Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Mets' signing of Humanis Centepedes means the Yankees no longer share NYC with a patsy

Yesterday, the Non-Miracle Mets spent their holiday money on four-years of Yoenis Cespedes - more than $27 million per season. In theory, that deal now defines the market for Edwin Encarnacion - everything but the kitchen sink - which underscores what we already knew: The computer known as Brian Cashman will "make inquiries" on Edwin and then hide under the bed, praying the player's agent doesn't return the call.

A few thoughts on yesterday's deal:

1. Apparently, Mets owner Fred Wilpon has finally "recovered" from Bernie Madoff. It's only been eight years. Frankly, it's never been clear whether Drop Dead Fred won or lost in the Madoff scandal. He poor-mouthed pretty well - billionaires always do - and accepted big loans from MLB and Bank of America to stay afloat, nearly sold 49 percent of the team to an equally evil hedge fund. But in 2012, Fred settled a lawsuit from the small Madoff investors, the ones who truly lost everything - by paying $162 million - even more than for Cespedes. For years, the Mets used Madoff money to thrive. It's a cruel jungle for Hal Steinbrenner - life among the billionaires.

2. For the third straight year, the Yankees will loom as NYC's inferior baseball team. (We're still ahead of the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Whatevers.) This will be reflected in ticket sales, YES ratings and the refusal of Comcast to roll over in cable disputes. When the Evils were swept in the 2012 ALCS, did any of us imagine that we would go four years without a post-season win? Did anyone foresee such a dark period in the Yankiverse? Well, yeah, Alphonso did - but that's his thing.

3. If it's true that the Jersey Giants and Dolan-cursed Knicks have improved - (and, seriously, that's a big "if" on both) - the 2016 Yankees could be NYC's fourth most popular sports team. (Thank you, Jets, for your constant mediocrity.) And that's not even pondering the unponderable: That Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez turn into complete flops. If that happens, watch out Brooklyn Nets: We're coming for you.

4. Newton's Third Law says for every action, there is an equal re-somethingorother. Last night, news reports said the Yankees are in "full pursuit" of the late-blooming veteran pitcher Rich Hill, probably for a three-year deal. The guy is 36. Thirty-six. After Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, et al - we're going to give a 36-year-old pitcher a whopping three-year-deal? Well, it's Hal's money, not mine - and maybe the front office is shitlessly scared of what being the fourth most successful team in NY might mean. Still, I think it's a touch of madness... or just an attempt to momentarily divert attention from the Mets looming superiority.

Clearly, if we were to sign Rich Hill, Aroldis Chapman and a DH - a Steve Pearcer - we can chase the 2017 AL Wild Card - with or without Aaron Judge. The bar is rather low for chasing wild cards. A .500 team is contending until September. I'm just worried that Rich Hill will become Exhibit A for why the Yankees sit out next year's free agent auction, and - worst of all - yet another sign that we have learned nothing from Madoff, the Mets and everything else in recent years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

All Bow Down

...I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower...

Happy 47th Birthday to Mariano Rivera.  Old Guys Rule.

Eovaldi, Mantiply, Rumbelow... the poem

Three names new fans shall never know:
Eovaldi... Mantiply... Rumbelow...
Three names, I say, "Watch out below!"
Eovaldi... Mantiply... Rumbelow.

Three seeds the Yankees shall not sow,

Eovaldi... Mantiply... Rumbelow.
Three homes YES broadcasts will not go:
Eovaldi... Mantiply... Rumbelow.

And yet, each one, you never know...

Perhaps they'll make it in The Show,
Not spend their day in Buffalo,
Lost in some roster's undertow,
Perhaps they'll beat the status quo,

Eovaldi... Mantiply... Rumbelow!

Alas, we know not what we'll see.
The future is what it shall be.

At least a few have been set free,
Eovaldi... Rumbelow... Mantiply...

Monday, November 28, 2016

If the new luxury tax threshold is set at $200 million, this could be the year Hal hits his magical number

There is talk that baseball's next Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Scrooges and their fancy pet poodles will set team luxury tax thresholds at a fat, juicy $200 million - ending Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner's long and unfulfilled quest to reach that vaunted $189 million payroll limit. Like peace in the Middle East, or among the Kardashians... it was just never fated to happen.

If so, this could be the year - even with the signing of Aroldis Chapman and/or a mercenary DH - that the Yankee plantation owner finally escapes his long-time, overwhelming luxury tax liabilities.

Right now, according to the Cot's Baseball Contracts website, the Yankees face at least $136 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017. That doesn't count future arbitration settlements with Didi Gregorius, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda, Austin Romine and Aaron Hicks - (though let's not worry about paying Hicks; he sucks) - plus the piddling rookie salaries of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, et al. Let's say all the extras cost $35-45 million. That still puts us around $180 million - with $20 million to spare on the return of El Chapo.

Moreover, if we trade either Brett Gardner, Chase Headley or - please, God, please, please, please - Jacoby Ellsbury, we can probably carve off some of their salaries, as well. With a little graft here and there, we could slide in under $200 million and get Hal's monkey off our backs. Then we can spend like hell next winter, when A-Rod and CC are memories (along with $46 million), and a far superior crop of free agent brisket is salted and ready for the smoker.

All we have to do is think about 2018. Nothing else. 2018.

This in no way suggests that I approve of Food Stamps' cheapness. The Steinbrenners have more money than any of the kids can count, yet they have chosen to accumulate more - rather than obsessively chase world championships, as their daddy did. That was George's legacy, and they pitched it overboard. Maybe in five years, if Hal makes a plan and sticks to it, there will be salvation - even forgiveness - within the Yankiverse. But right now, all we're watching is one of the richest families in the world wriggling to make more. And I can never divorce myself from the reality that even a site like this - that yells and screams at them - only adds to their portfolios, at the end of the day. When you're selling tradition, all attention is good.

So... let's hope the team can screw Didi and Dellin in arbitration, and then trade the virtuous and loyal Brett Gardner! That way, we can "afford" a veteran DH, such as Carlos Beltran or Steve Pearce. Two hundred million... here we come!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Yogian problem with signing Chapman and Beltran...

... is actually quite simple: We would be moving backwards... reliving 2016, a crapola season... it's deja vu all over again.

Today, Joel Sherman calls for the Economical Empire to look past 2017 in its winter moves and do just that: Sign Chapman and Beltran.

... [T]hey need one more year to A) let the prospects grow both in the majors and minors to get a greater understanding of exactly what they need, and B) clear more money... So what does this mean for 2017? I think it means forming as strong a bullpen as possible and finding the best one-year hitter on the market, so think of it as perhaps signing Chapman and Carlos Beltran.

On the first part, relating to the long term future... I'm in. So should be any thinking Yankee fan. These idiots who talk about trading the farm for Chris Sale are either suffering from dementia or they are still in sixth grade, because they certainly have forgotten the 1980s. We have too many intangibles on the 2017 roster - most notably Aaron Judge, the King of Uncertainty - to start bundling prospects for another Jeff Weaver, an arm that has already logged 1,200 MLB innings.

This is about patience. Most players are not Gary Sanchez, stars from the outset. A year from now the Yankees should have a much better idea of what Judge, Sanchez, Greg Bird, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino can do in the majors. 

Amen. If we're still in the race by July 30, maybe we can peddle some 2017 versions of Ben Gamel and Cito Culver for a retrofitted carburetor. But for now, if we're chasing winter free agents, we need to fortify the bullpen (Chapman?) and seek a one-year slugging fix - gulp - Beltran?

