Monday, June 30, 2014
All along, that person has been Brian Cashman.
His time has come and gone.
He got credit when we had core talent, all acquired prior to his reign, and all he had to do was spend some of George's billions to add a short-term piece ( e.g. David Justice, etc. ).
The operative words were, " short-term." Players who had about 2 months left in their tank, and who commanded huge ransom's to rent them for that period of time.
For the past several years, Brian Cashman has created our core our of players from a pool of tired , old guys who have/had maybe two months of decent play left in their tanks. The ransoms continue to apply and in fact, escalate. We yield untold millions and worse, draft selections.
We give up all hope to have prospects to develop, but have McCann for another 5 years.
Those of us who pay attention recognize that even when we do have draft picks, the Yankees are wearing blinders. After years and years of Cashman, there is no talent. The few players who fool
him ( e.g. Murphy ), the accidental decent draft picks, get traded away. The others simply wilt in the minor leagues, due to pathetic player development staff or lack of hope, blocked from any shot at the majors by a long-term contract of a .219 hitter.
Doesn't anyone care? Is failure to be rewarded and built-upon year after year?
Do we really have to regard the Yankees' future as a non-competitive joke?
When bridges fall down, due to disrepair and old age, how do we regard the leadership who refused to anticipate their collapse, despite the obvious signs, and build a new bridge?
Cashman has failed by every single definition of his core job responsibilities, as their team loses its glory and descends into accepted mediocrity.
And we stand by and do nothing?
Is this a democracy or an oligarchy?
Cashman is working the phones.
They say these words, thinking we will celebrate. My theory: They're on LSD. They're tripping their brains out. That would explain it. You'd have to be zonked out of your head, playing with your own secretions, to believe Brian Cashman will magically conjure up a starter, or a third baseman, or a second baseman, or whatever else we will need, after the next wave of injuries. (When you're as old and creaky as the Yankees, there is always a next wave.)
It's a mix of LSD and old fashioned, New York City hubris - Knicks style. It's the insane belief - spun by a Westchester County brain trust and then regurgitated by a drooling, access-driven, Manhattan media - that other baseball franchises are not only poor, but stupid. Thus, we can wave a few dollars at them and receive star players for nothing.
Again and again, the Yankees obtain Mister Stud of 2010, only to slowly learn why his former team was quite willing to let him walk. When you buy a used car cheap, odds are you'll soon find out why the owner wanted to sell. Instead of youngsters who might improve, we send out thirtysomethings in decline, and - amazingly - we wonder what happened.
Hell, I'll tell you exactly what happened.
Cashman was working the phones.
How many years have we been doing this? How much money has swirled down the drain, to buy and build a team that is now two games over .500 and - frankly - we're not even that good. Without a short-term infusion, this Yankee team probably will lose more games than it wins.
Last night, the Yankees fell behind by 4 runs, and you might as well have thought they were stranded on a roof during Hurricane Katrina. On TV, you could hear all hope leave the stadium. The Yankees were doing what nobody else in baseball could do - reviving the Redsocks, a team that had lost 6 of its last 8. And there it was, lowly Boston simply putting us over their knees and delivering a spanking. At home.
Look at the averages at the bottom of the Yankee lineup, look, look, LOOK, DAMMIT, LOOK: .221, .220, .229, .233 - and finally Ichiro, at his pencil-thin .297. (Ten RBIs on the season - TEN!) Soriano and Solarte have become platoon afterthoughts. We play McCann and Beltran because they make too much money. We play Kelly Roberts because he was Cashman's project. We play Brian Roberts and Ichiro because, well, they are nice men.
Like many of you, I now take most of my joy by checking minor league box scores, hoping that someday, a few known unknowns will lead us out of this rat hole. What a joke. I might as well be on LSD. Cashman is working the phones - looking to trade one of them or maybe three, for some pitchers' version of Carlos Beltran. The Yankees have now lost home series to the Mariners, Rays, Twins, Orioles, Red Sox, and Mets. Folks, we are at a crossroads. We either start thinking about the future - the smart way - or else we just keep doing what got us into this mess - the Knicks' model.
Cashman is working the phones.
More than $200 million spent... two games above .500? And we're supposed to feel hopeful that the phones still work?
Sunday, June 29, 2014
But we can't hit. No one can get on base.
The lefty string bean comes in and Ichiro looks like an amateur.
And he is one of our most reliable batters.
The solo homers are hollow. If anyone could get on base, they would mean something.
5 Runs is already way over our quota.
Yurn off the game.
There is more world cup tomorrow.
IF…McCann had hit a home run in the Yankee's last at bat, and we went on the win the game I'd say his acquisition was worth it. I would say he is now a Yankee.
IF….Joe Girardi had a brain and didn't put all his chips, all the time, on Tanaka being perfect, I'd say he was a great manager.
IF….any of the Yankees were able to hit, I'd say we were going to be better than a .500 team.
IF…Cashman were not the worst GM in all of baseball, I'd say let's bring up some rookies and start playing for the future, today.
IF….I had invested in Google instead of drinking and earning my money installing hot tubs, I wouldn't be standing in my ratty yard wondering what I was going to do with all this junk.
IF….I had four wheels, I'd be a bus.
IF….I had a brain, I'd write a poem.
Saturday, the Yankees' played with themselves. Their two Gulf Coast League teams battled for Yankee Gulf Coast League supremacy. The outcome: 1 topped 2, 7 to 3.
