Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's a New Years celebration with Jay-Z and John

Celebrate the New Year with Kid Rock and Kid John

Have a happy New Year... with Lady Gaga and Gentleman John

How 2017 should be...

My new photo for 2017?
Is this too much to ask for?

cf Jacoby Ellsbury: .312, 19 HR, 32 SB, AL Comeback Player
lf Brett Gardner: .284, 15 HR, Gold Glove
c Gary Sanchez: .273, 36 HR, 131 RBI MVP.
dh Matt Holliday:
.302, 31 HR, 125 RBI All Star.
1b Greg Bird:
.258, 34 HR, 121 RBI All Star
rf Aaron Judge: .254, 32 HR, 88 RBI Rookie of Year
ss Didi Gregorius: .274, 22 HR, 76 RBI Roberto Clemente Award
2b Starlin Castro: 264, 22 HR, 70 RBI
3b Chase Headley: .275, 19 HR, 66 RBI

Masahiro Tanaka 21-5, 2.99 ERA Cy Young
CC Sabathia 18-12, 3.94 ERA
Luis Severino 15-9, 3.29 ERA
Luis Cessa 12-9, 3.81
Bryan Mitchell 10-5 3.93
Dellin Betances 4-1, 1.93
Aroldis Chapman 4-0, 1.83, 40 SAVES Rolaids Award

Joe Girardi: Manager of the Year
Brian Cashman: Executive of the Year
Hal Steinbrenner: Time Magazine Man of the Year
Randy Levine: Winner, Dancing with the Stars
John Sterling: Grammy for Spoken Recordings
Suzyn Waldman: Nobel Prize for Literature

Scranton-Wilkes Barre:  International League Governor's Cup

Note: We will be shut out at the Oscars. Also, due to my natural conservative nature in predictions, I'm pushing back Gleyber's Triple Crown season until 2021)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year... from South Pacific

Aerosmith and John: Happy New Year

Roar for the New Year... with Katy and John

My ridiculous New Year's resolution

Brand - Calories - Carbs
Michelob Ultra: 95 - 4.2
Yuengling Light: 98 - 3.8
Bud Light: 110 - 4.2
Busch Light:  95 - 4.1
Coors Light: 102 - 4.2
Corona Light: 109 - 4.5
Genny Light: 99 - 3.6
Heineken Light: 99 - 3.5
Michelob Light: 113 - 4.3
Miller Lite: 96 - 4.2

The lights of the New Year?

Gleyber: The second best prospect in all of baseball?

Generally, I view MLB prospect rankings with the same critical importance as celebrity hook-ups. Today, it's Wilmer Valderrama; tomorrow, it's Luke Rockhold. (Note: These are actual people.) Prospects appear and vanish like lug nuts in Trump's inner circle. Anyone who recalls the great Brien Taylor knows that he was MLB's No. 1 prospect, that we penciled him in for Cooperstown, and now he's 45, chubby, and checking in regularly with a parole officer. And let's not forget the great Ruben Rivera, who was ranked in 1994 by Baseball America as the game's No. 2 prospect. Then he stole Jeter's glove. Last year, Ruben hit .228 for Tabasco in the Mexican League. (Note: This is an actual fact; he's still playing.)

So let's acknowledge that prospect rankings are a parlor game, a notch below Settlers of Catan. If I rank my t-shirt collection, it'll have as much import to the Yankee future as anything else printed with buckets of ether. So... you're with me, right? Rankings are crapola.

That said... Holy shit, Gleyber Torres is No. 2 by Jim Callis, of! He's jumped a few places, based on his breakout MVP performance in the Arizona Fall Instructional League. If Callis is right, we have the top SS prospect in the baseball, and this should hold at least until grapefruit league games begin! Move the sand trucks into place, everybody! We need to reserve the Canyon of Heroes!

But but BUT...  while we're celebrating... here are Callis' top three, as mentioned in a mailbox chat:

1) Yoan Moncada
2) Gleyber
3) Andrew Benintendi.

Yes, that name again... Yoannnn Monnnnnnn-cadaaaaa. 

A month ago, Boston owned two of the top three prospects in baseball. They converted Moncada - described as "Robby Cano with speed" - into Chris Sale, which makes them a powerhouse favorite for at least the next two seasons. Still - Robby Cano with speed? - we might actually have dodged a bullet by having them trade the guy to Chicago. And once again, it bothers me - as it should every Yankee fan - that Boston simply outbid us for Moncada.

In simple terms, they got Moncada - and now, Chris Sale - because their owner wanted to win more than ours did. In both cases, it was men with nearly infinite amounts of money, but their owner wanted to win more than ours did. 

Lately, a public relations campaign has been underway across the call-in shows and online forums of the Yankiverse. It is designed to make us feel good about Hal Steinbrenner's thriftiness, in avoiding big free agent auctions. We're supposed to hail Hal's frugality, and root for the Yankees to get below that luxury tax margin. That way, Hal can spend more of his family's money. Until then, we should wait patiently. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know.

Yesterday, Brian Cashman assured the Yankiverse that he will not deviate from his long-term plan to build the franchise with prospects, such as Gleyber Torres. And, yeah, that's a good thing, because the other strategies sure as hell were not working. But every time we hear those names - Yoan Moncada and now Chris Sale - we should be reminded that, when the cards were on the table, Boston's owner simply wanted to win more than Hal did.

Until the Yankees are back on top - it could be many years from now - that's the only ranking that matters.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Welcome the New Year with ACDC and the Master

Trump on Girardi

Image result for joe girardi binders
"I think we ought to get on with our lives," Trump said, adding: "I think that computers binders have complicated lives very greatly — the whole age of computer binder has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on."

Here's to the unsung Yankee hero of 2016 - the clubhouse coolie

At the height of its snarky 1980s success, Spy Magazine sent someone to one of Donald Trump's lavish parties, the kinds where millionaire Caligulas licked Calgon Bath Oil from the buttocks of handcuffed Rockettes. The big news nugget was that Trump paid someone to put origami folds onto the loose ends of the toilet paper. He even stationed people outside the bathrooms, waiting for you to finish your dump, so they could finagle the paper before the next person needed it. That's class, folks. And I gotta believe Mike Pence will love wiping his butt for the next four years on an origami Alec Baldwin.

I note this because the Yankees in 2016 must have had somebody similar in the clubhouse, and that's why Aroldis Chapman is back in pinstripes. It's rare for a guy who was jettisoned at the trade deadline - and who then won a World Series with an ascendant team - to return next winter to the franchise that dealt him. But that's exactly what El Chapo has done, and I gotta believe it's because a) we'll pay him a shitload of money, and b) he enjoys wiping his buns with a four-ply, three-dimensional wad of Fidel Castro. Or maybe it's the Gertrude Hawk chocolates in his locker, or the autographed Rockettes underwear - I dunno - but somewhere within the Yankee totality, Hal Steinbrenner gives players what they cannot get in Milwaukee, and I don't mean the experience of dueling farts in elevators.

Today, let us honor that nameless clubhouse grunt - 2016 Yankee Employee of the Year.

Tommy John - the player, not the surgery - once said that every player should do at least one stint with the Yankees. He had pitched in Chicago and LA, but neither compared with life under George. Keep in mind, this occurred during the 14-year barf, when the Yankees won nothing, so Tommy never got a ride down the Canyon of Heroes. But it's the one thing the Yankees still have going for them. They remain the perceived royalty of baseball, the New York Fucking Yankees.

I like to think we have a fan base smart enough to cheer a hitter who gives himself up, moving a base runner to third with a grounder - even though our hitters generally do not try to do such selfless acts. New York is still a great place to play. El Chapo's return tells us that the Yankees remain the Mar-A-Lago of franchises.... but but BUT... it won't last forever.

