Monday, May 22, 2017
Here's my trademarked IT IS HIGH Action Plan, or IIHAC (TM).
First base: The truth isn't out there. Chris Carter isn't working. We signed him as 15-minutes of Geico insurance, in case Greg Bird failed. Well, Greg Bird failed, and he still hasn't paid out on the policy.
Though Carter isn't the stone statue fielder we feared, the whiffs are mounting, and we can no longer say he's merely a streaky hitter who needs at bats. Dear god, he's a free-swing, undisciplined turnstile pinwheel, and this team cannot absorb another 200 strikeouts.
I say bring up Rob Refsnyder, and audition him at 1B for the next two weeks, while Bird and Tyler Austin untweak their swollen gonads. Keep Carter as a backup, for now. But when Bird and Austin return, unless he dramatically improves, eat the money and waive him. This lineup doesn't need more home runs. It needs more line drives, more sac flies, more groundball singles to the opposite field. A couple of the above, and we would have won Tampa.
Second base: Move Starlin Castro up to the second in the batting order, replacing Gary Sanchez. He's our best hitter, and he's certainly faster than Sanchez, who is a terrible base runner.
Shortstop: Move Didi Gregorius atop the batting order. Has anybody noticed? He's our best hitter. Why is he batting sixth or seventh?
Third base: Stick with Headley for the time-being - Tyler Wade, who made an error last night at 3B in Scranton, just isn't ready - but move Glyber Torres to third. (The Yankees promoted Torres to Scranton last night.) Sometime in July, install Torres at thirdbase - the way he once did with Robbie Cano at second, over Tony Womack - and never look back. If first base remains a problem, move Headley there and cross our fingers. At least he won't be throwing balls into the right field stands.
Note: Under no circumstances should we trade for a veteran 1B or 3B. Teams like the Rays would love to steal the Yankee future for a twilight player like Evan Longoria, but such a move would kill us. We have solutions in the farm system.
Outfield: Come July, package Jacoby Ellsbury with a shit-ton of gold bricks and a viable 24-year-old, and see if we can find a decent starting pitcher. If we can't - and, let's face it, we probably can't - dump Ellsbury on whatever team will take him for whatever they will give. Think of him as an old Ben Gamel. Bring up Dustin Fowler or Clint Frazier, and play Aaron Hicks in CF. Accelerate the youth plan.
Pitchers: Not much we can do here. If Masahiro Tanaka doesn't figure it out, we're screwed. If he's hurt - if we find that elbow is finally shot - at least that means he won't opt out of his contract next winter, and he will be a Yankee for life. Let's keep him, and let's be happy. He's a great competitor, a great Yankee. Same with CC Sabathia: At this stage, why trade him? Let's be thankful that he lasted this long.
As for Michael Pineda, we should weigh the odds of playing in a meaningful October, and come late July, perhaps try to peddle him for prospects to some hope-addicted team. (Would the long-suffering Mariners, clinging to the chance of winning a divisional title, accept Pineda, the prodigal son, and West Coast nature boy Ellsbury for a couple long-term projects?) Of course, if the Yankees are still atop the AL East, we'll never trade Pineda - (nor should we.) But if we keep losing two out of three, and fanning 17 times per game... well... those aint the ways of a world champion, eh? As Meat Loaf would say, all dressed up and no place to go.
They are fools.
No. Here are tips for dealing with Redsock or Met fans, once you recognize that they are desperate for you to fulfill their nightmare expectations.
“Small-market = small brain.” Use the phrase "small-market” as if it means "stupid." Example: "I know you’re small-market, Eddie, but I’m asking you to try and understand the big picture." Or, “Yes, John is a small-market fan, but that doesn’t make him a complete idiot!”
Accent: Don’t talk like a native New Yorker. If people think you’re from New York City, they’ll forgive you. What riles them is the notion that you root for the Yankees with no relationship to the city. Use a pompous British accent, with big words, preferably without meaning. Example: “Aaron Judge is absolutely scinnn-tillating!” Or, “Don’t you agree that Joe Girardi can be profoundly titular?”
Angry taxpayer: Never hesitate to complain about the millions of dollars in luxury taxes that you – that is, the Yankees – pay annually to other teams. Act as if it comes out of your pocket. Remember: You are the taxpayer, and they are the freeloaders and welfare moms. Example: “All we want is Major League Baseball to get off our backs. These small teams, do they our tax money grows on trees?”
Appearance: Wear an eye-patch. Black. If possible, grow a beard.
The tab: After spending the entire dinner talking about all your Yankee wealth, make them grab the check.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
They never do anything.
They just strike out.
Today, for example ( though the Yanks are temporarily in the lead, due to a 2 run HR by Gardner, some good defense, and CC not yet getting lit up ), the Yankees have had 12 outs ( 4 innings
of play ).
They have had 10 strikeouts. Two each, for five guys.
So when I say there is nothing to watch, it has meaning. Watching 10 strikeouts in 4 innings is like watching first time little leaguers who can't make contact with a ball sitting on an elevated tee.
I mean; it is pathetic.
They lunge at pitches out of the zone, and watch the fastball down the middle. Most of the Yankees don't make contact of any kind during their at bat. Just air moving.
There is nothing to watch.
It is maddening. What kind of game is this?
I would rather watch a chess match in the park.
If the season ended today, all the excitement of the last two months - Aaron Judge, Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks - would have netted us the home field advantage in a one-game wild card... and not one starter we could count on to pitch it.
But the essential question in the Yankiverse remains the same as it was last week: Will the Yankees stick with the rebuilding process of youth, or go back to the policies that put us in this hole?