Why do I feel sick? I get the reasoning. Beltran for one year. It makes sense. Still, there is no way to sugarcoat it: This means moving backwards, reliving the mediocre dullness of 2016. To bring back Beltran would hardly generate a positive April buzz. It certainly won't boost ticket sales and those all-important YES ratings, which have been falling for years and may not have yet bottomed out.

Beltran, again? It makes sense. But I'm throwing up in my mouth. Can the Yankees separate the marketing needs of their TV network from the long-term well-being of their team? For years, it was YES money that gave us a competitive advantage. Ever since MLB imposed its massive luxury taxes, the Yankees have become slaves to YES. That horrible contract given to Jacoby Ellsbury: It was all about creating a diversion over the loss of Robbie Cano... and keep eyeballs watching YES.

So... which direction will we take this winter? The future, the past, or some variant of both? Can we move forward and backwards?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What does it mean?

Within 24 hours of each other, Florence Henderson and Fidel Castro die.

(Love tryst?)

In the new player's union agreement, the Yankees should be on the players' side

In case you've wondered which side to back in the ongoing labor dust-up between the players and owners, it's easy: Yankee fans should root for the players. It's not even close.

For starters, let's never forget that this is a skirmish between millionaires and billionaires. The owners are capital b Billionaires who - in labor matters - pretend to be lowly millionaires, in hopes that we will feel sorry for them. Hal Steinbrenner will never take a 95-mph fastball in the ribs or tear a knee sliding into third. The closest he'll come is stubbing his toe on an Italian marble coffee table in the luxury box, or - if you're into psychological suffering - having to sit next to Rudy Giuliani for an entire game. That's truly a hell, but it merely requires heavy drinking.

Beyond our knee-jerk, Maoist hatred for the golden dumpster class, backing the players' union should be Hal's position anyway. It's far more favorable to the Yankees. For example:

1. We want no international draft. The owners demand it, so they can spend less on foreign talent. Why should the Yankees give up their big market advantage in signing Latino players? Hey, we came in second in the battle for Yoan Moncada!

2. We want no loss of draft picks for free agents who receive qualifying offers. It sucks for the particular player - remember how Stephen Drew nearly missed an entire season? - who cannot get his free-market value in negotiations. And it means the Yankees cannot sign those players without giving up our future.

3. We want them to bump the luxury tax threshold beyond $189 million. Small market owners should not be allowed to skimp on payroll and have the Yankees foot the bill through heavy luxury taxes.

The owners want the Yankees to be the San Diego Padres. Well, folks, they're not. They are the New York Fucking Yankees, the premier pro sports franchise in America for nearly a century. You cannot scream about the beauty of unregulated, free market capitalism when the tax man is at your door - and then turn around and run your business like a socialist state, when it comes to regulating what teams can and cannot do. If unlimited contributions are good for political elections, how about unlimited payrolls for a frickin' pennant race?

One other thing about big and small markets: It costs more to do business in New York. It's harder to stay focused in New York. If you make all teams equal, you're rewarding the small cities and screwing the larger ones, because they face all the distractions.

Hal Steinbrenner ought to be on the players' side of these negotiations. If he's not fighting for them - and for Yankee fans - he's in the wrong business.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A brief history of Yankee pugs

Lately, I've heard whispers that Team Twopenny and famed owner Cheapie McCheapo plan to sign an established first baseman, as calamity insurance, in case Ty Austin and Greg Bird fizzle out like the once-promising "freedom fries" movement. In the old days, we'd be talking about the impending signing of Edwin Encarnacion. Not anymore. Instead, the rumor mill is polishing up veteran lug nuts such as Mike Napoli, Adam Lind, James Loney, Dan Johnson, and Yourn Amehere.

Surely, one of the above antiques will soon become the Yankees' official fallback first baseman. Because we have always loved pugs.

By "pug," I mean no disrespect. These guys play first base, some of them well. But a pug is a pug - a bulldog at the plate, somewhat homely, slow as herpes, and usually two notches over the belt line. They bark like hell, scare off intruders, don't bite and wag their tails when you come home from work. Pugs are fine. It's the poodles that wreck a ball club.

For the sake of history, I will now create what should show up in Google searches for "List of Yankee Pugs." For brevity, I am confining the list to first base and of this millennium.

LIST OF YANKEE PUGS (at first base and of this millennium.)

Lance Berkman
Tony Clark
Ron Coomer
Ike Davis
Travis Ishikawa
Travis Lee
Casey McGehee
Doug Mientkiewicz
Juan Miranda
John Olerud
Lyle Overbay
Chris Parmelee
Steve Pearce
Josh Phelps
Andy Phillips
Mark Reynolds
Richie Sexon
Craig Wilson

Again, I mean no disrespect. Some of these guys - Lye Overweight, Tony the Tiger, the Eye Chart - remain treasured memories. But what I want to make one point here:

Generally - pugs don't do it. Okay?

Can we all agree on this? Pugs. Don't. Work.

We can sign Justin Morneau. He's a former MVP. He's might hit .260. He's a fine person. He's a pug.

He. Won't. Work.

We can sign Adam Lind. A good man. He might hit .260 - that's Ruthian, compared to Tex last season. It. Won't. Matter. He's a pug.

If Bird and Austin flop, we won't win the World Series with James Loney. It. Won't. Matter. He's a pug.

In the spirit of the new, thrifty Yankees, I propose we enter 2017 without a pug safety net below Austin and Bird. If they suck in April, let them suck in May... and then June and then July. Let them learn to unsuck, at least until the trade deadline. Or promote some kid from Trenton. (Note: With Bird and Austin in NY, our farm system is paper thin at first. Our top 1B prospect could be Dante Bichette Jr. - who hasn't made a Baseball America ranking list for years. Then again, Ty Austin had faded out of the prospect picture, so...) If we sign a pug, here's what will happen: He'll impress Joe Girardi in spring training, and he'll start for the first three months of the season, and we won't even know whether Austin and Bird can do it. He will suck all the air out of the most important Yankee youth movement in this millennium. And even if the pug has a good month or two, his production will then tumble, and we will look at him and say, what the hell were we doing? He's. A. Pug.

Look: Somebody has to play first. If Bird and Austin collapse, it's Refsynder time! Maybe then, we sign a pug. For now, let's not.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving message: Yanks are lavishly keeping tabs on all free agents

All you acne-faced ingrates who whine about Hal Steinbrenner: Today, you oughta be ashamed of yourselves, dammit.

As of today, the proud-but-humble Yankee chieftain is said to be "IN" on talks with virtually all the top free agents. That's right, naysayers of nastiness: The penny-respecting fellow known to you as "Food Stamps" is lavishly letting the Edwins and Arodises know that he'd like them to play for the Yankees.

Of course, here's a news flash for you Negative Nellies: Money doesn't grow on trees. You simpletons who think a guy is rich simply because he owns an MLB team, you don't know a goddamm thing about money... that's right: cabbage, moohla, skootz, bingshoop, plabitz, gurd... the big squidly-diddly. You think it comes out of the tap? Well, it doesn't. You can't just throw gurd down a sinkhole, because that would be like - well - like flushing the big squidly-diddly down the toilet. Do that, and you'll soon be out of plabitz.

Unlike last winter, when Hal refused to answer the phone, fearing it might be David Price's agent, this winter he has gone crazy with phone calls, emails, texts and other metaphorical expressions of opulence. Today, let's show some gratitude: We're among the top spenders of November 2016! Who knows what stars we'll find under the Christmas tree. Right now, it could be all of them!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Getting ready to be thankful

Thank you, o great, glorious and all-encompassing (but not overweight) juju gods, for...

