Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Sing, O Muse, of the Cashman of Many Ways."

(with apologies to Richard Lattimore, and Homer)

This is how our esteemed general manager likes to think of himself, navigating through all the snares and terrors of major-league baseball with Odyssean brilliance, able to do all things at once.

But he's not.

To contribute my two-cents worth to what we've all been wondering, no, I don't think that Britton or Happ suck. Maybe even Lance Lynn or Lynn Lance or Yin Yang, or whatever his name is doesn't suck.

That's the thing with veteran pitchers who have already had their major injuries. They're much more likely to be in a slump than ready for the knife. And they're much better at correcting their problems and not letting them get inside their heads.  Could be, all three will have a terrific 2-3 months with us.

But that's part of the problem here. Then what?

They are all rentals, something which greatly limits their value. Even if they have a good or just okay rest of 2018 with us, they'll be off to the free-agent market, and who can know if they really want to stay in a town where the people ride in a hole in the ground, or spend each off-day surfing off San Diego's beaches?

Cooperstown Cashman is not Odysseus but O'Ditherer. His modus operandi is to never really make up his mind, but to move in several directions at once and cover his indecision with the pretense that he's playing a game far too deep for the rest of us mortals.

Are we going for it all this year?

It appears so. Hence the acquiring of guys who are supposedly great at beating Boston, and who will get us through the injuries or problems with almost all of our stars.

But if we were always going for it all, then giving Shreve most of the year to work out his problems was senseless. Trading him now, for a rental, just as he DOES seem to have said problems worked out, is even more senseless.

Ditto with Warren.  And ditto even with the guy we're keeping, Neil "Mr. Survivor Island" Walker.

All year, we have had ample time and opportunity to see what Frazier, Drury, McKinney, and Sheffield, and Rogers and Carroll, and maybe even Frare and Tate and Chance Adams, might do at a major-league level.

Any one of those guys could yet be a star. And if just one is, we will deeply regret it. They will be worth more than all the chaff we just picked up combined. That's true even if we win it al this year—something, let's face it, that's not going to happen barring catastrophic injuries to at least 3-4 other teams.

But we chose not to find out. All so we could make sure that Shreve and Walker came around, and so we could go way too far with Domingo German.

This is not good management. It is not looking ahead and doing due diligence.

And Cashman's typical second guess of himself, stripping the middle levels of the farm system to load up on 16-year-old crap shoots, is not "rebuilding." It is simply a way to get back to what Coops likes to do most, which is signing up huge, overpriced stars for crazy-long contracts. Right now, the agents for Machado and Harper must be licking their chops.

Sing, O Muse, of the man who never sees the next rock coming...

We are entering the final phase of the Cashman Total 24-Hour Makeover, still awaiting a verdict

On the first day, Cash looked out at the Yankee firmament and said, "Let there be Zach Brittain..." yatta yatta JA Happ, yatta Lance Lynn... and on the seventh day - tomorrow, that is - He shalt rest...

The trade deadline ends today at 4 p.m. E.D.T., as Ellen Degeneres turns over the daytime TV reins to Judge Judy. Around then, Cooperstown Cashman shalt descend from his dark tower, unfurl his pinstriped loin cloth and rain golden pee upon the assembled, giddily cheering Gammonites. Only then will we truly begin to know what the hell has happened over the last 48 hours, as the Yankees shed their skins and transform into - well - something new.

Of course, if Cashman still seeks spare widgets - such as a Grandyman or Joey Bats - his work will continue; the waiver wire always provideths. But in the meantime, here is where we stand.

1. For all of Cashman's posturing, he just gave Seattle at least two scoreless innings in the Wild Card game. Those will be the innings Adam Warren pitches against us. If there's one certainty in this world, aside from Pabst and bowel movements, it is that every traded ex-Yankee always comes back to haunt us at least once. And Seattle - with Ben Gamel, James Pazos and Wayne LeBlanc (not to mention a certain renowned jogger/cabana boy for Beyonce) - has become the official Yankee hereafter, which makes playing the Mariners in a one-game sudden death an even darker nightmare than last week. Not saying we're worse off with Lance Lynn and the bullpen cast of Glee, but I don't look forward to Warren entering the Wild Card game, especially if it's close. We won't score off him. Write that down. Two zeros. 

2. Boston last night traded two Pawtucket-level relievers for Ian Kinsler. Yeah, Ian Kinsler. Worse, they beat the Phillies in extra innings and now lead by six. (Their magic number - Christ, they have one - is 62.) We have reached the official two-thirds point of the season, and we must now either sweep them in a series or watch them tank on their own. The two traded pitchers - do you care about the names? - were ranked 19th and 23rd on Boston's prospects top 30. (The Yankees traded two top 30s - Dillon Tate and Cody Carroll.) Kinsler is hitting only .239, but he's a gamer. The only good news here is that if Boston doesn't win in 2018, their farm system should be sucking air. 

3. Cashman, who dealt Warren for international spending money, apparently plans to go hog wild this summer on Latino 16-year-olds. There's a method to his madness: The Yanks will almost surely sign a few big free agents next winter, and thus lose their first round draft pick, so they'll load up now. It's a reasonable strategy, with one dark caveat: When you make a 16-year-old a millionaire, who knows what you'll get? 

I keep looking at our huge international spending class of 2014, when we signed Dermis Garcia and Nelson Gomez, said to be the two top talents available, along with a pile of others. (Baseball America said we got three of the top five, and five of the top 10.) It was an unprecedented surge of money, and while the results are not yet carved into stone - Garcia and Gomez are 20 and playing in low Single A - it looks like a massive wave of nothingness. Our successes are the kids who signed for less and developed in the system (Estevan Florial, who came for $200,000), and it's not uncommon to read that we just released one of the big bonuses we once touted. (Outfielder Jonathan Amundary, whom we ditched in June, had cost us $1.5 M.) When a kid is already a millionaire, why should he listen to cheap-ass coaches? Hell, I'd be measuring yachts. 

I'm not saying it's wrong to horde young talent. It's our only hope. (We found Aaron Judge in the year that we had three first round draft picks.) But it's the developmental phase - not the signing phase - that matters. And when Cashman gives the press its golden shower today, no one will truly know what he's done. The real judgments will only be starting.

He's Mad! Mad, Mad, MAD I Tells Ya!!

Get the pitchforks and torches. Time to storm the castle.

Look, when I said we needed to stop contending and keep rebuilding, I didn't mean strip down half the team and the rest of the farm system, and sign up every available youth in the Dominican Republic now busy trying to grow a junior-high moustache.

This is just what I feared: that Cooperstown Cashman, though he was able to finally put together a true, rising young contender, would not be able to push it over the top.

Instead, as usual, he is trying to do about six different things at once, without deciding on his true intent.

Yes, thanks mostly to a combination of bad luck and phenomenal play on the part of our division rival, it had come to look like we were going to have to settle at best for a spot in One-Game Bud Selig Memorial Play-In Game.  Hey, it happens.

Coops could have stayed cool, looked at how well we did with that last year, and how we came out of it to beat a supposedly better team, and almost made the World Series. He could have filled in the breech with a few kids, and told himself, 'Well, at least we can see if they have anything, and then we'll see where we are in the offseason.'