The clock is ticking, and Boston will almost certainly win the AL East next year, and maybe the year after that. Make no mistake. Boston will probably win this decade. And if our big prospects flame out, we could be looking up at a Redsock dynasty - and all the bathroom origami in the world will not save us.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Let the New Year celebration begin... with John and Barbra

DINGERS: Yankees Who Rang the New York Stock Exchange Bell

As our President-Elect fills his cabinet with Wall Street's winners, we take a look back at some solid gold moments when composure in the playoffs met foreclosure and layoffs.

Yankees Who Rang the New York Stock Exchange Bell
Goose Gossage
Bob Turley 
Mark Teixeira
David Robertson (pictured)
Aaron Judge

Yankees who rang the NASDAQ Bell 
Robinson Cano

Notable non-Yankees who rang the NYSE Bell 
Iron Man
Donny Osmond
The Aflac Duck
Carly Fiorina

A complete list of Trumps who rang the NYSE Bell

A complete list of Trumps who rang the NASDAQ Bell



Someone has a blog that keeps track of Mariano Rivera "highlights." His most recent "highlight" is October's "Hartford Insurance visits Mariano Rivera's home village in Panama to shoot commercial."  Bookmark Mariano Rivera Highlights to keep abreast of future Mariano Rivera "highlights."

Uh-oh. Could another prodigal son be returning?

The dial-up modem grapevines of the Yankiverse are still tingling over the chance of a trade for Jose Quintana, even though Joel Sherman has tweeted that it won't happen, and if Joel Fukinay Sherman tweets that something won't fukinay happen, well, it better not even think about it. But the newest wrinkle raises concerns, because it's a plot device that pops up repeatedly in Yankee movies: We're supposedly thinking about bringing back David Robertson.

Okay, so what's NOT to like about David Robertson. He was a fine, clean-shaven Yankee with a charitable foundation and kinky socks. He gave us relief after Mariano's retirement - 39 saves that following year. With Robertson, along with Dellin and El Chapo, we could re-assemble another three-closer bullpen, which for some reason now seems to be a Yankee commonality. (And one that, considering how Joe Girardi uses them, maybe ought to be re-thought.) 

Robertson is 31. Last year, he saved 34 games for the lowly White Sox. In both of his seasons there - (bearded, I should note) - his ERA ballooned to more than 3.40 - which means somebody was hitting him. Over the last three years, his strikeout totals have consistently tumbled - from 96 to 75, though his innings pitched remained constant. He's transitioning from blazing heat to sinister guile, and he's a smart enough guy to figure it out, right?

But, but, BUT... when and why do the Yankees ever bring back former popular players?

Usually, it's a short-lived ploy to restore confidence among fans who don't really follow the team all that closely. Remember when they did it with Tino? He came back, hit a few home runs, posed for the cameras, and the Yankees pretended nothing had changed - when, in fact, nothing was the same. They brought back Mike Stanton, David Wells, David Cone... jeeze, don't get me started; last summer, they were on the verge of bringing back Nick Swisher - they bring guys back constantly, like a pre-Old Timers Day curtain call, and with almost always the same result: A brief resurgence and then a long, involved examination of why some previous team traded them.

I don't support the notion of trading prospects for Quintana, because it would mean that, once again, Hal Steinbrenner cannot stick to a plan. That said, you can only judge deals by details, and without specifics, who the hell knows anything? If the Yankees are 10 games out next July, maybe they could deal Quintana for a raft of kids. Still, a red flag is now flying over these talks with Chicago: The White Sox are trying to shed David Robertson's contract, and the Yankees may be thinking that his return will bring joy to the fan base - as in ticket sales.

We don't need three closers, and if Hal is going to be Mr. Thrift Shop, we certainly don't need another bad contract. I wish David Robertson the best. I wish we'd kept him, all this time. But his return to the Yankees, especially if attached to a larger deal, would have to be a really bad omen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's nearly 2017, and Cashman hasn't yet traded for one of his patented "live arms"

Okay, picture this: We're in a Tiki bar at 3 a.m. with a slobbering drunken Brian Cashman: I mean, he's in full George Thorogood mode... glasses askew, spewing flecks of saliva, eyes like hard-boiled eggs, and he's yowling about pitching... pitching... PITCHING gohfukkinammit... 

That's why he's been drinking for the last 10 hours. He has no pitcher. Here's a guy who throughout life has lusted after one consistent entity, the Holy Grail of Cashmanic behavior: The power arm. It can be Jeff Weaver, Javier Vasquez, Jose Contreras, Kevin Brown, Javier Vasquez again, the entire cast of Glee, all the way to Michael Pineda and - of course - Nathan Eovaldi. It's the constant theme in your doctorate thesis on the death of God in Cashman literature. Year after year, winter after winter, he trades the house for some 25-27 year old starter who has shown "promise" on some losing team in a city that doesn't remotely resemble New York. It's the reason everybody still expects the Yankees to trade for Sonny Gray or Jose Quintana - insert names here - because identities don't matter. What matters here is Cashman's one grand fetish, his uncontrollable itch. He sees that starting pitcher on the midway of kewpies, and he simply must lay down his money and try the ring toss.

I hate to say this, because it was such a tragedy, but when Jose Fernandez died in that boating accident last fall, but my first thoughts - really, I'm not proud here - were that at least it will keep Cashman from making a bad deal, which at the time was gaining in speculation. I should burn in hell for such thoughts. But in the matters of the Yankiverse, there is no morality, no judgement - only wins and losses. Fernandez was exactly the type of pitcher that Cashman would have found irresistible, and he would have forded heaven and hell to bring him to Gotham.

But getting back to the bar: We're doing shots, he's eyeballing women and talking up the need for pitching. But where's the beef? He's done nothing. He won't say a name out loud, because he's paranoid - the vengeful ghost of Dick Young might write a column about it - but he sure as wants somebody. The Yankees have kept their farm intact and - for now, anyway - and left lanes open for the likes of Judge, Frazier, Sanchez, Bird, etc - but the rotation is an empty closet. It's Masahiro Tanaka and whoever looks good in spring training. Look closely, and you'd think we were expecting 200 innings from CC Sabathia. (BTW... he thew 179 last year, 167 the year before, 45 the year before that.) Where's the beef?

Well, the answer is, buckle up. I never speculate on who the Yankees might get. It's pointless. But if we've learned anything from Cashman's time atop the shit pile, it's that he's always sniffing for the power arm. Something is coming. You think Javier Vasquez could make a comeback? Bad things happen in threes. Everybody, sing along with George... One bourbon, one scotch, and one bee-eeeer...

Monday, December 26, 2016

We were visited by the ghosts of Christmas past and present...

Before dawn, I woke up Xmas morn and scurried downstairs in my Dr. Dentons to find that the merry yuletide elf himself, Kris Kashman, had come to my house. Waiting under the tree was Nick Rumbelow - (with Goody, a former member of "the two Nicks" of Scranton) - signed to a minor league deal. He's 25 and still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Not the worst of gifts, even if we had been asking for a size XL Encarnacion. Oh well...

Then came a darker visitation. News broke that one of the greatest Yankees of all time, Mel Stottlemyre, is clinging to life, battling cancer. In an era when the Yankees offered their fans next to nothing - (sound familiar?) - Mel gave us reason to hope. Listen: I hate it when bloggers and media types stoke fake emotion by sending out "heartfelt prayers." What bullshit. All I can say is that no matter how bad a team we had, when Mel Stottlemyre was on the mound, we were always the Yankees. Nobody lives forever. But as long as I'm here, Mel won't be forgotten.

So... no ghost of Christmas future came our way. If I had my choice, I would have picked the most important Yankee of all, Aaron Judge. As far as I can see, the fate of 2017 and beyond still hinges upon his ability to hit. If he's a Gioncarlo Stanton, our batting order could explode with runs. If he's a strikeout machine, we're in deep doo-doo. The worst scenario, of course, is that Judge's verdict falls somewhere in between, and we trade him before he evolves into a star. What a terrifying thought.

