Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Man in the Arena

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena..."

—Teddy Roosevelt, 1910.

So welcome back to the Twin Towers this week, Stanton and Judge, much as we hope your return doesn't lead to some intensely foolish move such as discarding The Red Menace or Hammerin' Cameron.

Stanton made a very nice catch between the raindrops and the right field idiots tonight—can we please start flinging all fans who contend with fielders for balls in play out of the Stadium and possibly banning them from life?  Please?—and Judge homered down in Dunder Mifflin Land, and will be here soon.

It will be good to have the both of them back—for as long as they last.

This is not an attempt to open up another debate on whether or not the pure power approach to the game is superior to baseball as it used to be played.  For the sake of (polite) argument, let's say the new approach is better, and that—statistically speaking, anyway—players such as our two gentle giants will sweep the field before them.

The question remains:  What does it matter if they can't stay on the field?

As previously noted, neither man is likely to play as many games in his major-league career as baseball's Fabulous Invalid, Mickey Mantle, did.

To reach as many games as Mantle played, Stanton—who is currently averaging about 115 games a year—would have to play over 120 a season until he is 39.  Judge would have to play almost an entire season, 161.5 games a year, Iron Horse-style, until he turns 40.

Not going to happen.

We all laugh at the recollection of how baseball old-timers would warn youngsters not work out too much with weights lest they become "musclebound."  What a bunch of idiots!

But, as in other areas...could it be that they actually DID know at least a little something about the game they devoted their lives to?  Could it be that massive, constant weight training is maybe NOT something you want to push too much at the same time you're playing everyday?

A friend of mine compares these guys to Ferraris:  great car, but it's always in the shop.

I can't say.  (I've never owned a Ferrari, though I do regularly ride the MTA, "the Ferrari of mass transit.")

But I will say this:  baseball is not like other sports, which is why we love it so.  And maybe that should tell us something.

In every other major team sport, you're competing against other players.  You have to outjump them, outrun them, muscle them aside.

In baseball, you're competing against the ball.  You have to catch it, run faster than it, swing faster than it can travel.

After a certain level, you might be talking about diminishing returns in gaining power and strength, while losing reaction time and flexibility.  Particularly, again, in a game you have to play everyday.

I hope Stanton and especially Mr. Judge demolish every home-run record in the book and lead the Yanks to one World Series after another.  But going by their track records—and their physiques—it's much more likely they'll soon be as smashed up again as this Judge ad I happened to wander past a few months ago.

Better keep Maybin and that crazy kid.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Don't laugh, it's a steady income stream

I was stumbling around the intertubes yesterday and found this advertisement (pronounced ad-VER-tiss-ment), revealing the secret side business of our fearless blog leader.

A tad on the racy side, but perhaps the Marketing Department discovered this approach tested better than Ellsbury bent over, holding his lower abdomen.

At any rate, Duque, now we know how you can afford publishing IIH with so many bells and whistles.

Continued good luck with this endeavor.

Soon Enough We Shall Watch In Misery

All the sports writers hail the return of Stanton.

Some fans think, " he is a great ballplayer."

I am in the opposite camp and always have been.

Stanton will cause the downfall of this team.  Watch it slide from here on, rather than battle and climb.

He is a rally killing, strikeout machine.  He covers about 30% of the territory that Gardy and/or Maybin can cover in left field.  Outs become doubles when he plays.

His glove is made of mica.

He has no speed.

When 'red hot,' he hits into double plays.  When the second out is recorded at first base, Stanton will still be 80 feet from the base.  And he will be hustling.

Worse than that, he is causing us to lose Maybin and, likely, Frazier.  Maybe more. Due to Stanton, the needless acquisition of Encarnacion, and soon Judge ( whom I do not regret ),  Urshela is also now on the "disappearing track ."

I loved watching Maybin play. And the team loves his character and attitude.

 Who loves the stoic Stanton whom everyone looks at with only " cash register" eyes?

 I loathe watching Stanton. I am not in awe of a 500 foot moon shot when we are ahead by 8 runs. I remember, rather, his strikeouts when we have the tying run on third, and winning run on  second.    And lose the game as a result.  He does not help us win games.  He helps us lose them.  That is not my definition of a great player.

Rather than a returning hero, arriving just in time to save the day, we welcome home a disease who will weaken every man jack of us.

He will cause me to not give a shit.


Submitted by commenter Ranger lp:

“Day No. 450... A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

But this is not about Pearl Harbor. It's about making a baseball player famous forever. They did it with Cy Young. He won 511 games. No one will ever come close to that feat. We named an award after him... the Pulitizer Prize the Cy Young Award, given annually to the best pitcher in each league. Great idea, wasn't it?

Then there was Mario Mendoza. You know him, don't you?

Wikipedia defines what we all know and love as "The Mendoza Line." It's a baseball expression that derives from shortstop Mario Mendoza, whose poor batting average has come to define the threshold of incompetent hitting. The cutoff point is often said to be .200, (though Mendoza's career batting average was .215.) When a hitter's average falls below that level, he is said to be "below the Mendoza Line".

This is often the offensive threshold below which a player's presence on an MLB team cannot be justified, regardless of his glovework. The term is used in other contexts when one is so incompetent in one skill that other skills cannot compensate. That was a great idea too!

It's time to bequeath a new baseball term for a new player. I'll give you a number, but you may not know what it represents...449. 

Any guesses? I'll help you. It's associated with a Yankee to be inscribed in infamy. 

Jacoby Ellsbury.