The future was so bright, as the poet said, we had to wear shades.

But no. Instead, Coop the Gambler not only asked for four new cards, but also dropped two hidden aces from his sleeve, pulled a misfiring derringer out of his sock, and hurled a jackknife at the dealer. We'll be lucky to get out of this saloon alive.

I know, I know: Severino is probably hurt. I've been saying that for a month. So is Chapman. So what?

That is no reason to bring in some Jaime Garcia-like lump of coal such as Lance Lynn—what IS it with us and these washed up Twin pitchers?—or to deal away half the farm for lottery tix for a drawing that will take place sometime in the Kirsten Gillibrand administration.

Anyway, this is what Cash is today: just a ball of confusion.  Hey, hey.  See you in 2024.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tyler Austin and a Low Single A for Lance Lynn

I hate to see Tyler Austin go. But I cannot fault Brian Cashman for moving him. Greg Bird is our 1B (until his paw starts barking again.) After that, they'd use Neil Walker and even then, the new guy, Luke Voit. Austin was going to die in Scranton, and that's a terrible way to go.

Luis Rijo, age 19, is probably too young to sweat losing. Has he even had his Tommy John virginity broken? Also, he's a reminder that most of what we know about the Yankee farm system is pure disinformation and hype. Nobody mentioned him on the top 30 lists, yet Minnesota wanted him enough to make the deal. 

To replace him, we just signed a 16-year-old Cuban. And it looks like we're in a bidding war for a couple of the other young Latinos. Five years ago, we spent a zillion on young Latinos. Today, our best prospect from that class - Estevan Florial - was one of the cheaper signings. And they say Dermis Garcia, the most expensive power hitter, might be converting to pitcher. So it goes. 

The key to everything is Lance Lynn. He's 31 and has pitched terribly this year, as the plummeting ERAs show. 

Supposedly, he's going to take the slot Adam Warren had been filling - sixth starter, long relief. We're slightly older (Warren was 30.) He had a good month of June, then sucked in July. And in his last game (Friday), Lance threw six innings at Fenway, gave up two.

Why do I have a feeling that Cashman isn't done? 

Yanks hope to be first team ever to succeed with a 16-year-old millionaire pitcher

Actually, they're only spending $600,000 on Osiel Rodriguez, but you get the point.

They say he hits 95 mph on the gun, at age 16. 

What about Tommy John surgery don't they understand?

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to see Food Stamps Hal spend his money. Maybe this kid will be the exception. But it's a long way between tenth grade and MLB, and at the rate that young pitchers blow out their elbows, I won't hold my breath waiting. Let's hope there are some 16-year-old shortstops out there.

Sorry to burst the rumor balloons, Internet, but a deal for Chris Archer makes absolutely no sense

According to Internet - who spends all her days on the party line, gossiping - the Yankees are "a major player" in trade talks for the continually eroding Rays "power" arm Chris Archer. 

To this, I offer one thought for Internet:

Why don't you just hang up the phone and shut your fat fucking mouth, you goddamm gabby piece of shit?

There. I said it. Somebody had to. So, shoot me. I don't care. Internet is an idiot, and I'm sick of her shit. So there.

As for Chris Archer, what the fuck? For better or worse, the Yankees currently have five starters: Sevy, CC, Happ, Masahiro and Sonny Gray (who doesn't deserve a Cher-like single name). Where would Archer fit? Sixth man? That's why we have Scranton. Would he replace someone, such as Sonny Gray? If so, do we trade Sonny Gray? And what would we get? How badly do we want to remix the chemistry of this team for the home stretch? And why would we do it for a pitcher with a 4.31 ERA, who has been backsliding since 2015?

But wait, there's more! We haven't even mentioned the price tag. Apparently, the Rays want Justus Sheffield in a trade. That's bat-shit bonkers. Sheffield is our best prospect. Archer is 29 and wallowing in misery. If the Yankees had whiffed on JA Happ, yeah, there'd be an opening, though still not worth trading Sheffield. Now... I mean, WTF, Internet, have you gone nuts?

There is one possibility here: Since Cooperstown Cashman almost never flags trades in advance, he's probably just trolling these trade talks, as he did during the Manny Machado auction. Looking back, I refuse to believe we were ever close to obtaining Machado, because - like Archer - there was no place to put him. Miguel Andujar is hitting .338 in the month of July. He should be our 3B for many years. Manny didn't fit, and he probably won't next winter. But that didn't keep old Internet from flappin' her gums.

Yesterday, Boston put Rafael Devers on the DL with a strained hammy. With Li'l Dusty Pedroia likely out for the season, and Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez playing 2B, they're stretched thin. They might have to deal. So, listenup, Internet: Why don't you just pick up your Princess phone, wedge yourself into the doorway, and start yakking about Boston? In other words, leave us the fuck alone. 

Three-Dimensional Chess. Or Something.

I have to say, this latest flurry of trade deadline activity by Cooperstown Cashman has me bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

So far, I agree with all sides.

Wouldn't we have been better off going with a rejuvenated Shreve—and maybe Cody Carroll and a Jolly Josh Rogers—if we're trying to win this year?  And why exactly are we getting rid of a Double-A reliever with a 0.62 ERA?

On the other hand, as a card-carrying prospect hugger—and as someone who has really soured on this year's team as constituted—I can't be upset at Coops for looking to pile up prospects whenever he can, even at the trade deadline.

And on the rather freakish third hand I possess that still disturbs my wife, can we really tell if a 16-year-old pitcher is going to be anything? Does his 96-mph fastball mean that he's going to be throwing about 115 by the time he's 23?  Or Tommy-John'ed by 18?

It is a puzzlement. I have my doubts about getting rid of guys who are currently killing it in Double- and Triple-A for a guys who have not thrown a single pitch in the pros. I also have my worries about teenaged millionaires, thanks to a certain, rotund catcher or two.

Is Coops really playing three-dimensional chess with all these moves—or just throwing all the pieces up in the air and hoping they land in a perfect, checkmate position?

All I can say is...can't we play the Royals everyday?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

So long, Chasen Shreve

Late last night, after all the yelling, "Cooperstown" Cashman waived his magic rappel-rope, spake a secret Yankee incantation from the era of Syd Thrift, and - presto-change-o - turned Chasen Shreve and Gio Gallegos into a bag of donuts, also known as "Luke Voit." 

That's right, Luke Voit. He is a first baseman coming from the Cardinals, and don't bother remembering the name, aside from the fact that we can call him "Luke Void" and feel clever. He was St. Louis' version of Ryan McBroom, a Garrett Cooper wannabee with Gi-Man Choi's haircut, Chris Carter's strike zone and the future of Tyler Austin. If he were a movie, we'd say he is "direct to video." As a Yankee, he is "direct to Scranton." How many third string first-basemen do we need?