He's our Santa: If he's for real, anything is possible. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Holliday, everyone

On this, the holiest of days, may all the blessings of hope and love be yours and for your loved ones, and may you live happily in peace, always, with all the joys of the yuletide season, not only today but throughout the coming year, without regret, and with new understanding that each day is sacred in our hearts, and in our dreams, driven by our own personal sleighs, and lit by the beacons of truth and peace on earth, plus goodwill to man, and to all, with love, as stated above; and may prosperity shine upon your family throughout the coming year, and the year after that, and frankly, forever, even long after you and your family are in their eternal graves, feeding microbes that also are blessed in the holiday spirit, whether they appreciate it or not, because they do not believe in anything, which is sad but still okay, because they are special in the eyes of Christmas; and may this wondrous holiday bring the wish that you never collapse suddenly, like a September bullpen team managed by Larry 
Rothschild, for such is the splendor and pureness of this holiday wish, which I again wish to stress is a wish not just for you but for everyone, and not just today but for forever, and from the deepest levels of your atomic composition, which may include the Higgs Boson particle, all the way to the farthest regions of outer space, where entire universes of dark matter are now being obliterated by black holes, which are joyful in their own way, although it is hard for us to understand this, not only on Christmas, but any time, except for the Fourth of July, when we are too fired up with patriotic fervor to think about such things; so, in conclusion, may everything you've ever wanted be yours, and may nothing you never want to happen ever happen, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, may the Yankees win in 2017 and may God strike me down right now if this message is in any way insincere, and damn, I hope I don't get another tie; because they're made in China... ho, ho, ho...

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas card

There Is Nothing To Count On

After another putrid, non competitive season provided by the New York Yankees, I looked forward to the total collapse of the NY (football ) Giants.

They then surprised, but only on the defensive side of the ball.  Which  is fine for old time, long time fans.  Defense wins championships.  But only when the offense is on your side, too.

But after watching coach MacGoo and QB Manning perform like numbskulls, I am so ready for baseball.  The football game was over for the Giants less than 4 minutes after kick-off, and I started watching re-runs of Alistair Sims in that Dickens thing.

Imagine;  Yankees give up 13 runs in the first inning to the Red Sox in a one game play-off for the AL East at Fenway.  You really want to watch the rest of the game?

Drinking just infuriated me, as it added focus to what I hoped was not true.  How can a coach be so stupid and uninspiring?  Even Scrooge, in the end, has a turnaround.  McGoo just looks dazed and dumb all the time. And he is no Vince Lombardi to listen to, post game.  He hasn't a single thing to say that anyone wants to hear.  Eli, for his part, looked like a QB last night who should be on the bench.  Tony Romo would have won for the Giants, going away.  So the future for this football franchise is now dead and buried.

The team must draft a QB, when they need so much else. The last time the Giants did that ( bargained up for Eli) , the team was set back about 5 years, due to the draft picks they gave away for him.  Meanwhile, Ben Rothlesberger would have been a Giant without giving up a single pick.

So here is another NY team saddled with incompetent ownership and management.  Jerry Reese misses on most draft picks ( like the left tackle Flowers;  like not having any linebackers; like having no tight end; like having the worst running back in the NFL...a major FA signing a couple of years back ).  A team that tantalizes, then disappoints when it matters.

The team embarrassed itself last night.  The coach was revealed as a dolt.  The QB was aged out.  Oh, and by the way, there is no back-up QB......more excellence in the planning department.  We traded up, and wasted a 4th round pick , on Nassib who has never taken a snap (4 years eating at the buffet table) and is on IR.  He'll draw great interest in his walk year ( now ).

So the Yankees, while still limping and crawling, at least provide an even start with everyone else.  All teams will soon be 0-0, with a dream still alive.  there is hope and some reason to watch, as long as Caashman does nothing.

The Giant, meanwhile, will be 10-6 and miss the play-in game.  Their fine record will give them awful pick positions, which Reese will terribly execute.  So it really doesn't matter.

Ivan Nova will not be an all star !!

Is it March yet?

Tweeting His Way Out of Cooperstown

As we end 2016 realizing that the once mighty Yankees have become nothing more than a feeder team to the small-market Pirates, one happy morsel we can savor this holiday season is knowing that Curt Schilling is a millstone around the neck of the hated Blosox, not us.

This article reports that the ever-entertaining Schilling is realizing his Hall of Fame chances are dwindling.  Instead of taking it with a modicum of dignity and grace, he's lashing out at writers and suspected PED users.

Good plan.

It must be hell knowing that your ketchup-doctored sock is in the Hall of Fame but your big, dumb, loutish self isn't.

In reflecting on our team during this less-than-joyous Yankee off-season, I'd still rather have a solid rotation and a new third baseman under our tree, but I'll take this little ChristmaCarfroCurt and sip it with some spiked egg nog.

Life isn't all bad.

AJ Burnett... Russell Martin... Francisco Cervelli... now Ivan Nova? No... I SAY NO!

Yesterday, the Pirates re-signed Ivan "Super" Nova to a three-year deal.

If he turns out to be an ace in Pittsburgh - well, then  - I. Give. Up.

Yep, that's all, folks. I'll have had enough. It'll be time to drink the Calgon Bath Oil Beads. If Nova becomes a star, the sport will be rigged, worse than Wrestlemania. If after seven years of flirting with Yankee success, and never delivering the goods, Nova becomes a Cy Young candidate in Pittsburgh - well, the juju gods can eat my cleats. I will be done with them. THERE WILL BE NO MORE JUJU IN MY HOME... FOREVER.

This would be the Final Insult, the Ultimate Diss, and as far as I'm concerned, it will be time for God, or Jesus, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Maia - you know, The Big I AM - to crack down on the out-of-control bureaucracy and drain the juju swamp. We just fake-elected a First Testament President, so why not a First Testicle God running the universe: I'm talking about an angry, vain and jealous deity, who isn't afraid to tell these two-bit juju wannabees that Yankee fans have had enough of their bullshit. IVAN NOVA'S STARDOM WOULD BE CONSIDERED THE ULTIMATE DECLARATION OF HOSTILITY, AND YANKEE FANS MUST NOT TAKE SUCH AN ACT LYING DOWN.

Listen: We sat through the slow-motion downfalls of A-Rod, Tex, CC, Stephen Drew, Pineda, yatta-yatta - but enough is enough. If Nova turns into Ivan Scherzer in Pittsburgh, we need a revolution. I'm not advocating violence here. I'm thinking more of a Ghandi-like deal, where we all lie catatonic in front of our TVs or remote devices until the authorities - in this case, the local mental health SWAT teams - come to fetch us. Once we're all together in the psycho wards, we can plot Phase II.

In the meantime, I am issuing a Category Level I warning to the juju gods:

Think long and hard, folks, before you make Ivan Nova into the next AJ Burnett. We sort of know where you live. That's all I'm going to say, because the Russians are reading this - they already hacked the Yankee farm system to undermine Jorge Mateo's prospect ranking - and, like Trump, I believe in maintaining my precious unpredictability. Just don't let it happen. And merry effing Christmas.   

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sing out... with the Chorus and the Master!

The White Sox wanted the moon for Quintana

All right, listenup, assholes, once and for all: If any one of you ever demands from me Clint Frazier, Luis Severino and Jorge Mateo for Jose Quintana, the last thing you'll remember is the crunch of my battering ram fists exploding upon your eggshell-thin skulls. I don't take that crap from nobody, you hear? Nobody. Anybody sasses me like that, they'll waddle home with an ice compress hat and their testicles in a box of chocolates. (I don't get that one, either, but don't stop me, I'm mad, goddammot.)

