Monday, February 19, 2018

The 2018 Yankees need a Jacoby Ellsbury far more than a Red Thunder

Today, the Gammonite universe is feverish over the notion that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton could both take batting practice, reenacting last July's home run derby and possibly tweaking the game's two largest sets of gonads. It's a Gammonite's dream come true, and the Yankees are playing along. The team will open its parks early in 2018, so fans can watch a daily Indian Point Power Report display and eat more sushi, while the players try to hurt themselves by hitting balls to White Plains.  

It might be a baby step toward the hubris that always gets us in the end. Or maybe a daily mini-derby will indemnify our sluggers from giving a shit about the All-Star break contest, a celebration of hype nearly equivalent to the Super Bowl Halftime Show. If every day brings a mini-derby, who cares about Chris Berman's final moments in the sun? Let's hope, anyway...

But we should worry that the 2018 Yankees will become the All-Time Three-True Outcome Team - the three events being homers, walks and strikeouts. This would make the Yankees not only boring but prone to failing against tough pitchers - the kind you see in playoffs. Let's look at last year's HR/BB/K numbers and - assuming my math is right - consider what could be in store.

Brett Gardner  21/72/122
Aaron Judge 52/127/208
Giancarlo Stanton 59/85/163

Gary Sanchez 33/40/120
Didi Gregorius 25/25/70
Greg Bird 9/19/42 (prorated to entire season: 27/60/150)

Aaron Hicks 15/51/67 (prorated: 25/100/110)
secondbaseman (let's say: 14/50/110)
thirdbaseman (let's say 10/40/110)


For starters, the team's HR total - 276, not counting players off the bench - looks like comic book violence. It would beat the all-time team single season HR record, set by the Mariners in 1997 (264), which - it should be noted, didn't make it to the World Series. Add bench homers, and the 2018 Yankees could do what no team in history has done: Hit 300 homers. Ridiculous. I mean, flat out bonkers.

The lineup would also generate about 600 walks - not bad, even though well below the all-time record of 835, set by the 1949 Boston Redsocks. Add bench numbers, and it could reach 750 bases on balls. Huge. Still, the lineup has two problems: Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius do not take enough walks to fully do damage. If either can be more selective, the Yankees could walk their way into history. 

And then there is the downside: Our lineup would deliver 1,163 strikeouts, a crazy number for an AL team, though not the record. That was set by the miserable, super-tanking Astros of 2013, at 1,535 whiffs. If we add 60 strikeouts by our pitchers in inter-league games, plus a couple hundred by the bench, the Yankees could fall within striking distance (no pun intended) of the ultimate strikeout lineup in history. That's a lot of players walking back to the bench without putting a ball into play. It's a lot of time spent watching nothing happen.

A couple takeaways here: 

Such a team can win - runs are runs - but it would need solid pitching. 

The 2018 Yankees need a Jacoby Ellsbury more than a Clint Frazier - table-setters, not another HR power. 

Likewise, in the two open slots, 2B and 3B, the Yankees need a Ronald Torreyes more than a Mike Moustakas. Also, if both positions prove to be sinkholes - that is, lots of strikeouts and little production - this so-called super team could be more vulnerable than we may think. 

You have to love the homers, but get comfortable in the bean chair, folks. This could a season when nothing seems to happen. And when certain players go into a funk - they all do - the losses could be excruciating.  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Giancarlo's moment

Walking into history.


A Yankee bold strategy for spring: Let's do nothing and see what happens.

In today's Murdoch, Joel Sherman opines that Cooperstown Cashman likely will horde his $20-$25 million in leftover salary cap/tax threshold money, and forego the low-hanging free agents still dangling on grapefruit league vines. The plan: Keep the mad money for the August 1 trade deadline, when an avalanche of big name salary dumps could scramble the pennant races beyond recognition. 

Close your eyes, and around July 31, you can imagine the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Manny Machado hitting the auction barn, with the Empire paying not only prospects but cash on the barrel-head. In the meantime, Cashman might chase a fading prospect, such as Jurickson Profar of the Rangers, in his eternal quest to collect all the Aaron Hickses of the universe. The Yankees might become the Team of Second Chances.

If that's the plan, count me in. The key to building with prospects is allowing them time to develop, and every wretched period in Yankee history is pocked with hasty decisions about slow-developing youngsters. Over the last 18 months, they broke Old George's generational need for Yankee instant gratification by allowing Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks to survive sluggish periods. If this were the 1980s under Syd Thrift, it's not hard to see them all traded to other teams for the likes of a Rick Rhoden. But that doesn't seem to be Cashman's way, and - once again, with fingers crossed - let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

For now, let's embrace the perfect plan: 

Let's do nothing and see what happens.

