Friday, March 31, 2017

Here Are My Thoughts

I'm feeling a bit better today and have now been sober for nearly 6 hours.  My AA counselor
says, " any sobriety is good."  Personally, I disagree.

Drinking to me is sport.  And it goes along with Yankee baseball.  So, to over-indulge frequently,
 " in season," is not only forgivable, it is understandable.  And this Yankee team may well require many celebrations, positive and negative.

Truth be told, the impact on my social life and personality from too much alcohol is zero.

So, here are some thoughts:

1.  I stopped drinking when I heard that ( contrary to the egregiously erroneous grapevine rumors) that Judge was named our starting right fielder. It was going to , " put me under a bench," so to speak, if he had been demoted.  So that is a major positive.

2.  I think the team will win between 70 and 88 games.  If this seems fanciful, I just am trying to be accurate.

3.  Tanaka will likely begin the season with a 12-3 record.  And he will be robbed of a few great outings when the team just doesn't produce.  Come late August, however, he will have some down time, due to a twinge or two in his right arm.  Still no surgery, but losing him for any substantial period of time will be disastrous for this team.

4.  Pineda is just not credible to me.  I still believe we lost out in the Jesus trade.  He will be 6-10, at best, before September.

5.  CC will be durable and get us in the neighborhood of 12 wins.  The problem;  he will usually pitch 5 plus innings, give up about 3-4 runs, and expend 95 pitches in so doing.

6.  Severino will be a surprise on the up-side.  If he gets run support, his record will be highly positive.  I do sense an injury, however, that will not be in his arm.  So, after a run of 4- 5 great outings, and some okay ones, he'll have given us an 8-3 record before he sits.

7   Our 5th starter is likely to be Adam Warren, at the outset.  Adam will be inconsistent, and give us about a .500 record.  Usually, this is acceptable for a number 5 starter. ( Imagine;  getting paid millions to be average?)

8.  I see many changes in our bullpen as the season progresses.  I just don't see Shreve being effective for more than two months, as an example.  I also think Bryan Mitchell will disappoint.  Layne and Holder remain mysteries to me.  I think we will see at least two of these four replaced by guys now in Scranton, before the end of June.

9.  Bird will remain a revelation at first base.

10.  The first " big moment" for Chris Carter will result in a strikeout.  And so will the second.

11.  Ellsbury will be an effective singles hitter and a weak-armed centerfielder for most of the season.  Not enough production for that position.

12.  Hicks will lose his edge, as he watches an ineffective Gardner remain in LF.

13.  I think Judge will deliver, big time, and I think Holliday has a good year remaining in his body.  Until, he tweaks a pectoral muscle, that is.  And if Chris Carter has to be the regular DH, we are in trouble.

14.  Torreyes will do yeoman's work at SS, but he is a better Yankee as a reserve.  Kozma is a cowardly move by management and, well, I hope he doesn't flop.  But he will not be a clutch performer.

15.  I have no concerns about Sanchez or Starlin, though I predict another slow start for Headley.  He burned out his good luck in training camp.

Duque has already interrupted and said my, " games won," prediction is outside the rules.  So I select 86 wins.  We are going to the one-game play-in, for which Hal has committed millions of a fortune he did not make, and does not deserve.

The Yankees achieve temporary immortality

They are one of the greatest exhibition teams in grapefruit memory.

For whatever it's worth - (or, as the kids say, "FWIW") - last year, the Yankees went 14-16 in spring training. (The exhibition winner - at 24-8 - was Arizona, which then went on to win 69 games in the regular season.)

The Yankees last year won four out of their first six regular season games... then lost seven out of their next eight. They were never again within three games of first in the AL East.

All righty... grab yer bucket, cuz... it's PREDICTIN' TIME!

Okay, the time capsule is now engaged. Write down your predictions - including the number of Yankee victories in 2017 - and slip it into the comments. Come October, we'll separate the truthers from the truth, the futures from the pasture. 

I, el Duque - of questionable plumbing and one working ear - hereby predict: 

1. The 2017 Yankees will finish third in the AL East and miss the Wild Card by three smidgens.  

2. They will win 83 games - two above the vaunted .500 of eternal doom.

3. October will end with Brian Cashman booted upstairs to become a full-time Steinbrenner family cabana boy, and his hand-picked successor - I'm thinking Gary Denbo - will take the reigns of Official IT IS HIGH Whipping Mule

4. Gary Sanchez will hit 29 home runs and bat .250. He will be hailed as one of the elite catchers in baseball, but his currently planned John Sterling homer holler - "The San-bino" - will not stick. 

5. Masahiro Tanaka will win 18 games and finish third in the Cy Young balloting. He will opt-out of his contract and sign a ten-year, gazillion dollar deal with the Yankees, which guarantees that, no matter how great he'll be this year, we will eventually cringe at hearing his name.  