Supposedly, that's what the Chicago White Sox wanted from us this week, and I sincerely hope that Brian Cashman promptly took off his belt and wielded its sharpened buckle like a cat' o' nine tails. Obviously, the White Sox GM has spent too much time listening to Hawk Harrelson broadcasts. He must think Quintana is Clayton Kershaw. I'm reminded of what biographer Frances Wilson wrote of Thomas DeQuincy, in that this nasty fellow resembles "a ghost crab inhabiting another's shell." (Top THAT, River Ave!) For any insult that personal, it's not enough to just say no. Cash should have counter-offered with Nick Goody, Tito Polo and the ghost of Bubba Trammell.

Seriously, where do the White Sox get off, demanding so much for a No. 2 starter? I don't care how cheap Quintana will be over the next three years, that's a deal that would wreck whatever rebuilding project the Yankees plan... before the kids even play a game for us. With Quintana, we might chase the 2017 Wild Card one extra week into September... just as Frazier, Severino and Mateo could be coming of age.

Listen: I get it that the Yankees must be willing to trade prospects. They're not Pokemon cards. You don't "gotta get 'em all." But the roots of our last five wretched years have been the owner's half-assed vows to "contend" every season, while rebuilding on the fly. It didn't work. The Yankees are on the verge of reliving the horrible 1980s - the 14-year barf - unless Hal Steinbrenner makes a plan and actually sticks to it. Last July, we traded our three most productive players for a hopeful future. Now, we would trade it away for Jose Quintana? Fuck me.

I get it that Frazier, Serverino and Mateo could all turn out to be punch lines, future shorthand definitions of failed potential. But our hopes hinge on a few key prospects evolving into stars. They must either sink or swim. Why in God's name would we trade them for a No. 2 pitcher, and never even see what they can do?

Any of you ever make me an offer like that, you better be thinking about what's inside that box of chocolates you'll be carrying home. And to you, Chicago, merry fucking Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's time to welcome Santa... with the King and the Master

Cito Culver is back and only a Chase Headley-trade away from his dream

We love to rage at the moon about Hal Steinbrenner's cheapness, because when the Encarnacions and Scherzers hit the open market, Food Stamps hides under his groundskeeper's bed. But nobody can accuse the boy-owner billionaire of penny-pinching on penny candy.

Whether it's Yangervis Solarte, Gregorio Petit or the return of Slade Heathcott, nobody rules the rummage sale like the nebbish of nepotism. Our Scranton larder is always stocked with Cole Figueroas and Chris Parmelees... and don't get me wrong: If you treasure each tiny nickel, you'll end up with a great big dime! Every year, some scrap-heaper wins us a game or two. Remember Cody Ransom's home runs, or Greg Golson's epic throw from the right field foul line? Or that rolly-polly guy, Bartolo Somethingorother? Never underestimate a yard sale, where the Yankees remain the kings of coin.

Yesterday, we exercised our fanny pack power and re-signed the perennial whipping boy for draft day critics, none other than Christopher S. "Cito" Culver himself. The 32nd pick in the 2010 draft - taken two players ahead of Aaron Sanchez and four above Noah Syndergaard - has always been a magnet for furious fans - as if he should be blamed, and not the Yankees. (In fact, they played a failed strategy - drafting Culver, who was willing to sign cheaply - so they could later grab Mason Williams, to whom they bestowed the big bucks.)

Cito never hit. A shortstop, he wasted four years batting from both sides, then became a full-time righty. He still has a rifle arm - for years, fans speculated he should pitch - and last season, something funny happened. At age 24, after finally reaching Triple A - much like Kyle Higashawa, the late-blooming catcher - Culver started to produce. He batted .263 in 88 plate appearances - that's not Jeterian, but it's not Eddie Brinkman, either. If he improves, he could become a serviceable MLB utility infielder or maybe even a defensive 3B who hits .250 - which is what the Yankees now have, except they're paying the guy $13 million.

Okay, let's talk about Chase Headley...

Listen: He isn't baseball's worst player, or even the Yankees worst contract. It's just that when Headley comes to bat, fans go to the bathroom. Right now, he and Jacoby Ellsbury are carbon sinks within the Yankiverse; we've seen enough to know that if they're red hot in June, it's gonna snow in July. We should not blame either: It was the Yankees who foisted so much money on them that they became immovable. But it's Christmas, right? And this is when we are still supposed to believe in miracles, right?

So here's my sloppy, feel-good Christmas wish: May we find a taker for Headley. We can eat half his contract and send him to a city where nobody cares how much he's being paid, and where he can climb out from under the shadow of all that money. Then next spring, instead of trading for another pricey veteran, we hold honest tryouts at third. Yeah, I know it's a miracle. I might as well be asking for a pony under the tree. But wouldn't it be nice if the legend of Cito Culver was just beginning?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hey, it's that time of year again... with Bruce and John

For Christmas, Yankee fans can unwrap a big box of rumors

A toast to the memories of joyful Christmases past!

I woke up before dawn, eyes wide open, thinking, "Did Christmas happen? Did Santa come?" I wriggled from bed and scampered barefoot down the stairs, in awe of the miracle that might await me. There, I beheld an unforgettable yuletide vision: Perched under the tree, wrapped in bright bows and tinsel, was Jason Giambi - naked and cradling an empty quart bottle of Jim Beam. The milk and cookies we had left had been puked into the fireplace, but I didn't care. Santa had fulfilled my dreams - a DH/1B who could hit 30 HRs. "Mommy, Daddy," I cried. "We just won the AL East!"

These days, just a memory. Come Sunday, I'll wake up at noon, pop a handful of Zantacs, turn on the NFL Pre-Game and open the empty three boxes under my tree - knowing what's inside: Rumors.

Rumor Number One: The Yankees are "interested" in Jose Quintana. (By the way, so is everybody else in baseball, along with whatever Kardashian is still available.) Clearly, the White Sox are playing the same strategy that Hal adopted last July, after six years of swimming against the undertow: They want to horde prospects. The question is whether they - or us - will show the discipline to see that plan to its fruition.

Listen: I'd love to have Quintana. He'll turn 28 next month. He's a lefty. He's one of the AL's best pitchers. But he has thrown 800-plus innings over the last four years: Folks, that's Javier Vasquez Country. And Chicago will demand a couple kidneys and a liver. Lately, we've gotten drunk on Top 10 Prospect lists, which usually put the same names up top (Gleyber, Frazier, Mateo, etc.) But our real strength is in numbers, not just the jewelry. Aaron Judge could be a flop. But Mason Williams could be a surprise. Trade either, and we can end up on the wrong side of the mirror.

One other thing: Six years ago, we had Quintana. We pissed him away. His very image should act as a Skinner Box electric jolt to remind us of the need to hold onto prospects. Somewhere in our system, maybe in Scranton, maybe in Charleston, is the next Quintana. This time, let's keep him.

(I know, I know... I sound like a prospect-hugger, which a lot of so-called "expert" Yankee bloggers love to mock. Frankly, I think it's time the Yankees tried prospect-hugging, because the quick-fix deals sure haven't worked.)

Rumor Number Two: For a month now, we've heard Brett Gardner is being shopped. Lately, the scuttlebutt is that Cashman didn't like the offers, so he'll stand pat and give Gardy another go in left field. This is another bad idea.

Let me again state my unvarnished love for Gardner. He's my fave. But there is no place for him on this team. In our current lineup, he is a virtual clone of Jacoby Ellsbury - lefty, good glove, fierce competitor, .260, no power, dwindling speed, and an injury waiting to happen. Together, at the top of the order, they leave us incredibly susceptible to even mediocre lefty starters. Last year, their lack of production was a big reason why this team couldn't score three runs in a game.

Gardy has to go. There is no plan B. By the end of next season, our left-fielder will be the One of the Aboves - Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Aaron Hicks, Jake Cave, Clint Frazier, maybe even Matt Holliday. By then, Gardy will surely be traded. The longer we wait, the less we'll get.

