Friday, July 6, 2018

Saturday's game in Toronto could shape the future of the Yankees

The line often attributed to George Bernard Shaw - or Groucho, or WC Fields, though it may actually be from some dude named Lord Beaverbrook - goes this way: 

In some bigwig cocktail party, our hero asks a sequinned hottie if she'll bed him down for $100,000. She says yes. So he asks if she'll do it for $25. She bellows, "What kind of woman do you think I am!" He says, "We already know that; we're just haggling over the price." Badaboom. Leave it to Beaverbrook.

Well, that's sorta the situation with JA Happ, who seems as old as WC Fields, (though, all things considered, he'd probably prefer Philadelphia.) The Blue Jays want to trade Happ. The Yankees want to trade for him. Everybody's just haggling over the price. 

Tomorrow, Happ faces the Yankees. If he throws, say, a two-hit shutout, he will grow from a mosquito bite on Brian Cashman's elbow into a festering boil on Hal Steinbrenner's forehead. In such circumstances, Hal's DNA could provoke him into doing something truly horrible - such as trading Clint Frazier for a three month rental - baseball's equivalent of a one-night stand. Then again, if the Yankees pound Happ, while Toronto will still ask for the world in a trade, everyone will know the truth: The deal will have moved from Clint Frazier territory into Ryan McBroomland. (Note: This is a bad joke. Toronto would not accept McBroom, seeing as how they already traded him for Brigadoon Refsnyder, now hitting .167 at Tampa Bay. Come on, Ref!)

Frankly, whatever Happ does Saturday shouldn't matter. There is no reason why the Yankees should trade a top prospect - such as Frazier, or Justus Sheffield, or Estevan Florial (back early from an injury, to be showcased?) - for the last three episodes of a bad TV show. (If Happ were a Netflix series, he'd be House of Cards, without Kevin Spacey. I think they should have used the "Darren Stevens solution:" Replace him with Dick Sargent!) If Toronto wants a few top Yankee prospects, they need to dangle Marcus Stroman, and even then, we should worry about tread on the Goodyears. 

I can't calculate what gift basket of minor leaguers it should take to acquire Happ; that's for Cashman to crunch, and the truth is, he's done a decent job in recent years. He hasn't traded Jay Buhner... yet. But Yankee fans still know a clunker when they see one. 

Last winter, only the tabloid back page editors wanted the Yankees to sign Todd Frazier, the Toms River Miracle. Frazier proved to be a fine soul and clubhouse presence, but his inability to hit a mere .220 doomed his future with the Mets. When they signed him, we all knew it would go south. If the Yankees had followed the broadsheets and kept the Toddfather, Miguel Andujar would still be stuck in Scranton, and we would still be waiting for Frazier to emerge from his chrysalis. 

Last winter, few Yankee fans on this blog cheered when Cashman signed Neil Walker, the last free agent standing, to a $4 million deal. It was Chris Carter all over again. Thus far in 2018, we've seen why every other team blinked. Walker is the aging veteran who always deserves another chance, and then another, and then another - he's hitting .188! - the kind of loyalty rookies don't get. 

There is even speculation that if the Yankees chase a high-priced veteran at the deadline, they will ask the other team to absorb Walker's salary, so we can stay under the luxury tax threshold. We would throw in another prospect, just to sweeten the deal. In other words, that will make the Walker signing a 100-percent, gold-plated, Exxon Valdez-level fiasco, a deal that stinks from start to finish. And I cannot help but fear it would foreshadow the arrival of Mr. JA Happ.

I know what you're thinking: We gotta do something. It's insane to subject rookie pitchers to the stresses of a pennant race, especially in New York. But how much better will Happ be than Sheffield, or Jonathan Loiasiga, or Domingo German, or any others who might contribute to the Yankees for years to come? Three summers ago, the Cubs gave us a potential star 2B for the next decade, Gleyber Torres, plus a tantalizing prospect, Billy McKinney... because they were desperate to win one measly World Series. 

Last year, Houston emptied much of its talent rich (from 10 years of tanking) system for Justin Verlander and, later, Geritt Cole... because they were desperate to win one stinking, measly World Series.

The Yankees may too be desperate. But there should be a huge difference between us and the Cubs, Astros, Indians, Mariners, Nats, whatever... We don't want to win a championship and then disappear. We want two or three, or even four. Anybody we trade to Toronto will get to enact revenge upon us in 19 games every year, in much the way Russell Martin does. They could be a Blue Jays star, ruining the next decade, while JA Happ sits in his deck chair.  

