Friday, May 31, 2013

Late Spring Clean-Up

Observe the detritus from the Yankee's multi-million dollar locker room:

Location:  East 161st street and River Ave
Time:  7:13am today

All the jerseys, bats, jock straps, cleats, gloves, linseed oil bottles, ace bandages, canes, walkers and other personal belongings from the "one run per game" temporary position players have been discarded by the Yankee maintenance crew.

Recently thrown out ( without lament ) are identifiable items from the brief Yankee careers of:

Breiniac ( I have no idea how this guy's name is presented)

Only Cano ( a true player ) and Gardner ( who tries very hard ) are worth holding onto.  Stewart stays because we are required by law to have a .238 hitting catcher with no power, to protect the umpire from mayhem.

In fairness, all of these dudes gave it their best and kept us in the AL East race through May 31, 2013.  My hat is off to them. One day, they will bask in the memory that they " were Yankees once and did okay."

 However, when they could not push across more than one run in any game against one of the national league's worst teams, a team that has gone public with its re-building program, it is time to say; "  your run is done,  not one of these guys ( old or youngish ) is going to be of any meaningful help to us in the future."

And since we currently have no one who can play better, from AAA or AA, the team is likely doomed for as far as one can see.

 As I said on day one of the season, this team needs to bite the bullet, realize its time in the sun is over, and bring up more young guys.  Even if they suck, or are heavily mediocre ( like Adams, Nix, Nunez, Romine, etc ), it is worth looking at them.

  Some of our young pitchers show promise ( until we send them back to hell, where they will rot and falter ), let's roll the dice on Almonte or Heathcott.  Anyone.  Heathcott can hit .200 and probably play better than Ichiro.  So what's the loss?

It would be a lot more interesting watching them than waiting for Vernon Wells to swing at the first pitch and pop it up, every f****** time.

Editor's note:   With Yukilis's return to pinstripes tonight, I now turn off my TV until he is injured again.

Keep me posted on how things are going.

Five Days Later, The Batting Dead: Run, everybody, the Yankee Apocalypse has begun

You passed out in the wild party, after Overbay's HR beat Tampa. You wake up in an empty clubhouse, the lockers and showers horribly smeared with chalk and pine tar. 

Outside, on the field, a roving horde of Yankees seems to be feeding on something. You climb the dugout steps for a better look. My God, it's the carcass of Joe Girardi! 

One of them sees you. It's Vernon Wells. You know it's him, because when he swings his bat, driving Brennan Boesch's head from its shoulders, he hits a grounder to shortstop. 

OMG! Can it be? Yes... there's Ichiro - or what's left. What happened to his batting average? It's so withered, down to skin and bones. Can it really be him? He hits a pop-up. Yep, it's him all right. 

It's been five days since the miracle in Tampa. Just five. But it feels like another Hangover sequel, this time, with blood. The first third of our season is over, and it has been a painful microcosm of 2012: Adversity, success, collapse... soul-crushing despair.

Every year, the Yankees endure one bad spell. Last year's horror arrived in October, and it was so overwhelming that it obscured the entire season. Everything ended with Arod pleading injury, Jeet on a gurney and Robbie hiding his face - it was so bad, you wished you were a Royals fan.

Well, the last four nights against the Mets have been a terror-filled flashback to last October against the Tigers. But there is one difference: Our season didn't end.

Today, we trot out Youkilis and Teixeira - both rusty from lack of playing time. But what can we expect? Neither plays the outfield - where the grand experiment of Vernon Wells, Ichiro, Brennan Boesch, et al, is coming to an end: We have confirmed what their former teams knew. 

What we haven't done is try any young outfielders from Scranton. (Basically, there are no young outfielders from Scranton.) We keep restocking veterans, who have brief flings with competency, and then revert to old, career-ending habits. We keep bringing out old guys who get hurt, and then we scream at the heavens, "Why us?" Without a core of young players - early 20s, not late 20s - we will always be a five game series away from oblivion.

This is it, folks...  that long overdue Yankee Apocalypse. The Redsocks went through theirs two years ago. We delayed ours - for awhile. This is the same basic team that rotted through its flesh last October. The only difference is that we have 100 games left to play.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Youxeira Day, everybody!

... And so, as the cold night descended upon our weary travelers, Brett, Robbie, Ichy and Pronk kept marching toward the light of day, knowing the Great Valley cannot be far... 

OK, first... seriously, does anyone reading this NOT believe we will be swept and embarrassed tonight by the lone franchise in sports that can run a direct timeline from Choo Choo Coleman to Ike Davis? Because I sure do. You can feel it. You can smell it. We deserve to be mocked and humiliated, and I say, dammitall, let's take our medicine like honorable Yankee fans - that is, screaming and wailing, and using our children as bullet shields.

But... cheer up, everybody. It's almost Youxeira Day! Gifts, candy and DHs lying beneath the Youxeira Tree, singing Youxeira carols, courtesy of the Youexeira Bunny! And don't forget the Ball Drop at Midnight!

Only one more loss - let's get it behind us quickly, like last night - and then we can waive the no-name infield - wait, better idea: send them to Scranton! - and go back to what the Yankees do best: Under-achieving!

Yes, we're going from Overbaying to overpaying. No more Reid Brignac at SS. No more "The Bronx is Vernon" Wells batting third. They are Mudhens who dreamed they were Yankees, and it was wonderful, but now it's time to wake up and find a bus line home to Toledo. That's because tomorrow - ahhh, tomorrow - the skies turn blue, the birds sing, and we welcome to our pinstriped breasts the Rehab Class of 2013: Youk and Tex. Can't you wait to see the lineup?

Bronx is Vernon
The Ichy, Nix and Stew crew

Yes, we're still dead as granite through the bottom third. I think even Ichiro knows the truth about Ichiro. But no matter what happens tonight, we made it. We got to the emergency room before the chest pains took over. Take a day off, Mr. Overbay, Mr. Adams. You earned it. Happy Youxeira Day, everybody! Who wants to cut the cake?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tonight's matchups: Hefner v. Phelps

From John M:

Starting Pitchers
New York: Hefner (0-5, 4.76 ERA)
New York: Phelps (3-2, 3.96 ERA)

Barbi Benton should tell Hefner he's just too old to pitch, even in the NL. She used to have some integrity, along with a great figure and more specific pluses that I won't mention on a family blog.