1. Didi Gregorius

2. Masahiro Tanaka

3. Dellin Betances

4. Aroldis Chapman (in advance)

5. The Curse of the Kardashian Men (guilty pleasure)

6. The Daily News

7. Snow blowers.

8. Couches.

9. Alcohol.

10. Not signing Jose Bautista. (I'd prefer he never be a Yankee. In fact, I cheered last year when that Rougned Odor guy colecocked him at second base, because I've hated the bat-flipper since his first HR against us, although now - considering that Odor's younger brother, who has the exact same name as Odor - WTF is that all about? - is one of four Ranger prospects who have been suspended for diddling a 16-year-old teammate, so I'm wondering if Odor doesn't have some odorous issues of his own, although it's a stretch to blame a guy for his family, but let's just never get either of them, okay, juju gods? Is that too much to ask?)  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A positive thought about the 2016 Yankees...

... Their season ended before the Mannequin Challenge.

Would the Yankees really pull the trigger on CC, Big Mike?

Lately, the Yankiverse has spawned a bucket of infield chatter about trades that - frankly - look dubious. Brian Cashman - who never flags a deal in advance - has noted that anything is possible, that anyone can go, and that anywhere can be Paris - if you use your imagination. Thus, we hear that Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Michael Pineda and even CC Sabathia are on the block. But I wonder... and here's why.

Gardy: Technically, he's been on the block since that dark day when the Yankees signed Ellsbury, (in part to divert attention from Joginson Cano - the Seahawks'12th man - going to Seattle.) The reason: a) Gardner is nearly a clone of Ellsbury and b) the lineup is lopsided with lefty lead-off men. Still, I can't help but think Cashman would prefer to jettison Ellsbury, whom we'll have for Trump's entire four year term. Gardy will be gone after two. (We have a third year option.)

Hal Steinbrenner paid down Brian McCann's contract to trade him, and Cash immediately noted that the deal gave us "flexibility." Well, the real Yankee bottleneck is in CF, where Ellsbury stands, and it's only going to worsen, as our young outfielders rise through the system. We never hear Ellsbury's name in rumors. To me, that's a reason to raise suspicions.

Headley: We hear teams have made "inquiries." So what? Every day I get inquiries in the mail - from Bed, Bath and Beyond. I tear them up, except for the Calgon Bath Oil Beads coupons. (The Yankees traded Aaron Judge? Calgon Bath Oil Beads, take me away!) The problem with trading Headley is simple: We have nobody else to play the position. He's going to hold the position until Miguel Andujar either arrives or bombs out - which is two years. We can go out and sign a place-holder, but it won't be cheap, and we'll be right back where we are already. Trading Headley? I just don't see it.

CC: After all the water under the bridge here - his alcoholism rehab, his bum knees, his many many innings - it's hard to believe the Yankees would trade a team leader and certified warhorse. If CC looks fat, it's because he eats innings. We will be auditioning a bunch of young starters this season, and we'll need somebody to go out and throw six innings every fifth day. What would we get for him? Two rookie league nobodies? Nah. I don't think so.

Pineda: A lot of fans would love to see him go. And there might be a market from teams that look at him and see Ivan Nova: He's the classic guy who needs to get out of NYC. But nobody escapes this team alive, nobody. If we're dead at the deadline, Pineda can go to Pittsburgh, like everybody else. I don't see him going this winter, unless it's in a huge package of prospects.

Look - I'm all in on a full-scale, nuclear housecleaning. I don't see us winning it this year. But this recent trade speculation - nope, I think we're being fed diversions. Whatever Cash is going to do, he's not going to let it tumble out in rumors.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sanchez' family to Carrot Top: Baseball America's take on the Yankees

The other day, a Baseball America podcast devoted roughly 33 minutes to the Yankee farm system, and if you've got 33 minutes lying around, with nothing better to do, or you need background drivel while cleaning your Glocks, give it a go. Just keep in mind that a 15-minute call to Geico can blah-blah-blah on car insurance, and with the remaining 18, you could drive to the store and buy a pack of Luckies and quart of King Cobra. Do you really want to spend 33 minutes inside the free-association minds of a Skippy, a Fletch and a Cooter - guys whose lives involve plumbing the ever-sifting secrets of Scranton, Trenton and Pulaski?

Didn't think so. Therefore, I did it for you. Some takeaways.

1. They were comparing SS Jorge Mateo's two-week suspension last summer to that of Gary Sanchez, two years ago. In both cases, you've got a hot prospect pissing off the Yankee pooh-bahs by breaking some unnamed rule. (Panty raid? Serial killing?) It certainly worked for Sanchez, who looked mature beyond his years this summer. Will it work on Mateo? Well, they don't know. But here's the takeaway: Sanchez' change of heart came after he got married and had a kid. Big change. Maybe we need Mateo to find a woman. Oh, and he'll probably play CF. He's literally too fast to be wasted in the infield.

2. While waxing about Clint Frazier's formidable physique, somebody said he is "jacked like Carrot Top." (Both have red hair.) This rattled me. I find shirtless shots of Carrot Top to be unsettling. Stand-up comics who spend all day pumping iron end up looking like steroidal monsters - way too scary to laugh at their jokes. I love how Louis CK and Rickie Gervais, joke about being fat, even though neither is. It makes them human. Now, whenever Frazier comes to bat, I'll have a Carrot Top moment bouncing in my head. Thank you, Baseball America. As for Frazier, they love him, though - and I didn't know this - they say some scouts see too much movement - something "hitchy with his swing." As a result, he might have trouble adjusting to MLB. A final note: They say Frazier is really smart and obsessed with improvement, and one of the most knowledgeable hitters in the game. I suspect this is just their olive branch after comparing the guy to Carrot Top. They're probably scared of him, too.

3. Josh Norris claimed the Yankees could have 10 prospects on Baseball America's Top 100 list. The others said maybe eight. They agreed that we have one of the deepest - if not THE deepest - systems in baseball. (Keep in mind that these rankings are baseball's equivalent to the polls that said Hillary was a shoe-in.) I fear we are being set-up for the inevitable five-for-one trade - coming next month - which will be hailed by the YES-courtier press, and which later will go down as the worst thing we ever did. Yes... I know, I know... I'm being cynical and negative. Now and then, Cashman scores a nice little pickup. But the bigger the deal, the more chance of disaster. If we bundle talent for a Chris Sale, something tells me we'll get the short end... and be thinking of Carlos Quintana.

Would it not be interesting, just for the hell of it, to see what happens if the Yankees simply let the deepest system in baseball grow to its fruition? Must we trade it off? Is it a given that we cannot develop our own ace pitcher, that he must be acquired through trades, and only after having logged 1,200 innings for another team? If one out of every three prospects becomes a decent MLB player, isn't a key to success having a LOT of them?

4. They love Gleyber Torres and might rank him in the Top 5... but... and they didn't say this outright ... but... he'll rank below Yoan Moncada. Gah, that name again! Can you imagine the Yankee system if Hal had not gone alligator arms two years ago while reaching for his purse? Because even with a surge of talent over the coming years, we are probably doomed to watch Boston walk away with the next two divisional crowns. That's because they methodically built a team from the ground up - and then supplemented with outside talent, after seeing what holes needed to be filled.

We now face one unanswered question, which the boys of BA cannot answer:

Will we finish the rebuilding job... or seek the quick fix? Just what the hell is Hal Steinbrenner thinking? Can the Yankiverse - with its self-proclaimed smartest fans in the game - be patient enough to wait? Or when we built the new monstrosity, did we become slaves to always winning the next game? Do we have the guts to actually build over the long haul? Or will it always be about next year?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Official list of MLB team inquires to Yankees about Chase Headley

Chase Headley
From Seattle: "Does Chase Headley dye his hair?"