By my calculations, Ells has now been on the DL - oops, the IL - for
450 days. That goes back two years and part of this season. As my first remembrance of baseball extends back to 1961, no one has come close to being on the DL - damn, old habits you know - the IL. Jacoby epitomizes the IL, and it seems he's been on that list longer that anyone in history. Longer than the Babe, longer than Lou Gehrig - sorry, my bad, that's a really wrong analogy - so it's about time we celebrate this record-breaking streak that no one will ever top.

They started with the Disabled List, the DL. Disabled people complained, so MLB changed it the Injured List, the IL. Jacoby has now been on this list four-hundred-and-fifty days. (450). When I get injured, I'm not out for 450 days. The most for me was 180. I'm insulted that the term "injury" is in the same ballpark. So now. it's time for a change...

From now on, the IL should be called... THE EL... the Ellsbury List. It encapsulates the experience of being injured. For short, we can call it the "Ells" List. Has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Everyone will know what it means. We should start by using it every day... with friends or family, such as those who frequent this site. Before you know it, everyone will call it the Ells List, making him part of history. 

Today... the 450th day.

The saga of Hammerin' Cameron Maybin is about to end, and it just doesn't seem fair

I wheedle and whine about Brian "Zolio" Cashman - (new nickname: as GM, he's 1 for his last 18 years in world championships) - but the army of extras he's assembled this year rivals any of the great Game of Thrones battle scenes. For a moment, let's forget the All-Star vote; what if Yankee fans had to elect this season's most pleasant surprise? The nominees:

Luke Voit
Gio Urshela
Domingo German
DJ LeMahieu

Clint Frazier
Cameron Maybin

Each has been a godsend, each rose from (relative) obscurity, and each could vanish tomorrow, if Cooperstown Cashman decides the Yankees can improve through an acquisition. That is the hidden message of the Edwin Encarnacion deal: 

It doesn't matter how brilliantly a bench player performs for the Yankees, he will be replaced if a better alternative comes along.

Let's face it: The only "safe" Yankees - that is, here to stay - are the ones whose contracts make trading them nearly impossible. That's Giancarlo Stanton, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Jacoby Ellsbury. If Aaron Hicks and Luis Severino fall apart, they could join this group. And there is the popularity factor for Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius: Yankee fans would revolt if any were dealt or allowed to walk (though we once felt that way about Mr. Jogginson Cano, didn't we? Wasn't his lifetime Yankee legacy a certainty?

Even Voit - heart and soul of the team, thus far - might be looking over his shoulder come October, if Encarnacion proves himself a decent fielding first-baseman. 

But today, let's talk about Hammerin' Cameron. Last night, he went 3-3 with a HR, his third this week, and everybody knows he's hitting with one foot out the waiver wire door. By this time next week, Judge will return, and the Yankees almost certainly will waive Maybin, whom Voit last night called "one of the coolest, most positive teammates I've ever had." Last night, you could see in the body language of his colleagues how well Maybin is liked and respected. There is no Scranton option. He's 32.

The lone alternative would be to clip a pitcher from our ginormous 13-member staff and use Maybin for defensive replacements and pinch running. But that's Brett Gardner's role. Unless somebody gets injured - (which, by the way, is the new normal; it'll be maddening to have someone go down a week after Maybin leaves) - it's almost impossible to keep Maybin. Cashman will try to trade him, rather than let Boston or some potential October opponent pick him up for scratch. He won't get much in a deal. No leverage. 

As far as I can see, all we get is the chance to give this guy something he will keep for the rest of his life: A few loud, joyous standing ovations in the city that never weeps... and then, if we're lucky - come November - a full world series share. Someday, on Old-Timers Day, they'll announce his name, and we'll rouse from our creamed corn in the senior center cafeteria and yell to our keepers, "Hammerin' Cameron! Goddamm! He was something!"

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cashman Goes All In

Interesting stat from tonight's telecast:  the Yankees now have four of the five guys with the top home-run rates in MLB since 2012.

They are, in this order:


The only one we don't have is No. 1, Joey Gallo, who, as we all know, was blown down one day in a clam bar in New York.  (He could see it comin' through the door as he lifted up his fork.  He pushed the table over to protect his family, then he staggered out into the streets of Little Italy.  Joey, Joey: why did they have to go and blow you away?)

This should make for an interesting test of the straight power game.

"That is a MAN'S performance!"

So said Michael Kay as Tanaka finished his complete-game shutout.

Hey, you can't knock him.  It had actually did have a bit of a no-hitter vibe, it was so rare.

Nice win.

So, 13Bit Had This Idea...

13Bit, esteemed contributor to this blog, had a great idea for an It Is High, It Is Far, It Is... caught get together at Yankee Stadium.

I liked the concept so much, I wrote him offline to tell him so.  We began a correspondence, mulled it over, and kicked around a few ideas.  Then we met in a bar not too far away from Yankee Stadium where we really started to put a fine point on it.

After a few hours of intense brainstorming, it was getting towards lunch so we switched over from beer to Manhattans.  This inspired move allowed us to see what was truly needed to make it easier for all IIHIIFIIc readers to join us: We needed a website, so we created one.  I am proud to introduce:

If you visit the spankin' new site, you'll find all the info you need to join us that day.  Here's the gist of it:

IDEA: Attend a home Yankees game with a few of the people you jabber online with.
DATE: Monday, the 12th of August.

OPPONENT: Baltimore Orioles
The above is just a summary so please read through all the info on the website.  After that, think it over for 4 seconds, maybe clear it with your better half, and then click the big red "Register Now" button.

We need you to do this so we can get a decent guess at a headcount to learn if we qualify for any group discounts.  13Bit will take care of getting them all in one transaction so we can all sit together.  The cost will essentially be the price of a ticket.  I'm biased, but I think 13Bit has come up with a great idea.

