Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Yankees star of Monday night's game answers your mean-spirited questions

Never thought I'd see this. The fan who ran onto the field - yes, the one that John and Suzyn so disdain - shares his moment of triumph.

Some of the comments:

Question... How are you able to run so well with your head so firmly jammed up your own ass.

Do you wish your parents had spent more time with you growing up?

Yeah get lost.

But his response is best:

I'm just confused how during the game everyone was wildly cheering yet now all of a sudden it's 90% disapprovement all of a sudden. #IDidItForThePeople

Yankee terror threat elevated: The Redsocks have played far too poorly thus far to be only seven games out

Everything has gone wrong this season, and now Dustin Pedroia is hurt: By now, Boston should be out of the race - done, kaput.

Over their last 10, the Redsocks are 6-4. They beat Toronto last night. The sheer crumminess of the AL East has saved them. They remain too close for comfort.

Two Things....both ugly and rotten

The first thing is minor, but opens a window to the truth.  That is;  in today's poll about what the Yankees should do as the trade deadline looms, a crucial choice has been omitted.  And it is the choice the Yankees will make;

"Trade whatever prospects it takes to get  bloated contracts of lousy, old guys with excellent CA's, but no ability to play. " That is;  get more Beltrans.

The second thing is;  the Yankees are getting too predictable.  I stayed up last night to watch the beginning of the west coast game at whatever ungodly hour it was.

I was encouraged when Brett continued his hot streak by blasting a double to right center.  Then, predictably but inexplicably, Young ( a former Met remember ) doesn't bunt him over to third.  This is the top of the god-shit first inning.  And no one is out.  A run would be good.  Instead, Young hacks away and  weakly pops out ( thinking HR, I'm sure ), leading to the end of the inning courtesy of the guys who won't hit against the shift.

As early as the end of the first inning, when the Angels only ( note only ) got one run, I fucking knew this game was over.  And it is because the Yankees refuse to play baseball.  They never bunt the runner over.  Not even when every text book calls for it.

This is a team desperate for offense.  Desperate for runs.  Bunt Brett over and give the team a chance.

 Girardi is a shitty manager.  Cashman is worse, as a GM.

We are going down like Greece.

The Adam Warren story: Unless you have a big, bloated contract or faerie godfather at the top, you'll never be good enough

Now and then, some poor sap rises up from the Yankees muck farms with an "X" scrawled onto his back, signifying where the top brass intends to put the ice pick. From our cheap seats, we fans never get to know what the guy did wrong: Did he not flush the toilet, or use the right fork for lobster? Whatever the reason, the Yankees never value him.

Whatever he does, it's never enough.

Melky Cabrera was such a player. He was the 24-year-old starting CF on our last World Championship team. (Johnny Damon played in LF.) Melky hit .274 with 13 HRs, with a great arm, and he seemed poised for a fine career. So Cashman dealt him (with Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez, Version II.) You can crunch numbers and create alternative universes until Danny Tartabull deserves a CF plaque, but a soggy deal is a soggy deal. Melky has had a nice career. Was he too close to Cano? Was it the PEDs? Or did he just use the wrong fork? I dunno. But the Yankees couldn't wait to ditch him. Cashman was chasing Curtis Granderson. Melky was in the way. And there was that "X" on his back.

Another such player is Francisco Cervelli, currently one of the best catchers in the NL. Not a week goes by without some writer extolling Frankie's virtues (the Pirates "quiet MVP," according to Sports Illustrated.) You'd think the Yankees would have loved him. Twice, he went to a hospital in an ambulance, still wearing his Yankee uniform. He always seemed to hit in the clutch. Numerous pitchers cited his ability to run a game. But in the last day of 2011 spring training, the Yankees made one of the cruelest moves in modern memory: Frankie was in line to be the back-up catcher (to Russell Martin), but they traded for Chris Stewart and dropped Cervelli to Scranton. It was the year when Scranton played home games on the NY State Thruway. It nearly broke him. Cervelli got off to a terrible start. He thought of quitting. Somehow, he came back. Last season, he hit .301 - the highest average on the Yankees. But he couldn't erase that "X." The Yankees traded him for Justin Wilson, a serviceable bullpen lefty. And the fans knew we had done a favor, fostering his escape from the Yankee Dannemora Prison. He is now hitting .303.

Now comes Adam Warren, a longtime farm system lugnut, whose 3.59 ERA is the best among Yankee starters. The team announced yesterday that Nathan Eovaldi (4.81 ERA) will start Wednesday, bumping Warren to the bullpen. The YES team will spin this by saying Warren is a valuable long man - the pitcher that Esmil Rodgers and Chris Capuano (two Cashman projects) have failed to become. Thus, Warren takes one for the team.

It's the typical Yankee move. Year after year, it's the reason why this team cannot unstick its head from its butt.

Warren's crime was rising through a system that the Yankees simply do not feel invested in. Nobody at the top traded for him, or signed him to a bloated deal - and that means he can never be appreciated and will always be expendable. He doesn't have Sabathia's contract. He doesn't have Cashmnan on the block for a big trade. He's just another Melky or Frankie. If he blows out his shoulder from pitching every other day - well - no loss. Come winter, some team will be happy to take him off our hands.

Oh well, that's the Yankees way. We owe Sabathia $50 million over the next two seasons. Need anything else be said?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Crying time for Cashman starts Thursday

Hey, want it to hurt even more?

David Carpenter has now pitched in six games for the Nats - four and two-thirds innings - and not given up an earned run.

(Though, to be fair, Chasen Shreve hasn't given up an earned run in the month of June.)

Whoosh. That was not only the sound of Yankee bats Sunday, it was the sound of Baltimore passing them in the standings

Move along, everybody, there's nothing to see. Go on, get! There's a long way to go. It's way too early to panic. YOU THERE, STOP GAWKING! MOVE!

When Garrett Jones and Carlos Beltran play OF, the 2015 Yankees pay the price for their original sin: Wanting to screw A-Rod

In our brief, recent sight-seeing excursion to the Confederacy, the damned Yankees gave the world two spectacular OF blunders, each worthy of a season ending low-light reel.

Saturday night, Carlos Beltran pivoted around neatly to watch a fly ball land over his head and bounce against the wall - a sense of daring-do that would have made Bobby "The Wallflower" Abreu look like Minnie Minoso. Carlos merely turned, pounded his mitt, and waited patiently for the ball to return. It came during a 6-6 tie. Fortunately, the Yankees won and, thus, the play never happened. If a ball falls in the forest, nobody hears it, right?

Yesterday, Garrett Jones and Brett Gardner rendered unto us what one blog rightfully called "a little league home run." They nearly collided, both flinched, and then Gardner compounded matters by trying out for the NYCFC. Technically, it was Gardy's error. And Brett apologized to Michael Pineda. But I'd say resumes need to be considered. And here is one element of Garrett Jones' thumbnail: Wherever he plays, the guy is an absolute abomination. Last week, he nearly cost us a game playing firstbase on a bad throw to the plate. He was drummed out of the National League. He is a full-time DH - and the Yankees have three. Yep, three.

Brian Cashman last winter made a big splash by emphasizing defense. He signed Headley, traded for Didi, and has kept Rob Refsnyder on double-secret probation at Scranton - all because of defense. I have no problem with the strategy. But... well... then we watch Beltran and RF and Jones in LF - two bookends, who move like bookends.

Of course, we blame the injuries. Tweaked gonads turn every team into the old KC Keystone Cops. And Jones does hit RH pitching. Trouble is, every time he staggers under a pop fly, he reminds us of Hal Steinbrenner's 2015 original sin: He wanted to screw A-Rod and save a few bucks on milestone money.

