Tuesday, June 19, 2018

In a sweet equilibrium, the 2018 Yankees are chasing their own history

It is the way of Yankee fans to see every grain of brown rice as a possible mouse turd. That is, we can be winning 10-2, but if Jorge Posada hits into a bases-loaded DP, it fucking ruins our whole night. So be it. Mariner fans can rejoice over a well-played game. We want beat-downs. We want history.

We yearn for the team where every hitter is hot, and every pitcher lights-out. We want 1927, or 1950, or 1961, or 1978, or 1998... teams that arrive once in a generation and bring joyous memories that will last the rest of our lives.

This might be such a team. 

If you look at 15 to 20 year cycles, the franchise is - like Yellowstone - slightly overdue. 

And the best indication - despite our love of negativity - is how the 2018 team has avoided dark slumps. The above chart shows Yankee hitters over the last seven games, a period in which the team scored roughly four runs per game.

As you see, three players - Didi, Stanton and Judge - carried us. Didi and Stanton had previously been slumping. (Since opening day, Judge remains the most consistent Yankee, yet another sign of his ascending greatness.) Meanwhile, Gardy and Andujar - two previously hot hitters - went into the crapper. (Gary Sanchez has been cold now for a distressing period, but he might be breaking out.)

The team seems to have reached an equilibrium, where when one player freezes, another takes over. Last night, Stanton and Hicks carried us. 

So is this a team of destiny? Obviously, too soon to say. My guess is it depends on Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, (and maybe Sanchez.) Whenever rookies hit a slump, you automatically wonder if they'll emerge as the same player. That's the deal with youngsters. But we do have a fail safe: If either enters a deathly tailspin or gets hurt, Brandon Drury looks hungry and incredibly ready in Scranton. 

This may not be 1927 or 1961, but right now, it looks like the best Yankee team since 1998. The bar is high. We're coasting... in a good way. And I'm not suggesting that anybody should touch the brown rice. But you better make sure you enjoy this summer. We might be on the verge of something special. 

What Is Clutch?

Does "clutch" even exist?

Many statheads don't think so—and they have a point. So many of the ways we try to define clutch end up as chimeras.

"Men in scoring position"? Well, isn't first base a "scoring position"? Isn't home plate, if the batter puts the ball in the grandstand?

"Late and close"? Do runs in the first inning not count anymore? If you're up 10-0 by the third, isn't that actually easier on your pitching staff?

The postseason?

Sure, there are some epically bad postseason flops, such as the recently resurfaced Nick Swisher, who in 185 October plate appearances managed to compile a .165/.277/.297/.575 slash.

But usually, the postseason means a very short time to face some of the top pitchers in the game, and simply provides too small a sample size.

Willie Mays slashed .247/.323/.337/.660 in a mere 99 plate appearances scattered over 23 seasons, including just 1 NLCS home run. Was the Say Hey Kid not clutch?

Mickey Mantle set the record for home runs in the World Series, and had a .908 OPS, but batted just .257, far below his lifetime, regular-season average of .298. Was The Mick not clutch?

Of course, everybody KNOWS A-Rod wasn't clutch...though in the end, his .259/.365/.457/.822 line and 13 homers in 330 plate appearances was far from terrible, and he had some very good postseasons, including a great 2009 that got us our last ring.

So...what is clutch?

Well, Reggie Jackson, famously one of the very best postseason players ever, described it as the ability to stay within yourself and just hit as you normally do.

I'd say that's a pretty good definition.  And by those lights, the strategy and tactics of the New Baseball PRECLUDE players from EVER being consistently clutch.

You've heard the classic phrase: "He was up there trying to hit a five-run homer." Again and again, we've all seen it: the guy who is trying to do to much, to carry the whole team on his back, and make every at-bat the greatest ever.

Well, that's what the New Baseball approach demands. That's what the strategy of, "Go up there and swing for the fences, every single time," makes players do.

Right now, I would say that it's killing the Yankees' young players, just as they should be developing. The whole lineup is turning into a gray goo of .240 hitters who specialize in solo homers.

The Yanks have now gone 22 straight games—23, if you count the Washington make-up—without scoring more than 8 runs in a game, something that happened once on this streak. They've gone 12 games without scoring more than 5 runs—something that also happened once.

And once again last night, the team left 10 men on base, five of them on second or third.

The New Baseball is killing the potential of this team, even as it starts to bloom. It is teaching hitters how NOT to play the game, and leaving them frustrated and confused. It's also going to kill the bullpen.