I suspect that Happ is destined to be a Yankee. It's only a question of haggling. So there you have it: Why tomorrow's game can shape the Yankee future. Watch with ample drugs. 

41 comments:

TheWinWarblist said...

Benedícat vos omnípotens Ruthus, et Scooter, et Mantleus, et Spíritus Jeterus.

So endeth the JuJu.

Local Bargain Jerk said...


Today's was a graduate-level seminar, Duque.  Nicely done.

You got me good with:

     Tomorrow, Happ faces the Yankees.  If he throws, say, a two-hit shutout,
     he will grow from a mosquito bite on Brian Cashman's elbow into a festering boil
     on Hal Steinbrenner's forehead.


My only point of frustration is that your overall message can't somehow be delivered to the desks of Messrs. Steinbrenner and Cashman first thing every a.m. starting around June 1 every year and ending on August 1.

Thanks again.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

I echo LBJ's sentiment, on point extraordinaire El Duque!

13bit said...

If this HAPPens, I will not only not be HAPPy, but HAPPenstance may dictate that Cashman's missHAPPen head will implode from all the bad vibes that the Yankiverse sends his way.

I give up.

The big question is "how many more bad Cashman moves can this team absorb?" Will we keep winning in spite of his idiocy? Or will we revert to the norm? We all know what the norm is. I don't think people change much, only under extraordinary duress or after they truly bottom out on their own bullshit. That has not HAPPened yet to Cash, even though the last championship we lived through was the one that he bought in order to placate old King George. We also paid for that splurge dearly for years.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Refsnyder is now with the Durham Bulls, with a .342 batting average.

Anonymous said...

Let's break this down... (Understand that this is just a logical assessment and trades are not always logical.)

1) We need a starter who is at least a #3 but preferably a #2.

2) We have a lot of pitching in the minors. According to MLB 13 of our top 15 prospects are pitchers.

3) We have an ageing LF on an expiring contract and a potential star waiting in the minors to take his place. (The star - as I've written before was 1/2 of the haul for Miller. Making him (and Sheffield) equal to Gleybar.

Based on this I don't see why we are afraid that Cashman is going to trade Frazier. (or Sheffield who is going to the Future's game)

So the question is what GM on a losing team will trade a good/very good pitcher for 3 potential good/very good pitchers who won't reach their potential for 2-3 years? And maybe an A ball position player. To sweeten the deal.

The Mets have the best pitchers (even Frazier worthy but don't worry I don't see it happening. The AL East...

I am going to interrupt myself (I have ADD) to make a bold prediction. The Yankees will acquire Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay. They have always liked him. He's throwing well. He thrived in NY (before the injury.)He is a rental. Contract expires at the end of the year and would be around $500,000. Or as we say around here. Bupkis!

Tampa is experimenting with a no stater philosophy so any pitchers we send them can be what we would call potential future relievers (Two pitch guys who are still developing) and they would call Thursday's openers. TB won't care about Eovaldi and the Yankees long term because he leaves anyway. There is no risk.

Who are these pitchers? Three of the following...

Ben Heller
Nolan Martinez
Dillon Tate
Chance Adams
Giovanny Gallegos.


I'm going to go with this...

Doug K.


Carl Weitz said...

I disagree that we shouldn't pursue JA Happ. If you look at his numbers against the Astros and Red Sox especially, he is better than what we currently have against those teams.(I'll post the stats links below).

That isn't to say somewhere down the road German or Loaisiga won't pitch as well, but at this point in time he is the best option after Severino and perhaps CC. The only down side is what we give back to the Blue Jays. If we give a fair market value, fine. If the Yankees are asked to pay a king's ransom, pass on the deal.

https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/ja-happ-player-matchups?teamId=2

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.fcgi?id=happja01&t=p&year=Career
(scroll down to "Opponents Game Level")

His average against the Sox hitters is excellent and his career stats against the most likely playoff contenders is also quite good.

Carl Weitz said...

I agree Doug K....I was thinking about Eovaldi and the likelihood of them reacquiring this year and for all the reasons you mentioned. It might happen.

Anonymous said...

Since I was logical (sort of) above and after reading Carl's comment I have a second trade that is a little more out there...

Gray for Happ. Straight up.