6. Jacoby Ellsbury will have a great season, winning Comeback Player of the Year, Yankee team MVP and a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Autobiography. Then, on October 6, he will be traded for a ham hock.  

7. In mid-August, the inexorable twilight of the gods will continue, as the Yankiverse mourns the untimely death of Greg Bird's hairless cat.

8. To honor their announcers' final season, the Yankees will hold "John and Suzyn Day" at Yankee Stadium. In front of a sell-out crowd, Hal Steinbrenner will unveil a bronze plaque of the pair. Suzyn will look suspiciously like the IBS lady.

ALL RIGHT, WHO'S GOT PREDICTIONS? Remember: Number of Yankee vics in 2017! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where No John Has Gone Before

Cheers to commenter Leinstery for hipping us to this sensational New York Post interview with the Voice of the New York Yankees, John Sterling--or as reporter Dean Balsamini calls him, "The William Shatner of play-by-play." In this groundbreaking piece, John unveils some of the thought processes that go into his signature home run calls even as he composes them before a reporter's eyes. Unprecedented!
A Matt Holliday blast will launch Sterling into song, either Irving Berlin’s “Happy Holiday” or Perry Como’s “Home for the Holidays.” When a reporter suggested Madonna’s 1983 breakout dance track “Holiday,” Sterling said he hadn’t heard it, but would take a listen and consider it.
Go read the whole interview. I just did, and I'm shaking like a leaf!

I Told You That The Yankee Brass Would Disappoint

I started drinking early today.

Straight from the bottle.

I realized that I am living in an environment of lies and  incompetence, under the domination of  a billionaire, who is, at the core, useless, and inherited everything.  My universe is ruled by the whims
of a secretive, manipulative tyrant who brings dishonor to the realm, and whose disregard for the people is legion.

The Yankees are not re-building. They remain committed to the failed liturgy of "re-tooling."

Promises are displayed on a regular basis ;  the unexpected skill of Tyler Wade;  the superior play and power of Aaron Judge; the overwhelming dominance of Montgomery.
But what we get is the signing of a buffoon, a continuation of players whose contributions are long over-rated and stale.

Shockingly, and disgracefully, we are left, in reality, with only the empty promise that we have enough talent and leadership right now, " to be great again."
And these assurances are delivered by a shoddy and dis-honored PR flunky who is a puppet, and who has no soul.  Once again, incompetence is grandly rewarded for all who grovel to the king.

The addition to the team of Cris Carter, who is known to be incompetent at the position for which he was hired, was an early sign of the debacle about to unfold. And this morning, we all awakened to the news that the promise of greatness, the promise of re-building and re-fashioning this team into a champion, was, in fact, a promise to destroy hope and sully the future for everyone but the miserable family which now owns this franchise.  Instead of youth and promise, we get aging and stink.

The history of the Yankees is now coated in the lies and deceptions of the present.  All we have stood for is hanging in the balance.

We are all going to watch this promise of greatness wither on the vine.

It is going to be ugly.  That is why there is alcohol.

Today's IIHIIFIIc Authentic and Completely Unretouched Yankee Photo Art

From 13bit... the true face of abdominal pain.

(PS: Want to be  a part of this future tradition? Send submissions to

For the Yankees...the right fielder...

The Yankees' shameful betrayal of Aaron Judge is becoming apparent

Two days ago, when the rumor yawned, stretched and climbed from its coffin, I was a complete Yankee climate-change denier. The rumor defied logic. 

Here was Aaron Judge, arguably the Yankees' most important prospect since Jeter, hitting .351 in Tampa, playing solid defense, age 24, having proved himself at Triple A and having earned his rightful shot at a major league roster - and the Yankees were going to kick him in those beach ball-sized nuts and send him to Scranton? Nah. Couldn't happen. No way. Nevah!

Then I remembered Rob Refsnyder, who two years ago hit .364 in the Grapefruit continuum. He stole bases, hit a homer, and he had played a year at Triple A - surely had earned a shot. But the Yankees had Stephen Drew... 

And then I recalled Francisco Cervelli, who for two years had been a Yankee catcher and good luck sign - who twice was rushed to a hospital in his Yankee uniform - cruelly dumped a day before coming north. (The Yankees traded George Kontos, to this day a serviceable reliever, so they could give the backup catching job to Chris Stewart and make Cervelli disappear.)

I thought of Mark Melancon and Melky Cabrera, discarded by a front office that had concluded they could best be converted into aging salary dumps - because, after all, that's that the Yankees represent: Big money veterans whose best years came with other franchises, an ongoing carnival of former all-stars plugged into a tradition that has sputtered now for 15 years.  

Yep, think about Refsnyder and the rest, and you can read today's tea leaves in a large Times Roman font: The so-called "Baby Bombers" is a mere advertising slogan, like the theme for Cellino and Barnes.. and yes, the Yankees will always choose a tired, bloated veteran - and his contract - over a young player. So today, we brace ourselves for news that Aaron Judge is going to Scranton (if he's not traded to another team.) 