It was nice to pull out the nightcap last night, even after Sonny "Ice Water for Blood" Gray could not get an out in the sixth inning. But once again, that required pretty much all the horses in the pen. That's pretty much the only way the Yanks win now, and it cannot last.

Monday, June 18, 2018

This Has GOT to Mean Something!

Found this one in a little sandwich shop up on W. 168th St.—in one of those buildings that, according to the old photos, was there when the Yankees née Highlanders were still playing across the street in Hilltop Park. It was the last Diet Coke in the cooler.

If THIS doesn't get something started, then I may be forced to concede that baseball is just a meaningless exercise, unconnected to the great forces of time, space, and dimension in the universe.

Yankees disappoint their fathers

Throughout the pageantry and institutional self-love of yesterday's Old-Timers game - producing an avalanche of bittersweet memories from the likes of Ron Bloomberg, Willie Randolph and Ramiro Mendoza - one absolute certainty rose above all others: 

Surely, the Yankees would win the real game.

There was no doubt. A done deal. Best team in baseball vs the 32-38 Tampa Rays. A four-game McBroom. Surrounded by so much Yankee tradition, they absolutely HAD to win that game.

Well, so much for that.

Today, we're once again tied with Boston - a dangerous dogfight, with the loser  facing a one-game post-season. On a stunningly clear afternoon, when players could glimpse themselves 30 years from now, still drawing cheers, they couldn't score two measly runs against an ingrown toenail of a pitching staff. 

I realize that nobody wins them all, that shit happens, and that going 7-3 in their last 10 games is nothing to whine about... that is, unless you are a Yankee fan.

Surely, Gary Sanchez soon will emerge from his slump, see his shadow and have six more weeks as starting catcher. 

Surely, Giancarlo Stanton will heat up, carry the team and produce in meaningful situations.

Surely, Greg Bird will start hitting, or hurt his foot again and disappear.

That the Yankees are winning despite those three testifies to the power of their lineup and an unexpectedly quality starting rotation If Domingo German and Jonathan Loiasiga can continue - big questions there - the Yankees should be in the driver's seat at the trade deadline. You can't ask for more.

And even if Brett Gardner's knee goes blooey - he says an MRI yesterday showed no structural problems (of course, the Yankees never tell the truth about injuries, so there's that) - the Yankees are jacked with young outfield talent. Even if Gardner goes on the DL, along with Clint Frazier, Billy McKinney and Tyler Wade, there remains the mysterious Jacoby Ellsbury... though something is increasingly fishy about his situation in Tampa. 

Still, how could they lose yesterday... on Old-Timers Day, on Fathers' Day, on any sunny day before such a home crowd? 

Now and then, everybody loses. That's baseball. But there remains a queasy uncertainty about this team. For all its power, for all its young talent, we still don't know whether this is a championship lineup, or just an early October check-out. Ask me which Yankee I want up with two-outs in the ninth and the tying run on third, and I'd probably say Gleyber Torres, who hasn't even yet been tested. That's a problem, folks. And if the Yankees don't see it, their fathers do.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

It's Not the Pitching.

Another Sunday, another excellent pitching performance utterly wasted.

Today, facing a "starting" pitcher—who knows what anybody is doing for Tampa Bay anymore? Starting, relieving, and the this and the that, and HEY LADY!—with an ERA of over 6, the Yanks scored all of one run—on a dinger, of course—and left 9 men on base, 5 on second or third.

Their at-bats with those 9 runners on went:

Fly out, ground out, ground out, strike out, strike out, ground out, strike out, strike out, fly out, double-play ground out, strike out, strike out, ground out, strike out, strike out, pop out.

Quite a display.

Now granted, Neil Walker, the Designated Fridge Break was playing, and Bird was stretching out his Limitless Potential, which will someday be so immense he might get above the .220 mark. And then there's the fact that it was Fathers Day, and maybe our heroes were just too teary-eyed thinking of all the sacrifices their dads made for them to see the ball clearly, or too depressed by the baby-blue hats they were forced to wear for the occasion, take your pick.

But such peccadillos obscure a larger problem, methinks. This team can't hit.

As previously noted, its run production is dropping steadily, from over 6 runs a game in April, to 5.25  in May, to just 4.0 for May. It has now been 21 games since the Yanks scored more than 8 runs, a total reached exactly once in that skein, back on June 2. They've scored more than 4 runs just 6 times in those same 21 contests.

