Thursday, December 31, 2015
As a result, there's no reason whatsoever to speculate on the future of Mr. Brett Gardner. Next year, he could be a Yankee. He could be a Harlem Globetotter. (R.I.P. Meadowlark.) Brian Cashman will pull off any deal at any time, seeking even a microscopic improvement, basically because the Boy Owner has clipped his balls on signing free agents. So Cashman does what Cashman does best: He picks the scrap heap for usable parts.
All recent Yankee acquisitions have one thing in common: They are reclamation projects.
With the Twins, Hicks was basically a failed super prospect - a former top pick, still too young to abandon, but without enough juice to be a starter. He's a one-year-younger version of Dustin Ackley, 27, whom Cashman harpooned and wrestled ashore last August. Castro, 25, was once earmarked to become the next "Mr. Cub," until his act in Chicago grew as unpopular as Rahm Emanuel.
Chapman, 27, is a project for the Yes Network Spin & Drivel and Hype Delta Force. To shore up the team's battered image with battered women, the Yankees will need more than pink bats and special prices on sloe gin fizzes. And if any of Aroldis Chapman's neighbors coughs up a cell phone video - well - our bullpen coach will be Gloria Steinem.
The Yankees are rolling the dice and hoping for sevens. Last year, it worked with Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Young - but not with Stephen Drew and Chris Capuano. The year before, it worked with Yangervis Solarte and Branden McCarthy - but not Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. We can probably expect a 50 percent success rate. But in our hearts, we never do. Every winter, one rich vein of hubris roils across the Yankiverse: We convince ourselves that Hicks will be a star, along with Castro and now Chapman. The Yankees are best at hyping hope, and nothing inspires it more than a fresh face - (as opposed to Year III of Carlos Beltran, our top hitter last season... at .276... yes, two-frickin'-seventy-six. And this year, he'll be 39.)
We are no longer the Evil Empire, but - hey - in the latest Star Wars, the Evil Empire doesn't even exist: it's now the First Order; (Wait... wasn't that a boy band?) We are the Retrieval Empire, and - who knows? - maybe there is some copper in that scrap pile. Let's hope the force is with us.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Wow. I just learned that volcanic GOP firebrand George Pataki has left the Presidential race. I'm still remembering some of the flame-thrower's most explosive moments from recent debates:
Thuuuuuuuuuugh vows: "John, you and I have watched these two develop for the last two years, and we always knew good things were ahead for them." John and Suzyn do a wedding
"It's time for tonight's Diamond Notes. Suzyn, the only Diamond Note that seems to be on everyone's mind is Connie's ring."
"You're right, John, it's beautiful, and I didn't think anything could look better on her than her 2009 World Series ring..."
John and Suzyn call a wedding. Is this the future of love?
This goes nine incredible minutes. You can almost picture the introductions.
"Indeed, Suzyn, well, it looks like the players are in position and ready to take the field..."
Tip of the hat to Beauregard Jackson Burnside Pickett, who adds,
"I'm concerned, that John is concerned, that John won't have a job next spring... Clearly John is in a new business, "Rent-A-John (Sterling)." The kitten bowl was explainable, he just wanted to be near young pussy for once... But what's next? Bar Mitvahs?"
2. Bushy sideburns, mutton chops or disgracefully prissy Hunger Game style facial growths.
3. Unkempt, long-haired, hippy freak appearance.
4. Miscellaneous: Satanic forehead tattoo, Nazi salute at home plate, unprotected sex in dugout during games, wearing John Lennon glasses etc.
5. Suing the good Yankee executives.
6. Coming up from Scranton, bossing people around, and acting like your poop smells like $20 French perfume. (You know who you are!)
7. Appearance in any Ben Affleck/Matt Damon movie that would imply the fine and upstanding Yankee brass would ever condone wife-swapping.
8. Hanging with Jay-Z and Beyonce, and having the unmitigated audacity to demand a 10-year contract, when everybody knows you will be fat and slow someday.
9. Being Bobby Meachem.
10. Did I mention the need to shave, you disgusting pig!
THINGS THE YANKEES BEGRUDGINGLY ACCEPT BY PLAYERS. (Note: Though this in no way constitutes endorsement of said activities.)
1. A tastefully trimmed mustache. (One-half inch, groomed, no Salvador Dali pansy crap.)
2. Scott Boras.
4. Miscellaneous marital disputes: Wife-beating, wife-choking, wife-cheating, wife-terrorizing, etc. (But seriously, can't we just be like Jeter and not get married until after retirement?)
5. Shooting up garage (Note: Yours, not the neighbors')
6. Hanging with Jay-Z and Beyonce, and jogging out routine grounders. (Because it saves the player for 10 years from now, when he's old.)
7. Appearance in boozy YouTube street brawl (Note: In Canada.)
8. Drug abuse (Steve Howe Rule)
9. Performance enhancing drugs (if followed by heartfelt apology and solid year.)
10. Five-o'clock shadow, as long as said facial growth in no way implies beard. SHAVE, YOU DISGUSTING PIG.
IN SHORT, NO BEARDS OR ATTITUDE. EVERYTHING ELSE, NEGOTIABLE.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
From Seattle's new GM is Seattle's new official team philosophy: They will C-the-Z... or "Control the Zone." Says the video:
"You teach the kids how to care about the player next to them. How to care more about the uniform that they wear and the name on the front rather than the name on the back. And to be selfless in what they do, and then we will teach them to be fearless because they are controlling the strike zone, and when you are finding success, which you will because you are controlling the zone, the game is a lot of fun to play."
