Idea by Leinstery.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Oh well, the rules are the rules, right?
A baseball analyst by the name of Kiley McDaniel has written a long, exhaustive article on how the Yankees in 2014 plan to obliterate past records for international spending, dropping up to $15 million on Latino kids - even if it means paying $10 million in luxury tax penalties. (MLB owners - great pillars of morality and conservatism, for the most part - always react swiftly to the crisis of too much money being paid on the help; they do it the old fashioned, socialistic way - by instituting huge taxes on each other. But lord help any local politician who attempts to tax an MLB franchise to pay for, say, schools. Moral outrage will rain from the skies. )
Signing Latino talent is apparently one of the last ways a rich team like the Yankees can use their financial clout. The Texas Rangers, for example, built their system doing this. (McDaniel says one reaction of Yankee fans will be, why did they wait so long?) He writes:
Effectively, the Yankees could spend over $20 million on what their scouts think are the top Latin American 15 year olds; a challenge no club has ever come close to trying before.
It's a long article. Read it. I still don't know how to feel. When your team is using an immoral system to its advantage, it's almost as hypocritical to scream indignation as it is to claim everything is hunky dory. At least Hal Steinbrenner is spending his money on talent instead of a new boat house. Maybe we'll develop some star players in five to 10 years. At least we are working a strategy.
But McDaniel warns that the Yankee spending explosion might cause MLB to institute an international draft - and punish the Yankees by taking away their first round picks.
One point is clear: The lords of baseball are determined to eventually turn MLB into the NFL and the New York Yankees into the San Diego Padres.
Monday, December 30, 2013
1. Joking email banter dries up fast when lawyers appear. In 2011, Randy writes "U are the man. I told u that for years. U can and will do it." This year, looking at litigation, he says, "My focus and direction, as well as that of the entire Yankees organization, has been, and continues to be, to treat you in the same manner as we do all of our players, to have you healthy and ready to play as soon as possible." Ouch.
2. There's no such thing as one email from Randy Levine. He seems like one of those guys who always writes a quick reply, even if there is nothing to say.
3. These guys deserve each other. It's really too bad if litigation ruins their friendship.
4. A-Rod must be a number-cruncher. At one point, he says, "People have been telling me that you have an 8% bounty on my contract." Wow. An eight percent bounty? That's 8 percent of $250 million? Count me in.
5. More kinky stuff may be coming. At another point, Randy writes, "Pictures of party at your house circulating all around tonight." Well, let's see 'em!
6. A-Rod, in one email reply, says only "HA!" That's the same thing he famously shouted one night at Toronto Blue Jay infielders, causing them to allow a pop-up to drop. Was A-Rod attempting a catch phrase?
7. As motivational writer, Randy Levine is horrible. "Take the challenge, get mad, get determined, and shut everyone up and perform to greater levels. I believe in u." Gahp. Did he write lyrics for Bonnie Tyler?
8. Both men are ass-kissing suck-ups. Randy tells A-Rod he's the team leader (Sorry, Jeet) and should play with a "chip" on his shoulder. Thus, A-Rod signs his emails "Chip." Barf. It's a wonder they don't call each other "Captain" and "Admiral."
9. Randy jokes about Robbie Cano using steroids. No conspiracy theory here. Just wondering why that came out?
10. Last February, A-Rod was a tortured soul. "I’m feeling left out, I can’t be with the team at spring training and this leaves an empty hole in my life." A total eclipse of the heart.
1. Fixed the glitch that freezes my computer 15 times per day, because it has the runs for some script. It would take 2 minutes to fix. But I didn't bother. Instead, I'd hit Yes, dump out of the site and start over. The Internet should do something about this. It's losing customers.
2. Grown a beard. Why not? About three months ago, a doohickey-carbunkle popped up on the right side of my face - not squeezable - and it'll never leave, so I should grow something and do a cheek comb-over. But I hate the itchy beard phase, scratching your neck all day. Plus, the self-image: People see me and think: "Look, it's a bearded man!" I'm not a bearded man, dammit. I'm a human being!
3. Cleaned the gas grill. It's a disgrace. I shouldn't eat the food. The grease down there has formed a coal-like planet. It needs to go through a car wash. The ignition switch doesn't work. I flip lit matches into the chamber. But I only notice the problem when I'm hungry, and it's too late to mount a cleaning project. Someday, you'll hear that all of Syracuse has disappeared into a fireball, and it'll be my gas grill.
