Monday, November 30, 2015
Today's Yankee owners play well with fellow owner heirs and heiresses. Thus, Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner says he will not bid on big name free agents, because the Yankees - (valued at $3.2 billion by Forbes last March, not counting the value of the YES network) - just can't afford another big contract. As a result, our "fierce rival" (wink wink), the Redsocks won't have to beat a gigantic Yankee counter-offer in their quest to sign David Price.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus - at least in Boston. He's known as Hal Kringle.
George Steinbrenner's death was the greatest thing that ever happened to modern MLB team owners, and the worst imaginable to the Players Association. He begot what nobody could imagine 10 years ago - a tightwad running the Yankees. So be it. It's the Steinbrenner family's team. It's the Steinbrenner family's money, legacy, stadium, domain, employees, etc. They can do what they want. But in the spirit of giving - yes, in the spirit of Christmas, I offer these yuletide suggestions.
1. Boston should kick back a few million to Hal - not an overwhelming amount, just enough to say "thanks." Without the Yankees bidding, the price of Price will be millions less. They should not pay so much that others - federal people, like judges - could suggest "collusion." That horrible, dirty word ended long ago. With the Supreme Court having eliminated the salary cap on buying elections, corruption is part of today's game, as long as you don't go around blabbing.
2. Hal needs a nice, secret slush fund, where other owners can pay him directly, preferably in gold. Obviously, it must be in the Cayman Islands, with shell game subsidiaries and compliant Swiss bankers. Hey, I'm just spit-balling here, but there's a golden opportunity for running prostitutes. Hal could dabble in coke and heroin - the blue chips - but I hope he draws the line on supplying weapons to terror groups. If he could horde all the world's diamonds, could he build a super death ray and demand Australia?
We'll soon know if it's really true: The Yankees - the Evil Dead - will actually sit back and watch Boston sign David Price, like me watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. On that day, Yankee fans everywhere will celebrate another victory for our owner's bottom line. We can live secure in knowing that if Hal drowns, it won't be in red ink... but gravy.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Friday, November 27, 2015
Me? I got nothing. Every plan worth a paragraph requires signing a free agent ace, which Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner has ruled out, after stressing that I'm Not Cheap is not cheap.
The possibility exists that I'm Not Cheap is actually not cheap, but posturing - planning to bid on, say, David Price, rather than allow Boston a clear bidding path to the pitcher. That is our version of "fantasy baseball." When I'm Not Cheap said the same thing last year about Max Scherzer, we didn't believe him, thinking I'm Not Cheap could not be so cheap. Had we signed Scherzer, who knows? We might have won the AL East. But we didn't, and for a guy who counts his holdings in billions, and owns the frickin' NEW YORK YANKEES, I'm Not Cheap is looking damn cheap.
So here we are, basically standing pat with a wild card. If you're wondering Who's On First, you might as well be Lou Costello. Because practically every position is inscribed in granite: 1B (Tex), SS (Didi), 3B (Headley), the OF (Gardy, Ellsbury, Beltran, Hicks), C (McCann), DH (A-Rod), the starters (six of them, no discernible ace), the bullpen (Miller, Betances, Wilson).
You want wiggle room: 2B, fifth starter, bullpen depth. We're like a school budget that's been rejected, but the board can't make changes due to mandated programs. So it puts up the same budget.
I think a better question is how did we get here? It's now been six years since Hal basically bought the pennant by signing CC, Tex and AJ. Everything since has floundered. And, frankly, he has never held a plan for a full season. In the last six years he has:
a) Declared "Austerity," demanding that the payroll be cut to $186 million, with an absolute moratorium on two-year deals. Then, same month, he signed Ichiro to a two-year deal. And then he ditched "Austerity," claiming $186 million was just "a goal."
b) Announced new "Austerity," refusing long-term deals, letting Robbie Cano's 10-year pact go to Seattle. Same month, he ditched the plan, committing the Yankees to 15 years worth of McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran.
c) Purged memories of "Austerity" with mid-season deals for Headley, Prado, McCarthy, et al, in chase of a Wild Card. The following winter, announced "Austerity," refusing long-term deal with Scherzer, et al.
d) Last summer, vowed to beef up team at trade deadline, but stood pat. And now we're back to "Austerity," not signing any big name.
It looks like a long season. But if we're floundering next June, then what? Do we have a plan?
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Repeat from last year: Lively, mirthful rejoinders to defuse political tensions over your Thanksgiving feast
"Hey, you know what? You're a fucking moron."
"That argument makes sense... if you're a fucking cretin."
"Thank you. I always wondered how the world looks to a 40 IQ head full of oatmeal."
"Pass the cranberry sauce, you vile, piddling, brainless shithead."
"Hey, I got an idea. Why don't you stick your fucking jizzy, Jerry Sandusky-breathed mouth onto the bunghole of this bird, and whisper into it all your bizarre and idiotic personal views, because nobody else wants to hear them, you ridiculous, one-track, slappy-headed dick."
What could we get for Ivan "Super" Nova, aside from an end to sitting around and hoping for Ivan "Super" Nova?
Nova, 29 - a statistical clone of Brett Tomko, by the way - has one more year on his contract, and right now, he's our sixth starter. Last summer, he returned from Tommy John surgery and for three games pitched like Tommy John, and then started throwing like Elton John. But this is Super's walk year, and he's finally over the knife and - who knows? This guy was the 2013 August AL Pitcher of the Month!
So we're shopping him. We're shopping him because - aside from Brett Gardner, Andrew Miller and our best prospects, we have nothing else to shop. Nobody wants Ellsbury. Nobody will take CC, unless we pay his bar tabs. Other teams want players with high ceilings and controllable contracts - so Nova could be the cherry on a package that could net us - oh, God, I get a headache thinking about it.