Apparently, no section on running out grounders.
Eight points on the Chapman deal, (one for each bullet he fired into the garage:) Is it a bold strategic plan, or a sign of desperation?
2. Technically, the Yes spin machine can argue that Chapman is not a "wife-beater." Nobody claims he beat his wife. He just terrorized a woman with his bare hands and trusty field weapon. He choked her, slammed her into a wall, then laid down cover fire by peppering the garage with bullets. Technically, A-Rold is a "garage-abuser." If the Yankee lawyers can get the League to see this as a happy gun-owner incident - (doesn't the Second Amendment give us the right to redecorate our garages?) - rather than a horror show of domestic violence, Chapman might get less of a punishment - weeks instead of months. Something to look forward to, eh?
3. Chapman's act apparently was not videotaped. Also, the girlfriend supposedly will not talk. So it's their words against the police report. By this time next week, we will probably know the brand of A-Rold's hair spray.
(By the way, sorry to sound wise-ass about something as serious as domestic violence. I'm just cynical about how this case will go down. MLB - a corporation that acts as little more than a glorified ATM for billionaire profiteers - will attempt to project a moral message to the public. It hasn't done enough about domestic violence in the past, so along with pink bats, it's going to make "a statement." Like I say, sorry to be flippant on a serious matter. But when I see the judge and jury here, I see boxing kangaroos.)
4. Boston fans won't be kind to A-Rold, especially since the Redsocks almost traded for him. Something to look forward to, eh?
5. A-Rod is no longer the Yankees' Public Enemy No. In fact, Alex's crimes against humanity - as prosecuted for three years by the Salem Press - might even deserve historical revision. In the course of his crimes, no garages were hurt.
6. Brace yourself for either Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller to be traded. Last year, the Yankees had a chance to build a similar three-pronged bullpen, if they re-signed David Robertson. They let Robby go and banked the draft pick. In this case, they might convert Miller into a young starting pitcher. It all comes down to this: Does a team with as many issues as the Yankees really need three closers?
7. The deal is as notable for who was not traded - none of the players expected to wither on the 2015 Scranton death-vine. I'm talking about Greg Bird, Slate Heathcott, Mason Williams, Rob Refsnyder, Austin Romine, Ben Gamel, and the bullpen cast of Glee. Only Caleb Cotham played last year in Scranton. Frankly, I donno what to make of this. Cashman could be saving chips for another trade. It could be that Cincy didn't value these guys enough to want them. I donno. Frankly, though, I'm glad we still have these guys. If anybody thinks the Yankee front liners are going to stay healthy throughout 2015... that's crazy.
8. For whatever it's worth, here's what Cincy fan bloggers are saying. (Though, why in the world would anybody care what fan bloggers think?)
Redreporter: The Reds got a decent haul for Chapman. It isn't what they could have gotten a year ago. It isn't what they could have gotten in July. It's the best they could have gotten right now... There are huge questions about these two players, but there is also some real potential.
eep in mind that the Yankees have a good chance of earning a compensation pick for Chapman at the end of 2016 when he becomes a free agent. That makes the Reds return look worse. They weren’t just trading the best closer in baseball, they were trading a pretty good draft pick, too...
For whatever it's worth, both blogs are tickled, tickled, tickled that Chapman is gone.
Monday, December 28, 2015
Brian Cashman has taken the Cincinnati Red's closer, Aroldis Chapman, to add character to the Yankee clubhouse.
Aroldis is a flame thrower, but he also likes to empty his Smith & Wesson into his girlfriend's garage, from time to time. Or so it is alleged.
Brian was asked about this and responded that, "we are satisfied with our due diligence."
Satisfied as in, how well tuned-in they were to the goings on with CC Sabathia?
Or satisfied that he didn't empty the full clip into the garage?
It appears to me that Cashman is firing wildly into the room as well.
We are going to hate this guy.
The former Evil Empire - now called the First Order - acquired flame-throwing lady-abuser Aroldis Chapman today for four solid prospects, including Eric Jagielo, their first-round pick three summers ago. The others going to Cincinnati are Rookie Davis, a highly regarded starter, Tony Renda - a 2B they got in a trade last summer - and relief pitcher Caleb Cotham.
Yes, they traded prospects and Rob Refsnyder is still a Yankee.
Question of the hour: Does the acquisition of Chapman mean Andrew Miller will be traded, and if so, for what?
Maybe no. It's possible the Yankees are trying to build a "super bullpen" with Betances, Miller and Chapman running the last three innings of close game. That would be interesting, especially considering that they have no apparent ace, who can regularly go past six innings.
There is a question of whether Chapman will go on Ray Rice detention due to a recent domestic incident, which apparently scared the Dodgers away from him. They had traded for the guy, but when the cops came to his door, the deal went south.
This apparently ends the Yankees' unwritten "asshole rule" that was initiated following a couple head cases. (You know who you are.)
I've been hoping the Yankees would keep their prospects and rebuild, but aside from Jagielo and Davis, I don't think they gave up much. Chapman gives them a tough seventh, eighth and ninth. Now, if they can just score enough runs to be leading in the seventh...