So, come on out, put a screen name with a face, watch the game, drink a beer, debate the pressing issues of the day (e.g., "Is Cashman a genius or Inspector Clouseau?"), and generally have a good time.

Please join us.

Who Wants This Bet?

The Wager :

Giancarlo will strike out in his first at bat, having just returned from a long vacation.
The pitch will be a breaking ball, in the dirt, about 18 inches off the plate.

The Exacta :

Later in the game, when the Yankees need a rally and runs, he will strike out with runners in scoring position.

The Tragedy:

Clint Frazier would have laced that ball into the gap for a double.

Something Is On The Way, But I wouldn't Call It Help

We all see the happy headlines of the local sports rags.

"Help is on the way." And we see the smiling faces of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, as they "hip bump" with joy in their Yankee uniforms.

Aaron Judge, if he is indeed healthy, is a legitimate ballplayer who helps in every way. He plays defense, he takes ball four, and he hits mammoth HRs about 30 plus times a year.

Note to editor;  a home run that leaves the park by six inches counts the same as one that  travels 500 feet, so don't get caught up in the hype and display.  Exceptionally powerful swings are the reason he pulled his core muscles all to shit. And you feel them most when you strike out.

Giancarlo is a fish of another kettle.  He was MVP once for all the wrong reasons, in a different lake.  He does not represent "help."  Dallas Keutchel represented " help."  Stanton is going to cause the Yankees to lose Frazier, Maybin and several top prospects.

The line-up will change, the bench will change, the farm system inventory of quality players will change, and team speed and defense will be negatively altered.  This very week,  Stanton will commence racking up golden sombreros and banging into easy double plays.

Stanton has to play all the time or it will embarrass Hal and Brian.  It will show they got overly excited about  a flashy player who would attract fans, because he hits homeruns.  But he can't move and he does not put the baseball into play.  There is a new statistic for that, and his line simply
reads, " he sucks."

The " help" Stanton provides is the help an incurable virus provides when you go to the  hospital to have your appendix out.  You get worse and you never fully recover.

So disregard all the cheery headlines.  The " help" provided by Judge will be immediately offset by the disruption and failure brought by Stanton.

You wont see him jumping up, bumping hips, and smiling any more.  You'll see him with that dazed look, heading to the dugout after his fourth strike out of the day with runners in scoring position.

Dry rot comes to the summer cottage by the lake.

Once again, Brian Cashman took a call from another team and simply could not say no.

You've heard the adage about government bureaucracy: Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. For the 2019 Yankees, I propose a new one: "Too many Rogers, and not enough Bobbys."

I refer, of course, to the greatest team ever, the '61 Yankees, known for its HR duo of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, plus Yogi, Moose, Ellie and John Blanchard. Fun fact: The first two-batters, Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek, hit 11 HRs, between them. Their job was to blast singles. 

Today's Yanks will tally more HRs than in 1961. The question is whether we'll win a ring. Our newest addition, Edwin Encarnacion brings awesome power. He also adds another slow-footed .241 hitter to a lineup that, with the exception of DJ LeMahieu, hinges on homers. 

At times, all you need is a goddamn single. That's when Aaron Hicks - .211 - doesn't look so much like a long-time CF fixture. In the modern, three-tiered playoff system, homer-happy teams must always beat at least one power staff. That means winning close games and manufacturing critical runs. There always comes the point where all you need a single, a bunt down the line, or a ball slapped to the opposite field. This October, will the Yankees have such a hitter? 

I ask this, because one question now shadows every Yankee move: Will it win us a world championship? 

This is the Yankees last chance in this decade. Excuse me, if I sound nervous, rather than joyful over this latest fortification.  

Amid this drought of historical magnitude, Brian Cashman has once again built an airplane with five wings and one propeller. And once again, "Cooperstown" has painted himself into a corner where he no choice but to ransack the Yankee farm system for some pitcher (or pitchers) whose elbows have already logged a lifetime of innings. Throughout Cashman's 21-year reign as GM, this has been his signature formula: He always remakes the team at the July 31 trade deadline, regardless of how well it is doing without him.

(By the way, Cashman's official record as GM - four world championships - belies the fact that three came under teams - 1998-2000 - built by Bob Watson and Stick Michael. Since 2001, he has one world championship under his belt. One. If a batter goes 1-18, hey, isn't that Zolio Almonte? Maybe we should change Cashman's nickname from "Cooperstown" to "Zolio.")  

Thus far, the 2019 Yankees have beaten all expectations. For that, Cashman deserves our praise. Seriously. He found Luke Voit. He found LeMahiue. He found Gio Urshela. There was a sense that - with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge returning (and maybe Luis Severino) - the Yankees wouldn't need the annual July face lift... that the cavalry was coming not from trades but from the rehab list. We would not have to deal the future for another Sonny Gray or Lance Lynn.

Well, so much for that notion.

The story on Cashman is simple: He can't say no to a pretty face. Miami called with an offer, "Psst, hey, sailor, wanna a deal on Giancarlo Stanton?" The Yankees didn't need Stanton. They had a team of power hitters. Didn't matter. Cashman said yes. Last week, Seattle made the same call. "Hey, psst, guy, wanna a slugger, cheapo?" The Yankees didn't need another DH. We already had two. Didn't matter. Cashman said yes. If tomorrow, somebody offers Albert Pujols, would he say no? My guess: Not if the price was cheap.

So the Yankees absorb another monstrous contract, becoming even more of a homer-hitting lineup, and Clint Frazier - who was batting .333 in recent weeks - goes poof. Soon, Cameron Maybin will join him, and by August 10, the newly drained Yankee farm system will be in need of a hype transfusion, while other teams fatten up for the future. Close your eyes and imagine Frazier as a Blue Jay for the next 15 years. McGriff, anybody?