I can't help but wish John Sterling had been calling the Yankee Yippee Yelp:
"Ballgame over. Yankees One win... Thuuuuuuuuugh... Yankees... One... win!"
Seriously. Even amoung the modern standards of artistic crockiness, which surpass levels historically unparalleled by the crocking crockers of crockery, this is one supremely crock-intense crock. It's Tanaka's fault that we lost? Think about that. I'd say it was Tanaka's fault that we were in it.
And Napoli's comment, "What an idiot," supposedly delivered upon returning to the Redsock dugout, should refer not to Tanaka, but Joe Girardi, who seems inclined to pitch Masahiro until his arm cracks, but who handles the other starters like a pair of Google glasses. Frankly, somebody ought to shave Mr. Mouthy Napoli before this series ends, as if to tell him we don't appreciate lip-syncs - but that would upset the kindred sportsmanship of these two bodies of statesmen, as they quibble over third place in the buttery AL East. Last night's game on Fox was like watching some re-enactment of a historical battle, where all the insurance agents put on uniforms and run across the village green, carrying fake weapons. And everybody gathered to watch has the same thought: What. A. Crock.
Let's accept that John Lester is a fine pitcher, who always kills the Yankees, even as other teams in baseball tee off on him like homeless people at a buffet. But the Yankees' anemia has become downright boring. A month ago, it was fun to see Yangervis Solarte stride up to bat. Now, it's painful. A month ago, Carlos Beltan and Brian McCann were on the verge of breaking out. Now, the concept of having them for three and five years, respectively, makes me shudder. We gave up draft picks for these guys. We mortgaged the future. Good grief, this is how the Knicks became the Knicks.
Now Cashman, the wizard, says he's going to rescue us. He'll wave his wand, cast one of his magical spells and - poof - he'll conjure up some downward spiraling former all-star - (thinking career peak of 2010) - at the cost of a few prospects from our farm system, which is already as thin as a coat of Windex. The Gammonites will hail it, as they love to do. Oh, the crockiness of it all. Damn that Tanaka! He cost us the game!
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The Yankees are caught in a trap of their own creation: They are close enough to contend - especially for that miserable one-game playoff - and, thus, they will be tempted by another Soriano/Ichiro-type trade - a short adrenal burst, with long-term negative consequences. There is a reason why teams are willing to get rid of old players. (The Redsocks this year have their own Soriano: Jake Peavey.)
Let's just hope and pray Cashman doesn't empty the farm system for Cliff Lee.
I believe the proud pinstripe tradition means the Yankees chase pennants - not one-game wildcards - and dynasties - not once-a-decade anomalies.
Ancillary activities: Fireworks Night, with appearance of the Zooperstitions, fun-for-the-fam entertainment, featuring Harry Canary, Mackerel Jordan, Nomar Garciapparrot and Bear Bonds. (No mascots seen from the current Millennium.)
Conditions: Blazing hot, sunny, slight breeze, ripe for thirstiness.
Scouting Report on key Scranton Railriders, future Yankee linchpins, to be seen ONLY by authorized fans.
Four Riders stood out:
Shane Greene, pitcher. Threw seven shutout innings, surrendered one hit - in the seventh. The first five were perfect. In the sixth, he walked a batter on a 3-2 count that - from my perch down the RF line - looked like a strike. Seven innings and one hit is a great outing, considering the Chiefs have several batters contending for the league lead in hitting. As Greene entered the fifth - the game moved fast - I was already checking to see if Vidal Nuno had been blasted by Boston, figuring Greene would be starting for the Yankees next week.
Greene dominated, a great night. That said, it must be noted that neither team produced a base hit over the first four innings. I think this was at least partially due to the left field shadow that hit between home plate and pitchers' mound. I don't think batters could pick up the ball. Hate to undermine a one-hitter, and Greene certainly vaults into the position of Next Call-Up (aside from CC, of course), but we need to see another game before thinking we have something. But we might.
Rob Refsnyder, second basesman. He looked unstoppable, every at-bat. First time up, he lashed a hot grounder to SS and was thrown out. Next time, he drew a walk. Then he turned on an inside pitch and crushed a two-run HR to left - the turning point of the game. Finally, he whacked a line drive single to right-center, this after nearly doubling down the left field line. He has a fast, compact swing, and he drives the ball wherever it is pitched. In the field, he handled a hot grounder. This is the future second baseman of the New York Yankees.
Kyle Roller, first baseman. He struck out on his first at-bat, then recorded the game's first hit, a line-drive single to right center. He drew a walk, then tripled off the wall in deep left center, a shot. (Keep in mind, he's LH, so he went with the pitch; it's a big, big ballpark, and flies don't carry well toward CF.) Roller didn't look as chunky as some have made him out to be. He looked like a guy who could step in for an injured Teixeira and cover 1B better than the catchers and OFs they would otherwise use. Of course, Roller is organizational fodder - he turned 26 in March. He's not the future Yankee first baseman. But the guy can play. There has to be a role for Roller.
Robert Coello, RH pitcher. He's 30, over-seasoned, big - 6'5" and 250 - and throws really hard. He pitched the final two innings, lights out. Strikeout, strikeout, ground out. Walk, come-backer force at 2B (should have been a DP, but he double-clutched, pulled a Jeter) strikeout, strikeout. You could argue that by the time Coello came in, Syracuse was six runs down and demoralized. But this guy was dealing. Considering how the Yankees go through bullpen arms, don't be surprised if he isn't pitching for us sometime in July.