After the game, fans got a glimpse of the human side of the trade deadline. In front of reporters, Shreve nearly broke down, telling how he loved pitching in New York. You had to feel it. If they ever build a Yankee theme park, the roller coaster ride should be called "the Chasen Shreve Spiral of Death." Nobody produced more ups and downs than Shreve. When he arrived - along with the miserable David Carpenter in a trade for the then-sweetheart of Baseball America, Manny Banuelos - he threw lights out. By the season's end, he was half-punching bag, half-voodoo doll full of stickpins. You couldn't watch. And that was the Shreve we came to know: He could be great. He could be awful. A box of chocolates from Forrest Gump, with half of them filled with cream of arsenic. 

Of course, timing is everything, and if there is one thing about the 2018 Yankees, it is bad timing. Just days ago, Shreve enjoyed his greatest moment as a Yankee, bailing out El Chapo in the ninth, in what would have been, hands down, the most deflating loss of the season. And last night, while we were still in a self-congratulatory, chest-pounding delirium, telling ourselves how we had acquired the great Chris Britton for next to nothing, (Dillon Tate? we'll see), Britton couldn't give us a scoreless inning against one of the worst offenses in baseball. He got the first two outs, then couldn't throw a strike. Great. Just great.

Listen: The Yankees are in trouble. Luis Severino gets nobody out the second time in the order. No lead is secure with Aroldis Chapman; he barely escaped last night. Shane Robinson's home run belies the lack of production we should expect from right field. (What's truly amazing about the Shreve trade is that the Yankees didn't get an outfielder.) Today, we see what JA Happ has to offer. If he goes five and leaves with a lead, we'll call it a victory. If he gets pounded, a cringe-worthy day... well, cover your heads, folks. The trade deadline is still days away, and everything we do, at least in the short-term, seems to backfire. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

À la récherche d'Ellsbury perdue. Parte Deux: Black Swan's Way

Mon Dieu.  Quel type d'imbécile goes through 10 outfielders? Et en avante le fin de Juillet?

And now, I am expected to leave Florida, to journey to that City of Sighs they inhabit, and save the team. What do they want of me?

It has been months since I practiced my singular skill of drawing the catcher's interference. Didn't they understand that is a metaphor? My entire life, I have been interfered from those behind me, grabbing at my bat, and taking away my chance to run free as un petit garçon once more.

Zut alors, have they no regard for my literary efforts? The time I need to spend on my reminiscences of Fenway days past?

Must I be once again forced out to perform before some crowd of gaping philistines, like a trained monkey?

No doubt, I shall have to play next to that odd little bald man, always très hyperactif. And now, someone named Giancarlo. What is he, a hairstylist?

Can I do this? Am I a man of action, of the deed? Or just a phantom?

There is no choice—not if I wish to keep the $23 million a year they keep sending me.  Mais oui, bien sûr, I will rush to the rescue of my team the way my ancestors rushed to hold the Maginot Line.

I must accelerate my schedule de réhabilitation. First, two weeks of intensive whirlpool and heat therapy. Then, two more weeks of stretching and running, followed by two week of hitting off what they charmingly call, le T.

Then—two solid weeks of les activities de bees-bol.  After that, I will work my way up through the minor leagues again. Two weeks each at high-A, Double-A, and Triple-A ball should do the trick.

To do it properly, of course, I should also spend two weeks in les leagues de Rookie, et le A-bas bol, but there is no time!

That should get me back to the Bronx by about mid-November, just in time for the stretch drive. (Note to moi: look up précisement when the season ends these days. Every year, they seem to drag it out longer and longer.)

This is a terrible sacrifice, I know, and I cannot guarantee that I will return alive. But as they say, there is no "I" in team. Although, there is one in équipe. Aussi, in "time"...

Waiting for Godot, Guffman, and That Other Guy

Here's a pretty brutal piece in SB Nation on the status of our favorite erstwhile outfielder.

The article traces Ellsbury's non-participation in baseball activities since 2013.  Who'da thunk that people other than foaming-at-the-mouth Yankee fans were wondering where Ellsbury went?

If Boston doesn't cool off, none of this will matter

Last night, the Redsocks Mega-Force 2018 Hall of Fame Superteam of Destiny (MF-18-HOFSTOD) tied Minnesota in the ninth, then won in the 10th with a Mookie Betts walk-off homer.

Like in the Ridley Scott movie Alien, whenever a cat shows up, things are starting to get scary.  

This was the kind of victory you expect from a MF-18-HOFSTOD. Boston has been winning not only nail-biters, but laughers, shootouts, pitchers' duels, murder mysteries, splatter-fests and remakes of '70s retro-musicals without Meryl Streep. Until now, we could laugh through their hot streaks, knowing it's better to save some testosterone for the back-to-school home stretch. But the finish line is starting to take shape, and we're the ones who seem to be sucking air.

Want to know why we're 5 games behind? (Three in the loss column, The Master would note.) Betts is hitting .345, followed by Babe Benintendi at .297, and the unreal JD Martinez, now at .322. Meanwhile, our top batting average, Miguel Andujar, sits at .294. If they continue to hit, no infusion of Happs and Brittons will matter. If this continues, let's start lining up our rotation for the Wild Card game. (For the record: We are 5 games ahead of Seattle for the home field advantage, six up on Oakland for the away-game slot.)

But can they keep going? 

Betts, age 25, last year hit .264. He's already hit more HRs than in 2017. Benintendi is a wild card, ascending in his second year. Martinez, 30, last year hit .303 with 45 HRs. Betts and Martinez are in mini-slumps, and Boston is 6-4 in their last 10 - a slight cooling since the all-star break. 

Trouble is, we've sucked. Losing two out of three in Tampa - with Gary Sanchez bringing the pineapple - has been perhaps the lowest trench of the season. Now, with Aaron Judge gone for a month, it's time to test the 2018 Yankees beyond its simple advantage in talent.  

The most maddening aspect of Judge's injury is that the vaunted Yankee depth chart - chock full of young talent (Frazier, McKinney, Drury) two weeks ago - seems to have vanished overnight. We have one last piece to play from our supposedly "top tier" farm system: Justus Sheffield. But the longer he waits in Scranton, stringing together quality starts, the more we have to wonder why he's not getting his shot. Is he that breakable? And now that Domingo German is injured - an inflamed elbow, not a good thing - are we really going to look beyond Sheffield for the solution? 

My guess is that the Yankees see the same reality as we do. If Boston keeps winning at this pace, if they are really the MF-18-HOFSTOD, none of this will matter. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Whatever Cashman wants

Cashman gets

And baby, Cashman wants pee-ew

Whatever Cashman wants

Cashman gets

Don't worry

We're def'nately screwed

"Whatta We Got?"

We got H-a-a-a-ppp!
Inning after inning of pure crap!
When the odds are saying you'll never win
Break out the gin
You sap!
'Cause we got J.A. Happ!

We're so Happy that we're hummin'
That's the Happy thing to do.
'Cause we know our ship will come in
Though it's nine years over due.

What can we do, man
But can Cashman?

We got H-a-a-a-ppp!
Nice if Coops could be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Out on the mound!
'Cause we hadda have Happ!

"A Great Ballclub, We Haven't Got."

Sing out, sing out for all you're worth!

"A Great Pitcher, We Haven't Got."