What I know is this: a) Nova is a crap shot, b) he'll be gone next winter and c) six Yankee starters is far too few. I've wasted too many years pining for Super Nova's break out season, and I can't last much longer. How many pitchers have toyed with our hopes? Remember Edwar Ramirez? Vidal Nino... Kei Igawa... Alfredo Aceves... GAHHHH?
So what am I getting at, this early Thanksgiving morning? The Yankees are becoming Ivan Nova... a collection of the same tired faces with concrete ceilings. We know what Carlos Beltran will do next year, (if he stays healthy.) The Fates have already written most of the Yankees' 2016 season. We've seen the movie. We know Julia Roberts will shack up with Richard Gere (Yankee fan, by the way.)
But... Greg Bird? Now, there's a mystery. And Luis Severino! And Rob Refsnyder! They're the surprise in the Crackerjacks box. They're the reason to watch. They haven't yet disappointed us. We still don't know what they might do.
And in a strange way, so is Nova still a mystery. We still don't know...
So we're shopping him. Somebody will take a flier. Another one bites the dust.
OK, let's eat.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
It really looks like 1985, Yogi's managerial deja vu... all over again.
A refresher course: Heading into the winter of '84, we were already three years from having made the post-season, and six from our last ring. Toronto was the reigning superpower, the Mets were ascending, and the Yankees planned to both rebuild and win - (and we would accomplish neither.) In fact, we were in the early stages of the 14-year barf.
On Dec. 4, 1984, we traded prospects to the Cubs for Henry Cotto, an OF claimed to be on the verge of a breakout. (He's now most famous for breaking his ear-hole with a Q-tip.) The next day, we wowed the world by trading five more kids, including Jose Rios, for Rickie Henderson. Two weeks later, we brought in Dale Berra (Yogi was manager; he'd last 16 games), and two days after Christmas, we signed a man whose name still inspires, along with enormous pain, an IT IS HIGH Yankeeography: Ed Whitson. (See upper left) That year, we would finish second, going nowhere.
Today, the Yankee brain trust claims we can trade our way to a 2016 pennant. We won't miss Miller, the best closer in baseball (whose trade would raise a flag to all potential free-agents that the Yankees will show no loyalty to their players), or Gardner, the grittiest player on the roster... and prospects? Bah! We're back to not caring about them, right? The fact is, we were blessed last year in the deals for Didi and Eovaldi. But if you keep trading and trading, the balance sheet has a way of balancing out.
Every other team in baseball goes through a rebuilding process. The Yankees think they are different. Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner says there is no reason why a guy like him should have to shell out $200 million just to win a World Series. He will win it without spending his precious money. He'll outsmart everybody else. Just watch.
It's called hubris, folks. It's how regimes fall, it's how nations collapse, it's how supermodels get fat and it's why the sparrow will outlive us all Sometimes, I guess you have to relive history in order to respect it. Maybe every son must walk his father's lost trail before he really learns anything.
We're three years out of the playoffs, six from a ring, and our Peerless Boiler leader - ("put that money where it belongs, back in your pocket") - says we will win now and rebuild.
The question is, next November, will we be staring into 1986? Because that's when it really gets hairy.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Robbie loves Seattle. He loves the weather. He loves the people. He loves the way the sunset glistens off their auburn hair. He loves the silly things they do. He's not coming back to New York. Boo-hoo.
Honestly, I don't know what to make of this recent Robbie flap. It started with former Seattle coach Andy Van Slyke making make an unbridled, unsolicited attack - something that never happened in NY, even after Robbie jumped ship. (At one point, Kevin Long said he had talked with Robbie about jogging out grounders, but that paled compared to Van Slyke's angry put-down, which blamed Robbie for Seattle's bad season and the firing of the manager.) A few bloggers defended Robbie, but it wasn't exactly Winston Churchill rallying the allies. (Keep in mind that this is probably the slowest news week on the baseball calendar.) The Daily News' John Harper ginned up rumors that Cano wants out - a report that, frankly, Cano HAD to refute, unless he wants to hear more furious words in the deep dark woods.
Who knows what Cano is thinking? But his long flies aren't carrying in Seattle, as they did in Yankee Stadium. He's 33, chunking up around the hips, increasingly injury prone, and Logan Forsythe had a better 2015. Seattle is under new management, and surely the first thing his bosses do in the morning is look at the spreadsheet and shake their heads over the the $24 million per season white elephant. I doubt Robbie wants out as much as they do.
It's really too bad, how this turned out. Seriously, I hate hating Robbie Cano. He should have been the next great Yankee going to Cooperstown. He should be our link to the great teams. We should be rallying behind him. Of all the negatives I heap upon Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner, Robbie is the one decision that wasn't Hal's fault. The team made him a great offer - nine years, more money than he'll ever spend, plus the benefits of being a lifetime Yankee - and he walked away... for a few more thin dimes. He must never come back.
Monday, November 23, 2015
(I messed up an earlier version of this.)
1950s: 6 World Championships, 30 post-season wins
1960s: 2 World Championships, 14 post-season wins
1970s: 2 World Championships, 8 post-season wins
1980s: 2 post-season victories
1990s: 3 World Championships, 12 post-season wins
2000s: 2 World Championships, 51 post-season wins
2010s*: 10 post-season wins
Will those horrible, terrible,, big Yankee contracts really be "coming off the books" in the next two years?
"A couple of years from now, the payroll situation will be different," I'm Not Cheap told reporters. "I'll have flexibility."
What he meant was this: By 2019, the Yankees will finally be rid of Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodrguez and CC Sabathia - the Core Four of Fiscal Doom. Their contracts will run out, and they will go, get out, be gone, shoo... leave us alone.
Because once they are gone - good riddance! - the beleaguered boy owner can once again spend his hard-inherited money. How fortunate New York is to have such a leader! He should do those radio ads for Peerless Boilers, talking about "more money in your pocket!" If we will only be patient, we'll be finally done with the likes of Tex, A-Rod, CC and Beltran - who the hell signed those guys, anyway? - and our small "b" billionaire will be able to afford new players, along with canned food.
