Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Why It's Bad for Us that the Mets Stink

It's summertime, and Theatre of the Absurd seems to have opened up for yet another season over in Flushing.

First, we have Jason Vargas joining Brett "Bleach Gun" Saberhagen and Bobby "Let Me Show You the Bronx" Bonilla in the growing tradition of Mets players who have attacked or threatened to attack older, weaker guys who are forbidden by their employer to fight back.

Meanwhile, Manager Mickey Callaway has yet to don Bobby Valentine's old Groucho Marx disguise, but he's probably being fitted for it as we speak.

Hey, you have to be a real stud to threaten to punch out somebody who will be fired if he punches back.  Reminds me of how that choice thug Chris Christie used to go around getting in people's faces with his bodyguard a foot behind him.

Mr. Vargas, to date, has made over $63 million turning in 14 years of thoroughly mediocre pitching.  If he were on my team, I'd have the press secretary making reservations for Mr. Studly on the Palookaville Express, but this is just par for the course over in the three-ring circus by the Sound.

Callaway asked, not so rhetorically, if Billy Martin hadn't punched out a sportswriter.  No, he specialized in marshmallow salesmen and his own pitchers, and loved such tried and true methods as the sucker punch and the cold cock.  The one time he didn't make sure there were people around to break it up, Billy ended up almost bleeding out in a Texas alleyway.

This is not a role model for anyone in today's game, or even yesterday's game.  But hey, it seems that Callaway, who so far has gone through an entire half-season without getting his own lineup wrong, has decided to send a more macho message.

Willie Randolph must shake his head in wonder that, 12 years later, he's still on the shelf while this bozo runs a team.

In short, it's the same as it ever was out in Queens.  All that's missing is a bunch of clowns in a tiny car and Vince Coleman to toss firecrackers at the fans.

The real estate racket known as Wilpon & Son has filled up its holes with the usual suspects, has-beens and never will bes such as Todd Frazier, Joggy, and Lagaras.  Their gold-glove shortstop of the future has now let up more runs than any other fielder in baseball, and yet another can't-miss, young guns pitching staff has shot itself in the foot, both knees, and at least one testicle.

Sure, it's hard not to laugh.  That's the thing with clowns.

But the last laugh is on us.  HAL and the rest of the human calculators who run your New York Yankees don't need the Mets in town.  It does us no good to have the idiot younger brother over there, the perpetual fuck-up cousin who has just completed his third DUI class and is thinking about selling Amway products for a living.

Even the Nets are pushing the Knicks now.  What the Yanks need is the same:  a wily, well-run NL rival that will fight them for every dollar and back page, to the point where even HAL will start to worry that he might lose the town—i.e., big bucks—to the other guys.

Instead, we have this:  yet another bellyflop into Fishhooks McCarthy's toxic bay, while the Wilpons spend their nights stuffing all that Madoff money into their mattresses.

Hooray for them, but the way to improve is not by competing against a team of Fredos.


A Picture You Might Not Have Come Across

I belong to a few train-related Internet groups, including ones involved with metro NYC.  The picture below appeared from one of this morning's feeds:

The photo shows Lou Gehrig and his wife Eleanor boarding a train in Penn Station NYC on March 18, 1937 for a trip down to spring training.  Apparently, Gehrig was leaving late for spring training that year because of contract issues.

Be sure to click on the picture to zoom in and get the full effect.  It's a great "moment in time" shot.

Art Of The Deal


Pull the trigger.

Marcus Stroman for Jonathon Holder.  We get a guy who acts like Odel Beckham and they get our best long relief guy.


Marcus Stroman loves NY. So what?

Last night, as if campaigning for the lead in "The Bill de Blasio Story," Marcus Stroman told reporters.

"New York's like the Mecca of the world. I love excitement. I love bright lights. I love competition. I love pressure. I've always loved pitching here, even though I haven't always pitched fairly well here, I've always enjoyed it. Yankee lineups are brutal. They're hard to kind of navigate. But yeah, I love the spotlight. The bigger the moment, that's where I've always wanted to be."
Ass-kisser. I hope they trade him to Milwaukee. Stroman, 28 and having a good year, will be a free agent in 2021. We can sign him then, (except we won't: our owner doesn't do bidding wars.) Or there is the nightmare option: We bequeath our future to Toronto in exchange for him.