In the last 10 games, they've averaged just 3.2 runs a game, and are 7-3 only by dint of the pitchers performing at levels that cannot and will not hold up.

Let's face it, folks. There are World Cup teams that score more than the Yankees.

I jest, I jest, of course. But seriously: lest I be accused of the mortal heresy of small sample size, this really is about more than just the dreaded Walker taking needed reps from players who are still among the living, or Bird's fractious ankles.

For the last couple years now, every single player who comes to the Yankees becomes less and less effective as a hitter as time goes on. Sure, some of that is pitchers making adjustments to hot rookies. But veterans suffer the same fate.

What's going on is the approach. The Yankees, like many teams today, train their players to produce home runs or nothing. Unsurprisingly, what they get are home runs or nothing. It's not enough. Their sinking run production will kill them in the playoffs, and likely break the bullpen before they ever get there.

Never forget: in 2009, Doug Mientkiewicz called Nick Swisher a turd

Delightful to some, insufferable to others (me), Nick Swisher today wears the paper crown of Yankee Old Timer's Game MVP. But nine years ago...

Pete Abe: Redsocks fans worse than we are

Everything is going TOO well; something must be wrong...

Ah, Tampa - sister city to the tribe, our own Mar-a-Lago, a small market with two major league franchises. Nothing beats a visit from the Rays, a team that is already looking to 2020 - preparing to tank - and laying out their trade-able veterans like the salad buffet at Ruby Tuesdays. 

I'm not saying the Rays have given up on 2018 - they're only 16 out of first in the AL East (13 in the wild card!) - with a batting order that, if spoken aloud, sounds like a Rosetta Stone lesson in Swahili: "Duffy bauers adames cron wendel gomez smith field sucre?" (translation: "Where do I find corn bagels in Bolivia?")

All I can say is this: Merely taking three out of four this weekend is NOT an option. It is time for Ryan McBroom. It is time for a Yankee winning streak that cannot be derailed by rain clouds or off-days. Right now, everything remotely associated with the Yankees - from the starting lineup down to Single A prospects - is roaring like the cicadas, and June 29, when Boston arrives, cannot get here soon enough. 

Of course, we must fear Cashman's impending trade war. Nobody wanted a trade war - it will devastate our farms and could upend the surging Yankee economy. But Hal has demanded it, and he is in control. 

We know that the trade winds will blow, just as hurricanes will form in the Atlantic. We cannot stop this. We can only hope that our infrastructure is sound, and that we know our system's secrets better than the GMs who plan to plunder it. On that note, check out this comprehensive wrap-up of ex-Yankees done by NJ.com - from Dustin Ackley to Eric Young Jr. - for a look at what can go wrong, or right. Bravo, NJ.com. This was painstakingly delivered, and it covers everything.

Now, bring us McBroom!  

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Last night, the Railriders looked like the Golden State Warriors of minor league baseball

Yeesh. I haven't seen such a stomping since Bruno Sanmartino avenged himself against Hans Mortier, that stinking Nazi bastard, on WPIX's "Wrestling from Washington." Last night, Scranton beat the hometown Syracuse Chiefs - (alias the "Salt Potatoes," for renewed marketing ops) - 14-2, with our two measly runs coming in the ninth, while everyone was Gameday-ing the Yanks on their phones, waiting for the fireworks display.

Some crude, uninformed observations:

1. Don't know why Josh Rogers gets such little respect from the Simon Cowells and Paula Abduls of the prospect-scouting scam industry. Last night, he so efficiently put down the Chiefs that I barely saw him pitch. He went 7 innings, gave up three hits and walked nobody. Three up, three down, repeat. You want a crafty lefty? They couldn't touch him. Half-innings lasted three minutes. The guy is 23, getting outs in at Triple A, and you'd think he'd be in the mix for call-ups. But nobody ever mentions him. 

Of course, he's been inconsistent; we can't know if last night started a streak or is just a temporary thing. Also, Justus Sheffield pitched well Thurdsay night, and Dillon Tate did well in Trenton - not to mention Jonathan Loiasiga - all coming together, just as Cashman looks to play musical chairs - trading someone for another traditional mid-season tin can. The official line is that the Yankees are playing so well that "they deserve" to be helped with a trade for pitching. I don't know about that. Seems to me, they're playing well because they finally gave rookies a chance. Would changing the strategy now actually be a reward?