Rumor Number Three: By trading Gardy - or Headley - Cratchet will clear some of Scrooge's money so that we can afford a Christmas turkey. Imagine running downstairs in your pajamas to find, amid the ribbons and bows, Boone Logan. Jeez, were we that naughty?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Gather the little ones for the timeless IT IS HIGH classic... Twuz the Night Before Sterling

Encarnacion's price is said to be plummeting, and the Yankees can't even think about it

Good things come to those who wait...

That's the mantra this Xmas, whether you're a Trump, a Putin or a Steinbrenner, and some lucky MLB fan base is about to find one whopping, big-ass gift - the giant, atomic-breathed lizard known as Edwin Encarnacion - under its fur tree. Aint gonna be us. Our holiday is spelled with two L's - as in Matt. We have no opening for baseball's best slugger. Weird, huh? Call Mr. Ripley.

Encarnacion - the guy most likely to have propelled us to to a wild card - remains unsigned, and the courtier press is speculating that he blew it by not taking a 4-year, $80 million deal offered by the Jays last fall. Toronto quickly moved on to Kendry Morales and the cheap-but-also-old Steve Pearce, and now the "big market teams" are supposedly out of the Encarnacion auction. (Out of tradition and the last vestiges of our self-image, I am considering the Yankees to be a "big market team.") He might end up accepting a measly three-year deal... chickenfeed, eh? - a contract that might even have been palatable to Food Stamps Hal. Oh, well... too little, too late.

Listen: I'm not squawking that we blew it with Encarnacion. For starters, I don't buy the speculation that his value has gone down the chimney. No narrative brings more Christmas joy to cynical sportswriters than the thought of an arrogant, super-rich jock shooting himself in the wallet. My bet is EE gets four years and the state of Delaware. Secondly, it's merely a parlor game to ponder the Yankees signing him. We didn't want to forfeit our first-round draft pick or lash ourselves to yet another whale who would be pushing 39 at the end of his deal. Matt Holliday - one year at $13 million - will fill the holes until Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier are ready - assuming they ever will be.

Still, the giant lizard remains on the loose, and in the end, we are probably going to be the ones who get stomped into fairy dust. Encarnacion was always more likely to stick in the AL - (Hint: His defensive skills are at DH) - and whatever team that signs him will compete with us for the wild card. Baltimore, Seattle, Kansas City - (even, gulp, Boston?) - would be enormously upgraded by a guy who has spent his entire career killing the Yankees. To me, the Mariners look like the most probably destination. They have to win something before Joginson Cano turns into a pumpkin. 

Besides, no matter how inexpensive Encarnacion gets, from the mealy-mouthed whimperings that have been emanating out of Death Star Tampa, it's clear that the Yankees have buried their checkbook for the winter. From now on, they're paying cash and Scranton Walmart gift certificates. But brace yourselves, everyone: Encarnacion is still out there, and all we can do is watch.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Jersey Giants have fans thinking of a third miracle

It's been scientifically proven that bad events happen in threes. (Note: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon died in THE SAME WEEK!) Last summer, when two catastrophes occurred - Dustin Ackley and Aaron Hicks - we should have immediately insured Nathan Eovaldi's elbow. It's the most fundamental law of Newton: Bad shit happens in threes. I shouldn't even have to explain this.

New York Football Giants fans, on the other hand, have somehow convinced themselves in the Trifecta of Miracles - believing that this middling 2016 team is destined to win the Super Bowl, because two past toothless Giants teams did it under the ancient Zen wizard, Tom Coughlin. I've even heard fans claim the Giants will win in the same way as before: by beating mighty New England and Tom Brady. This is ridiculous - magical thinking at its worst.

The Giants will beat Oakland with Derek Carr.

The Raiders are younger than the Pats, who have lost Rob Gronkowski. Clearly, this magical, mirthfully enchanted miracle team will win because

a) it has no rushing game,
b) its offensive line is in tatters and
c) Eli Manning hands out interceptions like Christmas candy.

Obviously, the Giants are Super Bowl bound.

But but BUT... there is a threat to this. Last week, the Manhattan Miracles beat Dallas, the NFC's top team. If the Giants enter the playoffs as favorites, the magic dust will wear off. To win, they must look horrible in the season's final weeks.

Thus, they shall lose today at home to Detroit.

Bet the house.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday breakfast sausage links

Remember: It was a Yankee fan who shot Gaddaffi.
Yanks will pay $27 million in luxury tax for again having finished out of the running. Not even a wild card. It's taxation without rejuvenation! For 14 straight years, we have been crushed under these onerous taxes to support Bud Selig's war and hair machine! Tell me, Yankiverse: Under what metric is this front office viewed a success?

El Chapo says Joe Madden overused him in World Series. Duh. He looked like Alphonso on a cardiac stress test treadmill. What was his famed fastball measuring at the end, 65 mph? I'm just hoping he didn't James Comey something. It's almost as if Madden was abusing him, choking him, terrorizing him, battering - um - hey, how 'bout that Matt Holliday!

Excitement! Glee! Hot talk in P-Town: Pirates may bring back Ivan "Super" Nova! Also, good paying factory jobs coming back! Back to free health care in emergency rooms! Clean coal, too! Gonna be happy summer in Western Pa. Boomers to become young again! (Oh well, we got human fire plug Tito Polo.)

Hank Steinbrenner shares "his vision for next Yankee dynasty." Seriously. That's what it says. I'm not making it up. That's what it says. He shares "his vision for next Yankee dynasty." And you thought the Internet was cracking down on fake news?

At pep rally, Trump exhorts Florida crowd to be Raiders fans'You people were vicious, violent, screaming, 'Where's the wall? We want the wall!' Screaming, 'Prison! Prison! Lock her up!' I mean you are going crazy." All in good fun, 'til someone gets hurt. Calgon Bath Oil Beads, take me away!

Friday, December 16, 2016

No more jolly old Saint Nicks...

Swisher... released last summer.

Rumbelow... let go last month.

Goody... jettisoned last night.

Nick Nolte won't sleep well tonight.

Imagine a middle of the Yankee batting order... and no over-shifts

In a clean and just world, Mark Teixeira plays two more seasons, retires at age 38 and skips merrily into the Hall of Fame wearing a Yankee cap. Even in his final year, Tex hits .230, whacks 20 taters and handles first-base the way Ivanka Trump does media. Two more seasons - hell - maybe three. Damn, he's only 36.

Well, it's not a clean and just world, and for Tex, the problem wasn't injuries, age or blonde aerobics instructors. He just never solved the defensive over-shift. He didn't figure out how to bunt, check his swing or hit to an opposite field. He just blasted balls at the fielders who were perched in the gaps, and now he's pitching tapes to ESPN. Listen: I love the guy and wish him the best, but the truth be told, Tex last year was so terrible, so soul-crushingly ineffective, that I am massaging my personal Canyon of Heroes to celebrate that he is gone. Last year, Tex hit .204. Two oh four. To owe for! Horrible. And, yeah, part of his decline came from a wrist injury that robbed him of 2012-13. But Tex never recovered from the over-shifts that began with Joe Madden in Tampa and spread through the game like chlamydia.

In recent years, Yank fans have enjoyed a ringside seat to the downfall of numerous big name sluggers, who came to Gotham with high expectations and finished as dead pull hitters, swinging drunkenly for the seats. There was the Giambino, the Grandyman, the Pronk, the Andruw Jones, the Stephen Drew, the Brian McCann, Alexander the Great and, of course, Tex. Over the years, they turned the heart of our batting order into the Mohave Desert.

Defensive over-shifts have done as much to kill the Yankee brand name as bad trades, wasted draft picks or even Hal's love of the almighty nickel. On that note - and with fingers crossed - let us rejoice in the notion that Matt Holliday, our figurative 2017 cleanup stud, hits 'em like this.