The Yankees figured Jones would be the lefty DH, platooning with somebody. Thus, they could ship out A-Rod for a bucket of fried chicken, as they did with AJ Burnett. I don't blame Cashman for being skeptical about A-Rod's ability to come back. But the Yankees sure have launched crazier flights of fancy - Stephen Drew, a prominent one - and when Jones in the OF, they might as well be summoning the Babadook.

We are a team with three full-time DHs.

Hey, if the Redsocks shop Papi at the deadline, should we go for four?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Austin DeCarr: SURGERY. Ty Hensley: SURGERY. Domingo German: SURGERY. Ian Clarkin: NEXT?

In today's Post-Rupert Retirement Review, Joel Sherman notes the past Yankee hype about their mediocre farm system, but says the system now looks productive... according to unnamed scouts. In other words, they're still hyping, but now it's true... according to people who do not attach their names to words.

For years, I've viewed Sherman as the best Yankee beat writer in NYC. Throughout the A-Rod lynchings, he stood apart from the mob. He says of six scouts he interviewed - (he does not say if they are Yankee scouts - a big distinction, because Yankee scouts have a vested interest in praising their system) - opinions ranged markedly. The Yankees are definitely improving their development of positional players. Are they still competitive with - say - Tampa, or even Boston? That's a different question, altogether.

But there are some issues. More young pitchers are going down with elbow issues.

Sherman says Austin DeCarr, taken in the third round of last year's draft, had Tommy John surgery. He was our second pick after Jacob Lindgren, who is out with a bone spur on his elbow.

Then there Ty Hensley - aka: the Reverse Lou Gehrig - (the unluckiest man on the face of the earth.) - our first pick in 2012. After suffering a pile of injuries, he's out with TJ surgery.

Domingo German is a 22-year-old who came over from the Marlins in the Evaldi-Prado trade, and was immediately hyped as one of Cashman's secret squirrels. He's out with TJ surgery.

And now Ian Clarkin, one of our three first-rounders in the 2013 draft - one of the top pitching prospects in our system - may be headed to the surgeon, according to Sherman. He hasn't thrown a pitch this year.

This isn't the first time the Yankees have seen a TJ avalanche. A while back, they were viewed as the franchise that didn't shy away from cutting young elbows. The Yankees drafted both Andrew Brackman and Mark Melancon, despite concerns that each were headed for TJ, (which they had), and they traded for Mr. Humberto Sanchez, even though his elbow was a bit suspect. They learned their lesson - as exemplified by their decision to rest Masahiro Tanaka, rather than send him to the slicer. But now they face another wave.

Read the article. Should we actually have hope?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Banuelos is looking like the one that got away

Last winter, after Brian Cashman traded him, a few of the Yankee "prospect" blogs conveniently downsized their assessments of Manny Banuelos. He went from being a big-hope-for-a-comeback to a never-gonna-make-it. Excitement was building over the Yankees big acquisition: David Carpenter!

The fact that longtime Yankee executive Gordon Blakely had jumped to Atlanta - where he orchestrated the deal - might have raised questions. But, hey, David Carpenter!

Well, get ready to file this one in the Tyler Clippard Biz Bag.

Banuelos threw a two-hit shutout the other day for the Braves' Triple A Gwinnett Paltrows, and he's leading the International League in ERA. Of course, it don't mean squatola until he's doing it in the majors. But brace yourselves, comrades, because it's really going to hurt, if Manny - the guy we watched for most of four years - becomes a star in Atlanta. We can't hold it against Chasen Shreve - the other guy we got in the deal - but David Carpenter turned into an abomination, and trading a future starter for a middle innings LOOGY is not going to get Cashman a centerfield plaque.

Buckle your seatbelts, everyone. Because I can already feel Mt. Alphonso preparing to seethe.

Chris Young saves the night, the series, the road trip, maybe the season... and most of all, face

So shoot me. I was wrong about Chris "Forever" Young. Since April, whenever he's come to bat, I'd turn in the direction of Tampa and fart. I've had it with drain-circling ex-Mets, five years past peak foliage, who take a roster slot from a kid who shall never see the light of 100 Yankee at-bats. As a juggalo-level fan, I reserve the right to throw Faygo cola at Yankee teams that are built from the scrap heap. It is galling and insulting to watch prospects, year after year, rise up from the primordial ooze of Charleston and Trenton - the Danemora Correctional Facility of farm systems - and then get cockblocked because the front office iPad-Facebookers signed another Brennan Boesch... or... yep, a Chris "Inappropriately Named" Young.

It drives you even battier when the Boesch or the Mark Reynolds, or the Ben Francisco, or the Youk, or the Pronk, or - listen: I can go on forever - the Chris Young, fails to hit for us.

While we're on the subject of Hell... The other day, I was watching that four-Kleenex Stephen Hawking movie, where the Hawk is hooked up to the Univac dishwasher, speaking through a vaccum cleaner, and he says, "... where... there... is... life... there... is... hope..." and everybody boots it. Everybody but me. All I could think was, there is no life on a team of 39-year-olds, and where there is no life, there is no hope, nada, nope, nuthing.

And until last night, I was right.

So shoot me. You know by now that Young last night hit the game-winning, face-saving three-run homer (and Carlos Beltran - my other personal Yankee whipping mule - also deserves a foot massage for delivering a key base hit.) We were about to lose to Houston, a franchise exploding with youth - this year's KC Royals - when Young saved our sorry butts. (That wasn't even his first Yankee moment: Last year, when they picked him off the scrap heap, he went Ruthian for two nights, then tweaked a Higgs boson and went on the DL.)

Well, I was wrong about Young... but not about young players. Right now, the hope for the Yankees will not be found in the MLB discard pile or the July heat wave of salary dumps. It's down at Scranton and Trenton - the Heathcotts, Floreses, Mason Williamses, and the emerging nation known as Aaron Judge. The Severino kid last night threw seven shutout innings for Scranton. He's 21. Could CC have done that? DON'T ANSWER. 

Soon, the Yankees will do what they always do - trade prospects for this year's new old wave. Maybe we'll score a seasoned vet without giving up the future. (Jury still out on Pete O'Brien.) Or maybe we'll give away another Mark Melancon. But damn and gloriosky! - either way, take a bow, Chris Young. That was one helluva hit. Everybody, sing! ... where... there... is... life... there... is... hope...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Science made easy: Explaining the CERN Large Hadron Collider through baseball

It's hard for us to understand what's going on at the CERN Large Hadron Collider, which is about to be turned on in Europe. It might unveil the presence of worm holes to alternative universes - you know, where the Hulk goes to the Skrull planet and falls in love - or it could destroy the fabric of all universal matter, ending our existence, with the Yankees only one game out in the loss column, Suzyn.

So... what IS going on?

I've heard it said that baseball can be... a metaphor...  for life!

Consider this edited quote from a Daily Beast thumb-sucker about the Hadron collider. 

Dark matter (Pitching) is a real problem in physics today. It’s one of the big puzzles,” CERN physicist Dave Charlton told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation this month. “We don’t understand what 95% of the universe (league) is made of. We know from astronomical observations that there is dark matter (pitching) in the universe (league) – probably five times as much as the normal everyday matter (pitching) that we can see. So what is it? We don’t know. One very good possibility is the theory of supersymmetry, which predicts that dark matter (pitching) is due to particles (players) that we should be able produce at the LHC.”

Great moments in the 2015 Redsocks (continued)

Team says of future Cy Young Award winner Joe Kelly: "Tuck it!" 