4. Taken up Twitter. People say, "You belong on Twitter.! You'll have a million fans!" Yeah, right. I have a Twitter account. The last peep, or tweet, was last spring. Waste of time. I'd try to be whimsical, hilarious. Mowing the lawn, something would pop into my head. I'd say, "HOLY CRAP, I GOTTA TWEET THAT!" By the time I found my phone, I'd forget what it was.
5. Lost 15 pounds. If I lost 15 pounds, I could wear my best cool t-shirts and faded jeans, which currently do not fit. I only have one pair of jeans, which are ghetto cut, because I bought them in a flea market. I'm constantly hoisting them up. Why not buy a good pair? Because when I go to the store, I think, "Screw this! I'll lose 15 pounds and fit back into the good jeans." I'm not ready to give up my dream.
6. Dropped the Yankees. Like a bag of rocks. Last winter, when Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees were cutting payroll, I should have said, "Eat me, Hal," and turned this blog into a Senta Berger fan site. All year, I raged about the cheapskate Yankees, and it did no good. It sucks when a billionaire is trying to make more money. Good grief, it's not like Hal inherited a pizza parlor. It's the frickin' New York Yankees! It didn't work, either. Hal not only lost on the field, but the Yankees lost attendance, TV ratings and stature. They wasted their year, and mine. I should have dropped the team and followed soccer, or movies, or Senta (in photo with Man from UNCLE.)
7. Watched Silver Linings Playbook. Everybody says, "Seely, you gotta see Silver Linings Playbook. It's about an obsessed, wacko, nut-job loser creepy fan, just like you." I messed up. I put in a "hold" on the Onondaga County Library system, and I had the video for a week. But it was late August, friends visiting, schedules crashing, and I never got around to watching. I ended up paying a $2.50 fine, for nothing. It pissed me off. I said, "The hell with Silver Linings Playbook! I'll never watch it, ever!" Which is stupid.
8. Gone to see Neko Case in Ithaca. She's a great alt-country singer. Her band, The New Pornographers, is a great alt-rock band. A few months ago, she appeared in Ithaca, an alt-50 minute drive. But all my friends just said, "Who the hell is Neko Case? Call me when Poison, or Benny Mardones, or Mary Chapin Carpenter is playing, and then I'll go." I'll be goddammed if I'm driving to Ithaca to see Mary Effing Chapin Carpenter or Karen Chapin Carpenter.
9. Bought the Joba Chamberlain Yankee jersey at the flea market. It was XL, cotton, No. 62, and the guy wanted just $40 bucks. I could be in it now. Driving home, I realized my monumental mistake. I knew that jersey wouldn't be there again - and it wasn't; somebody grabbed it. It was my worst shopping lapse since visiting a town of Pompey Center craft barn and finding a gourd hand-painted to look like Lawrence Taylor for $15 and saying, "Fifteen dollars? I can't afford that!" It still haunts me.
10. Become pen pals with some great celebrity. Every year, I think of writing an incredibly thoughtful letter to Bruce, or Sting, or Sly Stallone, somebody - which is so articulate and wise that it launches a long-distance, intellectual relationship. (I wouldn't try this with Gwen Ifill or Jamie Lee Curtis , because I don't want sex to get in the way.) I'd write such a compelling letter that the personal assistant would say, "Mr. Springsteen, you gotta read this." Bruce would say, "Wow, this guy is my Noam Chomsky! I gotta write him back!" We'd become pals. One day, my phone would ring. Bruce would want me at his show in Madison Square Garden. I'd say, "Better idea: You and Patty! My house! Backyard barbecue! And don't you dare bring a guitar, because this won't be one of "those" evenings. (We'll have talked about this.) They'll come. I'll invite a few buddies. We'll listen to John Sterling on the radio! He'll have such a great time that it becomes an annual event! Next year, he'll bring Bono, maybe even Jamie Lee Curtis! Why didn't I write that letter? WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME?
2. Listened to Mets beat Mariano on horrible AM radio reception, because WSYR in Syracuse - which ditched daytime games for Rush Limbaugh - is too wimpy to extend its generally rancid signal outside the city. (Another station will run Yankee games next year, thank God!)
3. Stubbed toe on coffee table during Vidal Nuno outing. It really hurt, caught the pinkie toe just right, and it's never healed. Thank you, Brian Cashman!
4. Sat in hot tub with cell phone while listening to game on July 4. Cannot remember game specifics due to trauma of losing phone. I left it in a bag of rice for a week, but it never came back. Thanks again, Hal, for being so cheap. Because of you, I lost my cell phone.
5. Opening day, sitting in Shifty's Bar with Mustang, watching Joba getting hammered by the Redsocks on TV, and everybody there - I mean everybody - said the entire season was over, and we shouldn't watch - and they were right!