The Gammonites are reporting universally that Judge will be demoted so the Satan-spawned contract of Jacoby Ellsbury can be seared into the grass of center field. Technically, the Yankees have touted an Olympian competition between Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks, suggesting all spring that they would give youth a chance (even though Hicks is 27.) Meanwhile, Ellsbury and - yes - Brett Gardner are bolted into the lineup, despite each having done little over the last 12 months to generate hope.

Once again, the Yankees choose money. And listen: I'm not mad at Ellsbury or Gardner; both play hard and are, by all accounts, fine teammates. The problem is a front office that on Monday announces fiscal austerity - holding the line on Robbie Cano  - and then on Tuesday bestows a seven-year deal to a china doll like Ellsbury. Hal Steinbrenner claims the Yankees should contend and rebuild simultaneously, which veers back and forth between policies, leaving a front office that cannot stick to a plan.

I get it that the Yankees want Judge to play every day. I get it that Hicks doesn't resemble the stumble bum who last year hit .217. I get it that Gardner and Ellsbury have earned a first-round bye in spring competitions, and you don't shelve a veteran simply because of a crappy month of March. 

But here is what will happen: Sent to Scranton, Judge will be demoralized. He'll start in a deep slump. He'll fall into bad habits. He'll try to overcompensate by hitting home runs. And then, the worst: Yankee scouts will point to his problems and whisper to their Gammonitic water boys (and girls): "See? We told you!" Because in a certain way, the front office will want it to happen. Judge's failure will justify their decision to send him down. And another great Yankee hope will fade into the landscape of central Pennsylvania, until - that is - Judge winds up with another team. 

I get it that Judge may need all of 2017 to figure out major league pitching. 

But he cannot do it in Scranton.

You know, folks complain that we're too negative on this site. Well, when the Yankees start winning, trust me; You'll see us gush with positive thoughts. But not today. If the Yankees punt on Aaron Judge, they are punting on the hopes that they have selling. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Someone should pay attention

So El Duque is taking bows this morning for posting the news that Tyler Wade has been sent away.  Down to the coal mines, so to speak.

He deftly ignored the fact that on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 2:14pm, I predicted :

Tyler Wade will not be our starting shortstop on opening day.

This was an early release from my archives, in response to Duque's, " get ready everybody," plea for our predictions on the 2017 Yankee season.

All I am saying is that sometimes, " editorial power," can corrupt even the best of the best.  And they take credit from those of us, with boots on the ground, working the fields, and talking to the players and coaches in the bars, after hours.

 Give no credit to the guy who broke the story, by simply ignoring the facts.  That is Kingmaker editorial policy.

To those of you with little faith, therefore, await with caution what I have to say about the 2017 Yankee season and mark, carefully, what befalls.

I am bitterly disappointed, by the way, about this predictable, stupid and morale destroying move made by Cashman. The Yankees are not on a youth movement, they remain on a safe, and predictable path to mediocrity.  Led by a bunch of proven failures, rewarded for their incompetence.

 And I will shoot the first person who says, or writes, " Tyler is a great prospect but we want him to play a full season in AAA.  It will help his development."

What the fuck else is new?

Wade to Scranton

So much for the idea that Tyler Wade - the People's Choice - would get a shot at replacing Didi for a month. It's Torreyes or Kozma, two fine candidates with well-defined ceilings. 

Now, the question is whether they will demoralize their fan base and do the same with Aaron Judge.

Brett Gardner's horrible, terrible spring is becoming cause for alarm

It's now been 18 months since Brett Gardner made the American League All-Star team as a fourth outfielder. Eighteen months. Lincoln Chafee, Rick Perry and Trump had just launched presidential campaigns. Obama had just announced opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba. That racist shithead had just shot up the black church in Charleston. Just 18 months. Feels like 18 years.

In mid-2015, Gardner looked like a future Yankee captain. He hit .303 before the All-Star break, .206 afterward. He finished at .259, booed in the Selig Memorial Wild Card Game after what had become his signature at-bat: The slow roller to second base. 

At 33, he's coming off 18 crappy months. Last season, he hit .261 and stole only 16 bases. There are first basemen who stole more. (Wil Meyers, Paul Goldschmidt) The Yankees have him for two more years - $12 million and $11 million - with an option for a third that looks increasingly absurd.

Adding to our worries is the fact that Gardy this spring has sucked. He's hitting .204 with one HR and 2 stolen bases, and his collapse has become the 15 minutes of silence in each happy talk Yankee podcast. In right field, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks are waging a furious territorial war, hammering balls, while Gardner turns in another 0-for-2. That great first half of 2015 is starting to look like a historical blip.

Wait a minute... I can't even believe I'm saying this. For years, Gardy has been my favorite Yankee. He won a Gold Glove last season, no small feat, and ranked 4th on the team in WAR - if you follow mystery stats. (Keep in mind, Chase Headley came in third, after Sanchez and Didi... so tell me all about Sabermetrics, WAR fans.) He should be a valuable Yankee... but let's face it: Gardy is in trouble.