Detroit wants to know: "Is Chase Headley married or currently going out with anyone?"

From Milwaukee: "If Chase Headley could be a zoo animal, what do you think he would be?"

Colorado says: "What makes Chase Headley so - oh, wow - so, like, 'Chase Headleyish?' You know? He's like, 'Hey, I'm Chase Headley, everybody!' Which is okay, I mean - fuck me, I'm like so high right now that I could... Chase Fuckin' Headley, man! I think I just peed myself."

Links: "Gardner is our everyday left fielder and Headley is our everyday third baseman, unless trade opportunities provide themselves to put me in a position to consider making a move.’’

1. In other words, "That 'FOR SALE' sign on the windshield is purely decorative." Hard to imagine, but Gardy and Headley might soon be disappeared, according to the Morning Murdoch. Jacoby Ellsbury? Well, as they say, hindsight is 2020. (The year he leaves.)

2. A harrowing historical recount of how the alt-Yankees in an alt-universe might have alt-drafted and alt-Mike Trout. Did you know the Angels selected Trout with the pick received from the Evils for signing Mark Teixeira - dislodging the Brewers from getting that pick for us signing CC Sabathia? If not for Hal's 2008-09 spending spree - which remains his only success as an owner - well, let's just say there were consequences. Don't read this with a hot cup of coffee in your hand. You'll want to fling at someone.

3. The Yankees deal the dog-man, James Pavos - yet another guy they probably would have lost in next month's Rule 5 draft. In exchange, they get a 21-year-old high-achiever, the prototypical type of prospect (RIP Ben Gamel) they'll someday trade rather than lose in the draft.

4. Gleyber Torres wins the AFL MVP, revving the YES hype machine, though invoking unfortunate memories of past recipient Eric Duncan.

5. Twenty-five year old relief pitcher Giovanni Gallegoes is named to 40-man roster. Personal prediction here: Watch out for this guy. I saw him last season in Syracuse, and he was beyond lights out - three Ks in barely 10 pitches. Wondered why he didn't get a call-up. Figured the fix was in, and to get noticed, he'd have to save a A-list celebrity from a burning tower. Good to know I'm not alone. (And that it wasn't a drug flashback. Wait. Are drug flashbacks real, or was that something they just said to scare us?)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The long, ever-winding Dustin Ackley thread has ended in NY

One of the most maddening aspects of being a psycho Yankee fan is all that time you spend following minor league nobodies, as their no-name careers evolve into non-events of nothingness, going nowhere. I mean... it's insane to sit here and wonder what's ahead for Dermis Garcia. Who cares what's ahead for Dermis Garcia? At this point, the only thing that's interesting about Dermis Garcia is his name, Dermis Garcia. For every Derek Jeter, there are a hundred Dermis Garcias, and 20 Jackson Melians, and at age 19, they all look like future Hall of Famers to that unnamed scout with a fan-blogger's ear.

So on this hallowed day, the morning after the Yankees have severed ties with one of Cashman's great reclamation projects, let us ponder a few of the prospects, the phenoms, that have filled our heads with wasted thoughts.

Our story begins in 2012, when the Yankee hype machine targets 22-year-old Jose Ramirez, a flame-throwing starter down at Single A Tampa. He goes 7-6 with an ERA of 3.19 - not exactly Cooperstown numbers, but if you consider that the Yankee farm system is then bejeweled by the great Jesus Montero, it puts success into perspective. Ramirez breezes through Trenton and Scranton, and in 2014, he arrives in New York - a sign of our bright future. He pitches 10 innings - mostly mop-up - and gets cuffed around - an ERA over 5 - as the Yankees chase the wild card.

That same year, 22-year-old outfielder Ramon Flores rises up to the Yankees, after hitting .286 in Scranton. He impresses with his arm, throwing out some runners in key game situations, but hits only .219, as the Yankees chase the wild card.

In 2015, Ramirez and Flores are shipped off to our good friends in Seattle for then-27 year-old Dustin Ackley - the former future of the Mariners. Ackley is famous for being the second player picked in the 2009 MLB amateur draft. It's been all downhill from there. He hits .288 for us with 4 HRs, over 57 plate appearances - not bad, a late-bloomer? - as the Yankees chase the wild card.

Last year, Ackley starts slowly - hitting .148 over 28 games - then tweaks a gonad and vanishes, as the Yankees chase the wild card.

Yesterday, to nobody's surprise, the Yankees cut the thread. They waived Ackley and Nathan Eovaldi - now there's another story - making him part of future Yankee trivia. Ackley will turn 29 in February. He's a free agent.

Where are the others? Do we really care? Of course, we do. Because somewhere, deep within the lizard cortex of our minds, we keep score on these deals.

The Mariners traded Ramirez to Atlanta - a home to many ex-Yankee prospects. Last year, he threw 32 innings, with an ERA of 3.58. He's only 26. He might be a serviceable bullpen lug nut.

Last year, Flores played 104 games for - well - Milwaukee. (The Mariners cut bait on him, as well.) He hit .204 with 2 HRs. He's just 24. But he has never hit more than .220 in the majors, and he's not known for power. Bad sign.

Ackley is healthy, wealthy and free to sign anywhere, even with the Yankees, though I wouldn't count on it. I wish him luck. Injuries suck. We never really got a chance to see what he can do. That's baseball for you. And they said Seinfeld was a show about nothing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Yankees could finish 2nd in free agent winter sweepstakes

Supposedly, the Weasel Empire is "checking in" on Encarnacion, Bautista, Yournamehere, et al.

We came in second - or "first runner up" - for Yoan Moncada.

In 2014, we finished second in the bidding for Robbie Cano.

Of course, last winter we hardly picked up the phone, terrified David Price, or somebody like him, might want to become Yankees, and thus cause problems. So I guess we're making progress?

After McCann... Ellsbury, anyone?

Yesterday, the Starship Yankee Twilight set a direct course for the year 2019 - a risky move, because - as we all know - life on earth might not last that long. And if it does, Dellin Betances will be really tired from carrying civilization on his shoulders.

But let's assume that humanity is still banging. I believe 2019 is the year when America will finally ban round shoelaces, and when the Yankees will be one of MLB's best teams. That does not mean we'll win a ring. But we'll be close. In 2019, our young players should be in their prime. By then, we should have added major talent - maybe Manny Machado or Bryce Harper - to the grow-your-own lineup. Our time is coming.

Folks, this is what hope is - the crazy belief that a bright light down the tunnels is not an oncoming train, and that if we knit to our sticking, life will get better.

Yesterday, we traded Brian McCann for a bucket of fried chicken. Still, I'm licking my fingers. McCann - a fine Yankee - was never going to play a role in our 2019 world championship.

Here are seven reasons to like the deal.

1. We escape McCann as an everyday DH. The Yankees need more than a .235 hitter with 20 HRs. Younger players - Judge, Austin, even Hicks - can give us that kind of production. And they need the at-bats.

2. We have two backup catchers in Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka, a sleeper who emerged last year in Trenton and Scranton. Had McCann stayed, Romine would have gone, probably for nothing.  

3. The two young pitchers we obtained. Too young to assess. For every four or five kids, one makes it. The Yankees just added two lottery tickets. Hey, you never know.