6. Punched wall and hurt knuckles, and damaged vocal chords, while screaming at Joe Girardi for bringing in Preston Claiborne on third straight day, after he had twice given up critical three-run HRs against Boston - to punctuate our humiliating, sickening, weak-kneed, three-game massacre, at the Redsocks' hands. So what did Claiborne do? He gave up another HR. I temporarily went berserk. Thank you, Cashman. You screwed up my throat, and you messed up my living room!
7. David Robertson blew save, ruined Mariano's ceremonial send off, ending our season, killing what should have been a great Yankee day. (With help from our hitters, who totally sucked.) I became physically and emotionally ill. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't pee. Even now, I blot out the thought of Houdini replacing Mo as the Yankee closer in 2014. Considering how many base runners he allows, it's obvious that I will not survive the season, even if Robertson is successful! It will be far too draining. Has anyone thought of this? People are going to die. Thanks again for cutting costs, Hal.
8. Had a flat tire while driving outside Ithaca during Yankee loss. Had to get out the owner's manual and figure out how to use a really weird jack, like no jack I'd ever used before. Why do they do this? Can't they just give you a regular jack? The instructions were horrible. They might as well have been written in Swahili. It took me 90 minutes to change one stinking tire, and I sweated through my shirt, sopping wet. It really sucked, and the Yankees didn't help one iota, because while I was sitting on the side of the road, they were blowing the game. I hope your car breaks down, Cashman, so you can feel what I felt: The Yankees and me, dead on the side of the road.
9. I owned a AM-FM radio with the emergency weather band, which I bought at an overpriced LL Bean store. It had a backup battery and hand-crank in case of immense natural catastrophes, such as tornadoes or earthquakes. I threw it across the room after Travis Hafner whiffed to end a game, and the damn thing never worked again. The Yankees owe me for that radio! God help me if there is ever an earthquake, because then I will REALLY get mad at Cashman!
10. The convergence of overwhelming, endless and eternal despair - and the incredible certainty of doom that I experienced when hearing the news that Teixeira's wrist was flaring up again, and that he would need a few days off. Instantly, I knew he would never return and the season was over. This was a complete, 100 percent, voice-of-God revelation, as certain as the sun and the moon, and I collapsed to the floor like the Prophet Jeremiah with relentless grief. I could not talk. I could not move. It's a wonder I am here to talk about it. (I experienced a similar moment when Brett Gardner hurt his rib cage in a swing, because I KNEW right then our last chance for a playoff berth was done.) I hope you feel it too, Cashman!
Sunday, December 29, 2013
It's almost impossible to imagine a more torturous year for an NFL team's fan base than what the New York Fucking Football Giants gave us this year. Maybe Stephen King could come up with a worse scenario. I cannot.
The Giants lose their first six games, effectively eliminating themselves from any meaningful playoff chance.
Maybe, you think, they will get a good draft pick next year.
Nope. They win three games against teams who start their third-string quarterback. They beat their chests and say they are back. All they have to do is beat the Cowboys - who are terrible - in the Meadowlands.
Maybe, you think, they can come back.
Nope. They blow the game on the last possession. God damn them.
Maybe, you think, they can get that draft pick.
Nope. They win the two meaningless last games of the season - I mean, these are virtually exhibition games. The Lions are horrible. The Redskins play their backup QB. And both teams will probably draft ahead of the Giants.
They finish 7-9 - which is Nowheresville in the NFL. They will draft somewhere about 15th - middle of the pack. They will claim to the sportswriters this proves they are a good program - when we all know otherwise. They will beat their chests and say they are looking forward to next year - same coach, same staff, same quarterback, same disaster waiting to happen.
The only thing good about the New York Fucking Football Giants is that I don't have to watch their sorry butts for nine golden months. Nine Giant-free months.
I am so lucky we do not have a dog.
2. Darryl Strawberry
3. Bob Tewksbury
4. John Mayberry
5. Marv Throneberry
6. Barry Foote
7. Scranton-Wilks Barre
8. Mike O'Berry
9. Halle Berry (as Catwoman, reflecting athletic potential)
10. Yogi Berry*
* After great contemplation, it was ruled that Yogi and Dale Berra are not berries, and therefore could not qualify for the upper recesses of this list. This in no way should diminish their accomplishments. A Berra is not a true bury.
Note II: Same with Angel Berroa.
Saturday, December 28, 2013
1. "Accidentally" lost Kevin Youkilis' agent's phone number, missing out on chance to sign free agent slugger.