Last week, when asked, Hal Steinbrenner gave no clear answers. But if we squander the victories of April and start trading young players for veterans, I'm going to start following golf.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
2. The Yankees are striking out like crows in a hayfield. Always there.
3. The Rays scored more on one home-run than we did on two.
4. Tommy Layne was freed up by Boston for a reason. He needs to be released.
5. Shreve seemed to be okay, but when he kept shaking that shoulder after throwing a strike
three " zinger," to the first batter of that inning, I blinked. He simultaneously flashed some sort of a grin, unlike his normal demeanor, and not out of any disrespect for the batter. Just odd. Made me wonder if he was feeling something he did not intend to talk about.
6. Sanchez keeps getting hit by foul tips in the head. I hope that is a good, protective helmet. I worry about concussions.
7. The threat of the Yankees coming back from a late inning deficit has dwindled into the land of fantasy. Two strikeouts looking, and a caught foul ball, just don't mount a threat. Even Hicks' two out walk in the 9th should have been called strike three.
There is no point watching Yankee games. We get behind, early, and we lose.
Run the story, Danno.
And run it again tomorrow.
Poll: How many of you knew, the moment you saw our starting line-up, that we were going to lose this game?
I have long maintained, that when Girardi trots out a line-up card that starts: Gardner, Ellsbury.....the team has no shot.
Sprinkle in Torreyes, Romine and Carter, and we are trying to steal one. The first two played, and hit, like seasoned pros when they started. Both over .300 at that time. But as guys trying to play once every five days ( and Torreyes not at his best position ), some of that edge got lost.
Carter is a once in a blue moon contributor on offense, and usually in games the Yankees win 14 -2. He, of course, plays due to Bird's injury cover-up, which will cost him at least 50% of this season. Please note, this now aging future star ( Bird ) missed all of last year, due to injury. We should really start thinking about the kid playing first at Scranton. Bok Choi, or some similar name. He is tearing the cover of the ball.
But the persistent problem is our pitching;
1. Tanaka - no longer the assured ace. Now, a risk element every time he pitches. Sometimes, he'll go 7 or 8 innings. recently, he went 1 inning and left us in shambles. We were all looking
for the " mercy rule" to be employed. If this happens again today, for example, ......
2. Pineda - the 2017 surprise. Our best pitcher so far. But does this fact give us a gnawing terror, or comfort and satisfaction?
3. CC - Mr. inconsistent. But he always gives effort and at least 5 innings. When in a rhythm, he is still a fine number three or four starter. When not, he is like every no name we have trotted up and back from Scranton, only to see them drop off the forty man roster.
4. Luis - I don't know what we have here. Lately, it is about 5 innings of work which leaves the team in a position to win. But he can't seem to get the big outs. He also has a tendency to get his fastball whacked. Usually, as luck would have it, right at somebody. But you can hear the contact of the bat on the ball from here.
5. Montgomery - I am already tired of hearing how young he is (24 ), and how much the Yankees love him. Desperation can make strange bedfellows. This guy has no out pitch and I don't see him with the command of, say, Jimmy Key ( for those of you old enough to remember ). As a result, he goes 4+ innings, and leaves us with a 4 run deficit, and a bullpen required to secure 15 outs. If he ends up a .500 pitcher, will we all say, " great?"..... a learning year? If he is any good, he
must " shock " us with an outing next game he pitches. Enough with this mediocre crap, where he has no command and gets into trouble with two outs and no on on ( and an 0-2 count). Chad Green is much better, from where I sit.
The bottom line is, and we saw this in the last few losses, our bullpen is being burned out. When they have to earn, day after day, 12 -15 outs, it is taxing. Not to mention that El Chappo is down and out.
As for the line-up, I turned off the game as soon as Gardy struck out. I just fuc***g knew it was going to be another " pineapple" day.
The ship is beginning to list.
As Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig used to make $16.5 million per year.
Sixteen-point-five million per year.
In 2008, the franchise owners deleted the word "Devil" from the team's name, succumbing to backwoods Florida stupidity and satisfying Jesus. For the next six years, this evangelical juju worked. The newly blessed Rays reached the postseason four times, even making the World Series (where they were torched 4-to-1 by an even more cursed team - the Phillies.)
In 2014, the spark died. Tampa started losing again. They have done so ever since. The neatest way to sum up Rays history is to ponder the team's three retired jerseys - Wade Boggs, Don Zimmer and Jackie Robinson. Of this Holy Trinity, only Boggs ever swung a bat in a Tampa uniform, and that came at ages 40 and 41.
Throughout Tampa history, one other consistent theme has emerged: Pure, hate-filled jealousy of the Yankees. Rays management resents the local Yankee presence - spring training, radio broadcasts, sightings of Derek Jeter - the whole Pinstriped traditions. When the Yankees come to town, every night is the Army-Navy game - every meeting is that pressure point in the confrontation where the mouthy little pug takes a roundhouse swing at the bouncer.
Last night, Tampa connected.
Listen: I don't blame the people of Tampa for hating the Yankees, or - for that matter - life itself. Everybody famous from Tampa came there from somewhere else. (Salvador Dali? Dale Chihuli? The retired jerseys?) They play in one of the last monstrosities of a bad historical experiment - domed baseball parks. Their blaring sound effects offend the thinking fan. Last night, some fog-horn voiced asshole - did he have a megaphone - never once stopped shouting below the YES mics, driving me to turn down the sound. (I would have listened to The Master, except I can never sync the two feeds; the radio part is always 30 seconds ahead.)
This season, we are now 4-3 against the Rays. If the 2017 Yankees are true contenders, and not just a mirage, we need to beat the Rays like a filthy rug.
Last night, we lost a completely winnable game.