Nevertheless, a terrifying possibility remains:
Lord, I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, SEND THE ASTEROID!
What if A-Rod hits 30 HRs next year, and then another 30 in 2017? (He hit 33 this year.) That would leave him at 747 - only 15 behind Barry Bonds as the all-time HR leader. (Bud Selig's final curse: the ban that cost Alex the all-time top spot.) What if A-Rod wants to come back for one more year - to beat Bonds. Would I'm Not Cheap say, "No, hit the road, we can't afford you!" Would the Yankees make him a qualifying offer? Or would they let the Miami Marlins or Seattle Mariners market the glory of his historical, all-time leading HR?
And what about the potential acrimony from Yankee players with an owner who is counting the minutes until he no longer must pay them. Resentments, anyone?
Sunday, November 22, 2015
Imagine Mariano closing a World Series. Imagine Jeter batting in game seven...
Two hundred million.. all the kings horses and all the kings men... and we couldn't even get them into a Wild Card game.
And some say we're too hard on the Yankees?
I say, disgraceful.
Well, Boston could be poised to go for the ring this season for the Big Papi's blowout. But they will have to pay. It might mean signing David Price or Zach Greinke - or both. They'll have to shed Hanley Ramirez - a visit from Whitey Bulger might do the trick - but thus far, they have followed the surefire rebuilding model practiced by Kansas City, Houston, Washington and the Mets: Come in last year after year, draft high, wait around, and then strike by getting some big names.
The question is, will the Yankees stand back and let Boston do this? Apparently, yes.
This week, Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner gushed over the crop of youngsters in the farm system. While it has improved, we are nowhere near Boston in terms of rising talent, even after they pedaled two top prospects for the closer, Craig Kimbrel. They still have prospects to trade and money to spend.
We can talk about our catching prospect, Gary Sanchez, but they have Christian Vaszquez and Blake Swihart, and one or both is going to be very good. We can talk about how Aaron Hicks may have figured out how to hit. They have Mookie Betts, who is clearly on the verge of stardom, and the suddenly scary Jackie Bradley Jr. We can marvel about how Didi Gregorious improved at SS. They have Xander Bogartes, who is bordering on MVP status.
I'm Not Cheap says the Yankees won't be in the bidding for big free agents. Is he lying, hiding his cards? I sure hope so. Because otherwise, we will sit back and watch Boston snag Price or Greinke, or maybe John Lackey - without even having to bid against us. That would be giving them a clear path to the AL East. If you figure Toronto is going to be very good next year, then are already playing for the away-field birth in the Wild Card, and excuse me, folks, if that's not an exciting proposition. I'm almost thinking I'd prefer the KC/Houston/Nats/Mets model.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
In another universe - a happier universe - he should be Robbie, a Yankee, and nine years from now, his uniform would hang in Monument Park. But everybody got a little crazy. The Yankee brain trust refused to negotiate with Cano early on, then Robbie drank Jay-Z's Kool-Aid, and - of course - the biggest blame has to fall on his own greedy shoulders. He turned his back on the Yankees and ran to Seattle because when it came to money, infinity wasn't enough, and he wanted infinity plus one. Good riddance. If there is any Primary Rule in the Yankiverse, it should be that Cano never returns as a Yankee, no matter how hard Seattle tries to trade him. He's already done as much damage to the Mariners as Charlie Sheen has done to the porn industry.
In five years, he will be Seattle's biggest pariah since the Asian bark beetle.
Which brings me to yesterday's interview with Andy Van Slyke (from New Hartford, NY, not far from Syracuse!) on CBS Radio. (I've actually ripped this from the Yankee website Bleeding Yankee Blue.) Van Slyke somehow got on the subject of Joggie, and here's what he said.
"You would have thought Cano would have had a terrific year, but he had the worst, single year of an every day player in 20 years in the big league level... he was just the most awful player I have ever seen...
"... Your highest paid, supposedly best player... I mean, Robinson's not a bad guy. Let me just say that, before I say anything bad about how he plays. But Robinson Cano was the single worst third place every day player I've ever seen. I've ever seen, for the first half of a baseball season. He could drive home Miss Daisy if he tried. He couldn't do it. He couldn't get a hit when it mattered...
"... He played the worst defense I've ever seen... I'm talking the worst defensive second baseman I've ever seen...
"... I'm telling you... Robinson Cano cost the GM his job. The hitting coach got fired because of Cano. And then the manager and coaches got fired because of Cano, because that's how much of an impact he has on the organization. He was the worst player and it cost people their jobs in the process."
It's fun to snicker at Joggie's troubles. But the Yankees have never really recovered from his loss. We signed Jacoby Ellsbury to lessen the blow, and he's starting to look like a guy who could cost somebody his job. We've suffered a black hole at 2B since Joggie left. And if we sign Howie Kendrick... (Dear God, I know I don't worship you enough, but if you can just keep us from Howie Kendrick...)
I am of the belief that we have one real hope, and it's name is Rob Refsnyder. If Refsnyder is for real - if he can become a fielding 2B - in three years, he'll be out-hitting Joggie, the Widow Maker of Mariner Managers. It would be a happy universe, no?
Thursday, November 19, 2015
1. Don't sign anybody to an expensive contract.
2. Avoid expensive free agents.
3. Hold the line on spending.
4. Sit out the bidding on big free agents.
5. Be careful not to get stuck with any big contracts.
6. Keep payroll down.
7. Cut costs.
8. Cheaper lunch meats in team buffet.
9. Round up nickel bottle deposits in clubhouse.
10. Don't sign anybody to an expensive contract.
I'm Not Cheap told onlookers:
“The last couple of years, the money that has come off, we’ve had to put it back in. Fill voids because we haven’t had the young players to do it with. The guys that we picked up two years ago, the McCanns and the Ellsburys, they’ve been great. Glad we did it. A couple of years from now, the payroll situation will be different. I’ll have flexibility. We will be active on the free-agent market. We always are. But I’ve got other options.”