2. Traded Phil Hughes immediately after one of his early few decent starts.
3. Convinced Derek Jeter not to try coming back during spring training.
4. Traded Joba Chamberlain, at any time, for anything.
5. Told Hal Steinbrenner the $189 million payroll target was a practical joke being played by the front office, and in fact, the Yankees needed to sign free agents, including Russell Martin.
6. Sleep through the deadline for making offers to Ichiro, and losing him to the Rays.
7. Pretended to be stone deaf when the Angels offered Vernon Wells.
8. On July 30, traded everybody on the team, except Mariano and Jeter, to the Dodgers.
9. Waited for Curtis Granderson to heal from his first injury, and dealt him as soon as he hit a home run.
10. Signed Bartolo Colon, Francisco Liriano and Mike Napoli for squat.
2. Top 10 Yankee All-Time Moments (Pinstripe Alley)
3. Top 10 Yankee Prospects (Baseball America).
4. Top 10 Greatest Yankees (Yankees.com)
5. Top 10 Don Mattingly Moments with Yankees (Bronx Baseball Daily)
6. Top 10 Mariano Rivera Moments (Bleacher Report)
7. Top 10 Infamous Moments at Yankee Stadium (Real Clear Sports)
8. Top 10 New York Sports Story Lines (Metro Sports)
9. Top 10 All-Time Yankee Position Players (Bleacher Report)
10. Top 10 Yankee Hater Moments (ESPN)
Friday, December 27, 2013
Over the next few weeks, as its commentators drone on about Yankee spending, the true Evil Empire will have a hand in your pocket
But that's just the start.
In America, every cable TV subscriber - a good hundred million of them - pays $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether he or she watches one lick of sports. Can you imagine that? It's the sweetest, under-the-radar tax ever invented. It's home burglary, via your cable hook-up, and not even the Tea Party complains. It's worse than Obamacare in a bad month, except that you can't see it - there is no public accountability. It's "capitalism," they say, in the sense that extortion is a free-market business. It also makes money by selling beer to 10 year-old intellects, and then it uses the proceeds to grease America's most corrupt and meat-grinding industry: College sports.
ESPN is the main reason why practically every college football program with a winning record is playing this week in some trumped-up, ridiculously named bowl game in some city desperate to justify the building of those concrete dog-dishes that they call stadiums. Thirty three of the 35 bowl games are being broadcast on ESPN - each one generating boatloads of money for their schools to spend on new facilities, hiring more ex-jocks as hangers-on, and to hand out $100 handshakes to high school athletes, while everybody else - from teachers to social workers and university presidents - wonders what the hell has gone wrong with a nation's priorities?
Yes... sit back over the next few weeks, while the Greek chorus of ex-Redsock players rip the Yankees for excessive spending, for employing A-Rod, for - yes - taking our own tax breaks, for our lousy pitching, for Hal's money, for Chad Curtis' arrest, for John Sterling's homerism - hell with this - just for sake of being toast-worthy. And they call us the Evil Empire? Sure, I get it. Pass the meatloaf.
Crowd roar. Cue the scoreboard. Wearing Jersey No. 189, the payroll cap will jog out onto the field, doff his payroll cap, and hug Lyle Overbay and Brennan Bosch, reuniting the scrappy third-place club from 2013. And the Yankiverse, collectively, will say, "Ahhh, I haven't thought of him in years."
Friends, it's over. Kaput. Done. The $189 million payroll cap, alias the "target" and later the "goal." The $189 million Yankee corset, the cruel shoes, the yoke, the spike-lined box. It's history. Ding dong, it's dead. As we speak, the Evil Empire is printing money, looking to buy every man, woman and child in the island nation of Japan a Yankee-logo Geiger counter - more specifically, we're looking to import Masahiro Tanaka, and make no mistake, this will cost big big big Yankee money.
For the last 15 months, the team practiced "austerity." It was Hal Steinbrenner's 1967 drug-flashback hallucination, a dream that the Yankees could cut expenses and escape paying luxury taxes, if they lowered the payroll to the magical $189 million. Ahh, but it was merely a fantasy, by a fly who dreamed he was a man who owned a baseball team.
Here are the Yankee 2014 options: We either outbid everybody on the planet for Tanaka - and then sign a relief pitcher and maybe Matt Garza, to boot - or we lose Tanaka and then go WILD with money - purchasing Garza, pluys one or both of the Ubaldo/Santana twins - maybe chase the OF, Cruz, figuring we'll then trade Brett Gardner and the entire Trenton Thunder for David Price and a bucket of Furbys. It doesn't matter. We will spend. The key to the Yankee future is not Cito Culver. It's not home cooking. It is not youth or crafty managerial acumen. It is money, folks. MONEY. We're back to throwing money at players. It's the only thing that seems to work.