Staggering toward July, and chasing another Wild Card, the Yankees face their annual Cashman culling of the herd

It's easy to over-exaggerate the importance of a Yankee defeat, especially when your psychic existence orbits around the health of - say - Carl Pavano's buttocks. And last night's shutout was as predictable as a sugar hangover on November 1. Watching the Evils coast through the 7th and 8th innings - flailing at first pitches like they had one of A-Rod's private girlie shows to catch - you knew the night was lost long before Central Standard Time reached beddy-bye.

So here we sit, one-and-a-half games behind tepid Tampa in the AL East (or as The Master would stress, "... only ONE in the loss column, Suzyn!") If the season ended today, we'd face our traditional playoff whipping mules - the Twins - for the Nine-Inning Bud Selig Memorial Wild Card Cup. Think: Tanaka vs. Hughes, in the Land of Lakes. The winner - us, of course - would head to Kansas City or - (gasp!) - Houston, to face Dallas Keuchel and A-Rod's after-game furry delights.

But... the season doesn't end today. It hasn't even begun. Soon, the Yankees will launch the annual Cashman Midseason Makeover, a series of bloated contract acquisitions that has become as much of the Yankee experience as the selling of $39.99 ceremonial keepsake dirt. Soon, we will the launch the annual culling of the herd - when the franchise cuts bait on an Alfonso or a Roberts, while sending a "prospect" - always one the team craftily realizes has no future - for next year's Alfonso or Brian.

Some blogs scan MLB rosters for future Yankees. That's absurd. Last year, nobody foresaw Martin Prado, Branden McCarthy and Chris Capuano. Some immaculate births just happen. Nevertheless, we can study the Yankee roster to discern who is likely to go.

So... who is a goner?

1. Stephen Drew, if anyone will take him. The occasional two-HR game cannot justify an average below .200. I don't know who the Yankees get to play 2B. But the fan base is clamoring for a change. We went from "Robbie Cano Doncha Know!" to "Stephen Drew, everybody, boo!" Somewhere out there, we can do better.

2. A prospect. I'm thinking Gary Sanchez, the Triple A catcher who will play in this year's Futures Game. In recent years, the Yankees have been trading their former Futures Games kids (De Paula, O'Brien), and Sanchez has been hanging around so long, he should be on a Trenton zoning board. He could bag us a decent mediocre veteran. So, why not?

3. Heathcott/Flores/Williams - one of the three Riders of the Rail. Of course, before anyone goes, Jacoby Ellsbury has to heal, and it's fair to start wondering how bad his knee really is. Also, Heathcott and Williams have to heal. (Is there something toxic in CF that I don't know about?)

4. Someone from the vast soldiers of the Night's Watch that the Yankees have poured onto the bullpen during the month of June. Last I looked, we'd gone through 23 pitchers this month. I can't begin to fathom which ones are running out of options. But some will surely be either traded or eaten by a dragon.

5. Hal's money. He apparently doesn't like to spend it during in the winter. (I'm thinking he gets so infused with Christmas generosity, that he lavishes it on expensive pens and bottles of perfume for loved ones.) But Hal has no problem opening his purse at the end of the fiscal school year. He would make a fine Board of Education president, if any district is looking - (thinking of you, White Plains, hint hint.)

So how are Pavano's buttocks, anyway?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Starters, Starters Everywhere, Part 2

Go Blue Crabs!

Me Put Best Starter In Bullpen Now!

“I’m not concerned with when I start throwing again. I’m concerned with trying to touch my shoulder right now."
So said Chase Whitley after watching Nova pitch last night, just a month into his recovery process. I miss Chase Whitley. And that's the first time I've ever said that about anyone or anything named Chase, since the character on "House" was kind of a jerk and my bank is the only other Chase I know (who ever misses their bank?).

The scuttlebutt sez Warren is going to be sent to the bullpen after tonight. And that's total Bizarro baseball.
You are never welcome to
Yankee baseball, from the Sunoco
booth of no broadcasting.

Here are the pitching match-ups against Houston. (Note to tourists in New York City: hew-stun is the city; how-stun is the street...and that other street isn't green-witch, either.)
RHP Adam Warren (5-4, 3.62) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-3, 2.35)
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-2, 4.95) vs. RHP Vince Velasquez (0-0, 4.15)
RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.17) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (2-1, 2.81)
RHP Michael Pineda (8-4, 4.25) vs. RHP Collin McHugh (8-3, 4.80)
I don't know about you, but the game I feel best about is tonight with Warren on the mound. Our starters have otherwise all caught the Yankees Bullpen Disease. You know the YBD symptoms:  every outing is a crapshoot, every pitch a potential melon ball, every member of the staff who isn't named Betances or Miller is more than likely going to let you down. True, at the beginning of the season, Warren was hardly Superman, but that's changed as dramatically as Kent in a phone booth, especially compared to the Jimmy Olsen performances our other starters have turned in recently.
Eovaldi? Feh. Tanaka? Either he's losing it or other teams have figured him out since his Metrolpolis debut. Pineda? If we could only find a way to get that foreign substance back on him where it won't be seen but can be used...
CC, of course, gets to stay in the rotation because he's making a lot of money. That's sound Bizarro baseball thinking. Capistrano was sent to the bullpen, which was also Bizarro thinking because he should be gone, period. If Girardi has any brains he'll never bring him in unless there's 15-run differential (yeah, you know he's gonna bring him in a lot more often than that; I said IF he has any brains, and we know the reality of that situation).
So given all the choices, what's going to happen? Warren will be sent to the bullpen because paychecks trump merit every time in Bizarro baseball.
Thank God Drew is back from baby leave. At least we'll have a sub-.200 hitter in the lineup tonight! That great! Lineup clogged with lousy .250-plus guys. Me bench them if me could! Maybe ask Magic Binder for permission...

Starters, starters, everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Yesterday, the Yankiverse celebrated the return of Ivan Nova with a standing O and a pile of conjecture over our towering bong bowl full of starters.

We now have seven. It is the best problem the Yankees have had since Phil Linz and Tom Tresh were duking it out for shortstop and Harry Bright - the 15th strikeout - was learning his trade.

But a pitcher - like a Yankee fan blogger - is only as good as his (or her) last outing. Right now, for everyone but Super Nova, that's not so good. So... seven starters! What do we do? Should we hold 'em? Should we fold 'em? If so, who? And for what? And why? And how? And when? And where? Is that all their is to the circus? Is that all there is? If that's all there is my friend, then let's keep dancing...

The Malificent Seven.

1 and 2. Tanaka and Pineda. Not much to say. We pitch them and hope they don't bark. If either barks, we sink. It could trigger a horrible, all-in, raft-of-Buhners trade for the likes of Cole Hamels, or some recycled animal bedding from Cincinnati. Otherwise, we stand pat. Fingers crossed.

3. Sabathia. Not much to say. His contract - aka "the national debt" - does all the talking. At what point would Girardi drop him from the rotation or move him to Scott Proctor land? Maybe August 15. Nobody - not even Canada - will take him in a trade. We just slog on, every fifth day, and hope he figures it out. (It's now been three years since his ERA was below 4.00.) He probably won't figure it out. He won us a World Series once. So we should just shut up, right?

4. Adam Warren. Not much to say. Mum's the word. He's outpitched the rest, but the poor guy falls into that David Phelps category - never good enough - so the Yankees always keep one of his feet in the bullpen. (This, by the way, is one of the most frustrating aspects of being a Yankee fan: The sense that overachievers are seldom appreciated, in favor of a team of underachievers.) He's earned a slot. Oh well...