4. By trading McCann, we can protect one more prospect in next month's Rule 5 draft. Because our system is brimming, we will get picked over. Now... one less. (Neither of the new guys needs to be protected.)

5. We save $23 million over the next two years. Don't get me wrong: I never buy it when Hal rattles the cup. Still, it's part of an offer for Aroldys Chapman. (Or maybe Hal can finally shrink payroll below the luxury tax cap, and we can rid of his fraudulent poor-mouthing once and for all.) 

6. Our chances for 2017 really haven't diminished. Everything depends on the kids. If Sanchez, Judge, Severino, et al, fail - we're screwed. McCann wasn't going to save the day.

7. McCann was a great presence, but Sanchez is our man. You can't spend $17 million per year on a backup catcher.

Now, imagine this: We have Jacoby Ellsbury for four more years at $21 million per. (Plus a team option for a fifth year and a $5 million buyout.) If we were to pay, say, $10 million a year, and accept low-level prospects, we could save $50 million... and actually open CF for Clint Frazier, Mason Williams, Aaron Judge - somebody. Ellsbury is 33 and notoriously brittle.

So here is my question: In 2019, when he is 36 and paunchy, will Ellsbury have a role with this championship team?

Hell, no. Whatever we can get for him, we should take.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

McCann is McGone

We get two young RH pitchers from Houston: Albert Abreu - age 21 -

and Jorge Guzman - age 21.
More coming. I gotta soak my head in a bucket of ice water.

The Master gets dissed again

John Sterling overlooked for Presidential Medal of Honor. Yet Vin Scully gets one?

No justice, no peace.

The Yankees must emulate Trump!

Ollie-ollie-in-free. It's a whole new ballgame! Nothing that ever happened - (except for a certain 27 world championships) - matters any longer. Donald Trump will be President, the 2nd most important position in the world, after Yankee Captain.

Who knows what's ahead? Maybe they'll reopen the old TV picture tube plants, bringing back good-payin' jobs. Maybe we'll go extinct. Either way, ratings through the roof! What matters is that we - adult children of the Yankiverse - learn from The President, The Donald.

I've taken the liberty of compiling a transition list.

1. Drain the swamp. It's time to toss out the East Coast elites who have turned the Yankees into the Brewers of Milwaukee. We must prosecute Crooked Hal, Lyin' Randy, Little Brian and their chummy, front office bureaucrats. The Bronx needs to be wiped clean, all the way down to the cleaning ladies who are paid to be wiping the place clean. Don't we have empty cells at Gitmo? Check their e-mails, you Wiki pals in Macedonia. Round them up. What do we gotta lose?

2. Relieve and Replace. That was once Joe Girardi's bullpen mantra. It should be ours with Bindin' Joe. Listen: He's a fundamentally good man. He's had a fine run. It's now been eight seasons, and these September breakdowns - some of the worst in our history - have clearly left him with PTSD. Last year, he was flat-out terrible - crushed by the weight of those binders and seasons upon seasons of failure. He doesn't need jail time. He needs a year of scrap-booking. He's only 52. A 12-month sabbatical would add 20 years to his life. He can come back and manage until he's 70. But we - and he - need a change. What do we gotta lose?

3. Lock 'em up! I'm talking about John and Suzyn. Lock them up to lifetime contracts or - better - until the Yankees win one more championship. I don't know how long The Master can go before his heart explodes during a win-warble. But he can't just walk away after another meaningless early October game, when we're playing the Zolios. Ma and Pa need one last burst of glory, and this notion of retiring them after 2017 - if it's true - needs to be scrapped. Lock 'em up! What do we gotta lose?

4. Throw in with Putin (Boston.) Let's end the cold war and give the Redsocks proper credit: They've become more evil that us. Last summer, they got caught bundling bonuses to 16-year-old Latinos, so they could beat the spending limits imposed by MLB. Some people call that "cheating." And some people think that if you cheat once, you probably do it all the time, right? Maybe it's time for us to join our friends - blow up all the trade agreements and spending caps that have been put in place to tie our hands. If we both do it, we'll surely be soon joined by Assad (the Dodgers) and Kim (the Cubs.) No more Evil Empire. We'll form an Axis of Evil. We can rule the world. What do we gotta lose?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mike Trout? Chris Sale? The Yankiverse zones out with ridiculous fantasy trades

Yesterday, a report gurgled up on the ether-web saying the Yankees plan to obtain Mike Trout from the Angels in exchange for a shitload of prospects and Hank Steinbrenner's secret recipe for electric Switchel. This came, as most trade speculation does, from a "scout." It wasn't clear whether it was a Girl Scout or Boy Scout, but the story clearly suggests a 13-year-old mind. Imagine: A team gladly giving up the best hitter in baseball for a pile of Zolio Almontes and Clay Bellinger. (And you thought Google and Facebook are going to end fake news sites? A little late for that, doncha think?)

Anyway, several intrepid Yankee blogs are likewise combing the fifth-grade universe for what it will take to pry loose Chris Sale from the White Sox. Along with a hundred Zolios and twelve Clays, let me give you a hint. His name starts with G, and he's our starting catcher. And it starts there.

Listen: Chris Sale is an ace. Last year, he threw 226 innings and won 17 games for a crapola team. His ERA stood at 3.34 - lifetime it is 3.00 - and over the last four years, he has never placed lower than sixth in the Cy Young award balloting. Moreover, he kills the Yankees. Over his career, he is 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA against us. We are batting .165 against him. I looked it up. Who wouldn't love to have him... especially if you could go back in time and magically get his first six years. (Of course, we're a team full of veterans who were good six years ago, no?)

In any deal, the devil is in the details. But here's why trading for Chris Sale is generally a horrible notion.

1. Chicago won't give this guy away. He's too popular with their fan base, at a time when the Cubs own the city. Any deal for their ace must be so overwhelmingly loaded with young talent that their media base can sell it to the unhorsed masses. The last place to send him - for anything less than a future Core Four - is New York. They are not Kansas City, and this is not 1960. We aren't going to get Roger Maris for Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry.

2. He turns 28 next March. That's young. BUT... he has already thrown 1,100 MLB innings, and there's a reason why the White Sox are dangling him on a hook. He's at a place where treads start showing through the tire. He could be one of those guys who pitches well into his mid-30s. Or he could be Tim Lincecum. Worse, he could be Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Nathan Eovali or one of the countless power arms that Brian Cashman has procured in his tenure - one of the gems that turned out to be zirconium...

3. ... Which is why he's a final piece for a contender - not the guy around which you build a team. It's hard to imagine the Yankees going to spring training as top dog in the AL East. Obviously, if a few youngsters come through, we could be credible at the trade deadline. That's when you decide the merits of chasing an ace. It's too early, too crazy, to trade away everything we obtained last August for a guy who pitches once a week.

4. The key to success is developing a Chris Sale - not trading for him. We have three young pitchers who could become aces - Justus Sheffield, James Kaprielian and Luis Severino. (Call me crazy, but I still have faith in Severino.) My guess is that one will have a decent career. (This keeps the general formula of one out three - as in "Hughes, Kennedy, Joba.".. "Brackman, Banuelos, Betances.") If we trade the wrong guy, it's a disaster. This malaise extends into the 2020s.

5. If we're really planning such a deal, everything else must be on hold. We can't trade Brian McCann, and then deal away Sanchez, too. We can't trade Brett Gardner, and then find out that our OF includes Zolio Almonte and Miley Cyrus. This would be the deal that overshadows everything else this winter, that explodes the entire future of this team.