Well, here's my reasoning:
I'm a fan of capitalism. But unfortunately, it doesn't work for the owners of baseball teams. These supposed bastians of free market economics prefer a top-down, regulated socialism - a system that requires each team to stay within a de facto payroll cap. Once upon a time, the Players Union went to war over payroll caps and what was called "owners' collusion." Then the union fell asleep, and a de facto cap was installed, using luxury taxes as crowbars. The owners established money-sharing spending limits, which made so-called "small market" teams (such as the Mets?) on the same par as "big market" teams, like Boston. Go figure.
If this were the NFL, that would be fine. The fathers of football have always run a top-down Stalinist state, even to the point of denying the brain damage inflicted upon some of their most beloved employees. So be it. But in America, there was always one pro sports franchise that allowed its fans to dream big.
No matter what your status was in life - wealthy, getting by or flat-out homeless - if you rooted for the Yankees, you could be a millionaire.
Of course, you were reviled by other fans. So be it. You could be shining the shoes of a Mariners fan, but you owned A-Rod, and he was fretting over Willie Bloomquist. When the best free agent came on the market, the Yankees would grab him. When the newest star emerged from Cuba or Japan, the Yankees would grab him. This didn't mean you won every year - some of the sorriest seasons in history emerged while George Steinbrenner was assembling "the worst teams that money could buy." Still, as a Yankee fan, you owned Winfield, you owned Giambi, you owned Reggie, you owned them all. And in the end, you'd have Catfish, the Big Unit, Tim Raines, Paul Blair, Gary Sheffield, even Bill Monbouquette, Lindy McDaniel and Robin Roberts - and yes, even Vernon Wells! You'd own them all, for better or worse... because you were a Yankee fan, and the Yankees could be great or they could be terrible, but there was one thing they could never be: They could never be cheap.
Yep. That's how it was.
So last week, while the rest of baseball was pondering Grienke and Cespedes, the Yankees turned to Sebastian Valle, a reserve catcher from East Schmuckola. (I have nothing against the guy; let's hope he contributes.) We have a billionaire owner with the astounding, unbelievable ability to poor-mouth, to walk the streets with pockets pulled out, setting an arbitrary salary cap and telling fans he cannot afford any free agents. The Yankees are his play thing. He counts his daily earnings with more zeros than we will know in our lifetimes, and frankly, if he wants to run a frugal sports franchise, he could sell the Yankees and buy every sports team from Cleveland. There, he can doodle with his spreadsheets and show the world how smart he is.
Once upon a time, the Yankees were the gold-standard for pro sports teams in America. Every Yankee fan - in our private fantasies - was rich. Now, we're on the same level as Royals fans (actually, we're below them in many ways.) Last winter, had I'm Not Cheap signed Max Scherzer, the Yankees might have won the 2015 AL East. But I'm Not Cheap said no. And today, we have Sebastian Valle.
Once upon a time, every spring, Yankee fans could fall in love.
Now, we're supposed to fall in line.
And that's why we call him "I'm Not Cheap."
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Joel Sherman outlines the Yankees' "strange place... being called cheap while having a huge payroll," but gives the owner a pass when it comes to his own wealth
The media always sucks up to money. It's primal. It's instinctive. It's instantaneous. It is coded into the hack DNA... like bad teeth and Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts.
Today, we see this on display with the daily coverage of Donald Trump. Here's a candidate who calls reporters "scum" and who jokingly wonders if they should be killed. Any other profession would treat the guy like toxic waste. But the media cannot resist every Trumpian utterance. They blame Trump's ability to draw crowds, which is partly a result of media coverage. One candidate - Bernie Sanders - consistently draws larger crowds, yet he barely gets mentioned in the nightly news, compared to the other money candidate: Hillary. It's the classic media blind spot - money - and it brings me to this morning's column by my fave Gammonite, Joel Sherman.
That's not sarcasm. I see Sherman as NYC's best Yankee beat-writer. Last winter, he nearly stood alone in refusing to pile onto A-Rod, while the Yankee brain trust tried to run Alex out of town. Today, Sherman actually wonders if the Yankees wouldn't have been better off with Francisco Cervelli, John Ryan Murphy and Gary Sanchez catching - rather than signing Brian McCann to seven years. (That's blaspheme on YES.) Sherman also ponders how the Yankees have avoided a full collapse - like Boston or Phily - while "contending" - though, let's face it, they are chasing the newly created Wild Card slot, which allows every team over .500 to "contend." It's a decent column. Read it. Let me know what you think.
But once again, Sherman's hack DNA will not allow himself to question the basic premise of Hal Steinbrenner's super-wealth birth right. We cannot criticize the fact that Hal is a multi-billionaire owner of an American legacy, which - by virtue of its historical and cultural prominence - cannot lose money. Sherman accepts Hal's right to set an arbitrary "budget." He starts the column this way:
Let’s save for another day whether Hal Steinbrenner should have a budget for the Yankees and deal with reality — he does.
Here's the truth: Sherman will never get to that other day - the day when he questions how much much money the Steinbrenner family should be making off the Yankees, while they accept stadium tax breaks, bundled cable TV fees (which viewers cannot control), and the prestige of their inherited power - while they charge outlandish prices for seats, luxury suites and handfuls of old Yankee Stadium dirt. This will never happen. It's the fundamental hole in our media reality.
It's not Joel Sherman's fault. It's in his hack DNA. Nobody can ask what Hal Steinbrenner does with all the money he saves by not bidding on a free agent that would make the Yankees an honest contender in 2016. It's none of our business. Hal gets to run a sacred piece of Americana - the frickin' New York Yankees - and we're expected to be grateful while chasing a one-game wild card.
And that's why we call him "I'm Not Cheap."