Apparently, Cashman will wait on Glyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier and a gaggle of young pitchers likely headed to Scranton. He recently let the Mets sign Todd Frazier and the Redsocks grab Edwin Nunez, and I don't see Yankee fans slinging bile over the losses. I don't even see a movement growing to sign Neil Walker or Wilbur the Talking Pig. 

We have the most interesting lineup in baseball. We don't need a stimulus package. We don't need new infrastructure. We just need time.

Let's do nothing and see what happens. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Could Thairo Estrada be the next D'Angelo Jimenez?

In the looming battle for second base, the Yankees yesterday found they couldn't dodge a bullet. News came out that Thairo Estrada, a 21-year-old breakout prospect last year at Trenton, was shot during a robbery last month in Venezuela, and he will play 2018 with a bullet in his hip. The Yankees say he will make a full recovery, and let's hope that this time the team is telling the truth (though it seldom does regarding injuries.) Still, I find it hard to imagine a shortstop - considering the range of motion required - will not be affected by a sliver of metal in his hip. And once again, we of the Yankiverse must suffer the grim reminder that players are actual people - with actual lives - and not just fantasy Strat-o-Matic cards.

Today, I'm thinking of D'Angelo Jimenez, a 21-year-old shortstop who came to the Yankees in 1999 and hit .400 in a late-season cup of coffee. Of course, he was cock-blocked at SS by the great future Marlins brain trust, but the Yankees planned to either trade Jimenez for pitching, or move him to third. He'd hit .327 at Columbus, was an all-star in Triple A, and was unquestionably one of the premier prospects in baseball.

But that winter, Jimenez was in a serious car accident in the Dominican Republic, forcing him to spend months in traction. Even though he was expected to make "a full recovery" - that's what the Yankees said - he missed the 2000 season and never again appeared in Pinstripes. He played eight years in the majors, bouncing between seven teams, usually as a utility infielder, compiling a .263 lifetime average. Not what we wanted. Not what he expected. Life, eh?

This morning, let's also ponder the fate of Andre Robertson, who was 23 in 1983, when he broke his neck in a terrible car accident on NYC's West Side Highway. It effectively ended his career and left a young ballerina paralyzed, destroying two lives. Ten years later, the Times found Robertson working in a chemicals plant, and the young woman had sued the city, in part because the former player was broke. Life...

There was, of course, Graig Nettles' inability to mow the lawn, and Brien Taylor's inability to avoid a bar fight, not to mention Mickey Mantle's lifetime of distractions, and Steve Howe weakness for anything addictive, and Henry Cotto's troubling decision to ram a fucking Q-Tip into his ear. Every year, somebody screws up, or maybe - like Estrada - they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  

For the 2018 Yankees, losing Estrada is hardly the worst setback that could happen. He was barely in the mix to win a starting job. And let's assume the docs know what they're doing - maybe he can make "a full recovery." But I dunno. Shortstop is a tricky position. And we as fans can move on to the next youngster. After all, pitchers and catchers are here. Summer is within sight. The world is turning, and while we celebrate the eternal hopes of spring, let's pause for a moment to remember how quickly life can go south. Enjoy every sandwich, folks. We're not Strat-o-Matic cards, and neither are the Yankees.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The price of Jaime Garcia is a rude awakening to Yank fans hoping for a spring steal

I hate to keep barking about this, but one of these days, "Cooperstown" Cashman is going to spend the remaining $12 million in mad money that Hal Steinbrenner has bequeathed to the 2018 Yankee spring roster. With every free agent signing, the music stops and one chair disappears, and one of these days, we will get our man... I think, anyway... 

Yesterday, the still-not-ready-to-tank Blue Jays signed 31-year-old Jaime Garcia for $8 million this year, plus $2 million in bonuses, if he pitches well, (and we all know he won't.) Garcia poses an interesting benchmark, because Cashman obtained him last summer for Diedrich Enns and the living legend Zach Littell, a 21-year-old who went - get this: - 19-1 at Single and Double A. Nineteen and one. (Write this down: If Littell turns out to be a keeper, the name of Jaime Garcia will roil the Yankiverse for many years to come.)

Garcia threw 37 innings for the Yankees - eight sickly starts - and pitched 2 scoreless innings in the Divisional Series against Cleveland. Overall, he went 5-10 last year, with an ERA of 4.41 (which, terrifying fact alert here, was still better than Masahiro Tanaka's 4.74.) 

But if $8 million wins you Jaime Garcia, I believe it's safe to say that Yankee fans can forget about Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn. Even with Toronto out of the auction - and that's no certainty - the big name pitchers will still command far more than what Garcia is receiving. If not, something is seriously wrong with the concept of supply and demand.

Which brings us back to the hope that Cashman can find a cheap, used-lottery ticket reclamation project. Yesterday, Tim Lincecum auditioned in front of about two dozen scouts, and supposedly hit 93 on somebody's radar gun. (In this day and age, hitting 93 is the equivalent of a GED diploma.) It's amazing to think that Lincecum - after four years of sustained mediocrity - might be too pricey for the Yankees, but jeez, if Jaime Garcia costs $8 million... that may be a reality. 

