Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Hal Plan

Hal wants more money and will not invest in the Yankees enough to threaten the "bad tax " line.  But he sees himself as an important person.

He has a good friend, who has a good friend, who has enough money to buy anything:  silence,
 co-operation, rebellions, countries, limos, women, diamond mines and beachwear.

By selling and renaming the NY Yankees:  "The Mbs Yankees," he can get $100 million deposited into his private, non-taxable account in Riyadh, and billions for the franchise.

Hal can continue to pretend he runs things, because the Saudi's really don't know baseball.   Brian Cashman will be retained as his Limo Driver.

When the team fails, as it always does since Hal became titular head, he can simply duck into a Saudia Arabia Embassy (anywhere in the world) and disappear for a while.

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 5

In our story so far, Brian Cashman, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, has met with a fatal, possibly A-Rod-caused rappelling accident, going up the Green Monster clad as Paul Revere.  George Steinbrenner was driven mad by a stint owning the Cleveland Indians, and his sons ended up on food stamps.

Get it?  Actual food stamps?  Like "Food Stamps Hal"?  

Oh, you people make me sick!  Here I am, busting my butt to try to make you laugh, make you dream while our baseball apocalypse is looming, and do you care?  No, you don't care!  Look way from the Boston series!  Look away from the looming, Boston-Dodgers World Series!  It's the end of the world!  Bwahahahahaha!

Ahem.  Anyway, here is Yankees president and GM Buck Showalter talking to Yankees manager Hensley Meulens about his own progress through the amazing, dauntless Yankees system:

“I was still in the minors back then, of course.  The Yanks were a damned hard club to break in with, back in the day.  All I had ahead of me was Chris Chambliss, this monster-sized guy named Cliff Johnson, then Balboni and Mattingly.”

“Did you ever wished they traded you off?” asked Meulens.  “I mean, it was hard enough for me coming up.”

“Yeah, but you had, what seven, eight terrific years in the majors, Mule?” objected Buck.  “And a couple more in the beginning, platooning with the great Orestes Destrade?  Man, talk about a tough player to dislodge!”  Showalter said, shaking his head.  “Me, I could hit all right, field all right.  But no power.”

“C’mon!  You got your shot.  That pinch-hit that won the 1982 World Series, when Balboni was out with his back injury.  I still gotta watch that on the video screen every other game.”

“Yeah, well, that was a special moment.  And being with the Yankees worked out all right, I have to say, thanks to their tremendous organizational loyalty.  And you know, it sounds crazy, but it seemed like there was always something looking out for us.  Like when Thurman Munson had that plane crash?”

“Oh, right!”

“Thank God he’d invited Reggie Jackson along on the flight.  It was Reggie who pulled him out of the cockpit, unconscious, and carried him to the ambulance.  Even when the EMT guys tried to take him from him, Reg wouldn’t give him up, saying, ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my Thurman.’ ”

“He actually said that?”

“Well, that was Reggie.  He couldn’t help himself.  Wasn’t enough mustard in the world to cover that hot dog. “

“So that’s why those guys are always thick as thieves.”

“Yep.  And believe it or not, they couldn’t stand each other when Reggie first came over to the Yankees.”

“Yeah, well, they’re a pain in my ass.  Always sitting just behind the dugout in spring training, heckling and second-guessing every move I make, like those two guys in the Muppets show.”

“That’s them, all right.  But don’t forget, Thurman worked with Posada, helped make him a first-rate catcher in no time.  Then Jorge worked with Sanchez, got him in line for you.”

“He did.  You know, Jorge’d make a good manager some day.”

“Nah, we’re grooming Posada for the front office.  Besides, you’ll be in the dugout as long as I was.  You know how it is with the Yankees:  you’re manager for life!”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Anyway, after Reggie finally retired we just went on and on.  That great lineup with Winfield, and Henderson, and Mattingly.  Balboni in the DH spot, until Fred McGriff came along.  Willie McGee and Roberto Kelly setting the table.”

“Don’t forget those ‘Young Guns’ staffs in the 1980s.  Gene Nelson with his five pitches.  Jose Rijo, Gil Patterson, Ken Clay, Mike Griffin, Doug Drabek, Mike Morgan.  Righetti and Fisher and Jay Howell in the pen.  Thank goodness we were smart enough to hang on to them.” 

“Well, that’s always been the philosophy around here:  ‘Don’t trade, develop.’  And so we did.  Sure, there were setbacks.  I mean, when Yogi finally handed over the reins to Dick Howser, I thought Dick was the best manager in baseball.  But then came that damned brain tumor.”

“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when he gave that speech in the Stadium,” Meulens said soberly.  “Telling everybody he finally knew what Lou Gehrig meant.”

“We moved on.  We had to.  Sweet Lou took over and had some good seasons before he said the stress was getting to him, and he retired to Florida.  The first time.”

“Yeah, that lasted a good two minutes.”

“It was right about then, too, that Gillick finally handed over the reins to Stick, and he brought in Bob Watson. “

“And you.”

“And me,” Buck acknowledged.  “Right on the hot seat, with all that Yankees tradition hovering over me.”

“How the hell did you do it?  How’d you keep the pressure from getting to you?”

“Well, I’ll tell ya.  But first—more bourbon!”

The new world order: Boston is on the verge of its 4th World Championship in 14 years

Twenty-eighteen was supposed to be the Year of the Yankees Ascension. We would make the next step, reach the World Series, maybe win the first of several rings. We had the new Core Four. We were the team to watch, if not to beat.

Instead, we watched Boston compile perhaps its greatest team in history, with young stars still reaching their peak and an owner willing to spend whatever it takes. Today, we blather on talk radio on whether Gary Sanchez is our future catcher, or what loose change the team might get for Sonny Gray, but it cannot mask the bitter reality: We may be entering one of the most humiliating periods in the franchise's history... with no end in sight.

This season, Boston on payroll spent $233 million - about $40 million more than what we once loved to call "the Evil Empire." That includes nearly $30 million to  Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo, two complete losses, which Redsock ownership shrugged off as the price of doing business. Meanwhile, the Yankee front office can't seem to get over the wasteful contract of Jacoby Ellsbury. Our owner spent all of 2018 obsessed with keeping payroll below a luxury tax reset, and now the question is simple: For what? 

This winter, Boston faces the loss of the following free agents: Joe Kelly, Drew Pomeranz, Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, Stephen Pearce, Nathan Eovaldi and Brandon Phillips. In other words... not much. If you view Kimbrel as a steadily  collapsing war horse (easily replaced on the market), the only loss of consequence would be Eovaldi, the mid-season rental, and don't be surprised if Boston re-signs him... because their goal is to win, rather than beat the tax man. 

Lately, Yankee fans are expressing hope that our owner will splurge on payroll this winter, looking to stay competitive. What are we smoking, that would make us feel this way? The team could well sign the enigmatic jogger, Charlie No-Hustle, aka Manny Machado - to play the compromised position of SS and basically fill a giant hole vacated by Didi Gregorius' injury. But if we make such a bold move, akin to standing pat, watch Boston match it by signing a high magnitude player for an open position (catcher, first base, or second base.) They have the team to beat for a long, long time. We have a few young players of note, but none like Benintendi, Betts, Bogaertes, Martinez, Sale, Porcello etc... nothing close to their rotation. 

They are rolling into the World Series, folks. Four world championships in 14 years? Boston may be on the verge of a dynasty. And we'll play the Wild Cards.