Saturday, December 26, 2015
1. The Yankees won't do anything this weekend. They probably won't lift a phone until spring training, when the last available free agent trainwreck looks to hook-up with some team, any team. Two years ago, we snagged Brian Roberts. Last year, it was Stephen Drew and Chris Capuano. We'll snag somebody, sure as my hands are shaking at the keyboard. But not today.
2. With the savings from Yankee payroll, Hal Steinbrenner for Christmas gave each of his relatives a small-but substantial South American country. At one point, last night Hal was awoken to the sound of chains and human howling, as his doorknocker assumed the swollen face of old George, after having eaten a race horse. It turned out to be not the Ghost of Yankees Past, but Randy "Fright Wig" Levine, out on an Ibogaine bender. They gave each other hoverboards.
3. The Yankee fan base is quiet today, fortifying itself for a long, seething, angry, soul-collapsing 2016 season. It's going to be wild. When I think of what has happened to this sorry franchise - and I want this made clear: The Yankees did NOT make the post-season last year; they lost a playoff game that would have ALLOWED them entrance to the post-season - I wonder when the clams at the top will finally pop open. This year, the Yankees lost NYC the Mets. Next year, they could lose the AL East to the Redsocks. Thirty years after 1986 - the lowest ebb in World Series history - we might be going there again. Merry effing Xmas. If I can find my sandals, I'm going out for a walk.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Having just polished off a pitcher of spicy Bloody Marys, I am feeling no pain. I decided that, today, I would only drink things that are red, green or white. Christmas colors, so to speak.
Aside: I consider daiquiris, made with white rum, to be white. Still working on the green thing and creme de menthe is not a favorite.
So here's the deal on Brendan Ryan:
Ryan, as you recall, was the player named later in the Starlin Castro deal. A few days after he was a member of the Cubs' 40 man roster, the Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos. That means the Cubs are on the hook for Ryan's $1 million contract, and he is no longer a Cub.
What this really means:
CASHMAN CAN GET RYAN BACK FOR NOTHING.
He can be used to shore up another of the Yankees minor league teams. Riding on old buses and eating at Wendys. Alternatively, if things break right for him, he could be back in the Bronx, making errors, hitting into the shift and batting .203. Leading our infield into the the chase for the one-game play-in opportunity.
What a Xmas gift for Brian Cashman !!
Hal ( " I'm Not Cheap" ) Steinbrenner must be burping up his plum pudding with joy.
Brian's latest brain warp has him acquiring former top picks, pretty much from any team, who have flamed out and find themselves on the trash heap of baseball. And, they come cheap.
His latest venture: He has signed former Mets prospect Cesar Puello. The Mets released him to their trash heap in August.
He was signed by the Mets in 2007 out of La Romana, DR. After 3 years playing in leagues no one has ever heard of, the now 14 year old ( okay, older ) hit his first roadblock in High A ball St. Lucie, Florida. Prior to that, he had ascended to" baseball's 77th best prospect. " He was strong, fast, had a great arm and could hit.
This "road block" ( called real pitching ) left him batting an uninspiring .259 ( actually, not many current Yankees hit this well ). Then the injuries struck and he missed two years. Passport control challenged his birth date and found him to be, " some number of years older than he purports. " ( try saying that in spanish ).
Moving right along; Puello recovered, printed out a new birth certificate, and took the Eastern League by storm, hitting .326 with 16 HRs and 24 stolen bases. Unfortunately for Puello, that season ended after 91 games when he was suspended for, "Biogenesis problems." When he returned to baseball, after a 50 game suspension, he suffered a concussion ( bar fight?) that caused him chronic problems.
The Mets found he could not get through the league's concussion protocol ( sorry, wrong sport ), so they dropped him from their 40 man roster and shipped him to Vegas ( you just know that had to be the perfect spot for an ego driven young athlete with money). He immediately went on the disabled list nursing a back injury ( another bar fight?), and when he left traction and returned to the GCL, the Mets, dumped him.
He is either 24 or 34 years old. And he hasn't hit a baseball in about two years. He walks with a pronounced limp, and the angle of his head gives the appearance of a hobo trying to find money lying on the sidewalk or in the gutter.
Despite what others might identify as numerous "red flags," Brian Cashman, bright as a squirrel and GM of the Yankees, jumped on this opening and signed him. This adds another player to the inventory of once highly rated prospects now in the Yankee organization. And the beauty of it is: these players cost nothing. Other than upkeep, of course.
Mr. Cashman sees this signing as a tactical way to make up for the disastrous results of the Yankee's actual draft selections, and free agent signings. If you just look at one column of data, the Yankees have quite a number of ( former ) " top prospects" in the organization. And the expense line hardly moved a tick. Nice job for any GM, right?
The problem is; the garbage accumulates ( see above ). The Yankees now have more " might have beens" than any contending team in baseball. But we have no, "are about to break out," top prospects.
How stupid is Hal ( " I'm Not Cheap," Steinbrenner?) to allow Cashman to run this team?
Thursday, December 24, 2015
You can see this in either of two ways:
1. Again, we witness Brian Cashman's genius for acquiring players, and giving up next to nothing. (See Dustin Ackley!) As they say in Manhattan court: Cashman isn't perfect, but his actions always meanwell.
2. Again, we see that the Cubs really, really, really wanted to be rid of Starlin Castro. And - gulp - maybe the Yankees got schlonged.