We might have to start thinking about 35-year-old Jason Vargas, or 29-year-old Chris Tillman, who endured a completely lost season last year in Baltimore, falling from near ace status to a Betances-in-crisis, end of the bullpen lugnut. I don't know what Tillman would cost, but it's like Popeye's Fried Chicken - cheap but not good for you.

Last year, Cash coaxed Chris Carter up from the primordial ooze - a strike-out machine DH who cost us $3 million. Hard to imagine, but this year, in search of pitching, we might get less. We want a Bartolo. Might just be that even the Bartolos are too expensive.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tim Lincecum is exactly the pitcher the Yankees need

Today, before a police lineup of scouts, agents, accountants, trainers and gun-owners (radar guns, that is), the Freak himself - Tim Lincecum - will step onto a mound and into Spring Fantasy Comeback Crapola History. Maybe.

At age 33 - (34 in June) - Lincecum is seven years removed from elite status with the SF Giants, and three since he threw more than 100 innings. In his last, torture-porn incarnation with the Angels, he was horrible, Anthony Scaramuchi-bad, with an ERA over 9.00 in 38 firebombed, air-sickness innings. That was 2016. He didn't bother showing up last year. He was probably rolling sushi.

And yet... here he is, lacing up his Doc Dentons and attempting to be John Travolta. And before anybody yells, "Battlefield: Earth," I offer one word: 

Bartolo.

Bar. Toe. Low.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: Duko, you done gonna batshit, Glen Beck-crying crazy batshit. The mere fact that the Yankees once gave Bartolo Colon a final chance, which he parlayed into a second career, does not mean it can happen again. Odds are Lincecum will get hammered in spring training by some Zolio Almonte clone, end up in Scranton and then disappear into some sanctuary city to pour gluten-free wine to Trump-supporting Junior Leaguers. 

But but BUT... if there is one piece yet to be played for the 2018 Yankees, it is the opportunity for a cast-off pitcher to return with sheer guile and maybe some slippery elm - a guy who gives us 100 innings until July, when the Domingos and Justuses take over. 

My guess is that Lincecum will sign for around $2 million - slightly more than porn star hush money, these days - and he's a gamble worth taking. He won't pitch in the all-star game. He won't be our third starter. But he could be the sixth man, and we will need one. If anybody thinks the current rotation will stay healthy, let them note the ankle brace CC was wearing yesterday, when golf-carted to his car, following the first action-packed day of soft-tossing. He must have stepped on a sparrow.

The Yankees can afford a high-risk, piss-away-some-of-Hal's-money signing this spring. If Lincecum flops, no harm, no foul. It just means more of a chance for the Domingo Acevedos or the Domingo Germans. He either pitches his way onto the team, or he vanishes into the fast food joints of Clark Summit. 

Supposedly, the Yankees will send a scout for today's audition. Whoopie. They'd be fools to skip it. Let's hope they like what they see, and lay down some cash. Let's dare to dream about 2018. We have three Aarons and a lineup full of potential. It would be nice to have a Freak.  

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

People keep proposing trades to kill the Yankees

This morning, Ken Rosenthal - the 5'5" human bow tie - outlines a three-way, Groupon-inspired, Rube Goldberg-machine deal that would send Manny Machado to the Yankees for the remaining season on his contract, and all you need to know is that it will not happen - and in the current Philippines, people would be shot in the streets for proposing it. Why do sportswriters do this? Fentanyl? Are they genetically predisposed to disrupting the Yankees? Are the Russians, bored with American politics, now looking to meddle in the AL East? 

Not a week goes by without some Gammonite ginning up a plan for the Yankees to trade Glyber Torres or Miguel Andujar for a big name on a cruise ship-sized contract, which ends next winter and would leave the Yankees protecting their gonads with duct tape. Every conversation with Yankee fans reaches the same conclusion: The fan base loves loves LOVES the idea of two ascendant rookies in the lineup, even with the understanding that both could fail. It's fresh air, it's the unbridled hope of youth. With luck, the Yankees could win divisional championships and maybe a ring or three. Why in God's name would we trade Torres or Andujar, without even unwrapping their gift boxes to see what's inside? Nobody wants to tamper with this team, aside from sportswriters who cannot resist ways of de-fanging the Bombers.

I believe the Yankiverse must make peace with Jacoby Ellsbury as the fifth outfielder, regardless of what he's being paid. It doesn't matter whether he starts in CF or comes in as a late inning pinch runner. It. Doesn't. Matter. The fact is, he's not a bad player or teammate, and the current outfield logjam could be blown up instantly by injuries, making Ellsbury critical to the 2018 season. We have him, folks. He's not going anywhere. Who cares what he's being paid? Let's see what happens. 