(P.S. Wow, did Houston ever get screwed last night on that home run call against Altuve. The ball was clearly in the seats. The fans did what fans have a right to do. It was nothing like the Jeffrey Maier call, which the new rules were supposed to prohibit. Insane. But as a rule of thumb, whenever a call goes for Boston, or in any way against the wishes of Yankee fans, you can be assured Joe West had something to do with it.) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A note to remember

In 2017, the Yankee payroll stood at $226.4 million.

This year, it was $193 million.
That is an extra $33 million, which came from payroll and now lines
 Hal Steinbrenner's pockets.

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 4

Things are getting pretty heavy and gloomy around here.  Time to continue our saga of a better place, where the Yankees are always gallant, gracious, well-mannered, hustling, and above all, invincible!

You'll recall that when we last left our story, Brian Cashman, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, met a tragic fate trying to rappel up the side of the Green Monster, adorned in a Paul Revere costume.  Dark rumors had it that his rope was cut by the new BoSox GM, Alex Rodriguez.

Now, we return to the executive suite at Yankee Stadium, where Yanks President, GM and former record-setting manager, Buck Showalter—21 consecutive world titles!—is reminiscing with crest manager Hensley Meulens after the team's back-to-back, 2017-2018 titles.

"Its funny the little things that can go right or wrong and shape a team's whole destiny," Buck was ruminating, now into his third shot of 1792 bourbon.

"For instance?" asked Meulens, making rings with the smoke from his second Havana.

"For instance, did you know the Yanks were on the verge of firing Casey Stengel?  True story!  They were going to force him out after the 1960 World Series."

"For real?  Why the hell would they ever do that?  Why, he held the record before you did:  18 pennants, 17 World Series rings—'

"Swear on my mother.  They were afraid of losing Ralph Houk."

"Who?"  Hensley looked genuinely perplexed.

"Ralph Houk.  A coach they were grooming to follow Casey.  I met him a time or two after he retired.  Nice guy, managed the Tigers and the Red Sox for years.  I think he won a division title once in Detroit."

"And they were going to can Casey for him?"

"Yep.  Then, Yogi hits that famous home run in the top of the 16th at Forbes Field, and Mickey guns down the tying run in the bottom of the inning for the final out.  They just couldn't fire ol' Case after a win that dramatic, seventy years old or not.  So he stayed on until he slipped and broke his hip in 1965.  By then Ralph Houk had walked, but they brought in Yogi, and he won all those Series."

"Wow," said Meulens. "I never knew that."

"It's true.  By then, CBS had come in.  They didn't know what to do with the Yanks at first, just saw them as another way to expand their portfolio.  But then Bill Paley's stepdaughter, Amanda Burden, pointed out how the synergy of a great team and the leading TV network in America could really work well together.  That's how she became the first female executive in baseball—and we just kept winning and winning."

"Huh.  No wonder she's president of the U.S. now!"

"But you know what?" Buck leaned in, a mischievous grin playing around his lips again.  "The biggest break we ever got came when this lunatic in Cleveland bought the Indians."

"Huh?  How did that help us?"

"That's what I'm getting to.  It was 1973, and some blowhard in the shipping business bought the Tribe from Stouffer, the frozen TV dinner king."

"Frozen TV whatsis?"

"Before your time.  Be grateful.  Anyway, it's always the way.  This bloated idiot—Steinbrenner was his name—thinks he can run the Indians better than any of the baseball people there."

"They always do.  My wife reads their stupid little blogs sometimes.  'Get this guy, don't get that guy.  The game is all about the fans!'  Sheesh!"

"Right?  All this Steinbrenner had ever owned was a basketball team—not even in the NBA!—and he ran that into the ground.  So he buys the Indians, and about two minutes later he's canned Gabe Paul."

"Not Gabe Paul!"

"The one and only.  So of course Ms. Burden scoops him right up.  Paul knows just who's for real and who isn't in the Indians' organization, and pulls off one deal after another.  Nettles, Chambliss, Eckersley.   That's how we got all those guys.  And what's more, it was Paul who stocked the front office to succeed him.  When he was ready to retire, in came Pat Gillick."

"Of course!  But hey, what happened to that Steinbrenner guy?  He must've blown sky high."

Buck gave an evil chuckle.

"Oh, he did, poor bastard!  He got so desperate after that, he brought in Billy Martin to manage for him.  That was just nuts, of course, as it always was with Billy.  But Steinbrenner kept thinking he could make it work, kept firing Martin and rehiring him.  Finally, fat old George just broke.  Took off all his clothes and ran into Lake Erie, howling like a maniac!"

"Oh, right, I've seen that YouTube video!  So that's who that was!"

"It was quite a spectacle.  And after that came the investigations, the bankruptcies.  The jail term.  Why, it broke the whole family."

"Poor devils."

"Oh, yeah.  Even after crazy old George passed, the kids couldn't get out from under.  You know, a few years ago, I ran into one of his sons, Hal or Hank or Biff or something.  He was living under a bridge outside Cleveland, and surviving on food stamps."

"Food stamps!"

"Can you believe it?"

A Poem to Celebrate Giancarlo Stanton's Final At-Bat of 2018

The final frame, of thee I sing,
The game, the season, everything,
Two runners on, the Redsocks cling,
The tying run we'll surely bring,

If only Stanton doesn't swing.

Craig Kimbrel stares, the fourth pitch thrown,
 good ten inches off the zone.
Way down near Stanton's anklebone.
He lunges, strike three! Carved in stone,
Our rally spiked, our chances blown.  

We score two runs, the ninth ends quick,
We simply needed one big stick
One slugging, power-swinging dick,
We might have pulled a magic trick,
Had only Stanton called in sick.

He came to New York seeking fame,
Now sits all winter, full of shame.
A fallen star, a tainted name,
And he could now avoid the blame,
If only Stanton skipped that game.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The new "Last Person in the World the Yankees Need to Sign"

Doesn't run in playoff games...

Is defiant about it...

You know what?

We don't need him.

Reality Bites

Next year's team has huge problems.

We used to speak of the vast wasteland at first base, due to the annual Bird injury and melt-down.

Since no one seems to believe Voit can play the position on a regular basis ( except yours truly ), that position remains in Limbo.

But we have a far worse problem, and I haven't even gotten anywhere near the pitching or catching.

Shortstop is our new vast wasteland.

Torreyes can play there, but he is considered too small to be a full-time guy.


 Torreyes hits .300, sure.  And he can bunt, run, field and throw. He hustles always.  Oh I remember, he doesn't hit homers.  So he is a thorn in the new Yankee gold standard of " how many players can a team have who hit our 20 or 10?"  He is a baseball player, and this Yankee team does not play baseball!

So get ready for this:  Option 1 for the Yankees is to move Torres to SS and re-sign Neal Walker to play second.  Until DIDI returns, of course.  Which , with luck, will be early October, with no minor league work available by then.

Neal can also back-up Voit and Company at first, and play some third and outfield as well.

You think I am toying with you?  I promise this is the plan.

We shall also have a void at third base, as the braintrust has concluded that Andujar can't play the position.  He has too many flaws in his feet, his double clutch, and his rhythm.  So he becomes traded or thrown to to the wolves in the competition to replace Hardy in left.  A rookie of the year, who got benched in the final game we lost by one run.

If Machado is signed, that is the plan.  If Machado declines, because he sees the Dodgers in a far better position to win than the Yankees, we have to start over.  Neal Walker at third, and Frank Weinerschnitzel at second.