On another note--and this not quite in the same league as the collapse of Jesus H. Montero:

'To make room for Morales, Alfredo Aceves was optioned back to Pawtucket after being credited with a victory in an emergency start Monday, a 9-3 win over the Phillies in which he allowed one run in six innings.'

Great job, Alfredo. You're demoted.

Yankee Fans Prepare Early For Tonight's Debacle

Mixed in with a few bottles of Crown Royal, a 4 gallon drum of buttered popcorn, six yards of
pepperoni, 5 concert-sized pizzas with sausage and onion, and 7 chicken wing platters from Costco, there will be food and drink for the four of us at my place.

This way, we can all cheer when the Yanks push across their one run, and we will be asleep ( passed out for the unlearned ) when the Mets beat us in the 9th.

The losing just stretches on and on....

I plan to be out of it.

It Just Hit Me

That Harvey dude is the spitting image of Roger Clemens as a young pitcher.

He is 6'4", 230 pounds ( guess ), throws in the high 90's, has an unhittable slider or change ( that pitch we swing at in the dirt ), and is mentally tough.

Unlike any young pitcher we have.

The Mets have a future.

We have Dellin Bettances.

One Thing We No Longer Have To Fear

I used to worry that this scrappy, clutch, grinding group of misfits ( plus Cano ) would keep winning until the rich, regulars returned.

Now, we don't have that worry.

As the Yankees have started to regularly score only 1-2 runs per game, it becomes obvious that they aren't going to win much that way.  We are spiraling from the lead back into the pack.  And don't discount the likelihood that we lose the next two games, as well.

Personally, I am praying for rain.

This team's swoon is like diving into a swimming pool, as we are pass markers on the way down to meet Toronto on the way up.

Hence, when the rich and gimpy superstars return to the line-up, we no longer have to worry that they will make things worse.  It is no longer possible.  One run per game is one run per game.

As John says, " they all look the same in the newspaper."

Wells Converts To First Pitch Pop-up Hitter

Rally killer.

Fails to work count.

Pitchers breathe sighs of relief.

Early, quick outs.

Low pitch counts.

No RBI's.

No clutch hits.

Only Overbay remains a player.

Adams reverts to mediocrity.

Without DH we are simply a 4 single team.

MO is showing it now.

RIP 2013 season.

Mayday... Mayday... Mayday... Tornado sighted, fires raging, earthquake reported, Mariano breached, take shelter... Mayday... Mayday... Mayday

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your safety belts and assume fetal positions. 

Remember: Seats double as floatation devices. Secure your oxygen mask before putting it on a child. When on ground, seek shelter. If shambling hordes approach, shoot for the brains. Avoid meat that appears flavored. Do not loot during daylight hours. This is not a drill, people. This is Mayday, as in May and Day.
The Yankees - aka The Evil Empire - are now a second place team. And for the first time in his vaunted career, Mariano Rivera - greatest closer in history - has failed to record one single out in a save situation. Not one.
Speaking of "one" - another game in which we scored one run. We are one game behind the Redsocks. We have just blown two masterful pitching performances, and we are now on our first three-game losing streak, heading for four. Last night, we started no player with a batting average over .300. Several stars - most notably Ichiro, Wells and Sabathia - face career-threatening tailspins. Our best player lately, Brett Gardner, has begun bouncing off walls like a diseased starling; we know how that ends. We cannot score runs. And Mariano...  not one out.

They say he's only human. They say it's only one game. They say there is always tomorrow, which is already today, but you know what? When people are on a sinking ship, it doesn't matter what they say, because words do not change the outcome. The rest of us just hear the sound of a giant tree crashing in the forest, which is the language spoken by the God of the Old Testament, and all we can do is plug our ears. Kaboom, everybody. Ka. Boom.

We spent the first third of the season enjoying and admiring a team of plucky overachievers. And nobody - not God or Bud Selig - can take that from us. In fact, if Satan had said we'd be in second place, a game out, at the end of May, we'd have traded that dingy soul of ours in a heartbeat.

But suddenly, we look dead in the water, and that re-injury to Granderson seems a particularly nasty act of divine cruelty. What did we do to deserve that? In recent years, the Mets have often used the Subway Series to re-inject hope into their desperate clubhouse, while we stumble over a pothole that shouldn't be there. This time, though, they stuck in the knife and twisted the handle. This time, folks, they hit an artery.

Well, Tex is coming back, and Youkilis and Andy, too. The Ichiro Experiment is winding down. Change is on the way, and not soon enough. The engines have failed. We're going to attempt a landing in the Hudson. Brace for impact, everybody. And remember: Shoot for the brains.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jose Canseco is building his resume as a baseball nutjob

When sportswriters talk about never letting Arod in the Hall of Fame, I have to chuckle. Imagine a Cooperstown that requires all inductees to be statesmanlike pillars of morality.

Good grief, they can move the museum into a trailer.

The list of great sluggers includes a Hall of Fame collection of crackpots, drug addicts and first-class jerks. Here's a few names, with their current all-time home run ranking.

1. Barry Bonds, PEDs and perjury
3. Babe Ruth, a glutton.
5. Alex Rodriguez, drug allegations and possible perjury
8. Sammy Sosa, steroids
10. Mark McGwire, steroids
12.  Rafael Palmero, steroids
13. Reggie Jackson, egomaniac
14. Manny Ramirez, borderline personality disorder
16. Mickey Mantle, chronic alcoholic
18, Ted Williams, chased teammates' wives.
24. Gary Sheffield, fought with cops, fans, coaches, players
-- Ty Cobb, pure evil
-- Wade Boggs, sex addiction, booze
-- Pete Rose, gambling, perjury
-- Dick Allen, cocaine
34. Jose Canseco - well... where do we start?

All of which brings us to Jose Canseco... the evil twin to brother Ozzie.