Despite his astute signing of "Ellsbury the Great," I'm Not Cheap is lamenting the Yankees' inability to cut payroll below $186 million and avoid the luxury tax. He says no team should need to spend $200 million to win a World Series. Look at Kansas City. (Of course, the Royals had to suck for a decade, in order to accumulate high draft picks. Meanwhile, the Yankees have perfected the annual scenario of chasing the one-game, away field Wild Card slot.)
The 10-Point 2016 Yankee Action Plan raises one question, which apparently wasn't asked yesterday:
All those Yankee payroll savings... where does the money go?
Will the Yankees reduce cable TV fees? That would be nice. Will they cut ticket prices? That would be wonderful! How about cutting the price of official caps and shirts?
How about this: Hal could ask Steiner Collectables to cap the price of Authenticated, Limited Edition, Collectors' Item dirt from the old Yankee Stadium. Its value has skyrocketed, as fans yearn to stay connected to the last great Yankee teams. Could I'm Not Cheap manage to hold the line on these earthy treasures?
Oh well. Yankee fan everywhere should rejoice in knowing that, because of its sterling commitment to frugality, the Steinbrenner family will never end up in the poorhouse.
But where will all the money go?
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Nevertheless, whenever a 2016 Yank needs a word of coachmanship - be it in the dugout, the pen, the clubhouse or the loo - rest assured that he shall receive tidbits of moral wisdom, emotional support and a fatherly pat on the bung. The Yankees might be out-pitched, out-spent and out-played next year, but they will not be out-coached. Here's the lineup.
Manager (Brain): Joe Girardi.
Bench Coach (Keeper of the Binder): Rob Thomson
Hitting Coach (First Scapegoat): Alan Cockrell
Assistant Hitting Coach (Assistant First Scapegoat): Marcus Thames
Pitching Coach (Consigliere): Larry Rothschild
First Base Coach (Caribbean Ambassador): Tony Pena
Third Base Coach (The Lonely One): Joe Espada
Bullpen Coach (Answering Service): Mike Harkey.
Sorry for the snarky tone here, but until Hal's Pals win a post-season game, or spend down some of Steinbrenner Mountain's gold, that's what they'll get. This is a fine, august list of manly men - who am I to judge? - most notable for its lack of a former Yankee star. No Mariano (who will someday make a great pitching coach). No Posada (who will someday make a great manager). Not even a Brosius (who hooked up with the Mariners last week as a batting coach.) And yes, no Jeter (who will someday make a great Marvel Avenger). This new coaching staff is made up of guys who could be fired for using the wrong fork.
At some point, the Core Four will yearn to return to the game. I would hate to see them in other uniforms - not because we owe them, but because maybe their voices would actually be heard.
The Yankees seem to use the YES Network as the 2020 Full-Employment Act for Retired Stars, and that's fine. It's nice to hear Coney and Tino complaining about how much O'Neill eats, but year after year, the Yankees send a staff of expendables to coach a team of no-trade-clause millionaires, and that's how you end up with players who cannot bunt or hit to the opposite field.
At times last year, it seemed as though the de facto hitting coach was A-Rod, just as Mariano once served as primary mentor to the pitching staff. The Yankees certainly have enough veterans to lead this team, but did they last year? Gardy and Ellsbury refused to take days of rest, despite being compromised by fatigue and injury. A-Rod begged off chances to play the field. Tex was Tex, but the meltdown of CC Sabathia was inexcusable. (ll want CC to get better, and everybody's happy that he's gone through rehab. But where were
The Yankee meltdown last year was horrible to behold, a stain on the franchise. It practically negated an otherwise decent season. Do we now have coaches whose voices will be heard? (Will anybody practice bunts?) Or yesterday, did they just unveil a zombie lineup of the doomed?
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Yankees apparently say "No" to Ben Zobrist. Did the Doomsday Howie Kendrick Clock just move up a minute?
In it, the Yankees sign Howie Kendrick to play 2B.
Excuse me, while I shrink to a corner and moan.
I'm back. OK, I know what you're thinking. No way will the Yankees sign Howie Kendrick. It makes no sense. Trouble is, I don't see Brian Cashman going into 2016 with a 2B platoon of Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley. It's just not the Yankee Way. The Yankee Way is to snag some castaway veteran retread to a flea-market contract - Brian Roberts, Stephen Drew, it doesn't matter, as long as they are five years past sell-date. When possible, the Yankees prefer guys who hurt us in the past, even though without us to torture, their production levels are certain to fall. That's Howie Kendrick, folks. He's a free agent. He'll be 32. He'll cost us a draft pick. He has a finicky hamstring. There are a million reasons why we don't need him. So why can't I shake the feeling that we'll get him cheap, for two years, and he's coming for me.
Excuse me, I need to eat a box of laxatives.
I'm back, ten pounds lighter. What brought about these Howie attacks was news yesterday that the Yankees apparently won't bid on Ben Zobrist. That followed news that the Yankees apparently won't bid on Daniel Murphy. There is, of course, no certainty to these newsy tidbits, because they could be Cashmanic crapola - disinformation meant to drive down the bidding. But let's face it, Zobrist and Murphy will cost too much. I think Kendrick will come cheaper, especially if teams must surrender a draft pick.
I know it makes no sense. But as a fan, you need a reason to hope, even if it's crazy. Let me give you an example: I get far more excited about Greg Bird than I do for Mark Teixeira. I know it's stupid. I know it's wrong. Tex has been a great Yankee. He could return and hit 30 HR next season. Bird could be a flop, the next Kevin Maas. But given a choice to watch the two, I'd take Bird. It's the difference between somebody coming and somebody going. It's the difference between a past star and - just maybe - a future one. In recent years, the Yankees have done a really poor job of giving their fans any such hope.
Refsnyder may be a delusion worthy of the Scarlet Witch. But at least he gives hope. Will they stomp it out? Excuse me. I need to go cry.