Regardless of how the rookies look or the outfield shapes up, there are still six weeks left to ponder the relentless carnival train of nightmare trade ideas that will be presented whenever a Gammonite realizes he has nothing to discuss. We made it this far with two rookies. We don't need to trade for a year of Manny Machado (who wants to play SS anyway.) Let's keep our fingers crossed and away from the nuclear button.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Arod: Captain of ... Industry?

The awesomeness of Arod can only be compared to his preternatural lack of self-awareness. It's part of his charm, such as it is.
He's not just a craven self-promoter, but someone who's had a second coming and seeks to leverage the public's short, addled memory.

And the esteemed multi-Pulitzer Prize awarded Miami Herald is playing a part in the rehabilitation of the tarnished image of the Yankee near-great. He's been selected, with slight notice or fanfare, as a judge in the paper's annual Business Plan Challenge.


  

It's here! We made it... the long awaited return of M & M

Let's be honest: At this point, a mere "winning season" would be a colossal Yankee disappointment, almost an embarrassment. Today, as camps open, the 2018 Bombers stand among baseball's highest tier - one of the rare teams expecting to win, no chance of tanking.

MLB's collective bargaining agreement has built a solid de facto payroll cap, known as the luxury tax, to keep player salaries low, while revenues skyrocket. Dilly-dilly to them. But an unfortunate side-effect is that the surest way for a team to win is by "tanking," finishing last for several years. Entering 2018, about one-third of the teams actually hope to win. Along with the Yankees, they are:

Houston, defending champs, thanks to decades of tanking.

Cubs, still clinging to 2016, after lenghty tanking.

Indians, Nats, Redsocks, Dodgers - must win now or re-tank. 

Angels, with Japanese Babe, special case, cannot tank this year.

Twins, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies - tanking done! ready to go.

Mets, Mariners, Blue Jays, Cards, O's - lost in limbo, need to tank.

Thanks to the Yankees' mid-2016 tanking - and the Marlins' current tankathon - we want to win it all. It's been generations since the Yankees started spring training with two open slots - 2b and 3b - a farm system rated among the industry's best, and this much optimism.

But with hope comes the Curse of Expectations. In every model, every projection - no matter how we temper them - we Yankee fans secretly believe the 2018 team will field one of the most powerful lineups in our lives. In our fantastical private moments, we are fourth-graders, awaiting the reincarnation of the M&M boys. This is our version of the Rams' "Fearsome Foursome," or Michigan's "Fab Five." We are entering March with hopes so far beyond this planet's orbit, there is almost no way this team can compete with its expectations.

I'm imagining that two rookies - Glyber Torres and Miguel Andujar - launch future all-star careers. I'm thinking that by the time a pitcher finishes with the front seven hitters, he will be so drained that the final two - our rookies - will feast upon him. 

It won't happen, of course. Somewhere out there, huge disappointments loom. Maybe Greg Bird will miss another season. Maybe Aaron Judge will simply fail to hit. Injuries could kill our rotation, and who knows what to make of Chapman and Betances? It's a perilous path, but I'm here to say that anything less than a Divisional title will be disappointing. I've waited sixty years for a Yankee reincarnation of Mantle and Maris. This is why I became a Yankee fan. It's finally here. Mickey and Roger, Yogi and Elston, Moose and Blanchard - Judge and Jury. It's spring, and we're all 12 again. Have a Pepsi! Calgon Bath Beads, take me away!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Goose on the Loose



Spring is coming, so esteemed Yankee great Goose "Rich" Gossage is shooting from the lip again. This time, he's taking a shot at the team's great GM, C-Money himself.

"With power ... you turn into a f--king a--hole. Is that it?"

"If he had any balls, he'd do what he wants to do," Gossage said of Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. "He doesn't think he needs any baseball people around. Maybe he's right. The way the game is being run today, maybe you don't."

"He would've been gone 10 years ago if George was still around," Gossage said. "He'd have been gone when he jumped out of that f--king airplane. Do you think he’s a good f--king baseball guy, really? He doesn’t believe in f--king coaching."

In 2017, Gossage ripped legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and their current closer, Aroldis Chapman, for being one-inning pitchers, in an interview with NJ Advance Media's Randy Miller.

"It's totally different, so don't even compare me here," Gossage said. "Chapman's great. [Rivera] was great ... for one inning."
We love the Goose and don't completely disagree with him but it is what it is, as a wise man once said. And Cash is king.

You'll Like Prediction #8


While trying to avoid making some required updates to a compliance manual for a client in the insurance industry, I ran across an article in "TimeOut.com" which is an online magazine -- I think.  Time Out's feature articles right now include pieces on "Drinking in London", "Dating in Shanghai", "Feminist Songs", and "Los Angeles Comedians."  