Let's start by noting that this is not a Yankee problem. In 2000, Canseco played for us in 37 games, because we put in a waiver claim figuring someone else would get him, and we got stuck. He batted .243 and hit six home runs. (Years earlier, Dave Kingman hit four for us - but in 8 games.) In the 2000 playoffs, Canseco came to bat once, took three pitches right down the middle and then sauntered back to the dugout. We ditched him a few weeks later.

Nevertheless, to hear Canseco talk, he knows everything about the Yankees. For the last five years, he's been taking potshots at Roger Clemens, Arod and any other Yankee whose name pops up in public conversation. That's because Canseco makes his living by boxing celebrities and appearing in public locations under a big sign that says, "Meet Former Yankee Slugger Jose Canseco!" There's nothing wrong with that. But if you're wondering whether he's closer to AJ Burnett or PT Barnum - I assure you, it's the latter.

This week, Jose made Twitter history by publishing the name of a woman who had charged him with - in essence - rape. He published her address and phone number. He is the first celebrity to do such a thing on Twitter - it's such an unprecedented act of meanness that it might force Twitter to change its policies.

Of course, Jose might be falsely accused. You never know. But if bluster was proof of innocence, Nixon would have served out his term, and Bernie Madoff would still be cashing checks. It's for the authorities, I guess. But make no mistake, he belongs up there with the great sluggers - Cobb, Rose, Manny, Sosa - yeah, put Canseco on that list. He's a Hall of Fame ass.

Mets Nix Yank Rallies

It was always going to be the case.

This scrappy, rag-tag Yankee team was not going to hold up against their cross-town rivals.

We won a game in Tampa, stole a game in Tampa and got undressed a game in Tampa.  Our typical outing is about two runs and a lot of pitching.

It is a shame that we did nothing for Phil Hughes.

It is a shame we made that Met drudge pitcher look like an all star.  It is a shame that Robbie gave up his winning streak.

It is a shame that the Mets have not yet used their best pitcher.

It is a shame that we are going to be ashamed when this goat series staggers to an end.

Jason Nix could go down in history as the man who put down both Mariano and Jeter

For years, brooders within the Yankiverse - you know who you are - have agonized over who will "replace" the twin towers - Mo and Jeet - when that Yankee Nuclear Clock finally chimes midnight. The notion often goes that we'll sign a great closer or shortstop, someone worthy of becoming a question on Trivial Pursuit. This is because we are fools.

For starters, icons don't get replaced - and certainly not by other icons. After Thurman, we greeted Brad Gulden. And here's today's essay question: Name five of the 1Bs we trotted out to fill Don Mattingly's vacant Buster Browns. (Hint: One's name - pictured - is a variant of a great Yankees blog.)

Maybe we're just in denial here - a common affliction. But like it or not, we may be looking at Derek Jeter's replacement.

It's Jason Nix, not future Cooperstown inductee, but vastly superior to Eduardo Nunez, who neither hit nor brokered confidence with his Knoblachian throws to first. Nuni was supposed to steal bases. Well, Nix now has 5, yet to be caught.  When Eduardo returns from his rib injury - which at one point was supposed to be day to day -  I'm sure he'll get some ABs. But unless he returns with a vengeance, I don't think we're going to see much of the guy. Nix is our SS, folks. Deal with it.

Thus Nix could go into the trivia books as the player whose batting practice fungo tore Mariano's knee - and then who replaced Jeter at SS. Of course, Jeter will return this year - but will he be the starting everyday SS? Whew. That's a different question. If we're waiting for Jeter to be the Iron Captain at SS again - well, we might as well be waiting  for Jesus Montero. Ankle injuries are a mess. Ask Brian Cashman.

Thus, Jason Nix becomes the defensive lynchpin of this team. He is a career .216 hitter, who last year surprised everybody, hitting .243. (He now stands at .231 - not much, but about 30 points higher than what Nunez hit.) Last October, Nix hit .500 against Baltimore and - like everyone - tanked against Detroit, though he nearly homered in one late inning AB - a blast that, a micrometer here or there, might have won a game.

As for Mariano's replacement, we all know it's going to be the cast of a Cecil B. Demille movie. It'll make finding Mattingly's successor look like a snap. Joba will be gone, the rookies aren't ready, and we're not going to be able to handle Houdini perpetually loading the bases. Can Jason Nix pitch?

Monday, May 27, 2013

In "Rivalry Week," Boston gets Philadelphia?

We take on the Mets, who have only one reason left to live - beating the Yankees.

And Boston plays... Philly?

That's their rivalry?

Why... because of Papebon? Did I miss something?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Early Report From The 2013 'It Is High' Memorial Day Weekend Summit

Alphonso, El Duque and I gathered this weekend with friends and family to watch the last two games of the Tampa series.  After the jump: my account. 

The end is near... or can Yankee super-clutch megahero Lyle Overbay play the outfield?

They've made a trilogy out of "Before Sunrise," the Ethan Hawk/Julie Delpy chick-flick where a Disney-faced couple meets and decide they've got 12 hours to concoct a romance for eternity, so they go Stephen Hawking on each other, groping like geckos, while contemplating the meaning of Everything, such as Lysol, bursitis and the difference between Eddie Money and Johnny Cash. And basically, that sums up my feelings about Lyle Overbay.

Soon, he's going to go Julie Delpy on us, leaving our lives forever, and until that moment comes, we need to fix his Dudley Dooright dimple into our minds, and hear what he thinks about global warming, and tell him all we know about how groovy life is and - OK, that's enough, you get the picture, right? How deep into this well do I have to climb? Anyway, time is running out. Tick tock. Soon, Lyle is going to get the Cashman handshake in exchange for his locker key, and good grief, is there any way to stop this from happening? Because Ethan Hawk sure did. He thought: Indie production company... trilogy!

Well, Lyle didn't put up a trilogy for us yesterday, but two out of three aint bad. He worked a walk with two outs in the ninth - the kind of AB we haven't seen since Paul O'Neill - starting a rally, and then homered to win it. An Overbayan victory. Doesn't get any better. Yet in the grand scheme, yesterday was just another movement on the clock that ends his Yankee romance.