I stole that schematic from River Ave, who appropriated it from Baseball Savant. It shows a RH slugger who still uses the entire field. Holliday will bat near Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez, and right now, none would induce an over-shift. (I'm worried that Bird will devolve into a pull slugger... Aaron Judge, too.) Coupled with Gardner (if not traded), Ellsbury, Didi and Headley, we might actually go a few innings without seeing a defensive over-shift. (I'm also worried about Starlin Castro; did teams start shifting on him late in the season?)

This is critical, because one thing we've learned about the Yankees: Hitting coaches don't matter. They pass through the clubhouse like a Fleet enema. Once a hitter becomes a star, he apparently decides that the word "coach" is an abbreviation of "cockroach." He stops listening and treats every suggestion like an unsolicited email from Vladimir Putin.

So maybe - just maybe - our young players will listen to Matt Holliday. After all, he will be 37 this season - same age as Tex. Ah, if only the world were clean and just...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Congratulations to Yangervis Solarte

He wins the 2016 Tony Conigliaro Award, for overcoming adversity and showing great courage on the field and in life. (His wife and mother of three died of cancer in mid-season; he took time off to be with her at the end, and then returned to his San Diego teammates.)

Last season, in 109 games - (he missed six weeks with a hammy) - Solarte hit .286 with 15 HR and 71 RBIs.

As you may recall, we traded him straight up for Chase Headley.

The Affront Page

Quick, everybody, stop the page loads! We got breaking fake news! @Pigwad has a killer story. We're redoing the masthead, 72-point scale with police flasher.

Aww, Chief, I spent all morning concocting my piece on Biden’s ringworm. You can’t just spike it.

Sorry, kid, but Biden is yesterday’s meatloaf. We got blockbuster on a Satanic kiddie sex-slave ring run by Hillary Clinton out of a D.C. pizza parlor. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime fabrication.

How did he come up with it? Whistle-blower? Inside tip?

Imaginary six-month undercover investigation. He conjured up secret tunnels, code words, symbols, everything.

He worked on it for six months?

Nah, he pitched the idea last night. We cut him loose to work full time. It’s the expose that every fake reporter dreams about.

What about my Biden story?

Forget it. Listen up, people, we’re going with full team coverage on Pizza-gate. @LickSpittle202, you write fake reactions. @$hlumbag, you interview a victim. Kid, I want you to connect the dots - Benghazi! Lap dances! Talking lizards! Let’s go, people
! Time is clicks. These untruths don’t write themselves.

Chief, I just read the entire story, all five paragraphs. It’s so tight, so well crafted - are you sure it’s not true? I mean, this could win awards.

Wait… that’s a great idea! In your think piece, have @Pigwad winning a Pulitzer Prize. And while you’re at it, give yourself one. 

Wow, thanks. My old journalism professor will be proud. But if @Pigwad wins a Pulitzer, won’t he want more money?

Nah, he’s 12. He’s working for a PlayStation. All right, folks, rattle those keyboards! I want every falsehood nailed down. This needs to look true. Misspell a name, and they’ll rip us apart in the comments.
You know, kid, every fake journalist dreams of one incredible hoax – a lie so ridiculous, so stupid, and yet people believe it. Fake news is the cornerstone of a fake democracy. Let’s go, everybody! Our readers are counting on us. Let’s give them what they want to hear. 

Will Cionel Perez be the next Curt Flood?

Friday, a 20-year-old Cuban lefty named Cionel Perez signed with Houston for $2 million. The Yankees could have nabbed him, but for one eency-weency little problem: Two MILLION dollars! Hey, money doesn't grow on trees, folks. We're talking about two MILLION big ones - that's right, smackers, simolians, slibbahs, slipgams, sleotazees, green simberry scoodlebots... 
Nevertheless, ingrate millionaire Perez is complaining about the deal in an open letter to MLB and the Union of Concerned But Spineless Negotiators, also known as the players association. 
“I am happy to begin my professional career but I feel abused by this system,” Perez wrote, though he then bent backwards to kiss his Astro masters' asses - (he is, after all, getting paid two million green simberry scoodlebots.)
So why is this terrible, ungrateful man showing the gall to whine? What's wrong with him? He should be the Happy Latino Camper. After all, he gets to leap the Great Wall of Trump and live in the land of flavored hummus and affordable jeans... plus, he's got two million gumpworsleys.
Well, he's getting screwed - that's why. In October, Perez signed with Houston for $5.15 mill, but a physical turned up a potential elbow issue, so the Astros pulled out and low-balled him. From there, everything gets complicated - lawyers humping lawyers - but the nut of it is that Perez ended up with little choice but to re-sign with Houston for $2 million, even though he claims the Orioles would have paid him $10 million, if not for MLB caps on international spending. 
But that's not what really pisses him off. Perez notes that the Astros will spend $4 million to sign him... of which he will receive $2 million - (not counting what his agent will skim.)
The reason: Houston was over the international spending cap, so it must pay a $2 million luxury tax fee on Perez. 
So if you're scoring at home... here's a guy who is theoretically worth $10 million on a true open market, he ends up signing for $2 million - minus agent fees - and all that other money? Well, it will line the pockets of filthy rich owners, executives and lawyers. Basically, the MLB apparatus just banked $2 million without lifting a paper clip. What a scam. Bernie Madoff would be jealous. 
Folks, this is the system that eventually will turn the New York Yankees into the San Diego Padres. This is how the greatest tradition in professional sports is going to wither and die. 
Oh, in a few years, we'll field a good team. But then, we'll watch our star players sign elsewhere, because the richest sports franchise on the planet went over the luxury tax limit and, thus, can't afford to keep them. Nor will the Yankees be able to use their fiscal might to sign international free agents; we cannot exceed the official spending caps that will be screwed into place. 
Cionel Perez may or may not turn out to be a star, but he's already generated big money for owners in Tampa, Milwaukee, Kansas City, etc - wherever chintz is king. All they have to do is sit on their hands, bank the checks and draft high. Eventually, they'll become powerhouses.
“I hope that you understand how these rules in my case are extremely unjust and that you make every effort for the necessary adjustments and considerations to be made,” Perez wrote. “Today should be the happiest day of my life, and I cannot help but feel like I’ve just been robbed.”
It's just a letter. And I'm sure it's already reached the circular file. But who knows, maybe next time, it'll be a lawsuit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Today's line from Tampa: Yanks too penniless to afford Boone Logan

To hear the chatter, the Yankees are not asking all that much for Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury or Chase Headley. We'll trade them anywhere - even to Uncle Buck in Baltimore - for a top 10 prospect and a handful of magic beans. We'll pay a chunk of their salaries, throw in a strand of Christmas lights and maybe get their owner in for a photo op with Donnie Landslide. (Note: Does anyone not believe that Trump only met with Kanye yesterday because he expected Kim to be there, too?) If we can jettison Brett, Jake or Chase... or all three... joy! rapture! happiness! We can afford to sign Boone Logan!

That's the line we're supposed to swallow today: The mighty New York Yankees - richest team on the planet - cannot afford the great Boone Logan - (2-5 last year with a 3.65 ERA in Colorado.) Says Joel Sherman in the Murdoch Post:

The Yankees... are interested in setup men such as Boone Logan and Brad Ziegler. But Hal Steinbrenner continues to mandate lowering payroll in 2017 to give the team an opportunity to get under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold for 2018.

Yep. To take on a salary, we must shed salary. The most telling line in Sherman's story is that it's like selling your current house before you can buy a new one. Surely, that's an analogy Hal Steinbrenner understand, while he juggles credit cards to pay that Time-Warner bill.

Once again, I stand here amazed at how easily, how effortlessly, the owners won this war. They upped prices on game tickets and cable TV rights, gouged the fan base, paid off the players union and installed de facto salary caps. It's brilliant, really. The fans pay the tab, and the rich get richer. Across America, the owners own... and the Yankees can't afford Boone Logan.