I'm always a big fan of irony so, given those choices, I went straight to "Feminist Songs".  I'm glad I did.  I had been looking for the definitive source for rocking out to the “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by "Against Me!" and it looks like I've finally found it.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues - Against Me!
Anyway, in the Miami edition of Time Out, there's an article in which the author makes "Eight Miami predictions for 2018".  You'll love #8:

8. Derek Jeter will trade the remaining Miami Marlins for seven baby goats and shout “Gotcha!” before jumping on a helicopter back to Yankee Stadium, where he will high five Hal and Hank Steinbrenner. He played us like a damn fiddle.
Seems you never know where you'll find your next pearl.

Waiting for the last deals of the flea market

Every Saturday, around 1 p.m., the flea market universe collapses. Minutes before closing, each vendor ponders all his unsold crapola - the staggering secret treasures of civilization that now must be hauled back to the barn - and goes Jason Vorhees on slashing prices. That hand-painted sign saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder?" It drops from $4 to $2. That NY Giants wind chime made from an aluminum Bud Light bottle and blue/red can openers? It falls to $4. I am not making this up. The value of these cultural heirlooms, niceties beyond our ability to perceive, collapses like Bitcoin. To not buy the clock that sounds bird calls upon each hour - even if the goddamm thing doesn't work - is no longer an option. 

Mark these words: The MLB winter flea market is getting ready to close. Unsigned free agents face the possibility of having to cart all their bats, gloves and shoes to Bradenton, for a players union camp. There, a foul ball that breaks a toe, or a twinge in the ankle while running to first, will become life-changing events, threatening the future of their families. The union might indemnify them in some way, but it won't be like having an MLB contract. The players have been routed this winter, the score is 66-0, with the owners wanting more. Last year, around now, the Yankees signed the reigning NL home run leader, Chris Carter, for next to nothing. (Sadly, they got what they paid for, but that's another story.) So what 600-pound manatee might they hook this week?

Generally, I avoid projecting trades or deals, because it quickly becomes fantasy football, and nobody ever predicts Cashman's moves. But here are few names being discussed.

Neil Walker. He's 32, plays 2b and hit .265 with 14 HRs last year. Advantage: He's played in NY as a Met, and he can also play 1b, in case Greg Bird gets hurt. Disadvantage: He made $17 mill last year - way out of our price range, and he would virtually end the spring training competition at 2b, sentencing either Glyber Torres or Miguel Andular to a season at Scranton. Bad future karma, right?

Mike Moustakas, 29, plays 3b; hit 38 HR and batted .272 last year. Would create a "dream team" scenario, if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. But why would he? This should be his big payout year - he made only $8 mill last season in KC. Imagine him in our lineup, quite possibly batting eighth. Good grief, a Murderers Row. Would he take a one-year deal at, say, $12 mill, if it included a virtual certainty to play in the post-season? 

Jake Arrieta (31) or Lance Lynn (30). I lump them together. Each is slightly past his career sell date. Neither is Yu Darvish, but either would fill our sixth starter needs. Big question: Does any starting pitcher's market value ever fall? Surely, each wants that last big contract, the one that guarantees home and hearth. They probably want five years at $12-$15 million. Would Cashman overreach in going for the brass rail?

The flea market is closing soon. Deals are going to start popping. Cashman has about $10 million in his pocket. It's hard to imagine him not spending it, and you know what they say about pitchers: Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Where is Hank?


Don't think we (meaning I) haven't noticed. 

One of the key players (a non-player) has been MIA. We expect he'll surface shortly like an oversized besotted groundhog, utter some incomprehensible hyperbolic pronouncement, then fade away, presumably back to the fleshpots of Dale Mabry.

The Fredo Corleone of the Yankee Family, Henry George "Hank" Steinbrenner IV, has largely been absent from view since last June when he proclaimed "we're greedy," as the Yanks made their early-Summer pennant feint.

His son, George Michael Steinbrenner IV, works with a team of people who drive around in circles. (He's inherited his father's rugged good looks, too.)

But where is the heart and soul of the family, the brawn of the operation? Is it time to put his ugly mug on a milk carton — as if that would do any good?


Time will tell. We (meaning I) will be waiting.

Yu Darvish was never in play

Yu Darvish signed with the Cubbies yesterday, and good riddance to that boatload of crapola, which doubles as the "hot stove league rumor mill," which at times suggested the Yankees might snag him. It was never going to happen. Anyone could see it. Hal Steinbrenner was never going to spend beyond the salary cap - (technically, it's called a "tax threshold") - or break ranks with his monopoly cartel co-conspirators - (technically, they're called "owners.") 