As soon as Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis return, Lyle is a dead man - no role on the team beyond third 1B ... unless... (this was suggested yesterday at River Ave Blues)... can he play outfield?
I say, WHY NOT? We can't just show him the door. Ethan Hawk wouldn't do that. Neither should Cashman. We need a plan. We need a strategy. Can somebody fake an injury? Can we hire Overbay for the YES booth? Wait... I got it... have him join John and Suzyn! If he can't talk, maybe he can read ad text.

Gotta think of something. It can't just end this way. Think, everybody, think: Bench coach? LOOGY? Can he take Reggie Jackson's job, whatever that is? What would Ethan do?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pinkie Down: Is this season a crude joke by the baseball gods to keep Ben Francisco on the Yankee roster?

What attracts a bean ball,
Right upon the screw,
Impact on the pinkie,
With the knuckle black and blue,
The Grandy Man,
Oh, the Grandy Man’s hand.
The Grandy Man’s hand,
'Cause we need another chance
To make Ichiro look good. 

Listen: One could argue that over the last two years, there has been no darker Yankee nightmare than the continuing regression of Mr. Curtis Granderson Jr. Nearly every part of the guy has brought us eternal pain. 

For starters, he stands as living testament to the Yankee tradition of trading away great future talent for stars on the descent. Every time he marches back to the dugout after a strikeout - as he did 195 times last season - we can see the ghosts of Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy walking with him. In his first NY season, Curtis started slow and then pulled a hammy, gone for a month. Last October, the world watched him disassemble. And this year, his first spring training at bat breaks a wrist - and last night: Goodbye, pinkie. Out six weeks. Ugh.

Poor guy. He never deserved this. A guy like Raul Mondesi - he deserved our scornful bile. Not Grandy. But his time with us is quickly running out.

If Hal Steinbrenner was serious about cutting payroll, the Grandy Man was never going to return next year. This was his contract season, his last great chance to make a killing - the five-year-deal that sets his family up for life. (He's already done that, of course, but this would be his last and maybe greatest payday.)

Now, he comes back after the All-Star break, feeling more pressure than ever on each increasingly overblown home run swing. And where will we be? 

By mid-July, Ichiro has either started to hit, or there is no place to hide his futility any more. 

By then, Vernon Wells could be running out of gas - the way Raul Ibanez did last year, when the guy signed as a DH was forced to play all those games in left field. 

By then, frankly, Brett Gardner will probably have jammed a thumb, simply because that's what Gardy always does.

By then, we'll have turned over our infield, but who plays the outfield? 

Ben Francisco, I guess.

Well, we're still in first. And if last night's injuries to Grandy and Phelps make it seem like we're under a curse cloud, the game - featuring the Artist Formerly Known as Fausto Carmona - exposed Tampa's underbelly. They have no second tier pitching. 

So hold on tight, folks. Here comes Brennan Boesch, joining Vidal Nuno, Preston Claiborne and Dave Adams. The Retrieval Empire is still going. Ben Francisco, it's up to you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

If you're scoring the Jesus Montero situation at home...

Former savior Jesus Montero hit 4 HRs for the Yankees and 18 for Seattle: Thus, 22 percent came in a Yankee uniform.

Of his 83 career RBIs, 12 - that's 15 percent - came with the Yankees.

He batted .328 for the Yankees, .252 for Seattle.

Still, Jesus remains the ripe old age of 23. If he were still a Yankee, he would be the youngest player on the team by about a year.

He would be the youngest position player on the Scranton roster.  (Brett Marshall and Mike Montgomery, pitchers, are younger.)

Jesus would be the third youngest catcher at Double A Trenton, behind JR Murphy and Kyle Higashioka. Six Trenton players overall are younger than Jesus.

If he were at High Single A, Jesus would be looking old. Twenty players on the Yankees Tampa roster are younger than he, most notably Gary Sanchez - age 21 - who, for better or worse, is often described as the next Jesus Montero.

Sanchez is currently hitting .280 with 8 HRs at Tampa.

Technically, Sanchez is running behind Jesus - who at age 19 played at both Tampa and Trenton, hitting a combined 17 HR and batting about .330.

But Jesus is now moving in the wrong direction. Sanchez is in line for a promotion, perhaps this season.

Of all the injured Yankee stars set to return, Chien-Ming Wang could be the most important, and he is rapidly approaching a crossroads

In occasional bursts of optimism, or Oxycontin, John Sterling will describe a healing Yankee star as being like a trade where we give up nothing. For example, when Mark Teixeira comes home, we may only have to jettison Ben Francisco or Dellin Betances - at first, anyway.

But the month of June may resemble more of an off-season house-cleaning than a trade. After Robbie, our entire infield likely will turn over. We'll waive goodbye to players too marketable to take the loyalty bullet and go to Scranton. And in July/August, we'll welcome back the towering two - Jeter and Arod - amid crazy and unspoken fears that they cannot excel at their positions - and what the hell do we do if they can't? Good luck, Mr. Cashman!

But screw all that. This team has won via pitching. Despite a few whoppers from Phil Hughes and Super Nova, we've enjoyed a great spring. Now comes the meat grinder stretch of the season - and maybe a correction. Listen: Mariano can't go forever.  A couple games, he's been damn lucky with balls hit at fielders. CC is surviving on guile; the fastball is not fasting. Andy cannot stay healthy. And Kuroda's collapse in Baltimore reminds us of stretches last year that prompted this ditty

Which brings us to Mr. Chien-Ming Wang.

Early this spring -  in a move greeted within the Yankiverse like news of new album by Crosby, Stills and Nash - we signed Wang and sent him to Scranton.  A week from today, May 31, he reaches an opt-out date in his contract. If the Yankees don't promote him to New York, he can walk. 

The day before his last opt-out clause, Wang had a great outing. He probably could have gotten a deal with some team but chose to stay. I believe the Yankees are quietly using their financial might at the Triple A level, shooting money at minor league free agents, more so than other teams. (I've wondered about that since they resigned David Adams to a minor league contract, after he was waived for Vernon Wells. I thought Adams would be gone for sure, but somehow Cashman coaxed him back, and I gotta believe an open checkbook had something to do with it.) So... it's possible that Wang is happy with his lucrative Yankee minor league deal and wants to stick with his legacy team. I dunno. But at age 33, he also knows time is running out.