I am not going to scream about how we did this, or why Gary Sanchez didn't pinch hit in the ninth. (Frankly, I think it was cool to show confidence in Austin Romine.) Next up is Tanaka. It's a long season. All is groovy. No cause for alarm.
But we will learn who we are by how we play Tampa. And last night, we didn't play them very well.
Friday, May 19, 2017
He is young, lefty and tall.
Okay, if baseball did not require anything more of its best starting pitchers, we could all have a Julep and relax.
What this kid is lacking is the following:
1. He only has two pitches; slow and slower.
2. His command is terrible ( he is usually pushing his 100th pitch somewhere in the fourth inning ).
3. He gives up a three run homer every game.
4. He has no " out" pitch.
Other than that, we are blessed. He is on a track to be a solid .500 pitcher, in a really good year.
I say this; if he doesn't, "see the light," in his next outing, and give us a solid 7 innings with no more than one run ( unearned ), he needs to start working out at first base.
We are getting under five innings per game from him, and we are always training by 4-6 runs when he departs.
Of course, you already knew that Ellsbury is the signature on the contract from Hell. But he remains a fine player and person. He hustles, hits .280, chases down flies, and nobody claims he steals the soap. All his negatives relate to a ridiculous contract bestowed upon him in early 2014, when Owner Hal sought to blunt the impending departure of Robbie Cano. (One can argue that the worst part of losing Cano was that it resulted in the Ellsbury deal.) I happen to believe we must never blame players for the contracts they sign. They are merely feeding their families. When a bad deal happens, it's the front office that deserves to hear booing.
But here we are, staring at Ellsbury for three more long, uninspiring years. In recent seasons, there was no controversy: Zolio Almonte was not the heir apparent for CF. Besides, who cares if the Yankees overpay the help? Owner Hal counts his gold bars in the billions.
But this season, Ellsbury has become a tanker truck stalled on a blind curve. All traffic is grinding to a halt.
The fact is, Aaron Hicks is a better CF, and it's not even close. In 90 at-bats - about 2/3rd of Ellsbury's - Hicks has 7 HRs, 6 SBs and is hitting .311. Every game that Hicks is not in CF, we are conceding power, speed and defense. Every game.
But wait, it gets worse (depending on how you look at it.) In Scranton, CF Dustin Fowler and LF Clint Frazier have heated up. Both are 22, both solid prospects, both knocking on the door. Fowler is hitting .298 with 5 HRs. But it's Frazier - the consensus top prospect - who is on the verge of creating the logjam. Last night, he hit two doubles and a HR - his sixth - raising his average to .261. That doesn't scream at you, unless you consider that Frazier spent the month of April mired around .200. Two weeks ago, a light seemed to come on. If he continues hitting - let's put it this way: This is not a kid you can bury at Scranton, like Rob Refsnyder.
Certainly, Owner Hal can trade Frazier and/or Fowler, but the fan base would grab pitchforks. The franchise has been promoting the "Baby Bombers." and everybody would see such a move as choosing Ellsbury's contract over the team's future. For better or worse, Frazier has become part of the Yankee brand, while Ellsbury represents the recent and unmemorable past. If Frazier keeps hitting, something must give.
Okay, I know what you're thinking: What about Brett Gardner? Isn't he the LF that Frazier will replace? Yeah, but we are only lashed to Gardy through next year. (The following winter brings a $2 million buyout.) Gardner's contract is not a 500-pound anvil.
Listen: At some point, the Yankees will have to eat Ellsbury's deal. Already, he's not worth $21 million per season. Already, he's not even our best CF. Already, he is compromised in what we could get in a trade. But imagine what we would get in three years? Frazier is coming - maybe Fowler, too - and then there is Mason Williams, a perfectly capable fourth left-handed hitting OF. (Last year, we traded LH CF Ben Gamel, just to get rid of him. This year, LH CF Jake Cave is tearing up Trenton, because there is no room at Triple A.) We can't just continually bury players because we're on the dime of a bad deal. Why delay the inevitable?
Obviously, Frazier and Fowler need to keep hitting and playing everyday. They are still gaining experience. And Ellsbury isn't hurting us in CF. This is not the worst problem to have. But we need to be talking about Jacoby. We need an exit strategy.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Last night, we clawed the stumbling KC Royals like a catnip-scented ball of string, (though Gio Gallegos' enshrinement into the IIH Hall of Fame might be delayed.) Everybody is hitting. A-Rod has become side-candy for J-Lo. Our biggest offensive threat - Aaron Judge - has already done a Sports Illustrated cover and sketch comedy on the Tonight Show. What's next? Saturday Night Live?
Yet a question remains: Are we flat-out better than last year, or just a hotter version? Most of the lineup remains the same. They're just hitting.
Last May 18th, here's where our batting lineup stood, (with their current numbers in parenthesis.)
Ellsbury CF: .278... (.272)
Gardner LF: .240... (.285)
Beltran DH: .245... (Holliday .272)
McCann C: .268... (Sanchez .293)
Teixiera 1B: .203... (Carter .230)
Castro 2B: .283... (.351)
Gregorius: .238... (.319)
Headley 3B: .207... (.256)
Hicks RF: .208... (.326)
A-Rod: .220... (Judge .320)
With the exception of Ellsbury, who remains an inert substance, every single Yankee in the lineup has at least a 27-point improvement over last year. The lamest boomlet is at 1B, where Greg Bird is hurt and Chris Carter remains a ghostly version of Heathcliff Johnson (he'll turn 70 in July; anyone feel old?), with a few more whiffs. The fact is, last year through July 31, we got squattily doo from our RF and 1B slots, and this year, thus far, one position has changed: we have the emerging nation of Judge.