Monday, November 16, 2015
My two sons are on the right. Readers of this blog will know them as the Deadly Spinners, makers of the John Sterling WinWarble Song. The show took place Sunday night in Paris. Somebody put it on YouTube. Vive Francais, and long live rock.
The Giants lose football games the way a golden retriever chases a tennis ball. They just cannot stop themselves.
I can't take this. I can't take this, I can't take this, I tell you: I JUST CAN'T TAKE THIS! It's like watching the 2001 World Series against Arizona - all seven games, Brosius and Tino's HRs, leading to the humpback single - boiled down into one half-hour of torture therapy.
And here's the gemstone of this magical misery tour:
For the Gints, it's business as usual.
We blew game one against the Cowboys. A loss for the ages. We only needed to run out the clock. We couldn't. Then we blew game two against Atlanta. A classic fourth quarter collapse. Then came the recent loss to New Orleans - an out-of-body finger-breaker: A face-mask penalty lets the Saints kick a field goal with no time on the clock. You can't write that ending. Nobody will buy it.
Oh, but those were warm ups. Yesterday, we sat on New England's 5 yard line with two minutes left. A touchdown wins it. A FG puts us ahead. But I knew we'd lose. Everybody did. I knew we'd settle for the FG, so Brady could whisk his team down the field, which in the NFL is like eating a slice of pizza. I knew we would lose. Everybody in the free world did. It was another perfect collapse. With luck - or smarts (beyond Jason Pierre-Paw) - the Giants could be 9-1. Instead, they're 5-5. They'll finish 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Oh yes, there are a few more disasters yet to come.
I can't take this. Nothing in the Yankiverse compares to the Giants. Chasen Shreve's September doesn't come close. The Giants have made torture-losing into an art form.
After a loss like that, you roam the house, looking for things to break. I personally have come to wretch at the image of Tom Coughlin - our coach for life - with his head tilted like a dog, the beady eyes blazing, the cheeks flushed red - as another game turns into spit. And listen: I hate myself for this. Coughlin is a good man. He won two Super Bowls. He's a Hall of Fame coach, and I should cherish him. But I cannot take this. I cannot stand his face anymore, as he oversees the end of civilization. It's too much. No more, I say! Go ahead, Mr. Rumsfeld: Waterboard me, hook me up, anything, but not another loss like these. Can we just lose 51-0? Those will be like candy. Anything but this.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
These days, with Hal pedaling his bike to work, it's a wonder the Steinbrenner family can afford their one-bedroom tenement in South Trenton. Damn those greedy players and their slimy agents. They force the team signing into long-term deals. It's an outrage. Where's Trump when you need him? We should build a wall around Yankee Stadium and refuse to allow greedy players inside.
If not for Tex, A-Rod and company, Hal could bid on a free agent pitcher. It would be nice, because this winter, there are three - Price, Cueto and Greinke - who won't require us to forfeit our top draft pick. But the coffers are bare. Thank you, rich Yankee players, for ruining everything!
Moreover, in today's column, the Daily News' John Harper notes that the only free agent pitcher next winter could be "the enigmatic Stephen Strasburg," and he might also cost us a draft pick. Damn. With only one pitcher on the market, Strasburg's price tag would be far more than Hal could pay. If only there was a way we could afford a player. (Could we put in a fracking well?) Well, at least soon we'll trade Brett Gardner. He costs us $12 million a year! Good riddance.
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Then, suddenly, ka-boom: The Redsocks get Craig Kimbrel.
Listen: We knew Dave Dombrowski would shoot for the quick fix, and that it would involve prospects. We knew they needed a closer. (Also, an 8th inning man, because Koji Uehara will be 41 and coming off an injury.) They got their man, one of the best. They filled the hole.
Last year, both the Yankees and Redsocks faced 60 "Save Opportunities." Thanks to Betances and Miller, we suffered the fewest blown saves in baseball, just 12. Boston saved 2 out of 3 - a 67 percent rate that was ranked 20th. (Our save rate - 80 percent - was second, behind the Cards.)
But Kimbrel didn't come cheap. Boston gave up two top 50 ranked prospects, plus two others. It would be the equivalent of us trading Jorge Matos and Aaron Judge - for a reliever.
Yes, no matter how you slice it, they gave up four dynamic prospects for a reliever.
If that were us, I'd be squawking today. Do you give up that key of talent for a reliever?
(Broken record time: You give it up if you signed Yoan Moncada last winter, because he is yet another top 50 prospect.)
Boston still has a huge hole. It's called the rotation. Dombrowski says he'll look to free agency to fill it. That's what scares me most. They will spend money. The question is whether Prince Hal would rather just sit on his mountain of gold and watch the Redsocks restock. Because if Boston adds a Price or a Greinke - or, gulp, both - without even having to bid against the Yankees, well, it's going to be a long season.
The Yankee opening day payroll last year stood at $219 million, second in MLB behind the Dodgers. Ten years ago, it was $205 million. In all that time, the Yankees have stayed relatively the same, while payrolls throughout baseball have exploded. The Yankees are barely six years into having a brand new stadium, partially funded by the taxpayers. The ownership last year sold the majority stake in YES Network to Rupert Murdoch, and at the time, Forbes estimated YES as worth $4 billion. So what are the Steinbrenners doing with all their money? And how can we - as fans - allow them to poor-mouth?
One final note: Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues is coming through for us on this. I've worried in the past that he would become a owner-toadie, just taking the Yankees at the word when they say they can't spend any more. Nobody should let them get away it, and Axisa has buckling down lately. It's a small victory, but maybe it's a sign that mainstream beat writers will start shaming Hal, whenever he talks about frugality. Good grief, I'm almost missing Billy Madden.