The few news reports we've seen  - (and who knows if they have credibility?) - say his sinker isn't the bowling ball it was back in the glory days. At Scranton, he's started seven games, thrown 44 innings with an ERA of 3.07. He's had some clunkers, but in his last start, he went six innings and pitched pretty well. He's showing control - only seven walks - but the truth is, if the Yankees were obliged to promote the best pitcher from Scranton based on performance, it would be Chris Bootcheck - age 34 - (and we know that's not going to happen, without a staph infection at the majors level.)

The seven days of Wang. By next Friday, Andy could be back. Unless we have another injury - always a possibility - there's no spot for Wang in our rotation. But do we let him walk out the door? The plates are spinning on their sticks. John and Suzyn might need a new prescription.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cashman's prayers are answered: Seattle scorns Jesus, as Pineda resurrection looms

Well - as Steve Jobs said to Bill Gates - you never what to believe when you cut a deal with somebody from Seattle.

All last year, the Jesus Montero trade - (I believe I called it "the debacle") - looked like a long range Yankee death and the reason to - as Hunter Thompson would say - stuff Brian Cashman into a bottle and put him out with the Japanese tide. 

Today, vindication - maybe?

The Mariners sent Montero to Triple A, where he increasingly looks like the ghost of Sam Horn, the man, not the website. The guy wasn't hitting or playing well at catcher. He'll now DH, play 1B and try to forget the seven years of idolatry that was bestowed upon him by the Yankiverse while he climbed through the system, apparently neglecting the finer points of defense despite the warnings by his coaches.

Hector Noesi, a disaster last year for Seattle, recently shut us down for several innings in a Mariner victory. He is now Seattle's jewel of the trade.

Michael Pineda - aka "Pinata" - is pitching in extended spring training, and hopefully completed the 12-step program he likely was ordered to take after his embarrassing DUI last year. By the way, that could be the best thing that ever happened to him. We still don't know what to expect - if anything - from the guy.

And then there is Jose Campos, the sleeper cell the deal, who likely was over-hyped last year after Pineda went down, and the Yankees desperately tried to save face. He's in Charleston, throwing games with pitch counts so severe that it's impossible to gauge how he's doing.

Right now, I score the trade:

SEATTLE          .0005
NEW YORK     .0000

Waiting for Betances

MUSTANG: Long night, last night. 
ALPHONSO: Did you stay until the end?
MUSTANG: Yes. Sadly. I couldn't sleep.
ALPHONSO: I know. (Despairingly) Are you sure he is here?
MUSTANG: It says so on the program.

But why haven't we seen him? And what is "the program?"
MUSTANGIt's the program. The program is the program. And it says so on the program.
ALPHONSO: (sighs) I just thought he would appear.
MUSTANG: Yes. On a long night. Like last night. At the mound. (They look at the mound.) Do you think we missed him?
ALPHONSO: He would be hard to miss. Six feet eight. Big as a willow tree.
MUSTANG With leaves.

ALPHONSO: So what now? What does it say in your program?
MUSTANG: We wait.

MUSTANG: Tampa. Or maybe Scranton.
ALPHONSO: Charming cities. But if he did not appear last night, will he ever appear?
MUSTANG:  It doesn't matter. We wait. Tomorrow, perhaps. He will appear tomorrow night! Just wait.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It Is Granderson's Fault !

Garnderson was sent back to us by the devil.

His job is :

1.  to strike out
2.  to kill rallies with double play ground balls to second
3.  to not hit with runners in scoring position
4.  to get turned around on fly balls in right field.
5.  to no longer hit home runs
6.  to have a batting average under .200
7.  to cash an outrageous paycheck
8.  to keep Wells or Ichiro on the bench, spitting seeds.

We can only hope some pitcher nails him again. Nothing serious;   just another 12 weeks on the DL.

Last night, Chris Dickerson enacted revenge, and he might just be the first in a future wave

My first childhood PTSD from an ex-Yankee was the 1963 World Series, which the world recalls for Koufax and Drysdale. Through drugs and surgery, I've blotted their images from my head. Nevertheless, in nightmares, I still see Moose Skowron in a Dodger jersey, hammering nails over my coffin. "Wake up," my wife says. "You were dreaming, you were booing someone." No, I tell her. I wasn't saying boo...  

Over the last 50 years, it's become a cliche to say that whenever the Yankees trade or dump a guy - be it Reggie Jackson or DeWayne Wise - he'll rise from the grave, lerch after us and eventually eat our intestine. Last night was just another whupping at the hands of an obscure ex-Yankee zombie - the 31-year-old Chris Dickerson.

For the last two years, Dickerson excelled for our Triple A team. (Trivia question: Who did we trade to get him? Answer: Sergio Mitre, to Milwaukee.) This included a hellish season touring Ramadas along the Thomas A. Dewey New York State Thruway, where the club spent a few Twilight Zone episodes in Batavia. Dickerson hit .316 last year at "Scranton." That garnered him 14 ABs in a September call up: He hit 2 HRs and stole 3 bases.

Last year, with Gardner out and a flow-through tea bag of retreads trying to replace him, the Yankees never gave Dickerson a chance. Over the winter, when the team signed Ichiro to a two-year, a part of me went down to the basement and screamed, "WHAT ABOUT CHRIS DICKERSON? WHAT DOES CHRIS DICKERSON HAVE TO TO TO GET A SHOT? HOW MUCH BETTER WILL ICHIRO BE - FOR $20 MILLION - THAN CHRIS DICKERSON?"

(Let me note something here: I make no claims to be a baseball scout or expert. I only speak with the gravitas of being an irrational Yankee fan. OK? I don't want to make it sound as though I claim to always be right, because I certainly was wrong in my assessments of Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells. I am simply a Yankee id, yelling in the basement.)

Last winter, we pitched Dickerson into the sea. Twenty-eight days later (Cueing Danny Boyle) the O's signed him. Last night, well - he killed us - two HRs.