Catching anyone?  The Yankees are all-in on the ice cream sandwich.  This year, as they ponder, had to be an aberration.  Gary is a fine catcher, working hard on his mlb-worst defense.  And batting a solid .180 with power, once in a while.

Dreamers dream, don't they?

And we are solid as a rock with pitching.  Young and broken down, mixed with aging and broken down, stirred with old and broken down.

But we still have that world class, unhittable bullpen, right?

Put that all together with an experienced manager, able ownership, an aggressive, inventive GM, and we've got 86 wins for sure.  Or possibly fewer.

The off-season will be more enjoyable than the next season for Yankee fans.

Should I Cool It or Should I Blow? Episode Five

All right, wrapping it up here.

I take it nobody's contemplating trading The Gleyber, right?  And we're all for keeping Hicks, if only so we can make him the new Gardy and complain about his many shortcomings, in between praising him for doing so many things kinda sorta more-or-less pretty well?

Good.  So let's get on to our final subjects...

Me tienes que decir...

G.:  Okay, so Duque gave it to us straight today:  we will not be trading Giancarlo Stanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a passel of terrific kids.  Bummer.

So what DO we do with him?  If he WERE to opt out after 2020...we would all be dancing in the streets.  It would mean that Stanton had just put in two stunningly good years, at least one of which probably netted us a ring, and what we would should do is wish him a fond farewell as he rides off into the seriously declining part of his career.

But again, what are the odds?

So if we do keep him...what do we do with him?  Try him on first?  Get him a new hitting coach?  For starters, I would say at least hit him back-to-back with Judge.

Severino:  I know, I know.  He's still our ace, and our best bet would be trying to get him back on track.  And maybe all the writers are right for once, and it really is just a case of tipping his pitches.

But I gotta say, that late-to-the-bullpen moment in the biggest game of the year had D-R-U-G-S written all over it, and I don't mean the performance-enhancing kind.

I hate to libel anyone, and you can never tell for sure with Kremlin-on-the Hudson.  But something smells and smells bad here.  Working out a deal would still get us a lot, and might mean shipping away a future implosion.

Aaron Judge:  No way, right?  He's the face of the franchise, maybe the saving face of all baseball in the grim, Red Sox-dominated, all-relief-pitcher-all-the-time, winter-is-coming epoch that is rapidly descending upon us.  A guy who looked mighty clutch at the end of the season.

What's more, he's somebody who pays attention to his whole game.  He's not just a slugger but also a terrific fielder and a very good baserunner.

But submitted for your consideration:  Judge is a very big man, who has now been seriously injured twice in as many seasons.  Each time, it put the Yanks into horrific tailspins.  Were these just flukes—or just the start of an injury-laden career?

Then there's that lurking, .212 batting average on the road, with only 22 ribbies—stats brought UP by a good last series in Boston.

Is this the future, too?  Yet another Yankee who does nothing but swing for the fences, and doesn't get the calls on the road?

Granted, that is more of an organizational problem than just the Big Guy's.

But let's remember:  this is one of the very few Yankees we could probably get a great deal back for, right now.  Shouldn't we at least think about it?

So you got to let me know...

Let's ponder some truths about the upcoming winter

Following the death of the 2018 Yankees, it's taken the fan base barely one week to soar through the first two stages of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' Model for Grief. 

The Denial Phase lasted 90 seconds, until the video review concluded on Gleyber Torres' close play at first. Yankee fans understood the situation. Nobody rioted. We handled this stage quite well.

Then came Anger - our wheelhouse. Frankly, we live in this stage, win or lose. In fact, if the Yankees had beaten Boston, we'd today be spewing bile about something stupid that Boone did... it doesn't matter. So, Anger? Yeah, we're passing through it as well as we ever will. 

But now, we've reached the Bargaining Phase, where we will stay for most of the winter. (We'll hit Depression when Spring Training arrives and we still have no shortstop; Acceptance will come on Opening Day, when our well-hyped lineup gets shutout by some team's bullpen.) In the Bargaining stage, we arrange chess pieces for 2019, proposing trades that can never happen. 

And yes, that's the hot stove league, right there: Fantasy trades where we give up nothing and get great young players in return. (The kind we hoped for last winter, when the reigning NL MVP fell into our lap.) But as we bargain, here are some ground rules that I think we should deal with.

1. Nobody is going to take Giancarlo Stanton off our hands. His contract is an anvil. When Derek Jeter unloaded him and his contract on us, we took them both for life. Now... this isn't the worst thing that ever happened. I don't want to be ripping Stanton here. He hit 38 HRs and played with a tweaked gonad. But now and then, folks suggest we can trade Stanton and then sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, etc, and - well - that ainta gonna happen. For better or worse, get used to Stanton. Unless he opts out after 2020 (which would mean he's lost his mind) we have him through 2028 at about $30 million per season. He'll be Jacoby Ellsbury times two. (And it means that if the Yankees don't win a championship in the next few years, a long dearth could be upon us in the 2020s, when Hal blames Stanton for out-of-control payroll.)  

2. No matter how much the Yankees spend, there isn't much pitching on the free agent market. We hear about Patrick Corbin. He's a decent pitcher, yeah. But basically, he's the best in a mediocre batch. Here is a compendium of what is out there, pitching-wise. Unless Clayton Kershaw opts out - and the Dodgers would still be favorites to keep him - there is no superstar pitcher waiting to hit NYC. The real free agent market is with position players, where the Yankees are already strong. If we add Machado or Harper, it may mean trading Miguel Andujar or Aaron Hicks. Nobody's going to like that.

3. Boston won't stand pat. Last winter, after winning the AL East handily, they added JD Martinez, the best hitter and most expensive free agent on the market. This summer, with a sizable lead in the division, they added Pearce, Kinsler and Eovaldi. This winter, they'll have $10 million coming off the books with the disappearance of Drew Pomeranz, and there is no sign that the owner intends to hold back. The difference in franchises? They have a billionaire who realizes he is a fucking billionaire, as opposed to Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner, who thinks the best way to impress his dead daddy is by making more money off the team. If we think the Redsocks will sit by while we add the 10th Fleet, we're wrong. They'll splurge. It won't matter whether they have won their fourth World Championship in 14 years. They'll splurge. 

I say we delay the Bargaining stage and spit some more anger. Just let's leave Aaron Boone for a while and focus on the powers at the top.  

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Right (Pinstriped) Earth, Vol. 3

On this grim, October day—grim in spirit as well as weather—I think we need a little pick-me-up.  Namely, a report from that alternative, Yankees Universe, on how our favorite ballteam was able to stay light years ahead of the Red Sox this millennium...

Buck Showalter, team president and general manager of the 2018 World Champion New York Yankees, took a thoughtful puff on his Havana, and turned back to Hensley Meulens, manager of the 2018 World Champion New York Yankees.

"I don't mind telling you, I was tempted to bite on that Giancarlo Stanton fellow—just for the name alone!"  He gave a big, hearty, typical Buck laugh.  "After all, we still hadn't used Starlin to help us get Gerrit Cole yet, and him and that and one minor league pitcher was all we needed."

"So what stopped you?" Meulens asked, sipping from the 1792 bourbon he had provided

"It was the new guy again.  Something about Stanton just didn't feel right to him, and as he pointed out, why commit to a contract that long?  Besides, with the Double Digit Outfield already dominating, all we needed was a DH, really.  Go get J.D. Martinez, he said, that's the guy Boston's slobbering over.  And so we did."

"He knew his stuff.  As usual," Hensley said, saluting him with a toast.