This would be our version of electing Trump. Make whatever you wish out of that analogy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Boston is still playing the long game, and we'll have Ellsbury through Trump's entire term

Last night, as I was drunkenly musing how four years of Trump could alter America - (you don't wanna know) - it hit me that one point in my miserable life will remain unchanged:

We will have Jacoby Ellsbury for the entirety of Trump's first term.

By then, his legs will be peanut brittle, his boyish face will resemble Abe Vigoda, he'll be a slow-footed DH, and we will fondly remember Aaron Hicks. Ellsbury represents the horrible, long-term A-Rod-style contract that we signed, while we were in the process of lamenting horrible, long-term A-Rod-style contracts. Four more years. Eighty-four million more dollars. Trump might scuttle Obamacare in one afternoon. With the Yankee batting order, there's no such thing as "Repeal and Replace." We're stuck.

Listen: I don't enjoy ripping Yankee players. Ellsbury tries hard; I'll give him that. But almost everything I've read this winter - all the bullshit rumors being propagated by the click-obsessed Yankiverse - involves trading Brett Gardner for a plate of clams... because we're lashed to Ellsbury like Ahab to Moby (and I'm not referring to the nineties alt-rocker.) We have to trade Gardy, a lifelong Yankee, because of Ellsbury's contract. Even today, when I think of the guy, I see him in a Redsock jersey. If 15 years from now, they vote him into the Hall of Fame, would he even wear a Yankee cap?

Sorry there... I lapsed into today's Ellsbury-bashing frenzy after reading a report that Boston is still looking beyond 2017. This week, their latest GM -  (imagine that? a team that holds its front office accountable!) - is stepping back from signing a Jose Bautista and/or Edwin Encarnacion because a) they don't want to lose their top draft pick and b) they don't want to clog their arteries with horrible, long term A-Rod-style contracts. Thus, they might sign Carlos Beltran for a year or two.

We can't stop Boston from being smart. All we can do is try to do the same. I've wavered about signing Encarnacion - it's so tempting to imagine him batting third - but reasons a) and b) both apply to the Yankees, as well. Are we going to give another five or seven-year deal to a player clearly approaching the twilight of his career? Jeez, I hope not. Because here's the truth, all you "clicks" out there: Boston is by far the favorite in 2017. If they add a pitcher or two, or Joe Kelly finally breaks out, or Yoan Moncada... - GAHHHHHHH! -  well, they could win the AL East by 20 games. In everything we do, we must play the long haul. We must - and it sickens me to write this - try to be like Boston.

I've said this before: Brian McCann must go. We can't spend $17 million on a backup catcher and/or DH who hits .220. And we can't go another year with Ellsbury and Gardner - the twins of tenuousness - batting 1-2. It would nice to see Ellsbury go. But like the reality of America's election, for better or worse, we are stuck with what we've done. The only question is whether we have learned.

Monday, November 14, 2016

As Yankee 2016 dream team wins awards, the brass wants us to believe things weren't so bad. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

If there were any doubts about the 2016 powerhouse Yankee lineup. which came within a week of snatching the Away-Field One-Game Wild Card crown from - (um, excuse me, but I've temporarily forgotten who it was... Grand Rapids? Elmira? Ashtabula?) - they have ended, as the team is AWASH IN AWARDS! In fact, we'll be awash in awaiting awards for awhile, until awoken aweigh!

Last week, Brett Gardner won the Golden Glove for LF. Now, Gary Sanchez is a finalist for AL Rookie of the Year. Next week, who knows, maybe Tony Pena will win the Platinum Fanny for Bench Coach of the Year.

And - well - that will be that. In awards, we got Gardy, Gary and garbage. And the weirdest part of this is, I cannot ignore the sense that MLB is being charitable to the Retrieval Empire, hoping to console us for the sorry, four-year malaise that we have endured.

But first, let's congratulate Gardy, the de facto Yankee captain. He won the Gold Glove for LF - (the fact that he should be in CF, notwithstanding.) He's probably going to be traded for one of those 26-year-old, underachieving, small-market power arms that give Cashman a woody. Lately, there seems to be a mini-campaign to convince us that Brett actually had a good season. His on-base percentage was .351. Trouble is, my gut recollections don't jive. He batted only .261. His HRs fell to 7 (he hit 17 and 16 in previous years) and stole only 16 bases. He once stole 45. He peaked in mid-2015, when voted last man into the All-Star game. Ever since, it's been downhill. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. I'm glad for the Gold Glove. But next August, he'll turn 34. We own him for three more seasons. (We have a 2019 team option and a $2 million buyout, which I suspect we would invoke.) What are we going to get in a deal? Another solid OF glove?

OK, so let's give Gary Sanchez his due. He's the closest we have to a future star. He is one of three finalists for Rookie of the Year, which is incredible, because we only saw half a season from him. Over a full year, he would surely have hit 30 HRs, and he would certainly win the award. (He might even have won the Silver Slugger as catcher.) Trouble is, we didn't get to see a full year. Towards the end, his game was slipping, even his lightning throws to second. (Two errors in two games against the Angels.) I have no problem anointing him Yankee Catcher of the Future. But we still don't know: Is he Jorge Posada or Kevin Maas?

All I'm saying here is that while we luxuriate in self-congratulation, let's not forget that the Yankees are currently in one of the most miserable stretches of the franchise's history. One bad off-season deal, or if Food Stamps Hal continues to short-ball on international talent, and this down period could rival the late 1980s. Things are NOT good. We can congratulate Gardy and Gary, it's still a $210 million mound of garbage that defines this organization.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

One week into winter, the most important question of the Yankiverse remains unanswered

Listen: We can fight about politics, religion and the new Lady Gaga album until our gonads shriek from the strain of emotions, from where I sit, there is absolutely no debate to be had about the 2017 Yankees until one rather simple, non-esoteric question is addressed:

This winter, does Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner intend to spend his hard-inherited money on free agents? Or does "I'm Not Cheap" intend - once and for all - to get the payroll below that magical $189 million luxury tax threshold? (Actually, the threshold could rise in the new players union agreement; but the question still stands: Cheap or Not Cheap.)

I have yet to see this question answered, and yet - frankly - it's the only one that matters to the short and long term future of the team.

If Hal plans to pull out his fanny pack and spend - well - then we're in the chase for an Aroldis Chapman, a Rich Hill and/or maybe even an Edwin Encarnacion. We could fill a bunch of holes, maintain our youth movement and legitimately contend for the 2017 pennant.

If Hal has alligator arms on the check - well - then we're chasing Boone Logan and Chris Parmelee, and playing for 2018 - or ditching the youth thing and trading our farm system for the likes of Chris Sale or Sonny Gray. (I am of the opinion that this would be a terrible idea, but I know some of you disagree. It's all in the details, I guess.)

Listen: We can debate the whos, whats and whys until Lady Gaga's next album. But until we know what Hal wants, we're yelling at shadows. And I hate to think this way, but I have yet to see a solid reason to have faith in Hal Steinbrenner's ability to make the Yankees a winning franchise in the grand tradition of the organization. It's now been eight years. His one success came from a huge spending splurge. Everything since has been a mating dance with mediocrity.

So what's it going to be?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Yesterday, a golden moment happened in the vast, desolate desert

We've all heard the recent turkey gobble about Gleyber Torres leading the Arizona Fall Instructional League in hitting. The 19-year-old SS - he turns 20 on December 13 - is hitting .392, odds on favorite to being named league MVP.

Of course, this has empowered the happy talkers into quickly declaring a Cashmanic victory in the great Chapman Trade of 2016 - gleefully ignoring that little bit of news about the Cubs winning somethingorother. And listen: I'm all for happy talk, wherever we can find it. But while were spraying ourselves with champagne, here's a list to chew on.