Let's understand one thing here: Stroman is not JA Happ. Last year, when the Jays broke with tradition and dealt Happ to their division rivals (for Billy McKinney and that 3B with the migraines), they were trading a 34-year-old, two-month rental at the edge of his sell-by date. Happ came advertised as the guy who beats Boston. He didn't. This season, after inking a 2-year deal, he's been worse. Maybe he'll figure it out; he's got the "crafty veteran" thing. But if Toronto didn't get much for him last July, it's not as if he were the second coming of Verlander. Repeating for slow-learners: Stroman is not Happ.  

To get him, my guess is Clint Frazier would be first to go, with Thairo Estrada in tow. Already, that gives me the hives. But Toronto would be just warming up. 

They would probably demand Deivi "Davey" Garcia, the 20-year-old, RH current Hollywood "IT" girl of the Yankee farm. In his last two starts for Double A Trenton, he a) struck out 15 batters and b) threw five no-hit innings. He's tiny - 5'9", 163 pounds. (Both Pedro and Guidry were 5'11".) For a little guy to throw so hard, he's either a Tommy John surgery-in-waiting or a genuine, storm-born, breaker of wheels and father of dragons. This year, he's thrown 59 innings, clearly on pitch counts. He should soon be promoted to Scranton. If he continues to dominate, well, things get murky. In theory, he could arrive in September, maybe even as a post season unicorn. That's unlikely, though. What's more likely is that he'll go somewhere in a trade, for Stoman or some reasonable facsimile. These days, that's the reality of rooting too hard for the Yankees. If there's a young prospect who gives you hope, don't follow him, don't think about him, don't hug him. He's won't be around for long.

But how can we not want to see Garcia? Since April, the Death Star has been assuring us that Luis Severino will return. It's been three months, and he's still in the hot tub. Now, they say Domingo Jean German will be back before the All-Star break. Either or both could fill the Yankee rotation and salve the need for Stroman. That would mean Frazier in LF next year, and as for Estrada, who has no path to the Yankee infield, at least he could be dealt next winter, when trade partners stand on equal footing. 

Meanwhile, the sad fate of Jonathan Holder has shifted to Wilkes Barre. The Yankees ditched him last night - what choice did they have? - after an abysmal eighth inning, when he couldn't retire a batter. Here's where Dellin Betances was supposed to come to the rescue. That's not going to happen. In Scranton, our best bullpen options are 

a) Joe Harvey, who got walloped last night. 
b) Stephen Tarpley, whose pitched effectively lately. 
c) Chance Adams, because he's always there.
d) JP Feyereisen, a 26-year-old RH, who hasn't given up a run in his six appearances, fanning 15 in 9 innings. Hmm.

There are also a few crusty journeymen - Drew Hutchinson, Rex Brothers, et al - on one-and-done contracts. And Ben Heller, supposedly recovered from TJ surgery, in Single A rehab. He'll need at least a month.  

For the next few weeks, Cashman will be jogging through small markets in musk-scented underwear, hoping to rouse something. The real question is what he's prepared to give up. 

So, Marcus Stroman loves New York, eh? Great. So didn't King Kong. Don't mean a thing. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Blowouts like yesterday shouldn't bother us... unless they awaken the front office

So, another Old-Timers Day - (politically correct name: Golden Citizenry Afternoon) - has now been flashed into our collective memory. Whitey couldn't make it. A-Rod and Clemens are still waiting. John Flaherty remains stuck behind the plate. And once again, the current Yankee team assumed a fantasy somnambulance and crapped the bedpan.

Last year, we lost to Tampa 3-1. The year before, we fell to Texas 7-6. Both games winnable. Yesterday, no way. We flat-out stank. In all three Golden Citizenry Afternoons, the Yankee Present was embarrassed, humiliated and left for dead in the presence of its glorious past.

I think it stems from prep. The Yankees watch the codgers shambling around, three gimlets past 11 a.m., and they see themselves in 20 years, hooked on boner pills and flirting unsuccessfully with the Early Bird Special waitresses at Denny's. Something happens inside them. The engines seize-up. Yesterday, from the opening pitch, we were dead squirrels on the side of the road. Verlander was laughing. He never had it so easy.

But blowout losses are a thing for the 2019 Yankees. Before yesterday, our last defeat came at the hands of the mighty White Sox: 10-2.) It's as if this team bundles three games worth of mistakes into the occasional abomination. If so, we might have to give Aaron Boone some credit. While we were screaming for him to remove JA Happ yesterday, maybe Boone foresaw the stinker coming, put the game on Cruise-Control, and left the Happster in until it was 8-0 - (56-0, if it were a football game.) 