5. Evaldi. Nothing to say. He's the key to Cashman's "Winter of 2014 Strategic Plan," thus, they'll stay with him at least through July. He been erratic, to say the least. Also, if Larry Rothschild was going to straighten him out, wouldn't it have happened by now? As a fifth starter, he's not terrible. He's like Forest Gump's box of chocolates.

6. Nova. Obviously, unless his arm hurts, he's in the rotation. But which Ivan do we get? My recollection is that the guy ran hot and cold. As soon as he seemed ready for stardom, Nova slid backwards. He's older now, and I believe TJ surgery adds 10 years of maturity to a player. Is he for real? Keep in mind... yesterday was the Phillies.

7. Capuano. Meh. Ugh. Ouch. Mediocre starter, worse out of the bullpen. I'd have more hope watching Bryan Mitchell or Kevin Long's kid, up from Scranton. When the best aspect of a player is that he was willing to sign a one-year deal... is that a good omen?

8. Severino. Surely, he won't come up this season as a starter; he'll have thrown too many innings. Then again... if he is our premier pitching prospect. Do they want to tamper with him, by having him throw out of the bullpen?

We have options. But we're going to need them. Matt Moore returns to the Rays next week. If he's what he used to be, well, Nova better be for real.

Time for another yard sale? Yesterday, the Redsocks won a game and lost two key players

Hanley Ramirez, who casual interest in the sport has already landing him on many fans' shitlist, bruised his hand. But the clincher may have come when Dustin Pedroia limped off the field with an apparent hammy.

You can't count out Boston yet; it's still the pennant race pre-season. But if they lose Pedroia for a month - and Ramirez until he decides to come back - that might just do it.

They play Tampa this weekend. If they lose the series or - perish the thought - get swept, it could soon be the annual garage sale.

Would they trade Big Papi? (Of course, they would.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Great Onion Moments of 2015 Redsocks

June 24: Frustrated Papi reveals true self.

Great Moments in the 2015 Redsocks

January 24: Budding Bosox superstar hurler Joe Kelly tells radio listeners he'll win the 2015 Cy Young Award. 

(Thank you, Rufus T.)

Pirela Is Potash

Last night I tuned in Pirela (on the YES network), recently recycled from anthracite country.

In the spring, before he hit the wall ( I can't use the term, " so to speak " here), Pirela was an aggressive, confident hitter.

After working with the 6 batting-specialist coaches on the Yankees, he is now  a fearful hitter, praying for a walk.

The first pitch to him ( the Yanks were leading 3-1 and had one or two on base), was a fastball, mid center of the plate.  Pirela let it go for strike one.  In the spring, in Tampa, he would have crushed it for a double.  Okay, I rationalized, he wants to get a read on the pitcher.

The second pitch was at eye level, and he fouled it off.  " A bit over-anxious," I gasped.

The final pitch of this at-bat was that same first pitch fastball right down the middle, which he looked at ( meekly, I might add ) and sat down, ending any hopes of a Yankee rally.  One of the most
ineffective at-bats you will ever see in the major leagues.

This is no longer a kid with dangerous at-bats.  A kid who is going to make hard contact every time.  A kid you don't want to see with runners on base. A kid looking for fastballs and hammering them somewhere.

This is now a scrap heap player with no future.  He is slag.  He is potash.

Send him back and forget about him.

Unable to beat the powerhouse Phillies, are the roller coaster Yankees showing signs of terminal rot?

There's nothing worse than a team capable of losing 1-0 on Monday, and then 12-11 on Tuesday. But right now, that is the 2015 Yankees.

Maybe instead of auditioning Cole Hamels today, the Evils should consider jettisoning some of their own once-prized, currently leaky contractual barges. We are now 2 games behind Tampa and on the verge of being overtaken by Showalters Shrubs. It's way too early to start throwing furniture overboard, but it's almost July - late enough to pinpoint some cancer signs.

Last night brought a storm, not only of wind and hail, but of omens that 2015 will turn out to be Year III in a long and rancid Yankee barf. (That's not Jose Pirela playing 2B. It's Lenn Sakata.) Let me count the signs...

1. With Tex out, our IF defense reverts to pumpkin pie. Headley made his 16th error last night - he's becoming a costly, contract-choked version of Yangervis Solarte. Nobody ever touted Pirela's defense; the hope was that he'd hit well enough to justify a Wilson glove made of granite. (The answer looks like NO.) And then there is Garrett Jones, the lug nut who was supposed to protect us, if and when Tex tweaked a thingy.

Used to be, John Sterling routinely marveled about Teixeira's ability to make one big defensive play in every game. Garrett Jones somehow manages to mangle a big play in every game. Last night, he flubbed a third out, and the Phillies scored three. The other night, he nearly threw the game away against Miami - a routine throw to home plate was high - but he was bailed out by a video challenge that was as close as any call could be. When Cashman got Jones last winter in the Evaldi-Phelps-Prado deal, the Miami fan message boards cackled over Yankees' claims that Jones can play 1B. Wherever he stands in the field, the guy looks like a DH. And we already have one.

Get well, Tex. We're dead without you.

2. Our pride and joy, Dellin Betances, is clearly faltering. Listen: Nobody can be as perfect as Betances was, and I'm not throwing in the towel on him, but his last few outings have been shaky, and nothing - nobody - lasts forever.

But listen: If you take Betances from this bullpen - or compromise him - no lead is safe. We are already at the Sergio Santos stage of the season - anything with an arm - but we could soon fall into the abyss, rather than staring into it. Is Alfredo Aceves in our past or our future?

3. CC is lost, and let's face it: He might never return. One day it's his location. The next, it's his stamina. Now it's the "one bad inning" problem. It's starting to look like an infinite series of issues, stemming from a once great pitcher who is simply past his sell-by date.

Of the three big free agent signings in 2009 - Tex, CC and AJ Burnett - the record will show that we kept the two faltering stars and pitched out the good one. (Didn't we do that with the three wunderkinds - Joba, Hughes and Ian Kennedy? We traded Ian, kept the others.) Oh, well... there are still Yankee fans who are glad that we "punished" AJ by exiling him to Pittsburgh for a can of creamed corn. I guess we take victories wherever we find them.

4. The farm is hardly dead - Aaron Judge and Luis Severino may be coming - but we have no breakout prospects this year, even in the low minors. The Charleston team at Single A placed only one guy in the all-star game yesterday, and he didn't play. Some of highly touted youngsters from last year - Tyler Austin and Greg Bird, most notably - have floundered. They're not done, but they look a little stuck in place. Last year, Bird vaulted up from the pile, creating a buzz. This year, there's no buzzing around the hive. Considering the Yankees failed system over the last decade, should we be concerned? I dunno. But it's worth noting.

5. Lately, we can't even blame the all-purpose Yankee whipping mule Carlos Beltran. He's been hitting - sort of. His average has been lifted to the magical .260, though he's still a manhole cover in RF, and he's on line to hit maybe 17 HRs. Trouble is, Beltran is hitting, and we're still losing.

Anyway, please Cash... It's no time to bundle the future for Cole Hamels. Let's just wait and see. Might be time to test the market for Ivan Nova.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Yankees drafted a firstbaseman named Ryan Krill in the ninth round, and then signed him for a $5,000 bonus

You probably think there was a mistake in the above headline:

Krill must have signed for $500,000, or at least $50,000, right?

Nope, he got $5,000. Five thousand bucks.

The reason? Krill - who was the 273rd player drafted overall - happened to be a college senior. Yes, he stayed four years in school. He showed loyalty to Michigan State University, where he was a standout lefty slugger.