2. Ryan McBroom - who I symbolically demand when the Yankees near a sweep - (hopefully, this weekend) - had a career - no, a lifetime - night. He went 5 for 6 with a HR. It was like something on the Sci-Fi Channel. At one point, he seemed to tap a ball, which soared into the left-center gap for a double. He made a nice catch in deep right-center. His homer is still on its way to North Korea; the outfielders barely twitched. Don't know what to do with the Broomer. He's 26, the 1B-OF we obtained for Brigadoon Refsnyder, which says something. Soon, Tyler Austin will arrive in Scranton, reducing his role even further. Five for six. Wow. This is why the Yankees need a trade.

3. Though he went 1-5, Clint Frazier crushed the ball almost every time up. One went out, blasted to the opposite field, a good sign. With every appearance, Frazier roiled the Syracuse crowd in the way Judge does in New York. People inched forward to watch. He played CF, which is interesting. Dear God, I hope the Yankees keep him. With Gardy approaching free agency, we're going to need an OF next year, and it doesn't have to cost $40 million. And if we trade Frazier for that Cashmanic "power arm," won't it just turn out to be someone en route to Tommy John? (See Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, et al.)  

4. Brandon Drury looked MLB-ready... and smart. At one point, playing 3B, he backhanded a smash, set himself carefully, and then made the lamest throw to first I'd ever seen. It bounced three times and just barely nipped the runner. It sickened me, until I realized what Drury had done. The play happened as the sun was setting directly over Drury's left shoulder - it's a known factor in Chiefs home games - when throws from third are almost impossible for a 1B to see. So Drury, by rolling it to first, was saving his teammate from trauma. Smart. The guy deserves to be in the majors, another reason for a trade.

5. Tyler Wade and Billy McKinney keep hitting. Wade's average - which was in the shitter for his depressed first month at Triple A - is now .262. (He played RF last night.) McKinney hit his fourth homer in six games. I mean, really, these guys are ready.

6. Mark Payton, back from injuries, whacked two homers. At 5'9", he looks like a midget out there. Could he be the Torreyes of the outfield? Bats left-handed, lots of speed, but he's 26. Better move fast. 

7. Tommy Kahnle pitched a scoreless eighth but didn't look dominant. Walked the leadoff hitter. Surely, he'll soon be up. I hope he's getting it together. Didn't see it in Syracuse. But, hey, that's Syracuse. People miss a lot of things here - like summer.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ban One-Dimensional Baseball

In 1921, probably his greatest season—maybe the greatest season ever, by any baseball player not pumped full of bat urine and related performance enhancers—Babe Ruth bunted for a hit on ten different occasions.

I mention this because in one of the Paper of Record's rare articles on baseball today, we were informed that Commissioner Rob Manfred—no relation to the Mannschaft—is seriously considering banning the shift in baseball.

This is ridiculous.

There are time-honored solutions to the shift already. The main one is called learning to hit. Hitting to the opposite field, bunting—these and other skills were things that professional, major-league hitters were once expected to conquer.

The great, statistics-driven strategy to make every at-bat home-run-or-bust is taking the joy out of the game. It is also, I believe, seriously hurting the careers of any number of Yankee hitters.

When one hitter after another finds himself unable to anything beyond drive the occasional longball while his on-base and batting averages seriously deteriorate, something is wrong.

No need for a new rule. Get back to basics.

Happy Lou Gehrig Day

Yes, June 15th is not merely the old trading deadline.

It's also the day in 1923 when 19-year-old Lou Gehrig, fresh out of Columbia's School of Engineering and stuffed full of his mother's legendary pickled eels, made his debut with the New York Yankees.

Columbia Lou played 13 games for the Yanks and hit .423, with a 1.234 OPS. He was then shipped back down to the Hartford Senators of the Eastern League where he hit 24 homers in just 59 games because, well...baseball.

In 1924, Lou made his way back up for another 10 games with the Yanks, in which he hit an even .500, with a 1.122 OPS. He was then shipped back down to hit .369 at Hartford because...Ed Barrow had serious money riding on the Eastern League batting crown?

The Yanks' resident first-sacker, Wally Pipp, had a very good season himself, so the team's reluctance to play the rookie might not have meant much. But considering the fact that the Yanks finished just 2 games behind eventual world champion Washington—and just 1 game behind in the all-important loss column (AILC)—it's not beyond the realm of possibility that having one of the greatest hitters in baseball history on the roster might just have provided the pinch-hit or the fill-in game for Pipp that would have given the Yankees another ring.

I say this this because guess who made another start last night?

