Overall score on the day: Other teams 19, Yankees 7.
Plus, we lose Bryan Mitchell for God knows how long, A-Rod and Chase Headley hit into inning-ending DPs, and Andrew Miller will start the season, pitching with a broken wrist.
Calgon Bath Oil Beads... take me away!
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Overall score on the day: Other teams 19, Yankees 7.
Johnny Barbato wins the coveted 2016 James P. Dawson Award. Want to feel pain? Here are the last 12 winners
2014: Masahiro Tanaka
2013: Vidal Nino
2012: David Phelps
2011: Manny Banuelos
2010: Jon Weber*
2009: Brett Gardner
2008: Shelley Duncan
2007: Kei Igawa
2006: Eric Duncan
2005: Andy Phillips
2004: Bubba Crosby
Twelve years, two meaningful Yankees.
Weber, in case you've forgotten, was a journeyman minor leaguer who signed to compete for the fifth OF spot. He led the Yaankees in spring training with a .483 batting average, but got clipped at the final cuts, in favor of Marcus Thames. He went to Scranton and disappeared.
A good Vegas under/over "Number" bet would seek to answer the question -
"How many regular season Yankees games will Tanaka, Pineda, Eovaldi, Sabathia, Nova, and Luis start - combined - in 2016?
That's 6 guys. There are, you know, like 162 games.
Put the number at 135 for the sake of argument. Would you bet the Under or the Over?
Good morning, ya'll.
I have been sucking on lemons a lot lately. I find fresh lemons, particularly if you purloin one off a lush tree in LA, to be better with tequila shots than limes. I may be starting a new "foodie" trend.
And tequila shots are great, because you can have one about every three hours all day long and feel on top of the world, all the time.
So Mustang is bored? That is the reason for his pre-season attack on my insights, predictions and accuracy? He had to search the archives to offer up a crumb of one possible mis-calling?
I appreciate the work he does in keeping history straight, but why is there so little narrative from him on the near perfection, over the decades, of my insights and predictions? Is he now part of, "big media," where only criticism....exceptionalism.... sells? If he is off the booze, then I understand his pique. But I hope this attack is just boredom, not sobriety ( Drinking with Mustang is one of life's pleasures).
Is he attacking excellence because it is too good, too predictable? Bad for the game? He needs to sell what? Visits to IIH?
Let's turn to the facts:
( And this is going to terrify Mustang, because fantasy is his game. Ask him, for example, to show you what Jesus looks like in bizarro world, and you get nothing back.)
Fact 1: Pineda still sucks. If you break down his contributions per dollar, and per pound of flesh (factoring in the others we gave up, and the total detritus that the Yankees babysat until it was time to throw them out ) per inning played, there is no winning edge yet. I did the math: Pineda and Jesus, per inning, have both been worth about .$67. This does include minor league play ( discounted cash flow ) and time on the DL ( which has a negative value, like negative interest rates, )
Fact 2. Pineda will not be successful this season with the Yankees. When it really matters, he will pee the bed. Just wait. Results are not measured in win-loss records. They are valued in " crunch time success." Remember this.
Fact 3. Jesus may yet rise again. In our division. The true test will be Jesus vs. Pineda, mano a mano, in a key moment of a crucial game with Toronto.
Fact 4. I do admit that Jesus turned out to be a mirage of a talent. At the time of the deal, we all thought he could hit. I never thought he could catch and, if Mustang had any cojones, he would go back and look up my mockery of his catching ability....and the need for a specially forged catcher's mask due to his oversized head, etc.
Let's just see if Mustang, so challenged, will look up the entire history of my views on the subject, rather than limit himself to a minimally important, surface issue, that draws well with readership. This is a republican campaign strategy. Not baseball.
Fact 5. How can, " anonymous," support me and hate me in the same breathe?
Sounds like most of my dates.
Boston is benching its $95 million Panda.
They have him for four more wonderful, perfect years.
The fans are already chanting for Yoan Moncada. (Yooooooooooooooan Moncada! Step by step...)
Of course, you know by now that Andrew Miller yesterday stopped a line drive with his glove wrist and has a "chip fracture." The way the Yankees are downplaying it, we shouldn't worry. How bad can a "chip fracture" be? It's just a chip. They'll rub some dirt on it. Miller's no weenie, right?
To learn more about this nuisance malady - also called a "broken wrist" - I consulted Healthtap.com, an invaluable medical resource. If any of you are bleeding from the ears, or have a golf ball-sized tumor growing out of your head, I recommend this critical self-diagnostic tool. Why waste money - and long hours in a waiting room - when you can receive expert advice in the comfort of your deathbed?
On HealthTap, someone complains of a "non-displaced triquetrum chip fracture of the left wrist," which required four weeks in a cast, and still brings soreness after activity. They ask: Is the soreness normal? Hand surgeon Dr. Stephen Brown says "Yes... Reactive swelling and discomfort in this time frame are completely normal."
Four weeks in a cast, and soreness afterwards?