If we spend enough money, we'll get Tanaka. If we get Tanaka, the YES ratings will explode in the spring. If the YES ratings expand, we will rule the almighty back pages. And if Tanaka is any good, we'll have a chance in 2014 (though Girardi better not do to him what he did to Kuroda, or the guy will be done in two years.) Pass the word. The Yankees are back. MONEY. The $189 million payroll is dead. It's moneyball, folks - the Yankee version. Moneymoneymoney. Print more!
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I'm starting to get scared about this Tanaka guy.
I think Bud Selig will take a dim view of using foreign objects to rake opponents' faces and render them blind.
"We plan to give you an evening in the theater that cannot be compared to anything you've ever seen before."
The cast includes a Reggie, a Billy, a Thurman, a Babe, two Berras (no, not Dale), an Elston, a Joe, a Mick, a Jeet and an Iron Horse.
(Spoiler alert: Under the current ending, they miss the playoffs.)
Not only that, but do we want to deal with his manager, Gorgeous George Jr.?
We could also face allegations about him rubbing foreign objects into opposing batters' eyes. Considering Bud Selig's dim view toward A-Rod, the Yankees could face a complete public relations nightmare.
(Thanks to Rose City Wobbly and John M)
Somewhere, inside his super-secret Astro-pod, Hal Steinbrenner will crunch the numbers on his slide rule and decide if it's in the Yankees' best interests to maintain the the $189 million payroll "goal" for this year. Because without Tanaka, the team goes to Tampa in February with David Phelps and Vidal Nino vying for fourth starter, and by July, the YES Network ratings could be falling somewhere behind the Pillsbury Bake-Off regionals and syndicated reruns of "She's the Boss."
But if Hal signs Tanaka, the 2013 Yankee austerity program will be filed away a mirage, a drug hallucination. We cried "Beggars can't be choosers" while Russel Martin and a cast of free agents walked to to other teams - and the Redsocks won a World Series - for a target we've now decided wasn't worth the effort. It's like a fat lady who vowed to lose 100 pounds for her wedding: She loses 50, feels great, and a month before the ceremony runs out and eats a pizza truck.
I hate to beat the 2013 dead horse here. What's done is done. Last winter, the Yankees made a brief attempt to change their ways - to not always be the MLB franchise incarnation of Chris Farley as "Tommy Boy." Instead of signing everybody and everything - while failing to develop our own players - the team would practice austerity, cutting payroll and chopping the absurd amount of luxury tax money that it was paying each year. It made sense. It was a good idea.
Then the disaster of 2013 happened. If not for the return of A-Rod and a brief (and unexplained) surge from Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees could have fallen out of the one-game playoff race by early September. As it was, ratings tanked. Attendance crashed. And the team basically offered NYC a chance to see one star player at the top of his game - Robbie Cano. We know how that turned out.
Now this. It takes real naivety to imagine the Yankees going far with its current 2014 starting rotation. You must fantasize CC Sabathia returning to form, Hiroki Kuroda lasting a season, Ivan Nova evolving further - and you still face 60 games with Adam Warren or Michael Pineda on your ticket. To become relevant next spring - and to sell tickets - the Yankees need Tanaka.
But all that talk about cutting luxury taxes? Forgetaboutit. Somewhere in Hal's laptop, the numbers are now being crunched. What will they lose in revenues if the Yankees flounder for two years in a row? Is it worth, say, $50 million in luxury taxes?
I have always believed the Yankee owners sell their fans short. I think the fan base would accept a one-year rebuilding phase, but the Yankees would have to be all in - as the Redsocks were two summers ago. (And, yes, they'd have to find teams to take bloated contracts, as the Redsocks did.) Ahh, but it'll never happen. We are fated to be the big, fat, dumb, drunk franchise that squanders money, never has a draft pick, plays old guys past their prime and rushes at everything new, thinking it offers salvation - when it's just the snake oil of imaginary hope.
Oh well. It's all up to the numbers. Can the Yankees afford Tanaka? Or can they afford not to get him?
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Apparently looking to give The Onion a run for its money, the YES Network blog is projecting the Yankee homegrown lineup for 2018. We're supposed to fantasize the Cito Culver future. Dear God.