That's right, Neil Walker, who gave us his patented, 0-3 start. The Yanks won, of course, so I suppose this leads to the eternal philosophical question, 'If Neil Walker struck out in the middle of a forest, would anyone give a good damn?'

But honestly. How much longer do we have to put up with this guy?

If the Yanks are still rebuilding, Walker should go, in favor of younger, more promising player. If they are going for it all, he should go, in favor of any player, of any age, who would be more useful.

There is absolutely no excuse for him to stay.

Did I Say It Was a Soccalypse? It's Now a Soccnado!

Soccer takes today's Times by 6-1.

It's now Soccer 131, Yankees 113.  God help us all.

Report from Syracuse

I missed last night's game in the 'Cuse, but a friend was at beautiful YOUR NAME HERE Stadium and filed this report...

Took a while, but the Baby Bombers finally kicked into gear in the top of the ninth, putting up a 6-spot to break the 3-3 tie, and ultimately win the game 9 to 5.

Sheffield was spotty, scattering 8 hits over 5 2/3 innings, but he ultimately hung in there, holding the Tribe to 2 runs, striking out 6, and lowering his ERA to a tidy 3.03. Not sure that he’s ready for the show yet, but he was regularly hitting 94 on the gun, and worked out of several jams; all good signs.

Offensively, Drury looked strong, with a double and a homer; great trade bait, now that he’s permanently lost his job to Andujar. Wade added a solo home run, and Frazier, who my wife kept asking, “Is he the Red Menace?“, was 0 for 4 striking out twice, but did make a spectacular running catch in the right field corner in the 8th inning. Hagioshi was 2 for 4, with a double, and McKinney had a triple after the right fielder badly misplayed a fly ball and it rolled all the way to the wall.

Also, I kinda liked this chunky kid, Cale Coshow, who ultimately got the win, pitching two innings and throwing fire, with EVERY PITCH, down in the zone. http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=641483#/career/R/pitching/2018/ALL

All in all, a nice night at the ballpark, with a nice, close-up look at some pieces of our team’s future.

Holy crap! I'm in the Times!

Altogether now... let's recite the Sarah Sanders Pledge...

Bronx Side Story: Tonight tonight, it all begins tonight?

In the Yankiverse, as in outer space, no one can hear you scream. 

The reason, though, is not the vast airless vacuum beyond earth's atmosphere. It is far more simple than magnetism or gravity: 

No one can hear you scream, because everyone else is too busy screaming to listen.

Tonight, the Yankees will either quiet their demons or launch a growling, barfing Greek chorus of horror-filled howls... all of them, yelling for a trade.

Let me back up a moment... 

Now and then, pivotal moments emerge that can define a baseball team for not just the current race, but for years to come. Generally, we cannot see these events in advance; they just explode in front of us, suddenly rearranging the future in overtones that are rosy or starkly bleak.

Tonight, when the Yankees unveil 23-year-old Jonathan Loaisiga, it will be the first time in many seasons that they have elevated a kid all the way from the Double A lemonade stand, and it might just represent a sea change in the way they view rookie arms throughout their farm system: Are they trade chips or future planks of the rotation? 

If Loaisiga pitches well - let's say five-plus innings and three-or-less runs - it will relieve the enormous pressure on Brian Cashman to trade a bundle of prospects for a wily veteran rag-arm. The Yankees do have the chips to deal. The question, though, is whether they'll occupy the drivers' seat in negotiations, or if they'll be standing on the entrance ramp, begging for a handout (that will not come.) 

If Loasiga gets hammered, tomorrow's headlines across the Yankiverse will scream for the kind of trade that defined Yankee mediocrity throughout the down periods over the last 30 years. Whenever the Yankees have sucked, you could always draw a straight line to one or two massive, giveaway trades, in which they dealt ascending talent for a beer-belly whose wheels were on the verge of flattening. If there's one thing that turns the Gammonites into a shrieking Taylor Swift backup chorus, it's a rookie pitcher's debut massacre. If Loaisiga gets bombed, the shouts will be for Cashman to do something, ANYTHING! to fix the Yankee rotation. And that's what leads to a Jaime Garcia.

Yes, I know what you're thinking: That I'm just another Jesus H. Montero prospect-hugger, who'd still be clinging to Zolio Almonte if given the chance. But Yankees have built the best team in baseball by giving rookies an opportunity. Close your eyes, and it's easy to imagine Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Luis Severino in other uniforms, while we toggle Chris Davis and Jose Bautista in the DH slot. And you can also see Gary Sanchez or Greg Bird being run out of town - (a disastrous scenario, by the way) - just because they're mired in slumps. 