All winter, he was a trade rumor. His lousy spring has now undermined his value to the point where the Yankees may have to keep him. Cashman will never get enough to justify a trade. But if Judge and Hicks keep hitting, or if Clint Frazier gets hot in Scranton, it's Gardner's job they come for. (The Yankees, as everyone knows, are contractually bound to Ellsbury like Ahab to the whale.) With a wave of young outfielders in the system, Gardy is odd-man out. I can't help but think that is at least a partial reason for his current struggles.

In a perfect world, Gardner would be ripping it up this spring, boosting Yankee hopes and maybe greasing his trade to a contender. But at .204 - no power and meager base stealing - we're stuck with him, and he's stuck with us. And neither is happy. That's a bad deal. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The battle is underway

The new Golden Fleece Awards...

... go to the Braves of Atlanta. 

The Las Vegas Raiders have nothing on them. (For now, anyway. In a few years, the Raiders will truly become the sport world's all-time welfare shyster.)

The Braves will bank more than $350 million from taxpayers in Georgia and Florida, two bastions of "fiscal conservatism." (Not to mention Red State Nevada, owned and operated by the Hon. Sheldon Adelson.) 

Next time we have the urge to complain about anybody's contract - even Ellsbury's - let's remember the disgraceful avalanches of public money regularly banked by poor-mouthing owners... billionaires, who pretend to be millionaires, so that we'll feel sorry for them. Will we ever wise-up, or will it be carved into the Baby Boomers' gravestone that whenever the sports owners rattled a cup, the politicians of both stripes came running to write public checks?

If the revolution ever comes, may the first thing torn down be the goalposts. (Hat tip to Tom, anger is mine.)

Gotta Curve Somebody

From Nobel laureate Bob Dylan's continuing 2017 baseball forecast, exclusively on

You may be a young fast baller for Cleveland or Pitt
You may like to rear back and put heat on it
You may want to strike out eight-teen batters a game
You may dream of the high life filled with fortune and fame

But you’re gonna have to curve somebody, if you wanna stay
You’re gonna have to curve somebody
If it’s not in the Big Leagues, then it will be Triple-A
But you’re gonna have to curve somebody

You might be fed cock ‘n’ bull stories about how you’ll be a star
You might have scouts with radar guns readin’ how fast you are
You may have a businessman to help sign you for a lot
They may call you Doctor K but call you up, they will not

Cuz you’re gonna have to curve somebody, if you wanna stay
You’re gonna have to curve somebody
If it’s not in the Big Leagues, then it will be Triple-A
But you’re gonna have to curve somebody

You maybe can reach back with your physical skill
And feel you can reach the mountain top strictly through your will
You may be thinkin’ that you can’t be stopped, at a hundred miles an hour
You may be somebody’s “can’t miss” but you’ll head straight to the showers

Cuz you’re gonna have to curve somebody, if you wanna stay
You’re gonna have to curve somebody
If it’s not in the Big Leagues, then it will be Triple-A
But you’re gonna have to curve somebody

They may call you Nolan, or even Big Train
They may call you Warren Spahn and then pray for rain
They may call you Sandy or maybe Aroldis
They may call you anything but you’d best answer to this

You’re gonna have to curve somebody, if you wanna stay
You’re gonna have to curve somebody
If it’s not in the Big Leagues, then it will be Triple-A
But you’re gonna have to curve somebody

It's time for Cashman's Art of the Deal

Well, here we are, five business days from product launch, with eight players on the roster bubble, and the sign in the Yankee showroom says CLEARANCE. We need the space! We're looking to deal! Nobody gets turned away! It'll be HUUUUUGE! The truth is, our lot is overflowing. We can't keep everybody; Scranton isn't big enough. That means we probably won't get Blue Book value for the late models on display. But deal, we must.

How many times do you demote a Chasen Shreve or Rob Refsnyder before the narrative shifts from farce to tragedy? 

Today and tomorrow, the music stops and every GM in baseball scrambles for an empty seat. And here's the rub: There are no empty seats. It is time to deal. 

So what might happen?

First, a couple notes on what won't: We won't trade Chris Carter, so don't even think about it. He's here, like President Trump. Deal with it. We signed Carter as an insurance policy for Greg Bird, and truth be told, Bird hasn't played enough to justify repealing and replacing the Carter safety net. Plus, all the guy has done for the last month is strike out, shrinking his value from the shoddy $3.5 million we spent to sign him. (When you think about the fact that Cashman spent his last $5 million on Carter and Jonathan Niese - well - let's just say he'll be covering it extensively in therapy someday.) So Carter will stay, probably for eternity. 

Secondarily, Jacoby Ellsbury isn't going anywhere. Nope. Aint gonna happen. That's China Town, Jake. The only way we will be rid of Ellsbury is if he has a great season and, thus, doesn't look like the walking incarnation of A-Rod's curse contract. Gardy might go. Gleyber might go. The Statue of Liberty might go. Ellsbury is here to stay.

