Thursday, February 28, 2019


I would've paid it.

It's only money.

And we'd always have an insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha in place.

What the hell, why not?

Searching for meaning, when meanings are meaningless

The infield merry-go-round has begun: Gleyber at SS, General Curtis LeMahieu at 2B and - (surely only for February) - hitting second. (He turned two DPs, though.) It's a sign the brain trusts recognizes that Troy Tulowitzky needs bubble-wrap. Will shuffling Torres affect his hitting? Close your eyes, imagine a couple tweaked gonads, and you can see a keystone combo of Tyler Wade and Pete Kozma. Where the hell is Ronald Torreyes? 

Greg Bird is hot: Existential Question: Does it matter? The Birdman (Or - full name - Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - has ruled two previous spring camps, then, during the regular season, turned into an Americanized version of Ji-Man Choi. The Death Star is expected to carry only one 1B - either Bird or Cool Hand Luke Voit. The loser gets steak knives... and a ticket to Scranton/Wilksbuktu. Bird's LH bat could give him an edge. Or is it Luke's job to lose? Can he eat 50 eggs a half hour?

Clint Frazier is cold. Seriously, does it matter? The former Red Thunder - he's requested a new nickname implant - is likely destined to start the season in Clark Summit... unless someone gets hurt. But certainly, that seems unlikely. Gardner, Hicks, Stanton, Judge, Ellsbury... none of them ever gets hurt, right? 

Uh-oh. Didn't see this happening. Both Chance Adams and Domingo Acevedo suffered humiliating, demoralizing, paralyzing openers. Both are - were - whisper candidates to fill out the rotation, after CC falters, (ETA: mid-June.) If both flop - I mean, completely and utterly flop - that's a relatively minor glitch on the road to the Wild Card, but it's a major disappointment to prospect-huggers everywhere. Last Chance? Last Domingo?

Perpetually young rifle arm Albert Abreu supposedly hit 97 on the spring radar gun, which is sort of like wowing Drew Barrymore on that new talent search show. (I get them mixed up, but she can sure make her eyeballs pop in the promos; is that dangerous?) It sure would be nice if Abreu - or somebody, anybody, one of the Greta Van Fleet of "live arms" being annually touted in camp - can actually deliver. As it is, you just brace yourself for the next elbow surgery. Anybody hear from Michael King lately? Oh well, see for yourself...

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Yankee ownership con about signing Nolan Arenado next winter didn't even last through this spring

The way that Bryce Harper continues to twist in the pungent Phily breeze, it's abundantly clear that the Yankees could sign him in a New York nanosecond, if they merely decided to spend some of Hal Steinbrenner's nearly infinite supply of money, which is currently being stacked to the moon.

By now, we've all heard the righteous and knowledgeable Gammonite arguments for not signing Harper - it would relegate Brett Gardner to fourth OF, and good grief, money doesn't grow on trees! But the Yankees are worth $4 billion, according to Forbes, and that's not counting Hal's partial ownership of the YES Network, which might be worth even more. At that point, this isn't about money. At the super-quantum level, it's about power and penis, magnetic forces that nobody, aside from psychotic street people, ever fully understand.  

Harper would instantly vault the Yankees into a legendary status, one of the most feared batting orders in history, and yet Hal wouldn't feel a financial tick bite. But obviously, the folks most terrified by the image of Harper in pinstripes happen to work in the Yankee front office. The result: He's not coming to the Yankees. This is not some crafty, last-second Trumpian strategy to wheedle down his price tag. Growing up, all Harper ever talked about was playing for the Yankees someday, but when he finally came of age, that team no longer exists. 

But today, we should note that another rotted plank has given way in the modern Yankee con game. Throughout the recent Manny Machado negotiations - in which the Yankees hid under the bed, covered their ears and chanted "LALALALA..." - it was often whispered that by ignoring Manny, the team would set itself up cleverly for Nolan Arenado, when he became a free agent next winter. Some Hal-friendly Gammonites, happily willing to carry the master's water, suggested that it was Arenado whom the Yankees secretly coveted, so all us stupid, angry, spoiled fans should cease our pathetic whining and start planning for the future - with that rising young 3B on his way from Colorado! Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow! 

Well, yesterday, Arenado signed an eight-year deal for $260 million, meaning that he'll stay with the Rockies until he's old and worthless, when they trade him to the Yankees for Ryan McBroom. And throughout that epic geological process, the knowledgeable sportswriters will again ridicule us as ignorant and - well, deplorable? - because we remember a time when the owner put championships over the bottom line. 

Not trying to rewrite history here: Old George was far from perfect. But damn, he sure hated to lose. And some of us can recall when the Yankees were the premier organization in American professional sports, instead of a team riding on a reputation nearly 20 years withered. We are now America's wild card! 