Look... I'm not pretending to be moralistic here. I'm not a Che, a Bernie or even a Schumer. (Amy, of course.) I'm a slob. I'm whining not because the EPA is about to be disbanded, or my health insurance will soon disappear, but because at the end of all this madness, the New York Fucking Yankees cannot afford Boone Fucking Logan. Nope. We are supposed to wait patiently until the winter of 2018, when our goal then will be to reduce the team payroll below the magical number of $189 million - so Owner Hal can flip his double-wide. Got that? This year, we'll root for Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, et al - (and we will, of course)  - not because the Yankees will win anything... but because they are cheap! The battle here is not to take the 2017 World Series - no, no, no - it's for Hal to get below his SELF-IMPOSED spending limit, so he doesn't have to pay luxury taxes. (Remember: it's not a salary cap; those were rejected, and it's not collusion - that was outlawed.)

If we're lucky, next winter, after we've cleared the decks of CC, A-Rod and the entire cast of The Walking Dead, we will achieve that magical number... or maybe we can trade Brett Gardner - a great, just and loyal Yankee - for a bucket of fried chicken. And then, only then, we can afford - gulp - Boone Logan. It sound's like a Satanic chant: booneloganbooneloganboonelogan...

Well... you know what? This is one hostage situation I plan to sit out. Truth be told, I don't give a chirping godddamm whether we sign Boone Frickin' Logan. If he goes elsewhere, I can live with that. One of these days, a Nick from Scranton - Goody, Rumbelow, whatever - will become a serviceable bullpen cog, and we won't have to worry about who pitches the sixth. But it doesn't matter anymore. The owners won. Everything. They don't just own our baseball team. They own us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Ahh, hubris... part two

Why... it's so obvious: Willie Mays couldn't hold a Yankee Candle to the great Hall of Famer, Jackie Bradley Jr.

 And Willie McCovey? He was nothing compared to the legendary Andrew Benintendi.

Keep it up, Redsock fans. The juju gods take notes.

Why some of us are ridiculously over-reacting to the Tejada signing

Last year, I took much more joy from the farm teams than the Death Star. Once it became clear that the Yankee mother ship had stalled, leaving Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence as the only passengers on board, destined to fall in love and uncover a dark secret - (coming to theaters everywhere!) -  I began paying more attention to Scranton box scores than to see how Chris and Jennifer - I MEAN, CHASE AND JACOBY! - were doing. I had simply seen their movies too many times.

In 2017, I am prepared to once again live The Trenton Totality! And that's why some of us reacted so pissily, so angrily, to yesterday's otherwise nondescript signing of ex-Met Reuben Tejada. I mean, really - why should we care? The guy is a veteran backup SS who spent 2016 recovering from a nationally televised mugging. (Remember: Chase Utley.) He's a lug nut, a used wrench. He's not Stephen Drew. He's more Chris Parmelee. So we should set down the pitchforks, right?

No. Hold onto the fork, folks. However minor the move is, signing Tejada suggests a reason NOT to believe the Yankee crapola that the franchise has changed its ways - or that it has learned anything over the last four wretched years.

The deal with rebuilding via prospects is very simple:

You don't just collect 'ems. At some point, you gotta play 'ems.

And in Mr. Girardi's Cook Book, that's still a question. The signing of Tejada means either Ronald Torreyes or Rob Refsnyder - or both - could wind up back in Scranton, as 2017 Yankee versions of The Walking Dead. It reminds us that Cashman will spend the next two months combing the beaches with his metal detector, looking for another Scott Sizemore, Brennan Boesch, Brent Lillibridge, Thomas Neal, Lane Adams,  et al - who can send Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Greg Bird - even Aaron Judge - back to Triple A, if they happen to have a bad March. As I look at the 2017 roster, Austin is especially susceptible to such a dismal fate - and the guy hit .323 last year at Scranton! How can you send him back?

At some point, you gotta play 'ems.


When the guy comes up to bat, without thinking, you do:

LVL I. Stand in front of the TV, bolt yourself to the unfolding drama, assume juju stance and prepare to fight!

LVL II. Look up from your iPad, vaguely aware that something might happen.

LVL III. See this as a good moment to hit the bathroom.

LVL IV. Stand in front of the TV, imagine Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner in furry, full-body rodent suits, and scream obscenities at the cosmos.

If he's on the Yankees, Tejada will send me to the LVL III pisser.

It's Chris and Jennifer - I MEAN CHASE AND JACOBY - that bring me to LVL IV screaming.

So with that out of the way, let's ponder the 2017 Scranton box score lineup - at least for now. Surely, Cash is still trolling for used parts. Here's where the Railriders could land on the Instinctive-yet-Empirical Scale.

c; Kyle Higashioka (LVL 1)
1b: Mike Ford. (II) Tyler Austin? (Scream)
2b: Pete Kozma (bathroom), Rob Refsnyder (Scream)
ss: Tyler Wade (LVL I); Reuben Tejada (Scream)
3b: Ronald Torreyes (Scream); Miguel Andujar (LVL I)
lf: Clint Frazier (LVL I)
cf: Mark Payton (LVL 1) Mason Williams (Scream)
rf: Jake Cave (LVL Ia)
dh: Garden variety Ike Davis clone

Pitchers: Obviously, it depends on who makes the mother ship. But it could be Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Brady Lail, Jordon Montgomery, Eric Ruth, Matt Wotherspoon, Gio Gallegos, Dietrich Enns, various spare tires. Is Sidney Ponson throwing?

Some talent there. But for everybody's sake, let's hope and pray that Refsnyder, Austin, Torreyes, Williams - and especially Judge - are not banished to Scranton because they go 0-for-8 in Bradenton. How depressing would that be? We spend a whole year rebuilding... then fill our roster with middling vets?

Last August, having nothing to lose, the Death Star tried youth. As a result, we enjoyed the best two months of the season. Now, we have a small wave of emerging players. But the question remains: Will they all get a full shot?

Yesterday, even though it was a minor thingy, the Yankees signaled a return to the vets.

I cannot live through another 2012... 2013... 2014... 2015...

At some point, you gotta play 'ems.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Ahhh, hubris!

By February, they'll be asking if it's the best ever.

I'm starting to feel better about our chances.

Scranton to host Reuben Tejada?

I understand why the Yankees sign infield depth, and certainly, light-hitting ex-Met Reuben Tejada fills that bucket defensively. But the other day, I was pleasuring myself by thinking this could be the first year in my lifetime when the Yankees' Triple A team is filled with prospects, rather then parachutes...

And now Scranton's starting shortstop will probably be Reuben Tejada.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad signing. It's smart. It's paying attention to details. It's insurance, in case Didi discovers a tumor or something.

Silly me. I was just thinking that maybe Gleyber Torres or Jorge Mateo... or especially Tyler Webb (22 years old, hit .259 last year at Trenton) could play SS. Now... we're back to an old guy.

The Yankees have nothing like Odell Beckham Jr.

One thing I've learned over the millennia: Juju only works for the Jersey Giants when things are so rotten that you've started rooting for the asteroid. Only after you've started sipping the Draino can good things happen, and then they might win five straight and take a Super Bowl. Go figure.

Trouble is, your acute depression cannot be faked. You must be catatonic, suicidal, ready to put your forehead through the TV. Last night, that's where I stood in the third quarter, before the Giants got the ball to Odell Beckham Jr. - for whom there is no equivalent on the Yankees, or maybe in all of baseball.

The putrid Giants offense could not rush for a first down against Trump's hair. Last night, I was screaming for Ben McAdoo's firing and flipping the TV whenever NBC showed that ultimate small-handed WASP, owner John Mara, as Al Michael's voice assumed a reverential tone worthy of Jesus. I was like an alchy, vowing to quit the Giants forever - to even root against the team and revel in its downfall. Then Beckham caught the ball and raced 60 yards to score.