By staying for the duration, Krill had absolutely no bargaining power in launching his pro career. Once the Yankees drafted him, they could offer him as little money as they deemed fit. His options were to take it or leave it.

Incredible, eh? MLB has it set up so the "rules" don't allow owners to spend unlimited amounts on young prospects. They cap the spending for U.S. amateurs. It's so clean, so perfect... a team would love to offer a kid more money... but - hey - rules are rules.

Now... I can understand why the system put limits into place. It's sickening to think of 17-year-olds getting multi-million dollar contracts. In fact, it's so sickening that we only allow it for Latino players - and usually at age 16. But that's another story.

I think a new rule needs to be installed: When a guy graduates from college, he cannot be drafted and forced to sign with whatever team decides to take a cheap flyer on him.

Ryan Krill - (first Yankee in history to be named for a sea creature?) - should have been allowed to negotiate a deal with the highest bidder. He sure would have done better than $5,000.

The Yankees involvement in this is complicated. They are doing what other teams do. By saving slot money on Krill, they can spend more on kids out of high school, who actually have bargaining powers. Still, it just seems slimy that the richest team in baseball would go so cheap on a player.

It would be nice to think that Ryan Krill gets the same attention, the same shot, as the Yankees recent classes of 16-year-old Latino multi-millionaires. But frankly, it's a joke to think so.

Drew is having a baby, and his name is Jose Pirela

It should have been named Refsnyder, but let's hope Jose makes the most of his second chance. 

Half Truths

I saw some interesting commentary, scaled to the minds of the Daily News, from Joe Torre today.

He must sit in a room with Brian Cashman and Hal (" I'm not cheap") Steinbrenner and make this stuff up.

The objective;  " let's convince the fans that we have, indeed, built a fine farm system, and are locked and loaded for an exciting and rewarding future."

So here is what we get:

On announcing that two more no name relievers have been promoted from Scranton: " the fact that we can run lots of guys through here proves that we have a solid farm system."

The Half Truth - it is true that two more no names have checked in to the Bronx Hilton.
Full Truth - they both suck.

So the idea is, as long as we have bodies, it doesn't matter how they perform.  When they fail, we send them back on the bus and bring up two new ones.

Proof:  the two new guys are replacing two previously new guys who performed as follows;

Guy 1 -  pitched 2/3rds of an inning and gave up 6 runs.

Guy 2 - first pitch thrown in the majors went onto the left field seats for a home run.

Both are now back in anthracite country.

Half Truth - Jacoby Ellsbury ( anyone remember him?)- Joe says he is jogging and close to returning to some baseball-related workouts.
Full Truth - he is having his knee re-evaluated at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  As to the baseball activities; he is putting linseed oil on a new glove and trading  1994 rookie cards with Big Poppy Ortiz.

Half Truth - the Yankees are really happy to have an experienced bull pen arm in Sergio Somebody.
Full Truth - he just had Tommy John surgery.

Full Truth - our farm system is dismal.  It is stocked with old failures, a few "never-will-be's", and some talented kids who can't stay healthy.  The future is grim if a world championship is in your dreams.

If Tex goes down, will the great unraveling begin?

Bad signs yesterday. Bad signs everywhere.

As of now, the days are growing shorter.

Pineda gets hammered. Two more new guys in the bullpen. We lose to one of the saddest teams in baseball. Worst of all, Mark Teixeira gets an MRI on his neck.

Want to know what happens to the Yankees when Tex goes down?

Easy. Look at the last two seasons.

Garrett Jones at first? Ouch. We go from Gold Glove to Stone Glove. And there's nobody - not A-Rod, not McCann, not Beltran - capable of spelling him defensively. (I don't even think Kyle Roller in Triple A is much of a fielder.) Do we play Brendan Ryan at first? Would it come to that? 

Okay. Get a grip. It hasn't happened yet...

Dear Commissioner Manfred: The Yankees have now used 21 pitchers in 22 days, and the current roster system is a joke

Dear Madam or Sir,

First, thanks for standing down on Alex Rodriguez. It's a refreshing change. Clearly, A-Rod has his flaws, but it's time for MLB to stop hanging former stars in the town square, especially when they weren't the only wrongdoers, just the only ones caught.

Also, thanks for trying to speed up the game. Good luck on that. For the 55 years I've followed baseball, folks have been trying to speed up the game, without dropping commercials between innings. Oh, well...

But let's get to the meat here. MLB's current 25-man roster system is a joke. Right now, every team in baseball uses its Triple A franchise as a bullpen taxi squad, and we're going through pitchers like I go through potato chips on Friday night.

This month, the Yankees have used 21 pitchers in 22 days - a franchise record for months (not counting September, with the call-ups.) On Wednesday, we will unveil the new and improved Ivan Nova - number 22. By July 1, they might go through an entire 25-man pitching roster. That's nuts.
So what can you do? Here's a suggestion: Reduce the number of regular season games to 154, like it was, back in the day. Lop eight games off the schedule, and you'll give every pitching staff one extra day of rest every two weeks. Arms can heal. You might even save somebody from elbow surgery. I would think the players union would seriously consider taking a little less money for a few free days.

Not only would this help pitching staffs, but MLB will get an added bonus: It can revert to its old system of records. The big slugger totals of the steroids era will be encased in glass, and from now on, hitters will chase the greatest single-season record in sports: Babe Ruth's 60 home runs.

Worried about losing money? Convert the one game Wild Card into three games. Or make the first round of the playoffs seven games, rather than five. You'll have extra time.

Frankly, it's a no-brainer. The pennant race will run just as hot in August and September. The difference: We just might recognize the pitchers.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Should we start worrying about Tampa Bay?

Boston is hitting its "sell-by" date. Toronto is still a mystery. Baltimore remains a clear and present danger. But by now, Tampa was supposed to start wilting. Look at their lineup. Aside from the front four, there's not exactly household names. (And Kiermaier, though he beat on us with a hammer, is still an unknown unknown.)
Matt Moore should be back by July 1. That's a Cy Young level starter (if he returns to form.) It sure beats Ivan Nova coming back to the Yankees. 

It's been a long time since Tampa built itself up by coming in last and drafting high. For the last five years, they've drafted in the same zone as the Yankees. (Though they didn't lose picks on free agents, as we have done.) They're staying more than competitive. They might just be the most well-run franchise in the AL East. 

The A-Rod haters have a new hero

Zack Hample - the Barry Bonds of snagging balls - claims A-Rod's 3,000th hit was his 8,161st grab.

And once he clutches one of your balls, he won't give them back.

Aaron Judge moves up to Scranton, while Flores, Heathcott and Williams try to heal before the trade deadline

Yesterday, the Yankees promoted Aaron Judge - their most celebrated position prospect since Jesus "Ice Cream Sandwich" Montero - up from Trenton to the Scranton/Columbus RailClippers. Judge is 23, but he eats like 40. He stands 6'7" and weighs 275 pounds - C.C. Sabathia territory. At Trenton, Judge was hitting .284 with 12 home runs, (which had him tied for the Eastern League lead.)

Some have speculated that Judge was promoted due to the latest injury - Mason Williams' shoulder - to one of the three Scranton Muskateers: Williams, Slade Heathcott and Ramon Flores. Heathcott came up for a few games and hurt a quad muscle. Williams came up a few games and jammed his shoulder. Flores is now up - second time - and hasn't tweaked any gonads... yet. All three have looked promising, during their brief mayfly flight. And all three are probably on the trading block.

I don't think the Yankees promoted Judge just to spin him like a yo-yo. I think he earned the promotion, and he's ready for Triple A, and his talent trumps all else. (Note: This is hopeful speculation on my part.)