Gray gets out of the pressure of pitching for the Yankees.
He will pitch better for Totonto. He Is a change of scenery perceived #2
He is cost controlled for beyond 2018.
We need to get rid of him.
Happ is all of the above stated by Carl.

They get very good MLB pitcher (Wink!) (We could toss in a player from my earlier list as well)
We get our cheap rental who can pitch in the AL East.
Win/Win

Let's do both trades!

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Love the festering boil, Duque!

And interesting stuff, Doug K. and Carl.

I feel that we are sooooo close to dodging this bullet. If we just batter Happ, and if Walker just continues to tank for another week or so...

Yes, there are some things to be said for Happ. But not enough to deal Frazier. I would, maybe, be willing to give up Drury. But even that seems foolish.

Doug K., I would agree with you on all those pitchers save for Dillon Tate, whose potential still intrigues me.

Bottom line: Cashman must remember that any possible deal has two sides. If they don't palm him off on us, exactly what are the Blue Jays going to do with Happ? Who wants him, and what will they give up? The pickings, I suspect, are pretty thin.

John M said...

I was sorry the Yankees didn't give Eovaldi another shot. He was perfectly fine for us, and I know the arm surgery or cranial boring or whatever meant he was a risk going forward, but still...a bargain at today's prices.

I like this idea a lot. And I've been in favor of Duque's position for some time, also. Keep the kids, give them a chance. Let's see what they can do.

If that means foregoing a ring this year to win the next three in a row, fine. I should live to see that.

Carl Weitz said...

If only they would take that one-for-one swap of Sonny Gray.

TheWinWarblist said...

I miss Ramiro Mendoza ...

Local Bargain Jerk said...


If that means foregoing a ring this year to win the next three in a row, fine. I should live to see that.

John M: Perhaps this is a new suggestion for the text shown in the banner at the top of IIHIIFIIc. I'll re-word it slightly to make it more universal:

     If not trading prospects means foregoing a ring this year to win the next three
     in a row, fine.  We should live to see that.


Whaddya think?

ranger_lp said...

Matt Harvey last 3 games...

W L SV IP H ER BB SO
6/21 vs CHC 1 0 0 6.0 5 2 1 6
6/26 @ ATL 1 0 0 6.2 6 1 1 2
7/1 vs MIL 1 0 0 5.2 2 0 0 6

wouldn't cost as much.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, a mere FOUR championships??? Why, I say that with this foundation we go for an even dozen!

All right, that may be overly ambitious. But aim high!

Also, I love how this is predicated on such certainty. 'Oh, we MUST get a 35-year-old, mediocre No. 3 pitcher, or surely we are done for!'

If Sale or J.D. tweaks a gonad late in September, all the calculations change. Or hell, we could lose the first game to Sale, even, then win 3 of the next 4. Not impossible! I wouldn't bet the house on it, but neither would I bet a dynasty on it NOT happening.

Anonymous said...

Ranger, I don't think Harvey should come back to NYC right now for his own sake. Plus MAJOR circus sideshow. We don't need it. The Yankee clubhouse strikes me as egoless.

All, Last thing... (I have to go to a meeting)

Sevi
Tanaka (Big Game pitcher)
Happ
CC
Evoldi

This line up gives us a chance to win every night. And... would be tough in the playoffs as well. Plus no Gray uncertainty,read let down, every five days.

Johnny Lasagna takes his uninhabitable first four innings to the pen.

Domingo German goes back to AAA to learn more. Is the sixth starter should one be needed.

All we lose to make it happen (in my fantasy filled head) is Gray and some of the chum I mentioned above. I like Dillon Tate too Hoss, but you gotta give to get. I tried to be fair.

Doug K.



TheWinWarblist said...

Hug the prospects. But only so tightly. Comes the time when they need to stay or go.

Anonymous said...

Carl Weitz -- you are citing statistical noise--tiny samples.

Happ has a lifetime FIP over 4, and he's not getting any younger. This would be another of Cashman's deadhead acquisitions, Jaime Garcia the sequel.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...


Eovaldi -- I don't have statistics to back this up. But what I remember is, he'd get to 2 strikes on hitters . . . and could not put them away. Almost never. Lots of foul balls, followed by a hit. Usually, a key hit. I call this "Phil Hughes Disease."

Lasagna -- apparently pitching Monday. Let's see B4 relegating him to anything. His early 2018 was spent in AA, for Pete's sake.

Happ -- please do not curse the Yankees with this.