Of the Yankees' nine losses in June, only two were nail-biters - to Toronto and the White Sox. Consider the margins of our last seven losses:





In six out of seven, the scores don't adequately convey the depth of the Yankee malignancies. We didn't just stink; we openly, pungently reeked. In five games, our starters blew up on the launch pad - three mulligans by Paxton, and one apiece for CC and Happ.

Listen: We are in first, Boston lost yesterday to Toronto, and we were freed to enjoy a sunny afternoon on our green-painted concrete lawns. I'd rather the 8-game streak end with a blowout than an 8th inning collapse that evokes the last days of Scott Proctor, preparing to burn his mitt at home plate. The streak wasn't going to last forever. Maybe it's good to be embarrassed at home in front of a sell-out crowd. (Unfortunately, it didn't do any good last year, or the year before.) 

But Happ's continual flops are becoming a thing. Were he a Nestor or a Chance, he'd be sent to Scranton to ponder those wisps of methane the scientists have found on Mars. As it is, he is a five-inning clunker and a bane to our bullpen. The Yankees cannot trade him. They can only hope he figures it out soon.

Because there is one lingering problem with the occasional stinker blowout loss. It ramps up the pressure on Brian Cashman to make a trade. Last year, he brought us Sonny Gray, who didn't even make our playoff roster. Now, we hear the daily drumbeat for Clint Frazier and Thairo Estrada to be bundled up - like the Yankee losses - go somewhere for another Happ. 

Like all of you, I want the Yankees to not just win this year, but two win two or three championships in a row. That's when the modern Yankees can effectively be compared to the Old-Timers from 1999 and 2000. To build a dynasty, the Yankees need young players like Frazier. What we don't need is another Happ. I wonder if anybody sees that? 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Today's Big Game: Happy! takes on Verlander

He might need Chris Meloni for this one. Cross yer fingers.

Heading for a collision

This Needs to Happen

Aaron Boone stumbled downstairs Sunday morning, his head still a little dizzy from the half-glass of port he'd imbibed to celebrate the Yankees' 8th straight victory the night before. Suddenly, he stopped.

There, filling his living room, were his wife Laura, their 56 adopted children, his father Bob, brother Brett, and—gathered in the back of the room around the couch and the loveseat—every Yankees fan in creation.

"What—what is this?" Boone mumbled, his mouth suddenly dry.

"Oh, I think you know what it is, dearest," Laura said, running a smoothing hand down the side of his face.

"Not-not- "

"Yes, dear.  It's an intervention."


"Please don't be like that, sweetheart.  You know and I know that this was bound to happen if you kept on doing what you've been doing," Laura told him, trying to keep her voice as soft and possible and choke back the tears.

Bob Boone got up off the credenza and came over to his son.

"Aaron, you've always been a good boy, and a fine ballplayer—if not quite as good as Brett was—"

"Not quite as juiced, you mean!"

"Let's not get into that again.  You know what we're here about."

"No!  No, I don't!" Aaron yelled, and stomped his foot, wanting to run, to hide, to be anywhere but in that room.

"YES, YOU DO," said all the Yankees fans in creation.

"You see that?" his dad told him.  "They only want the best for you.  As do all of us here.  But this has got to stop."

"What has got to stop?" Aaron screamed—though deep in his heart, he knew the answer already.

"Son, I hoped it wouldn't come to this.  But I'll spell it out for you, if I have to," Bob Boone told him, a stern look on his face.  "You have to stop using Jonathan Holder."



"Oh, now I know, I know," his father said, putting an arm around the shoulders of his now sobbing son.  "He's out there in the bullpen.  He's wearing a uniform, with an actual number on it.  You think of him just like a real major-league pitcher.  You want to put him in every big game.  You keep telling yourself, 'Hey, this will give him confidence!' "

"Well?  What's wrong with that?" Aaron spat out resentfully through his tears.

"Son, you got to give it up.  What is it they call the definition of insanity in these recovery programs? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results?"

"It's not MY fault!  Mr. Cashman says I HAVE to use him, that the analytics check out.  And, and, and Mr. Hal said I did, too, that he is really inexpensive, and—"

"What's this now, son?  Denial?  Passing the buck?" his father asked, while Brett gave an ill-concealed snicker. After a sharp look from Bob, he stared blankly out into space again.

