Monday, July 16, 2018

We need a cheap starter, a Shreve upgrade... and some juju

Okay, yesterday's loss was sobering enough... so let me ask the question of all drunks and politicians: Where the hell are we? 

Four-and-a-half out. Three in the loss column. Playing down to crapola teams. A rotation with more questions than answers. Second place.

Insert gulp here.

Suddenly, it occurs to me that, beyond all the bluster, the Yankees might end up playing in the Doomsday wild card, after all. The reason: Boston has two distinct advantages over us.

1. A solid rotation.
2. Less dependency on homers.

Short of a farm system extinction event, no trade Brian Cashman can make will change this margin. The trade-available pitchers cannot change the dynamics of the AL East. What can affect it are injuries, which is where the juju gods come in. But over the decades, I've learned never to ask them for injuries. They're more likely to send us a few hamstrings, just to punish us. They're bastards, but that's what they do.    

Soon, Cashman will try to upgrade the rotation. We all know this. Our fear is that he chases another "contract-friendly power arm," such as Sonny Gray. This way, we get to learn why another team was willing to part with the guy. Surely, Cash must be tired of trading for long term clunkers. If he gives up too much for another Sonny, or another Javier, or another Big Mike, he won't escape the backlash from even the team-owned media. Also, if he keeps trading prospects, it's only a matter of time before one explodes into stardom in another city. That would generate some nasty back pages. 

My guess - for whatever it's worth - is that Cash must be waiting for a baseline price tag to be set on either Cole Hamels or JA Happ. That will only happen when one is on the verge of being traded. It could mean midnight brinksmanship on Aug. 1, but Cash will be ripped if he trades Justus Sheffield or Clint Frazier for a tin can. If we move, we would probably trade minor league infielders - Brendan Drury, Kyle Holder, Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Abi Avelino - who look blocked for the next five years. 

We also need a lights out lefty reliever because - well - Chasen Shreve: Need I say more? The guy isn't a LOOGY; he's just a streaky pitcher who gets crushed too often to make the solid outings worthwhile. Anybody, even Chris Britton, might be an improvement.  

Next weekend, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres should return. (Sanchez is already playing in minor league games.) Though we ripped Gary for his meager output, he's clearly an upgrade over Romine and Home Run Higgy. Greg Bird has started to hit; Stanton is showing his MVP creds, and even Hicks might be a factor. Call me crazy, but I still feel that Jacoby Ellsbury could play a role in September, especially if the juju gods send us a tweaked gonad or two. Ellsbury could be fresh, raring to go, and the kind of player who manufactures runs from base-to-base, which is what we need. Hey, you never know...

Pitching-wise, we are screwed. Suddenly, Severino looks less like Pedro Martinez and more like Tippy. CC hasn't gone a full season in years. Sonny is a dice roll, and the realty about Tanaka might be that he's a fourth starter. That leaves German and Cessa, and - frankly, I'd take my chances with Happ, if the price is right.

But here's my best, wake-up-in-the-gutter-with-bad-headache truth: We may end up playing the one-game Wild Card. And over those nine innings, we won't need a fifth starter. We'll need a lights-out lefty. 

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