Hmm. Of course, Miller doesn't pitch with that wrist, and he can wear a flexible graphine cast to immobilize it and allow pitching motion. No problem, right? But here's a question: Do you want to start a long, grueling season with your best bullpen pitcher throwing with a fractured wrist? I didn't see that particular question posted on Healthtap, so I have no answer.
Four weeks in a cast, and soreness afterwards...
Also yesterday, Brian Mitchell sprained his left big toe while covering first base. (Last year, Chris Capuano - who has made the Brewers! - messed himself up covering first in a spring game. Why don't we just tell pitchers to let grounder to first be hits until - say - June 1 - when they can figure it out?) Again, I consulted Healthtap, and let me tell you: The only way to describe my findings is: PURE TERROR.
One poor soul sprained his big toe two months ago, and it still hurts. Another sprained the big toe three months ago, and it still gives sharp pain. But listen to this: One guy has "a cluster of lumps" along the right side of his foot, near where he sprained his big toe years ago. It bothers him. A frickin cluster of lumps! Healthcap suggests he see a doctor. I say, amputate.
The Yankees downplay injuries like a political candidate pooh-poohing a scandal. "There's no problem, everything's fine, LOOK - THERE'S A-ROD'S NEW GIRLFRIEND!"
But the season is a grinder. Remember how raggedly we played last September? Who knows what the Yankees will do with Miller and Mitchell... but is it smart to run them out on Day One, already physically compromised? Isn't that a recipe for a good player to have a bad season?
My web diagnosis: We just suffered two huge setbacks. Help us, Mr. Dellin. It's all up to you.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
No accountability. That's a problem, folks. No accountability. My guess is, he's never going to admit the truth. They never do until we make them.
The silence is deafening.
It's time you to come to grips with the inescapable truth about the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda deal of 2012:
YANKEES WIN. THUHH YANKEES WIN (the trade.)
For nearly four years, you have spat angry, venomous words upon Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman for having "bungled" the Montero/Pineda deal.
It's time to be held accountable for these attacks.
It's time to admit the Yankees won the deal.
It's time for a public apology to Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees Baseball Team Inc.
It's time to come clean.
Like the stock market bubble, the housing bubble, the bond bubble, the precious metals bubble, Alan Greenspan's prostate problems and Trump's flip-flop on supporting the official GOP nominee, nobody could have seen this one coming
If it was based strictly on the numbers, the New York Yankees' fifth starter competition would have been no contest.
Bryan Mitchell, with a 2-0 spring training record and 0.61 ERA in 14 2/3 innings, would have been the hands-down winner.
But as many suspected, the contest really was decided by other numbers, such as years of service, World Series rings, Cy Young Awards and yes, zeroes on the paycheck.
So while the 24-year-old Mitchell will be coming north with the Yankees when they break camp this weekend -- manager Joe Girardi said "he'll be with us, one way or the other" -- the No. 5 starter's job Mitchell was supposedly competing for along with Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia has apparently been won by Sabathia.
Monday, at 1:05 p.m. - give or take the final hernia strain from whatever national treasure bellows the National Anthem - the world starts over again, as it did last year, and the year before that, and... wait a minute, there's some cycle thing going on here!
Woah. I gotta sit. We'll no longer be defined by our last game - that depressing, 3-hitter, home field embarrassment at the hands of Houston. Stephen Drew is gone, and as of a Monday, I have no hard feelings toward him; I wish Drew the best. John Ryan Murphy and Adam Warren - whom we watched from seedlings - have departed; may both become all-stars! Who holds a grudge on opening day? And it's actually almost here!
Monday, at 12:59, just as some celebrity or political hack is tossing out the ceremonial first pitch, the suits from Comcast and YES will cut a deal. Just wait. Within 30 seconds, thousands of cable subscribers across New Jersey will see a screen crawl announcing the Yankee game is on TV, and all the posturing last winter was pure crapola, because that's what suits produce.
Behind the dugout, Rudy Giuliani will sit next to Bill O'Reilly, and maybe Trump, plus Judge Judy, Howard Stern, and some minor Kardashians. Hillary Clinton will be doing Carpool Karaoke! A-Rod's billionaire girlfriend will watch from her personal blimp over the field. The sun will shine, and for the first time, we can appraise whatever the hell Cashman did all winter.
Monday, one oh five. The earth will have spun, and we will have survived all the bugs and bogeymen, and that Mayhem guy from All State. Wait a minute: We'll hear the new Yankee in-game radio commercials! Will Celino and Barnes still sing their jingle? Will Geiko celebrate the 15th out? When somebody slides into second - safe! - will they be safe and secure, with New York Life? WAIT A MINUTE: What is Suzyn planting in her garden? What celebrity autobiographies did John read over the winter? What home run call will he give for Starlin Castro?
You know what? It's almost here.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
As Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner would say over the croquet wicket, "Well played, old sport!"
But everything hinges on throwing the ball, and Rick Porcello - Boston's presumed No. 2 starter - has been mimicking CC Sabathia all spring.