Twenty-one years, folks. Ignore the first three, and we're 1-for-18. I'm sorry: I should be jubilant over Encaracion. We just took on an $8 million contract, after being slightly outbid by Atlanta for a starting pitcher. Yeesh. All I ask is this: 

Isn't it time to try something different?

"You finally really did it. You maniacs! You blew it up! Goddamn you! Goddamn you all to hell!"

Back in 1951, the Yankees had a very promising 19-year-old outfielder, a converted shortstop who amazed the sporting world with the great spring training he had.  He could hit a ball farther than anyone had ever seen, and he could run faster to first base than anyone, ever—3.1 seconds—and he had a cannon for an arm.

This guy was so good the team felt obliged to bring him north, even though he still seemed pretty raw.  Once up in New York, he did not disappoint, playing very well indeed.

So the Yankees, a great big, coldhearted operation that didn't feel it needed to do anything for anybody, decided they could just leave this kid—who had never been in anything resembling a real town before, never mind the biggest city in the world—alone to ferment in the Grand Concourse Plaza Hotel.

The kid was pretty lonely there.  He wasn't the type to check out America's postwar literary renaissance at the library in between games, or to venture out to see Broadway theatre in the midst of its golden age.

Instead, he mostly sat in his hotel room, scared and miserable, until, inevitably, he found trouble.  Or rather, trouble found him in the form of a showgirl about twice his age, who claimed that he asked her to marry him and in any event got him to sign over a large portion of his future earnings to her scamp of an pimp agent.

The Yankees could've done something like the other baseball team just across Manhattan was doing with its own prodigy, which was hire a wise, broken-down old pug to put him in a boardinghouse run by a protective, loving old matron, and otherwise keep him away from bad women, bad whiskey, and the lonely, existential ache that infests all our souls when he find ourselves far from home in a big, drafty hotel.

This prodigy on this other team would go play stickball in the streets with the kids sometimes, and the broken-down pug would make sure that all the newspapers in New York sent reporters and photographers to watch it, and pretty soon their kid was the most beloved ballplayer in the city.

Which was funny, since our kid was ALSO playing stickball in the street with the kids, but nobody paid any attention.

But hey, broken-down pugs and lovable boardinghouse matrons and newspaper shutterbugs cost money, don'tcha know, probably at least a combined $40-$50 a month back in the day, and these were the New York Yankees, with a bottom line and a business to run.

Sometime in late June, the kid was really stinking up the joint, and getting very mad at himself, and the Yankees let the Knights of the Press Box paint him as a spoiled brat, who couldn't control himself when he struck out.

Actually, he wasn't doing that bad.  He was still leading the first-place Yankees in RBI—although we all know now that RBI really has nothing to do with clutchness and is just a figment of our fervid imaginations—and he was striking out A LOT, though in his entire career he never came close to striking out as much as once a game, which was maybe the real problem he should've been striking out more because that's a very good thing, don't you know.

Anyway, out of thin air, the Yanks decided to send this kid down to Kansas City.  Somebody or other was coming back from the DL.  Maybe it was Cliff Mapes, who hit all of .216 on the year, or Johnny Hopp, who hit .206, but the new kid had to go.

Down he went to KC, where he proceeded to get reeling drunk, have a near breakdown, and threaten to quit the game.  Only the intervention of his zinc miner father kept him playing.  The Yankees, of course, had better things to do than worry about the feelings of the best player anybody had seen in a generation—maybe the best raw talent what ever was.

Well, as you all know, the kid screwed his courage to the sticking place, or screwed something or someone somewhere.  He hit .361 in Kansas City, and after another month-and-a-half he was back in New York where, just the next season, aged only 20, he was already the best player in the majors.

Not that the Yankees deigned to notice.  In the 1951 World Series, they let him go out and permanently destroy his leg because they were too busy to worry about some drunken groundskeeper covering a sprinkler head and because nobody dared to say anything to their god in centerfield, Joe DiMaggio, about how maybe it was time to let the kid take the balls he could no longer get to.

Hey, DiMaggio could have told the kid while he knelt over him, as the teenaged Mickey Mantle writhed in pain:  the Yankees don't care about nobody or nothing.  It was a lesson he had learned his rookie year, when the team let some clubhouse quack burn his heel to a crisp.

So it always was, and so it is again.

Of course the kid who now wears The Mick's number times two is no Mantle or DiMaggio, and never will be.  He is, frankly, not even all that likable, with all his caterwauling about fitting in, and I fear he even may have a screw or two loose, beyond the ones he jarred free running after balls last year.

But he deserved better than this.  And so did we, the fans.  We deserved a lot better than the Annual Hal-Coops Pennant Charade, in which another awful series of trades is made for the one player who will finally bring the team over the top.

One pitcher—not Madison Bumgarner, not even Max Scherzer—is going to do that for this squad which is already, really, 2 starters down and may soon be 3 or 4 down.  A better play would've been to sign Keuchel, or sign Corbin, or sign or trade for any one of a readily available, 5-6 top starters over the past few years.

But that would've cost money—money, mind you, that would've been more than made up with pennants and World Series.  But like some vicious Bavarian peasant out of his ancestry, Hal Zeig Steinbrenner doesn't believe in money unless it is cold, gleaming coins, jingling in his palms right now.

So, here we are.  I hope, wherever he's going, Clint Frazier wins the Triple Crown.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

By acquiring Encarnacion, Yankees shore up 4-man starting rotation... at DH

You know the old saying: "Baseball is 90 percent DH-ing, DH-ing, DH-ing...!" And the Yankees last night placed a big fat cherry atop their already strong DH starting rotation, making it arguably the deepest in baseball.