Oh, and Scranton won, 6-0, as if anybody cares.
Friday, June 27, 2014
I am hereby appointing Shia LaBeouf (sp?) as IIHIIFIIc theatre critic, with the hope of sending him to the following Broadway shows:
2. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
4. Mamma Mia!
5. Hello, Dolly!
They have seen mighty Boston, the new milenium's most storied franchise, win three World Series rings. And surely, they must snicker when they hear all that fuss about a big Boston-New York series, because basically, all they've ever seen was one good team whipping the bloody crap out of a bad one.
It's been five years - 2009 - since the Yankees and Redsocks sent powerhouse lineups crashing into each other in September. That year, Boston finished eight games out, with the third best record in the AL. Ever since, the two clubs have taken turns collapsing at midnight into toads. Last year, the Yankees' embarrassing final gasp came at the hands of Boston - remember Soriano trying to steal third?, Preston Claiborne getting torched?, the sweep? "The Rivalry" is merely an excuse to watch one good team go medieval on a bad one.
That is, until this year.
Tonight, we see another eternal sports rivalry: Wretched v. Mediocre. Certainly, either team can still get hot and salvage its season. Let's face it: Bud Selig finally turned MLB into an NFL clone: Parity instead of dynasty, with no franchise able to keep its players. The list of lame teams far outnumbers that of solid ones. Right now, MLB's two best clubs are Oakland and Milwaukee. That's an epic World Series, eh? Obama should go ahead and designate October as "National Netflix Month."
Tonight, Boston and New York will pay homage to that age-old rivalry - like Harvard vs. Yale. (In that regard, it's time for the Yankees and Redsocks to find an icon - and old jug or jock strap - which changes hands whenever a team wins the latest series.) We will hearken back to the era when these were not only baseball's best teams, but they hated each other. Not like today, when Big Papi is usually defending the Yankees, and Jeter receives warm Fenway ovations. Want a brawl? Check out the Redsocks in Tampa. Good grief, these teams send each other Christmas cards. After Boston challenged Michael Pineda's pine tar use, the Redsocks were almost apologetic; considering how that clown slathered junk all over his neck, they had no choice.
But to us, the sad cases, it's still the Redsocks and the Yankees. This weekend, the Yankees could put Boston out of its misery, or bring the '14 Zombie Socks back to life. More than likely, neither will happen. These old and plodding teams will trade a win and a loss, and fans will have to close their eyes to remember when Papi wasn't hitting .256 and Jeter was - well - simply the greatest human being in John Sterling's memory. It's like watching a Neil Diamond oldies concert. Wait a minute: Didn't the Yankees last year salute Boston by playing "Sweet Caroline?" Maybe the two teams should share a group hug.
As for those new, future Yankee immortals - (Remember: Every 15 seconds, a new Yankee Stadium center field monument takes shape) - the boys from Brazil, or the D.R., or Venezuela., I wonder what they're thinking? I wonder if they'll ever know a time like when the Yankee bullpen fought Boston's security guards, or their pitcher pointed to his head and said, here's where the next one is going, or our Gerbil came charging out of the dugout... Ah, those were the days... Harvard vs. Yale, the two best teams in college football.
Glory days. Well, they'll pass you by. Hey, Bud, how's that epic World Series shaping up? A's vs Brewers! Think ESPN-2 will have an opening?
Thursday, June 26, 2014
This weekend, the Yankees have a rare opportunity: They could effectively knock Boston out of its season
Yeah, OK, but think this: If the Evils this weekend can sweep the listing Redsocks, it might ignite a domino-drop of salary dumps, similar to the great house-cleaning of mid-2012.
If Redsock history reveals one thing, it is that management never shows loyalty to former Boston stars. The Socks jettisoned Fisk, Boggs, Nomar, Pedro, Youk, Papelbon, Dice-K, Damon, Manny, Beckett, Ellsbury, et al - and the bull's eye on David Ortiz's back expands with each passing week. If they slide further back, it is the nature of the franchise to seek scapegoats and roll heads. Considering the success they had after 2012 - dumping oldsters and winning it all last year - the fan base would likely offer only token protests.
In fact, part of me worries that if the Yankees do rub out Boston's hopes, it will embolden Brian Cashman to scrounge up another Soriano deal, a short-term fix that leaves us with another geezer taking up space for future seasons. Meanwhile, Boston could retool and return stronger than ever next year.
In the modern era of professional sports, it seems the worst place to be is in the middle of the pack - missing the post-season and with nothing to show for it. The last two great Yankee droughts only ended after the teams completely collapsed, bringing high draft picks.
Still... wouldn't it be nice to whack them?
Since their "signature moments as Yankees," Beltran and McCann are a combined 6 for 38 (.158) with 1 RBI
Yes. Me... duped again. O! what a dense and clueless clod I be! T'was inexcusable, considering my life-forged Yankee cynicism. I am truly sorry. I am a fool. But it won't happen again.
Since their magical epiphanies, McCann has been McCannot (4 for 21 with 2 walks and one RBI) and Beltran is AlsoRan (2 for 17, with three walks and zero RBIs.) To make matters worse, both take up prime real estate in the Yankee order and cast a dark gravitational pull upon our lone threat, Mark Teixeira.