"Well, it's true!"

"Oh, c'mon now, son. You know and I know that thanks to Mr. Cashman and Mr. Hal you have 196 pitchers out in the bullpen on an average night. You know you don't really have to use Holder in any important situation.  Wouldn't his services be put to better use peddling hot dogs in the bleachers?"

"Well, yeah, I guess so," Aaron said, sniffling a little but beginning to feel better about himself.

"You could easily just change his number with somebody else's—Cashman is not going to notice.  And Hal is too busy watching the World Cup, to plan his exciting new women's soccer league venture."

"I guess."

"And think of what a good thing you'll be doing for all the Yankees fans."


"Okay, okay. I'll try to stop using him. But I can't go cold turkey. I still have to pitch him some in blowouts, and stuff like that."


"Hey, c'mon!  Is that nice?"


"Okay, okay, you made your point!"



Saturday, June 22, 2019

News around the Death Star

A thaw that has nothing to do with global warming

Could this start something?

So Where Are We?

1.  The Stanton "hitting honeymoon" lasted one game.  He struck out three times last night, and that "look" has returned to his eyes.

2.  Judge is still looking for his first hit and he launched a throw to second that was caught by Urshela at third.  But he'll get it together.

3.  We scored runs only because of two-run homers, one each by Sanchez and Torres.  At least the young guys are making it happen.

4.  We lost Maybin and have yet another worry about Hicks ( who is hitting below .200 ).

5.  We used the entire pitching "A" team last night (5 in total), and barely got out with the win.  Houston had the tying run at the plate.

6.  Encarnation, at age 36, out-shined Luke Voit as a defensive first baseman, making three " game saving" plays.

So things are good, right?

And suddenly the Yankees have no outfield depth

A year ago, around now, the Yankees didn't know what to do with all their outfielders. They roamed the Bronx like feral cats in a trailer park. There were the Aarons - Hicksie and Judgie - Gardy, Giancarlo, and then the B-Team: Neil Walker, Jace Peterson, Clint Frazier, Billy McKinney, et al. It was like the waiting room on Mount Everest. So deep was the larder that Cooperstown Cashman dealt McKinney to Toronto and jettisoned Peterson. And then, one day, suddenly, they were all gone.

Come the stretch run, the Yankees traveled to Fenway with Shane Robinson, a career minor leaguer, in RF, where they were swept away. (To his credit, Robinson drew a dramatic late-inning walk in one game, which could have inscribed him into Yankee lore, if Aroldis Chapman held the lead.) All those outfielders... poof.

Listen: The weather changes quickly in June. And last night, we caught a glimpse of the 2018 bugaboo. In a span of hours, the Death Star disclosed a nagging shoulder injury to Hicks, which might account his dismal hitting. (He's seeing Mr. MRI.) And halfway through the game, Cameron Maybin - Mr. June - limped onto the I-ELL(sbury) list with a strained calf. He's officially out for 10 days, but don't you believe it. He'll probably be gone through the all-star break, at the least. 

So, here we go again? 

Last year at the solstice, we stood in first place, two games up, with a record of 50-22. (We are now 5 up in the loss column, at 48-27.) Last year, we were sitting in the catbird's seat, just like today.

Well, this afternoon, to replace Maybin, Cashman will either recall a pitcher or another OF: Mike Tauchman or Clint Frazier look like the main candidates. The career minor-leaguer or the stud prospect. After Frazier powered the Yankees through May, you'd think he'd get the call. (If you want to drain him of hope during Hope Week, ignoring him is a fine way.) But the Yankees will probably opt for Tauchman, the expendable journeyman, the type who'd get sent to put out the fire at Chernobyl. 

Listen: I'm a Frazier fan. I want to watch his narrative play out on the main stage. He is one of the most interesting Yankee players in the last 10 years. He could be a great hitter. He could be a future punch line. This is why we become fans - to see what happens to our favorite characters.

That said, I steel myself for the trade that converts Frazier into a pitching rental. When the Yankee owner grabbed his hamstring and limped out of the bidding for Dallas Keuchel, we basically tweeted our plans for Frazier. He's fodder... good as gone.

Or, he was... until last night. In that brief span, the juju gods last night served notice: In a world of over-shifted defenses and over-sized biceps, the landscape changes quickly. When the Yankees do trade Frazier, they'll be a tweaked gonad away from another Shane Robinson - or in this case Ryan McBroom (having a nice year in Scranton, by the way.) We can look flush in June, dead in July. 