But as the trade deadline nears, we Yankee prospect huggers better not get attached to either or all of the Muskateers. The reason: Carlos Beltran, the ghost of X-mess past. We have him for another long, ugly year. As Brian Cashman looks for a RH bullpen arm (the arrogant, obnoxious - yet still surprisingly effective Papelbon?), it's hard to imagine a trade without one of those three outfielders leaving. (And, yes, Judge could also be on the block, but I don't want to think of such a thing.) 

And let's face it: The trades are coming. Unless we hit a coral reef full of injuries, this is the best shot at a Yankees post-season since 2012. There is no way Cashman will stand pat on this team. The annual July cosmetic nip-and-tuck is his thing.

So... boys, hurry up and heal. And take a good look at the Phillies this week. Your next stop might just be Philadelphia.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Yankees disappoint their fathers

No other way to say it.


It's downright awful being Big Papi: "I'm an 18-year veteran of this league and when I was coming up it seemed like you were respected for that. But it seems like it doesn't work that way any more."

Just... so... awful.

Jose Tabata - ex Yankee super prospect - finally makes a name for himself

He was the key to the 2008 deal that brought us Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. (We also gave them Karstens, Ohlendorf and McCutchen.) And yesterday, he's the left-leaning bastard who ruined Max Scherzer's perfect game. (And by the way, we should have signed Max Scherzer.)

Mel Stottlemyre, the greatest Yankee of my adolescence, gets his monument

I once went to war over Mel Stottlemyre.

It was with Johnny Z, my next door neighbor. He was bigger than me, four years older, and a Giants fan. I had no business tangling with him. He said Willie Mays was better than Mickey Mantle, and though I disagreed, I could respect his view. But when he made fun of Mel, I went for his throat. He beat the shit out of me.

(But I'd do it again, Johnny. Better secure your oxygen tank, because I'd do it again.)

Yesterday, the Yankees surprised Mel Stottlemyre with a centerfield plaque. In doing so, they tipped their cap to every Yankee fan who survived the lean years, the Horace Clarke and Dooley Womack epoch, when every budding star turned into Steve Whitaker, and every big acquisition became Duke Carmel.

It was when we realized that the world was not a fairy tale, that presidents were not immortal, and that a Mantle and Maris - garnished with a Yogi - only come once in a lifetime.

It was a long dark era, and yet we had hope every fifth day, because Mel would pitch.

Lately, I've been grumbling over the Yankees' penchant for retiring numbers. Frankly, I think it's the wrong way to remember a guy, and I fear it's done more to sell tickets than to honor a legacy. I believe that if you bestow Bernie's number upon a great young player, you're creating a psychic connection to Bernie - not showing disrespect. Ah, but what do I know. This is a franchise that refused to celebrate A-Rod's homerun that tied him with Willie Mays, simply because it couldn't monetize it.

And yet... yesterday, the Yankees sold no tickets on the memory of Mel Stottlemyre.

They just surprised him - and all of us. They honored him.

For one last moment, Jake Gibbs was behind the plate, and Harry Bright was playing first. Elvio Jimenez was patrolling RF, and the next budding superstar - Roger Repoz - was batting third. We didn't know it at the time, but the Yankees were going to suck for ten years. Ten wonderful years.

Listen: I fear we are headed toward another abyss. An injury here or there, and the 2015 Yankees could look a lot like 1965. But yesterday, I realized that the Yankee fan base will get through this, regardless of what happens to Rob Refsnyder. And we will make it because no matter how many bad hops the Fates supply, there will always be a Mel Stottlemyre.

Thank you, Mel.

It was an honor to have fought for you.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Yankees old timers teams have no pitching depth

Where is Scott Proctor?

Is it my imagination, or do the Yankees always have a pitcher named De Paula?

It's like Calvin Trillin's holiday fruitcake, which gets perpetually passed around. We had a Julio.  We had a Rafael. Now we have a Jose. But didn't one change his name? What if there is only one De Paula, and he is a vampire? Has anyone thought of that?

Was last night the final scene of the future A-Rod movie?

It's the stuff of Hollywood: Boy meets sport, boy gets sport, boy loses sport, boy gets sport again. Last night, it unfolded in 3-D, high-rez YES-Mo... right where Mr. Spielberg would want it: Yankee Stadium, June night, full house, Jason Verlander (and, of course, his girlfriend Kate Upton)...

Here's the scene. A-Rod steps in. The crowd, with a million reasons to boo, stands to cheer. The hate-filled owner, up in his sensory-deprivation luxury box, wakes up to shout encouragement. In the stands, Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore - villains from a Redsock movie - join in. Now comes the pitch. Ka-boom! "It's an A-Bomb from A-Rod," the famous Yankee announcer, Vin Scully, cries. "Alexander the Great conquers again!" Cue the credits! Play the Oscar-nominated Celine Dion song: "Love Theme from A-Rod: I Know I'll Hit Again."

Did the closing scene of that future A-Rod movie happen last night?

Does it end with the crowd standing, Hal having a transgender operation, and the evil sportswriter, "Madden" - (played by Sir Ian Lugosi; remember, the year is 2049) - being fired and forced to live out his career writing Tweets for Donald Trump? We'll watch A-Rod - played by Duane Johnson-Gaga - cry, as he's interviewed by Suzyn (Rosie O'Donnell-Cyrus Jr.) Three thousand hits! They said he couldn't do it! He proved everyone wrong!

Or is there yet another act?

Did the A-Rod show end last night, or will there be an autumn finale, the kind that eluded Mariano and the Captain?

Today, foks are comparing Derek Jeter's 3,000th with last night, and it's like the difference between American Pharoah and Francis the Talking Mule. (For example, consider the difference between the fans who caught the balls.) But Jeter surely would have traded that commemorative HR ball for a final October stage. And no matter how he's hitting now, A-Rod's time is running out. Next month, he turns 40. This is his last, best shot to play a meaningful role on a meaningful team.

This is the stuff of Hollywood. That we know. Question: Is it the stuff of Yankee legend?

Friday, June 19, 2015

John's Milestone

The Newsday Sports Twitter feed posted a transcript of John's call of tonight's big moment:
He deals to A-Rod. Swung on and hit in the air to deep right field. That ball is high! It is far! It is gone! His 3,000th hit is a home run, just like Derek Jeter. Jeter hit his off David Price. A-Rod hit his off Justin Verlander. It's an A-bomb from A-Rod! His 3,000th hit. Alex Rodriguez. 3,000 hits, 667 home runs, over 2,000 RBIs. One of the greatest careers any player's ever had. And his teammate, Brian McCann, said he is simply one of the best players in history to ever put on a uniform. Alexander. Emmanuel. Rodriguez!
Before Thursday's game John told Newsday, "When it happens, it happens and I'll say what I say."

UPDATE: In a comment on the previous post, Anonymous points us to this, from Pinstripe Alley:
John Sterling said something remarkably poignant tonight. "There's a million terrible things in this world," he said, "and one of them happened two nights ago in South Carolina. In the grand scheme of things, a baseball player taking PEDs really doesn't mean a whole lot." 

Is it my imagination, or are the Yankees trying to make up for lost milestones?

New York has caught A-Rod Guilt Fever.

"Alex Rodriguez is the Yankees definition of redemption."

"Marlins pitcher is an ASSHO13"

"The Next Alex Rodriguez: MLB's best under age 25"

"A-Rod's comeback all about redemption"

Voodoo Yankeenomics: The sickly, anemic Yankees are second in MLB in overall runs scored per game

Numbers can't lie, right?