So... wipe Arenado off the Yankee con list. They can't point to him - as they did to Machado and Harper for the last year - and say they're saving dimes to fortify the future. They'll have to find somebody else. And meanwhile, Harper fidgets over whether the Dodgers can save him from a life in Philadelphia, his views described so eloquently on the tombstone of W.C. Fields. Ah, but the Yankees can't afford another outfielder. We don't want to block McBroom!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

No meaning, no universe....


Thought we might get to glimpse Bryce Harper.

Everything is good, and the people in charge know what they're doing

Is's Richard Justice the Kellyanne Conway of baseball?


Yesterday, after my anti-dehydration therapy session, I had time to put my feet up, shake down some Gentleman Jack, and watch a tape of the Yankee game.

As many of you know, I have had exceptional luck identifying potential Yankee stars, when they were mere babies.

The list includes;

German ( okay...a long way from being a star )
David Robertson ( saw him fan the side in his first appearance at Spring Training )
A shortstop last spring whom we may have traded already ( Duque?)

That may be the full extent.  And, likely, you are not impressed.

Yesterday, however, I spotted two at bats from the Gilliam prospect.  Only to learn he is indeed, related to the " Junior" Gilliam of my youth ( and the hated Brooklyn Dodgers ).

He has the look of a ballplayer.  He had two excellent at bats ( single and walk ), of which the walk was the more impressive.  The Toronto pitcher (#74?) had K'd the two previous yankees, making both look lame.  Junior held his own, battled and showed a keen eye.  Sadly, he over-played his hand and was thrown out way too much distance. But he has the look of speed.

In any case, write his name in your books.  The Duque says he will be at AA this season.

I put him on the list of prospects we should not trade.

Cooperstown Cashman gets one right

Brace yourselves. As disturbing as this may be - and it's up there on the level of picturing Trump and Kim with shirts off - we must consider the possibility that Brian Cashman is on to something. 

Yesterday's Faustian signing of Aaron Hicks to a seven-year, $70 million deal is probably as safe a bet as the newly sleek and austere Eco-Yankees can make. The Death Star locked up a solid, four-tool CF whose career peak may be yet to come... at a price tag that, if everything goes south, won't turn Hicks into the Second Coming of Jacoby. 

Lately, write-ups on Hicks are blasted with esoteric, Einstein-chalkboard stats that claim to prove he is the second best CF in the AL. Who knows? They can make numbers jump through flaming hoops. But two years ago, Hicks began laying off sliders in the dirt, forcing pitchers to throw strikes and showing flashes of stardom. Trouble was, he'd tweak something, miss five weeks and then return out of kilter. Long ago, he chased the Chief from center field, and last August, he chased dear Gardy from our lead-off spot. He has been a quiet and productive Yankee, and even if seven years looks like a stretch of hope, the odds are good that he'll give us a few solid seasons. Who can complain about this move? Alphonso, look at these numbers - and for a measly $10 million?

Supposedly, Dellin Betances is next, and signing him would make sense from a clubhouse harmony standpoint. Dellin belongs on the Yankees, the only true love he's ever known. But if Hicks represents quiet stability, Betances is a force of chaos. He can strike out the side on less than nine pitches, or blow a seven-run lead without securing an out. It says something that seven years into an MLB career, Betances still can't hold a base-runner. 

I cannot help but think of Betances in the terms that Redsock fans have described of Craig Kimbrel: Even though Boston has no closer, they saw Kimbrel rapidly deteriorating last summer, and ready to pop like Lady Gaga's front porch. With Betances and Aroldis Chapman, you never know who is coming out of the bullpen, Jekyl or Hyde. 

Clearly, by signing Hicks and - recently - Luis Severino, Cashman is exploiting a weak free agent market, one that swirls around ownership collusion, a scandal which features his boss in the Paul Lynde center square. It was old George who used to break ranks with the owners and sign his favorite players. But young Hal has favorite shareholders, beginning with himself. So now is a great time to lock-up long term talent, and Hal in on the move; I cannot argue otherwise, as long as these deals don't someday wind up in federal court.

The questions, though, now get tougher. Is Gary Sanchez an elite catcher or a catastrophe? How high will they go on Aaron Judge, who will certainly want Manny Money. We can certainly wait on Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, but the next Yankee decade will be hinge on holding the right cards and discarding the boners. Yesterday, Cashman played a smart hand. Good for him. Onward to Cooperstown!

Stupid or Greedy? You Be the Judge!

I'm having an ongoing debate with a friend on the other coast—a Yankees fan, originally from these parts—as to whether the front office of this team is greedy or stupid.

My friend holds with Baker's Maxim:  "Never underestimate the role of stupidity in human affairs."

Me?  Well, to paraphrase the poet, if the Yanks must perish twice, then greed is great and will suffice.

But after the Hicks signing today and the Times article—another part of the Hal/Coops p.r. campaign about how wise they are to pass up those big, awful free agents—I just don't know.