The self-proclaimed "Death Star" obtained 36-year-old, lead-gloved slugger Edwin Encarnacion - currently hitting .241 with 21 HRs - from Seattle. (Insert Ken Phelps joke here.) - strengthening the Yankees' Designated Hitter lineup. Imagine our DH starting rotation in the playoffs.

Game One: Giancarlo Stanton, (assuming he's not hurt.) 

Game Two: Encarnacion. 

Game Three: Gary Sanchez, (day off from catching.)

Game Four: Kendrys Morales (assuming he's not bagging groceries.)

Actually, I keyboarded Morales here with disappearing ether. He will probably vanish and be deleted from the fossil record, like the classic Twilight Zone episode where the terror-stricken astronauts disappear, one by one. Within two weeks, no one will recall his name, number, statistics, or that he ever played with the Yankees. He will simply be gone, like - um - all the others we cannot remember. (Why does the name "Ji-Man Choi" pop into my head?)

Trouble is, also disappearing will be Clint Frazier, the Yankees' best hitter over the last month. We now can see the future, crystal clear and starkly painful: 

Frazier will be traded for a bum. 

We know this. For months, we have feared it. The witches foretold of it, and the red skies confirmed it. We thought there was a chance that continuing injuries would tether Frazier to the team. But a brief window of health is emerging - soon, for maybe a week or two, the lineup will be at full strength - and the Yankees will surely use that moment to push the button on a trade: Frazier for a bum. At this point, unless they want a five-man DH rotation, they have no choice.

By acquiring Encarnacion, it's hard to imagine Frazier staying through the end of June. Once Stanton and Aaron Judge return, he'll have to be demoted to Scranton- (keep in mind, he's hitting .385 over the last two weeks, .325 over the last month.) He'll be demoralized and disillusioned, until a trade liberates him. And then, of course, the injuries will return (perhaps even restoring Kendrys Morales? Don't laugh. It could happen!) 

Listen: I'm not slamming Encarnacion. The old coot can still hit, and all we gave up is a Single A pitcher, certainly a flexible commodity in the era of Tommy John. I just wonder what the Yankees intend to do about their dearth of starting pitchers, and I hate the obvious answer: They will deal the most exciting hitter we've developed since Judge. If we trade Frazier to - say -  Toronto for Marcus Stroman, we better be prepared for him to bomb us for the next decade.

In every trade, the devil is in the details, and right now, we don't have many. According to Baseball Reference, Encarnacion remains on the Cleveland payroll, due $20 million next year (with a $5 million buyout, which the Indians surely will invoke.) He won't bust us financially. Like I said, the geezer can hit, and he looks mean coming off the bus. He draws a shitload of walks, with an on base percentage of .356. He will land in the middle of the batting order and occasionally play 1B. In the short term, he's an upgrade over Frazier in one area: Strikeouts. Encarnacion has struck out 55 times in 289 at-bats; Frazier has fanned 56 times in about 90 fewer times to the plate. 

Trouble is, we're exchanging a guy who is just getting started for one who is wrapping up his career. We will trade our future for a one-shot October, and we'll end up over-paying mightily for whomever we get. One other thing: When did Cashman last successfully acquire a solid starting pitcher in a trade? Class? Anybody? Surely, he must have done it once? Can anybody refresh my memory? When has such a deal last worked?

Last night, the Yankees held on, thanks to Nestor Ocasio-Cortes Jr. - (who might also be gone in a trade, because that's how these things happen.) Let the record show that, when the Yankees obtained Encarnacion, they were leading the AL East. Cashman is about to remake this roster. And Clint Frazier is as good as gone.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"We Have The Pitching We Need."

I watched Aaron Boone's face when he said this.

He had just been informed that Dallas Kutchel had signed with Atlanta.  Boone had not been aware of this unbelievable development, and it looked as though he was trying not to choke on a rattlesnake sandwich.

He kept a "poker face," of course, not wanting to in any way, form or manner to disparage what was obviously the stupidest decision the Yankees have made since the Jay Buhner deal.  Hal Steinbrenner didn't want to go as high as $15 million, for one year, to solidify legitimate pennant and world series ambitions.

Why?  Because he doesn't have such ambitions. 

He simply promises them he will make the Yankees champions again, but has no intention of taking any action to back up that promise. His technique is to lie to the fan base, earnestly and often,    because he believes them to be stupid and gullible.

 " Money talks and those without it, listen," is Hal's mantra.

It is like someone else promising to bring back all the coal mining jobs, and then sending in three fresh faced teenagers in Brooks Brother's suits to teach 55 year old miners, with 6th grade educations, to become Google coders. 

Boone regathered his composure and went on the offensive:

" We have young guys like Chance Adams, and Luis Cessa.  Soon Betances will be back in the bullpen, stretching it out further" ( so starters only have to go 4 innings ). 

Lets be candid, folks.  There are only two choices remaining for the Yankee administration:

1. Play out the string and see if Boone is right.  Judge and Giancarlo are coming back. Maybe we'll average 10-12 runs per game.

2.  Compound the error of " I'm not cheap Hal Steinbrenner" ( who never wanted this job and doesn't even like baseball), and unload the future.  The panic button here is that Brian has only a terrible track record when it comes to reclaiming once effective pitchers.

In short, this season is over.  And the next 10 may be full of useless old guys whom no one wants to watch.

10-game report card

Sure, sure, we can bitch and moan all we like about the complete collapse of the starting rotation, but let's look at the bright side.