"He did that.  He'd done his homework.  He knew that was what Stick always used to say:  'We have one real rival—Boston.  We keep ahead of them, and we're golden.' "

Buck leaned back and took a swallow of his fine bourbon, letting it swim around in the back of his throat for a moment.  When he started talking again, there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

"It was the same thing, year after year.  You remember when Manny Ramirez was a free agent?"

"Who didn't?"

"There were some people around here, didn't want us to sign him.  You remember that office boy, the little twerp?  What was his name, Crapman?"

"You mean, Cashman?"

"Riiiight!  The guy who beat out Theo Epstein to become the Boston GM a couple years later."

Both men were convulsed with laughter for the next few minutes, remembering.

"Yeah, that was a good move:  Cashie over Theo!  Anyway, Cashman felt we shouldn't sign Manny because he would fall in with his homies from Washington Heights," Showalter finally resumed, wiping the tears from his face."

"That's ridiculous!  Why, he was only great—and maybe the most popular player the Yankees ever had!" Meulens exclaimed.

"Right!  The next year, 2002, Johnny Damon was up, and the Sox needed an outfielder.  We signed him up right under their noses.  Year after that, when the Twins cut Big Papi, we saw that Boston needed a first base-DH—so we scooped him up before they could clear their throats."

"Who the hell would ever cut Big Papi??  That's so...Twins."

"And it wasn't only that Stick saw these could all be great players for us.  The Old Man understood that when it comes to the Red Sox, each action leads to an opposite and completely destructive reaction.  Every time we signed up one of those guys, they went out an acquired some over-the-hill guy, or an overrated juicer."

"I know!  We got Manny, so they signed Jason Giambi.  We got Damon, they signed up Mussina.  Gosh, I loved facing that idiot in a big game!  Boy, it seess to obvious, now," Meulens said, shaking his head.  "They even got Randy Johnson when he was, what, 46?   I mean, they couldn't see he was pretty done?"

"I know, I know.  Though they did manage to sign Matsui.  I wanted him, but we already had Damon, Bernie, and Manny in the outfield, with Rickey Ledee, Spencer, and Ruben Rivera—after Mariano had that talk with him—still playing great as back-ups.  I hated to pass up Godzilla, but there just wasn't room."

"He was quality.  But hell, Hideki only had two good years in Boston before he got hurt.  Then we signed him just in time to have that great season DH-ing for us in 2009!"

"Indeed."  Buck Showalter paused dramatically.  "And then there was A-Rod."

Both men were soon convulsed with laughter again.

"I mean, I know Stick thought about it.  For maybe two minutes," Showalter said, still chuckling.  "But we had Mike Lowell on third, who was only great.  I remember the office boy wanted to trade him for Ed Yarnall or somebody.  That's when I first began thinking he needed a change of venue."

"And then Boston hired him, and he went out and cut that deal for A-Rod.  Held a big press conference at Fenway to say that this changes everything."

"All the Gammonites were all over it.  They kept pointing out that all Cashman had to give up was Kevin Youkilis."

"And he was so...A-Rod."

"Yeah, I don't think I'll ever forget that 2004 game in the Fens when Roger beaned him," Buck downright smirked.  "To be honest, I seriously thought Stick should let Roger just go back to Texas that year.  I mean, the juicing was getting out of control, and I didn't like his influence in the clubhouse.  But the Old Man understood that if Clemens went he'd take Pettitte with him, and what moron would ever let that happen?"

"So you gave him another three years, at big money, and he went out and hit A-Rod, and earned his money right there!" chortled Meulens.

"Oh, yeah.  And then Alex makes that pathetic charge at the mound.  Going juuuuust slow enough so he hopes someone will run out and get between them.  And Jorge, God bless him, runs up from behind and tackles him around the knees.  Drops him right there."

"Oh, I've seen the video!  Who the hell hasn't?  And that knocked the wind out of A-Rod.  Didn't hurt him really, but he can't get his breath, so he's writhing around on his back like an overturned turtle, twisting and gasping for air—"

"I think every Yankee fan must've had that poster on his wall for the next ten years!" Buck laughed, pounding his palm on the table until his bourbon glass jumped.  "And that was it for any chance they had of winning with him.  They loved him to death up there, though.  Always chanting, 'A-Rod, A-Rod!' even after the drug suspension.  And Cashman would never get rid of him.  Took him into the front office, showed him the ropes so he would succeed him as GM."

"Oh, that was so...Cashie!"

"Now, now!" chided Buck with much fake solemnity.  "After all, what happened was very tragic."

"Sure.  Trying to rappel up the Green Monster dressed as Paul Revere to raise money for the Jimmy Fund.  It was a terrible thing."

"Though you know what I hear?"  Buck leaned in close toward his manager.

"What's that?"

"A-Rod cut the rope."

And then both men were on the floor laughing again.


Where Do I Begin ?

1.  The Red Sox won.  And David Price didn't get embarrassed.
2.  The Cowboys won in a romp.  Over a team that easily beat the Giants.
3.  The Eagles won.
4.  The Jets won.  And their QB of the future (* and present ) looks much better than our QB of the past ( assuming there still are some Giants fans anywhere ).
5.  The Redskins won.
6.  The Yankees went fishing.
7.  Didi went to Dr. Andrews.
8.  Other bad things happened to current and future Yankees, but no one has yet informed us.
9.  Gary Sanchez was awarded a golden ice cream sandwich for his work behind the plate.

And now it is the next day....

The free agent "I wanna play for the Yankees" dilemma

Arizona free agent Patrick Corbin graduated from Cicero-North Syracuse High School, alma mater of Breanna Stewart, the greatest basketball player in history. He grew up in a hotbed of Yankeeslamic radicals (though this will change next summer, when the Mets become mother ship to the Triple A Syracuse Chiefs.) Corbin - age 29 and a lefty - supposedly wants to fulfill his adolescent wet dreams and become a Yankee.

Should we let him?

Spoiler alert: I dunno. But this we do know: The guy threw 200 innings last year with an ERA of 3.17. That beats anything our "ace," Luis Severino, achieved, though let's remember that it happened in the NL desert, where rally-killing pitchers come to bat, and specifically in Arizona, where Carl Pavano once flourished. I hate to mention Pavano - the human cyanide tablet of a memory - but, hey, history is history, and he's the last big pitcher we cropped from Arizona. 

You can't help but fear that Corbin would be the latest in the conga line of Yankee pitchers past their sell dates - in this case, having thrown nearly 400 innings over the last two years. Even if he's not Pavano, he sure looks like Javier Vazquez. He could want a five-year deal. Would we bite?

Remember: He wants to pitch for the Yankees.

Assume sigh here.

What do we do when players target the Yankees as their fantasy destination? If it means a discount, well, count me in. (Then again, I will always favor players over the owners, whose staggering amounts of money don't even get reported to us.) Because this winter - be it truth or bullshit - some big names SEEM to want to be Yankees.

First, there is Bryce Harper, who famously grew up a Yankee diehard. In our fantasies, he has been biding his time with the Capitals, waiting to become a free agent, so he can relive those first Yankee boyhood erections. Tomorrow, Harper turns 26. (I looked it up.) After a terrible first-half slump this year, he ended up with 34 HRs, 100 RBIs and batted .249 - (almost exactly Giancarlo's numbers) - though they fell 70 points below his 2017 season (also similar to Stanton.) If we added Harper, we could have four outfielders with more than 30 HRs next year! (And we could also lose in the first round for lack of pitching.) 