Friday, November 13, 2015
Could the Yankees play an exhibition game in Cuba? Horrors, somebody, shield Hal Steinbrenner's eyes, so he doesn't have to see the talent he won't bid on
Then came el Duquecitto, and Andy Morales, and - cough - Jose Contreras. The latter was supposed to be Old George's great triumph: He outbid Boston - and Theo Epstein - to sign the legendary "Bronze Titan." It didn't work out. And ever since, the Empire has turned its back on one of the great markets in the world.
Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner sat on his fanny pack in auctions for Yasseil Puig, Jorge Soler, Yasmany Thomas, Alexei Ramirez, Amauri Sanit, Brayan Pena, Hector Olivera, Leyonys Martin, Kendrys Morales, Yuneski Maya, Jose Iglesias, Adeiny Hechavarria, Yunel Escobar, Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Yuniesky Benacourt, Jose Abreu, and many more.
Oh, did I mention Yoan Moncada? Hal finished runner-up on that one, too.
We whiffed on a generation of Cuban talent. The reason? There were other bidders. "I'm Not Cheap" doesn't like bidding wars. Why should an owner need to bid on the hired help? You want Cubans? Hal signed Ronnier Mustellier and Adonis Garcia - both for peanuts - and sequestered them in Scranton until their sell dates expired. He also shagged Juan Miranda, who we traded for Scott Allen, a minor league pitcher who last week selected free agency, which - in fact - reminded me of this sorry exercise in organizational poor-mouthing and chinziness.
(Oh, by the way... Let the record show that, after escaping like Snake Plisken from NY, Contreras helped win the World Series for the Chicago White Sox. And Adonis Garcia - after being released by the Yankees last winter - was signed by Atlanta and in 191 at bats, hit 10 HRs and batted .277. That's pretty much what Greg Bird did (actually, better average.) If Garcia did that for the 2015 Yankees, the YES drivel patrol would have gone crazy, saluting the front office for its brilliance.
So now, the Yankees are being mentioned for a possible exhibition game in Cuba? Great. But here's a suggestion: While the team goes to Havana, put Hal in a submersion tank. It's better he has an excuse for not seeing the talent. Then he won't have to feel bad, sitting out bidding war.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
My sources, which include my own eyeballs, tell me that Hicks is another decent defensive outfielder who can't hit a lick.
If he has to be platooned, we gave away a starting catcher for him. And we sent a message to
all " home grown Yankee prospects;" You don't mean nothing to us!
In addition, the PR shots of Hicks sent to NYC for this news item showed, to my eyes, an out of shape guy. Overweight and puffy. I should know, and I do. So he is likely slower afoot, and slower with his swing than Cashman was led to believe.
Here is the point; This move is not a game changer! This trade means nothing for the Yankees, unless Sanchez beats out McCann and is our starting catcher for most of the season. If not, we simply acquired another lame back-up, and we overpaid to get him.
And since we all know that the Yankees always play the big money contracts, no matter how crappy and unproductive they are, no matter if their presence on the field actually hurts the Yankee's prospects for winning, the Beltrans, the A-Rods, the McCanns, the Ellsburys will always be out there.
Striking out, hitting into double plays, failing to advance runners, representing no threat on the base paths, bungling fly balls. Our big money guys.
The current consensus: Gardy is gone. After all, he's 32 (just two weeks older than Ellsbury, BTW), he crashed at the end of last season like an Elon Musk rocket test, and he hasn't swiped more than 24 bases since 2011. Most of all, he's the guy other teams want. But that's not the reason to trade him.
For starters, Ellsbury's career is on a more Jeb Bushy downward trajectory - (his last three B.A.'s: .298, .271, .257) - and no matter what he's doing next May, every Yankee fan knows Ellsbury is always one checked-swing away from the next MRI. He falls apart more often than the plot of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. He won't suddenly become Lou Gehrig at age 33.
I don't know if he has a no-trade clause, and if so, how hard he'd invoke it. Nobody's talking about moving to Selig-waukee. But Ellsbury comes from Oregon, and all this talk about Seattle coveting Gardy ought to allow the notion that Hal Steinbrenner bundle some of his hard-inherited money and make a counter offer. It's time to shed Ellsbury's ridiculous 7-year deal, which was announced on the near eve of Joggie Cano's westward exodus, and - hence - always held that pungent odor of a face-saving Yankee p.r. ploy.
Hal should pay off Ellsbury, then call the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondback and - yes - our trading cousins in Seattle, and offer them cash and a life supply of ankle wraps. I'd rather have Gardy gasping for air in September than Ellsbury back home, icing his testicles. If we're destined to have a china doll in our OF, I'd rather it be Slade Heathcott, whose story - and I believe, potential - is far more enticing than Ellsbury.
I don't mean to knock Ellsbury here. He's a fine player. He just gets hurt too much. Boston realized it. Now, we've realized it. Soon, it will time for another city to realize it. He probably has a few decent seasons left. But this we know: He. Will. Get. Hurt.
The best part of Yankee rumors? They almost never come to pass. That's one certainty about Cashman. He uses misdirection in talks with writers. (He lies.) Nobody in the NYC press corps was mentioning Aaron Hicks until around 3 p.m. yesterday. And right now, nobody is talking about Ellsbury, because Cashman is jiggling the shiny Brett Gardner bauble.
This we know. Somebody will go. Wouldn't it be neat if we showed loyalty, recognized a fighter, appreciated our own, homegrown, solid, overachieving player... and kept Gardy?
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The Yankee plan is taking shape: Acquire former super-prospects, and give them new incarnations.
They made two moves today.
1. They freed Jose Pirela - a guy they never coveted, because all he ever did was hit at every level of the minors - for a 20-year-old RH bullpen lug nut whose name I don't remember, but it will surely be filed with the Rumbelows and Goodys of the Scrantonian landscape. Pirela went to San Diego, which is becoming one of our established minor trade partners.
2. They they traded home-grown John Ryan Murphy to Minnesota for switch-hitting OF Aaron Hicks, another former super-prospect (see Dustin Ackley) who is 26 and in a crossroads of his career.
Here's Hicks' profile. Read for yourself.