Last night, Tex again led our bone-weary attack. He's become the Cano of 2014 - that is, the one Yankee hitter that opponents fear. But so do we fans. We fear that with one checked swing, Tex will tweak his Achilles wrist and be gone - along with the 2014 season, leaving Frankie Cervelli and Kelly Johnson to patrol first base. For the next three months, the Yankees need Tex to play first base almost every game. All those who think he can do it, raise your hands. Hmm. I see no hands.
Last winter, when the Yankees inked McCann to that wretched five-year stint, the working line for the Gammonites was that he would finish his NY career as a slugging (i.e. 30 HR per season) first baseman. That was before McCann met the over-shifts, which have withered his batting average to a Grandersonian .220, and set him up to become that rare Yankee acquisition: the star who is both an offensive and defensive liability.
Meanwhile, Beltan has a carbunkle in his throwing elbow, which means it's no longer a throwing elbow. He must DH exclusively, denying Teixeira an occasional rest. That Beltan is also hitting around .220 raises a touchy question: Would everyone have been better served if Beltan three weeks ago had chosen surgery, instead of hitting through the injury? He would have missed two months, returning in August. It's hard to say what was right. But currently, we have the worst of everything: He's not hitting, and he can't play the field - that sublime rarity... both an offensive and defensive liability. Yowzer.
This we know: Now and then, Tex needs an easy night. If his wrist pops, it's all over. And unless Beltran and McCann have new signature moments - ones that actually start something - well, here's my newly forged cynicism speaking:
Run for cover, folks, 'cause it's just a matter of time before the big crapola-tower topples. Boston's coming to town. We need another Rapture.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
While we are still theoretically within spitting distance of first place, and inexplicably even over .500, Fangraphs tells the real story.
We are 24th in batting, with a team WAR of 6.4.
We are 19th in advanced fielding, posting a negative number in every category except rSB (stolen base runs saved).
We are 21st in pitching. (But 14th on the advanced pitching list, whoopee!)
And, unlike 1968, a new Beatles release is nowhere on the horizon.
Who was it who said, on or about opening day, that, " this might not be a .500 team?"
And why are we just sitting here, bitching, but doing nothing?
Someone should be leading a mob to where Brian Cashman lives, and demanding his resignation.
Like in Egypt.
Like in Syria.
Like in Kiev.
Duque, we will follow your and the IIH banner.
When does the " March on Cashman" commence?
Aux Barricades !!!!
A sea food buffet.
A fling in the hay.
Solarte... in May.
A song out of tune.
Street crime in Rangoon.
A nightmare swoon.
Solarte... in June.
A routine pop fly.
A darkening sky.
A long, anguished sigh.
"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour...": William Blake had to be writing about the 2014 Yankees.
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand...
Wasn't that what Jeter was doing last night, double-clutching on his throws?
Listen: It's our bad, our fault. We believed...
A week ago, the Yankees fooled us. They won four straight. We thought this was the fulcrum point, that from now on, the Yankees would chase the pennant rather than that fraudulent one-game Selig playoff - (which even if we won with Tanaka, would simply doom the Yankees to a five-game set with their Triple A rotation.) Now, though, we have simply returned those four games - (a "market correction," they call it on Wall Street, "catch and release" in fishing.) And we surrendered them in pure 1968 fashion - brutally, efficiently and with proper embarrassment.
The last days of 1968 were larded with slobbery tributes to the aging Mantle, some that still bother me - such as Denny McClain grooving the gopher ball for HR Number 535 - the second-to-last of Mickey's career. It was demeaning, a cheap humiliation, like Michael Strahan setting that single-season sack record for the NY Giants, with Brett Favre taking a knee. Come late September, will some pitcher with a 10-run lead wave the ball in his hand and tell Jeter what's coming? Dear God, will it come to that?
Around the Yankiverse, anticipation has begun for next week's newest Yankee holiday - July 2, Dependents Day - when Hal Steinbrenner becomes the most expensive trafficker of young boys on the planet. The Yankees will buy 16-year-old Latinos - some under secret contracts for months - for ridiculous sums. They are doing this because - well - they have no better idea. They will shovel money at kids whose testicles have barely dropped, making them teen millionaires - and we've seen how that affects the human ego, haven't we? From Jackson Melian and Wily Mo Pena onward, most of these kids will see their greatest fame from the contract they sign. Yet the Yankiverse will celebrate July 2 with hope, because - hey - it's 1968, and in our hearts, we know the deal:
If this team wins four in a row, it will simply lose four next week.
We are a bad team. Without Masahiro Tanaka, we would be one of the worst in Yankee history, on par with those rancid teams of the late 1960s and 1980s.
The trouble with old stars is that they stay to the end, and the end is never pretty. Even for Mickey. Last night, we watched our valiant captain, fruitlessly chasing Blue Jay base-runners, holding infinity in the palm of his hand. And for us, it was eternity in an hour.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
It is called; " Crazy 8's."
Yanks lose 8-0
Yanks lose 8-3
Yanks lose tonight 8-?
If you get it right, you get a vacation in the rain with a bunch of kids.
"We told you to feed the bastard before the match!"
Dear Mr. Cashman: Before trading for Jeff Samardzija, please ponder the Yankees' tortured history of players with impossible-to-spell names
|Doug Mientkiewicz, down for a spell.|
On behalf of the Yankee blogiverse, I humbly say this:
Please, dear God, no! NO! Our vision is fine! WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER STINKING EYE CHART!