So Yu II is now a Cub for six years, until age 37, and let's hope his little speed bump in the NL post-season was due to tipping pitches - yeah, that's the ticket; otherwise, the Wrigley fan base just obtained the NL version of David Price. Did anybody really think the Yankees were in on this auction? Ken Rosenthal is now reporting that the Empire never made an actual offer. That makes sense. The notion that we were going to scrap our fiscal future for a big ticket payout always looked crazy, though I guess some leaders have come to like the idea of deficits and hot checks. 

It's almost time for Cooperstown Cashman to spend his $7 million in bottle/can deposits on somebody - anybody - so the 2018 team can come into focus. I'm betting on middling pitcher, some guy pushing 30, who barely touches 90 on the gun, but who can throw five innings and give up three runs... because we can win that game. Don't know who, and whether Cash will sign somebody outright or sprinkle a prospect - (wither goest Jake Cave?) - into the deal. Last year, we signed Chris Carter, the reining NL HR leader, for peanuts. Somepin gonna happen. 

But not with Jacoby Ellsbury. Increasingly, it looks like nobody will take Jake's contract, unless we pay out 70-80 percent - maybe $17 mill of the $22 mill per season. Even then, Ellsbury must sign off, and he's given no indication of doing so. So, it's another Kate Upton-in-the-elevator fantasy. But the logjam is breaking. Today or tomorrow, JD Martinez is going to probably sign with Boston (unless they have pissed him off so badly that he refuses) - and the games will begin. It's finally happening. The 2018 season is taking shape. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The more you look at the 2018 Yankees, the more everything hinges on one player

In 2017, we experienced two Yankee teams: The one with a continuing parade of first-basemen - like chocolates on a conveyor belt in front of a crazed Lucille Ball - and the one with Greg Bird. 

The first team featured Chris Carter, Garrett Cooper, Gi-Man Choi, Head Caseley, and an injured Greg Bird, who played so poorly that he became a Twitter trend when his average hit .042 on the day baseball saluted Jackie Robinson. The second team featured Greg Bird, the one whose homer off Andrew Miller turned around the Divisional series against Cleveland. That's the team we want.

Every time you look at the Yankees' 2018 lineup, you see a chorus line of right-handed sluggers - Judge, Giancarlo and Sanchez - in need of a lefty slugger. And while Didi is an excellent supplement, the man in the center needs to be Bird.

Imagine the batting order:

Gardy LH
Judge RH
Stanton RH
Bird LH
Sanchez RH
Gregorius LH
Hicks S
2b (Torreyes, RH, Torres RH; Wade LH, Jace Peterson LH; Danny Espinosa S)
3b (Andujar RH; Torreyes, Peterson, Espinosa)


No matter how you slice it, everything hinges on Greg Bird. 

Note: Now imagine Hicks hitting as he did in the first two months of 2017, thus being elevated to second in the lineup. Too much to hope for? Get ready. It's almost here.

Friday, February 9, 2018

How many starting pitchers will we need, anyway?

Let's face it. Any time you have five honest-to-goodness starters, you should consider yourself floating in a swimming pool of Tito's Vodka. For now, the Yankees have five (5). For the next two months, Cooperstown Cashman can devote himself to pastel etchings or building the tree-house in his backyard. He doesn't have to sign anybody. We have five.  

But the etchings won't get him to Cooperstown. For that, he needs starter number six (6). And let's not kid ourselves, we won't have five (5) starters for long (long).

Tanaka still has a partially torn thingy in his forepaw. God bless him. He's lasted longer than anyone expected. But at any moment, he could feel a twinge, see Dr. Andrews and vanish for 16 months.

CC hasn't thrown 200 innings since 2013. Last year he threw 148. You'd have to be a Knicks fan to expect him to last the season.

Severino is coming off a year in which he threw 198 innings, nearly three (3) times what his output in 2016. That's dangerous.  

Sonny Gray threw 162 innings, about 30 more than he did the previous season in Oakland, where he had arm scares. It's why they traded him for two (2) Yankee prospects who were hurt, themselves.

Jordan Montgomery threw 155 MLB innings last year, about 20 more than he threw the previous season in Trenton and Scranton. What can we legitimately expect?

One bad week, and we could be running a Scranton rotation - Chance Adams, Luis Cessa, Domingo German and the cast of Glee. (Justus Sheffield probably  will be at Trenton.) We need a Freddie Garcia, some $6 mill-per-season innings-eater who holds back opposing hordes through five (5) and gives us the chance to win a shoot-out. 

The five-man rotation will not hold. Adam Warren and/or Chad Green won't be enough. Cooperstown Cashman needs to climb down from the tree, find an old inner tube lying on the side of the road, and coax 125 innings out of it. Bartolo, where are you?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Did Cooperstown Cashman Just Take a Page from Canton Belichick's Playbook?




When I saw the story of the Russell Wilson trade yesterday, the first thing that flashed through my mind was that either Brian Cashman or Texas GM Jon Daniels had uncovered some obscure rule whereby one or both of their teams would benefit if they made that specific "trade".