The Yankiverse is a place of screams. Tonight, they'll all be directed at a 23-year-old kid up from Trenton. Let's hope he tunes them out. It might just be the difference in the future of this team.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

All right, everybody... GET YOUR COMIC BOOKS ON!

For the last 15 months, Mustang and I have been working on launching a comic book company... and here we are... in today's Hollywood Reporter.

“New start-up publisher AHOY Comics is being founded on the idea that there's something unique about the reading experience that isn't available in other media.”—NEWSARAMA

“AHOY Comics are aiming to make a big splash come September.”—COMICON

“Impressive.”—GRAPHIC POLICY

“Those of you saying we need more bang for your buck, look no further. Ahoy there.”—COMICS BEAT

AHOY Comics “boasts a lineup of top creators and feature cartoons, prose and poetry.”—THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

We are gonna do this. And the Yankees are going to win the World Series. And this blog will continue to chronicle our heroes on this quest!

Forecast: Sunny, Warm, Continuing Soccalypse

The opening ceremonies of the World Cup today included much of the usual insane, over-the-top Olympica pageantry, plus Robbie Williams.  Nothing like a gray-haired, English white guy rapping incoherently as he swivels and prances around a stadium to say, "cutting edge."

Next up was Putin, to give the opening speech. The Fox announcer gushed: "He doesn't suffer fools, and he wants his team to do well." O-kay.

After that, it was time for the game between our two closest allies in the world, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Sure, the Saudis got clobbered, but their tanks were rolling over Yemen and putting millions of people in danger of dying of starvation, so the day wasn't a total loss.

Our score:

Soccer 125, Yankees 112.

Hal wants himself a pitcher, and it's time to be afraid

The worst thing that happens to the Yankees in 2018 may turn out to be Jason Verlander. 

At 35, he's luxuriating in Houston, after leading the Astros to the 2017 World Series. He has now become Exhibit A in the case for trading a farm system for yesterday's wily meatloaf, and with each game Verlander pitches - especially against the Yankees - you can see the Ferris Wheel turning in Hal Steinbrenner's head. Once Prince Hal starts pondering Kate Upton, well, it's enough to make him put on his kinky boots.

So... here it comes, comrades. Reopen the fall out shelter. Check dates on the canned foods. The winds are a-blowin', lads, and they're going to cost several arms and legs. This won't be about losing Jabari Blash or Jake Cave. This one is going to hurt. 

The Yankees will soon load a truck full of young players and convert it to the likes of J.A. Happ - yes, another 35-year-old. They will do this because somewhere, I don't know where, it became a rule in baseball: Teams are supposed to load up on veterans to make that final push. It doesn't matter that the Yankees have relied upon youth to enjoy the best record in baseball. It's now time to scrap the plan, apparently, because it has worked.

Listen: I get it that you can't keep every prospect and, to be sure, Brandon Drury, Billy McKinney and maybe Clint Frazier have paid their dues and need to be freed from the coal mines of Scranton. Trouble is, a deal likely will only begin with those players, and it will end with Justus Sheffield or Albert Abreu, or with the best talent the Yankees have in their system. 

Last July, the Yankees packaged three top prospects for Sonny Gray. Lately, the slow movements of Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprelian have given the Gammonites reason to call the Yankees Winners of the Deal. (Though they won't yell it too loudly today, after Sonny's performance last night.) Trouble is, you cannot judge such a trade after barely one season. 

A trade is coming, folks. Hal wants a Jason Verlander... as if you could snap your fingers, and one would materialize. It's a rare deal that not only wins a World Series, but that keeps on bringing benefits. So... will the Yankees get a Jason or a Sonny? And how much of the future will they give away?

On another front... personal level... big news coming today. Stay tuned.

Sonny Sends Regrets

With apologies to Sir Elton John.

Hey fans, park it on the sofa,
The Yanks are playin' at home
But you might as well watch Oprah.
They're servin' up the fatted calf tonight.
Don't stick around
You're gonna see balls flyin'
All around the pound.

Surrender all hope, ain't you seen him yet?
Oh, but he's so damned sad—
S-S-Sonny sends regrets.
Oh, he looks scared and he's just awful.
Oh, Sonny he's truly bad.
He's got no real fastball,
His stuff don't break at all,
He made some 19-year-old look like Vla-a-a-ad.
S-S-Sony sends regrets.