Tanaka -- he still is giving up a lot of HRs -- this year so far, 16 in 72 innings pitched. Last year, 35 in 178 innings. Same pace, basically. This is NOT the guy they paid big bux for. It's not the guy we saw when he first got here.

CC Sabathia -- he's doing great. BUT: I still hold my breath when he pitches. He gets "angry" when someone bunts on him. Why? Were I the other team, I'd bunt him to death. He can't get off the mound; he can't make it to first to cover if the first baseman fields the ball. He throws softly (easier to bunt, in theory).

What's my alternative? Bring up more youth (Justus, even Chance). Give Hale and Cole their shots (at starting). If someone will accept Drury +/or Walker +/or Ellsbury in a trade for a pitcher (young, young, young!!!!), make the deal. Otherwise, walk away.

If this means NYYs end up in the one-game playdown with Sevvy, CCS, Tanaka, Lasagna, Sheffield, Chance, Hale, Cole, Cessa, German....SOME of these guys....so be it. It would give Yankees a major shot at winning in 2019 and later.

Hey, Sevvy does not celebrate his 30th birthday until Feb2024!!!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Well said, Joe FOB.

And I think we have a general consensus: trade Sonny Gray for anything.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Incidentally, anybody have the actual dates for the playoffs?

13bit said...

Ditto on everything J.F.O.B. said.

I have to go walk the pup.

10-4, my compadres. Over and out for now.

Carl Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl Weitz said...

Anonymous...sure, for the most part the stats against Boston's current lineup lineup is a small sample size. But it surely a decent one. And there are so many stats now that are overvalued or need to be in correlation with other stats such as FIP with PQBF. But the bottom line is this: He has a very good record this year and his lifetime win-loss numbers and record against our most likely playoff candidates can't be dismissed. It's why Boston prioritized getting Sale last year due to his ridiculous numbers against the AL East.

To compare Happ to Garcia is totally ludicrous!!! That was a blunder everyone could see.
As I said, it depends what we would need to give to get him. He is a 3 month rental!!!

Carl Weitz said...

My point is you can isolate certain stats that are incongruous with a player's demonstrated record of accomplishments or overanalyze to the point of negating certain player pluses such as intangibles that cant be measured by analytics.

Anonymous said...

Carl Weitz -- Why is the Happ/Garcia comparison "ridiculous"? Garcia has a LOWER lifetime FIP and is four years younger. And at 35, with all those innings weighing on this arm, are you absolutely sure that Happ will continue to be the same pitcher once he arrives in the Bronx? The average age for peak performance by a pitcher is TWENTY-FIVE.

It's a myth that pitchers do inherently better against some teams than others--on a par with the mythology of "clutch." Pitchers are what they are. Lifetimes stats against an opposing team are meaningless, because the batting personnel of the team changes radically over the years.

And acquiring Happ is not just a "rental." It will mean the permanent squandering of young talent that can never be retrieved.

Finally, Happ is not likely to perform any better than Herman or Loisiga.

The Yankees have won two-thirds of their games. It's not likely that any move they make now will substantially improve their winning percentage. Yet so many fans and sportswriters act as though the Yankees are struggling to stay above .500 and need emergency help. Sacrificing first-rate young talent for Happ is likely to be one of those long-regretted blunders on the order of . . . Sonny Gray. That name ring a bell?

Anonymous said...

German, not Herman.

Anonymous said...

Finally, Cashman is stuck in the old discredited paradigm of overvaluing starting pitchers--a mindset that leads to blown-out arms and rotation chaos. Instead of chasing after the mirage of JUST ONE MORE STARTING PITCHER, he should be seeking to improve the overall balance of the staff precisely to reduce the workload of the starters and spread the burden out among the entire staff. That's the wave of the future--and since Tampa Bay began implementing that policy, they have achieved the lowest ERA in the league.

ranger_lp said...

I understand your concern @Doug but this is the type of deal Cashman does...gets a pitcher as a reclamation project for cheap. Harvey doesn't have the sideshow right now in Cincinnati. But to eat innings, win a few games, I could actually see this. He's pitched under pressure before and it would be fun if Matt pitched in the playoffs for us. If he's gotten over most of the health concerns and finally have run support, it's a a win for us. So talk radio wants DeGrom to the Yanks, but that's not going to happen. But Harvey....it doesn't have to be long term...just this year.

Carl Weitz said...