Funny thing about all those cats. They have a way of disappearing. 

A Stitch in Time Saved Our Nine?

All right, I am throwing caution to the wind, challenging Dr. Odu, and going straight to it:

I DEFY Brian Cashman to trade The Red Menace now.

Maybin on the EL for 10 days.  Aaron "Mr. Glass" Hicks hurting.  Gardner due for his annual breakdown.  Giancarlo and Judge just back, and capable of going out again at any moment.

There is simply nobody left.  Unless Coops really thinks he can win the World Series with Estevan Florial and Michael Tauchman in the outfield, he HAS to know that he can't trade a serviceable outfielder.

The bad part?  This makes Thairo the Pharaoh all the more of a target.  But I don't think he alone can bring what Coopsie wants.

Hah!  Another evil plot foiled by sheer luck.  (And, of course, some surreptitious animal sacrifices.)

Friday, June 21, 2019

The Scoop On The Yankee Book I Referenced.

The New Yankee book is:

Inside The Empire:  The True Power Behind the New York Yankees.

Book by Bob Klapisch and Paul Solotaroff.

Note to readers:  A good book if you need a sleeping aid, and are willing to listen to arguments that Cashman is not ( inherently ) as bad as we think.

And that Hal is at least as bad as we think.

Goes best with Gentleman Jack and a bag of Sea Salt & Vinegar chips.

Real Yankee tweets from 2009

On Cameron Maybin's behalf, the Yankees need somebody to tweak a gonad

For now, the Disney-worthy saga of Hammerin' Cameron will continue. But dark clouds are approaching on the Yankee feel-good story of Hope Week 2019.

Last night, to offset the impending return of Aaron Judge, the Yankees dispatched bulk-innings magnet Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr. to the fracked farmlands of Scranton because - well - because they could. Cortes had options. If the Death Star had chosen to cut bait on, say, Luis Cessa - and his Andrew Brackman-esque 5.73 ERA - Cessa would surely have been scooped up like a golden Pog. Cortes had options, which means return bus tickets to Clark's Summit. When it comes to pitchers, the Yankees are hoarders. Woe unto the young reliever with options. 

But this means surviving the Chernobyl-hot month of July with a 12-man pitching staff - which, in this day and age, looks thin as a coat of Windex. To us geezers, who are only now becoming comfortable with bagged salads and fruity beer, the 12-man staff may seem a luxury. But when every fifth game is a bullpen group hug, it won't last long. As soon as JA or CC - or any starter - gets bombed, either Cortes or Chance Adams will be called upon to bolster the oxygen-depleted staff. And when Brian Cashman looks for an Expendable, his bloodshot eyes will settle on Maybin.

Don't blame Cash. Don't blame anybody. But the Yankees can toggle pitchers for only so long. At some point - soon - Maybin's tale of resurrection will splatter against a windshield or wall. In fact, with two outs in the ninth last night, it almost looked as though the juju gods were delivering a solution. Maybin misplayed a long fly to left, crashing to the ground and clutching his wrist gingerly. (By the way, if Clint Frazier botched one like that, the Yankiverse would be up in arms... just sayin'.) If he tweaked a wrist and missed two weeks, would it not be positive karma? In two weeks, somebody will probably be hurt.

For now, a fifth OF makes sense. If our main threesome is Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Judge - (Encarnacion as DH) - that leaves Brett Gardner as 4th Man/base stealer/defensive replacement. With Judge rusty, it's feasible to rest him in blowouts, torrential downpours and games to be played on London parking lot surfaces. But as well as Maybin fields, he's no defensive upgrade over Hicks or Judge. Over the long haul, there is simply no place for him.

Unless somebody tweaks something. Since Hicks, Judge and Stanton have used up their tweaking privileges, the job falls to Gardy, who nearly came through last week by beaning himself with a helmet. Nice try. In his early years, Gardy was known to crash into walls and miss time. These days, he's like Iron Man Sterling. (And by the way, this is not to wish an injury on anyone, especially our favorite Yankee.) But there is no Yankee future for Maybin beyond the next Yankee bullpen stress-out. And that can happen at any time.