Five years ago, this is what they would have projected.
c Jesus Montero
1b Brandon Laird
2b Mitch Hilligoss
ss Carmen Angelini
3b Marcos Vechionacci
of Austin Jackson
of Tim Battle
of Colin Curtis
Or will the Three Ghosts of Christmas - Whitson, Igawa and Pineda - frighten Scrooge into ordering Bob Cashman to work late and plumb the scrap heap for replacement parts?
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Of course, then the Yankees would need to sign somebody just as useless, so fans can re-enact the glorious team tradition of going the entire season wondering why we bothered.
Which brings me to Mark Reynolds.
I've seen otherwise semi-right-minded bloggers and hawking the idea of signing Reynolds to play 3B and 1B next year, based on the home runs he hit in September. They claim that he did well in his month with the Yankees (after Cleveland released him.) Well, he batted .230 and struck out on a Granderson scale. Dear God, I can't imagine a worse move, unless it was to extend Ichiro himself, maybe give him a five-year.
Reynolds seems to be a good guy. Maybe you could argue he helps a team, according to the Johnny Gomes theory of clubhouse chemistry. But as a 3B replacement? Please. I'd rather seen Waylan Smithers.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Finally reaching the $189 million crossroads, the Yankees apparently will let others determine the future
If you consider how close the 2013 Yankees came to making the one-game playoff, last winter's austerity budget looks even more punishing. When Brian Cashman said, "Beggars cannot be choosers," he wasn't talking about Josh Hamilton. He was talking about chasing middling infielders and fourth outfielders - or watching Russell Martin walk because the Yankees wouldn't give him a two-year deal. But at the time, it seemed a worthy cause. A sacrifice for the future.
Today, the Yankees sit at the cusp of the $189 million payroll, but - amazingly - they have lost control over the process. Whether they make it will be determined by two decisions outside the organization: 1) the arbiter's ruling on A-Rod's ban, and 2) whether the Golden Eagles of Japan let pitcher Masahiro Tanaka come to America. Either decision could explode the Yankee payroll and make the 2013 austerity plan an exercise in corporate incompetence.
Can you imagine the managerial upheavals if - say - Pepsico spent an entire year cutting a product, and then reversed course and pushed it? Think any executives would walk the plank, or at least be demoted?
Right now, the 2014 Yankees are a hologram, a mirage, still taking shape. They have six outfielders but no full infield, no fourth or fifth starters, no bullpen setup man, no rookies. Nobody can judge this team, because it simply cannot be like this on April 1, unless Vernon Wells pitches. But the questions remain: Will the Yankees hit the $189 million mark? Will last year have meant something? Will they change their ways? Or is this the Yankee model for perpetuity: An annual parade of old, tired, brittle, overpriced, former stars, a pre-retirement home for players whose great years came in other cities? We spend five times the amount of other teams just to contend for the post-season?
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s - the 14-year barf - writers and fans opined about what the Yankees could do with all their money if the front office wasn't so moronic. Year after year, the Yankees were a disaster - "the worst team money can buy," pundits said. Nothing changed until George Steinbrenner was banned from the game, and a group of baseball people started making decisions - (such as to NOT trade the disappointing prospect, Bernabe Williams.) The Yankees collapsed into dead last, and only then did they begin to improve.
That's history, folks. And from where we're sitting this Christmas week - clowns to the left of us, jokers to the right - history sure looks like it's repeating.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Why such Grinchian negativity? The Drew rumors. These scatter-shot signings are so reminiscent of old George Steinbrenner in the 1980s that I'm wondering if Hal is making good on his threat to take over the team. These are the kinds of moves Peter Angelos made in Baltimore, when he destroyed that franchise for 15 years. Worst of all, Boston is doing it the right way.
The Redsocks have the top ranked farm system in baseball, according to Baseball America. (We rank 16th.) Two rookies - Bogartes and Bradely - will start this year, infusing their veteran lineup with youth. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman did the math last night, revealing just how insanely old our team will be next year. This is what Sherman says about our captain.
Derek Jeter, 39, is 4 ¹/₂ years older than the next-oldest likely starting shortstop, Jimmy Rollins. He missed most of last season with a twice-fractured ankle. He turns 40 in June. Shortstops who have come to bat even 300 times in an age-40-or-older season: Luke Appling, Honus Wagner, Omar Vizquel and Barry Larkin. None missed most of the previous season with a twice-broken ankle.
Thus, you might say we should sign Stephen Drew. But in doing so, we would be adding another long term contract to the pile. The Boston Herald is cackling about it.