Between mouthfuls of Christmas cookies, I spoke with a longtime Cubs fan the other night in a loud, man-cave basement. His take: Castro came in as a lion, looked destined for Cooperstown, and then went flat, but maybe it's not Castro's fault, maybe it's just the Cubs, and let's drink. The guy had no animosity toward Castro, but it didn't ruin Christmas to see him go. The Cubs will turn 2B over to Ben Zobrist - who played about 35 games there last yea and is on the Beltran side of 35, and some rookie. So Castro brought them Adam Warren and nothing else. It was a straight-up trade.
The weird part here is Brendan Ryan. I'm wondering: Did he ever really exist? Was he a dream?
We got Ryan on Sept. 10, 2013 - 9/10/13 - in a trade with Seattle for a player to be named later, which - according to Baseball Reference - never was named. That's right. Ryan just appeared out of nowhere, like a plate of steamed clams that nobody remembers ordering. He came with a good-field/no-hit reputation. He was 31. He played the last three weeks and delivered some clutch hits, prompting the Yankees to do what now seems inexplicable: That December 2 - 12/2/13 - we gave him a two-year, $2 million-per deal, with an option for a third year. Why did we do this? He was cheap. I'm sorry, but in two years of watching Ryan, that magical mystery glove wizardry never showed up, though his bat was "as advertised." Now we send him to the Cubs, and they don't even want him. Nobody wants to try a steamed clam.
Was he really here? Did we spend two years playing a ghost? Because that's the new Yankee norm: We sign specters, lost aimless spirits, who are only passing through our nightmares.
Will anyone (but us) remember Vernon Wells as a Yankee? Will anyone (but us) recall the Lyle Overbay period? The era of Pronk, of Eduardo Scissorshands, of Yangervis, of Brian "Mr. Orioles" Roberts? These are names worthy of the Danny Tartabull/Bob Shirley period of the 1980s. Folks, the Yankee Unraveling isn't starting. We are three years into it. We are elbow-deep in the another long, loud, meandering, gut-emptying, Yankee barf.
By the way, this seems to be an historically significant, Steinbrennerian rite of passage. It's all part of the plan: We shall be mediocre for several years, while the rest of baseball slowly re-learns why it was financially beneficial to have one NY team play the super-villain - and while our Boy Owner toys around with his rather infinite amount of money. Someday, this will end. I'm thinking around 2020, though. (Yes, it is a lost decade.) My guess is that in about three years, Hal will empty his entire war chest on Bryce Harper, refusing to sign other free agents, and then go for five or six years blaming Harper for second place finishes. That will be his re-enactment of the Rickie Henderson era. At some point, we will fall into dead last place, and we will draft or sign an 18-year-old player who can lead us from the darkness.
This Christmas, my message of hope: I believe that future Yankee has been born, and he now walks the earth.
So, in the year 2025... (if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they might find)... we will ask the question: Was Brendan Ryan really here?
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Alphonso's Call To Action Should Be Answered: "Truthfully, Yankee fans have much more fun going to Scranton and watching. 'What might have been.'"
Plan your WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN GETAWAY now!
2016 Promotions | SWB RailRiders
Glow-in-the-Park Fridays highlight a blockbuster lineup of promotions, including:
- June 3 -- Greg Bird Bobblehead Day (I bet he goes 4-4 with 2 homers and 2 doubles)
- June 18 -- Luis Severino Bobblehead Day (does this tease a possible return to the minors?)
- August 6 -- Joe DiMaggio Bobblehead (or possibly a Plaque -- stay tuned) Day
- August 20 -- Mariano Rivera Bobblearm Day (I don't know what a Bobblearm is, but I bet you in 20 years we'll see old porn stars rewarded with Bobblecock Day at the AVN Awards in Las Vegas)
- Superhero Night (Mustang Night)
- Princess & Pirate Night
- Christmas in July
- Star Wars Night
- Friday the 13th
- Teacher Appreciation Night
UPDATED 2:10 p.m. 12/24/15
This morning, George King in the Murdoch Post suggests an enticing new way for the Retrieval Empire to waste Rob Refsnyder. George writes...
Scouts say Refsnyder has enough arm strength to make the throw from third.
Bingo. There it is, everybody. And the winnah is... MISS COLUMBIA!
Refsnyder, now 25, has spent the last three years learning 2B. Why not move him to third! That could run his time in Scranton to 27. Two years from now, when Chase Headley is nearing his milestone 100th throwing error, they can try Refsnyder at catcher. Wait! If he can make the throw from third, maybe he can pitch!
Oh, well, next spring Ref can enjoy another Scranton spring with Greg Bird. After hitting 11 HR late last season, Bird is already buying his tickets for the Anthracite Museum tour.
Of course, Ref and the Birdster won't be alone. Scranton's OF likely will be Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and Ben Gamel - as it was last year. As a teen, Heathcott survived an incredibly tough life. Now comes the ultimate test: Escaping the Yankee farm system. Williams last year looked great; too bad he's a LH on a team full of them. As for Gamel? All he did last year was hit .300 over a full season. Maybe this year, he can hit .400!
OK, let me address what you must be thinking: What do I know about player personnel decisions?
You're right. The Yankees have career managers making decisions, and they certainly know more than me. But we're now looking at our 4th consecutive year of Wild Card chase mediocrity. I want results.
If the Yankees are going to be a team lashed contractually to bloated old vets, the least they can do is shell out and add new stars, so at least someone is in his prime. If we're going to be the frugal San Diego Padres - that is, clutch our dimes and not bid on anybody - then I'd like to watch young Yankees rise up and get a chance - rather than always be taking on another former Yankee opponent in his downward trajectory.