Hey, Coops, give up on this phe-nom.
We know that you're blinded
But it's like tryna win Viet-nam.
Guess who's McNamara in this scenario?
He wasn't worth Fowler or Mate-o.
We shall survive but he needs to be gone.

Oh, Cashy why is it you can't see that yet?
Oh, but he's so damned scared!
S-S-Sony sends regrets.
Sonny, Sonny, Sonny, Sonny
Sonny, Sonny, Sonny, Sonny to the Mets...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"This is too weird, man..."

...as Sammy Davis, Jr., might have said.

At the magical mystery Diet Coke shelf today, I see the name, "Freeman."

Hmm, I thought, the Mets are playing the Braves this afternoon...

Freddie Freeman drives in the only two runs of the game. Tomorrow, I swear, I am going to look at every bottle until I find a "Sanchez" or a "Gary."

I'm sorry, maybe you didn't hear me, but...


Soccer extended its lead again today, making it Soccer 120, Yankees 111. And it will only get worse.

The Paper of Record DID have enough space, at least, for its annual, "Sweet Honey in the Rock, What In Hell Happened to the Mets?" analysis piece.

I have to say, the Wilpons' preoccupation with real estate and the team's truly unlucky injuries skein aside, it is a miracle that Sandy Alderson still has his job.

The Mets still do have a core of starting pitching that should make them a contender, at least.  And while the team never spends what it should playing in this market, Alderson did shell out a whopping, $89 million on a boatload of over-the-hill chumps this past offseason.

Instead, Alderson could have signed the entire Kansas City Trio—Hosmer, Moustakas, and Cain—for less than half that amount. True, the three of them were hardly optimal free agents, but they are good, all-around, and seemingly durable ballplayers from a championship organization, a huge improvement over the magic beans that the Metsies went for instead.

A few more nice flourishes—a better reliever here, a better sixth starter there—and the Mets could be a serious team.

They aren't.  And the reason for this?  Well...Mets.

All the talk about signing Bryce Harper has a fundamental flaw: It makes no sense

Now and then, like every hapless lug in this world, I sneak off into my private pleasure pod, open a copy of Yankee Loco Street Stud magazine, and render myself breathless by fantasizing Bryce Harper in pinstripes. Yes, I admit it: I'm human, I have needs. And nobody - not Manny Machado or even Clayton K from LA - thrills me like the thought of a Giancarlo-Bryce-Aaron triple-decker sandwich served piping hot upon my personal home plate. Yowzer!

This week, as Harper encounters a New York destiny that's been touted publicly since his testicles dropped, we can't help but see the future of the Yankees when he steps up to bat. Last night, when he was twice plunked, my reaction was to bark, "No! We don't need him damaged!"

But the truth is, we don't need him at all. 

Studied closely, the centerfold fantasies of a Holy Trinity Outfield resemble the doddering lineups of our darkest Steinbrennerian past. Remember the days of three right-fielders, three Danny Tartabull statues, three looming designated hitters, three eventual Jesse Barfields, each on a 10-year, billion dollar deal - and nobody to roam center or move a runner. We would once again be the airplane with three wings and no propeller, the lead barge too heavy to float, and though we'd occasionally win games by 15 runs, the heart of our lineup would be more than ever clogged with strikeouts. And that's not counting the staggering geysers of money to be launched into the sky and forgotten.

Listen: I'm not in the habit of being frugal on behalf of Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner. Seems to me, if all his assets were weighed on a cosmic scale, his net worth would be closer to infinity than to absolute zero. All this talk about saving on luxury taxes? It's a parlor game, a joke told on the sixteenth green. Tomorrow, Hal could sign Harper and Manny Machado, and he wouldn't even need to sell off one boot-licker from the New York Congressional delegation. That said, why spend a billion dollars on a new Jacoby Ellsbury, when you already have a perfectly good one, currently self-roasting on hot sands of Tampa?  

As much fun as it is to fantasize, I cannot see room for Harper on the Yankees next year, unless the franchise does a dangerous thing - and explodes the roster to create room. The Holy Trinity Outfield is like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. She looks good stepping out of the elevator, but you must deal with the long haul - her body odor, the constant spitting and her love of Trump. Two years from now, you'll be dreaming of somebody else. There will always be an impending free agent superstar to light our imaginations. Like everyone, I always thought Bryce Harper would someday play for the Yankees. But I hope we hold the line.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ce n'est pas une intervention

This is NOT an intervention for Sir Didi, who I have it on good authority is NOT in a slump, courtesy of the Mystical Diet Coke section of my local bodega. Nor should it be considered in any way a tribute to Urban Farmer.