No lie: The Yankees are 4th in MLB in runs scored, and second in runs-per-game.

So where are the Yankees stashing all these runs? Do they have an offshore account in the Cayman Islands? Are they moving them late at night into underground silos, and shuffling them onto Superfund cleanup sites? WHERE ARE THEY KEEPING THEIR RUNS?

Aside from mighty Toronto, which leads the pack in practically every offensive category, the Yankees are well above the MLB norm. (And fans who think the entire Kansas City lineup should play in the All Star game:  please 'splain this.) So... how do we, as Yankee diehards, explain the overwhelming perception that the team has a dead offense?

I have two theories. (And welcome yours)

1. It is our natural Yankee fan pessimism, and why we are universally despised and refused entry to many nations. It was best described by Mustang this way: The Yankees can be leading 18-1 in the seventh, but if Jorge Posada grounds into a DP with the bases loaded, the night is a disaster. We are what we are. Nobody on a current Yankee team can ever measure up to the legends of our past... until they win a championship.

2. We pile it on, and we don't utilize the runs we produce. Consider the last four games against Miami. We lost 2-1, squandering another great start by Masahiro Tanaka. We then get bashed 12-2, and then win 2-1. Five runs in three games. Then, last night, we erupts for 9. This team has had two 14-run games, one 13-run game, and an 11-run game. (The opposing teams scored 14 overall in those games.) We score runs, but they don't always matter.

Stats don't lie. But only one counts: We are currently in second place.

Don;'t mess with Wes: Obscure, 25-year-old Yankee farmhand Wes Wilson has the greatest game ever

I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Spri, Wes Wilson.

I knew John Ken, Wes Wilson. I worked with Wes Wilson. My friend, you are no Wes Wilson...

Soon, NYC, the YES Network, Michael "Everything is O" Kay, and a few isolated hipster outposts across the country will celebrate the 3,000th hit of Alex Rodriguez. As a blog that backed A-Rod for most of the last two years, we believe that nothing should distract the free world from commemorating A-Rod's Christlike resurrection.

But if you're looking for a hero, America, forget the Madonna-scented, Cameron Diaz popcorn-stuffing, boutique luxury toilet stalls of Gotham. Look no further than the Tampa Devil Yankees, a Single A outpost in the Mohave desert heat of Florida in June. Look no further than Wes Wilson, today's one-game Yankeeography. 

Last night, Wilson - a 25-year-old organizational lug nut from Lexington, Kentucky, by way of Indiana University - propelled Tampa to a 17-inning, 5-4 win over hated Bradenton. This, my friends, is how a legend is born. Last night, Wes...

1. Caught 15 innings behind the plate. That's no misprint. Fifteen innings.

2. Pitched the final two innings. That's no misprint. He pitched. He gave up no runs, no hits, nothing. After 15 innings behind the plate, he threw a pair.

3. Hit the game winning home run - his first of the year. (He went 2-6 with a walk, raising his average to .245.)

4. Recorded the win. His first.

5. On the way home from the game, ran into a fully engulfed trailer fire and saved three adorable puppies.

Actually, no, he didn't save any puppies. He just saved baseball. Because Wes Wilson will probably never play in the majors - (Not counting him out, but age 25 at Single A... that's a long climb) - but while YES and the Daily News bend to kiss A-Rod's lipstick-smeared buttocks, and pretend they never marched on his castle with lit torches, we at IT IS HIGH can take a step back from the spit-showers of adulation and appreciate what makes the game of baseball so much fun... when it's not pure, unadulterated torture.

Wes Wilson... take a bow. 

In this isolated hipster outpost of the Yankiverse, we proudly proclaim...


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Did Trump hire A-Rod's former employees?

for people to appear at his Presidential announcement.
Look closely...

With shredded elbows becoming the NFL concussions of baseball, the Yankees turn to another five-out save by Betances

Czar Girardi didn't even make it to the chalk line last night before jerking his right knuckles, indicating this call to the bullpen... brought to you by AAMCO Car Care...  and another chapter in the future memoir of Dellin Betances, to be titled "Becoming Scott Proctor." The result was an October playoff-mode victory - the five-out save! - brought to you by the Yankee Elbow & Shoulder Grindhouse. And it arrived barely one week after the team's previous closer, Andrew Miller, went on shore leave because - well, hoping here - the poor guy simply needed a rest.

So ended the brief spasm of excitement within the YES and Loews broadcast booths that Justin Wilson was justifying the trade of Frankie Cervelli - hitting .316 for Pittsburgh - and becoming the famous "Bridge to Mariano," a slot that has actually been tougher to fill than the closer role itself. The Yankees' 12-man staff is simply too small. The team must continually shuffle arms up from Scranton. We spent last winter loading up on bullpen carbohydrates, yet here we are... calling in the overworked back-up closer for a five-out save against a second-division team... in the merry month of June. Start spreadin' the news... we're leavin' today...

Actually, the scariest part of last night was that Jerkin' Joe had little choice. With Wilson getting cuffed around, who else do you summon from the netherworld seance that doubles as the Yankee bullpen? Whomever you call, it's the Babadook. For all the Lindgrens and Burawas, the Pinders and Ramirezes, the Tracys and Rumbelows of Mordor, Pa., the brain trust still prefers Sergio Santos and Jose DePaula, snatched from baseball's version of the Saigon helicopter airlifts. When our next starter goes out in the fifth - here's to you, Mrs. Capuano! - we might as well call fans from the bleachers to throw the last four.

Shredded arms are the NFL concussions of baseball, and the Yankees are doing their share.

Well, we're a game out in the AL East. We're viable. Jacoby Ellsbury might even return before the ice caps have melted, and Florida is six-inches below the sea. But damn, it's really going to hurt when Betances calls in sick. A five-out save in June? Who ya gonna call in August? Wither goest Mr. Proctor?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The new Evil Empire? Will MLB suspicions about Cardinal hackers mirror the ardent zeal they showed with curbing A-Rod?

Two years ago, Bud Selig made Alex Rodriguez into baseball's ultimate pariah. (A-Rod may have had a slight role in this, too.) The Brewer Owner/Commissioner ripped Rodriguez as a lifetime cheater, a lifetime monster, worthy of a lifetime ban. (A-Rod may have had slight a role in this, too.) (Same with his Yankee contract.)

Basically, Selig said A-Rod could never again be trusted. Once a cheating monster, always a cheating monster. Alex's lifetime totals should be questioned. His sincerity should be questioned. He became the human face of steroids. And to rid the game of such evil, A-Rod needed to go.

And he did... for a year.

Yesterday, the beloved, cherished, saintly and simply adorable St. Louis Cardinals - a team as far from wrongdoing scandal as the planet Pluto is from Sarah Palin - were accused of hacking the Houston Astros' private database, like a gang of Syrian computer thugs. It's early in the overall investigative process, but the allegations sure do look fishy.

Let's hope MLB applies the same zeal and diligence to St. Louis as it did with Alex.

Once a cheating monster, always a cheating monster, right?

If the Cards were hacking the Astros, maybe baseball has had a different Evil Empire, all along.

Seems to me, MLB loves to investigate players, especially aging stars at the top of their money-earning curve. But it never seemed so interested in finding whether the Yankee or Redsock brass knew about players' drug use, even though such claims surfaced on more than one occasion. Same with other teams and other front offices... it's always on the players, never management.

Can't see any rich old players having much to do with this one.

So... will MLB investigate front offices?

Do the owners ever question the owners?