If you look at history, Mr. Mxyzptlk, you'll see that the Yankees have found little success from players who are identified by piles of random consonants. Why would Jeff Samardzija - or whatever his name is - be different? He'll just clog our auto-spell systems.
OK, if we could unload two Mike Jerzembecks and a Travis Ishikawa on Theo Epstein's ever-suffering Cubbies, that would work. But just wait: We'll trade a Murphy, a Sanchez and a couple Warrens - names that couldn't grace a spelling bee. And we'll get a guy who has Suzyn Waldman speaking in tongues.
For every Mark Teixeira, who has helped the Yankees, the team has suffered three Ron Klimkowskis and a Dave Wehrmeister.
Check the Top 10 Hardest To Spell Yankees, and - thankfully - none of these names need to be etched into center field plaque. Because they'd only be misspelled.
The Top Ten Hardest to Spell Yankees.
1. Doug Mientkiewicz (2007). Great fielding firstbaseman, couldn't hit. Playing for Boston, he caught the ball that officially ended the Curse of the Bambino. Then Boston ditched him, rather than try and spell his name for another season. As a Yankee, he once got hurt against the Redsocks, and I was actually thankful, knowing I wouldn't have to write his name any more.
2. Jonathan Albaladejo. (2008). Relief pitcher. What was Cashman thinking? He traded future all-star reliever Tyler "The Yankee" Clippard for this guy, whose most memorable Yankee moment was getting hit by a foul ball, getting both eyes blackened, and being nicknamed "Raccoon." I think Cashman thought he was dealing for Jessica Alba.
3. Scott Kamieniecki. (1991-96). Starter, was 36-39 with Yankees. How many vowels does a guy need to be mediocre? Against the Seattle Mariners one night, I swear you could see this guy literally shaking on the mound. At home, whenever he pitched, I was shaking.
4. Dale Mohorcic. (1988). Relief pitcher. I dreaded this guy entering a game. No matter how you spelled it, the name always looked wrong.
5. Ryota Igarashi. (2012) A pitcher. I think he threw a couple innings for us. I'm sure Girardi dropped him because he couldn't get the name right.
6. Travis Ishakawa, (2013) Firstbaseman. Cashman plucked him off the scrap heap. He played a game or two, and that was that.
7. Fred Jackiltsch. (1905) A catcher. From that famous 1905 team. Your guess is as good as mine.
8. Jay Witasick. (2001) A mid-season reliever acquisition, who collapsed - like the entire Yankee bullpen - in the playoffs. He was one of those guys who was lights-out for the previous team, and whose time with the Yankees was basically a correction.
9. Bobby Teifenauer (1965). Knuckleballer. The Yankees got him, thinking he would be their Hoyt Wilhelm and Barney Schultz. Nobody could catch him. Runners circled the bases. This was the beginning of a dark period in Yankee lore.
10. Bill Monbouquette. (1967) Stud in Boston, came too late to NYC. They just called him Monbo and let it ride. In the box scores, you'd see M'nb'q'tte.
Listen: You can add your Andy Stankiewiczes, your Tanyon Sturtzes, toss in a Jim Deshaises and Brian Boehringer - even Yangervis Solarte. It doesn't matter. We will not spell them correctly.
The Redsocks can win with Saltaknacchias, Bogaerteses, Tazawans, Ueharas, Larnaways and maybe even a Pierzynski. Not the Yankees. We need Ruths, Mantles and Munsons. No trades for gobbledigookers, Cashman. We don't need no stinkin' silent q's.
Marcus Stroman, the guy who shut us down last night, is the reason why the Yankees need draft picks, not old guys
Last night, the Yankees were shut down by Marcus Stroman, a kid who grew up practically within a pizza delivery of Yankee Stadium. A first-round pick.
We haven't had a young stud like that since 2008, when 60-year-old DH Billy Crystal electrified spring training. (We also had Hughes and Joba, the two future Hall of Famers.) Two years ago, the Jays drafted Stroman with the 22nd pick. Eight selections later, we stepped to the lectern of death and chose a Texas high school pin-cushion named Ty Hensley, who has barely thrown 100 pitches as a professional, due to multiple hip surgeries and a hernia. The guy is a walking full-employment act for hospitals. Who knows? He might still make it, but after all that time in rehab whirlpool, he's probably just another Matt Drews, another tanker in an epic stream of Yankee wrecks.
This year, for all the jubilation over our "top" pick - (we can't say "first round" pick, because we had none) - the Blue Jays had selected three guys before we even reached the microphone. We drafted a college closer at number 55.
I want you to close your eyes and think of something wild:
What a concept! Can you imagine it? Teams actually horde them and energize their systems! How - you ask - HOW DO THESE WIZARDS DO SUCH A THING? Don't ask the Yankee brain trust, because they're clueless to the strategy. The Angels, Redsocks, Cards, Rays and Rangers have done it for 20 years - they let free agents walk, make them a qualifying offer, and bank the extra first-round pick, when the guy rejects it - and they get the Yankees' pick, when we sign the guy.
In 2012-13, the Yankees let players walk too - and received two extra first round picks. I thought, WE DID IT. WE FINALLY SOLVED THE MYSTERY.