But wait, then there is Manny Machado, who has made no secret of his desire to be a Yankee. In fact, a relative this summer publicly stated that Manny wants to play in the Bronx. Machado, 26, hit 37 HRs this year and batted .297 for the O's and Dodgers. It's worth noting that his hottest period came in Baltimore, where the Orioles were practically eliminated on May 1, and that Machado has been noticeably jogging out grounders in the NLCS, which is galling. Unless there is a reason - and a damned good one - I'd hope the Yankees walk away from Machado. We had one jogger this summer. It almost took us down.  

But wait... we're not done. J.A. Happ says he would love to stay with the Yankees, and so does Zach Britton, and so does Andrew McCutcheon - though, let's be real: They all could simply be trying to induce Food Stamps Hal into a bidding war. It's smart to seduce the Yankees. 

Under old George, the Yankees could be swayed. Remember how Hideki Irabu refused to go to San Diego, because he dreamed of pitching for the Yankees? Same thing happened - sort of, anyway - with Jason Giambi. And then with A-Rod, after he jumped ship and profusely apologized. He wanted to be a Yankee, so all was forgiven... and we gave him the disastrous 10-year deal.

In Hal's tenure, the Yankees have been less likely to bite, simply because a player says nice things. But this is going to be a wild winter. Boston might well be world champions - their dominance can no longer be debated - and Hal has no excuse, flimsy as it was to begin with, over luxury taxes. The Yankees will be expected to shell out. I want zeros on the checks, baby! Big zeros on the checks! But I don't care who loved us growing up. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's Always Tease, Tease, Tease. Episode V

Time to take a look at the core of the bullpen, folks:

Chappie:  Hard to see how we're not stuck with him.  And really, I know it's unfair even to put it that way.

For two years now, Machine Gun has really done a fine job for us, with just the occasional meltdown.  We were all spoiled by The Great One.

The ridiculous thing was that he practically had to beg to be taken out this year when his leg was about to fall off—yet another in what would turn out to be a long series of baffling and amateurish coaching/managing failures.

Britton:  Worth trying to bring back?  And at what price?  This is the trouble with rentals.

There were ups, there were downs.  Is he on his way back to being one of the best relievers in the American League?  Or on the downhill?

Chad:  A surprisingly erratic year.  But overall, more dependable than not.

The other question:  do we revive this spring's idea to make him a starter?

Houdini:  Now it starts to get tough.  Robertson has done so much for us—and when the going got toughest, he still looked pretty damned tough.

There were definite signs of age, too, though.  The question is, do we have a ready replacement?

Toonces:  What has become the team's perennial question mark.

Thing is, though, Betances was one of the very few Yankees who actually improved this year—and, one of the very few we might get something for, from a team looking at formidable statistics.

If we keep him...are we letting ourselves in for yet more histrionics?

Esta indecision me molesta...

You're Happy When I'm On My Knees. Episode IV

All right, let's get down to some of the harder choices in "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

Starting with beloved veteran...

Gardy:  Has the time come to say good-bye?  The fact is, the Yankees have always regarded Gardner as a regular, starting outfielder...and almost every year, like clockwork, he would wind down and have a terrible second half.

Rather than take that as a hint that Gardner's real role was as an invaluable no. 4 outfielder, the Yanks just kept doing the same thing and expecting different results, as is their wont.

Then came 2017, when Gardner, for whatever mysterious reason, seemed to really revive in September and October and find a new power reserve, to boot.  That has proved to be a late-career penumbra this season.  Gardy was not only awful statistically, but looked absolutely absent at the plate, with his maitre'd swing.  He was also erratic in the outfield, and doesn't steal much anymore.

What should this tell us?  Back at a much-reduced price?  Or so long?

Me debro ir o quedarme...

CC:  Talk about being on your knees.  This is literally where CC seemed to be half the season, each time ploughing a six-mule trough into the Yankee Stadium turf and filling us all with dread.

Now comes the word that he's popping in for arthroscopic knee surgery.  We will need pitching bodies more than ever in 2019...but just how far can CC reasonably be expected to go for us?  He's already down to a 4-5-inning pitcher.

We will always love The Bear for the great season he gave us in 2009, and pretty damned good ones in 2010-2012, and 2017.

But  how far must our loyalty—expressed in huge contracts for several awful seasons—go?   Is it worthwhile for us to re-sign a guy, even for still less money, who is likely to wear out our bullpen (best-case scenario) or check out in May (worst-case scenario)?

Happ:  When it was hip to be hep, Happ was hep. Now he's hip, and it seems likely the Yanks will hit him with at least a competitive offer in the free-agent market?

To be sure, he really helped us get through that staggering second half.  But we certainly seemed to have pushed the idea of "Happ, the Red Sox Killer" to the breaking point.  Don't expect to see that again.  Is there enough remaining beyond his alleged dominance over Boston?  And what should that mean?  Anything beyond a two-year deal?

Tengo frio por los ojos...

The Blair Yankee Witch Project

For some, the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, forever and ever, time and again, another and another, again and again - you know, repeating the same thing - after it has consistently failed. On that note, let us savor these recent words on Greg Bird from the renowned Yankee in-game strategist, Aaron Boone:

“In some ways, he never got all the way back physically to, I think, where he’ll be next year. I think there’s a realistic chance he comes into spring training next year, physically in a really good place with a chance of a normal off-season where he gets his body where he wants it. Hopefully the results from that will follow. He’ll have his opportunities. We’ve never lost sight of the fact that when he’s right, can really hit.”

So, yeah, here we are, folks. Lost in the forest, once again. See that downed tree? We passed it yesterday. We've been walking in circles. Do your feet hurt? Let's walk faster.

So, yeah, maybe Greg Bird will turn it around someday... like he turned it around last October. He was our best hitter for a while. Then he came to spring training this March as our everyday first-baseman. Then he hurt his foot.

The foot. Cries the banshee voice in the wilderness: Beware the foot of Gregory Birrrrrrrd! It always seems to be the foot. If he could play on a peg, he'd be an all-star. But if we know anything, it is that Greg Bird's dogs are prone to barking.  

So, instead of Bird, we can ponder Luke Voit, who very much resembles the Greg Bird of 2015 - a guy who bursts upon the scene for one glorious month, and then... well, we don't know.

Listen: I'm not saying the Yankees should trade Greg Bird for a sack of peanuts and the ending to Lost - you never know - but can we realistically hand first base to Voit in spring training? A former football linebacker, Voit plays first base like a current football linebacker. And the Yankee infield that not long ago looked set for a generation - remember the dynasty that was to start this year? - is a jumbled mess of question marks. 

Well, this we know: Next month, Bird will turn 26. Next year, he will be coming off a 2018 season batting average of .199. (His lifetime average: .214.) His WAR is -0.6. His on-base percentage was .286. He struck out 78 times in 311 plate appearances - about one in four. At some point, you must accept that Ike Davis is Ike Davis, and the very real chance that Bird is going to ever hit, he will be a Steve Pearce journeyman type, ascending in his thirties with his third or fourth team.  

So, Boone is just saying what he always says: Nothing. He loves to do nothing, too. He stood pat in the ALDS - (not to be confused with Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS) - and left CC Sabathia in until the wine went flat. Oh well. It's going to be a long winter. It's already started two weeks earlier than expected. We are lost in the forest. See that old house? Let's go inside...

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Right Earth, Vol. 2

Our exciting saga of a world where the Yankees win and win and win continues...