Yesterday, the $20 million-a-year man got cuffed upon by the Orioles, surrendering three home runs in six plus innings, though lowering his spring training ERA to 9.76. If Porcello - age 27 - somehow pulls a Daniel Bard, Boston is - how should I put this? - screwed, pricked, reamed up the Hanley Ramirez contract escape hatch... whatever. Their other No. 2 - Clay Buchholtz has Ellsbury's Disease, Joe Kelly didn't pan out, and Eduardo Rodriguez is in recovery. We can fear the Walking Dead - CC and Nova - but Boston would love to have our problem right now.
Of course, think of where we'd be - and they'd be - if Food Stamps had signed Price...
He just keeps chugging.
Yesterday, in a meaningless minor league game on some secondary field in Tampa, Heathcott scored from second on a sac fly.
Shane Hennigan of the Times-Tribune reported it:
Yeah, it's the minors. Yeah, it's meaningless. But it's Heathcott. He'll turn 26 on Sept. 28. That's younger than Hicks, younger than Ackley, only 17 months older than the leviathan, Aaron Judge. If you figure outfielders peak around age 27, he's still worth a flier. We all know that neither Gardner nor Ellsbury can be counted on to last an entire season. (And let's not discuss the statue of Carlos Beltran erected in RF.) Hicks is the fourth OF. Ackley is the 5th utility somethingorother. Then it's Heathcott, the man who scores from second on a sacrifice.
Monday, March 28, 2016
Just hours after Jesus Montero was banished from Seattle, he wandered to Toronto and was signed by the Blue Jays. Rats. Didn't we all want the Retrieval Empire to make him a Scrantonian? It would be like sleeping with Joggy Cano's wife, and then flinging all her clothes out the window. Wouldn't Jesus heal the loss of Greg Bird? Of course, it couldn't happen: We have Chris Parmelee.
Also today, the mighty Braves - retrievers of all that is retrievable (see Zolio Almonte, Adonis Garcia, Manny Banuelos, et al) jettisoned colorful Nick Swisher - though not his $15 million salary, some of which is being covered by Cleveland. Too bad. If we signed Swish, it would be a Native American double-bank shot - the Indians and Braves paying his wages. Alas, we have no place to put him. We have Chris Parmelee.
Big question looming, will we devour some team's IF table scraps? The answer, of course, is of course!
It took barely a month for the Yankees to weed their Opening Day team of excitement.
Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo went early, predestined for the minors. Slade Heathcott played himself into oblivion. Gary Sanchez turned no heads. Ben Gamel, really? And yesterday, Rob Refsnyder completed the royal flush; he'll serve his third year in Scranton. (Let's excuse the guy in advance for being disillusioned and slumping, which will allow the Yankee brass to say, "See, we told you.") The big wheel turns.
The Yankees have made it easy for Comcast to survive the expulsion YES network games. If all you're offering is reruns from last year...
Of course, we do have Luis Severino, and the usual assortment of Nicks and Brandons, battling for that 11th bullpen slot, that one that comes with a bus ride to Scranton every time you throw two innings. In his first radio game this spring, John Sterling mentioned the downer for those young bullpen pitchers: They wanted desperately to pitch, but each outing meant they would be sent to Scranton for a fresh arm. What a meat grinder.
Anyway, our big Opening Day attraction will be Starlin Castro!, who the STEAMER website projects will lead the Yankees in hitting this year... at .269. Two sixty nine. The numbers wonks predict the Yankees will score fewer runs than last year, and here's a knee-slapper: The next highest batting average projection is/was - of course - Rob Refsnyder, at .267.
Our lineup is a bunch of .260 hitters, the usual suspects, just a year older. When healthy, they hit. When hurt or compromised - which is a 100 percent chance - we become a concrete rowboat.
Of course, in May we'll get Aroldis Chapman, and we can beat the drums about baseball's best closer bullpen. That will be something, I guess. We can always watch Netflix. Maybe Jeter will be Trump's running mate! Anyone excited about another year of Ivan Nova? Show of hands?
Sunday, March 27, 2016
1. Thus far, Adam Warren has not pitched well for the Cubbies. He's thrown six innings, given up six earned runs - so let's see now, six divided by six, times nine, carry the naught - that's an ERA of 6.00! That's Sabathiaesque! He has struck out three, not walked anybody. Considering that Starlin Castro is the Yankees best hitter this spring, it's high time for the Gammonites of NY to pronounce the Yankees winners in the great trade.
John Ryan Murphy - the artist formerly known as JR Murphy - has been even worse. He is 2 for 25, no home runs, one RBI and six strikeouts. His batting average: .082. Considering that Aaron Hicks is tied for the Yankee lead in HRs (with Castro), it's time for the Yankiverse to celebrate having won yet another the trade! Open the Canyon of Heroes!