I know you know the words...

"A Great Slugger, We Haven't Got."

C'mon, everyone!  On your feet!

Too many coincidences suggest Redsocks are trying to fix AL East

This we know: The juju gods are bastards.

But something fishy is going on here, and I hereby call for a probe into suspected Redsock collusion in the 2018 AL East divisional race.  

For two years, we watch Billy McKinney resurrect his status as a prospect, all the time knowing there is no room in the Yankee outfield. Then, on the day he is traded, Aaron Judge fractures a chip and goes out for a month. Coincidence? Sure... if you believe in the Easter Bunny. 

This season has been a nonstop barf of "coincidences," and I'm not buying it.

It happened earlier with McKinney, who was called up in April after Aaron Hicks tweaked something tweakable. No sooner does he arrive than he runs into a wall, wrenches his shoulder, and misses a month. We end up playing - gulp - Shane Robinson. And who the fuck is Shane Robinson? 

Clint Frazier has a great spring when he - get this - runs into a wall and misses two months with a concussion. He comes back, rakes in the minors, but faces a glut of outfielders with no playing time. Days ago, stuck in Scranton because the Yankees have too many outfielders, he dives for a ball and suffers another concussion, and now, with Judge gone, he's hurt.

When they're healthy, there is no openings. As soon as they are hurt, kaboom - we're down to - gulp - Shane Robinson.

And where in this haunted house is Jacoby Ellsbury? Last time the Yankees came to Tampa, before last weekend, the Chief visited the clubhouse and assured reporters he planned to soon start playing. Well, what the fuck? By the way, Ellsbury is a walking testament to Redsock collusion, the baseball equivalent of that perky redhead who infiltrated the NRA. Anybody who checks his nonstop list of injuries will have a field day of conspiracies. But where is he? Why are we suddenly down to playing - gulp - Shane Robinson?

Not long ago, the beauty of the Yankee batting order was its top-to-bottom offensive power. Now, look at the back three and you could find Neil Walker, Kyle Higashioka and - gulp - Shane Robinson. Wow. It's 2014 all over again.

And don't look at Scranton for help. Not long ago, the Railriders were brimming with ascending youth. Now, it's retreads, as indicated by last night's lineup. 

But if there still is hope, it's because the juju gods are truly insane. For reasons never understood by humankind, injuries to stars sometimes galvanize teams. They force others to step up in roles that otherwise would have been marginalized. We have a hole in the outfield and DH. Is Tyler Austin ready to stop sulking and start hitting? What do we have in - gulp - Shane Robinson? And if the juju gods want to avoid a special counsel investigation, maybe they should turn their attention to Boston. Does not Fenway Park have walls?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Happless no more

But goodbye Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney.

Toronto may have gotten two players who will haunt us for years. But who would not make that deal?

Now, it's up to Happ, the Redsock killer.

What a Long Strange Year It's Been—And It's Only July!

Maybe the strangest stat of the whole year is one just examined by Matt Musico at the Chin Music Baseball website:


According to Chin Music, Aaron Judge is not simply a better hitter at home.  Music quotes another website, Stats By STATS, to the effect that the difference in Judge's performance at home versus on the road is the greatest EVER:

The @Yankees' Aaron Judge has a 1.241 OPS at home this year compared to a .681 mark on the road.

His difference of .560 is currently the largest by any player in a single season in the live-ball era (minimum 200 plate appearances each split).

Mr. Musico thinks that this is all fine and dandy—"At the core of it all, Judge is going to be just fine.  Heck, there is nothing wrong with him right now anyways."

Really?  I find it surreal.

What I also find bizarre is that both he and Stanton now have steadily rising batting averages, but that their power is dropping steadily AND they are still on or near a pace to break the single season strikeout record.


BETWEEN the two of them, Judge and Stanton have all of 10 home runs and 23 RBI over the past month—and 59 strikeouts.  They also have only 20 walks.

Now mind you, I'm all for guys making adjustments and not just going for the long ball every time up.  Stanton is apparently leading the majors in legging out infield hits, for instance, which shows admirable hustle.

But I simply can't understand how it is that these guys manage to hit for less and less power, walk less and less often—and STILL strike out at near record paces.  And in Judge's case, can't hit on the road anymore.

Comparatively speaking, Gary Sanchez's lack of desire is a very straightforward problem to solve.  Can anyone figure out the morass our leading hitters have fallen into?

Since Brett Gardner has now officially entered into his second-half slump—.229/.316/.434/.750 over the last month—SOMEBODY had better start hitting, and soon.  

News Item: Gary Sanchez to Go on DL for "At Least a Month"

We brought in a Mr. Santino Corleone, well-known motivational speaker, and his assistant, a Mr. Peter Clemenza, to discuss Gary Sanchez's future with him:

GARY:  You want me to hang around?

SC:  Yeah, hang around.  You all right?

GARY:  Yeah, I'm fine.  Just got this groin pull, you know.

[GARY coughs, perhaps deliberately.]

SC:  There's some food in the icebox.  You hungry or anything?

GARY:  [eyes light up]  Food?  Did you say food??

SC:  How 'bout a drink?  Have a little brandy, that'll help ease the pain.  Maybe some heat therapy, a whirlpool bath.

GARY:  All right, sure, that might be a good idea.  Especially the food.

SC:  Yeah, right.

[GARY exits]

SC:  [CLEMENZA]  I want you to take care of that son-of-a-bitch right away.  Gary sold out your team, that stronz'.  I don't want to see him again.  Cincinnati, San Diego, Kansas City:  I don't care.  Make that first thing on your list, understand?

PC:  Oh, Gary, you won't see him around here no more.

Worst timing ever? A brutal week flushes us into the trade deadline

According to the Interweb, JA Happ is on his way! Like Santa on Christmas Eve, reporters are tracking his flight down from the North Pole, with his bountiful sack of toys for good Yankee fans. Hoo-ray! If last night's reports are true - and how could they not be? - we're about to win the JA Happ Rental Sweepstakes! 

Yesterday, we were Happ-less. Today, we're Happ-ening! 

Insert barf here.

Listen: If you were to design a checklist of incantations to conjure up the quintessential doomsday Yankee deadline trade, JA Happ would magically appear in your mirror, like Beetlejuice, or Slenderman, or Candyman, or - holy crap, this is getting scary - Sonny Gray. 

Let's look at what Happ brings.

Advanced age? Yep. He'd instantly become the oldest Yankee, turning 36 in October.

Declining skill set? Check. His ERA has risen in each of the last four years. 

Signs of being done? Uh-huh. In his last four starts, he hasn't seen a six inning. He's given up 19 runs in 15 innings. Nineteen runs in fifteen innings.

Overvalued? For now, we can only guess the price tag. Fortunately, our good friends, the Blue Jays, only want the best for us. Surely, they'll give the Yankees a discount, hoping to help their AL East comrades. And our watchdog media, the rapidly disappearing Gammonites of NYC, will ignore whatever prospects we trade, explaining that they were over-rated and never going to play for the Yankees anyway. They will note that Happ is "an all-star," the lone Toronto rep to last week's game. 