In the last 10 games, our record is just as good as Baltimore, Detroit, KC, Miami, Pittsburgh, Cincy, and your 2019 San Diego Padres. We've even tied Baltimore for longest current losing streak! Whoo.

Almost every one of those teams has been great in the past. Just like us!

We're traveling in rarefied company, ladies and whatever the hell else the rest of you are. Let's be thankful. And then trade everyone under 30 for proven veteran players!

Dear Mr. Cashman, You better not wait until Aug. 1 to decimate the Yankee farm system

Dear Mr. Brian,

I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm tired of being a Negative Nelly, a glass-half-empty, self-loathing Yankee fan. From now on, it's N.B.H.: Nothing But Hope! I'm with you, all the way. This team is going places. I smell home field advantage in the Wild Card! Book it, Dano! 

Last night, in the top of the first, you surely beamed with pride when Luke Voit homered to put the Yankees ahead. He's your boy! Your discovery! It showed that your AL East-leading lineup (at least at the time) could kick around that White Sox stud pitcher of the day, Lucas Giolito. Hah. Take that, Chicago.

Well, okay, so that fiery loins jolt of hope lasted about 15 minutes. (But did you know that 15 minutes can save you a lot on car insurance? And drain a team of hope?) It took that long for CC Sabathia to put us in a 4-1 hole, from which they never escaped. 

Our team has now lost 8 of 12 and reclaimed its customary perch: 2nd place in the AL East. I can list three reasons for this: 1) Starting pitching, 2) Starting pitching, 3) Starting pitching. If you study the rotation, as I know you have, so barren is our Quintet of Quacks that, without the benefit of powerful drugs, one must wonder how, back in May, this team looked so good.

But as I noted earlier, I'm not here to whine. No more "Woe is me." No more "Chicken Little." From now on, helpful suggestions, with a gleeful smile.

Here's an idea. Maybe you should phone a few GMs, as a neighborly gesture, to ask about their families. Can you send them a Wolferman's cheesecake gift basket? Or tickets to Hamilton? Could Randy Levine maybe offer them jobs in the Trump administration? Could he maybe get you a job in the Trump administration? If you happen to have compromising photographs - better yet, videos - of any opposing GMs, this would be a great time to remind them of how judgmental the internet can be. 

Not that I'm suggesting anything unethical. It's just that starting pitchers are hard to come by. It's not often that, say, a veteran starter just appears out of nowhere, as a free-agent, who would cost the franchise nothing but money. I mean, that would be incredible! Imagine a proven starter - in his low 30s, not over-the-hill - who would be willing to accept a one-year deal. Boy, that would be sweet! I gotta believe that if an opportunity like that ever came around, the Yankees would jump on it. 

But, well, that just won't happen. Turns out, we will have to trade our best young talent. On that note, I'm delighted to say: I got your back! I say, TO HELL WITH 2021 AND BEYOND. LET'S CLEAR THE DECKS! Estevan Florial? What has he done lately? Clint Frazier, we've got Gardy! Thairo Estrada? Scranton doesn't need another shortstop. GET RID OF THEM. So what if they sit atop our prospect rankings. Just write up a new list. Put Dopey Dildox on it. Nobody will care. There are old guys out there, with salaries waiting to be dumped, and the Yankees need them. Now. 

So, in trying to be positive, I decided to get the ball rolling. I googled "starting pitchers" and "shopping." Holy crap! This is a cornucopia! 

Of course, our first instincts are to buy the book about Oil Can Boyd. Hal Steinbrenner would love it, though let's face it: He'll blanch at the price tag: $24.59. I'd suggest the $7.99 tee-shirt saluting the Redsocks' 2010 rotation. I hope it comes in ladies SMALL, so Hal can fit in it.

Of course, I recognize that money doesn't grow on trees. The Yankees simply cannot afford to spend willy-nilly. We can't buy our way to a Wild Card. I say, TRADE THEM ALL. I'm with you all the way. I can already taste that Wild Card home field advantage. Woo-woo. A silver medal in the AL East. Another great Yankee season!

A Thought Experiment, Third Time's a Charm!

Okay, so what's it all mean?

Sure, that super team I just imagined is pretty unlikely.  There are few if any management teams who would ever be so perceptive or so ruthless.

Once the Yanks had acquired, say, a Scherzer and a Sale, it's highly unlikely that they would have shelled out for a Verlander, as well.  After picking up a Yelich, they probably would not have bothered to go after J.D. Martinez, too.

But that's not the point.

Even with, say, 3 of these 5 players, the Yanks would have easily steamrolled their way to a ring in 2017 and 2018, and been sitting pretty again this season, injuries or no injuries.  And in that case their payroll would have been maybe $20-$40 million lower.

Let's take a gander at the figures.

My dream team Yankees would cost just under $242 mill—not counting whatever MLB cartel penalties would be tacked on.

But the Cash and Hal Yanks—Cash and No-Cash?—slipping quickly backwards cost...$225 mill, according to Spotrac.  (The website also puts the Yanks' "adjusted" payroll at $210 mill—whatever that means—plus $19 mill in tax, making for a total of $229 million.)

In other words, close to the best possible team the Yanks could have come up with would have cost maybe $13-$17 million more than the fumbling, floundering team with little future that we have now.

Of course, the Dream Team Yankees' romp to the world championship in 2017 and 2018 would've made up that $13-$17 million many times over, in ticket sales, added broadcast money, foreign rights, paraphernalia, etc.

So what does that tell us?

That Hal Steinbrenner is not just cheap.  He's a dope.

Had he hired some good help and set them to aggressively building a great team the way so many Yankees owners and executives have done for most of the last century, he would have made much more money.  He could have outdone his father hands down.