Jesus Montero: 9 for 38, batting .237 - no dingers. Unless somebody gets injured, he'll probably be waived next week from Jogginson Cano's new home town. It's a trade we won, long ago. (Say five hail Mary's and do not invoke the name Mark Melancon.)
And Jake Cave, the OF prospect we lost in the Rule 5 draft, is batting .244 with 10 strikeouts and one HR. The Reds are giving him a lot of opportunities, and supposedly, they are impressed with his hustle and grit, or maybe his grustle and hit. Two weeks ago, he looked like they'd be returning him to NY. Now, not so sure. He might turn out to be the one that got away.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Clearly, he's stole the concept from Ivan Nova.
Yesterday, Nova maintained his reputation in the Yankiverse as being predictably unpredictable. After several fine outings, he got hammered. Three home runs. He's Forest Gump's box of chocolates. He's pure random sequence. No Kaypro computer, no matter how advanced, can process all Nova's intangibles and figure out what he'll do next. He might throw a perfect game. He might rush for 200 yards. He could win an Oscar, invent a new disease, climb Fuji, date Donna Summers, even though she's dead. He might support Trump. Anything. He has maintained unpredictability. Our enemies surely fear him.
I sure do. I fear he's going to be counted on to pitch 150 innings, games I hereby volunteer to miss. In fact, here's my suggestion to Brian Cashman:
Wait until Nova pitches two solid outings in a row. (He will, as sure as you're reading this.) He could be Pitcher of the Week, or something. Whatever. Then... TRADE HIS MISERABLE BUTT FOR WHATEVER WE NEED. And if we don't need anything, trade him anyway. Thus, we'll avoid the hammerings.
The Yankees are 9 and 12 in spring games - seven off the pace, if you're tracking the hot Grapefruit League pennant race. (Toronto in first, Houston in second - sound ominous?) Aside from Luis Severino, all our NY ballyhooed prospects have had lousy springs. A few have been disasters. (Looking at you, Slade.) We haven't lost a critical player to injuries - which is really all that matters - but watching Nova and CC Sabathia "compete" for the fifth rotation slot has been cruel and unusual punishment. Of course, CC was always going to win it - there was never a real competition. Trouble in, neither deserves it.
In a slightly more successful Yankiverse - one where we sign an ace pitcher or three - I might enjoy Nova's unpredictability, as another wild element on a veteran team. But right now, he's just another reason not to watch, and the Yankees are starting to load up on them. At least Trump is entertaining. You never know what he'll say. I wish he was our fifth starter.
Friday, March 25, 2016
I know that Tanaka was just " fine tuning" his stuff the other day. Working on a seventh pitch, perhaps.
But he is our opening day starter, right? Is that selection based upon who gets paid the most? Sorry...I digress.
Opening Day Prediction for the Yankees;
1. Tanaka will give up six or seven runs early, then "settle" in, parting with one out in the 6th.
2. He will pitch well the last 3 or so innings of his outing, and claim, " no arm problems," the next morning.
3. Girardi will find something positive to say about his work, and have a reasonable explanation for the early "hammering."
4. The Yankees will score two runs, one earned.
A minor, meaningless stumble on or way to the play-in, wild card game. Half the teams in baseball will lose on opening day.
You don't retire with 299 wins. You just don't.
In his first start, Wynn was shelled - 6 runs in 5 innings. Next start, 5 runs - wham. In his last start of the year, kaboom - hammered for 7. The season ended, Cleveland braced itself, and Early Wynn was coming back.
You just don't retire with 299.
He began 1963 as a starter. It didn't last. After a few outings, Wynn was sent to the bullpen, where he pitched sporadically. Finally, in his 20th appearance, the Fates smiled upon him, the planets aligned, and he won 300. (By the way, the Indians would finish fifth.)
I say this because - among bitter Yankee fans, like me - one reason for hope this season is Big Papi's farewell tour in Boston. If David Ortiz loses a millisecond on his swing, his production could fall off the table, as did that of Mo Vaughn, George Scott, Jason Giambi, and countless others of the aging hulk DH template. Once pitchers can get a fastball past you, it's over. The only question is how long it takes to realize - and then accept it.
Which brings us to A-Rod, who is - by the way - an aging hulk DH. If he were to race Big Papi to first, both would pull a hammy and miss six weeks. Last year, A-Rod hit 33 HR, though he collapsed at the end, and his batting average slid to .244 - the lowest since he was a punk prospect coming up in Seattle.
Two days ago, Alex announced plans to retire after the 2017 season. (These long term retirement announcements are getting out of hand. I would like to now announce my retirement in 2033, because the asteroid is going to finish us off anyway, right?) Yesterday, he equivocated. And everybody knew why: He had that Early Wynn gleam in his eyes.
A-Rod is 75 home runs away from Barry Bonds' all-time record. Considering how he is viewed by many in baseball, it's unlikely there will be a slew of Denny McClains, willing to serve up gopher balls to him. (Denny, of course, gave Mantle his 500th, an act of craven ego for which I will never forgive.) Could the 2017 Yankees devolve into the 1963 Indians, trotting out A-Rod every game, letting him swing from his heels, and just hoping he connects? Your DH is supposed to bat in the middle of the lineup. A .212 hitter there can kill a team.