If we're going to be the high-spending Yankees - the gold standard for franchises - then go out and get the players.
If we're going to be the cheap Yankees, then at least let the youngsters show what they can do.
Right now, heading into another Wild Card chase, we are neither. But - hey - Scranton should be solid! (Unless it's the most demoralizing place on earth.)
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Dear El Duque,
This is a true tale about the MASTER.
About 14 years ago, John resided at the Courts at Glenpointe in Teaneck, NJ.
One morning< the Master came to the swimming pool.
He was attired in his SPEEDO
My friend's Wife almost drowned as she was laughing so hard.
Many others at the pool were in shock
You must picture John in a Speedo to fully enjoy this
Merry Christmas, everybody.
Anyway, a grand BA tradition is that after releasing a Top 10 list, the writer takes questions from the troglodytes. For the Yankees, this unleashes as orgy of speculative trivialism about names most Yankee fans will never even utter. It's like a Star Trek convention, where guys wearing Vulcan ears argue about the Gorn's backstory. But like those poor fools, I read it fervently for insights into the Yankee future.
Yesterday, it was scarier than a NASA report on global warming. If you dream about the Yankees' future, do NOT go here.
Here are the most distressing lines from yesterday's chat. Warning: This is NSFH. (Not Safe For Hope.)
1. "If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a Brendan Ryan type of guy." - This on Kyle Holder, our first-round pick last year at SS. Huh? We drafted a first-round SS (first SS since Cito Culver) - and at full potential, he's the next Brendan Ryan? Where's the rest room? I gotta barf.
2. "I don’t think there’s much chance Jagielo plays third base longterm. Evaluators have panned his defense since last year." - Again, a first-rounder looks compromised. We took Jagielo ahead of Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin three years ago. Now, he looks like trade bait, or the next Kyle Roller. Why can't the Yankees develop thirdbasemen? Is there a curse we don't know about? Will we be stuck forever with Chase Headley?
3. "Yoan Moncada is likely to be in our Top 10 prospects overall. The ceiling is high for both, but Moncada could be a superstar." I can't let go. I CAN'T LET GO. BA says Mateo - our number one - will make their Top 100. Whoopie. The Redsocks signed Moncada, because Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner wanted to pinch his precious pennies. Yankee fans need to start considering the B-word: Boycott.
4. "I don’t think people are as high on him as they had been." They are talking about Aaron Judge, our power forward in RF. The new line on Judge is that he's got the biggest strike zone in baseball, and he was undressed last summer in Triple A. If Judge tanks, we're back to spinning crapola about Jesus Montero. We can't afford to have another Montero.
5. "Refsnyder, even if he’s never going to be Roberto Alomar at second, has improved and is an up-the-middle type of player." It's sad that I would become angry over positive words expressed about Refsnyder, but we know the deal: He'll never get a chance with the Yankees. What's the point of discussing this guy? Our top brass speaks ill of long and bloated contracts, then we trade for Starlin Castro. And the echo chamber adores this. (The NY Post recently had a headline that went, WHY THE YANKEES ARE DROOLING OVER STARLIN CASTRO.) What crapola. Have you gone onto any Cubs web sites? Because they're delighted to be done with him.
6. "He’s got 80 innings as a professional in two seasons and change. That’s alarming for a first-round starting pitcher." This is BA defending the fact that Ian Clarkin didn't make the top 10. Yep, another first-rounder. Clarkin has done nothing to warrant a top 10 ranking, aside from being picked in the first round. It's not his fault. He's been hurt. I get that. But deal with it, folks. (Same goes for Ty Hensley, the snake-bitten first-rounder. I wish I could wave a wand and snap the curse. But once injured, many players - especially pitchers - are never the same.)
7. "Evaluators weren’t particularly high on Molina." Somebody asked if OF Leonard Molina was ready to "break out." (That's the line prospect-huggers always use, dreaming of a guy who suddenly sets his league on fire.) Molina is another guy whose only reason for hope is that we paid a lot of money to sign him. He's young and wealthier than you will ever be. And so we're supposed to be excited. So when he doesn't hit, and he's rated poorly, the huggers claim anti-Yankee bias.
8. "He could be a mid-rotation guy." This is about James Kaprielian, our first-rounder from last June. A mid-rotation guy? Wow. So we had two first-round picks: One is the next Brendan Ryan and the other is a future David Phelps? Wow.
9. "He had elbow surgery, got crushed in the big leagues (though that may have been a product of the bone chips) and evaluators want to see better command and a smoother delivery." This is on Jacob Lindgren, another top picks, whom the Yankees spent most of last spring congratulating themselves for. (This is a common theme, by the way. The Yankiverse basically acts as an echo chamber for front office spin.)
10. "... starter stuff, below-average command and could be a weapon out of the bullpen." He's talking about Bryan Mitchell, whom we consider our sixth starter. Well, maybe I should cheer up. They say we might get something for Mitchell in a trade.
Hey, here's an idea! Let's trade for Jesus Montero! I hear Seattle might be willing to let him go.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Five hundred years of technological advancement... for this.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Wait a minute. Have you ever seen Putin's incredible 2012 version of "Blueberry Hill?" Stop whatever you're doing. Watch this. Then let's have an essay contest. Somehow, it's gotta be relevant.