But but BUT... the real litmus test is not in right field. It's at second base. And the real question about 2017 is whether Starlin Castro is on the verge of career-breakout, MVP-level season, or simply having a banner spring.
Do we really expect Castro to hit .351? It seems crazy, but keep this in mind: He is 27, prime age for an infielder. In Chicago, he twice hit higher than .300, though with marginal power. Last year, he finished at .270 with 21 homers. If this turns out to be his career year - as it now seems to be - it's easy to imagine Castro batting .300 with power. He still isn't taking enough walks - last year, he accepted 24 bases on balls (a pathetic rate of .041). This year, he has seven walks, (.058, still pretty awful). But right now, he leads all MLB second-basemen in hitting and is second in HRs, one behind a certain Jay-Z hanger-on who is known to jog out grounders. (Suck on it, Seattle. Our 2B is outplaying yours.)
It's easy to get down on Castro when he lunges at a 3-and-2 third strike over his head. But his on-base percentage thus far in 2017 is the best among all 2B with more than 100 at bats. He is killing it.
Listen: We can expect Gardy, Headley, Gregorius and maybe Hicks to decline in production, migrating to their regular numbers. (Though Didi and Hicks both seem ready for break-out years.) And who knows how far Judge can go in his first full season? (He hasn't yet hit that summer slump that affects every rookie.) But it's Castro who has transformed the lineup.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
A piece of me wants to rejoice over the fact that CC took a shutout into the seventh last night, staunching wounds from the Jeter Weekend machete mishap. But jeez, I just dunno...
Five line drives. Five outs.
That's what Kansas City hit. Five liners. For us, five lucky pennies. Five blown red lights. Five balls squarely banged on their brass buttons, directly at us. Two plays by Chase Headley were positively Nettlesesque. Hit them a few feet left or right - the way old Giants fans still think of McCovey and Bobby Richardson - and you've got a flashback migraine. Particularly, I'm thinking of the fifth inning, when Headley snared one to his right, and then Gold Glove Gardy grabbed a slicer down the left field line. In a very, very nearby alternative universe - I mean, we're talking atoms, not molecules - those are back-to-back, lead-off doubles, CC is exploding with sweat, and we're waste deep in another big muddy. But it didn't happen.
I dunno. I just dunno. It's karma, of course. Over the season, everything will even-out. Our hitters will slam balls into their over-shifts. I should just let it go. A win is a win is a win, and if we lucked out last night, I'll take it. Nothing succeeds like success, and we are leading the AL fucking East!
But jeez, I just dunno...
What if it's a trap? Right now, the Yankee rebuilding plan is a year ahead of schedule. With one of the game's deepest farm systems, we are Xerox copies of the Yankee organization that was evolving in the early 1990s. Then - thanks to Bob Watson, Stick Michael and a young Brian Cashman - we somehow kept the keepers: Bernie, Jeet, Andy, Jorge and Mariano. We turned Russell Davis and Sterling Hitchcock into Tino, traded Matt Drews for Cecil Fielder, and transformed Rickie Ledee and Drew Henson into David Justice, and THEN ditched Ruben Rivera, who was everybody's future superstar, though it turned out to get us Hideki Irabu, who was everybody's future Roger Clemens. We botched a few others - Javy Vazquez, Mike Lowell, Jeff Weaver - but kept Joggy Cano and Chien-Ming Wang. We did all right. Five rings in 15 years. I'll take it.
Today, we've settled in on Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird. But even if you add Betances and Jordan Montgomery, we don't yet have a Core Four. Somewhere in Scranton or Trenton are those fourth and fifth gold nuggets, hiding among the iron pyrite. Now comes the tricky part: Keeping the keepers, trading the chaff.
The fear here is simple: That Cashman jumps the gun and goes for broke at the July 31 trade deadline, one year too soon. Had there been the wild card one game playoff in 1994, might the Yankees have traded Bernie, Jeet, Andy, Jorge or Mariano for a crack at it? (Note: On a few occasions, they came damn close.)
So I sit here, staring at the screen, now filled with breadcrumb thoughts, and here's what scares me the most: That last night, we WEREN'T lucky. That the juju gods are dangling a false carrot, and one of these days, we're going to lunge for it and in the name of Javy Vazquez do something incredibly stupid.
The worst trick Beezebud Selig ever played on the Yankees was not the luxury taxes to enrich his small market billionaire pals. It was the extra wild card berth, which coaxes those teams that try to win each year into betraying their long-term strategies. It's like the defensive over-shifts. We have yet to fully adjust.
Five line drives. Five outs. Good luck in figuring it out. Jeez, I just dunno...
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Who point out, that," true black swan," events are rare and unexpected. Like " 100 year floods," and wall street collapses.
You imply that I over-exaggerate, for purposed of attention, respect, and ratings.
Two things to remember;
1. There are no exaggerations in baseball.
2. I was born black ( admittedly rare for a swan ), so whenever I appear, it is a, "black swan event," by definition.
As to recent predictions; did I not say that Greg Bird , who was put on the 10 day disabled list, would be out much longer?
Did I not say that El Chappo, who was put on the 10 day disabled list, would be out much longer?
In baseball, these are not feathery, meaningless predictions. Losing your first baseman for more than a month, and your top closer for at least 20 days, are not niggling, "pigeon level," events. These kind of absences wound the team. These missing parts can jeopardize a season. Haven't we just lost 5 of 6 games?
So here I drift. Quietly today, but with a nagging twitch in my aft feathers.
And that twitch spells Tanaka.
Call me all the names you want. I am here and intend to stay.
Here's a GIF of red-haired Scranton prospect Clint Frazier going Bo Jackson - that is, breaking his bat over his knee - after a flailing, undisciplined strikeout. Though an impressive show of strength, I wonder how many of these a knee can handle.