Recently, we endured two emotional farewell tours. Both ended with wonderful tears and grand pageantry - and no post-season. The Yankees couldn't even get Mo and Jeter to the playoffs when the both remained productive players. What happens when the star is an easy out?
I say this because if you do the math, things get screwy.
If A-Rod hits 35 HRs this year, that means next year, he's 40 away. He could end 2017 within a handful of HRs... but what then? At some point, the Yankees will have to ask themselves: Do we want to win? Or do we want to Early Wynn?
Thursday, March 24, 2016
I spit out half my bloody mary this morning, when I glanced at the box score from yesterday's Yankee game embarrassment , and noted that Gary Sanchez, our highly touted, untouchable top-prospect catcher, is hitting 48 basis points this spring.
I'm not sure that is even better than zero.
Who scouted this guy? Who works with him on his game?
He might as well come here and drink bloody marys with me all day.
How do the Yankees do this? Judge sucks. Sanchez is a joke. Mason Williams is best as a drinker. Heathcott can't hit slow pitch softball. Tyler Austin is a bartender.
We may not win any games at Scranton this year. Who cares, by the way?
If the Yankees didn't sign free agents ( a highly mixed track record of success at this ) we would have no ballplayers at all.
And Cashman keeps his job?
I would rather see Trump as President than Cashman as GM of the Yankees.
More vodka please.
ESPN is giving him yet another chance.
Since leaving baseball, the guy has done nothing but remind people of the problems with putting millionaire jocks on pedestals and actually pretending that their bizarre view of the world has relevance. (For further study, see O'Neill, Paul and Damon, Johnny.)
In 2008, with his baseball career in a tailspin, Schilling toyed with the notion of running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts - a naked exploitation of his sports popularity. He'd probably be in his second Republican term, but he thought he could still pitch. To top it off, he showed up in spring training so out of shape that Globe columnist Dan Shaungnessy labeled him "the Big Blowhard." They still exchange nasty tweets.
In 2010, the state of Rhode Island loaned Schilling $75 million to develop his video game company, which was going to employ more than 400 people. The Palinista arch conservative lowered himself to accept government money. Less than two years later, he defaulted.
He gets in Twitter wars, arguing for creationism, Last year, he was suspended from the Little League World Series after forwarding tweets that compared Muslims to Nazis. Most recently, he's kept his face in the news by saying Hillary Clinton should be "buried under a jail somewhere."
I dunno, is there a left-wing equivalent of this guy? I mean, in terms of post-baseball publicity, he's a five tool buffoon:
So, naturally, ESPN is bringing him back on Monday Night Baseball.
Of course, they are. Why wouldn't they? Political mud-wrestling brings ratings, right? Look at Trump. It's the golden rule of every TV pundit: It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong. What matters is that they tune in tomorrow. We're about to have a presidential election with a candidate who says we should torture people - bring back the rack and thumbscrew and who equivocates when asked to condemn the KKK. Why would ESPN feel compelled to simply have an announcer talk about the game?
What's really weird here is that I should confess something: I had actually come to like Schilling's commentary. He seemed more likely to support the Yankees than others in the ESPN anti-Yankee stable. I think it's mental: His greatest achievement was in vanquishing the Yankees, so he's still unconsciously promoting them, because it adds to his legacy. But I don't see how anybody can separate the guy from his politics. I would say the same thing if some announcer was constantly touting Bernie Sanders. Why must we have that as a part of the show?
So Schilling gets another length of rope with which to hang himself, which he will. Remember, there's a reason that in the end he showed up overweight: He couldn't help himself to the extra creampuff, and he won't be able to shut up when Barack Obama throws out a ceremonial pitch.
Shame on ESPN. There's a thousand ex-ballplayers out there, fully capable of giving great commentary, and they chose this? What's obvious is that they don't have the guts to fire him.
Another reason to listen to The Master.
To all who learned to speak and read more than 500 words in the educational system of AMERICA, this is what we call, NOT NEWS.
It is news ( or would be ) if ALEX had declared,
" I am just not ...at age 42...the player I used to be. I am not providing any semblance of the value the Yankees saw ( blindly ) in me 8 years ago when I re-signed with them and, accordingly, I am going to retire now. I have made more money than anyone at the game of baseball. I will never have to cook a meal, mow a lawn, wash a dish or make a bed. I can't catch a baseball, throw a baseball, or run faster than a very old cow. And my bat speed is tanking...even as I sit on the bench, work with 6 personal trainers, and spit out pumpkin seeds thinking about who gets me for sex tonight. So, it is time now for me to saw farewell to the game. An early retirement ( from contract terms ) will be my gift to the Yankees who gave up their future for me. I will retire today and allow that team to re-build, rather than just stagger on with a bunch of non-productive, uninteresting, old goats."