But the potential worst part of any deal would be that we become inexorably handcuffed to Happ. He will receive the rest of the season to sort things out. After a clunker outing, Domingo German - (assuming he's not traded for Happ) - would be banished to Scranton to work on a pitch. But Happ joins Sonny Gray as being "too big to fail." Regardless of his performance, the Yankees have no choice but to pitch him again and again. That's a recipe ripe for disaster, especially in New York, and it couldn't come at a worse time.

Suddenly, we cannot beat the lowly Rays, who have taken five out of six. Suddenly, the one-game Wild Card looms over us like the shadow of an executioner. Suddenly, we have no surefire starter for that one-game season. Suddenly, Gary Sanchez looks like a lost cause, and we are still wondering if Aroldis Chapman will ever throw another strike. 

Surely, between now and the end, the Yankees will make a run. We'll win six or seven straight, something like that. Surely, Boston will cool, and injuries could dramatically reshape either team. We're not dead yet. But here we are, lost in the heat of July, unable to beat the Rays and waiting to hear who we're about to give up for the latest tin can rental. Let's just hope this is the darkest trench of 2018. And let's hope we emerge without the kind of disastrous trade that shapes a decade. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What to Root For

18.  17.

Still think this Yankees team has a chance to win the World Series?  Think again.  The trouble is not just Coops making silly moves around the margins, as he did last season.  No, the foundation, the pilings of this team have been revealed this year to be fundamentally rotten.

Our catcher, who looked like the second coming of Johnny Bench at times over the past couple years, has decided he just can't get up for this game.  The proper sentence is Death by Cincinnati.

Our huge, lovable, orphan slugger...is hitting .205 on the road.  With 17 ribbies.  We combined him with the best home run hitter and MVP of the NL, and together...they are on a pace to hit 30 percent FEWER home runs than they managed last year.

Our ace starter seems to be injured, and the guys behind him are hanging on by a thread.  The bullpen is only in slightly better shape.  The good-natured carrot top who should've been a star outfielder and key part of the Next Dynasty now seems to have a chronic concussion condition.  Our first baseman, once seen as the key lefty bat in the lineup, gets hurt if he looks sideways at a ballfield.

Our manager, sadly, seems pathetically unprepared for the challenge he has taken on.

Our farm system, regularly proclaimed the greatest in the game, is now all but empty, with what little is left wasted for used-up reliever rentals.  At least three other teams in the American League and a couple in the National have now zoomed past us, and more are likely to follow in the years immediately ahead.

What's there to do?  Well, like the song says, pick yourself up, dust yourself off,  start all over again.

That's unlikely to happen, though, as Coops Cashman will certainly spend the rest of his GM career trying to convince us that his every unlucky or unfortunate move was purest genius.  But let us, at least, face facts:

This team is not going to win the World Series this year, or for many years to come.

This team is not going to win the division title this year, or for many years to come.

This team could possibly make the One-Game Bud Selig Memorial Play-In...which would surely be followed by a three-game massacre at the hands of the Red Sox.  Two runaways before their jeering, drunken hordes up in Fenway, then another rout down in the Stadium, with their transplanted fans dancing under the el afterwards.

Do you want to see that?  I for one would just as soon skip it.

So what's there to root for, then?

Well, the bigger picture.  18.  17.

18 is the number of wins the Yankees still need to rack up in order to finish with a winning record.  That would make their 26th winning season in a row, and keep us in the hunt to pass the Giants for the all-time highest number of winning seasons, period (and don't forget, the Giants got a 20-year jump on our crew!)

Since that would only mean going 18-44 the rest of the way, I THINK we are capable of it.  Though noting the general lethargy and disarray of our team, I would not count on it.  But that will only make it all the more exciting coming down the stretch.  Can we get to 82???

17 is the number of games the Red Sox would have to lose over the rest of the season to remove any chance to them surpassing our regular-and-postseason win total record of 125.

This one's a lot tougher, as it would mean that would only go 41-17 the rest of the year (I'm putting tonight's game against Baltimore, which they led 5-0 after two, in the books already) and that doesn't seem likely.  True, Houston or even Cleveland might knock them off in the playoffs, but I'd hate to have to count on that.

We need to see the Sox go "only" 113-49 on the regular season, which would remove any possibility of them breaking our record and being proclaimed by many as baseball's all-time greatest team—the ultimate humiliation, in what has generally been so far The Yankees Century of Humiliation.

(Well, actually the ultimate humiliation will come when they surpass our total of 27 rings, but that will likely take at least 50 years, and with any luck we will all be dead by then.)

C'mon, 18!  C'mon, 17!

Who says this won't be an exciting second half?

El Matador!

First off, I just wanted to post this, which I forgot to last night, on the occasion of Miguel Andujar getting his 30th double (and 43rd extra-base hit) of the season.

Unbelievable that the Yankees are even thinking of trading this guy.

Explanation is Simple, Comrades...

...Comrade Coops is Stakhanovite.

For those of you capitalist backsliders who love Moose and Squirrel and are hopelessly ignorant of Glorious Soviet History, Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov was miner in USSR of 1930s, who supposedly dug record, 102 tons of coal in just six hours, no doubt inspired by example of Comrade Stalin.

Brilliant Soviet planners then set his record amount of coal digging as industry standard, and adjusted all Five-Year Plans accordingly.

Not only Cashman, but all sportswriters are Stakhanovites.  Is why they always prefer veteran players.

Age? Injury? Feh! New Soviet Ballplayer Man will overcome!

For Stakhanovite sportswriters and GM, Britton is always closer who pitched to brilliant 0.54 ERA and 47 saves in as many opportunities back in 2016.

Passage of two years, two devastating injuries—IS TROTSKYITE DEFEATISM!  Britton, now, will always be same great ballplayer.

Also...Comrade Coops emulates brilliance of Comrade Epstein in Chicago, where trade great young ballplayer for Comrade Chappie, to put team over top.

Bulganin and his Gang say...Yankees not poor pathetic Cubs team that not win in 108 years.

They say, Yankees this year not clearly one of two or three best teams with real shot at Series, but well behind Red Sox and Houston.

They say, look, Cubbies give up potential future great for one moment of glory they might well have got anyway.

BAA!  Is typical running dog revisionism!  Cashman like Epstein in every way!  Now that Chapman is injured due to capitalist sabotage, Britton pick up for him!  And for Green, and Severino and all injured starters!  And skulking catcher dog!  And everyone else!

Comrade Britton is Stakhanovite!  Can do anything!

The Yanks make a deal, and the Gammonites stand and cheer

First off, who am I to evaluate last night's trade for Zach Britton? I'm not an authority. I'm no scout. Hell, my car even has bad brake pads. But when you trade three top prospects, one in your top ten, for a 30-year-old rental, two years passed his prime and coming off major surgery, is it not a fair and true statement to say there are question marks? I mean, is that not too crazy? to suggest that we table our resounding conclusions until time passes?

But this morning, here is how Ken Davidoff of the New York Post describes it.

Think of it as the richest family in the neighborhood adding a Lamborghini to the garage...