—"Rapid René" Magritte

Where Has All the Power Gone?

Apparently, wherever it is that the flowers, young girls, young men, soldiers, graveyards, and cowboys now reside, at least when it comes to the two biggest holes in the Yankees lineup.

Sure, the team as  whole is still on a pace to hit a record number of home runs. But the bottom has dropped out of the power numbers for Didi and Sanchez—something harder to fathom than the overall slumps they're mired in.

Some commentators at lesser sites have tried to tell us that Didi is back because he's hitting .275 over the last 14 days. But that's just so much folderol.

Over the last seven days, Sir Didi is hitting worse than ever:


As you can see, Didi's slugging percentage is identical to his batting average, indicating a COMPLETE lack of power.  And the figures over the last 28 days are even a little worse, overall:


During these last four weeks, Didi has hit 1 double, 1 home run, and driven in 5 runs. Total. It has literally been weeks since our beloved shortstop got an extra-base hit.

Sancho is in an even more compressed black hole.  Over the last 14 days, his slash line looks like this:


Ouch! And in those two weeks, he has hit 1 double, no homers, and driven in all of 2 runs.

The 28-day look back is not much better:


In the last month, Sancho has 4 doubles, 2 homers, and 5 ribbies.

Well, it happens, right? Even the best go into terrible, prolonged slumps.

Not THIS terrible or THIS prolonged, at least not that I remember—not for guys who were all-stars just last year. But maybe it's all just an anomaly.

What I don't get is the total power blackout on the part of both Didi and Sanchez. I mean, now that everyone has been thoroughly instructed in the ways of the "home run or nuthin'" school of hitting, there should be the OCCASIONAL ball hit over the wall, no? Even when they're not goin' good?

How can it be that these guys are up there trying for a home run every at-bat, and not hitting one at least, say, once a week, even when they're going bad?

The COMPLETE absence of power on both their parts implies there's more to the story. It barks injury, to some degree or another. A leg problem that keeps them from driving the ball. An eye problem that keeps them from seeing it.

I know what you're saying: 'The Yankees lie about an injury? Impossible!'

But I suspect they are. And I suspect that they're also lying to us about Judge's thumb now. It will be interesting to see when they 'fess up.


Off-day musing: How a Manny became a Gleyber

Big news in the Dodgerverse: Manny Banuelos could start tonight's game! Remember Manny, the sweet Yankee lefty who was going to be the Second Coming of Louisiana Guidry? Last time we oogled Manny, he was 23 and pitching in Scranton, coming back from surgery. He'd been our great hope - our Sevy before there was a Sevy - and then one day, evil Brian Cashman sent him off in a trade.

It was New Year's Day, 2015, to be exact: We traded Manny to Atlanta for journeyman reliever David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve, two bullpen lug nuts. Carpenter peed the bed and was gone by mid-July. Shreve has somehow lasted three years as the 25th roster man. Perhaps no modern Yankee pitcher runs out of gas so spectacularly. His survival testifies to the Yankees inability to find situational lefties.

But Carpenter's trade fetched us a middling 2B prospect named Tony Randa, who bounced to the Nats and Reds, where in 2016 he amassed 67 plate appearances and hit .183. Randa is now - drum roll, please - a Redsock. Or, more specifically, a Pawsock, playing for Boston's Scranton. 

But wait... Randa was part of the famous deal of Dec. 28, 2015 with the Reds itching to shed Aroldis Chapman, after shooting us his garage door. Cashman traded Randa, former Yankee first-round pick Eric Jagielo (the man selected before Aaron Judge), and pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis. 

Jagielo is now a 26 year old Marlin farmhand, hitting .226 in the Southern League. Cotham is 30 and apparently out of baseball. Davis - considered the Steiner Collectible in the trade - remains a Red. He's expected to return this season, following surgery.

But wait... in mid-2016, the Yankees traded Chapman to those children of destiny, the Cubs. We received Adam Warren (again), outfielder Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney (who has revived his prospect stock) and a fellow named Gleyber Torres.

So there you have it, folks. It's as complicated as Game of Thrones. Somehow, whenever Gleyber comes up, the spirit of Manny Banuelos lives in his bat. 

And if tonight, Gleyber goes 0-5, while Manny hurls a shutout for LA, let's gather on a hillside and scream into the vortex, as loudly as possible, "CASHMAN, YOU SUCK!" It's our job, right?