Frazier, 22, is hitting .240 with 5 HRs at Scranton.
The weather people predicted rain, she noted. But look, look! The sun was out, and the sky had turned a perfect blue. George, she said, had ordered the clouds to part.
John quickly agreed: Surely, George was up there, commanding God to fix the weather.
That George Steinbrenner sits happily in heaven might be a bone of contention among some. Bobby Meacham - current manager of the Buffalo Bisons - could have something to say. Wherever they are in the firmament, Billy Martin, Joe Garagiola, Hideki Irabu and even Yogi might also question St. Peter's ruling. But on Sunday, as John and Suzyn danced toward kismet, there was no debate: It was a glorious day of spring in a glorious Yankee universe.
It's been their time. You can hear it in John's game-ending win warbles - pulsing with emotion and lasting 6.50 seconds, playoff quality; or his mighty "thuuuuuuh pitch," which frames each event; or his new homer hollers, which include a song, "Happy Hollidays!" (In a perfect world, all of the Master's home run calls should be sung, a la' the Grandyman.) Lately, the two have almost seemed flirtatious, with John praising Suzyn's fetching looks. At times, I've wondered if we had a Mika-Joe situation. Do Yankee victories have the impact of Viagra Single Packs? Or is it simply the joy of being Radio Voice of the New York Yankees, when your team leads the AL East?
But spring doesn't last forever, and this is actually late autumn for the pair known as Ma & Pa Yankee. Two winters ago, when John and Suzyn signed a rare two-year extension, following "acrimonious" negotiations, there was speculation that it would be their final contract. If Wikipedia has it right, John will turn 79 on July 4. He doesn't discuss his age, but the record shows he started broadcasting for the Baltimore Bullets in 1970 - nearly a half century ago. He has called every Yankee pitch since 1989. Meanwhile, Suzyn - a former Broadway singer and survivor of breast cancer - is 70. Nothing - not even old George - lasts forever.
It's hard to imagine a summer day without their banter wafting from a nearby radio. But that time will come. And even if old George is moving the clouds and yelling at God, we may never again know a more glorious spring than this, perhaps our final one with John and Suzyn. Clearly, they are savoring every moment, and so should we. By this time next year, we might have a better roster, but it won't be inspiring our new announcing team to gaze wondrously at the heavens or to burst into song.
Monday, May 15, 2017
We have reason to fear that he is done for the season.
We have reason to fear that the march to a glowing future, will become a steady stream of lemmings flowing over the cliff.
We have reason to fear that That Cashman is already saying , " Tyler Wade and the Frazier Kid, will be attractive to a lot of teams. Whose in last place, headed no where, with a name pitcher?"
History has shown that this Yankee regime ( in place since the fall of the Roman empire ) does not have the character to, " stay the course." When times get tough, the Yankee decision makers have, traditionally, hidden in the bushes. They have " wagged the dog," and diverted attention through ill-advised trades.
As Thomas Paine said, " these are the times that try mens' souls.
Will "ownership" recognize that they took a decent gamble in 2017, benefitted from a fantastic run of luck, only to have the dice came up snake eyes? That the house money is gone? That " doubling down"now is a sure strategy to ruin?
Will the youth movement die in its tracks? Right now, today?
Will we, suddenly, be over-run with Chris Carters, only with pitching numbers on their backs?
Will our best prospects devolve, again, to Mason Williams and four guys recovering from shoulder surgery?
If Tanaka is done, and requires surgery, our only hope is to do nothing.
The Yankees have to suck it up. give healthy young guns in our organization a chance they never thought they might have this early, and see what shakes out. If we lose we lose. But just for this year, not forever.
If we unravel one of the best farm systems ( I never thought I would live to say that ), and give away the keys to the vault (all our top prospects, named and unnamed ) in order to stumble our way to the one game play-in in 2017, it will be tragic.
We have reason to fear.
Today, despite having lost four out of five, we remain atop the AL East, a half-game ahead of Baltimore. Boston is mired in third, four games behind, one lonely victory above .500. We should be orgasmic. Sure, Houston has our number, but come October, nobody will care who ruled the pre-apocalyptic era before Memorial Day. Remember how George Steinbrenner mocked Dave Winfield as Mister May? Nobody cares until June 30. We are well above our worst pre-season fears. And yet...
Today, we are staring into a certifiable abyss: We must ponder the fate of Masahiro Tanaka.
I've never seen him so ineffective as last night. No team has ever teed off on Tanaka like what we saw shortly after Derek Jeter ascended unto heaven. Today, we sit in that moment after the ball just landed in our crotch, and we are awaiting the agony. Something is wrong. They haven't yet diagnosed it. Or they haven't yet announced it.
We might not know for days. When it comes to injuries, the Yankees are about as sharing as Vladimir Putin. And who knows... maybe this was a blip, a mulligan, and we will be yukking about it next week, after he shuts out Kansas City. But if Tanaka goes in for an MRI, we already know what it will show: A famously strained ligament that has shadowed every start for the last three years. He's pitched with it, heroically. But if he's getting hammered, they will look at it, and if there is trouble, the options become "awful" and "terrible." He can rest for six weeks or undergo surgery, and then return with James Kaprelian sometime in 2019. If we lost Tanaka, well, as The Chairman (not Whitey Ford, but the other one) once sang, "Ridin' high in April, shot down in May..."
Tanaka is not Gary Sanchez. We have no pitching equivalents of Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes. If we lose our ace, the bullpen dominoes will start tumbling, and we are already stressed from the loss of El Chapo.