Like I said, Dickerson is just the latest in a long tradition. But here's the rub: The way we're churning through players, some very good ones could soon become ex-Yanks with scores to settle. We've got a slew of "all-stars" coming back, and our 25-man roster is going to pop like a helium balloon.  Come August and September - and maybe October - there will be several new Moose Skowrons out there. Beware.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Questions abound over John's mysterious secondary call for David Adams' home run

Last night, as noted by comments in a previous post, John unveiled his individualized home run calls for David Adams. (Note: Nowadays, we have to refer to The Master's homer calls, because he does not limit them to one.) 

The starter:


And the closer:


The first is self-explanatory, and as Mustang says earlier, it's good to see John getting back in tune with Judeo-Christian roots. But the second one still dogs me. Mustang contends it's from a Broadway show, referring to "Call me, Madam." I dunno. Mustang - despite his sterling record as blogger - is right about 25 percent of the time.

My more focused investigation has turned up these possibilities:

1. "You can call me Adams," an obscure MySpace photo site used by a teenager who, as a joke, pretends to be Ansel Adams.  ODDS: Unlikely.  John doesn't use a computer and has never to my knowledge commented about Ansel Adams or nature photography.

2. "They Call Me Adams," a rapper with 79 friends on MySpace. None is listed as John Sterling. However, the artist posts this cryptic note: Hey ima be at the Grand Opening of GOTHAM CITY FRIDAYS this friday night.. i heard its gonna be super crackin. You should come check it out :) invite all of ur friends.

3.  "Call Me Adams," a race horse. Not much more. But I think this is it.

4. Reference in Munsey's Magazine, Vol. 72: I couldn't look for the title of the story because - well - I just couldn't. But check out this passage:

"Don't call me Adams. That's just a flag."
"Flag?" I repeated, puzzled.
"Sure, an assumed name; an alias."

The Yankees are about to become the most ungrateful team in sports, and I am now dreading the return of the superstar lineup

Damn. I feel like the cad who falls for his best friend's fiance, while the guy is off at the Star Fleet Academy. I keep telling myself, "No, this is NOT happening! I'll break it off! I'm am not falling for Brian's girl!" Then the girl - her name is Lyle - homers in the seventh, and you can't take your eyes off her, and later, you're together in the back of team bus, and you're tearing the buttons from her jersey and-

OK, you get my point, right? I'm in love with Lyle Overbay! There! I've said it! The forbidden truth! We want to get married! We want to adopt! But his boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble, hey-na, hey-na...

Listen: It's weird, rooting for this Yankee team. It's unlike anything we have seen since 1994. It's like 1983, the crash year, except we're winning.

Last night, Lyle, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells stole another victory with the kind of clutch hitting that, frankly, our big stars failed to furnish over the last three years. The A-Rod menagerie always put together big numbers, and we made the playoffs - but they were always a disappointment, never as good as they should be, because nobody hit with runners on base.

Now this. Overbay is on a course to hit 20-25 homeruns and hit .255 - which is about what we'd get from Mark Teixeira (OK, maybe 30-35 and .240). Hafner would smack 30, and Wells, 35 - but folks, it aint gonna happen, because in another month, Joe Girardi will be rationing ABs like bottled water after an earthquake. As for David Adams? He'll be back on the DL - the Demoralized List - in Scranton, with Brennan Boesch, Corbin Joseph, Vidal Nuno, Austin Romine and maybe Eduardo Nunez.

In about two weeks, Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis return. Shy of a suspicious series of airport restroom accidents, there is no way Overbay can stay a Yankee. We will salute him as he walks out the door - to Boston, Baltimore or Tampa, wherever - knowing that the most serendipitous Yankee acquisition since Aaron Small - the girl we've come to love - will soon play against us. And then... what will we become?

The old baseball rule says you can't lose your job to an injury. I accept that. It's not Teixeira's fault that his wrist popped. But the old pessimistic fan in me says Tex will come back slow, cost us a few games, then finally start hitting and - pop - there's goes the wrist, and this time, he'll need an operation.

Same with Youk. It's not his fault that his back feels like he sleeps on a bed of nails. But the old doomsdayer in me says he'll come back slow, cost us a few games, then finally start hitting and - ohhh - this time, gone for the season.

A-Rod? You know the drill. By then, David Adams will have languished in Scranton for two months, and whatever magic this team captured in May - well - we can remember it and smile in September.

It's amazing: I am literally dreading the return of the superstar Mega-Yankees. 

Last night, Curtis Granderson came up in a critical situation. In his signature move, he struck out on a 3-2 pitch that was above his nose, then marched skillfully back to the dugout, shaking his head. By my estimation, we have about 150 Grandy strikeouts to track through between now and October. Each will be more maddening than in the past, because he'll be taking ABs from Hafner and Wells. For a while, we'll have seen another option.

I don't claim to know what Cashman can do. Frankly, this has been his greatest spring as a general manager. For us fans though, the Yankees have always been an affair of the heart. That's why we are so irrational and impulsive. I make no excuses for my rants and behavior. But this is one pain I can see coming. We're about to have our hearts broken.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Speaking on behalf of the Yankiverse, we face Freddy Garcia tonight in Baltimore, and you better believe there will be some whining if we lose

I thought this was a misprint, or an Oxycontin flashback from 2011. Freddy Garcia is pitching against us tonight. Yes, that Freddy Garcia. The Chief. He's still alive. He's still pitching.

Listen, I have nothing but respect for The Chief. He pitched well for us - in fact, one of his best outings came in a must game against Baltimore. But two years ago, he was on his last legs. How old can the guy be? A hundred?

He's going against C.C. Sabathia. I'm telling you, this is scary. Some of these guys, they're like zombies - they just keep walking and snarling, and until somebody shoots them in the brain, they'll eat your liver. If we lose tonight, it's like losing to Houston. It's like losing to yourself. It's five losses, bottled up into one. It's not Freddy Garcia. It's Freddy Kruger. 

Nobody saw this: In the AL East, this season could become a two-team NY-Boston blood feud.