Or this from NJ Advanced Media (formerly the Newhouse Corp.):

Here's the first reaction an MLB scout had on Tuesday night to the breaking news that the Yankees traded for two-time All-Star reliever Zach Britton"Holy mackerel! If you stick Britton in the Yankees' bullpen ... wow!"
(Note that the writer doesn't identify which team the MLB scout works for.)
Used to be, YES was the unbridled Yankeeland version of Fox & Friends. Whatever they said, you understood that they were de facto employees of the Yankees, so you applied grains of salt accordingly. To some, it's called cynicism. To the rest of us, it's discernment. 
But one day after the Gammonites of NYC got to watch their brothers and sisters at the Daily News fed to the TRONC wood-chipper, they have apparently placed their future survival hopes on cheering the Yankee brain trust in whatever it does. A complicated trade is being evaluated - quite generously - based on what the Yankees received, as if they surrendered nothing. Holy fucking mackerel.
(Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez is given a face-saving 10 days off to heal a groin that wasn't supposed to be a factor anymore. Who authorized his return too early? Wasn't he not "raring to go" last week, when rehabbing in Scranton? So now, we should forgive Gary for loafing and - in fact - praise him for playing in pain? How much bullshit are we expected to devour? 
Maybe Gary was - as Robby Cano used to say - "saving" himself for the long haul. Maybe he was putting off the hustle so he run harder in more important games, such as the ones he might - hopefully, in my opinion - play someday in San Diego or Cincinnati. One friend yesterday put it this way: Gary Sanchez is Exhibit A for why you don't give a 16-year-old a million dollars. I think that sums it up.) 
But back to the deal: What did we give up for the great Britton? Because - remember - the O's were never going to help the Yankees, unless they got an offer they couldn't refuse.
1. Dillon Tate. Since being picked fourth overall in a June draft, he's now been traded twice. The first team, the Rangers, sought to change his trajectory; they screwed him up. The Yankees let him revert to old ways; he improved, but not to the degree we hoped. At 24, nobody sees him as the fourth best prospect in the game. Still, after Justus Sheffield, he was probably our second best hope for a starter...
2. Cody Carroll. He was looking more and more like our September surprise, a lights-out rookie who could pitch the seventh or eighth. At 25, he moved rapidly through the system, and in his last 10 outings with Scranton, his ERA is 0.82. He looked to be the next Chad Green-Jonathan Holder. I cannot help but think he is Baltimore's quiet steal of the trade. When you recognize that Britton would be gone this winter as a free agent, Baltimore fans should be very happy. 
3. Josh Rogers. The Yankees have never given him the respect to match his numbers. He just turned 24, a 6'3" lefty, and he could be a fourth or fifth starter. I saw him pitch in Syracuse a month ago. The Chiefs couldn't touch him. But he was erratic in Triple A. Who knows?
When I look at this trade, I think of the deal in December of 2015, when the Yankees dealt Justin Wilson to Detroit for Chad Green and Luis Cessa. At the time, it looked like a big acquisition for the Tigers. Today, it looks like highway robbery... especially if Cessa manages to hold down our fifth spot.
Well, what's done is done. Who knows what Britton will bring? But if this is the price tag for a 30-year-old, rusting, question mark rental, imagine what teams must be demanding for an actual quality starter. Let's understand that any deal would begin with the name Justus Sheffield. "Holy mackerel," the scout should have said. "Are we screwed!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The July Days

This was the name given to violent demonstrations and protests the Bolsheviks staged in post-czarist Russia, in July of 1917—sort of a test drive for revolution.

It didn't work out so well for them.  Kerensky took over the provisional government of Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries and put down the uprising.  Lenin was forced to flee to Finland, while Trotsky was arrested.

But the crackdown, combined with Kerensky's determination to keep prosecuting World War I, proved disastrous in the long run.  By that November, the Bolsheviks had seized power.

Here in the Yankeesverse, we've had our own version of the July Days, and they've proven just as disastrous for us radical Bolshie prospect huggers.

Over the course of the last week or so, our catcher of the future has imploded in a welter of Ring Dings and Devil Dogs, we lost our ace and our closer, our manager has been reduced to fretful mumblings, our own mad Rasputin of a GM keeps trotting Neil Walker out to play actual major-league ballgames, and our supposed Tower of Power has seen his batting average on the road dip almost to the Mendoza Line.

Clearly, this is not a revolution that is going to bring about the Yankees Fans' Paradise anytime soon.  But rather than listen to us who would rather keep building Yankeedom from within, or maybe purge the ranks of counter-revolutionary failures in return for new prospects, Comrade Coops has doubled down on his three-month plan to win the Series this fall.

I don't know if Dillon Tate will ever quite be the potential star he's looked like intermittently in his minor-league career, and I don't know what Josh Rogers really has.  But both Rogers and Cody Carroll at least deserved a look, and Tate a spring training next season.

Now they're gone, in favor of Zach Britton, who will fill in for Machine Gun Chappie if he can't go, and stretch our pen all the more, if he can.  Hell, if Chapman somehow proves to be okay—he's not—then we can actually skip Sonny Gray altogether, mayhap, and go with one of those Tampa Bay Whitman's Samplers of pitchers.

Sure, and why not?  It will surely work, just as the Russian Army was going to finally rout Ludendorff and the jerries.

What makes me think we're going to end up like Kerensky, another longtime New Yorker who spent decades talking wistfully of what might have been?

Color it a red October, comrades.

The Professor

Pictured with Mr. Fuji.

The worst news from yesterday wasn't Gary Sanchez' fault

Last night, for the first time--ever?--the New York Daily News' story on the Yankees game was filed by a wire service. This, of course, in the wake of a purge that claimed 50% of its editorial staff.

For decades, the paper followed a formula built on sex, crime, and the Yankees; an anonymous editor once put it less politely

The current situation is suddenly so bad, so heartbreaking, so objectionable, that even Michael Kay is on the right side of it:

Deadspin asks, "How is this shit legal?" and fills in some infuriating background I didn't see anywhere else.

Anyway, boys, Play Ball! Can't wait to read tonight's fresh gamer by the Associated Press.

The Yankees Human Resources Email System Was Hacked!

I came across this email w
hile looking for pictures of naked women on the Dark Internet this morning.  Make of it what you will...

RE:       Sanchez, Gary
FROM: New York Yankees Human Resources Department
SENT:   July 24 2018 11:01:00 A.M.
TO:       Whom it May Concern


Please contact Mr. Aaron Boone ASAP and suggest that the following actions be taken concerning Mr. Gary Sanchez, employee in the Catching Department.

  1. Immediately impose a three-game team suspension on Mr. Sanchez.

  2. In addition to the suspension, fine Mr. Sanchez.  $50,000 sounds about right.

  3. When Mr. Sanchez returns from his suspension, assign him to a role of back-up catcher until further notice.

  4. Meet with Mr. Sanchez in the south conference room ASAP and review video of him ambling to first base in the ninth inning of last night's game.  During the meeting, walk Mr. Sanchez through the following steps and indicate that they are necessary in order to kick-start his rehabilitation:

    => Mr. Sanchez should note the time it took him to make that trot in the video and use it to establish a lower-end benchmark.