Tonight, though, let's enjoy this. Judge returns, supercharging a lineup that - with the exception of Hicks - could easily represent the AL in next month's midsummer classic. If Big Maple Paxton delivers a solid six, lessening Zack and Otto's load, maybe Maybin can keep his string going. Damn. This Disney stuff works even better in baseball than the movies.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

You Can Stop Speculating Aboyt Hal ( " I'm not cheap" ) Steinbrenner

I just finished a book about the Yankees and it gave insights to the inner workings of the Yankees.

The bottom line is;  Hal never wanted the job ( overseeing the Yankees ) and doesn't even like baseball.

But the other brother, who does love baseball, is apparently useless.

So whatever Hal says to the public, to the fan base, or to anyone, basically, is a lie.  He models himself after another famous liar in America.  Thinking:  if a billionaire makes a decision, it has to be right.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have all that money.

So the Yankees could not be in worse " ownership" hands. The old man would be rolling in his grave on cut glass if he knew.

The book also revealed that many of the " idiotic" moves made by Cashman, and documented on this site, were forced upon him by Hal. 

I almost thought the book was written by Cashman, as it absolves him of so much stupidity.  Which really occurred due to Hal.

It doesn't mean that Cashman has any ability to identify quality pitchers outside the organization, but it is clear he wanted to "go young" and stay young. It actually suggests that Cashman was driven by hanging on to young talented prospects.

Ruined on nearly every occasion because Hal made rancidly stupid decisions which forced Cashman to take actions he didn't recommend.

And we shall soon see more of these come into play ( because of the non deal for the pitcher starting tonight, for the Braves ).

On the eve of Dallas Keuchel's debut with Atlanta, Hal Steinbrenner talks about being a big-spender

Yesterday, Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner emerged from his burrow, saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of austerity. Outside the owners meetings, presumably between martinis and lap dances, the beloved family trustee whom we call "Food Stamps" vowed to shoot his wad, money-wise, sometime around Aug. 1, even if it thrusts the Yankee budget above the de facto payroll cap, which his billionaire colleagues have illegally enforced for the last three years.

He said:

“If we feel we need another starting pitcher or even more help in the bullpen, we’re going to look at it. If I really felt we needed that deal that takes us over the top then, yes, I would, but we still have a decent amount of cushion.”

Translation: Fuck you, Yankee fans.

Okay, wait, fine, great. Hal says he plans to spend... maybe next month, yep, if the occasion warrants it, who knows? We'll see.

Well, Friday, Dallas Keuchel will start for the Braves. His first appearance of 2019 will come 24 hours after the Yankees employ their current fifth starter - The Entire Bullpen - against Keuchel's old team, the Astros.

Why rant? If a Yankee fan screams in the grandstand, does anybody hear? Instead of spending about $13 million on Keuchel, we have Edwin Encarnacion (for $3 million) and an impending salary dump trade, which will likely include Clint Frazier and the cast of Empire. Until then, our rotation will include a weekly stint by Chad Green (who hasn't appeared late in games, making him a two-inning starter), followed by Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr., a rookie. Some would call it "smoke and mirrors."  

But in the category of having-cake-and-eating-it, Steinbrenner also addressed the issue of Frazier. He said.

“I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s been working very hard on his defense and will continue to do so... He’ll be a big part of this team going forward. He certainly has the capability of doing that.”

This is sweet. It's also surgically worded bullshit. If Hal really wanted to keep Frazier in pinstripes, he would have ponied up for Keuchel instead of wallowing deeper into the DH hole for Encarnacion. Both moves effectively sealed Frazier's fate as a Yankee, and if Steinbrenner doesn't know this, he must be even dimmer than we thought.

Listen: It's hard to mope when we just swept the second place team in the AL East. But from now on, it's a two-team race, and I'm not referring to Tampa. The Redsocks are surging, and if they reach the wild card, it's hard not to see them as favorites, considering their rotation. I don't know what Hal has in mind. What should bother us all is that I don't think Hal does either. I hope he enjoys his martinis. 

Is Paul O'Neill All Right?

Does anyone know if O'Neill has spoken about his sister's death on the air?

I was surprised to see him in the broadcast booth, and he has seemed especially animated of late.

I don't mean this as a knock.  I know from my own experience that there can be a great sense of relief when a loved one has died after a hard, extended illness—a relief that they are no longer suffering, and that you no longer have to see them suffer.  And going back to a familiar, friendly work environment can be a big help after something like that.

In any case, RIP Molly O'Neill.  It was a storybook adventure in New York for her and her brother.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Batting third for the mightiest lineup in baseball... and hitting, gulp, .204?