Nope. I was wrong. Last winter, the Yankees stood to get extra picks for Curtis Granderson, Robbie Cano and - had he not re-signed - Hiroki Kuroda. We also could have made Phil Hughes a qualifying offer, and I doubt he would have taken it. Hughes ended up getting a nice three-year deal with Minnesota, and we sure could him now, eh?
But... nope. Last winter, the Yankees signed three players with other teams' qualifying offers, nullifying our entire first round. Instead of Brian McCann (currently 8 HR, .218) for five years and a pick, we could have signed Jarrod Saltalmacchia (6 HR, .237 at Miami) or A.J. Pierzynski (4 HR, .255 at Boston). Both went for shorter deals, and neither cost their new teams a draft pick. (The Redsocks, Braves and Cardinals, you see, are still playing the strategy game.) Carlos Beltran (7 HR, .220) cost us a pick. So did Jacoby Ellsbury, whom we have for seven years. The Yankees could be powering up with first-round picks. Instead, we played our old-style hand, and - well, folks... Here. We. Are.
The Yankees have scored four runs in three games. Do the math. Yes, that's 1.33 runs per game. (The 0.33 leaves Derek Jeter in a rundown.) But friends, ours is not a three-game malaise. This is a five-year drought. This is the Texas Panhandle under global warming, and the Yankee front office seems to be just as much in denial. We just continue business as usual - signing guys a year after their sell-by dates - and let the draft figure itself out.
Until the Yankees start building the smart way, rather than the stupid way, all the 16-year-old Latino millionaires in the world cannot lift this organization from the doldrums. But cheer up. If Marcus Strohman becomes a star in Toronto, we'll certainly sign him at age 30 - and give the Blue Jays, or whatever team he's then playing for, our first-round pick.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Of the people I've never met, few in this world ever brought me more joy than Whitey and Yogi. They made me into a lifelong, psychotic, irrational, disturbed Yankee fan - for which I will always be grateful. (Hey, the alternative might have been being a lifelong, psychotic, irrational disturbed Met fan. Would that be better?)
Once a year, I get to check on them. Yesterday, they looked mighty frail. At the risk of sounding psychotic, irrational and disturbed, I'm not sure they'll both be here next June.
It sure would be nice to see them throwing out pitches in the 2014 World Series - and, yes, we are still in that race. But losing 8-0 at home to the Orioles on Old-Timers Day, in front of a sell-out crowd, two days after a miracle comeback, with Tanaka on the mound... Folks, that does not inspire hope. Every time this team takes a step forward, it seems to follow up with an equal step backwards. If we glump around in Toronto and fall back to .500, the front office must make some seriously difficult decisions about the future. And we might just have to hope that Whitey and Yogi can make it for another year.
Nevertheless, somehow, the washout roused the Yankees. They swept Seattle and won seven of ten. As our hopes rose, we privately wondered: WTF? With whom did we make this Mephistophlian deal? What did we toss overboard?
Well, obviously, we jettisoned the carcass of Yangervis Solarte, who on the night of the aborted juju jolt was hitting .299. Now, Solarte is plummeting to the void of.250, dropping like a 14-year-old's testicle after watching Blue Lagoon II. Yangervis is not fielding. Yangervis is not hitting. Yangervis is not breathing. Unless he vaults from his personal episode of The Walking Dead, Yangervis soon will be shambling along the streets of Scranton. And there is a chance that he will never return.
Dear God, what have we done? Did we slaughter an innocent calf? How can we live with ourselves, knowing that Never Nervous Yangervis became Solyndra Solarte, and that The Master may never again sing the Volare home run anthem? Yesterday, the Yankee bottom three - Kelly Johnson, Soriano/Ichiro, and Yangervis - was like watching pitchers bat. (To those who point to Ichiro's .307 average, all I say is: 10 RBIs... ten.... 10?... TEN!) Add McCann and Beltran - our long-term acquisitions, stars of the .220s - and that's a two-inning smoke break for any opposition pitcher. We are a team that sets the table and never sits to eat. And if we try another juju intervention, what will we do, destroy Chase Whitley?
So... what now? Another intervention? Clearly, the juju gods must realize that they gain no adulation by picking on a fellow like Yangervis. Good grief, they look like fourth grade bullies.
I believe it's time for the Yankees to play their last dramatic card - a 2B named Robert Refsnyder, currently in Scranton. He jumped from Trenton a week ago, looked over-matched at first, but in the last few games - (small sample alert) - he has knocked down fences. Yesterday brought his first Triple A HR.
There are solid reasons not to promote Refsnyder. For starters, it might not be fair to him. But life is not fair. Not long ago, the Yankees turned around their season by elevating Chien-Ming Wang and a kid named Cano. The pair immediately breathed excitement into the Yankees - the kind that, until recently, was furnished by Yangervis Solarte. The Yanks need to always have someone playing over his head, over-achieving and seeing the game from the eyes of a child. It's infectious. It's critical. In a way, it's juju.
Between April and June, Solarte brought hope to the Yankees lineup. Now, he brings baggage. He plays like a battery without a charge. For three months, every time he came to bat, I knew something good was going to happen. Now, it's time to take a leak. We don't need another old guy. We need another Solarte. We need a reason to believe. And that, my friends, is juju.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
|One of the worst days of the season|
Yes, it's way too soon for that kind of speculation, which is precisely why it's the perfect time to bring it up. And there's no juju danger in it because Tanaka is, unlike the false claim about Clapton in the 60s, God.