    => During his involuntary time off, Mr. Sanchez should sprint the 90 feet from Home Plate to First Base.  Over and over.  At least four hours per day.

    => Mr. Sanchez should time each sprint and report back to the team his "best" time.  This normalized time will be compared to the benchmark reading taken from last night's game.

    => The results of Mr. Sanchez's efforts should be posted in the team locker room.

  5. If Mr. Sanchez expresses an unwillingness to execute the tasks described above in Item 4, please forward his personnel file to Mr. Cashman's office with instructions that he should be traded or released.  Immediately.

  6. Meet separately with Aaron Boone, Manager, and let him know that the team will put forth its best efforts to ensure Mr. Boone is perceived as being responsible for the above, particularly Items 1-3.  We strongly believe Mr. Boone will have the backing -- and respect -- of every paid employee in the team locker room ... and every one of our fan customers.

    If Mr. Boone is hesitant in any way, please point out to him that taking these actions would represent nothing other than Mr. Boone's turning point, i.e., the day he became a REAL MLB manager.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

cc: Mr. Hal Steinbrenner

“I think I could have done a better job for sure there running. I hit the ball well. When the play developed and I saw the runner safe at second base, I tried to beat the play but I couldn’t. ... I should have run harder. There was a chance (Aaron Hicks) was going to be out at second base, but that didn’t happen. He was safe."

Once upon a time, the Yankees had a rising young star named Robinson Cano, who knew better than everyone else the wisdom of jogging. Though teammates, including the captain, always ran out ground balls, Robbie preferred to take it slow. Coaches warned that fans and writers might hold him accountable, but nobody did. Once, Robbie waved at a ball as it rolled into right field, ending a Yankee season. The play incensed fans, but the Yankees didn't discipline him. Everyone figured he'd be a Yankee for life. 

Today, Joggy Cano plays in Seattle, where he bolted for more money, because that's all he ever cared about, and when he left, the Yankees got nothing in return. And it's the candy of karma that we now have Gleyber Torres at 2B, while the Mariners wait for Joggy's drug suspension to end. Time passes slowly when you lope.

Unfortunately, we have a new Joggy. 

Last night, Yankee fans were treated to the sorriest display of laziness since Cano. We watched Gary Sanchez sleepwalk through an entire game, from an embarrassing first inning passed ball to the outrageous last out in the ninth, when he couldn't be bothered to run out a grounder. Then, in the clubhouse, "I Don't Care-y" somehow managed to sound lazy while explaining his lack of hustle. This, from a guy hitting .188. Amazing. He is Mr. Whatever. 

Listen: We all know where this ends. He had the winter to work on passed balls. He didn't. And if playing for the Yankees isn't a reason to hustle, what the hell is? 

A few years ago, when he was in the minors, the Yankees suspended Sanchez for several weeks due to his lack of hustle. (Actually, they never gave a formal reason, but that was the speculation.) So, we've been here before. We have a player who simply doesn't play hard, and probably never will. When he hits a ball, his instinct is to stand and watch it. Maybe late in his career, when it becomes clear that his days are numbered, he'll run hard. Most do, when it's too late. 

Last night, in his one solid at bat, he blasted a ball off the wall in left field, and settled for a single. Never even coaxed a throw. 

The Yankees are on the verge of forgetting Boston and the AL East, and starting to worry about the Wild Card slot. And last night, Sanchez became the Yankee  poster boy for underachievers.  

I don't like trades as punishment. If the Yankees deal Sanchez tomorrow, they'll get next to nothing in return. But I hope Brian Cashman puts an "x" next to Sanchez's name, and come winter, deals his sorry ass to Cincinnati or San Diego, where he can see what obscurity looks like. There is a point where the Yankees should evaluate a player and move on, and it must be clear by now that Sanchez is no future Core Four. Let's ditch him, before he ditches us.

I spent the night imagining Sanchez boiled in oil, or going full Ed Whitson on his driveway. It's been a long time since a Yankee pissed me off so much. At the least, he should be benched for the rest of the Tampa series. I wouldn't mind it if he were demoted across town to Single A Tampa, where he can flounder at his leisure and not cost us another game. I'm done rooting for Gary Sanchez. The sooner he's gone, the better. Let's not be stupid. But let's get rid of him.

Tinker Bell Is Dead

At the heart of all professional sports is a willful delusion.  There has to be.  It's the only thing that keeps it going.

The athletes we root for don't play for dear old State.  They don't hail from our hometown, they aren't people we grew up knowing.  The stadiums where they play aren't even the ones we went to as kids.  As Jerry Seinfeld likes to say, we're really rooting for the laundry.

And more and more, the guys who wear the right laundry make more money in a year than most of us will in a lifetime.  Increasingly, even getting to the game once a season is a nearly intolerable expense, especially for a family.

But that doesn't matter.  Because the players buy into the delusion, too, most of them.  Most of the time.  They push their bodies to the limit.  Run into walls, concuss themselves, tear up their hamstrings.

Some of them go even further, and enhance their performance with substances that can cause untold damage, now or down the road.  We don't ask them to do that—but we don't really complain, either, as long as they produce.

The one thing we can't abide?  When they won't abide by the delusion.

Oh, sure, nobody gives their very top game over the whole of the long season.  It's not possible.  Even the most committed to the game, the greatest gamers and hustlers, get too dinged up or exhausted, or occasionally hung over or just mentally tired to ever quite give their all, everyday, every play.

And yet.  And yet.  To openly throw away the delusion, as Gary Sanchez did last night,  ruins everything.

I can't say what's going on with him.  Not fully healed from the injuries that have plagued him this year?  Upset over some perfectly understandable personal problem?  Withdrawing, maybe, from whatever PEDs fueled his "stardom" in the first place?  A "bad attitude"—way too often the default problem attributed to players of color?

Just a searing lack of confidence that has turned into a runaway neurosis?  That's been known to happen, too, in our game.

But whatever the reason, if he's not going to try, this is not going to work.

ALL-CAPS mentioned the glory days of Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner.  None of the four would exactly be considered a model of emotional health.

Mostly, I suppose, they were pouring into the game what they lacked in other parts of their lives, thanks to one thing or another, probably having to do with monstrous and unappeasable fathers.  But whatever the reason, they devoted themselves to winning.  Sometimes stupidly and counter-productively, to be sure.  But they never lacked that passion for the game that makes the delusion possible.

It's silly, really.  Running around the country, dressed in these outfits, playing a boy's game.  But that's the contract:  upholding the delusion.

It's like that part in Peter Pan, where everyone has to clap their hands to bring Tinker Bell back to life.  Is it stupid and childish?  Hell, yeah.

But that's why we're all here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

First off, let me just say, if the future of baseball is the Tampa Bay Rays with their random pitching rotation, which there is every reason to think it will be, then I will start following golf.  Or soccer.  Go NYCFCJCBCDC!

Actually, tonight was tremendously clarifying, in terms of what the Yanks should want to do on trade week.

What they should do?

Become a seller, not a buyer.