The Yankee saga of Aaron Hicks began in Nov. 2015, when the Retrieval Empire dealt John Ryan Murphy - the catcher formerly known as "JR" - for the then-failed Twins ex-first-rounder. That season, it looked like a straight-up trade of clap for chlamydia. Hicks hit .217 - about 70 points above Murphy - who was exiled to the Triple A hinterlands.

In the spring of 2017, Hicks emerged from his pumpkin. In the first half of the season, he hit .290, (10 HRs) with an on-base percentage of .398 - all-star stuff! Then he strained a saddlebag and returned to his gourd. In the second half, he hit .217, finishing the year at .266 and 15 HRs, still enough for the Yankees to have "won the trade." 

Last year, though his average continued to fall (.248), Hicks hit 27 HRs, and was commonly hailed on YES as "the second best centerfielder in the AL," which was sort of a joke, because nobody tops Mike Trout. This spring, he signed a deal that extends through 2026, at $10 million per. The writers called it an omen of the new frugal Yankee ownership, signing a core player to a lifetime contract. Days later, Hicks again strained his cabbage-basket and went onto the EL (the Ellsbury List.) He stayed in Ellsbury Hot Tub Land until May 15. 

Since returning, Hicks has been nothing less than mediocre. Last night, he fanned twice and stranded six runners; he has killed more scoring opportunities than plaque psoriasis. Worse, he's done it while batting third. In a lineup brimming with All-Star candidates, he's a Thruway rest stop. Here's what happens: DJ LeMahieu singles, Luke Voit walks - and Hicks hits a grounder into the over-shift. It's been this way for a month. When the Yankees obtained Edwin Encarnacion, we figured Hicks would drop in the order. Nope. When Giancarlo Stanton returned, we figured Hicks would drop. Nope. Next week, Aaron Judge returns. Well, WTF?

Listen: This isn't a rip on Hicks. He's a gazelle in CF. And one of these days, he'll heat up. But batting third? Seriously. In a good year, Hicks shouldn't bat third in this lineup. The more he struggles, the more rallies he strangles, the more we should start to worry about his long-term value.

And then there is the saga of Mr. Cameron Maybin.

Lately, the debate over what to do with Hammerin' Cameron has neglected one possible option: CF. In fact, once Judge returns, Maybin's ticket to the waiver wire is as good as punched. There simply is no path for playing time, unless somebody gets hurt. But, but BUT... if Hicks is still fanning once every four at bats, and if his average dips below the Mendoza Line, shouldn't the Yankees consider maybe Maybin in center?

Oh, why am I bothering! Of course, this won't happen! We have an eight-year contract with Hicks; plus, his trade remains a signature victory for Zoilo Cashman's GM record. The Yankees "won the trade." (Murphy, for whatever it's worth, is now a Diamondback, hitting .177 with 4 HRs.) So it's Hicks... for now. But what if a month from now, he's still clogging the arteries... or tweaking his tummy-tuck? Wouldn't it make sense to keep Maybin... just in case?

One other weirdness: According to Scranton manager Jay Bell, the newly declawed Clint Frazier will play CF for the Riders of the Rail. Supposedly, Frazier is more comfortable in CF, though this is sort of like saying Lyme Disease is more enjoyable than Ebola. Could the Yankees actually be prepping Frazier for center, if Hicks continues to flounder? The answer, we all know, is NO. Frazier is now officially an afterthought, a player in pre-trade Purgatory. He might as well play shortstop. 

One final point: Last night, some intrepid Gammonites ripped Frazier for not reporting to Scranton immediately after his cruel demotion. What disgrace! What blaspheme! The horror, Mr. Kurtz! They compared him to Tyler Wade - who took an Uber to reach a Triple A game, and Mike Tauchman, who practically emailed himself to the Electric City. Well, both Wade and Tauchman flubbed their trials in Gotham, while Frazier had been the Yankees best hitter. If he needs to get his head right, he has 72 hours to do so. Thus, there is no outrage, no collusion, no obstruction, WITCH HUNT! In fact, the stories stick of media hissy-fit, considering Frazier's strained past relations with the scribe tribe. If he doesn't show within the required 72 hours, write your stories, asswipes. But this guy is playing baseball - he's not being vetted for the Supreme Court - and he just got screwed by a team for which he dreamed of playing. Gimme a break. And for everybody's sake, bat Hicks eighth or ninth, until his bat catches up with the league. This shouldn't be so hard. 

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!"