Friday, May 16, 2014

The Yankee hope chest is filled with strange trinkets

Escape from New York. We won two, we lost two. We found Chase Whitely, we lost Carlos Beltran, and we watched Joe Girardi snarl like Snake Plisken. (Wait a minute: I thought he was dead?) The Subway Series is over, done, a split... and good effing riddance. Because the Yankees can never win it.

When you beat the Mets: "Big deal, WTF, you want a medal for beating the METS?" When you lose to the Mets, "Holy crap! WTF, you lost to the METS?" Now we can go back to playing teams that aren't obsessed with proving themselves to Jennifer Lopez.

Of course, we are battered, limping, and searching for Sidney Ponson's phone number. Nevertheless, I am sensing warmth from the following rays of hope:

1. Solarte keeps going. Friends, let us hereby thank the Lord for blessing us with Brendan Ryan's spring training back injury, because if not for that godly tweak, we might not have the bright light that is Yangervis. On the last day of spring training, the brain trust had to cut either him, Dean Anna or Eduardo Nunez. But if Ryan had been healthy, we would have had to cut two of them. (Ryan has to make the team; he has a two-year contract.)

If Ryan were healthy, Solarte might have been DFA'ed. This is what happens when you clog a roster with contracts. (You keep Ichiro and send Zolio Almonte back.) It has been the Yankees' standard operating procedure during bad times. It killed us throughout the 1980s, when young players were traded so the team could play high-priced bums. Somehow, Solarte somehow made it through the salmon fence. He's got another month before we can pronounce him a major league success. He could still fall off the table. But when he comes up, I give far more attention than to - say - Soriano, McCann or even - sadly - Gardner.

2. Betances is unreal. Not much to improve upon last night. Seven Mets, six Ks. At least one Killer B made it (Whither goest thou, Andrew Brackman?) Betances still has the highest ceiling on the staff - (yes, I'm including Pineda.) If he just throws strikes, he could be a game-changer, a stopper. It's like having a secret weapon. Could he someday be turned back to a starter? Certainly not this year. But the big guy is finding himself. When a big guy finds himself, there is always hope.

3. This is stupid, feel free to mock me, but there is an organizational lugnut at Scranton named Kyle Roller, and you won't find him on any Top 10 prospect list, and the Mel Kipers will pooh-pooh his chances (as if they know.) But he has crushed the ball this season. He plays 1B, is built like Fred Flintstone, just turned 26 (missed 2011 due to injuries) and in 21 games at Double A hit nearly .400 with nine home runs. Last week, they bumped him up to Scranton. Last night, he hit his 2nd HR there. They call him "organizational fodder" and tell us not to bother watching. When River Ave put out its daily farm system report last month, Mike Axisa (whom I love) didn't even include Roller. Well, now he does.

Should we care about Roller? Probably not. Yes, this is irrational, but here's my ridiculously uninformed and ignorant take: Soon, Mark Teixeira will get hurt. We know this. It's bound to happen. Hopefully, it will be a minor injury, and we'll get him back. But when it happens, we do not have to go to the Russell Canzler option. We can roll the dice... on Roller! (Imagine John's call.) He is a genuine mystery, a break-out, an enigma. Who knows what he's got? But at least I have something to hope for. Alfonso Soriano does NOT cut it.

4. The real reason for hope: We are playing in Division III. We must beat Alfred, Nazareth, SUNY Oswego and the favorite: St. John's Fisher. That's the AL East. Right now, we are two games above .500, a half-game behind Baltimore, which has major issues. The Redsocks and Blue Jays have been parked at .500 and their engines aren't running. The Rays - arguably the best team in the AL East - are terrible (except when they play us.)

Listen: 83 wins could take this division. We can win 83 games.

Keep in mind: Hope and faith are two entirely different concepts. I'm not saying I have faith that any of the above will come to pass. But ah, hope... isn't it still spring?


JM said...

And this is the great side of a lame year--watching the young guys come through and lay the foundation of their major league careers.

Tex is becoming a nice surprise. The power is a little unexpected, at least for me, because I usually assume the worst. But yeah, he will go down to injury at some point or two.

Jeter is just kind of sad to watch. No mobility, consistently fails in the clutch at the plate...not the Jeter we know, but the guy has earned one more year and a farewell tour. Not the kind he had in mind, I'm sure, at least so far.

Solarte, Betances, Preston Sturges...these guys are fun to watch. And that's something I haven't been able to say about Yankees players in a while. Or can say about most of the ones they trot out every day.

JM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JM said...

Damn Blogger doubled my comment...

Sheridan said...

Why does a near-billionaire who has already had a great career on the field need a one-year farewell tour? This is a testament to his diseased ego, the bottomless needs of which he places above the well-being of the team.

By any objective measure of human comportment, Jeter is being a pig by not retiring NOW. That anyone finds his piggishness admirable is a testament to the pathologies of fandom.

ceeja said...

Jeter thinks he can still play. He's probably realizing he's not much in the field, but there's no reason to believe he might not get hot at the plate.

The question is what is the alternative. Subbing Ryan for th later innings and occasionally for a whole game takes care of some of the problem. But if Jeter broke a leg your option is are Solarte at short, Roberts at second, Johnson at third. Alternatively, you stick with Ryan as the no. 1 shortstop and put Solarte at third. I prefer sticking with Jeter and hoping he starts to click at the plate.

Sheridan said...

Jeter right now has a WAR of 0.1--yes, just about zero. That means he's become a replacement-level player, an official mediocrity. Any of the alternatives you mention would be so far superior in the field that they would surpass his value on that criterion alone. Jeter is now a full-fledge disaster as a fielder--his defensive WAR is MINUS 0.1.

Enough already. If an injury doesn't put an end to this charade, he should.