So the question is, who shall vaporize into the fog? Obviously, Refsnyder is a goner; he's been on the block all spring. But at this point, we'll probably get a single A pitcher, something akin to the haul last fall for Ben Gamel. It would be Nirvana if Ref could be a meaningful piece in a trade for Jose Quintana, but why kid ourselves? If Chicago coveted him, he'd be wearing a White Sox uniform by now. They want a Gleyber, or a Kap, or a Clint, so fuck 'em.

No, today is the day Cashman earns his pay. But if you're looking for possible trade scenarios... well, go somewhere else. If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that Cashman's trades fall out of the skies, unannounced and unexpected. They are never prophesied, as if he's determined to prove Sterling's First Law of Human Dynamics. "You can't predict baseball." 

Something will happen, and it's going to happen soon. It won't be what we expect. So save your predictions for the 2017 season one more day, maybe two. Once the lot is cleared, we'll see much more clearly through the smoke.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Breaking down the analytics for Chris Carter's homer holler

It's an unwritten rule of creation that every Yankee - even the light-hitting Ronald Torreyes ("Torreyes is terrific! Bonny Ronnie!") - gets a John Sterling yahoo yelp. When a new player arrives, the Yankiverse debates ideas for The Master's call.

Yet Chris Carter - last year's NL home run leader - has never conjured much discussion within the Yankee peanut gallery. (A subReddit devoted to the subject came up with one putrid offering: "Carter really jimmied that one." - Ouch.) Now, with Greg Bird having a great spring, Carter's presence has only diminished further. He's become the Yankee Voldemort - He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken. 

So... what WILL The Master shout? Let's do the analytics on a proper two-pronged homer holler. We'll break it down, courtesy of

CARTER rhymes with..

arterbartercart hercharterchart herdarterdartregarterharter,hartterheart herkartermartermartyrparterpart hersartor,smarterstarterstart hertartartarter 

Not much there.

"Carter charters a downtown flight!"

"No barter for Carter."

"It's a start... from Cart... er.!

Okay, moving on... CHRIS rhymes with....


"Chris it goodbye!"
"Chris doesn't miss!"
"Says Chris, 'Take this!'"

So... one from column A, one from column B. Or... wait: What if we use the fact that "Chris Carter" is also the name of the guy who created the X-Files?

"Straight the Chris-File. The truth is out there... and so is the ball!"

All right, who's got a better Chris? Or has The Master already played his hand?

Predictions are coming

We cannot release "final" 2017 season predictions until two things happen ( minimum );

1.  We get the green light from our leader.

2.  We know the composition of the team traveling north (The pitching staff is the key here ).

I will violate one aspect of item 1, above, and predict the following tidbit;

Tyler Wade will not be our starting shortstop on opening day.

By this time next week...

Wow. It just hit me...

Sunday, at 1:05 p.m. - give or take delays from the dignitaries and sinkholes - the world will have turned over again, just as it did last year, and the year before that, and... holy shit! wait a minute! I think there's some circular thing going on here, like in that Elton John song from The Lion King.  

At 1:05 p.m. - give or take - the earth will have rotated around the sun - that's a lot of rotating - and we will have survived the super bugs, the bogeymen, the bad guys, the asteroids, those Burmese pythons that rule the Everglades, that Mayhem guy from All State - even the political divisiveness, (though if we don't get our shit together, it'll take us down, folks. And it starts with each of us...

On or around 1:05 p.m. Sunday, you know what will happen? 

We'll hear the new John and Suzyn Yankee in-game radio commercials! It's like the Super Bowl, where everybody will gather around the AM dial to hear the promotional read-outs that will become seared into our minds over the next eight months.

Will the Celino and Barnes people still sing that ridiculous "8-8-8-8-8888" jingle?

Will Geiko celebrate the 15th out?

Is the Hebrew Home still like a college campus?

When somebody slides into second, will they be safe and secure?

What is Suzyn planting in her garden? What celebrity autobiographies did John read over the winter? In this new rotation around the sun, has anything changed in the fundamental fabric of realty, which could make it possible to predict baseball?

It's almost here. Salvation. 

Hicks, Ref and Reub: Monday's sausage links

Sundown is near, the Yankiverse is heating-up from Cashman-made emissions, and Hell (aka Scranton) is facing a flood. Cuts are coming, and maybe the long prophesied trades of Rob Refsnyder and - gulp - Brett Gardner. By my count, we have 29 heads for 25 caps and, in particular, the outfield's jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. There's Gardy, Hicks, Judge, Ellsbury, Holliday, Ref - and the competent Mason Williams as the ghost of an afterthought. Somepin's gotta give.