In 2015 alone, they have $127 million already on the books — $51 million more than the Red Sox have from 2015 through infinity. In 2016 the figure dips slightly to $123 million; in 2017, it’s $64 million, in 2018, it’s $38 million and in 2019, it’s at $21 million. So, maybe the average Yankees fan is not all that worked up about having $373 million worth of contracts on the books after next year. After all, co-owners Hal and Hank Steinbrenner have spent lots of money for lots of years and have had lots of championships to show for it — except for lately.
We are caught between a rock and hard place, between old age and long term contracts. We are throwing gasoline on a fire. It's going to explode, and there won't be enough money in the world to put it out. Stephen Drew? Another oldster. No draft picks. No rookies. Dear God.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Carlos Beltran and Curtis Granderson could cause a major upheaval within the Yankee-Met infundibulum
First and foremost: Joe Torre, who so mismanaged the Mets in an earlier incarnation that his best future bet might have been in designing and manufacturing duck calls. Don't forget Daryl Strawberry, David Cone and Dwight Gooden, and the Met double-agent Pedro Feliciano, who never threw one pitch for us. Ex-Met Jose Vizcaino delivered the winning hit in game one of the famous 2000 Subway Series. And - for me -the greatest transition was Tom Seaver, a caring friend and broadcast partner for Phil Rizzuto. (Bill White signed with the New York Giants, but mostly was viewed as an ex-Card. and YES's Ken Singleton began as a Met, though he made his bones with the O's.)
Which brings us to Beltran. Yesterday, it was a bit weird seeing him take backhanded jabs at his former team. It's unusual in a guy's opening news conferences to whack the old club, especially when you share the market with it. I'm not sure Beltran gained anything, and maybe he lit a fire under the p.r. happy talk machine that Beltran will be compared with for the next three years: Curtis Granderson.
We might end up viewing the Grandy Man and Beltan switcheroo as a de facto trade. And for the Yankees, it might not be a good one. I still can't understand why we sank so much money into a 37-year-old, gimp-kneed OF-DH, and the real danger zone comes if we trade Brett Gardner. No Yankee fans want to see Gardner go, but he's the only player anybody wants. Whenever we look at the holes at 3B or starting pitching, the talk inevitably turns to what we might get in exchange for Gardner. And for better or worse, it's because we have Beltran.
His signing may be the fulcrum point on which 2014 balances. An impending domino drop of moves stems from his presence.
Listen: I'm glad Granderson is gone. That's 190 strikeouts I don't have to watch - which are especially galling when the guy could hit .300 by bunting or swatting balls to the opposite field.
Beltran needs to outhit Grandy. As long as he does, nobody can draw a target on his back. Because his acquisition - and the moves still to come - will define the future of the Yankees in a way Pedro Feliciano could never touch. If Beltran gets hurt, if Grandy man puts it together, or if we trade Gardner for another Michael Pineda - the Mets could own New York for the next five years. It's dangerous to tamper with the Matrix.
Friday, December 20, 2013
I have no clue if Wang can still pitch. Last year, Toronto neatly shoplifted him from our system, and he fell apart after two half-promising starts. At a certain point, a struggling 34-year-old pitcher walks into the sunset, and unless Wang can pitch in relief, he's probably there. But I hate to think of it being the Cincinnati horizon.
For all his foibles - old George Steinbrenner loved to orchestrate curtain calls for ex-Yankees. He did it with David Wells, David Cone, Tino Martinez, Mike Stanton, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson - just to name a few. It became a punch line, like when Batman "dies" in a comic book: Old Yankees always returned, at least for the end. It didn't make them young again. But it was nice to see them, to cheer them one last time.
If old George were kicking, I don't think he would let Cincinnati host the final acts of Chien-Ming Wang's career. But George is a statue, and young Hal is earning a reputation as a boring, suburban, fiscally prudent weenie. George's showmanship and bombast genes seem to have gone to Hank, the chain-smoking, public relations lump. Hal is the spreadsheet brother, invoker of the infamous $189 million
Maybe Hal inherited his dad's impatience. Supposedly, he's ordered changes throughout our failed farm system. (No firings, though.) And now the $189 "goal" might go bye-bye. Joel Sherman says A-Rod's salary - if Alex isn't banned - will push us beyond $189 million, prompting Hal to go hog wild on spending: In for a penny, in for a pound. This would create a brief diversion for critics who would eventually note that Hal inflicted third-place austerity last season - apparently for nothing. Also, what is there to buy? The lone free agent superstar this winter signed with Seattle. How many Bronson Arroyos can we sign?