JFB....I agree with just about everything you mentioned except for Eovaldi. My memory of him not being able to put away batters with 2 strikes is the same as yours.And also the hits. In fact, the season before the Yankees traded for him, he lead all of baseball in hits given up.

But look at his stats this year. I have no answer as to why but his WHIP is a career low (.0919), his hits to innings is finally under 1 and his strikeout to walk ratio is also a career best at almost 6.

But the one stat he has totally turned around is his strikeouts/hits after 2 strike counts (0-2,1-2, 2-2,3-2). In 94 at bats he has struck out 35 batters. Over 37%! only 14 have gotten hits.

Again, as a 3-month rental for the right price its worth a shot. I know most Yankee fans suffer from PTSD/involuntary facial tics from the time he pitched for us. In any event. his compensation is such that the Rays probably wont trade him.

Carl Weitz said...

Anonymous...we will just have to disagree on this. I'm saying don't trade for Happ unless the price is right. I'm not suggesting overpaying.

Also, while everyone knows that the Sonny Gray deal didn't work out to be front line pitching, in retrospect, apparently we didn't give up "first-rate" talent as those 3 players have been a bust for Oakland.

There comes a point in every top-notch farm system when you HAVE to trade good young players or lose them to rule 5 or trade them for little in return.

Anonymous said...

Carl Weitz -- your wisdom on the Gray deal is purely retroactive. You have no idea how those young players will pan out in the long term. In the short term, when it counts for the Yankees, Gray is a disaster.

It's a cardinal rule of the conventional wisdom that someone else's veteran mediocrity is always a better bet than your own young talent--at least among Yankee fans and management. That is a shopworn dogma that is 180 degrees at odds with reality.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Who put the turd back in the pool?

Carl Weitz said...

Anon...I don't know how those 3 prospects will end up (most dont make it) any more than you dont know if Sonny will figure things out and excel or at least be used as trade bait for someone else.

As I told you before, analytics is a great tool....but it doesn't tell you everything. Like in Gray's case. He had pretty decent numbers and a winning record on bad teams. Yet he hasn't flourished in NY. See, it's those intangibles I mentioned earlier. You can't quantify emotional make up, personality or determination.

Anonymous said...

It's not "analytics." Gray is a subpar pitcher by any yardstick you care to choose, other than a profound case of deafness or a severe case of glaucoma, which might lead someone to believe that he is a very good pitcher; same with Neil Walker as a nonpitcher.

Gray is older now than when he compiled those numbers you speak of--pitchers have a notoriously short shelf life.

That's why it would be folly to go sniffing out a 35-year old mediocrity like Happ with his 1,500-inning-old arm instead of using your native fresh young talent.

Carl Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl Weitz said...

Anon....you must have poor reading comprehension skills. Neither I or anyone else on this blog claimed Gray was a "very good pitcher".

Once again....nothing wrong about a 3 month rental for a decent pitcher who still beats the Red Sox...AT THE RIGHT PRICE! Sonny was NEVER a subpar pitcher until he came to the Yankees. Except for one season where he had injuries, he's been a better-than-average pitcher.

It's always much easier to be a back-seat-driver and a Monday Morning QB,isn't it Anon? Same goes for Walker. No one said he was the second coming of Roger Hornsby or Joe Morgan. But,at 32, coming off a good prior season, signing him for 4 million was a great idea. He just hasn't performed up to his career average. It happens. To every team.

Anonymous said...

Carl Weitz--neither I nor other commenters on this blog are Monday-morning-quarterbacking the Gray and Walker moves. I and plenty of others--including duque, Alphonso, and some of the more intelligent professional commentators--were opposed to both moves.

And I'm afraid it is YOUR reading-comprehension skills that are wanting--that is, if you ever really bother to read any player's record. You state, "Sonny was NEVER a subpar pitcher until he came to the Yankees." Yet the year before the Yankees acquired Gray, in 2016, he gave up 133 hits in 117 innings pitcher, to the tune of a 5.69 ERA and 4.67 FIP. If you somehow imagine that those are not subpar numbers, then you ought to give up amateur baseball commentary and take up needlepoint, because you clearly have know idea WFT you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

no idea WTF you are talking about -- typo

Carl Weitz said...

What a dishonest asshole you are, Anon. You shortened my comment to exclude my mention of him having one bad year due to injury so as to try and alter what I stated. Anyone can read what I posted...except apparently you. I'm through trying to have a rational discussion with you. You are, as most here have stated, a disingenuous and pompous fool. Seek psychiatric help, dude.