Instead, A-Rod, thinking he was making a splash...a beau geste if you will.... , agreed ( at age 42 and barely able to run out a single to the gap) to stop playing for the Yankees at the end of 2017. The end of his contract. He yields neither one cent nor one day of his contract.
This means that, in Alex's distorted brain, he still believes ( as we sip our coffee this morning ) that the Yankees, and perhaps many of their rivals, would jump at the chance to sign him if he would only agree to keep playing.
Alex, no doubt, thinks this stunning announcement puts him in a class with Mariano and Derek. He wants to be loved and remembered as part of the great Yankees. He thinks that the headlines and talk shows following this revelation will be, " talking Alex and what he has meant to the game," for the next 700 days or so. In truth, he wants to give the Yankees time to fashion the pin-striped Net Jet as their parting gift to him on, Alex Rodriguez day in 2017.
I don't fault Alex for taking everything the stupid, brainless, visionless Yankees gave to him in a panic of horrid management and worse decision-making. I do fault him for trying to make it sound noble.
All along, I was hoping Alex is not as stupid as he appears.
Two years ago, it was Derek Jeter's turn. That season, our 2B was Brian Roberts, and Yangervis Solarte accrued the most games at 3B. That spring, facing the prospect of another bronze medal, management signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran - but it wasn't the massive outlay you might think. They let Robbie Cano walk to Seattle, and they dropped the huge contracts for Mariano and Andy Pettitte. Jeter's farewell came in Boston - the last place we wanted it to happen - though, truth be told, Fenway did him right. He didn't get a shot at the post-season.
Last year - oh why bother? We know what happened. The fact is, since 2014, the Yankees have refused to spend on the one commodity - an ace starting pitcher - that could make a difference. The price for a workhorse shot up, and the Yankees simply don't want to pay it. Last year, the absent image of Max Scherzer haunted us: Had we signed him, we probably would have won the AL East and from there - well - who knows?
In each of the last three years, we have been one starter away. We have a way of either sitting out auctions or finishing second.
So, now we sit in an owner-created purgatory, where Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner pleads for patience because he cannot - O, how he'd love to, but he simply cannot! - afford to sign any high priced free agents until all these bloated Yankee contracts are gone. (If the Pentagon adopted that strategy, we wouldn't make any more bombs until we've used the ones we already have.) That means this years "farewell tour" belongs to Big Papi in Boston, with Mark Teixeira in a holding pattern: He'll say goodbye to the Yankees and next winter probably sign with a team that will pay him more.
That means around this time next year, we will heralding the finale for CC Sabathia - (if he can make it that far) - and now A-Rod, who announced yesterday what everybody in the Yankiverse already knew: He'll be done after 2017.
The news story was spun as though we'll be saying goodbye to a grand old Yankee. But I think most Yankee fans saw the other side of it: Even if he marries the first lady of Google, he's not going to retire early.
That makes 2017 an exciting prospect, eh? A-Rod and CC will be in their final incarnations. (Because he missed the year, he won't be chasing Barry Bonds for all-time HR total.) Beltran will be gone (though he says otherwise.) McCann will be - what - our 1B? Ellsbury - good god, will he play 50 games? Gardy? Headley? I guess his disastrous spring means we should throw in the towel on Slade Heathcott. How much can hope for from Greg Bird, considering that he won't play this year. Aaron Judge? Fingers crossed here, but he struck out a lot this spring. Jorge Mateo will probably see most of 2017 in Scranton. Yoan Moncada? Ooops, I forgot... SLOOOOLY I TURN...
Will the final days of A-Rod simply see the Yankees tapping their toes, waiting for him to leave?
Oh, well, who cares? By then he'll own Facebook - (let's hope it's not Yahoo) - and if he's lucky, his last game will be played in Boston, where the "rivalry" remains warm and cozy. Calling Bernie Williams: We're going to need your wistful guitar one more time.
Two more years. That's the Yankee motto for 2016: Only two more years.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Every year, some benighted, unsung weather wonk awards the Golden Snowball to the unlucky Upstate New York city that receives the most white stuff. (Syracusans have 50 words for snow, by the way.) Every year, Syracuse wins it. (Actually, Rochester won in 2011-12, breaking the 10-year 'Cuse dynasty.)
This year, winter never really came. We even had a green Christmas. At one point, it hit 78 degrees. You'd think this would be ripe for a big Binghamton upset. No chance.
Even in a season with our regulars hurt, when storms go on the DL, Syracuse still wins by nearly 20 inches. We are not a Golden Snowball Wild Card city. We win our Division, with the home field advantage.
Keep in mind: This does not include the YES Network, which was valued higher than the Yankees, last time Forbes did the math. A few years ago, the Steinbrenner family sold the majority interest in YES to Rupert Murdoch. It still owns a chunk, along with New York's pro soccer team.
The Steinbrenners are billionaires... pretending to be millionaires, so we'll feel sorry for them.