The fact that the Atlanta Braves recently traded for Adrian Gonzalez and his $22,357,000 salary -- and then released him the same day they acquired him -- lets us know that things aren't always as they seem these days.

I've lived in New England long enough to have watched Bill Belichick do the same thing in the NFL for many, many years.  Belichick and his staff study every last line of the rule book and then exploit whatever they can find to their team's advantage while everyone else stands on the sidelines yelling "Cheater! Cheater!"

If this isn't some sort of trading sleight of hand, then I'm mystified as to why it needed to happen.  I went to a few Cactus League games in Arizona in 1999, the same year Garth Brooks played for the San Diego Padres in spring training.  We went to a Cubs-Padres game and, when Brooks came to the plate, the country music fans rose and stomped and hooted and hollered.  The Cubs pitcher proceed to groove some looping keg-league pitches to Brooks until he managed to smack a double.  Unless you were a Garth Brooks fan with a big white hat, a polished belt buckle, a lip full of dip, and a dolled-up tart on your arm, it wasn't all that much fun to watch.

Having seen it first hand, I'll say that if some creative rule twist isn't the reason the Russell Wilson trade happened, I'm voting for the "hubris" option presented by Duque in his post this morning.  More to the point, unless this benefits the Yanks due to some heretofore unnoticed rulebook fillip, I'm calling it a stupid and wasteful distraction.

Signing Russell Wilson: Hubris or fun?

First, let's not go dueling Congressional memos over this: Yesterday's "trade" with Texas for Russell Wilson, the Seahawks Super Bowl QB, will likely be forgotten by the Ides of March (a great band, dammit; why aren't they in the Hall?) Its legacy will be a few bad punch lines about the Yanks having a better QB than the Mets (Tebow, get it?) and that Boston would sign Tom Brady, if only he could catch a ball. 

Last time the Evil Empire welcomed a spring training celebrity, it was Billy Crystal back in 2008, a sop to Old George, back when we were perennial faves. Our season ended the first week of October with Robby Cano aimlessly waving at a roller into right field, and here's what we have to remember. 
    


The Mets have twice floated spring celebrities. In 2000, Garth Brooks - or was it "Chris Gaines?" - tried out with the team. He actually did it three seasons, with the Mets, Royals and Padres - going a collective 2-42. And then there is pious Tim Tebow, 30, who hit .220 last season at low Single A, but packed the bleachers in Florida, where the yaybobs still remember when he was pitched to sire Katy Perry in sick eugenics fantasies. (Let's just say, the world dodged a bullet.)

So... Russell Wilson... good or bad? Hey, it's a democracy. You decide: 

1. Bad idea. Once again, folks, here it comes: pure, uncut, felony-grade Yankee hubris. This is exactly what we didn't want - the team opening camp as a self-anointed favorite, chock with celebrities, with that country club spirit that always goes nowhere. Remember last year's Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM)? Now it's our turn. They say Wilson will teach youngsters discipline. What a joke. What they'll see is the self-indulgence of celebrity, big money stars hobnobbing on and off the field. Last year, the lean and hungry Yankees had something to prove. This year, entourages! And have we forgotten what happens to "sure-things" in NYC? They get devoured by expectations. The call-in shows, the Gammonites, the - gulp - fan blogs. If the Yankees tank, do you know how many times I will scream about Russell Wilson? We have a rookie manager - a celebrity himself - and we are adding more fame? This is a huge mistake. Cashman, you suck!

2. Good idea. The baseball season - from mid-February to the edge of November - has become a marathon, eight-hours-of-Nancy-Pelosi-standing-up-in-high-heels grind. Whenever you can lighten the load, especially in spring, you should do it - especially with a positive role model like Wilson. The guy plays 2B. Imagine the excitement for Glyber Torres, Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes and Thairo Estrada as they work with Wilson, who unabashedly loves the game of baseball. He will remind everyone of how lucky they are to be playing a sport that isn't likely to leave them a doddering recluse in 20 years. Moreover, Wilson will siphon publicity from other players, lessening their stress. While the Gammonites pepper him with questions, the rest can go about their business. In the future, we should always recruit a stalking horse celebrity, just for the media. Everybody else can breathe easier. Wayta go, Cash! Say, have you lost weight?

Take your pick. Like I said, it probably won't matter - unless Wilson can convince Jacoby Ellsbury of the wonders of Seattle. In that case, maybe the Ides of March will take notice: (I love ya, need ya, want ya, got to have your child... GREAT GOD IN HEAVEN YOU KNOW I LO-UUUUVE YOU...!)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cheapo Redsocks dragging feet en route to JD Martinez

This winter, we've assumed Boston would sign OF/DH JD Martinez to a contract that will look good through next summer, and eventually morph into their version of Jacoby Ellsbury Syndrome. The question is whether they'll be leashed to each other for five or seven years. We're hoping for lucky number seven!