Today, the Post's George King says Aaron Hicks is enjoying an Arab spring. (Last year, he sucked in Tampa, by the way.) Could Hicks be our Jackie Bradley Jr., the slow-developer who rewards Yankee patience? (That's a phrase you never expected to hear: "Yankee patience.") Considering Aaron Judge's wingspan and trebuchet-like mechanics, a RF platoon looks dubious. So the $64 million question: Would Girardi have the stones to bench an under-performing Ellsbury, with four-years remaining on his ticket? Nobody knows. But if Ellsbury under-performs, as he did last year, a dam in Hell might burst. 

King also says the Evils are lapdancing Refsnyder to interested teams, hoping to snag a suitor whose already swallowed the single-pack Viagra. Yesterday, they showed him to the Rays, re-enacting the coming out party for Brooke Shields in "Pretty Baby." Frankly, I hate this. For four years now, I've rooted for Ref. I think the Yankees completely botched his development. If he ends up in Tampa, I believe he will haunt 16 times-a-season for the next five years. Isn't there an NL team on the West Coast that can seduced by a bra-less virgin?

Though only charged with one error, Reuben Tejada - battling to be the April Didi - yesterday botched three plays at 2B, according to Newsday's Anthony Reiber. He also hit a HR. Pete Kozma played SS, went 1-3. Ronald Torreyes played 3B - 0-2 with a sac fly. Tyler Webb, the people's choice, didn't play a down, not even on punt returns. Joel Sherman explains why. Like I said, it's about to get crowded in Hell.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Report from Ground Zero

A friend writes...

What a joy to finally get to see the “Boss” in the flesh. The stadium is truly stunning, but seems way above the grade for what I imagined spring training parks to be. Sadly, I arrived a bit late to witness the Railriders ring ceremony (Swish in the house!), but I did get to hear a lovely rendition of our anthem by a shapely local blonde vocalist, before diving into my first taste - ever - of March baseball.

I had prepped my wife, my brother and sister-in-law on the Baby Bombers the whole ride up from Bradenton, so I was a little bummed to see that Greg Bird was not in the line-up. But Sanchez was, despite going 0 for 4, and Hicks, Judge and Wade were also in the line-up, and with Severino, eventually, on the hill, all was forgiven. 

• Aaron Judge gunning down Cesar Hernandez at the plate with a bullet from shallow right to Sanchez. Really impressive.

• Severino’s nearly-flawless 3-inning performance, striking out 5 in 3 innings with 0 hits & 0 walks, and regularly hitting 95 on the gun.

• And obviously, the Yanks rally in the bottom of the 9th, down 2 to 1, to come back to win, 3 - 2 on a clean single to center by Trey Amburgey (who?) to score Wilkin Castillo (who?) on a close play at the plate. Th-uh-uh-uh, Yankees win! Cue Frank Sinatra! 

•Starter CC Sabathia worked a yeoman-like 5 1/3 innings, scattering 9 hits and one walk, but gave up only two runs. That performance was tainted, however, by a fielding gaffe in the third when CC couldn’t (wouldn’t?) make it to cover first base on a ground ball in the hole between 1st and 2nd that Chris Carter easily fielded, but had no one to throw to. Ouch! The chorus of boos was lusty, and prolonged; and deserved. 

Overall, a great time in Tampa. So glad I finally got to see a spring training game, especially one that ended so well. Although I did feel duty-bound to explain to brother, not a big sports fan, that baseball is rarely that exciting.

Curly drinks his Kool-Aid

The Redsock-owned Globe's Dan Shaugnessy asks an essential employee's question... 

While Betts, Bogaerts, and Sale have established résumés, Benintendi remains infinite. He has a chance to burst on the scene already a legend...

An "infinite" resume. That's pretty darn good! If his homer total reaches infinity, he'll beat Barry Bonds! 

Sunday morning links... to the past and future

It's almost time to honor that bloated, tiresome tradition of predicting the season ahead. In the spirit of the hive mind - and political prediction markets, which have a better track record than national polls - I hereby implore each of you to start pondering the number of wins we should expect of the 2017 Yankees.

If we win more than 88, we probably make the playoffs - or the playoff.

If less than 78, we probably launch a selloff - or selloffs.

If we hit 81 - absolute .500 - we will reach the summit of water-treading, beached whale mediocrity - good enough to float, too lame to swim anywhere.

Late this week, I'll put up a post and ask each of you to lay out a number. So think about the season ahead, and let's see if our ornery community - via group average - can pick the exact number of Yankee wins in 2017.

On that note, let's ponder Alphonso's predictions for 2016. Read it, if you dare. (Oh hell, here's a taste:)

Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabbaths will not be reliable, dominating starters.  Severino will set a record for losses... Eovaldi will give us close to 5 excellent innings every start, and leave, in the 6th with no outs,  4 runs down and runners on 1st and 3rd.

Ok, here are mine from last year. In the comments, a few of yours. Truth be told, we were more accurate last March than we sought to be.