Years ago, I rejoiced over lists like this, because it meant the team would sign more star players and always compete for pennants. Even if we didn't get every free agent, we could always afford the best scouts, coaches, managers, administrators, etc.
What we have assembled, though, is the world's foremost selection of sycophants.
Yankee management is a country club, from which no commodore - regardless of his record - can ever be expelled.
And the team couldn't afford one free agent, not one, because Food Stamps Steinbrenner wanted to squeeze a few more thin dimes from the fan base.
The Yankees this year look like a wild card contender. Add David Price, and they would be clear favorites in the AL East. Add Yoan Moncada, and their farm system would be ranked among the top in baseball.
The owner does not care. He must have been adopted.
He's smart, he's got money, he knows the game... man, does he ever know the game...
If Ellsbury can just stay healthy...
If Sabathia can rebound...
If Boston continues to suck....
Well, a few of the "ifs" are becoming "ands" or "butts," and it's not even April 1. Of course, it's way too early to pronounce judgement on this team, or any individual "if." Last year, for three months, we looked like The Avengers, and then we turned into the Mystery Men. But two of the above "ifs" already look like "uh-ohs."
For starters, Ellsbury has a bum wrist.
The above sentence contains two words that Yankee fans most fear reading in an injury report: Ellsbury and wrist. We watched Tex miss a season due a wrist, we've seen prospects disappear due to wrists, and we've come to view Iron Man Ellsbury as having the durability of a soap bubble. If he's good - that is, when he's healthy - we can score 5 runs and win a game. If he's hurt or worse - when he's playing hurt - we are the team we have been in the last three years: That is, if we're down 3-0, forget it.
But hey - some "ifs" look good. Didi and Castro are shaping up, and Headley hasn't thrown any balls into the Gulf of Mexico yet. And no matter how bad CC looks, Luis Severino may make up for him. (And let's be clear: We won't spend all of 2016 - as we did last year - wrapping our hopes around CC's return to form. He'll get some early starts - he's earned that shot - but if he doesn't deliver, it's over. He will not drag us down.)
And here's a "what if:" The other day, Aaron Hicks homered. The line out of Tampa - true or not - is that Hicks is a better fielding CF than Ellsbury, especially in covering ground. That's critical, because with Beltran in RF, our CF basically must cover two positions. If Hicks can play, we can drop Ellsbury from the "ifs" and make him a "whatever." He and Gardner can play every other game, and maybe it's Hicks who is our everyday centerfielder.
If Hicks is for real...
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
They knew of only one team - the Yankees. They wanted to play in only one city - New York. And the Yankee ownership valued only one thing - winning.
SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWLY I TURNED...
Does anybody really see a "competition" between CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell for that fifth starter slot? I don't. Mitchell is having a great spring, while the two vets have served batting practice, but he is as destined for Scranton as Gawker is for bankruptcy. No matter how bad he is, Sabathia will pitch until July 1, or the DL, whichever comes first. Don't get me wrong: I can't blame the Yankees for giving him a good long rope. I just don't buy the notion of competition here.
For backup catcher, did anybody really think the Yankees would keep the prospect, Gary Sanchez, from Day One, thus pushing up the date for his future arbitration? Hello-o-o? Have we been watching the Yankees under Food Stamps Steinbrenner? They'll save money with Sanchez "playing everyday" in Triple A. The only question is whether Austin Romine will beat out Carlos Corporan for backup catcher, and that's about as exciting as guessing zip codes.
There is a choice at utility infielder, but excuse me if we don't leave the theater early, because it's the same movie as last spring: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. In this case, the dying girl is Rob Refsnyder, who is "battling" two good-field/no-hit veterans - Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes... that is, until the MLB waiver wire explodes next week with a fresh crop of table scraps. Someday, Refsnyder will have a fine career, but probably not with the Yankees. They always find a flaw, a reason, to send him to Scranton for "seasoning." And if, by chance, he does beat out the others, he'll always know that he's one botched ground ball from eternal banishment. The guy must have dated somebody's daughter. Does he use the wrong fork? Does he have bad breath?
Finally, there is the annual fishing derby for the final bullpen slot, a chase among people known only to ardent Yankee fans and lifelong Scrantonians. Somebody will win it - for a week. As soon as the bullpen gets overworked - that is, after Sabathia and Nova pitch - we'll be sending out for reinforcements the way Fox News does for fresh blondes.
For a team this middling, how do we always end up with a lineup so inert?
Monday, March 21, 2016
O, the vagaries of spring, Bobzyeruncle!
No problemos, muchacho, si? Sheriff Joe will think of something. Right now, he has CC and Nova "competing" to be 5th starter, with the loser becoming the swing man formerly known as Adam Warren. But why kid ourselves? The only way the Yankees drop CC from the rotation is if he's caught on a sex tape with Bubba the Love Sponge's wife. And they won't cut ties with Nova, because - in their view - he's on the verge of breaking out - at least, that's what they've figured for the last five years.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
In December, when the Yankees lost 23-year-old CF Jake Cave in the Rule 5 draft to Cincinnati, it stung but didn't fester. We had a log-jam of young outfielders, even riding the bus to Scranton. But now, with Mason Williams still missing in action, and Slade Heathcott having a horror show of a spring, we are down to stems and seeds, and it would be nice to see Cave returning.