This was supposed to be the year NY and Boston sat out the AL East.

Instead, the season resembles an early 2000's burner - Yanks/Redsocks, and then the East Division tomato cans.

Without Jose Reyes, Toronto looks like - well - Toronto. Over the winter, Baltimore and Tampa flat-lined. After his third year, Showalter's act starts to fray. Worse, the O's didn't improve their pitching (that guy, Miguel Gonzalez, who shut us down last fall, is getting hammered). The Rays might have made their first certifiable bad deal. (That kid, Wil Meyers, whom they obtained for James Shields, is hitting .250 with 4 HR at Triple A.) Both teams are three games over .500. 

For us, it's all pitching, pitching, pitching. We're coaxing great years out of fragile arms. But Andy's gone down twice, and we all secretly wonder how long Mariano can go. In Boston, Clay Bucholtz and John Lackey aren't exactly Iron Man. Everything can change in a week.

And this could be one of those weeks.

We play Baltimore and Tampa - three game sets that could show dominance - or pull out the rug.
Either way, this has been a May unlike any in recent years. Usually, in May, our superstar lineup tanks, losing more than we win, and causing a crisis within the Yankiverse. Likewise, Boston fell apart last May. This year, both teams have thrived.

In two weeks, May 31, we host Boston for three games: Two teams playing above projections. John and Suzyn are already scoreboard watching with Redsock games, talking about our hold on first place. It's way too early to obsess over scoreboards. But this could be another 2003... or, gulp, 2004?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Hate Days Like This

Would David Adams have gone 3-4?

Would we get no hit by the knuckler?

Would CC have shined?

Would Overbay save us again?

Go read a book.

Aybar to Wynegar, Pujols to Smalley: The '13 Angels are the '83 Yankees

For a lost generation of Yankee fans, 1983 was Season Two in the 14-Year Barf - the hellish stretch of Tartabulls and Barfields that came between Thurman/Reggie and Bernie/Jeet. It was Iron Man II... the second Bush term... the marriage between Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney... except it lasted 161 games, instead of two weeks.

I know what you're thinking: Shirley, you jest! As in Bob Shirley. That year, we finished out of the running despite such Old Timers Day luminaries as Jerry Mumphries and Steve Kemp. We were on our way to likes of Mel Hall, Andy Hawkins, Deion Sanders, Claudell Washington and the Perez brothers, Pascual and Melido - all while spending the most money in the game. Yes, folks, it can happen. And watching it - and perhaps being scarred for life - were two teenagers named Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman.

Which brings us to the Los Angeles, California, Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they call themselves. Hell's Angels are 16 and 27, the second worst team in the American League, after Houston. That's like saying herpes is the second worst virus going around, after Ebola. The Lastros have a lineup of Theotis Nobodies. The Angels last winter signed Josh Hamilton, ($17 million) adding him to the line up of Trout, Kendricks, Trumbo and Pujols. Pitching? They signed CJ Wilson two winters ago.

Plus, for the last 10 years, the Angels had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of hot prospects, thanks in part to an aggressive policy of spending over slot money to draft picks. Their payroll lists them 7th in the MLB, behind the top dogs - the Dodgers, the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, Redsocks and Giants.

Second to last in the AL West. They ditched Vernon Wells to the Yankees for a bag of corn meal. He has 10 HRs on the season.

This will change, of course. They should start winning. But in the 1980s, George Steinbrenner had a tendency to panic around May/June - start lawn sales to boost the team and win the back page. Will the Angels?

We know the Mariners will collapse. Oakland? Crap shot. Texas could be for real, and all the AL West teams get extra games against Houston - a huge advantage in the Wild Card race.

But the similarities are there. And Shirley, they mean something.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Let's Give Some Credit Where It Is Due..

One of our blogger mates noted in a comment to an El Duque post ( below somewhere ), that Curtis Granderson did not play last night.

And the Yankees won.

I agree.

This team is better off without any of its so-called, " stars."

Except Robbie, who has been riding this team bus from the outset.

Traffic snarls on the Major Deegan nearly ruin big Yankee win for John and Suzyn

Joy over last night's big Yankee win - (Note: Every Yankee win is a big Yankee win) - was nearly muted by hell-hole traffic on the Major Deegan Expressway, "the worst highway in America," Suzyn labeled it.

If the God of the Old Testament exists, the architects of that miserable concrete ribbon someday will break out in fiery boils and watch their children sold into slavery. It's always bad. But yesterday, it became intolerable. 

John refrained from condemning the roadway, outright. That's not his style. But The Master didn't disagree with Suzyn's assessment. It took an hour and a half to get to the game. An hour and a half. In the fourth inning, he was expecting his family to visit the booth, but they were probably still out there, sitting on the Deeg. An hour and a half.

"Everybody here has a story to tell about getting to work," John said.

An hour and a half. That's not America. How can you live happily when it takes an hour and a half to get to work? NY is getting to be like California. Suzyn noted that out in California, if you ask someone how far away a destination is, they'll say, "It's 20 minutes, without traffic."

"But," she asked, "when is there ever no traffic?"

The radio airwaves filled with the sound of John shaking his head.

Only one positive last night: Hiroki Kuroda and a big Yankee win. This plucky ball club has a knack for winning when its pitchers throw shutouts. And John noted one slight benefit to all that traffic on the Deegan.

A lot of fans, he said, were out there sitting in traffic, listening to the game on the Yankee Radio Network, driven by Jeep.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Weird or what: On the same day, Scranton loses both "The Office" and Dellin Betances

Last night, Scranton lost it's biggest tourist attraction after Chien-Ming Wang.

It was to Scranton as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is to Trenton. Much like most of the Yankee prospects who have moved through Moosic, it stayed there about three years too long. Nevertheless, like Alberto Gonzalez pitching in the ninth, you had to watch.

So... you missed it, eh? You were watching the Knicks or the Rangers or - gasp - The Mentalist. What happened? Well, not much. There were tears and speeches. It kept both heels pressed on the poignancy pedal. But the plot arcs ended happily. We were left - as  Yankee fans often are - pondering a change, and we're not sure in which direction it will take us.