As for Murphy - the only Yankee known with a middle name (usually Presidential assassin material) - I hate to see him go. He's only 24, and he's done everything the Yankees ever asked. He'll be the Twins catcher for years, and don't be surprised when he haunts us, or even turns out to be better than Brian McCann's (especially if McCann keeps trying to drive balls through over-shifts.)
My favorite Murphy moment came in the locker room celebration after the Yankees clinched the Wild Card birth, and somebody asked him what he was thinking about, and he replied, "Drinking." Which summed it up, although I've thought of CC Sabathia a few times and winced. (By the way, Alphonso is right; this crapola about Sabathia's "courage" in going into rehab overlooks the personal responsibility he failed to take, drinking himself into the tank. More on that is coming. And it should be paint-peeling with indignation.)
One final thought: Looks as though Gary Sanchez - busting fences in Arizona - has hit himself onto the Yankees, rather than hitting himself out of New York. Glad to see it.
Now... let's figure how to get Sanchez more often in the lineup as a DH. Any suggestions, Mr. A-Rod?
Seattle wants Mr. September? Great. But if all you do is trade with the Mariners, do you become the Mariners?
There are teams we ride with, and teams that won't get in our car, unless it's to pee in the bucket seat. For example, we never trade with the Redsocks, unless we can get rid of Kelly Johnson, and they can get rid of Stephen Drew. That's the fabled "deal that helps both teams!" Unfortunately, our Yankee North American Trade Agreement seems to only include Pittsburgh - (which does pretty well, right A.J.?) - and Seattle, aka Yankees West.
So if we deal Gardy to the city of Joginson Cano, who da we git? Sherman says there is a pitcher that the Yankees "like." Well, that's nice. One of the great innovations in rumor tidbits is the new classification of players, which the Yankees "like." For example, Dustin Ackley. Last July, they "liked" Ackley for months before prying him loose in a trade. (That he was batting .215 may have helped.) The notion goes this way: Our vast, superior scouting staff see things the clods in Seattle and Pittsburgh don't. This winter, the plan is for Cashman to somehow win the 2016 via one-sided trades. But it's sort of sad when the primary gene pool turns out to be the usual partners - Seattle and Pittsburgh.
Don't get me wrong: I "like" Dustin Ackley too. Thus far, he's a small sample size Yankee all-star. But last year, Oakland wouldn't return our calls on Josh Donaldson, until they suddenly handed him to Toronto, naked inside a giant bakery cake. Supposedly, they may deal Sonny Gray this winter. Would they send him to NYC without demanding Jeter's first born and Levine's secret shampoo? Will anybody send us anybody that we "like?" Oh well, let's not think of such things. The important point this winter is that Scrooge McDuck keeps his precious coins. Gardy may be going yardy. Who da we git?
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Well, why not! Didi II-II.
This is what The Master would say...
PROFAR HITS IT SO FAR!
THE JURY ON JURICKSON: GUILTY... OF HITTING!
Monday, November 9, 2015
The higher ratings, in turn, will boost ad rates.
The higher rates will allow TV stations to add employees - English-speaking employees.
The new employees will spend their money on goods, lifting the U.S. economy.
So now we all know.
That fat guy sitting next to me at the bar four out of five days, every Yankee home stand, was CC Sabathia. He was one of those dudes who consumed everything, shots and beer, low balls, high balls, neat or with ice. He made his bones, of course, drinking Canadian Club. "CC rocks…it sounds cool."
So let's talk about leadership.
All the rhetoric supporting the alcohol plagued Yankee pitcher, including the generous statements about how it was more important for him to leave the team and get healthy than it was to fulfill his obligation to them, was royally cheered up and down this years' empty, " Canyon of Heroes."
Enough, I say. Grace cuts both ways.
If CC is such a team leader, he should give the Yankees their money back, for the last 4 years of crappy work. We are all sad that he was drinking on the job, every day. Slinking away during games to take a quick pull on a hidden flask. Drinking in bars, alone, when the team was on the road. This guy had $100 million reasons to be seeking comfort in booze. And we bemoan his pain.
But the reality is; he bilked and duped the Yankees. He, in his own scurrilous and
well-plotted ( potted? ) way, totally deceived the Yankees. The guy was pitching hung-over for four years and , while his perspiration on the mound gave the image of hard work, he was simply sweating out the Rye. His work product during the last four seasons was pedestrian to mediocre. It was not the work of an Ace. Not the work of someone paid a fortune to deliver excellence.
It was robbery.
A big man would stand up and admit; " I deceived you. You did not get from me the talent and the commitment for which you paid. And that is why I am writing you ( or some fine charity in NYC ) a check for $50 million. You held up your end of the bargain, but I did not hold up mine. So I am returning the money for those years of rotten performance. "
That would be leadership in the locker room.
Anything less from CC is just empty rhetoric. More selfishness. More deception and lies.
No pain, no gain.
Show us who you are CC. Show us the Money.
1. Make Dellin Betances a starter. The advantage: We end up with a potential ace, a guy who throws 180 innings rather than 100. (Frankly, Betances' workload as a reliever has been way too heavy for comfort. He might even benefit from a five-day schedule.) Of course, we supposedly have seven starters - (most of them crappy, as in Ivan "Super" Nova) - but if Betances moved into the rotation, we could trade a few for somebody - well - I said this was crazy - but maybe for...
2. Launch the inevitable full-court press for Bryce Harper. In the 1980s, last time the Mets ruled NYC, the Yankees went out and got Rickie Henderson. Like father, like son, eh? Harper seems fated to become a Yankee someday, and I already think Prince Hal is marshaling his pennies for the financial doomsday when Harper comes to Gotham. It would cost us the best prospects in our system, plus a couple pitchers and maybe Brett Gardner. But we'd have Bryce Harper until the 2027 asteroid hits, right?