Today, we are still in first. The world hasn't ended. And maybe it will be a blip, something we laugh: That one night when Tanaka seemed to lose it. Tonight, we sit and wait. Tomorrow, it's CC on the mound. Maybe the big guy can turn it around. Maybe he can be Torreyes and Romine. But hold your breath, folks. This time, if the Gammonites raise their forks, they might be right.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The Yankee hitter just suck and belong in the cellar.
Yankee second inning:
Judge, supposedly out on a weak foul pop-up (just off first base), is saved by an error. What does he do? He watches the best pitch he will see all day cut the middle of the plate for strike three. Standing there. Pink bat in hand. Wondering if he will ever hit another homer?
Headley quickly follows with his own version of striking out. And then Castro watches another third strike.
Why watch this? Nothing ever happens. If the Yankees get runners on base, the strike outs return. It is a total waste of time.
This parade of ineptitude, to me, suggests that the run we have is the run we get in game one.
Luis has to pitch 8 innings of shut-out ball, and Dellin has to close out the game.
Otherwise, we lose.
By the way, the chances of us winning 1-0 are as close to zero percent as one can get. I did the math.
A sudden shift in the wind.
The command just a bit off the mark.
The 103 mph fastball, suddenly 97.
Blowing the lead.
Clearly, something was wrong with Chapman.
Alarm bells went off, all around the reed pond.
I was awakened and asked for permission to claim him.
The deck shuffles.
The Titanic lists.
Another man down.
13bit said... I lost my drinking privileges a long time ago. They do let me out once in a while to see a patch of sky near a corner of the yard. That being said, I don't miss it. The booze stopped working and it certainly would not have helped with the current incarnation of Alligator Arms and his Traveling Pinheads. Heroin and crack? Nah, they would not blot out the Yankees of the 21st Century's teenaged years. Where do I find solace? Certainly not in football, our great national disgrace. Nor with basketball. The last Knicks game I attended had Bernard King as a starter. Hockey? Not for me. So much for sports. TV? I only watch when I have a girlfriend, so it's been a long, long time. I bike ride and that helps a bit, except when I get near the Bronx and then the memories flood back in. Sometimes, the loud German couple that moved in above me distracts me with their loud stomping on their floor - my ceiling. That's a distraction, but far from pleasurable. No, the only reliable way to escape this long drought, this "between dynasties" valley, has been that which has worked since I was a young lad - military history, especially gulag and Eastern Front literature. Okay, I'm going to pretend it's snowing out in downtown Manhattan.
I had come to apply IT IS HIGH scientific analysis protocols to the 22-year-old Clint Frazier, a jacked-up redhead outfielder, who went 1-for-4 with an opposite field double. Frazier hit a pair of towering popups, reminiscent of Jesse Barfield in his final Yankee incarnation. He also runs much faster than you'd expect. After a terrible start, due to his hair being cut, Frazier's average has been steadily climbing, now to .244.
I also came to check out Dustin Fowler, a 22-year-old LH outfielder who has been on a recent tear. He went 2-for-6 with his 5th HR, lifting his average to .293. Today's NY Post slathers him with ink, so I'll go pass. (But he looked good.)
There were others: Brigadoon Refsnyder continues to hit - 3-for-4, now batting .293. The guy is a line-drive machine. I cannot believe he wouldn't provide more offense and defense at 1B than Chris Carter. But the Yankees made that decision moot when they wrote the check last winter. And speaking of first base, Ji-Man (He-Man) Choi, a 26-year-old Korean refugee by way of the Angels, blasted the ball all over the lot. He hit a towering CF home run, went 3-4 and boosted his average to .353 (in 85 at bats.) Last year, the guy hit .170 with the Angels (in 112 at bats), after absolutely crushing the Pacific Coast League (.346.) If he keeps hitting, Choi deserves to be on our radar. He could be a late-bloomer.
But one kid shone above the others: 22-year-old, lefty-hitting 2B Tyler Wade, whom you may remember just missed making the Yankee opening day roster at SS, after a solid spring training. Wade went 4-for-6 with a HR, a double and two singles. Twice, he snagged grounders deep behind second base - saving a run from scoring and converting one into a force out. He wears 23, a sacred number, and finished the day hitting .321.
I don't know how Wade fits into Yankee plans. Above him sit Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro. Below him is Gleyber Torres and the usual scrum of Single A can't-missers. That probably makes him trade bait, but let me state for posterity: If we trade him, we damn well better get somebody good in return. This guy is going to be a solid MLB infielder.
Sadly, I cannot report much more, because Minor League Baseball refuses to allow bloggers the access needed to perform their work competently and scientifically. The little, tin-headed clods would rather play footsie with the kind of data that, as you know, is fundamental to IT IS HIGH scouting reports. Of course, I'm talking about stool samples. And yes, the fuddy-duddies refused my simple request. You'd think I was asking for the Hope Diamond wrapped in the Shroud of Turin after it was coated with the menstrual fluid of Betty Crocker. Without the standard stool sample chemical analysis, there's no way to fully project Wade's future. What is this, a police state? As far as I'm concerned, the terrorists have won.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Working with my hands and arms, simply wasn't going to make it, long term. So I took out the text book on quantitative analysis and began reviewing formulas.
I won't bore you with the details, but when you want to get a sense of what is " happening," it is not enough to look at today's results, you have to look at, " what is in motion."
In the Yankee's case, one can easily be deceived if a static view is taken, and we simply compare 2017 YTD numbers to the equivalent performance of, "same store sales," ( the text book term ) of previous years. Granted, it is tempting to do that, and the comparisons leave one with a far more positive feeling than my approach demonstrates.
What I focus on is trend data. Where did we begin and where are we now? What is the current pace of our acceleration, stagnancy, or decline? How do those measures compare to " similar segments" of performance in this ( albeit young ) season? How do those patterns compare to those of our competitors?
