Friday, March 27, 2015
Posted by el duque at 6:08 AM
In the words of James Agee and Walker Evans, "Let us now praise famous men."
In less literary terms, let us now ponder the 2015 Yankees.
These are my annual predictions. I'm no baseball expert. Like you, I am merely a particle in the vast,entropic wilderness of Yankee press releases, YES propaganda, Celino and Barnes ads, and Gammonite keyboard ejaculate. Nevertheless, I believe The Master is wrong: You can predict baseball. You just need to look at the past.
I've stalked the Yankees for 55 years, over which there might have been a day or two that I did not wake up thinking about the team, or go to bed patrolling CF. If you're reading this, it's only because we are linked via some sick, Yogi Berraian wormhole of consciousness. You were meant to be here.
For the last two years, I foresaw the Yankees missing the playoffs. It has less to do with my knowledge of the game than a natural inclination toward Yankee pessimism. I practice Yankee pessimism. It works for me. I don't look on the dark side of life. But I always expect the worst from the Yankees. How else can they surprise me?
But I make my predictions with one great caveat. You must remember: No matter how bad the Yankees are, it's going to be a great year!
That said, here goes: My predictions for 2015.
1. The eternal excuse. "If not for those pesky injuries..." Once again, the DL will foreclose on us. When your average age is over 30, don't skimp on ice. CC and Beltran will return to form - until they tweak something. Tex will come back - until his wrist blows. Last year, we lucked out with Gardner and Ellsbury each playing 140 games. Do you really expect that again? On any pitch, Tanaka and/or Pineda could feel a career-changing twinge. We have just too many old bones and too few young faces. In the end, we will again hear that same sorry excuse: "If not for the injuries..."
2. The wobbly rotation. Lately, hopes are high about Adam Warren "winning" fifth starter. Wait a minute. Adam Warren? He threw 78 innings last year. Over the last two, he's thrown 155. That's our fifth starter? And - get this - he beat out the great Esmil Rogers! Is anybody else seeing this? I feel like William Shatner in that Twilight Zone episode, yelling about the gremlin out on the wing. Adam Warren? Last June, we sniffed through the Scranton staff like dogs over kibble, trying anybody with an arm. Remember Alfredo Aceves? Bruce Billings? Chris Leroux? If March is already this barren, what will August look like? As for Nathan Evaldi? There are 50 guys like him, looking for the pitch that transforms them into Cy Young. I'm thinking by May 15, we are the Esmil Empire.
3. A punchless lineup. Last year's RBI leader, Brian McCann, had 75. Seventy-frickin-five! Back in the dead-ball Yankees era of Bobby Meacham and Ron Hassey - 1986 - as bad as we were, we still had guys who drove in 100 runs. (Mattingly and Winfield were the names.) Seventy-five RBIs? On the "Bronx Bombers?" WTF? Last season, when we were down by two runs, it was like staring up at Mount Everest with a broken bottle of oxygen. We did nothing to change that, beyond reluctantly bringing back A-Rod. Who will drive in 100 runs? Tex? Last year, he hit .216. Two-sixteen. If a starter gives up three runs in the first, why bother watching? Is Michael Kay THAT witty?
4. The inevitable salary dumps. All this fiscal restraint you see... at the trade deadline, it will go out the window. Some ancient former Mr. Brewer - now 38 with a belly as bloated as his contract - will pop up on Cashman's radar. We will trade a prospect who we've touted this spring - (assuring the Gammonites he was never that good) - for the next Alfonso, or Ichiro, or Headley, or Mondesi, or Abreu, or Nady, or Berkman, or Reynolds, or Kearns, or Prado, or McCarthy, or Capuano, or Kerry Wood. Momentarily revived, we will chase the one-game Wild Card. The YES men will marvel.
4. The rising Redsocks. Last summer, while we slogged after the Wild Card, I found myself actually envying Boston fans. They scrapped their old and creaky roster, and started eyeing 2015. Now, it's here. Yes, they have a long way to go, but they retooled with free agents and youth, and if they win, we will look like buffoons. They will have lapped us, while we sat there, were congratulating ourselves for trading Pete O'Brien for Martin Prado.
5. Third place in the AL East. I hate to say it, but we needed some high-priced free agent, a Scherzer or Shields. Our farm system is still barren. It's sad that we must rely on the check book. But for 20 years, the Yankees won by getting less from more. Now, we're supposed to do more with less? That won't happen overnight. It will take years. This is just Year III.
I hope I'm wrong. But fear not: With or without the Yankees, it will be a great summer! Damn! I can't wait! PLAY BALL!