The Yankee lineup last night was a disaster waiting to unfold... as may be the next few years

Ladies and gentlemen, meet your 2015 National League-style Bronx Bombers! 
CF Brett Gardner 
SS Didi Gregorius
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
3B Chase Headley
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Chris Young
2B Brendan Ryan
and Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver."


OK, cue "Theme from Titanic." Plug in the Celine Deion automation. Here we go again, folks. The Yankees win seven in a row, pop the champagne for wrapping up the AL East, and then the cigar explodes. They've now lost five of six. ("... and batting second, the shortstop, Di-di-Gre-gor-i-us...") We now can see the future: Each positive burst will be followed by a meltdown. The team might win 85 games. Its real hope is that the AL East continues to be made from recycled animal bedding. If no team emerges, the Yankees can win through advanced mediocrity. Still, take a look at that lineup. Does it remind you of, say, 1967? Or maybe 2013?

Get used to it. This lineups are the future. 

Yesterday, MLB's 2014-15 international signing period ended. For the next two years, the Yankees will be limited to paying signing bonuses of less than $300,000 to talent outside the U.S. border. By the time they can again chase the top young international talent, a draft will likely be in place, further killing whatever advantage they once had as a big market franchise. 

I believe that when a New York City pro sports franchise loses its financial edge, it actually becomes disadvantaged. Look at the landscape of NYC sports teams. Playing in Gotham is far tougher than in Smallville. There are distractions and pressures that Astros, Padres and Royals don't have to face. Thus, the long term strategy for the Yankees mirrors that of the Nats: Finish last for several years, draft high and eventually get a Bryce Harper. And this notion that Harper will be a Yankee in 2019 fails to consider how much the Evils would have to pay in luxury taxes. They can get Harper and be a one-star team, like the Texas Rangers once were with A-Rod. Last place and the MVP. Pretty exciting, eh?

Hal "I'm Not Cheap" Steinbrenner signed off on these rule changes, which effectively transformed the Yankees into this big, leaky, slow-moving garbage barge. Maybe Hal didn't feel he had the clout to fight, after his dad died. Or maybe he didn't care... because Hal can make just as much money with mediocre lineups like the one the Yankees posted last night. A few farewell tours and number retired ceremonies can pack the house. They sell the Yankee legacy like dirt in the old stadium. The money tap keeps rolling in. Take a good look at that lineup, folks. Tell me, how many runs was it ever going to score?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Signs of the Yankapocalypse: Mini KISS, Doc Gooden, Daddy Field of Dreams

Players we'd consider taking off the Redsocks' hands, when the trade deadline comes

The last place Redsocks have lost 7 in a row, deflating Boston balls on a level that not even Tom Brady can achieve. It's so sad, so, so sad... especially since the franchise spent all of last winter congratulating itself for outwitting the rest of baseball, having folded its cards in mid-July and shedding the dead weight of Jon Lester, Johnny Gomes, etc. Now, they must endure the likes of Joe Kelly and Alan Craig. It breaks your heart.

We must take pity on this lost legion of frat boys - and with more than canned food. Let's think of how the Yankees can help their AL East brethren during this year's purge, when Boston again outsmarts the world.

1. If Boston pays for half of his salary, we'll take Dustin Pedroia for - say - Carlos Beltran and Gregorio Petit. CF Jackie Bradely Jr. will never have to worry about colliding with Beltran, because Carlos doesn't get to right-center. Of course, we don't want to overpay for Pedroia, since he'll be backing up Rob Refsnyder as our utility ace... our new Clay Bellinger.

2. Their Japanese closer - Kenji Somethingorother - (I never bother to learn spelling of Bosock names until the guys clear waivers) - we'll take him as our sixth inning mop up man. They can have Jose Pirela and Garrett Jones and - oh, hell - let's sweeten the deal and give them Chris Capuano. Call me a soft touch. I can't stand to see people in pain.

3. Mookie Betts for Stephen Drew and all our pitchers at Scranton who are over the age of 28. It'll be the first 1 for 12 deal in baseball history. Wait: We can also throw in all our pitchers at Trenton over age 26. They'll need to a bigger boat.

4. Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. We buy them outright. They can become special correspondents for Suzyn's Clubhouse Report, but only following Yankee victories. There's no reason why Suzyn - in moments of ecstasy - should have to rush down from the booth; she could turn an ankle. Schill and Pedro can collar the Yankee Star of the Game and ask the tough questions, such as, "How about this Yankee ballclub!"

5. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon for - hm-mm - Billy Crystal? Hate to see B-Cris go, but I'm figuring he can generate some laughs by going to Florida next year and trying out for the Redsocks. Better yet, he might make the team.

Quick, somebody call Ben Cherrington. Tell him its Terry Francona on the line.

Another ( Not So ) Fun Fact:

Mason Williams will not get another hit as a Yankee.

He will be the only rookie who hit a home run and nothing else, during his time in pinstripes.

His batting average started at .500 and is now .091...and fading.

His best at bats are now swinging strike outs.

He plays great defense, but cannot hit a lick.   Like so many Yankee regulars.

The bus is loading for Scranton.  I can hear the engine throbbing and smell the putrid exhaust fumes.

Goodbye, Mason.  Another top draft pick bites the bullet.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Flip side to this coin:  Mason Williams no longer is tasty to the fish ( trade bait ), and he is still young .  Right, Duque?

Without A-Rod in the Yankee lineup, should anyone expect more than three hits?

Some basic rules of life.

1. When showering with Satan, don't bend over to pick up the soap.

2. When gazing up to heaven, you're most susceptible to getting your throat slashed.

3. When your No. 3 hitter is Brian McCann - batting .260, with the lightning speed of Ethel Merman needing to pee - don't expect to score runs.

OK, nothing personal against McCann.. but No. 3? Yikes. (Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano Flashback.) On a pennant-winning team, the Brian McCann guy bats fifth or sixth. And last night - which might go down as the night the second-place Bombers launched their 2015 Wild Card chase - who could look at the lineup without a sense of the impending Yankapocalypse?

Because here is a basic rule, thus far, of the 2015 season:

Without A-Rod, this is a crapola-hitting team. This is a two-run-per-game offense.

How, how... how did the Yankees become so reliant on a guy they spent last winter trying to stuff into a bottle and shipped out on Malaysian Flight 370? Good grief, if the Bill Maddens of NYC had their way - and A-Rod had been traded for a handful of magic beans - this team would be currently scrapping with the Papi-ville Pawsocks for fourth in the lowly AL East. Take Alex Rodriguez out of the offense, and we're reduced to cheering for a couple Gardner singles, a Tex message and a few more lurid accounts about that sex-starved prison seamstress at Dannemora, the one who bakes hacksaw cakes. After that, we're hoping for walks and Jacoby Ellsbury's swift recovery. If anyone out there still gets giddy at the sight of Carlos Beltran waddling to home plate... well... don't bend over for the soap. That's all I can tell you.

I am often accused of living and dying too harshly on every single Yankee outcome. To that, I plead guilty. Can't help it. Never could. When the Yanks play well, the American way of life has been validated. This country was founded on the premise of pioneer guts, shooting anyone who wears feathers... and the Yankees dominating the American League.

But damn, whenever we waste a great outing by Masahiro Tanaka, as we did last night, who DOESN'T wonder if the trap door isn't about to open? This is an old, creaky team, and nothing more reminds us of our impending infirmities than when we must bench our best hitter, because he cannot play in an NL park.

Listen: Winter is coming to King's Landing. It will appear as a wave of injuries that is as unavoidable as the month of July. We all know this. We are showering with Satan. We are in second place. And tonight, against David Phelps and lowly Miami, the question still remains: Without A-Rod, who the hell is going to hit third?