This team is far, far, far from one player or one pitcher away.  In the course of three days, we have now lost our best starter—a guy who looked like he could be the best starter we had developed in 40 years—and our best reliever.

In addition, we saw tonight that:

—Gary Sanchez is a train wreck.

—Aaron Judge is likely the beneficiary of stolen signs at home, we can now say with authority as he approaches the Mendoza Line on the road.

—Aaron Hicks, alas, is an irretrievable mediocrity.

—Neil Walker should no longer be playing major-league ball.

—Didi is fast slipping back toward mediocrity, with Greg Bird in hot pursuit.

—Something is wrong with Chad Green.

—Our management team is insane.

The last is the only unsolvable problem here.  Re-starts go awry all the time, and with El Matador and El Conquistador still on the team and still young, we have plenty of time to start again.

Unfortunately, our GM and his puppet manager are so committed to doing something the exact same way and expecting different results that all we are likely to get is some savagely bad trade now, for a ragged remnant of a starter.

The sort of daring trades we need would be something along the lines of, say, Judge for Realmuto, Sanchez for a gaggle of Class-A pitchers, Hicks for lottery tix (I can see the tabloid headlines now:  "HIX FOR TIX!"), CC to some contender or another, Gray to a small, low-pressure market, Sevvy and Chappie to whatever rehab they need instead of another 2-3 weeks of pretending they're not hurt, and so on.

THIS is the moment to dynamite this team and begin again.  Right now.  When it will get peak returns.  Not after putting us through five or six years of failure and pretense, while these guys steadily lose all remaining value.

It's not a big deal.  We thought we really had something here, me above all.  We seemed to have so much depth, it couldn't go wrong.

Hey, stuff happens.  One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from A History of Violence, when William Hurt has Viggo Mortensen's character dead to rights, seated and covered by two of his gunsels.

Next thing you know, boom, the gunsels are dead or dying, Mortensen's out the door, and Hurt just looks incredulous.

"How do you fuck that up?" he says, half to himself.  "How do you fuck that up?"

Well, you do.  Better luck with the next bunch.  

The most important week of the season thus far; it's almost time to call the cards

This week, just eight days before the trade deadline, the Yankees can sniff close-up the pungent bait dangling in front of their noses.

Tuesday, they'll face Blake Snell, whose All-Star game appearance - (he was a replacement) - may have raised his price tag, in terms of what the Rays front office will demand. After backsliding in 2017, he's having a career year: 12-5 with a 2.27 ERA. (Compare to Luis Severino, who is 14-2, 2.31.) But in his last outing, he went only three against Detroit. Statistically, he is by far the best pitcher on the market. (Degrom is 5-4, 1.68, but it's National League.) My guess is he's why the Yankees are said to be offering Sonny Gray. Surely, any package for Snell would include Gray, plus multiple top-tier prospects. So, we'll see him, firsthand.

Wednesday, it's Nathan Eovaldi, who has gone at least six innings in six of his last seven starts. But in his last three, he's been cuffed around - an ERA of 5.17. He gives up home runs. But the Yankees know him well. He might just be an injury waiting to happen.

Could Cashman go after both, a blockbuster? It would be hugely expensive. Tampa has one of the smartest and most resourceful front offices in the game. (See their bullpen- starter innovation.) Along with Gray, Cashman would surely have to surrender Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Albert Abreu - a trove of their long term future. Like the Mets, Tampa has a thing about hating the Yankees, whose local popularity and presence threatens their well being and agitates the Rays front office. They won't just take Higgy and the Tylers, Wade and Austin. They'll want liver, spleen, kidneys and a lot of blood.

Next up this week is KC, whose rotation is in shambles. Two weeks ago, they traded Kelvin Herrera, their closer, to Washington. Back then, we might have pondered Mike Moustakas in a trade. Now, with Greg Bird hitting, that's out. But the Royals represent a team-wide garage sale. Anybody can go. (And by the way, this is a three-game home series the Yanks must sweep. If we - gulp - lose two out of three, the tabloids will be screaming for a deal. In other words... Danger: Will Robinson...)

Thursday, Sonny pitches against KC. It might be the most important outing of his Yankee career. It's possible that Cashman has already decided to move on, and if Tampa moves Snell, Gray's outing - good or bad - would complicate matters on too many levels to ponder. I lap myself trying to fathom them.

Finally, Friday, July 31, we play Baltimore, a team for sale down to the subatomic level. If Chris Britton or Adam Jones are still with the team, it will almost surely be their last night as Orioles. Chris Davis, too. My guess is that none of them play, for fear of injuries. The O's probably won't deal with the Yankees, out of sheer hateful spite. The question is whether they'll flip Britton to Houston for next to nothing, just to maintain their Met-like vermin presence in the AL East.

Coming up: The most important week of the season, thus far. It's almost time to call the cards.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

Now that Syndergaard has hand, foot, and mouth disease, is he going to have to be put down like Ol' Yeller?

"There's no hope for him now, Travis.  He's suffering."

"I know, Momma.  He was my dog.  I'll do it."

I can't help it.  These tragic scenes at Shea always make me cry.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Après Shreve, le déluge

Or as they used to say back in l'ancien régime, Spahn, Sain, and a day of rain.  ("German, Gray, and let the heavens spray"?)

I am ready to do a rain dance for tonight if Duque calls for it.  I have zero problem with taking a day off before we head to the Bastille in Tampa, rather than facing the Mets' hottest pitcher in over thirty years.  Who knows if he'll even be with the Mets, when it comes time for the off-day make-up game?

I suspect he will, though, despite all the rumors about him going somewhere, even the Yankees.  Never gonna happen, because this is the Wilpons' prevailing model for running their team:  keep it functioning just well enough to keep the money pouring in.

And who's to say it ain't working?  Even in this rancid dog of a year for Mets fans, almost 1.5 mill have already passed through the Piazza Metropolitana out in Flushing, or more than 29,000 a game.  Hope springs as eternal as an oil-streaked lottery ticket bought at a grubby desert gas station out in Queens, and the Wilponi will do nothing to quash it.

But also, who is to say the Mets SHOULD trade Legroom and Cinderella to the Yankees, or anyone else?

Hasn't this Yankees season proven that acquiring good young starting pitchers is the hardest thing to do?  If you've already got them, why get rid of them in order to "rebuild"?

The Yankees and Mets don't need to trade.  They need to merge.

Beyond that, the Metsies are, as usual, an object lesson in why depth matters.

Yes, the team has epic bad luck.  Probably the worst luck in baseball, over the years.  But as a great man once said, "Luck is the residue of design."

The Mets' season was all set up to go really well...if everybody played up to their potential, and no one got hurt.  That's been known to happen in baseball, once in a blue moon or so.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have seen their brilliant young catcher completely implode, their starting first baseman go do down with a devastating injury, their stud outfield slugger hit .205 on the road, their number five pitcher go down for the season, their number three pitcher's head explode, and assorted other migraines, concussions, and under-achievements.  And we're not even talking about whatever the hell's going on with Ellsbury.

The result?  They still have one of the best records in baseball, due to built-in redundancy.  The Mets never do, mostly because they are a front for a real-estate racket.