But he wasn't willing to risk it.  Instead he kept small men around him to make himself feel big.

He'll go on making money because it's almost impossible not to in major-league baseball these days. But in the years ahead, as the seats get emptier and emptier and the ratings drop lower and lower, we can only hope he'll see how much more money he could have made.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Thought Experiment, Part de Two

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2019, Right Earth New York Yankees!

(A quick caveat: all salary figures are from baseball reference or spotrac.  A lot of our subs and relievers are paid by piecework, so these figures may be $5 million or even $10 million more than what the real figure would be.  On the other hand, I haven't counted in previous obligations, such as the $4 million we owe A-Rod this year, according to one source.)

So here we are:


Max Scherzer:           $37,405,652
Chris Sale:                $15,000,000
Justin Verlander:      $28,000,000
Gerrit Cole:               $13,500,000
Masahiro Tanaka:     $22,000,000
Luis Severino:           $  4,500,000
Jordan Montgomery: $     596,600
Domingo German:     $     577,500
Stephen Tarpley:       $     557,250
Jonathan Loaisiga:    $     560,550
Nestor Cortes:           $     545,000
Chance Adams:         $     556,725
Chad Green:              $     598,650
Tommy Kahnle:         $   1,387,000
Dellin Betances:        $   7,125,000
Adam Ottavino:         $   9,000,000
Zack Britton:             $13,000,000
Aroldis Chapman:      $17,200,000


Gary Sanchez:           $     669,800
Austin Romine:         $ 1,800,000
Kyle Higashioka:       $    562,900


Luke Voit:                 $    573,200
Greg Bird:                 $ 1,200,000
Gleyber Torres:         $     605,200
D.J. LeMahieu:         $12,000,000
Didi Gregorius:         $11,750,000
Miguel Andujar:        $     617,600
Thairo Estrada:         $     555,000
Gio Urshela:              $     555,000
Tyler Wade:               $     572,000


Aaron Judge:             $     684,300
Aaron Hicks:              $  6,285,714
Christian Yelich:        $  9,750,000
Brett Gardner:           $  7,500,000
J.D. Martinez:            $23,750,000
Clint Frazier:              $     563,300

Zowee, that's a lot of kale, right?

Here's how it breaks down, for those without an abacus:

Pitching:  $171,909,927

Catching: $    3,032,700

Infield:     $   28,428,000

Outfield:   $  48,533,314

Total:       $241,944,941


A Thought Experiment, Part de Uno.

All this talk about what the Yankees supposedly can and cannot afford, and what the consequences would be for both, got me going on a little thought experiment—something we might as well consider, as the team's season goes swirling down the culverts in the Chicago rain.

What if Hal had done pretty much everything we (collectively) wanted over the last few years?

Sure, there were plenty of things we didn't all agree on, and plenty of bad moves we would've made on our own.  And I don't intend to get into what might have happened if we had signed Manny, or Bryce, or Corbin—too small a sample size, don'tcha know.

Let's say that Hal had done pretty much what we like to see in building a team.

Let's say, for instance, he had told Coops to go hard for Max Scherzer and sign him.

Let's say we outbid the Sox for Yoan Moncada, then flipped him for Chris Sale, just as Boston did.

Let's say Coops went after Justin Verlander instead of Sonny Gray down the stretch in 2017, and that we either found some way to pry Gerrit Cole from the Pirates, or convinced him to sign with us when we drafted him in the first place.

Let's say that we decided to pass on Ellsbury, a speed player getting long in the tooth, and that we bade a fond farewell to CC when his fastball went, 7 years ago.

Let's pretend we just snorted when Derek Jeter tried to tie a certain millstone around our neck, and insisted on a player who could actually play the field, instead—a player like Christian Yelich.

And not having committed all those doubloons to Giancarlo "Millstone" Stanton, let's say we went crazy as a bedbug and spent the money we saved outbidding Boston for J.D. Martinez, just for the shear spite of it?

What if we tried to build a team like that?

Well, as the old impressionists used to say, it might look something like this...

Babe Ruth saves kids from havin' to learn

Did Brian Cashman, with his recent salary numbers, try to gaslight the Yankiverse?

Okay, I get it that I'm beating a dead horse. I should just grab a bottle - my only true friend - and head to the barf barn. But that damn horse still pisses me off, and I'm got a few whacks left in the six-iron. I remain stunned - in disbelief - from what seems to be the most ignorant, hubris-laden, cheapskate Yankee management move in memory: Hal Steinbrenner's refusal to cough up the dough to sign Dallas Keuchel.

Whenever the Yankees lose due to poor starting pitching - like last night - I lapse into the angry sweats, wondering why in hell we didn't go after Keuchel? And God help me if Keuchel becomes the next Jason Verlander and leads Atlanta to the world series. 

Basically, instead of money, which Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner can use for animal bedding, we will soon be held for ransom in our quest for starting pitchers. We will face tanking teams, whose fan bases still perceive the Yankees as big spending fat cats; thus, their GMs will strive to soak us for everything we've got. (We talk about prying Marcus Strohman from the Blue Jays; can you imagine the price they will demand? They're not going to give him away to a team within their own division.)  

Our so-called "Death Star" - (what a joke!) - was outbid by Atlanta because we refused to go above a prorated salary offer we had made last winter. That turned out to be about $1.5 million lower than the Braves' prorated offer, of about $13 million. Neither team budged from its previous offer. Hmm. Should eyebrows be raised here? You'd almost think they were working in tandem, eh? Do I detect a sulfurous odor? Keuchel waits six months for a bidding war that won't cause teams to forfeit their top draft picks to sign him, and then - when the penalties no longer apply - the auction still never happens. The franchises still toe the line, nobody moving from the previous numbers. Weird, eh? I wonder what would happen if the toothless Players Association took this to court?