There is a ratio called ( in the pipe fitters game ) the " co-efficient of achievement," which allows one to read performance data of recent experience and compare them to the market, on a " moving average." This is the key number, if only one performance measure can be tracked (due to time demands, usually)in any given industry.
Okay, enough with the boring textbook crap.
Basically, the Yankees are on a precipitous decline, as measured by their (to-date) co-efficient of achievement ( calculated by random three game cycles over the course of the season ) , a performance that exceeds "normative standards" ( expected performance ) by well more than two standard deviations. In other words, at the present moment, this team is repeating ( actually underperforming ) those patterns of play which described the failures of previous years.
Translation; when this Yankee team gets behind early, the game is practically lost. If the "surface number of deficit" reaches 2 runs or more ( the key performance indicator in baseball ) , the probability of loss exceeds 95%. Last night, for example, once we were down 1-0 in the first
inning ( the timing of the deficit represents an exponential indicator of loss ), there was only a 63% probability that the Yankees could equal or exceed that total with the 27 at bats remaining to them. The previous night, the trend showed a net neutrality until CC got hammered. At that point, that late in the game (reflecting the exaggerated influence the timing factor ) the run deficit influence on the Yankee's probability to recover ( the recovery rate, actually ) became only 7.7 %, to be precise.
The problem I see is that this team has somehow fallen off the cliff. Like a climber getting hit with a mud slide and disappearing over the edge of the mountain, losing much of the altitude he had previously achieved, and not being able to find proper footing to recover on that chosen route.
So, as Duque has pointed out, unless this team changes course, it's loss column will continue to grow at a faster rate than it's win column. Worse, by the laws of probability, some other team in the AL East will do the opposite. It is a zero sum game.
So those of you who are beginning to feel the same sense of hopelessness we felt in previous years, have got it right. The illusion of the early season results are looking like a one time " pattern aberration." In other words, we have to make some serious adjustments to our direction, or we are going to repeat the mediocre end results of the last several seasons.
Bloody Mary anyone?
We have lost three straight, our hitters are slumping, and our sweat-bag of a closer cannot even get three outs. Nevertheless, late last night, the commentator known affectionately as All-Caps Anonymous left this note, which I believe needs to be pondered.
LETS STEP BACK AND REVIEW....
WE ARE 9 GAMES OVER .500 AFTER TONIGHT'S LOSS, AND A HALF GAME OUT.
IT'S DEREK JETER WEEK.
JUDGE GOT 2 HITS TONIGHT
MONTGOMERY WASN'T THAT BAD
I'LL TAKE IT.
Right on, bro! If last Christmas Eve, Satan offered me nine above .500 in mid-May, I'd have signed the parchment, blood and all. We've been spoiled by this team's early success, and we had to know a downturn was coming. If anything, my concern has been the Evils will catch wild card fever and jettison the youth movement that brought all these good vibes.
It is the old guys who are crumbling, and I'm still down with trading them in July, if the roof is leaking. Last night, even though we lost to a HR by Brian McCann - (which, by the way, we always knew would happen, right? All traded Yankees return to beat us at least once) - I'd still deal him for the Astro prospects (and the better of the two, Abreu, has arm issues.) For me, the key is that we chase division titles - not a one-game punch ticket. In my perfect world, each December we sign Aroldis Chapman to a one-year and each July we trade him for a package of Gleybers and Clints. (Wait... is there a chance we can do that with Matt Holliday?)
Let's look at the worst case scenario: Everything falls apart. Come July, will it be wise to keep Pineda, Sabathia and Tanaka - all in contract years - even though under the new union deal, we won't score one measly first-round pick for any of them? Here's an even worse picture: We're stuck around .500, trading for three-month rentals and returning to the wild card continuum, which means going nowhere.
This team can solve its problems without trading prospects.
1. Greg Bird must return, and Chris Carter needs to disappear, like an X-Files UFO. We signed the guy as insurance, in case Bird hits headwinds. Well, Bird has hit headwinds, and Carter is showing why all of baseball ignored his free agency. He's at the John Mayberry point: You almost prefer he strikes out and, thus, hastens his exit - rather than he hits a HR and extends the misery another month. I have not given up on Bird. I have completely given up on Carter.
2. Unless he shows a resurgence, replace CC Sabathia with a young arm. Today, with Chance Adams promoted to Scranton, the Railriders have seven starting pitchers. Seven. Jeez, somebody has to be MLB-ready. I don't know what we do with CC, but we do not need to trade for some team's Brett Anderson.
3. Either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury should go. Nothing personal, but they are clones, basically the same exact players, and Aaron Hicks is better. Fourth outfielder? Mason Williams can do it. Or, gulp, Rob Refsnyder. Clint Frazier homered last night, his fifth. If he goes on a tear, obviously Gardner or Ellsbury have to go.
4. Gary Sanchez must start hitting. I don't think Girardi did him any favors by batting him second. (Especially since we've found that Sanchez is a terrible base-runner.) By centering him in the lineup, we heaped pressure on him. He started slowly; then came the injury. Frankly, we've received more production from Austin Romine. But nobody's giving up.
El Chapo? I don't know what to do about him, other than maybe flip-flop the eighth and ninth with Betances. But we are nine games above .500, and none of this success was ever going to be real until we survived our first slump. Well, folks, we're here. Soon, we'll see what this team really is. Either way, we're better off than on any mid-May in recent memory. Caps is right: I'll take it!
Friday, May 12, 2017
Now, too many players have taken their foot off the gas pedal.
We are out of games, early, again. With no prospect of coming back. Let me clarify; no chance of coming back to win.