Today, it's quiet across the Yankiverse - almost too quiet. There's the annual plea for the Yankees to assume "Evil Empire" status again - you know, become the Belichick team of baseball. I would say the Redsocks are closer to reaching that distinction, as the team everybody hates.  

In fact, Mike Vaccaro of Jerry Hall's NY Post anoints the Yankees as "lovable underdogs." (Another trope.) He reminds us that writers used to say, "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel." Hey, isn't U.S. Steel a modern underdog?

Overall, Gammonites today seem to be rallying behind Tyler Wade as the short-term replacement for Didi. Who can disagree? Tell me a more hopeful sign for the Yankees than a rookie shortstop. 

On that note, though... Last night, I watched the last half-inning of the Yankees' walk-off victory over Toronto - a line drive by Scranton's Pete Kozma to score the winning run. The team exploded from the dugout and took turns rubbing Kozma's hair. The guy beamed. It was a meaningless victory, and the players were probably just celebrating the game's quick ending. Still, watching Kozma - nearly 29 - being hugged - (Mason Williams and Donovan Solano led the way) - reminded me that there is more to baseball than slash lines and WARs. In that moment, it seemed clear that Kozma is genuinely liked in the clubhouse. It's quite possible - maybe likely - that the guy never again tastes the majors. But he'll still have started for a World Series champion, and not many players can say that. And if Kozma turns out to be the April replacement for Didi - well - it won't give us erections, but he won't cost us the 2017 wild card, either. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Governor's Cups and March Meaningless: Saturday sausage links

Yesterday's walk-off wonders cut the Yanks' 2017 Exhibition American League March Meaningless Magic Number down to three (3)! We are four (4) games up on Oakland and Seattle with five (5) to play (play!) Any combo of three (3) Yank wins and losses by the As and Mariners will clinch the AL Exhibition Pennant and guarantee the Yankees (20-7) a berth in the 2017 AL regular season! 

As for the full-tilt 2017 Major League Exhibition Season Crown, that's still too close to call. With five (5) to play, our heroes hold a 1-and-a-half game lead over plucky St. Louis (17-7) - with the Meaningless Magic Number at seven (7). The Pirates (17-8) are only two (2) games out. It could go down to April 1, the Fools Day deadline.  

Yesterday, Railrider pride exploded across Tamptown, as several ex- and future Scrantonians received rings to commemorate the 2016 Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders, winners of the 2016 International League Governor's Cup. Last time Scranton won the cup was 2008, one season before the Yankees took the World Series. (Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena and Joba Chamberlain were on that Scranton team.) Sad historical footnote: while on display, the cup - actually a replica - was smashed by an overly jubilant Railrider fan, who may have been similarly smashed. Do Governor's Cups matter? You could argue that the three cups won by our former affiliate Columbus - in 1991, 1992 and 1996 - foreshadowed Joe Torre's late 1990s run. Congrats to all!  

Speaking of Scranton, one of the few Yankee disappointments in camp this spring, Luis Cessa, has received a return trip to the Electric City. Cessa came to Tampa as a fave for the fifth rotation spot, but his 6.52 ERA says it all. Also cut was the camp's most pleasant surprise, OF Billy McKinney. 

Not sure who's leading for the coveted James P. Dawson Watch Award, given annually to the best Yankee rookie in camp. My guess: Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Ben Heller or - if he becomes Temporary Didi (TM) - Tyler Wade. Last year's winner was, gulp, Johnny Barbato. Previous Watchmen include Norm Siebern, Tom Tresh, Don Mattingly, Hideki Matsui and Slade Heathcott. (Otto Velez, too!) 

The Diamondbacks have played catch-and-release with 27-year-old RH bullpen lugnut Tyler Jones, returning him to the Yankees - and Scranton. They picked Jones last December in the Rule 5 draft, one of the more antiquated procedures in baseball. (We're still waiting to see if 20-year-old Luis Torrens - taken by San Diego last December - will basically sit out the entire season, a fourth catcher on a 25-man roster, so the Pads can pad their farm system.) Sad. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Things that should make us say, "Hmm-mm."

1. The MLB spring RBI leader is Boston's Pablo Sandoval. He has 16 RBIs, and he's hitting .362. He has supposedly shed 30 pounds and looks solid in the field.

2.  The MLB HR leader - with 7 - is Kansas City left fielder - and former Yankee farmhand - Peter O'Brien. We traded him for Martin Prado, whom we later dealt (along with David Phelps) for Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo German and Garrett Jones. O'Brien is 26.

3. The Padres went through a round of cuts yesterday but are still holding onto Rule 5 catching prospect Luis Torrens. If the 20-year-old stays the entire season with San Diego, he will be catcher No. 4 on their 25-man roster.

4. Masahiro Tanaka is the only pitcher in baseball who has thrown more than 15 innings this spring without giving up a run. Over 18.2 innings, he has given up six hits and struck out 22.