By the way, did any other old timers find it...kind of...bizarre...to hear Street Fighting Man playing on the Stadium sound system behind the YES wrap up of the Old Timers game? Do you think the Steinbrenners know what the lyrics are? Just wondering...
So, we have two new members of the Monument Park fraternity this weekend. Congratulations, Goose Gossage and Tino Martinez.
We'll have a bunch more plaques put up over the next few years ... we've got Paul O'Neill, Joe Torre and Bernie Williams announced, and that doesn't even figure the inevitable Jeter-Rivera-Pettitte-Posada run. At this rate, they may have to rebuild the old Stadium just to hold all the Monument Park plaques.
I'll be honest, I have mixed feelings about the flood of Monument Park members. Tino was a helluva player for us for 6 or 7 years, got a bunch of rings and by all accounts is a great guy. Honestly, though, never once in his career -- and this is no knock on Tino -- did I ever think, "Yeah, he'll get a plaque in centerfield some day." Look, I'm not one of those folks screaming that we're on the slippery slope to Wayne Tolleson Day, but if I'm Graig Nettles, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph or any of a dozen or so guys from the Yankees previous dynasties, I'm thinking, "Hey, when's my plaque being ordered?"
The pitcher's next major setback, currently slated for August, is now expected in September.
Stay close to your computer for the latest developments on the Pineda Setback Network.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Last night, Brett Gardner delivered the christening moment, dousing Carlos Beltran with Gatorade in the aftermath of the walkoff homer.
It got me to a-thinkin':
Who else could have taken it upon himself to give such a shower?
Jeter? Of course. But that's not his style.
Tex? Nah. He's a slugger, not the firebrand.
Everybody else is too new. Gardner is the one.
So who would be the likeliest person to be the next Yankee captain? The easy answer is to say nobody; after Jeter retires, they'll hold the spot open for at least a year. But over that season, who would be the one Yankee most likely to maintain the status of Captain?
Tanaka? Possible, but there's the language barrier. Robertson? Nah. It can't be the closer. It needs to be a guy on the field all the time. The answer always comes back to one guy: Gardner.
2. McCann and Beltran - the guys we need - triggered the rally.
3. We torched the O's formerly unhittable closer.
4. We saved Solarte from the hot seat of having lost the game with his error.
5. We flipped Baltimore in the standings.
6. Beltran's signature arrival as a Yankee.
7. It kept Soriano from coming up and probably making the final out.
8. We didn't have to use David Robertson.
9. The team won't have to hear critics rail about the lack of clutch hitting.
10. The polar caps stopped melting, and war has ended in Iraq.
If you went to bed last night fantasizing about John Sterling's Win Warble - expecting a Godzillian, 7.00-second, shark-nado of vocalization and joy - you'd be surprised.
In the aftermath of Carlos Beltran's walk-off off home run, The Master gave no warble, none. He even sort of flubbed Beltran's home run call.
Ladies and gentleman, let it be known that John Sterling will call the Apocalypse just like a regular announcer. For posterity - here it is...
Friday, June 20, 2014
Polish-American player on either list!)
Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
(when unjuiced) mediocrity Bartolo Colon a cool 9 MILLION SIMOLEONS!
(WHEN UNJUICED) MEDIOCRITY BARTOLO COLON!!
Still paying us back for unloading Jesse Barfield, the Blue Jays are kind and generous visitors to NYC
When they return in July, they should be welcomed at LaGuardia, showered with free Rolex watches and supermodels - ("Helloooo, Melky!") - toasted on Broadway, feted on Jimmy Fallon, and given a ticker-tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes. They are a boon to the city's tourism industry.
We have seven home games left with them, four in mid-September. Sixteen straight, baby, sixteen straight.
Judge has a way to go. He is 22 - older than Cito Culver or Dante Bichette Jr., the poster children for controversial Yankee picks. At Charleston, anything less than Sherman's march to the sea would have been a disappointment, dropping Judge into the Biz Bag of deflated studs - the Mason Williamses and Slade Heathcotts. But he tore apart Charleston, and even in a farm system where our biggest erections seem to go flacid somewhere between Tampa and Trenton - and he's still a year away - Aaron Judge has established himself as The Great Yankee Hope of Hope Week 2014.
Which makes him The Second Coming of Jesus.
Of course, I'm referring to Jesus "Hey-Seuss" Montero, who carried our Hope Week banners for three relatively hope-challenged years, between 2009 and 2011 - until the Great Swap of Quarks - Montero for Pineta - two theoretical particles. Scientists are still studying that deal, wondering who won, and what the hell happened? Some questions can never be answered. This is one. Humankind is not meant to have the answer.
Which brings us to the future of Aaron Judge.
Last night, in his first game at Tampa, he went 2 for 4. Today... right now... this minute... this frickin MOMENT IN TIME... he is the guy that any team would demand for a front-line starter. He is the price of a David Price. Of course, the deal wouldn't end with Judge. The team would want one or two players closer to the show. But Judge is the chip that could seal a deal, in much the way that Drew Henson was, when the Yankees traded for David Justice.
Which brings us to Brian Cashman, the man who dealt Jesus.
Yesterday, Cashman conducted one of those party line chats, where he opines on everything but the Iraq War. In it, he all but vowed to make a deal between now and the July 31 trade deadline. He is looking for that front-line pitcher, and this week, his bartering tongue grew three inches. Last night's sweep of Toronto - (Those big bad Jays suddenly don't look so tough, eh?) - and Baltimore's loss of Matt Weiters, clearly boosted Yankee hope through the roof. Moreover, it looks increasingly as if Boston could climb back into the race, adding to Yankee emotional needs. This is, after all, Jeter's final run. We blew it with Mariano. This time, we'll need more than Alfonso Soriano or Xavier Nady.