Now, the Internet tells us that Martinez is "fed up" with Boston's unwillingness to roll a seven, or even compromise on six, and he might go elsewhere just to spite his Redsockian overlords. That's probably just "super agent" Scott Boras spewing from the blowhole. But it would set up a perfect opportunity for some other team to match Boston's offer and steal Martinez - if the owners were not colluding. 

Meanwhile, check out this Boras spoken verse, composed yesterday. 

THE OFF-SEASON REGATTA

By Scott Boras

They got to Florida
coming back from Japan

and what did they find?
A shipwrecked franchise.

One of the boats is down,
its cargo’s in the ocean, go get it!

You know how much investment teams
put in trying to get all those players?
And so then you go in,
you’re near the free agent docks,

more teams dump. Tampa, Pittsburgh,
then finally they get to the docks,

and it’s what, two months late?
So now they finally realize

there’s no more trades
and the free agents are starting

to move a little bit
because teams are done.

I've said this before: If Boras ever wants to ditch his minimum wage job as super agent and join the high-pay industry of fan-blogging, he's got a niche here at IT IS HIGH.

It's time to start planning next year's Yankee World Series victory riot

On the morning after the Rose Bowl Parade, the people of Pasadena famously gather to brainstorm the next year's hideous orgy of dogmatic Disney commercialism. 

If we want to go viral next October, we must start NOW in planning our spontaneous Yankees Canyon of Heroes victory hell riot.

First, we need experienced climbers, folks who can scale the Statue of Liberty, and that's gonna be a somabitch, because you know Lady Liberty will be slathered in Crisco. Can we get those magnetic suction cup-thingys Tom Cruise used in Mission Impossible? If those things exist, we need a shitload. If we can drone 20 fat guys up to the torch, we could have that statue do a face plant, recreate the Charlton Heston finale from Planet of the Apes. That would show Liddle Philadelphia what we think of them dropping the Ritz-Carlton entrance. Ohh, what big time rioters you are... knocking down a hotel awning!

I say we clog Holland Tunnel with beer cans, top to bottom. Nobody gets in or out. We take a small crew, each one wearing a beer-icide vest full of 12-packs, and establish a party right in the middle. We form barricades from the empties and piss out through the holes. We hold our ground for a week, or until supplies last. That'll show the Mets who runs this town.

Empire State Building? We climb to the top, beat our chests and bat away planes. Trump Tower? If one story remains standing, we should riot in shame. With enough people, we should be able to push over the High Line. After that, I say we march north, topple the Tappan Zee, then finish by burning White Plains to the ground. I'm talking about a RIOT people, something that makes Philly's hell night look like a Sarah McLachlan concert. It's gonna be great!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Toddfather ranks 6th on All-Time Ex-Yank-to-Mets Scientifically Calibrated Popularity List

Mark the Mets' signing of Todd Frazier yesterday as more proof that Hal Steinbrenner was sired by the Roto-Rooter man. Old George could never resist a player who swore public fealty to the Yankees - (Hideki Irabu, Roger Clemens, Big Unit) - unless, that is, the owners had a secret collusion jihad underway, as with Jack Morris. (Wait a minute: If Hal actually IS Old George's offspring, that means...) 

Anyway, Frazier made his Yankee preferences so clear that he nearly bought three billboards outside of Ebbings, N.J.- but at age 31, he needed a two-year deal, which we could never give. It didn't matter that his price dropped to a measly $8.5 mill per season - clam dip money to Hal - we simply could not tie up 3B through 2019 with a .213 hitter - not with Miguel Andujar on the cusp and Manny Machado/Josh Donaldson becoming free agents next winter. 

Today, let's be happy that Frazier gets to stay near Toms River. It's rare for an ex-Bomber to go Metsy and keep his popularity among Yankee fans. The Toddfather will do that.

In fact, here is the All-Time Top 10 List of Ex-Bombers to Join Mets and Remain Beloved In Yankiverse. 

1. Yogi Berra
2. Willie Randolph
3. Casey Stengel
4. Orlando Hernandez
5. Al Leiter
6. Todd Frazier 
7. Bartolo Colon
8. Ralph Terry
9. Curtis Granderson
10. Rickie Henderson


Note: Being beloved in the Yankiverse does not mean we actually will root for Frazier. The last thing we want is for him to win the MVP and lead the Mets to a World Championship. I'd prefer he plays out his two years at a soaring .225, and I'd even accept him homering against us in a Subway Series, (as long as we win the game.) I hated the trade when it happened, and if Blake Rutherford becomes a star, we'll someday look back and cry. But the Toddfather was a pleasure to have. I'll always remember him standing on second base, grinning into the dugout with a thumb pointed to hell. I wish the best, maybe even .230!

And being sixth on the All-Time Ex-Yankee Met List - that's not nuthin.'