Still, it's Cooperstown Cashman's hummina-hummina-hummina, given to WFAN this week, that echoes in my head. Here's the write up in NJ.Com.

Cashman said it was important to the Yankees that they didn’t exceed the $246 million luxury tax threshold. Exceeding it would mean that owner Hal Steinbrenner would have to pay a 62 percent penalty on every dollar spent over the $206-million initial threshold and it would push back the Yankees’ top pick 10 spots for next season.

You know what? That seems fair. If the Yankees are about to spend $246 million, I'd have to agree: Time to hold the line. 

Trouble is, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the most credible internet site for tracking MLB payrolls, the Yankees are nowhere near $246 M in spending. On opening day, the payroll stood at $203 million, and the Yankees haven't added any big names, aside from Kendrys Morales, who was plucked off waivers and is being paid by other franchises. Is Mike Tauchman a $20 million outfielder? Is Cameron Maybin costing us another $20 million? Yeesh, we could have added two Dallas Keuchels, without coming close to $246 million. As Casey said, you could look it up. 

So there they go, once again, publicly poor-mouthing about the terrible costs of having to run a baseball team. Last winter, some charts passed around on the Internet sent shivers across the Yankiverse: They showed Yankee revenues reaching new heights, while the percentage going to payroll continues to shrink. 

In 2001, the Yankees spent 51 percent of their revenues on team payroll. In 2018, the number had dwindled to 36 percent. The ownership just gets richer and richer. And we're on the verge of the first decade in Yankee history without even a visit to the world series.

We keep waiting for the Yankees to exert their one considerable advantage over the rest of baseball: The obscene amount of money they possess. Year after year, the Dodgers do it. Last season, the Redsocks were delighted to roll over their luxury tax limits. Three years ago, the Cubs pulled out their wallet, en route to a world championship.  

But Halligator Arms Hal refuses to join a bidding war. The Yankees' starting rotation is sucking air, nobody is coming to the rescue, and their public explanations simply do not add up. Who is going to call them out? The YES team? John and Suzyn? Good luck on that. Where's that horse carcass? I need a few more whacks.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Tick, tick, tick...

I remain amazed that James Paxton has not been returned to the DL yet.

Instead, Kremlin-on-the-Hudson has turned on the disinformation machine again, about why he had his second straight, wretched outing:

I think my favorite was this "explanation" from Boone:

I thought he started fatiguing and kind of lose his command a little bit and they were able to tack on.  [But] I think the stuff’s really, really good. The combination of the four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and when he’s really locked in and command his fastball, and then there’s going to be times when that velocity really takes up, and he can overwhelm you. So I think it’s as simple as that.”

It IS simple, right?  Our own pitching expert, Prof. Julius Kelp is here to explain it to you in layman's terms:

"You see he just needs to throw this pitch and that other pitch, and then the pitch that's really good, and increases the velocity and decreases the deceleration and the unfatiguing AND HEY LADY!"

I particularly loved Boone's explanation in light of the fact that Paxton's very first pitch was ripped for a double down the line, and the Mets scored 3 runs with their first 3 batters.  I guess he was fatigued by his warm-ups.

Let's face it: in yet another instance of his remarkable self-deception whenever it comes to a power pitcher—even a moderate power pitcher—Coops convinced himself that a 30-year-old, 6-year, MLB veteran who has never gone more than 160 innings in a season could suddenly become his staff ace.

Well, he can't—and he won't hit 160 innings this year, either.  And now Coops and his crack staff of lunatics has decided to tell us that, as a power pitcher, it doesn't matter that his knee is barking.


We can predict easily enough what lies ahead:  the usual array of choice excuses from Larry Rothschild—"He was tipping his pitches!  He had a gnat in his eye!  He was very upset about Trump's tariff policies!"—the announcement that he has done something else entirely different to himself ("lat strain" seem to be the Yankees' pitching injury du mode these days, although "calf strain" is nearly as popular), the announcement that he is back on the DL for the next 10 days, the announcement that he is back on the DL for the next 60 days, the announcement that he is forgoing an operation in favor of blood transfusions and a special eye-of-newt remedy, and the announcement that he is having a major knee/shoulder/elbow/all-of-the-above operation, but will be back better than ever in 2020.

Followed by the announcement that he has hurt something else ENTIRELY DIFFERENT during his rehab, but will be lights out in 2021, or maybe 2022 or 2023.

Yup, sure glad we didn't sign Keuchel.

IIH Idol-Partner Scores Title Shot

So there is some good news.

Longtime WFAN color analyst, and partner of IIH idol, John Sterling;


has been nominated for the Radio Hall of Fame.

Listeners, and IIH bloggers, will be able to vote, on Votem, starting July, 15.  The public vote will be counted as " one of the votes" by the electoral college ( committee).  In other words, you can vote but it won't matter. The winner is already decided. 

Who knows, it could be Suzyn???!!!

I, Alphonso, personally gave a huge $$.$$ contribution to the election committee.  And I directed my endowment to the STEINBRENNER kids' ski vacation fund, in the name of our beloved SUZYN.

If elected, SUZYN will be inducted on August 5, with the ceremony being " sometime in the fall."  (The precision of these mega-events is mind boggling).

 The ceremony could tie-in with the Yankees "play-in" game for the wild card championship.  And think of the praise which John could heap upon her, as Giancarlo strikes out again with the bases loaded.

The location of the Radio Hall of fame, remains a state secret.

Well done SUZYN.