Today, it reminds me of a catch by Victor Cruz in 2011, the last time the Giants snatched anything more meaningful than a stripper's pastie. It was Christmas Eve, Alphonso was visiting, and we watched in a bar, away from impressionable kids. The Giants were down 7-3 against the Jets, with Eli Manning throwing from his end zone. Cruz caught the ball, dodged a tackler and - whoosh - 99 yards. He was high, he was far, he was gone. Alphonso started screaming and refused to stop - nearly got us booted from the bar. I am choosing my words carefully now, aware of just how pathetic this makes me sound: It was the most joyous moment of that entire Christmas.

Listen: On an existential level, I hate the Giants and the NFL - two utterly soul-less entities that trivialize patriotism, dehumanize women, print dirty money, steal from taxpayers, and grind their players into dust. That said, I've blindly rooted for the Giants since the days of Y.A., Gif, Sam, and Ro-Lo-Mo-Ko. In all that time, Giants juju never worked. I watched without the psychological crutch of magical thinking. It leaves me terrified... but goddammit, there is no sports equivalent to Odell Beckham Jr. All you can do is be amazed.

The 2017 Yankees will be a team in search of a superstar, the guy who can - woosh - win a game from our own one-yard-line. It won't be Matt Holliday, who is simply too old. It cannot be Aroldis Chapman, who will only appear with a lead. As nice a player as Didi Gregorius is, he's no reality-altering star. Somebody must emerge - Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Jorge Mateos, Gleyber Torres - somebody. It might be none of the above. But somebody has to explode. And none of them will be Odell Beckham Jr.

I don't see the Giants winning anything this season. The reason is simple: Winning last night's game pulled me off of Suicide Watch. I'm no longer drinking the turpentine. Thus, the Giants cannot win. The rules of juju metaphysics this winter are strikingly simple: Nothing bends 'em like Beckham.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The obligatory Giants "big game tonight" thread

Why, you ask, are we bothering to waste precious Yankee speculation space on the Jersey Giants? Isn't there some new angle on Rob Refsnyder that we should ponder? What about the rumors that Nick Rumbelow's dog has ringworm? Why would we ever consider the most frustrating sports team in NYC - and yes, I am including the Knicks, who long ago lost the ability to frustrate anybody.

Tonight, as you know, the Gints play the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL version of the Yankees, who are run by a man I despise and sort of appreciate: Jerry Jones. He may represent the last pro owner in America who would rather win a game than make money. (Some owners do this temporarily, but their long term loyalty always returns to the partners.) All you need to know about Jerry Jones is that on the night he opened his billion dollar football stadium - Jerry World, it's still called - he had scantily clad ladies dancing in elevated cages, like on Shindig.

As for tonight, I have absolutely no doubt the Giants will lose because a) I've watched their games this year, and their 8-4 record is as bogus as those news stories about the pizza parlor where Hillary grooms her sex slaves. b) We beat them on opening day, and Dallas has been smarting ever since, and c) they're the Giants. This is what they do. Even in the rare Haley's Comet-like occurrences where they suddenly march to the Super Bowl, they still fill their season with pain and humiliation.

Big game tonight. I may still watch the half-season finale to The Walking Dead. I hear Rick is getting pissed.

Sunday "Nothing Happened Yesterday" Wrap-up

Hardworking Panda Bear is now so thin Redsocks will rename him "Kellyanne."

Under owner-friendly financial structure, middling teams go nowhere. Welcome to MLB version of the NBA, where selloffs are the new norm. White Sox just the latest. (Essay question: Did the Yankees wait too long to see this? Boston certainly understood it.)

NYC politician grumbles about signing girlfriend-choker Aroldis. Insult to fans, bad message to children, poor role model, etc. I get it. But didn't we already do this?

Showalter "throws shade" at Yanks. (Who made up that a phrase? Beyonce?) Buck says Evils won't trade with O's, unless it's somebody "they wanted to pass off on us." True dat. Can we give them Hicks?

ESPN thumbsucker on worthiness of big bullpen contracts. Lotsa numbers. Made my head hurt. WAR, WPA, wOBA, wRC+... Trust me, you'll get more answers in a PBR.

John Sickels rates Top 20 Yankee prospects. Always entertaining parlor game. So much future star dust, read it with a whisk broom.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Yankee-hater's take on Cashman

Required reading.

Do I hear a "ten?" Who wants to buy a genunine Felix Lopez 2009 Yankee World Series ring?

Someday, Martin Scorsese, or HBO, or the Bigfoot Channel - somebody - will make a big-budget biopic on the Steinbrenner family - baseball's version of the Ewings from Dallas, if crossed with The Munsters.

You'll meet Hippo Hank, the chain-smoking blowhard; Food Stamps Hal, the tightwad Dan Quayle-clone; Jolly Jessica and Jiggly Jennifer, the requisite evening gown vixens; and, of course, the Trumpian leviathan himself, Old George. Each would be a hot air balloon filled with hope and despair, good and evil, brains and buffoonery. But the two most fascinating characters - (I'm seeing Christian Bale and James Franco) - would be the ones that got away.

The first would be Steve Swindal, Jennifer's ex, who served as a Yankee general partner from 1998 to 2006. In 2005, Swindal was selected by George to be his heir apparent - the next Yankee scion. Who couldn't love the idea of a Yankee owner named Swindal bossing around a GM named Cashman? You can't make this stuff up. I figured the Swindal must possess an instinctive, Machiavellian genius - marrying into the family and becoming its patriarch. He'd make a good owner.

But the juju gods didn't bite. Swindal had a messy DWI and the marriage went south. Shit happens, you know? His name vanished from the masthead. He moved to the Dominican Republic and launched a prospect factory, buying and developing young talent. At least in 2012, he was on decent relations with the family. Imagine being tabbed to run the Yankees, and then ending up in a Third World meat market. Life, eh? Come on, Scorsese, you gotta want this!

Then there is Felix Lopez, Jessica's ex, who saw a similar trajectory. A Cuban-born construction company president, Lopez married into the team and made the masthead in 2005. For whatever reasons, and I can think of some bad ones, the NY Post never gave him any respect. They called him a former "landscaper" who "rose from the mulch to become an executive vice president." They didn't use the word "gold-bricker," but you got the picture. Lopez was put in charge of rebuilding the team's complex in Tampa, and seemed bulletproof within the organization until 2015, when the divorce papers were filed. Then - poof, gone - we all know the drill.

But something else happened. The Yankees took some parting shots at Lopez, blaming Lopez in whispers for the ongoing fiasco known as Yoan Moncada. They emerged in a 2015 story by the tabloid columnist Billy Madden, who noted Lopez' slur-like nickname within the Yankees: The Gardener.

Other than having hit the lottery by marrying the Boss’ daughter, Lopez’s primary duties were the overseeing of construction projects (and cost over-runs?) at Steinbrenner Field and the Himes Field minor league complex, and dabbling (often times without the knowledge or approval of GM Brian Cashman) in the Yankees’ Latin America scouting operations — most recently, I’m told, with an unauthorized heavy hand in Yoan Moncata negotiations that effectively ended any chances of the Yankees signing the Cuban free agent.

Yup. They actually blamed the Moncada debacle on the Cuban guy. Meanwhile, the Yankees were still defending their utter cheapness, stressing the high $63 million price tag paid by Boston. (Of course, this week, the Redsocks converted Moncada into three years of Chris Sale, and quite possibly the next few AL East titles.) Other Lopez tidbits were teased. As far as I know, they never tumbled out. Everybody sort of shut up.

But to Yankee fans, Moncada and now, Chris Sale, should remain a symbol of a dysfunctional family, which boiled over into a dysfunctional franchise... and then which scapegoated the outsider. Pretty rancid, no?

Wednesday, Felix Lopez puts his 2009 World Series ring up for auction on It's expected to sell for between $3,000 and $4,000. It's an icon of Yankee pride, and a symbol of love gone south. This diamond ring, it don't shine for me anymore... Come on, Scorsese, pass on the ring and buy the movie rights - before Damon and Affleck get their hands on it. I BID TEN DOLLARS!