5. Future Hall of Famer Andrew Benitendi is hitting .292 with 2 HRs for Boston.

6. The Orioles Mark Trumbo - who hit 47 HRs last year, but ended up returning to the O's - is batting .162 this spring. He has yet to hit a home run.

7. Among those who have more than 20 ABs, the Yankee batting leaders this spring are Gleyber Torres (.448), Greg Bird (.432), Billy McKinney (.417), Tyler Wade (.342) and Gary Sanchez (.341). 

Carter goes 1 for 4, raises Spring average to .122

10 reasons the Yankees can take the 2017 American League Wild Card

Thus far, holy crap! It's been a great spring! Losing Didi for six weeks hurts, but it's nothing like losing Greg Bird for a year. In today's beat-down game, almost everybody misses two to three weeks. Maybe this will keep Didi fresher into September. And no matter who plays SS, it's just 24 games, and even Pete Kozma - the fans' last choice - could surprise us with a few key hits. (The guy is a pro, after all.)

So here we are, a week from Day One, having enjoyed a Yankee spring unlike any in recent times. With the exception of Mateo (.136), every one of our vaunted prospects has raked well beyond expectations (Billy McKinney: .417!), and in the case of Gleyber Torres, the hype is almost worrisome. He's gone from "future starter" to "future star," expectations that can only leave us disappointed. (Thus, I'm downgrading his career HR projection from 810 to a modest 650.) So let's close our eyes, sniff the medicinal roach, and think upbeat. 

Obviously, no one can beat beat the Redsock '17 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (TM). Any team with Babe Benintendi goes straight to immortality. The nations of the world understand this, thus we must play for runner-up. That said, here are 10 reasons to be optimistic about a Wild Card. (Why ten, you ask? Because I have 10 fingers, and basically, we are chimps.) 

1. Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez in the middle of the lineup, squished around Matt Holliday. Two righties and a lefty, and all three could hit 25 HRs. (Last year, Beltran led us with a measly 22.) This year, John's Yankee Indian Point Power Report could actually be worth hearing.

2. Masahiro Tanaka looks like Cy Young. Last year, he ascended to the upper tier of MLB starters, and this year - his opt-out season - he looks even better. Yeah, his meat-joint can go at any time. But name me someone for which that cannot be said. We have an ace! 

3. Aroldis and Dellin in the pen. Last year, we learned that three shut-down closers is like a plane with five wings. It was more like an art piece than a winning tool. In a tight game, we can bring out two of the most intimidating pitchers in baseball. That's not tuna salad.

4. Even if he's not the starter we wanted, Luis Severino looks like a potential lights-out closer. In a worst-case scenario (beyond injury, of course), he settles in as yet a bullpen cog. Add Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren and maybe a surprise from Scranton, and we have the AL's best bullpen. It's not just happy talk. 

5. The Aarons remain viable. On February 15, every Yank fan in captivity knew there was a chance that Aaron Judge would be over-matched, out-gunned and moving back to Moosic. That hasn't happened. Likewise, nobody held out the slightest hope for Aaron Hicks. We won't commission his CF plaque, but Hicks clearly realizes that it's now or never for his career. Fingers still crossed. Both look decent. 

6. Jacoby Ellsbury could bounce back. Around here, you get bloodied by saying anything nice about Pariah Ellsbury. But he's taken every bullet, and he's hitting over .300. Clearly, he sees the wave of young outfielders - several play CF - as more than a mere existential threat. Often, such premonitions inspire players to have good years.

7. The wave is coming. By 2019, we could have the best lineup in baseball. (Or we could suck - "could be" is the shit phrase of fan blogs.) But if a few vets fail, they can be Wally Pipped... (or Tony Womacked, if you're new.) We have prospects at every position (don't forget Tyler Austin at 1B.) If Chase Headley has the April-May that he had last year, he won't be around for June.

8. Somebody could step up in the rotation. Okay, we're starting to count little fingers. Right now, Jordan Montgomery looks like a savior. Let's not anoint him yet - last year, it was Bryan Mitchell until the end, and I remember a fellow named Christian Parker in the 1990s: won a spot in Tampa and then saw Dr. Andrews. Still, we have a well spring of young arms - a bad March doesn't eliminate Luis Cessa - and where there is youth, there is hope.

9. CC and Pineda. Okay, we're down to nubs. Who the fuck knows? CC could throw 200 innings. Pineda... gah. Pour me another glass of Kool-Aid! Make it a double.

10. We have trade chips for a late season run. Hate to think of us turning back to the tired, losing, dead-end strategy of trading prospects for salary dumps, but our farm system next winter could be brimming with Rule 5 draft losses. We can't keep them all. Next July, one or two kids could be converted to a usable piece. 

Don't get me wrong. This week, Sports Illustrated predicts the Yankees to come in third, with a win total in the mid-80s. I think that's about right. But 85 wins chases a wild card, and 88 can take it. Three wins. It's a long season. Where there is life, there is hope. Right? And hey, it's spring. WE'RE IN LOVE!