And it could happen.
Cave is still hanging on with the Reds - batting .267 with a HR - but he's tailed off lately, he strikes out too much, he hasn't yet stolen a base, and unless the Reds are punting on 2016 - not an inconceivable strategy - it doesn't look like he'll last the entire year with the MLB team... in which case, he has to return to the Yankees.
Years ago, Ivan Nova was plucked by San Diego in the draft, but he couldn't throw strikes. What ever happened to that guy?
“I was, necessarily, the guinea pig — which I’m O.K. with. They were trying to protect me, and I blew out anyway. Innings, doing all these restrictions, that’s going to be a topic around baseball for as long as baseball goes.”
Joba Chamberlain, reflecting on the time - not long ago - when the Yankees always made the playoffs, always signed free agents, always spent the most... and even had the "Big Three."*
(* Not to be confused with the Killer B's.)
Saturday, March 19, 2016
I am a beneficiary of the " early release" program in Arizona, although I missed most of the spring training games while painting yellow stripes on two lane roads going nowhere.
Yesterday, with a cool cocktail at the ready, I did get to watch Yankees vs. Orioles. You know, the game that got late, early. I think the Birds had 11 and we got 2 in the second inning.
But here is the dirt: I had a great deal of pent up interest when I turned on the set and the Yankees were coming to bat. Then, I realized, I was about to see was the heart of the Yankees 2016;
And then ( if anyone got on) A-Rod.
Suddenly, I was bored and totally uninterested, And those emotions proved true. Gardy hit a medium liner to SS for a quick out; McCann hit a deep fly to nowhere; and Tex ( I was mostly asleep here ) grounded out to FB. What a show!
Then, I got to see Refsnynder make the second of his two errors at third ( one was changed to a hit ….off his chest ), and another scorcher between him and the bag for a double down the line. Truth is; Greg Nettles would have made all those plays. So, unless Refsnyder gets to be DH ( because A-Rod looks useless ), he is going down to Scranton, and soon.
Basically, we are left with nothing of interest, or very little.
The kid from the Cubs, playing second.
And Austine Romaine ( I like the lettuce more than his name, so he will remain a vegetable to me ) looked like he has given up trying to hit major league pitching. What a lame strike out. Did he have a golf date? A date, date?
So we have a season to look forward to that will display very little Yankee offense; average defense; a shaky starting pitcher group; world-beaters as closers ( we'll need them how often in 11-2 games?) ; no set-up person upon whom we can rely ( I see a series of no names failing here ); and a team that generates no hope or excitement. Shall I saw it? The baseball interest in NYC is the Mets.
Watching the Yankees will be like watching a bunch of bureaucrats arguing around a conference table about bicycle lanes.
Unless, that is, we see so many injuries that some young person is forced to play.
Unless, that is, I am dead wrong.
Good chance of that, right?
Six hits and two walks, wrapped around an error by Rob Refsnyder - (playing 3B, by the way.)
Sabathia has now pitched three games, thrown 7.1 innings and given up six earned runs. He's walked four batters.
It's too early, right? Way too early. He's perfecting the slurve. He's throwing 60 percent, conserving his bullets, right? No time to panic. No time to worry. CC's not worried. Girardi is certainly not worried. You don't see Cashman worrying, do you? Why worry? It's March. Technically, it's not even spring, technically. Nobody's worried. It's way too early to start worrying. So count me firmly in the camp of NOT WORRIED.
Besides, we can always go to the replacement starter.
Friday, March 18, 2016
I just wanted to get that off my chest.
Secondly, Rob Refsnyder is having another fine spring - last year, he hit .364 - but we all know that - because this is a godless solar system - it won't keep Refsnyder from another trip to Scranton. As sure as Goose Gossage is voting for Trump, the random sequences that rule the dark Yankiverse will conspire to send him to Triple A. He could rescue puppies from a burning pet store; it wouldn't matter.
Thirdly, Luis Severino remains on course to be the most important pitcher - if not player - on the 2016 team. I hate to heap pressure on a rookie - (is he still technically a rookie?) - but every hopeful 2016 projection revolves around Severino becoming a solid starter... even an ace.
Finally, Slade Heathcott remains missing in action, and it's time to call 9-1-1. On the spring, he's batting .048 with nine strikeouts in 21 at bats, and yesterday, to top it off, he missed the team bus and was scratched from the starting lineup. I don't know what happened. Heathcott did make it to the game. But he's definitely blowing his shot at the team - if he had one - and one of these days, the bus he'll be boarding will be to Scranton. I hope he doesn't give up, but from the cheap seats, he looks like a demoralized player with a bad track record when demoralized.
Here's the Yankee Indian Point Power Report, with not much to report.