In the Yankee dark ages of the 1980s - the great 14-year barf - George Steinbrenner could trade prospects without immediate criticism, because hardly anyone followed them. The writers simply gummed their cud about how much Rick Rhoden or Ken Phelps would add to the team. Only the few fans who subscribed to Baseball America ever heard of a McGriff or a McGee. Today, that has changed. Yankee fans are tightly clued into the events in Charleston and Trenton. Two nights ago, I talked with a Yankee fan, and the first thing he asked was, "Why do you think the Yankees benched Gary Sanchez?" In the days of Gabe Paul, that conversation would never have happened.
It's time for the Yankiverse to have a new conversation: Is Aaron Judge our future, or is he trade fodder? I honestly don't know. But I know this: Aaron is the new Jesus. And Judgement Day, July 31, is not far away. You can see it from here.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
A nationally broadcast live concert, pitched to drive-in movie locations - from the Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, Texas.
Never was a Parrot Head - (nothing against him, either) - but if Syracuse still had a drive-in, (a travesty, BTW), I'd fill a cooler and make a run.
What a night.
But in MLB, the manager simply meanders out to the mound and chats about the weather, while the team video technician - and the entire home TV audience - discerns whether the call was proper.
At that point, everybody in the baseball world - except the umps - knows what will be the final decision. And if the call is to be overturned, we must then endure the two-to-five minute wait, while the lawyers at Bud Selig's Mission Command pound through the digital tape and issue their ruling.
Don't know how they fix this, but it sure is a dead point in a game. Maybe MLB needs a 24 second clock.
You've got 24 seconds, Joe, to throw down the gauntlet. Just how sure are you of the outcome?
Back then, every winter - just to piss off Bud Selig - Old George signed the top free agent on the market. The previous winter, he'd added Mussina. Now, he'd brought in the tank, Jason Giambi, from Oakland. But in April, Giambi had stunk out the Stadium, generating boos. Lately, he'd shown a spark - 8 HRs and rising average. But he hadn't won us anything. He was an Oakland player in a Yankee jersey.
For some reason, we kept watching. Shane Spencer led off the bottom of the 14th with a single. Our young 2B, Alfonso Soriano, flew out to left. Derek Jeter singled, and Bernie Williams drew a walk. One out, bases full. Up came Giambi, whose walk-off grand slam is still relived - via John Sterling's delirious call - on one of my most precious keepsakes, the Yankee Talking Bottle Opener.
Memories blur. But on that spring night, in my beer-fogged mind, Jason Giambi became The Giambino, and his Pinstripes, permanent tattoos. That year, he hit 41 HRs, drove in 122, and batted .314. His seven-year Yankee run ended in 2008 - when Torre's team collapsed and our young 2B, Robbie Cano, didn't even bother to dive for a ground ball that sealed our fate. That year, at 37, Jason Giambi hit 32 HRs, but he'd become a dead-pull hitter with lice for batting average and a ton of life baggage - the steroids scandal, the withering physique, the "parasite" he picked up in Japan, the public confession, the public apology, the public testimony and his expected retirement.
When I think of Giambi, I remember those two home runs against Pedro in THE GAME - hint: Aaron Boone - rousing us from what seemed a 4-0 certain defeat, and - of course, that wondrous grand slam against the Twins. Close my eyes, and I'm there. And someday, when Giambi returns to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timer's Day - damn - I will stand and cheer, even from my living room. He was worth every penny of Old George's money - and I don't say that about every Yankee.
Well, last night, the Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann - a month late and a few HRs short - won a game for the Yankees. Take away his home run and two-out, bases loaded double, and the Yankees would have mounted another simpering, brain-dead offense, scoring one run, maybe two. Take away McCann, and the mighty Blue Jays would be on the verge of winning a three-game series at the Stadium.
I'm not saying McCann is about to become The McCannbino and lead the Yankees anywhere. But maybe last night, the pinstripes took hold. It always takes a while for new Yankees to learn the truth: One week in New York City equals a month in any other city - that as a Yankee, the world turns over every 24 hours - and you're either on top or the bottom - no in-between. Atlanta is not NYC. No matter how experienced a player may be, it takes a month, maybe three - which is a lifetime - to learn the new reality.
The worry, of course, is that McCann is fazed by over-shifts, his BA will never rise above .230, and we own another Andy Hassey, but this time for five years. Well... maybe not. If McCann can hit 30 HRs, he is the best catcher in the AL. No kidding. Look around. With Matt Wieters out for the season, there aren't any catchers who can have an impact like McCann.
Hey... it is, after all, Hope Week.
As for Giambi - well - who would have thought it: He is still around - ah, but not for long. This year, in 52 plate appearances, the Giambino has 2 HRs and is hitting .128. For him, the days are already getting shorter. But Giambi is projected as a future manager, and - who knows? - after Joe Girardi's run, Giambi could be in the mix. And it all began in the 14th inning of a game we all knew was lost. Funny how that goes. One day, you're a bum. Next day, you're a bottle opener. Welcome to NY, Brian. Glad you finally made it.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
*Until they start winning again.