We might load the bases with one out, down two runs in the middle of the game, but then Chris Carter will waddle up to the plate. We are all saying, " that fucker is going to get a 3-2 count, foul off the one fat , straight pitch down the middle, and then either hit into a double play or, if we are lucky, strike out on a pitch in the dirt."
And it is maddening and demoralizing to be correct 100% of the time.
Or we might get the tying run on base with Gary Sanchez coming up. Last year, he homered. This year, it is the double play. In fairness, he is starting to hit singles between third and short, on a regular basis. Tempting runners to try and score from second, but getting thrown out at the plate.
Or, we might get one bad inning from a starting pitcher, and zeros for the rest of his outing. But the game is already over. Striving, clawing, and scratching our way back into contention, seems, now, to fall short. Just short and too often.
Yes, we are still " coming back," but only to the kitchen door. We leave hungry, all the time now.
I still blame Greg Bird. This player has a high ceiling. He dominated in spring training. But he got dinged from a foul ball off his foot in St. Pete. It never was properly diagnosed, and it never healed. And he told the Yankees he was "good to go." Watching him limp to first base on a ground ball to second, told me a different story. He was hurt, no one had diagnosed what was wrong, and he lied about his condition.
So now we have Chris Carter, Austin Romine and and Matt Holliday playing first base. And we all know the results.
It is going to be a long year.
We can be patient if we see progress and if " management/ownership" stay the course. But I don't put a lot of faith in that.
Boston is now winning with the MOJO AND THE KARMA WE LOST. Cheap Hal, Lucky Brian, and Joey Binders are more what we have to fear.
I believe it began last weekend, when the Yankees captured the spotlight on two nationally televised games. Suddenly, network announcers went into Defcon-4 Babble Mode about the Yankee resurgence.
On Fox Sports and ESPN, the sideline "experts" devoted considerable time into speculating that the Yankees will be "buyers" at the July 31 trade deadline. A few Gammonites have even proposed we trade Greg Bird for some veteran fleabag. They say this, I believe, because that is what the Yankees are traditionally supposed to do... trade young players for old slobs.
Now... if you think about it, what a sad state for the game of baseball: It's not even mid-May, and already the barristers of the booth are picking which teams should cut bait on the season. The all-star break is two months away, and they are scanning the rosters of Milwaukee and Tampa like vultures hovering over a dead raccoon. Whenever they smell a hot microphone, the MLB brass will boast about the health of the sport, (thanks to them), yet you have teams like San Diego, already hording Rule 5 minor leaguers with an eye for 2019. When the suits talk about the sport's popularity, while seats behind home plate sit empty, I wonder what planet these Bozos live on?
Second... the sages of ESPN and Fox always celebrate a rising Yankee team for one reason: It gets ratings. People love or hate the Yankees, so more tune in. (We're on network TV again this weekend; get used to it.) But when ESPN pundits make suggestions, we must remind ourselves that they are not necessarily friends of the franchise. Generally, they want to help the Yankees in the same way the Russians seek to upgrade American democracy.
So... we will be "buyers" at the deadline? Should we trade our long term future for a veteran first-baseman, which would then relegate Bird to Scranton - if not send him out the door? Hell, no! Dear God, save us from these microphone meat puppets. The Yankees' 2017 success has been based on pundit advice that was ignored. Anybody who wants to deal Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres for a quickie weekend in August is betraying the most important ingredient in this year's team: Patience.
Consider the players that we could have peddled, but who are critical to the 2017 resurgence.
Aaron Hicks. Last year, to put it bluntly, he sucketh. Brian Cashman surely could have dumped him last winter for two Aaron Smalls and an Aaron Burr. He didn't. This year, Hicks is playing like an all-star, and what's crazy about that is that he is our fourth outfielder.
Michael Pineda. Dylan said, "There are folks among us who think that life is but a joke." I say, "There are folks among us who think that Pineda is but a ticking bomb." We could have dumped him over the winter. But what would we have gotten? Jesus Montero? We held him, and who knows? He might be an all-star.
Gary Sanchez. He was a fixture in our farm system for years, decades, centuries - for so long that at one point, he developed a smart-mouth and did time in the penalty box. We could have dealt him for a handful of magic beans. We didn't. (And whenever some idiot talks about trading Jorge Mateo, who also seems like a thousand-year prospect, please remember Sanchez.) The best trade is sometimes the one you didn't make.
Chase Headley. Fingers crossed here, but he's been an uplifting, Disney story this spring. He runs out grounders, gets an occasional big hit, and he's beaten the over-shift with bunts. A little worry about those yips throwing to first. But what would we have gotten in a trade? Yangervis? Adonis? Eduardo? We all want a young, rising third-baseman. But the last great 3B from the Yankee system was Mike Lowell, nearly 20 years ago. And right now, the Triple A cupboard looks bare.
Aaron Judge. After his disastrous September - striking out nearly in half his at bats - there were voices calling for his ticket to Chicago in exchange for Jose Quintana. If we had made that trade, wouldn't we would look like fools?
These days, when toddlers with microphones call for the Yankees to "buy" at the deadline, I shudder. Truth be told, I'd rather we hold another garage sale this July, if it meant we could obtain another Gleyber or Clint. To build a dynasty, a team must constantly be getting younger, not collecting bad contracts for last-ditch shots at the wild card.
The New England Patriots dominate the NFL because they always have an extra draft pick, and they cut ties with players before their sell dates. The Yankees need to do the same, even if it ruffles feathers and defies the conventional wisdom.
Listen: If we're chasing a division championship in late August, maybe we can swing a deal for cheap spare parts. But trading prospects for a wild card race? The pundits want it, because they want higher ratings. I say, fuck'em. Patience, my friends... patience.