So Chien-Ming Wang takes his last walk in Cincinnati. I, for one, hope he's not done. He was a great Yankee starting pitcher, the last one we've known. Back then, we chased all the international free agents. Back then, the Yankees were always the gold standard. I'm hoping Wang throws well enough to warrant for a final call - back to where he belongs. I think old George's statue would be smiling. Wouldn't we all?
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Famous quote from beloved Disney World attraction:
"It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small small world. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small small world...."
And it is.
Today, we learned the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Foreign Class of the Japan Pacific League, 2013 season champions, will not release star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to American baseball, eliminating the one free agent that could have lifted the Yankees to relevance in 2014.
In making this decision, the Golden Eagles said they want to win another championship for their fans. Theoretically, if the team had come in last, it would be willing to let Tanaka go.
So who were the hitting mainstays of the Golden Eagles last year? You know the answer. Of course, it was former Yankees Andruw Jones and Casey McGhee.
A few years ago, "The Sixth Degrees of Kevin Bacon" became a cute Hollywood parlor game. But the movie industry has nothing on MLB. I am perpetually amazed at the vast inter-weavings of teams and players, who just change uniforms go about their business.
Fans, on the other hand, never change teams. Look at Redsock fans. Most of them went 80 years, never flinched. We Yankee fans have endured A-Rod. Sports generates some of the powerful loyalties known to humanity. Yet veteran players don't even seem to flinch.
Anyway, there you have it. In another universe, the Yankees kept Andruw Jones and Casey McGhee (even though they both sucked), and today, the last place Golden Eagles are sending us a crack at their best pitcher.
Oh well, here's another way to look at it: How could can Tanaka be, if Andruw Jones and Casey McGhee were the best hitters in a Japanese lineup?
They would bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese players. The owners, with far too much money in their pantaloons, often peed themselves in pursuit of Asian talent. They overspent. It wasn't right. So they did what all top-down, old-money power brokers do: They changed the rules. They installed a nice, tidy cap. That's how billionaire communists react, when capitalism doesn't work their way.
Next time you call a plumber to fix a leak, tell him you've decided to cap spending at $20 per visit. See what happens.
Aww... shoot. Today, I'm guess I'm just down on baseball's bloated, poor-mouthing, human airbags because news reports say the Japanese team that owns Masahiro Tanaka - in reaction to MLB's new bid-rigging rules - won't let him come to America. Some would say it's coincidental that Tanaka is the first major Japanese free agent in years that the Yankees intended to pursue. (As a juju proponent, I don't believe in coincidences.) The Steinbrothers graciously held the door for other teams to sign Cubans, Koreans, Inuits, whatever - without a peep. This year, in deep disarray, they intended to chase Tanaka - thus, the rules were tossed.
The old system would let them slap down a humungous bid, buy the rights and pay Tanaka a truckload, without affecting the salary cap. That's how Texas did it with Yu Darvish. But at the November GM meetings, teams saw the Yankees preparing to strike, and so from now on, the plumber only gets $20.
Hey, that's how billionaires become billionaires.
If Tanaka isn't coming, the 2014 Yankees just suffered a sledge hammer to the groin. It's like General Custer hearing the cavalry is NOT en route. The team's free agent pitching options just plummeted to the likes of Ibaldo Jimenez (with loss of another draft pick - damn, we're practically the Knicks.) And we're suddenly back in Fairy Land, thinking Michael Pineda and Manny Banuelos will become stars, delusions painfully reminiscent of the days of Whitson and Shirley, of Joba and Hughes.
We have a hopelessly old and lopsided roster - a team of DHs, and not one of them a certainty to hit .300 - which must be balanced by trades. Goodbye Brett Gardner, the homegrown Yankee. And the iron rule of baseball is that no team trades with the hated Bombers unless it's a slam dunk. Between now and April 1, we might watch Gards and our best prospects walk out the door - (of course, we'll assure the press box courtiers they were never all that good) - in exchange for a Rick Rhoden or a Jared Wright.
I don't know what Brian Cashman can do today, other than sign up for another parachute jump, and hope the cords are frayed. If Cash had the luxury of one year to rebuild - one stinking season in which the organization could start righting itself from the bottom up, instead of slapping old men onto its tower of crapola - who knows? He might prove his worth. But that won't happen until he's with another team. Years from now, he'll be running Kansas City or Colorado, and he'll actually be able to build something. But not here. The Yankees will never let hm. We are a big, teetering tower, constantly adding weight at the top.
If the reports are true, our 2014 season just suffered a massive coronary. We're an old, craggy, tired, third place team - and I blame those stinking commies. Call the plumber. We just sprang a leak.