3. Put A-Rod back at third, full time. For starters, we'd have to do something with Chase Headley, but let's not worry about that. Last year, we handled A-Rod with kid gloves. Yes, he led the team in HRs. But we fielded an opening day lineup with five full or part-time DHs - Beltran, A-Rod, Garret Jones and several players - Gardner, Tex, Ellsbury, McCann - who needed a lot more rest than they got. This was because A-Rod is a DH-hog. This year, we tell dear Alex that we're not signing on. He's got to play a position. If he breaks down, well, he breaks down. We have rookies who can come up from Scranton and bat .240. We cannot have a full time DH.
4. CC to the pen. Of course, this cannot happen because he's a great "team leader," right? That's crapola. Look - I'm glad the guy is getting help, but collapsing on the eve of the post-season is not the legacy of a team leader. Sabathia has been a mediocre starter for four years. I'm not saying we punish him. I'm saying give him a fresh start. He could be a huge bullpen component, the eighth inning guy or maybe even a closer, if and when Miller goes down. And he wouldn't have four days to sit around and think about a glass of beer.
But is is crazier than playing John Ryan Murphy at third, which we're discussing or - gulp - signing Howie Kendricks?
Sunday, November 8, 2015
This is from ESPN, dated Nov. 12, 2014, under the headline, "Worst Is Yet to Come for Yankees."
But those early-'90s Yankees teams had advantages the current Yankees don't have. The current Yankees are a wealthy team, but there are also indications their payroll flexibility is limited, plus they're far older and have a worse farm system than the early-'90s Yankees. There's no easy fix to these problems, as those older players are mostly saddled with contracts bad enough the team probably can't even give them away.
Let's give Cashman credit: He stitched together a Wild Card team and staved off the Impending Collapse. Unfortunately, the Yankees have one major enemy: Time.
Time helps young teams. They get better. Time is killing us. Does anybody expect Mark Teixeira - year older - to make it through 2016, when he hasn't made it through a season in three years? How does one find hope for CC Sabathia, even if he's dry? For all the talk of their comebacks, Beltran didn't hit for power, and A-Rod didn't hit for average. Last year, the Yankees celebrated the signing of Chase Headley. This November, we wonder if he can figure out how to throw to first.
The collapse never happened. The question is, are the Yankees better off? Are we building something, or simply forestalling meltdowns? The curse of the modern pro sports franchise is to field a team slightly over .500. And that's what the Yankees did this year.
Collapse big, or don't collapse at all.
Is there any hope? In the summer of 2014, the Yankees plunked down about $30 million to sign the biggest prospects available in the 16-year-old Latino market. It was the spending splurge that probably most explains why we let Yoan Moncada go to Boston (and truth be told, none of the players we signed might be as good as him.)
Last year, our Latino class began playing professional ball. It's way too early to tell. But nobody broke out. Nobody ripped apart a league. Nobody hit .300 with power. Nobody pitched absolutely lights out. Most played in the Dominican Summer League. They're too to assess. Then again, they were too young to assess when we spent $30 million on them. Sixteen is too young to assess a player.
By this time next year, we might have an 18-year-old who turned heads in Charleston. That would leave us three- maybe four years - away from impacting NYC.
So here's my question: Is that what we're doing? Is that the long-term plan? We just hold it together, year upon year, chase that wild card and hope to get hot in October? And then, maybe around 2020, we'll see a splurge of talent from the minors? Is that it? Because yeesh - somebody has to have a plan - more so than simply waiting for all the bad contracts to end, so that we can sign new bad contracts.
If that's the plan, I'd rather see us collapse. If we're playing for 2020 - well, that's a long haul, but I'm in. Let's do it right. A year of honest rebuilding and wave (hopefully) of youth? I'll take it.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Of course, that's what we're going to do...
The Dodgers yesterday tagged Howie Kendrick with a qualifying offer, creating the Absolute Perfect Yankee Five Year Beltran-Level Boondoggle - a fit so clean, so natural, so utterly horrible on every front that it's almost impossible for a true Evil Empire to resist.
Yes, they can entice the 32-year-old Howie with $35 million - cheap - plus lose their first-round pick and never - ever - give Rob Refsnyder or anybody under age 25 a chance. The more I think of it, the more it seems a slam dunk. Sign Howie, and that would free up Cashman to package Refsnyder with, say, Gary Sanchez or Jorge Matos for another middle innings relief pitcher, like the five or so that he wheeled in last winter, and - who knows? - if Jason Pierre-Paul returns from his fireworks blowout, and if Carmelo Anthony stays healthy... well, the Yankees can reach that perfect NY sports pantheon of the Gints, the Jets, the Knicks and Rutgers and - hey, does Seton Hall play football?
Dear God, this is so depressing.
The last three winters have brought to the Yankiverse nothing more than slush. It's one thing to have a crapola farm system. It's another to have a crapola farm system and a tightwad owner.
Remember a few Decembers ago, when Cashman famously told reporters at the winter meetings, "Beggars can't be choosers?" I guess that still sums it up. The Yankees, with more money than the Middle East, will put pennies between their dimpled knees and pinch their legs tightly together, rather than spend a precious coin or two on a free agent pitcher. They blame bad deals on the players, rather than the front office that makes them. And for reasons I cannot fathom, the NY media lets them get away with it.
And last winter, after everything was said and done, we watched the Redsocks sign Yoan Moncada - now considered one of the top 10 prospects in baseball - while the Boy Owner ran around with his pockets pulled out, poor-mouthing, because he had gone out and signed Chris Capuano.
I look at all the schemes, the deliriums, posed by Yankee fans - trade this guy, sign this guy, move this guy - but I only see the churning of mediocrity. We have old guys who cannot - or will not - hit to the opposite fields, so the defenses shift, and our guys go from hitting .280 to .220.
We have one hope - that a young player emerges to lead this team. But how can that happen, when we refuse to even give our young players a shot?
Well... I can see the creature clearly. Its name is Howie... alias, Drew II. Think it can't happen? Just watch...