"It's hard to pin down any one thing," Buck Showalter was saying, as the celebration down in the Yankees' locker room continued, looking back over the last two, incredible seasons..  "I think a big moment was when Castro got hurt in 2017, and we gave Torres his chance.  A lot of people said it was too early.  But by the time poor Starlin came back, Gleyber had second nailed down."

"Yep.  And that let us make Castro the big piece in the deal for Gerrit Cole over the off-season."

"I was afraid they still wouldn't bite," Buck said, grinning around his cigar.

"It's not like he was all you gave up," Hensley Meulens, manager of the back-to-back, world champion Yankees pointed out to his GM.  "Why, they were saying you threw in a whole team.  Boy, I hated to see some of those guys go to Pittsburgh!  Ian Kennedy, after all those good years he had for us.  Tommy Kahnle—I hated to give that guy up.  But you knew better.  Jake Cave—"

"But you know, the crazy thing?  What they really wanted was Neil Walker," Showalter said, shaking his head.  "Who knew?  But when I sniffed that out, I signed old Neil right up and handed him over."

"Oh, that made my life so much easier this year!" Meulens laughed.  "Sticking Cole in the rotation behind Sale and Verlander—"

"What made the Sale on Sale, of course, was Stick beating out Boston to sign Moncada.  He saw him as taking over at short some day.  But the New Guy, well, he saw that there was just a little something missing there—"

"Who would know better?"

"—and so I shipped him to the White Sox.  It was a no-brainer.  Getting Verlander, well, there was a little more risk.  It was hard to give up Mateo, but thank goodness they bit on all those pitchers—Cessa, German, Chance Adams—and we still had Ben Gamel to throw in as well.  Everybody said we were giving away the store, or they thought Houston got the better deal when they picked up Sonny Gray.  But as it worked out—"

"It worked out!" exclaimed Meulens.  "The Series last year, then a starting rotation this year of Sale, Verlander, Cole, Severino, and Tanaka.  Tanaka as my no. 5 starter!  Yeah, it's hard not to look like a genius with that."

"You know, before the season started they said it was overkill, what with Hughes and Joba still two of the top starters in the majors.  But pitchers get old," Buck ruminated.  "Hughes suffered his first major injury this year, and we moved Joba back to the pen, and there we were!"

"You never know how things work out.  If I had put Dustin Fowler in right field, that rainy night in Chicago...It still gives me the shivers."

"I know," Buck nodded.  "It was good to see Gardy finally get back on the field this August.  It was nice you gave him that farewell pinch-hit in the Series."

"Who deserved it more?  And you know, I almost put Clint Frazier out there in left in that spring training game," Meulens said, leaning in and shaking his head.  "You remember?"

"The Jabari Blash game."  Buck nodded.  "Yeah, that was ugly.  You hate to ever see something like that.  But instead of two injured outfielders, we got 'the Double-Digit Outfield."  Numbers 77, 88, and 99, Frazier, Fowler, and Judge.  Incredible how good they are so young."

"And with Hicks and McKinney to back them up.  But you went out and added J.D. anyway!"

"Well, that was all about keeping him away from Boston," Buck began, and looked at his watch.  "But let's have another pop.  The new guy should be coming up here pretty soon, if he can ever tear himself away from the cameras—"

To be continued!

The Right Earth, Vol. 1

All right, I think it's time for a respite from all the gloom the year end assessments are inevitably bringing on.  So, at the behest of one of our brethren and to honor El Duque and Mustang's incredible new venture, we present volume one of what might have been.

Time:  A few days from now.

Buck Showalter leaned back in his chair in the Yankees' executive suite and sighed wistfully at the framed photograph on his desk.  Three men grinned back at him from the photo, one of them his own, younger self.  Each holding up two hands adorned with rings on every finger.

There was a knock on his door, and then a grinning, goggled face looked in, its close-cropped hair soaked in champagne.

"Mule!  You ought to be with your men," Showalter chided mildly.

"They've seen enough of me all year," Hensley Meulens said, entering the room while holding something behind his back.  "I brought a little something just for you."

He pulled out the bottle of bourbon and placed it on Showalter's desk.  Buck's eyes lit up despite himself.

"Ah, the good stuff!"

"Well you taught me all about it.  Like so much else."

"You were a quick study."

"And of course, you didn't have to teach me anything about cigars," Meulens continued, pulling out a fistful of fine Havanas.

They lit the cigars, and Buck filled a pair of shot glasses.  They toasted, drank down the shots, then Buck filled them again.  They both sat back, smoking contentedly and listening to the muffled sounds of the celebration drifting up from the locker room.

"Two in a row."

"Two in a row."

"Nothing like what you did, of course.  Twenty-one in a row!  Who wins like that?  Nobody.  Ever."

Buck shrugged modestly, but grinned despite himself.

"It was easier for me.  Having all that big corporate money from CBS behind us.  It's like what Yogi said when he won all those championships in the '60s and '70s:  'You can't buy money.'"

"But it was more than money.  You know that.  It was all three of you.  Buck and Bob and Stick, the Old Man.  The Holy Trinity."

"Mostly it was the Old Man," Buck still demurred.  "He put it all in motion, once he took over for Pat Gillick in the early '90s.  I mean Pat was great, but Stick really put it all together."

"All those titles.  It was driving them nuts.  Everyone going on about what an unfair advantage the Yanks had in their big market.  They were even thinking of passing a rule where the team in first place couldn't make a trade after the All-Star Game.  They actually tried that back in the 1930s, you know."

"As if that would have stopped you guys."

"Well, we were actually getting tired of winning.  I mean, it was wearing us down.  The Old Man wanted to retire, and Bob's health was becoming a factor."

"And I remember those pictures of you!  Looking more cramped up than ever in the dugout every year."

Buck Showalter chuckled, a sound that had become very rare indeed near the end of his incredible managerial run.

"The road wears you down.  And every year, we had to win.  That last year, 2014, was so close.  It went to extra innings in Game Seven against the Giants.  You remember?"

"How could anyone forget it?  Jeter grounding that single through the right side to score the tying and winning running run in bottom of the 13th—the lucky 13th, they called it.  Soriano sliding home just ahead of the throw with the winning run."

"How the hell could you top that?"

"How could anyone?  I wanted out.  So the Old Man said, why not come upstairs and take his job?  And then I thought of you."

"Lucky me."

"No, it was more than luck," Buck said thoughtfully.  "You were the right man for the job.  Not everybody could've taken up a team rebuilding after 21 straight championships.  With everybody retiring, and CBS even selling the team so they could invest in Elon Musk's hyperloop."

Hensley rolled his eyes.

"Boy, that was a good idea."

"Yeah, what were they smoking?"

"Who's idea was it anyway to sell the team to New Yorkers, the way the Packers did in Green Bay?" Meulens asked.

"Oh, that was the New Guy's idea.  San Diego tried to do that years ago, but MLB stopped it.  But the New Guy threatened to go all the way to the Supreme Court about it, and who the hell knows what you'll get with those clowns?  Plus, everyone was just glad to see that we were finally going to rebuild."

"That's when you came up with the master plan."

"Well, I suppose," said Buck.  "But you had to take the heat.  A rookie manager with a rebuilding team whose fans were very, very used to winning."

"Fortunately they were having too much fun being owners," Hensley said with a smile.  "Who came up with that idea to sell the luxury boxes on a lottery basis every game?"

"Oh, that was the New Guy, too.  That helped.  Still, it was a wild couple of years.  The Cubs winning the World Series!"

"The Mets in the World Series.  Was that weird, or what?"