2006 Chip Cannon (24)
2007 Sam Fuld (25)
2008 Tommy Hanson (21)
2009 Grant Desme (23)
2010 Dustin Ackley (22)
2011 Nolan Arenado (20)
2012 Chris McGuiness (24)
2013 Kris Bryant (21)
2014 Greg Bird (21)
2015 Adam Engel (23)

Those are the Arizona league's last 10 MVPs, with their ages in parenthesis. 

But before you slit a wrist, keep in mind that last year, some fellow named Gary Sanchez led the league in HRs (with 7) and batted .295. (Also, Clint Frazier - then an Indian prospect - hit .281 with 3 HR, and Tyler Austin - then a Yankee lost cause - reclaimed some status with .272 and 3.)

But here, HERE is the tidbit of true hope advertised in the headline. Yesterday, one of those former MVPs - our Greg Bird, recovering from shoulder surgery - went 2 for 3. 

Bird's had a tough go of it. He can't yet play 1B. And his average - thanks to the two hits - has risen to .179. Ugh. 

But listen: One of those hits yesterday was a bunt single against the over-shift.

Ah... a bunt single against an over-shift...

Couple things...

1) I don't recall Bird in 2015 being such a dead-pull hitter that defenses realigned against him. As he slowly returns to baseball, let's hope he doesn't go the Teixeira path - pulling everything he sees. If he does, the .179 average is a worse omen than we think. 

2) Fuckit. He bunted. HOT DAMN! He simply laid one down and beat it out. That's a single, folks. That's a hit. Thank God, somebody in the desert has his ear. Because if defenses are going to adjust on Bird, he must learn to adjust on them. It's how the Royals won two years ago, how the Cubs won two weeks ago, and how the Indians almost made it. 

In fact, nothing more irritated me than watching post-season cleanup hitters do what the Yankee superstars didn't do - hit to the opposite field. To the detriment of their teams - and in Tex's case, to the end of his once Hall of Fame career - they swung away. 

Bird bunted. Sometimes, when a Phoenix rises in the desert, it only needs to fly 20 feet. And sometimes, it's the little things that justify big hopes.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Did Atlanta just get scratched off the list of teams for Brian McCann?

He's got a no-trade contract. So....

Does he really want to catch the knuckleball? 

And considering this, does Atlanta really need a veteran catcher to settle down the staff?

The four lessons of world history, Yankee-style

The great historian Charles A. Beard was once asked to summarize human history in a few brief sentences. He thought about it and offered four:

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad with power.

The gristmills of the gods grind slowly but exceedingly small.

The bee always fertilizes the flower it robs.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

You are welcome to interpret those statements any way you wish. In times of global stress, they often give me a sense of comfort. But let's be honest here: Beard wasn't talking about world affairs. He was a Yankee fan, talking about his club.

1. Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad with power... 

Ever since the new stadium became a certifiable bandbox - our RF porch turning Damons and Grandersons into 30-HR threats (and in Grandy's case, a 200-K threat), the Evils have won and (mostly) lost with power. Last year was the third straight season with a lineup hard pressed to score three runs off a middling pitcher. I blame, in part, the defensive over-shifts that turned career .280 sluggers into .210 Mendoza Line zombies. As their averages tumbled, they just swung harder for the fences.

These days, the wonks and wonkesses say that batting average is an outmoded stat, and maybe there are better ones. But a .220 hitter is a .220 hitter, and the Yankees have goddamm too many. Now, it's the Aarons - Hicks and Judge - neither of whom did squat last year in their first taste. They - and the Yankees as a team - must ignore the porch and and start hitting to all fields. Is there such a thing as a Yankee batting coach with influence? I wonder. But I cringe at the thought of Aaron Judge hitting 30 HRs and batting .214.

2. The gristmills of the Gods grind slowly but exceedingly small... 

For three years, Boston absolutely sucked. But they built a team slowly, painstakingly, and from the ground up. They're going to be good - real good - for a while. That is the reality of the AL East. Boston is going to dominate. Hal finished second in the bidding for Yoan Moncada. We might finish second for years to come.

This winter, we can only play the long game. There are no two free agents on the market that will put us atop the 2017 standings (without giant leaps of faith for certain players.) We will be chasing the wild card. But in everything we do, we must think of 2018 and beyond.

3. The bee always fertilizes the flower it robs.

I hate judging trades quickly, especially when they involve prospects. Remember how the YES crews gushed over Lance Berkman, "Mister Astro," because all we gave up was a no-name minor leaguer - Melancon, or something like that. Well, last July, we pleasured ourselves over the great packages obtained for Miller, Chapman and Beltran. We even praised the deal for Ivan Nova before our new prospects were announced. (A statement on Nova, by the way.) Next month, we will probably lose some of those young players in the Rule 5 draft. So if anybody claims the Yankees "won" a deal, it's bullshit. It's pure hubris.

From the looks of things, we're about to trade Brian McCann. I think we have no choice. His trade value will only diminish, and we have a fine backup catcher in Austin Romine. (If we keep McCann, we have to trade Romine, and we will get absolutely zilch.) We might have to trade McCann to Houston - a team we will be competing with for the Wild Card. The Astros will get a good catcher and a great team leader. But we need the pollen to get spread around.

4. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.

This one baffles me, because - frankly, it never gets dark enough in the Bronx. Too many bright lights, too much fake electricity. We tend to overlook the real stars. I'm talking about Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Masahiro Tanaka. If we had 25 of them, we'd win it all.

We too often get blinded by notions of the next Babe or Reggie. This happened in August when Gary Sanchez arrived, and we likewise became drunk at the sight of Aaron Judge towering over the catcher. The truth is, the last great Yankee teams were not filled with A-Rods... but Paulys and Jorges and Andys and Bernies. We must not put all our hopes into one or two prospects - a Clint or a Gleyber. It's the depth of our system that matters. Somewhere out there is the next Scott Brosius. And we better not trade him in a package for Sonny Gray.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Election Night, nearly two million people watched the WWE Smackdown

This is just FYI because - well - shouldn't we chronicle Armageddon?

On Tuesday night, USA Network's always-exciting WWE Smackdown Live ran from 8 to 10 p.m., as the nation was changing hands. BreeZango defeated the Vaudevillains in a thrilling tag-team Survivor Series match-up. (If I were in a tag team, I would want it to be called the Vaudevillains.)

The event attracted 1,921,000 viewers nationwide, about 700,000 of them in the key 19-to-49 demographic. This paled in comparison to the election's ratings - where Fox and CNN each ran up numbers beyond 10 million. God knows what they raked in from ads, but I doubt they were your regular Hannity rates.

Still, the Smackdown topped all of ESPN's sports talk crapola. That network even failed to top Gunsmoke, on TV Land Classic. There, the real Matt Dillon - the sheriff, that is - drew 694,000 happy viewers. 

My guess is that they'll all miss the next presidential election.

The danger of surrendering our first round pick is about to grow exponentially

Okay, let's agree to disagree about Trump, fruit-flavored beer and the existential message of Donnie Darko - but let's agree to agree that MLB's most tempting free agent this winter - in terms of bat-wielding erotica - is Edwin Encarnacion. He might be baseball's premier slugger, and we covet him in the way that Mitch McConnell does a chin job.

And yet... we must deter. Here's why:

1. He'll demand - and get - a five-year deal. Wait, check that: He might demand seven. Too long.

2. Within two years, he'll be a full-time DH. We can't limit our options for such a period.

3. Next season could be a wipe-out. If our young hitters don't hit, he could sit naked in the lineup, under-perform and become a boo magnet.

