwreck. Before we got to watch him throw a pitch, we lost our best hitting prospect for the year. I'd call that a crapola winter, and when I say such things, I'm being polite to crap and his sister, Crapola.

But today - Super Dumbday - let's cling to one floating crudlump of hope: The Redsockian propanganda mill is printing playoff tickets, declaring victory in the winter of '15-'16. That's always a good sign.

In today's Boston Herald - the equivalent of our NY Post - in between the pop-up ads, a Gammonite named Michael Silverman says of the steroidal Goodbye Papies...

They’ve added a true, legitimate ace in David Price, and the same two adjectives apply to closer Craig Kimbrel. They can contend once more.

That's from his diagnosis of "winners" and "losers," which declares Boston as the former, and us as the later.

[W]hatever happened to boosting a rotation that features two time-bombs in CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, and promising but far from sure things in Michael Pineda and Nate Eovaldi?

Of course, he's right. They added David Price, and we countered with Lane Adams. Clearly, Boston has improved, while we are in danger of missing yet another year of the watered-down playoffs. (I do not consider losing the one-game Wild Card as having played in the post-season.) But when things go south, we still have Boston to watch. And whenever their expectations shoot sky-high, they become Bible-thumping Donald Trump in Iowa. They declared victory under Bobby Valentine, and they did it last year. They're declaring victory today? Best news I've heard since December 1.

Let's hope we don't have to watch them win another World Series, while Food Stamps Steinbrenner is still hording his money, waiting to give the all-clear sign on the last free agent contract. We are going to need somebody to break out this season - to give us something nobody anticipated. And we have to hope Boston continues to be Boston. At least the Gammonites are still Gammonites.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Master's contract negotiations "... somewhat acrimonious...?"

Quote the Raissman:

While the road to Waldman’s apparent deal appears to be smooth, sources said WFAN’s negotiations with Sterling were “somewhat acrimonious.”

Why Yankee fans should root for Carolina in the Super Bowl

1. If Peyton fails, Eli will still have more Super Bowl victories.

2. Cam Newton TD dance reminscent of A-Rod bat flip after fanning.

3. Carolina has never hurt us in baseball.

4. Carolina gave us Catfish Hunter.

5. Denver stole John Elway, elminating potential Yankee career as utility OF.

6. Carolina Super Bowl celebration will be wilder, due to less pot smoked.

7. Can't stand any more Peyton Manning "Poppa John" ads.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Down at the Columbus of Pennsylvania, Greg Bird's replacement is the Human Cannonball

The Scranton Railriders - aka the Traveling Wilkes Barres - have released their 2016 promotional schedule, and it's a reason to move to Tonga. The big event, by far, takes place June 17:

Human Cannonball/Man Vs. Marathon Night.

A long-distance marathon will coincide with the game, answering the age-old question of which takes longer to complete? (This ignores the question of which seems longer. Because few people run marathons, and even fewer watch an entire minor league game.) Then Dave "The Bullet" Smith - aka "the Human Cannonball" - will blast off from the outfield before the firework displays. Reserving you room now at the Airport Ramada.

There are other events: Bobblehead nights, Dollar Nights, an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet night, a Glow in the Dark Wrist Thingy night; you name it, there is a night for it. Let's face it: The modern minor league baseball product has little to do with the outcome of a game and everything to do with freak show carnival barking. Cities build expensive stadiums for teams. Nobody wants an empty park. In a perfect world, Greg Bird would be the reason to see a Scranton game, but it's not as if he'd be shot from a cannon.

As a Triple A resident - the Syracuse Chiefs are technically my team - I can tell you there is a Grand Canyon-sized disconnect between the parent club and the city that hosts its 26th man. MLB teams use their Triple A roster like a brain dead clone that is being harvested for body parts. They move players with such lack of concern for the Triple A team that you feel like a dupe for caring. Now and then, I will drive 45 minutes to the city of Auburn, which has an NYP League franchise. There, you see 18 year olds in their first professional incarnation. They still care about winning. They actually want to be there.

At Triple A, players generally look as if they rather be anywhere else in the world than Syracuse. Or Scranton. Or Tidewater, or anyplace but here.

So the teams spend eight months conjuring up the Human Cannonball and the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet night, seeking to create enough distractions, so the fans won't notice the lack of soul in the game. Because - and I really hate to say this - Triple A doesn't have any.

I write this today because, believe it or not, Greg Bird's injury may just have saved his career.

The Yankees were going to send Bird back to Scranton, where he would get depressed and go into a slump. From there, they would question whether he really was that good. The Yankees do this to too many of their young players. One year, they brutally cut Francisco Cervelli at the last minute and sent him to Scranton. It's a wonder he turned it around. Last year, they did it to Rob Refsnyder - they'll probably do it to him again. Slade Heathcott? Mason Williams? Ben Gamel? Odds are, at least two of them will be back in Scranton come April, staring at a summer when the Human Cannonball is the most exciting thing on the docket. I really hope that - for their sake - (and for that of the fans in Scranton,) the Yankees don't send them back. Because they will really envy Greg Bird.