Both men just had to laugh for a few minutes, as they let the very idea of it soak in.  Mets!

"But then we were ready again," Buck said softly.

"Yep, we sure were.  What do you think the first step was?" asked Hensley. "i mean the first big thing?"

Buck Showalter leaned forward, rubbing his chin.

"Well, I'll tell ya—"


Paging Giancarlo Stanton, Paging Mr. Giancarlo Stanton...

From the Times account of last night's NLCS opener:

"Kershaw's command was not sharp, and the Brewers' hitters did not bite on balls outside the strike zone."

Wow, what a crazy strategy!

Meanwhile, Cooperstown's press conference seems to have been a virtual cascade of meaningless cliches:

On Didi:

"How do we react to this situation?  We either stay with what we got or we can pursue something stronger."

I see.  So the option of, "just leave the shortstop position open" is out.  Good to know.

What went wrong against the Red Sox?

"...three of our starters had their hat handed to them, and our hitters went south."

Boy, you don't get analysis like that just anywhere!

As with many people who talk a lot to try to cover up what they're really saying, you have to read between the lines with Cashman.  The one note  I found most ominous was this one:

"As far as going over the [payroll] threshold, that's a bridge I'll cross when I come to it."


Cooperstown Cashman on 2018: "Mission accomplished."

He actually said those words. Mission accomplished. Can you believe it? Mission accomplished... 

And he's right, folks. Brian Cashman nailed it. Because this is the Middle East, and the Yankees could be stuck in the sand dunes of wild-card races for a long, long time. Miss. Shun. Ack. Com. Plished. 

Welcome to mid-October. The Redsocks are still playing, we're catching up on Better Call Saul, the heart and soul of the Yankees is out for much of 2019, our future just self-destructed like that Banksy painting, and here we go: Brian Cashman - the NYC courtier press' unquestioned Queen Cheese Tit for the Hall of Fame - says, "Mission accomplished."

Of course, he's right. The Yankees accomplished their Prime Directive for 2018: They slashed payroll to levels below the salary cap, which was supposed to disappear under the last labor agreement, but which was baked into the deal in paragraphs the lunk-head union reps - hey, Tony Clark, do you see the shiny objects? - apparently couldn't understand. 

So here we are, with pumpkins starting to rot in the fields and players heading into surgery. And here are the latest crusher news bits to digest.

Didi Gregorius will undergo Tommy John surgery, and the Yankees' claim that he'll be back "sometime in 2019" is entirely dubious. Since when do we believe anything the front office tells us about injury recovery times? Have we already forgotten the "three weeks" that Aaron Judge was going to miss? If Gregorius returns at all in 2019, it might be as a September roster move. But the Yankees need to stick with him. We can't have another Nathan Eovaldi.

Supposedly, the Yankees will now be all-in on Manny Machado, but that leaves several rather bothersome questions: 1) Considering the poor fielding of 2018, do we really want a third baseman playing SS? 2) Wouldn't such a signing put us way too  top-heavy with RH bats? 3) Do we want a long-term deal, our own version of the future Robbie Cano team-killer contract, which with Giancarlo's deal would  become the Twin Towers of Mismanagement by 2024. Or don't we care anymore? 

The Yankees look to be on the verge of a winter tear-down, with several players traded and a wave of free agent turnover. Sonny Gray is surely gone. So could be Gardy. It's not incomprehensible to think of Miguel Andujar or Aaron Hicks being traded for pitching, Gary Sanchez being shot to the moon, or that we might wake up on April 1 to see Greg Bird getting yet another chance at first base. Last week, the Yankees were undressed on national TV, and now they've lost the heart and soul of their infield, and word from the top says the war is over, and the troops will be home any day now. Mission accomplished. Wow.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

It Is time To Say Farewell....

The door is closed on another Yankee season.

We are venting.  We are re-hashing.  We are assessing.  We are hoping.

Our way of hanging on.

Mostly done now.  The ink runs dry.

The gladiators have sheathed their swords, the horses' saddles have been removed and stowed, the armor is back in the closet, and the riverboat is blowing its horn.

The feelings are growing familiar.  And we are getting tired.

Time to take a pause.  Breathe in and out.  Focus on the stars.  Get away somewhere.

Climb on board and have a drink.

Lean on the railing, listen to the paddle wheels churn, and watch the scenery pass-by as the river opens to the delta.  And we move on.

There is a chill in the air.

Thanks for the ride, mates.

See you soon, I hope.


Didi Gregorious to have Tommy John surgery.


Don't Know Which Clothes Even Fit Me. Episode III

Okay, let's clear away some more of the obvious junk—which, as Alphonso notes, will be the hardest to get rid of.

Sonny Gray:  Do we dare to rid ourselves of the pitcher who's name fits so perfectly into every possible song parody, as we proved so brilliantly this summer?

The real trouble with Sonny, of course, is that at present he has actually zero trade value.  I would say that we should try working with him and see if we can revive him to the point of at least inciting some mild interest.  But in case you haven't noticed, this Yankees organization is not exactly adept at turning around anyone's career.

So what to do?  Well, maybe someone in a small, un-pressurized market will notice just how good Sonny is outside of New York, and take a chance.  I think that's the best we can hope for.

Tommy Kahnle:  A lot of crack—or crackhead—commentators expressed shock that the Yankees' bullpen did not do better this year.

Well, bullpens usually go up and down from year to year, and the prime reason is guys like Kahnle, who some people were thinking should even take over the closer's role in 2017, and who looks all but done.  Can he be revived?  See above.

Lance Lynn:  Or Hapless, as he became known around here, didn't exactly shine in his big postseason audition.  Or at most any other time, either.  At 10-10 with a 4.77 ERA, the beefy righthander was the very definition of mediocrity.

He was at least a relief to watch go right after batters after being treated to Sonny Gray's timorous approach...but little more.  Batter went right back after him, and usually succeeded.

Bodies are bodies, but if the Yanks are forced to go this route, even for a No. 5 starter, next year, they are in trouble.  Incidentally, for anybody wondering, the amazingly consistent Lynn is 5-4 with a 4.80 in the postseason.  He's no choker.  He's just not very good.

No sabes que ropas me queda

The Young Guns:  It's rare that a group of highly rated young pitchers will all do so much to reduce their value in a single season, but the Yankees' farm arms managed it!

Luis Cessa, Lasagna, Domingo Deutschlander, the wonderfully named Chance Adams...all pretty much lived down to our lowest expectations in their shots at the big time.

Stephen Tarpley, the lefty, seemed to show something in the regular season.  But he was quickly belted by Boston in the ALDS, and turns 26 in February.  Jonathan Holder had some nice outings for us, but also looked as skittish as a young colt out there at times, as we say on the range.

Most disappointing of all was the long-awaited Sheffield.  As Alphonso likes to say, rookies need to flash.  Justus did not shine on us all—or any of us.  I'm not sure he ever will.

Basically, as far as I'm concerned, you could wheel and deal this whole box of lugnuts without it making much difference.

One possible exception:  the previously unheralded Mike King, who made a stunning dash through the farm system this year.  He is worth giving a big looksee in spring training, I think.

This Indecision's Bugging Me. Episode II

Great response to our opening episode, folks!

Alphonso cut right to the root of the matter, as usual:  to give the musical answer from Cindy Lauper, what they have we couldn't keep.  And they're not giving it back.

The Warbler, of course, gets extra points for quoting "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"—once beloved by sportswriters for the line, "he stoppeth one of three."

But let's get right to the breaking news that Vampifella brings us:  Didi Gregorius will miss at least part of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery.