Yes, you're still shaking, right? Did you throw your room key onto the stage? Ask yourself: Could Bibi Netanyahu beat that?
Anyway, yesterday, while the Russian Fats Domino-Theory was praising Donnie Breitbart, another seismic burp was taking place in the world of egomania: Jon Papelbon revised his no-trade contract, so he can be dealt to the Yankees.
Previously on Homeland, the Pap Smear had stipulated that he should never, ever, ever, be traded to us. To most of us, this was a problem in the same way that not getting phone calls from Publisher's Clearinghouse is a problem. Frankly, the world seemed less dangerous, knowing the Yankees could never get Papelbon. Now, we have one more terror to fear.
One unnoticed beauty of the Starlin Castro trade - (Say, have we started postulating John Sterliing's HR call - a Starlin for Sterling!? - because I assure you, The Master is) - is that it effectively ended the chance of us signing Howie Kendrick. Now, we have the new fear.
Fats Papelbon. Think he can sing "New York, New York?"
Friday, December 18, 2015
Thus, Brett Gardner remains the last 2015 Yankee trade chip, for any meaningful nose job on this lopsided roster.
For better or worse, we should expect Gardy to go yardy, just a bit tardy.
So what would we get, and will it be worth it? That, Colonel Kurtz, is the question. Obviously, Cashman trolled the winter meetings last week and came back with only unexplained tattoos across his body. Everybody in baseball wants pitching - (that's new, eh?) - and let's face it: Speed outfielders who no longer steal bases don't get face time on Center Stage with Michael Kay. Several teams seeking OF lug nuts found them elsewhere. For Cashman to get market value for Gardner, some OF somewhere must tweak a gonad or shoot up an Arby's.
Meanwhile, Girardi will blather about this wonderful stockpile of OFers, talking though the fact that we have too many. There is the un-tradeable Jacoby Ellsbury and the immovable Carlos Beltran: Nobody would take either if we threw in a boat. We have Aaron Hicks, whom Cashman has already proclaimed as a 2016 breakout star. We have Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams - both showed promise last year, though they're basically the same player: a LH centerfielder - and Ben Gamel, who ruined everything by hitting .300 at Triple A and forcing his way into a shot. Then there is Dustin Ackley, another Cashman Cutie, (another LH,) and of course, the ghost of Rob Refsnyder, who shall only see a chance when Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.
Somebody's gotta go. Too many OF, too few arms. That leaves Gardy on the launch pad. Last year, he became our de facto captain. He seemed on the cusp of stardom, the kind that might end up someday getting a plaque. In the end, his meek ground-out drew the loudest boos in Yankee Stadium. Nobody wants it to end that way. But steel yourself, folks. There's no other way. It's gonna hurt, losing an old friend - especially knowing we will die someday with Shallow Hal still at the helm, counting his money.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Yep. We raised one third-baseman, and we'd have been better off if we didn't. Forty years of nothing. Oh, I guess you could say we grew Mike Pagliarulo from a seedling. Pags was an occasional slugger during the lost 1980s, whose batting average - foreshadowing Stephen Drew - generally hovered between .180 and .210. After that, good night and good luck. Move on, people, there's nothing to see. Go on, shoo!
It's not that we didn't draft third-basemen in the top rounds. Remember Dante Bichette Jr.? Brad Suttle? David Adams? Of course, you don't. We always signed somebody - Graig Nettles, Scott Brosius, A-Rod. It's been a system-wide failure. For reasons I cannot explain, we simply do not make third-basemen.
So last year, we turned to Chase Headley. He stank. There's no better way to put this. He sailed throws into the right field bleachers - 10 more errors than usual (dare I say the name Chuck Knoblauch?) - and contributed little at the plate that Yangervis Solarte, the guy we originally traded for Headley, wouldn't have done. Headley didn't hit for power. He didn't hit for average. And it wasn't jitters from coming to NYC. He'd already been here the last half of 2014.
You know, I can actually understand why Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner preaches against signing long contracts. He goes on and on about how the Yankees cannot get locked into such deals... and then gets drunk and signs Ellsbury for seven, McCann for five, Headley for four, etc. It's like there's two Hals, one who pinches pennies and one who goes out clubbing with Gigi Hadid. So we end up with Headley.
Last winter, the Blue Jays pried current MVP Josh Donaldson from Oakland in a trade. The Yankees watched. We had Headley. Yesterday, the White Sox obtained all-star 3B Todd Frazier in a trade. The Yankees watched. We have Headley. If you look at our current farm system, one position stands out as particularly barren. Guess which. Go on, guess...
WTF? This shouldn't be. Two years ago, we made Eric Jagielo our top pick. They now say he's probably a first-baseman. Deep in the system, around Charleston and Pulaski, you find possibilities. But nothing has changed. They've always been there - fresh crops of the next Eric Duncan and Brandon Laird.
I keep hearing how our "suddenly productive farm system" has turned itself around. That's a drum beat we get every Christmas. The truth is, we have a middling system, which only looks good with a microscope, and when you're not comparing it to what other franchises have. Until we can develop a decent 3B, I'm not buying the crapola. All I see is three more years of Headley. And I'm sorry, it drains me of holiday hope. Merry Knoblach, everybody!
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Even I - whose hatred for Pete Rose burns hotter than a million suns - think MLB should relent and let the guy into the Hall
I used to hate the guy. The "Charlie Hustle" bit never fooled me. Rose was a thug, bordering on rat-hood, and when he got himself banned from baseball, I cheered. Those who argue that Rose only bet on his teams to win miss the point. He didn't wager on every game. When your manager is a chronic gambler - and he doesn't bet on today's game - he tells every bookie in creation that his team will likely lose. MLB was right to throw the book - no, the kitchen sink - at him.