4. He's the kind of star you sign as a final piece to a championship club - not when you're two or three years away. By the time you're cresting, he'll be fading.

5. We'd lose our first-round pick.

Let's linger there a moment, because a huge uncertainty surrounds next June's draft. The owners and players union are negotiating a new deal, which will define the future free agent market. One key provision likely will be to add international talent to the annual draft. Next summer, teams might be picking from a talent buffet that includes Latin nations and the Orient. It would be much larger than ever before.

We need a place at that table - not waiting until the second round, after every other AL team has picked from the bacon tray. When that international draft begins, we want a first-round choice. To lose it would be a colossal mistake.

But here's where things get sketchy: We don't know when a new contract would go into effect. If the negotiators kick things down the road - to say, 2018 - then we don't need to worry so much about next June's pick. In fact, Hal could martial all his mad money into a Latino spending splurge - as he did two years ago (the results of it still not clear, by the way.) 

I don't know how the negotiations will go. I doubt anybody does. You'd think Cashman has inside knowledge. But when it comes to collective bargaining, who knows? The current operating agreement expires next month. If a new one isn't done, would they just roll over the old one through next summer? Or will the changes, once ratified, take effect immediately?

To me, this whole issue is as baffling as Donnie Darko's demon bunny. But I do know this: If the international draft starts next June, we need a first-round pick more than we need the final, fade-to-black years of Edwin Encarnacion.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I am currently sitting in a bar at Tony P's in Marina Del Rey.

Californians are jubilant about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.  It is, or will be, a job creator and tax revenue generator for the local economy.  Now we can all be high and relaxed.  Which will be a requirement for many of us, during the next 4 years or more.

The national results have brought me here.  Shots and beers and I can walk home.  They have food at this bar, should I require any.

So I ponder, and now most opine.

Two things I know;

1.  Anything can happen.

 Seriously, our next President could be a robot.  He/She likely won't be a non believer or a pre-operative trans-sexual, but with the right charisma and unlimited wealth it could happen.  We can never say never again.

2.  The yankees cannot win the World Series with this lot.

Any argument?

This is why the juju gods kept the Cubs from winning for 100 years

Who knew? All this time, it was the Chicago Cubs who were holding the universe together. 

Well, we should have seen it coming. Barely a week after the Curse of the Bambino ended in 2004, George W. Bush won re-election. 

Now it's President Trump - with his wall, his waterboarding, his Putin envy, his plans to lock her up, his settling of scores, his enormous ego and his tiny little hands, and those 11 million people, who will soon be rounded up and disappeared - sort of like Cito Culver.

We warned you what happens when the Yankees suck: Go ahead - look it up, 

Biggest winner last night? The media. For all his bashing, Trump will produce great TV ratings for the next four years. No dull moments. America is now a reality TV show. Isn't that what we always wanted?

So... buckle up. Hug your kids. Kiss your spouse. Love thy neighbor. Eat less salt. Fifty eight million Americans just lit a fuse and pitched it into the dumpster. These are always fun to watch, unless you live near the dumpster.


In what experts are calling a change election, Brett Gardner finally won a Golden Glove!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

You Just Know He's Out There

El Duque added the following comment to his post "Tuesday night, we will know the future of the franchise":

In the first news accounts of the Ivan Nova trade to Pittsburgh, one of the no-name prospects we received was Tito Polo, who was listed as a 5'9" 1B-OF. I thought this was wonderful - a midget first-baseman. Unfortunately - and this is a rare instance of allowing facts to get in the way - I looked it up and found that Polo had not played 1B in his career. Sad. We could have made history. We would have renamed the site and dedicated it to Tito Polo.
This interested me on a variety of levels, so I did further research at Tito Polo's page.

I confirmed that Tito "El Pequeño" Polo has never played first base.  I then spent some time wondering whether, when he was a kid, his friends called out "Tito!" with their eyes closed in the swimming pool, and he called back "Polo!"

This pretty much got me nowhere until I noticed that Polo is a citizen of Colombia. I wondered if he would be the first MLB player from Colombia because I couldn't think of any others.  I clicked the link and was reminded immediately about two relatively recent Red Sockian shortstops, Orlando Cabrera (a good player) and Edgar Renteria (otherwise).

I had an urgent memo to write for a client that I didn't feel like working on, so I further studied the Baseball-Reference page that shows where each player is from by state and by country.  The list of countries immediately caught my attention and -- being of Slovak heritage -- proudly noted that Jack Quinn, who played from 1909 until 1933, was somehow born in Slovakia.  

All this talk about GM meetings, along with thoughts of "who we can get" and where they'd come from, and Tito Polo being a Colombian made me remember that I once had to design something for another client (one who wasn't waiting for a memo) that involved putting together a list of every country in the world, along with some other attributes of the countries such as their principal currency, language, their insurance laws, etc.  I decided to merge the Baseball Reference list with the Countries list to get a sense of which countries have managed to produce zero major leaguers.

It's a long list, and I won't bore you with it here, but this further caused me to wonder two things:
  1. Since Latin America seems to be a hotbed of budding MLB talent, how is it possible that there are so many Latin American countries that have produced ZERO MLB players?  I mean, for crying out loud, namby-pamby friggin' France has produced seven, how can it be that there are no MLB'ers from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay?  How is this possible when Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia -- right next door -- have done so well?

  2. Similarly, how can it be that all the countries in Africa have produced zero major leaguers?  When you consider that Manute Bol went from being a Dinka tribesman to the NBA, and that the Kenyans OWN marathoning, and that three out of four cab drivers in NYC are from Ghana, how is it that no citizen of an African country has ever played in an MLB game?  Shoot, there are four MLB players from Poland and one guy from Latvia.  How is it that all of Uganda and Kenya and South Africa have never swung a bat? 
I think Commissioner Manfred needs to look into this.  

I also think that a few interns employed by the Yanks might want to update their passports and start looking around for kids in the African bush who can hit a sprinting dassie with a hunk of flint from 60 or so paces.  You just know those kids are out there and it's a pretty good bet they can also learn to swipe a base.

I'll leave you with the following list of every non-US country that has produced at least one major league ballplayer.  The list is sorted in descending order by number of players:
Dominican Republic 669
Venezuela 358
Puerto Rico 257
Canada 245
Cuba 199
Mexico 121
Japan 63
Panama 55
Ireland 47
United Kingdom 47
Germany 44
Australia 30
Korea, Republic of 22
Colombia 20
Netherlands Antilles 14
Nicaragua 14
Virgin Islands, U.S. 14
Netherlands 12
Taiwan, Province of China 11
Russian Federation 8
France 7
Italy 7
Bahamas 6
Aruba 5
Austria 4
Czech Republic 4
Jamaica 4
Poland 4
Spain 4
Sweden 4
Brazil 3
Norway 3
Saudi Arabia 2
Afghanistan 1
American Samoa 1
Belgium 1
Belize 1
China 1
Denmark 1
Finland 1
Greece 1
Guam 1
Honduras 1
Hong Kong 1
Indonesia 1
Latvia 1
Philippines 1
Singapore 1
Slovakia 1
Switzerland 1
Vietnam 1
Every other country in the world -- about 200 in all -- have never produced a major leaguer.  Should the Yankees forget about paying king's ransoms to 16-year-old Dominicans who are probably lying about their age anyway and turn their sights on beefy Kyrgyzstanians who can fell an ox with one swing of the cudgel?

Mr. Cashman?  Are you listening?