If you say that you are mine
I'll be here to the end of time...

Sir Didi:  No, of course we don't want to get rid of the beloved Didi, and even if we did, his injury would make this impossible.  But the question arises:  what do we do now?

Option 1:  Sign Manny.  The upside?  Manny is just 25, actually younger than Didi, and a terrific all-around player.  At that age, even some dangerously long contract gets a lot less dangerous.  With a 10-year deal, he would still be "only" 35 at the end of it.

The downside?  It would be another dangerously long contract.  And Manny seems to be a much better fielder at third than he is at short.

And it would shift us more than ever to being a right-handed team in a ballpark now tailored to left-handed hitters.  It would probably force us to sign Harper as well—something we should probably do anyway—to offset that, and thereby give us still more long-range exposure to catastrophe.

Finally, Manny seems to be somewhat injury prone—but then, so is everyone we seem to acquire.

Option 2:  We move The Gleyber, El Conquistador, to shortstop, his original position, and acquire somebody else to play second.  This could work very well—and make Torres feel more at home in the field.

Anyone know what second basemen might be at large?

Option 3:  We move The Gleyber to shortstop...and re-sign Neil Walker.

For this we give another musical answer, from the Cole Porter musical, Can Can:  If you love me truly/ Then you would not, should not, could not do that to me.

Si no me quieres, lĂ­brame

El Matador:  Losing Miguel Andujar becomes all the more unlikely due to Didi's injury.  For which we can only go on our knees to say that the ways of the JuJu gods are wise and good, however harsh they may seem.

Miggy was fingered for removal during the Sox playoff series as surely as a mobster given the kiss of death by a rival capo.  First, a steady drumbeat in the press about how awful El Matador's fielding was—He has no concept of a glove!   He was blowing into it! —followed by that absurd and self-destructive benching during Game Four.

I can well-remember Old George, the Mad King trying to win the 1981 World Series while benching both Reggie Jackson and Jerry Mumphrey, whom he had come to loathe for some reason.

But really, Cashman/Boone trying to win that series with their best hitter on the bench was no less absurd.  I think the skids were clearly being greased for what could not help but have been a ludicrous move that would have haunted us for years.  El Matador dealt away for another of Cashman's "great young arms"—Weaver, Vazquez, Wright, ad nauseam. we're free of that.

It looks like Miggy stays. we try to take advantage of his excellent arm and move him to left?  Install him at first?  Or just try to make him into a better third baseman?

Hell, if Toby Harrah could play the position, El Matador can!

To be continued...

Should I Stay or Should I Go Know? Episode I

To answer Doug K.'s request, we've brought in The Clash to ask the musical question for key Yankees ballplayers, "Should I stay or should I go?"

Remember, in this feature we're going to be considering just what "going" will mean for the team, as well as what prospects (if any) for decent returns we have on these assorted flotsam and jetsam.  We want to hear all of your suggestions—and ultimately, get your vote!

Very well then, let's begin with the obvious:

Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

Greg, our broken-winged Bird:  I think the big questions here are, was his meltdown this year due in part to his injury—and just how likely is he to be injured again?

The revelation that, for years now, he simply can't catch up to a major-league fastball, was certainly sobering.  Is there any way that could a symptom merely of a still recovering set of ankles that seem to be more delicate than a prima ballerina's?  And if we keep him, what happens if and when he breaks down again?

Certainly, we already have any number of possibilities to take over for him at first.  Not only Voit, but also McBroom, maybe Stanton or Andujar or Sanchez.  (And let's not forget Mike Ford!)  But at this point what could we get for Bird?   Should he stay for that reason alone?

Yo me enfrio o lo soplo?

Ice Cream Sandwiches:  Certainly, the putrid season he has turned in, one of the worst ever, has Gary Sanchez deserving of a one-way trip to Cincinnati?

But again, what would we get?  And how would we replace him?  I keep thinking there must be some way to palm him off on Miami for Realmuto, but I don't think Jetes would ever fall for that, not even as a cost-cutting measure.

Should he go to first?  But again, that would be wasting much of his value, including his great arm and pitch-framing ability.

This is really the greatest predicament the Yanks have to solve in the off-season.

If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double

Neil Walker:  A number of our pride have insisted they will walk away from lifelong commitments to the New York Yankees if Walker is back.  I'm afraid I'm too addicted to quit, but it's easy to see their point.

It's not just Southern man or Lynyrd Skynyrd that doesn't need old Neil around anymore, it's every Yankees fan and everyone with a brain in his head.  The very presence of Walker screwed us up all year long—a longer review of his awful season will be forthcoming—as it kept us from giving more extended tryouts to young players.

And in the end, of course, he was the magic, evil ingredient in the last game against the Sox that put our tender Snow Whites to sleep for the season.  To keep him around, even as a back-up, is to invite the sort of season Jose Reyes had for the Mets this season—or even worse.

To be continued!

Yankees to hoist Luxury Tax Reset Flag in ceremonies at City Hall

Millions of proud fans are expected to mob the Canyon of Heroes today as the jubilant Yankees front office, the "Cardiac Comptrollers," celebrates the 2018 Luxury Tax Reset.

"They said it was impossible, they said $190 million was out of reach," said Lonn "Bleacher Creature" Trost, Chief Operating Officer of the Secret Yankee 100 Keg Club and Renate Alumni Society. "But they didn't know this bunch of guys. 

"Today, every paying fan in the Yankiverse should feel proud. We accomplished exactly what we set out to do in spring training. We cut the payroll and beat the luxury tax! Stand back, boys, 'cause my buttons are popping and I may do a  power-barf. From here on, BEACH WEEK! Woo-woo! BEEEEEACH WEEEEEK!"

City Hall ceremonies are set for 11 a.m., when team president Randy Levine will personally bestow monetary bonuses on the franchise's top belt-tightening linchpins, including members of the YES Team Austerity Spirit Brigade, (Driven by Jeep!), who went the entire year without questioning ownership's need to bank higher profits and cut payroll, in the face of heavy opposition spending. 

"This is an historic achievement not only for Yankee executives, but for billionaires everywhere," said team owner Hal Steinbrenner. "No longer do they need live in fear. Today, we have soundly buried the big spending expectations of our past. And no collusion, ha-ha! We have scaled down the Yankees into a small market ATM for our money-washing cartels and Saudi clientele, and the best part - Jeez, I gotta tell ya - the best part is that the once-independent New York press has basically collapsed, overpowered by YES and our own media, where all front office decisions about austerity don't even questioned... 

"This is a miracle," Steinbrenner continued. "Last winter, we were handed Giancarlo Stanton on a silver platter, even though the last thing we needed was a right-handed DH. I mean, could you believe it? Everybody knew we had no starting pitching, but we took Stanton, then said we couldn't afford anybody else... and everybody cheered. Nobody bothered to ask about the lack of starting pitchers. We just said we didn't have the money - can you believe it?, whose idea was it? Cash? Give him another boat! - and people bought it! I mean, it was incredible. Is America great, or what? You can just say shit, and because you're the owner, nobody questions you. 

"We told everybody the Yankees had to cut our payroll down to - oh, I forget the number, damn, we should have used a lower figure, hey, Cash, next year, can we go to $150? Haha - and they swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. The Redsocks outspent us by about $30 million, and nobody wondered why. We did it! We did it! Woo-woo! Hey, put that bottle in the right bin. We collect the deposits. HAHAHAHA, JUST KEEDDDDING, HAHAHAHA."