Of course, like Seinfeld, Cheers, Taxi, et al, this will go on forever in syndication. If you missed last night, no problem. It will keep replaying until the asteroid hits, and if the machines outlast us, it will keep replaying after we're gone.

But everybody in Scranton today knows that it's over.

Dellin Betances is now a Yankee.

Calling All Molinas.....Calling all Penas....Calling all Bench's

The number of qualified catchers we now have is dwindling.  Go ahead, count 'em.

Cervelli is still down for a long count.

 Stewart pulled a groin last night and, for a catcher, that is grim news.  It is not a,  "a day to day thing,"  when a player plays from a crouch and is active on every pitch.

He will be out a long time and that is a major loss.

Stewart has shocked us all, playing exceptional defense, throwing well, and even hitting a bit.

Now we have the Romine we all wanted to see.  A catcher who bats .080 or less, but a catcher nonetheless.  Perhaps his AAA batting eye will return with regular work.

So I am putting out a call to all retirees. If you are 40+ and once regarded as a great defensive catcher, please call the Yankees.  Money is good and accommodations first class.

Great clubhouse snacks, and the curried chicken salad is to die for.

We are down to one catcher and JR Murphy in AA.  That's a stretch to say two catchers.

Count 'em.

Will the Montero-Pineda trade turn out to have been a huge transaction of nothingness?

Last night, I'm chewing on McChicken parts in a White Plains doofuss bar, where all the TV screens but one are tuned into the eternal Knicks and Rangers hell worlds - (too painful for my delicate system.) I'm watching the tube where YES - the Yankees version of Fox News Channel - flashes a graphic of Michael Pineda, the great beached whale of Tampa, and I try to imagine what the Yankee Hannity hucksters are saying. I figure it's an update: Today, Pineda threw off a supermodel's stomach or ate 50 eggs in 30 minutes, or maybe passed his 12-step certification - some blah-blah-blah to remind us that this budding goliath remains in our custody, planning to someday rise from the sea and stomp Tokyo into a giant pile of animal bedding.

Moments later, up to the plate strides Jesus Montero, the Second Coming of Thurman, or Chili Davis, or maybe Matt Nokes - nobody yet knows. I strain to see Jesus's batting average, which stands at - huh? - .203. OK, I figure he's hitting for power, right? Nope. Three HRs, nine RBIs. Those are Gus Molina numbers. Those are not the numbers of the Baby Jesus who for the last six years dominated every Yankee prospect Top Ten List the way BeyoncĂ© rules the pop charts.

(Note to self: Remember this next winter, when Yankiverse goes crazy over Top Ten Prospect Lists.)

Moreover, in the ninth - when I'm in a secure location with audio, Montero nearly throws a ball into leftfield on a stolen base, and the announcers mention he is 1 for 19 in catching base stealers. (Gardner promptly steals third, making him 1 for 20.) In other words, baserunners have a friend in Jesus, and unless the savior changes his ways, he's destined for the Seattle version of Scranton - a location that, until recently, was believed to exist only in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.

So after all the gnashing of gteeth, all the sound and the fury (signifying nothing) - and, yes, folks, I know Hector Noesi pitched well last night, and that the overly hyped Campos youngster is still - well - young - but after all the chest-beating, the 2012 winter trade looks like an exchange of Raleigh Coupons for Pepsi Points. (Sorry, Mallo Cup fans.) It had the gravity of a treaty between Hitler and Stalin. It was a big fat mirage: Two teams trading a bucket of magic beans, neither of which would ever grow.

And right now, last night notwithstanding, it looks like we won on the hell deal, because Pineda is striking out imaginary batters in Tampa. As long as he's not in Scranton, getting Bootchecked by the Mud Hens, we can sit in our dark bedrooms and still fantasize the Betances-tall Pineda throwing 150-mph strikes. Call the game, everybody! We won the deal. Final score: Yankees 0, the Mariners Negative 1.

Then again... they did dish us Ichiro, didn't they? Strange how these transactions play out in their second lives, am I right?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

First game all season we should have won

It was as if the 2012 Yankees returned.

Never thought we'd lose until that final out.

No Hafner to pinch hit for Nix?

Why, Gards, did you wait until the ninth?

Andy, are you OK?
What happened to Chris Stewart?
Is everything falling apart?

Did we celebrate this team too soon?

Chris Bootcheck Boot Check: Never mind

I don't think we'll do these anymore.

Has Vernon Wells become Joe Girardi's Ruben Sierra?

In the final days of the Joe Torre Era, the resurrection of Ruben Sierra was one of the great joys to behold.

In his first Yankee incarnation, Sierra whined that the team only cared about winning, not HR totals, prompting him to pitched out like a plate of bad clams. When he returned, Sierra was an elder statesman, clubhouse leader and warrior against evil - so much that Torre, in a season-ending mini-tradition, chose Ruben to manage the final game.  And when Sierra took out a pitcher, he mimicked Torre's walk so perfectly that both dugouts cracked up.

I don't know if Vernon Wells can do Girardi's hand-wipe across the forehead. But he came to NY with his share of critics.  Did you hear the way he was booed in Toronto? (Maybe he'll hear it in LA, too.) Much of it was his big contract - (it amazes and distresses me how fans blame players for bad contracts, letting the owners skate) - But Vernon Wells has an officer and a gentleman in NY, and I think last night Girardi gave him a loving back-slap by letting him play 2B in the final, meaningless inning.

Wells is having a great season. If he stays on course - big if - there is no reason to think he can't hit 35 HRs, drive in 100 and bat .280. He's done this before. He's not too old. Whatever issues he had are in his head. And he's been given a second chance - maybe his final chance - on baseball's greatest stage. If there is a better candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, tell me who? (OK, Mariano, yeah, but dammit, don't stop me when I'm on a roll.)

Can Vernon become Joe's Ruben? (Woah, that sounds kinky.) Let's hope. Otherwise, we're left to wondering whether we already had his Ruben - the name was Raul - and in a spasm of owner chinziness, we punted on him. No more cries of Rauuuul. It's Verrrrrrrrrrn!