But if you're putting members of the Hall of Fame through a morality test, good luck with that. Ty Cobb was an evil bastard. (They say he killed a man in Syracuse.) Babe Ruth was a whore and glutton. Ted Williams was priapismic. Maury Wills was a junkie. Wade Boggs was a sex addict. Mickey Mantle was a train-wreck. Willie Mays greeted at casinos, Orlando Cepeda smuggled drugs, Ferguson Jenkins toked, Tris Speaker fixed games - and let's not even think about the racists. For every saintly Roberto Clemente, there is a John McGraw, who tried to bribe his way to a championship. And there is also Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago Black Sox, who supposedly knew of his players plan to boot the 1919 World Series, making him just a culpable as Shoeless Joe. But MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis - himself a scandalized member of the Hall - let Comiskey off, rather than punish one of the guys who was paying his salary.
So this October, there was Pete Rose, by far the ugliest mook to ever set foot in a Fox Sports studio, jabbing Harold Reynolds with his elbow and then grabbing the guy's wrist, just to let him know he was fooling. (An old Nat Lampoon cover captured exactly what he would look like.) Here was a 74 year old baseball version of Uncle Fester - (no, in a movie, his character would be named "Scrappy") - getting one last chance at a sodium light, and you know what? I didn't feel the slightest pang of hatred. It was nice to see him again.
One of these days, while you're trolling the latest shots of Miley Cyrus walking her dog, you'll see a pop-up news blip. Pete Rose will have had a heart attack and died. Everyone will say how sad it is, how he was a great player but "flawed." Soon after, some Gammonite will write a column championing Pete's redemption, and like Miss America contestants crying at the end of the pageant, the owners of MLB will emotionally restore Pete's cold corpse into their eternal fold. Fuck them. Baseball is run by a cheap, vindictive tribe of old money heirs and heiresses, who skim everything from the top before even thinking about fans or employees. Nothing has changed since the days of Charles Comiskey. For all his foibles, Pete Rose was hardly the problem. And among his career achievements, Rose did accomplish what I consider to be the impossible
He ended up making me feel sorry for him. Imagine that.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The 2016 Yankees will "rebuild on the fly," (aka "do more with less,") which is fine... as long as it works
The Exalted Leader won't allow the Yankees to take a year off from their victory quest, so He's ordered his managerial underlings to win AND rebuild. Yes, we're back to that grand old chestnut from 2008: We will do more... with less!
Hey, rebuild AND win? Count me in! I'm good with that... as long as it works.
If it doesn't, well, the Boy Billionaire will bank more money. So I guess, from His standpoint, it's a winning policy either way, eh?
So Brian Cashman must make the Yankees younger, build for the future AND contend. Let's keep in mind that "the post-season" now includes teams that barely poke noses above .500. Instead of Murderers Row, the Yankees only need a Shoplifters Row. They can win the Wild Card and hopefully get hot.
Other teams - the Giants, Redsocks, Royals, Astros and virtually every division winner - must rebuild. The Yankees cannot do that because - though the YES men stress that Yankee fans are the game's most knowledgeable - the fan base is fair-weather dullards who will run from a loser. We can't wait. Ever.
Okay, I get that. So the question is simple: Are we succeeding?
Clearly, a group of young prospects is bubbling to the surface, (Rob Refsnyder not withstanding.) Luis Severino and Greg Bird looked great last year, (even if Bird looks ticketed for a demoralizing return to Scranton.) But how do we compare with our rivals? For example, Boston. Well, even if you buy the line - as many Yank fans do - that Baseball America is fixated on overvaluing Redsock prospects, it's hard to put our young players above theirs. Boston already has an all-star SS, a rising CF, two solid catchers and maybe the best IF prospect in the game, a fellow named Yoan Moncada. Are our young guns superior to the Mets? Nope. How about KC? The Rays? The Astros? Ouch.
Yes, our prospects always look good, when we're studying our own navel. But how do we compare with other teams?
Strategic plans are great. The question is, is this one working?
Hey, if it does, great! We'll march down the Canyon of Heroes! I'll take back everything I said.
And if it doesn't, well, we'll move another year through the snake, while the Exalted One becomes richer than ever.
Am I just a spoiled fan? Maybe. But if you're lucky enough to live in a city with a daily paper - Syracuse no longer has one that home delivers - open the Obituaries on any given morning, and you will find some old lug nut died, leaving a loving family and maybe a house in a declining neighborhood. In this thumbnail sketch of a human being's life, you will read about the schools he attended and the jobs he worked. And you will often find that he or she was "a lifelong Yankee fan." Yes, someone can live 90 years, and that's how they are remembered.
That's how I will be remembered. And I'm good with that.
Listen: The owner of the Yankees has a sacred obligation to all those fans in the world who will be remembered in their obits not for the billions of dollars they made, or inherited, but for being "lifelong Yankee fans." They will never see the dance floor of a private yacht. Hal Steinbrenner is not the owner of the phone company. He owns the fucking New York Yankees. If he wants to "rebuild on the fly," if he wants us all to "do less with more..." great... but it better goddam work. Because if it doesn't, the thought of the Steinbrenner family squeezing money from their cultural touchstone - well - it's not one I wish to have this Christmas.