Are they really more stupid than greedy?  

Or...could it be BOTH???

You know, sort of a "You got chocolate on my peanut butter!" situation, in which the greed drives the stupidity, and vice versa?

First off, the Hicks signing is ridiculous.  

Don't get me wrong.  I like Hicks, and I give Cashy his props for grabbing him up for almost nothing.  For once, his dumpster diving for a former Big Prospect paid off.

Sure, saying he's the top CF in baseball is just one more way of exposing the limited value of WAR as a stat.  If, say, the Red Sox were to put Mookie Betts in center, Hicks wouldn't even be the top CF in his division.

But let's admit the guy's a useful part.  He plays a good (not great) CF, runs pretty well, can steal 10 bases or so a year, has power, hits from both sides of the plate, and possesses decent power.

He is also highly injury prone—already—and is headed into the years of his natural decline as a player—particularly as a player who depends in good part on his legs (Jacoby Ellsbury, anybody?).  He is three years older than Harper, and even a 7-year deal will mean we can likely expect only a mediocre last half of that contract from him—if he can stay on the field at all.

At his very best, Hicks is not Curtis Granderson at HIS very best.  He's also not Bryce Harper at far from his best.

So why do this?

It has every indication of being another Cashman Grand Theory:  sign up all the "young core"...AND, by so doing, also save money for Hal.

Hence another highly dubious contract for Severino and the suggestion in the paper today that Judge and Sancho Panza may also be getting big, long contracts.  

Cashman gets all the credit for being smart, Hal will get all the big dollar savings!  Greed AND stupidity!

For while no one, it now appears clear, was paying attention, the Yankees' youth movement went over the side last season.  There are very serious, unanswered questions about all these guys—including Aaron Judge, he of the boyish, gap-toothed grin we love so much.

Rather than take the extra year or two we have to resolve them, Cashman is diving right in, doubling down on his genius.

Obviously, Coops thinks he is the equivalent of Gene Michael, c. 1995, inking Derek, Bernie, Jorge, The Great One, and Pettitte for the long term.

But since Coops is NOT Gene Michael and can't usually tell a good player from a bad one, what if he's signing up the core of Russ Davis, Sterling Hitchcock, Ruben Rivera, Shane Spencer, and Adrian Hernandez for the long haul?

Beyond that, what Cashie seems to be trying to do here is to put a relative value on most of these guys.  

"Ha-ha!" you can almost here him exulting, "I signed Hicks for just a THIRD of what Harper and Manny will get every year—and for fewer years!"

That's all well and good, and in the Sabremetricious world we all live in now, he will no doubt get serious props from various sportswriters and stats freaks. 

But it's really meaningless.  

Say Coops is right, and Hicks is really HALF as good as Harper, not a THIRD as good, as his contract will say.  So what?  

 If he can't bring home a ring—if none of the Young Yankees are really all that good (something, I'm sorry to say, that appears to be increasingly the case)—it doesn't matter if Coops gets a "relatively" good bargain on them.  

All it means is that we are now saddled with mediocre and declining players for a long time.  Nobody's going to watch Bryce Harper hit the winning homer in the World Series and yell, "Ha!  He ain't no three times better than Hicks!  Suckers!!!"

Except, possibly, Hal.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Searching for meaning in a meaningless month...

Hicks through '26!

He has signed a 7-year-deal for about $10 million per season.

When it ends, he'll be 36. He's probably got two years in CF, then he'll shift to a corner or 1B. Or the Yanks will deal him. Frankly, the contract isn't outlandish.

The question is, when it ends, will he have a ring or two?

Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe...

Ah, the first butter-flaked signs of spring! Zolio! I'm crying the name of Zolio Almonte, who used to rule in these games. In these pre-March ejaculations of power, Zolio wowed us with homers. He was Mr. February! ZOLIO!

In 2014, the Empire launched an experiment to see the effect of turning 16-year-olds into millionaires. This was wasteful, if you think about it. All they had to do was look at Hal Steinbrenner, himself a veritable Koch brother at puberty. They bestowed about $25 million on a dozen strapping Latino honeypots, the biggest being a clunk named Dermis Garcia, who - like most of the bunch - hasn't yet shinnied above single A. 

Of that mutant international class, one lesser payout has become the last Yankee hope. His name is Estevan Florial, and he could be a star someday if only he stops whiffing in one of every three at bats. Florial had a terrible 2018 - didn't hit, got hurt, returned and didn't hit - yet moved up in the prospect rankings, which shows what kind of year it was for the farms. And yesterday, Florial showed why the book is open. He stole two bases in two attempts, and also struck out. He'll probably start 2019 at single A with Dermis and the rest of the Ameritraders. ZOLIO!

But but BUT...  there were moments to notice in yesterday's victory.

Tyler Wade is this year's Zolio. Raise your glass if you thought he had fallen into a pit or been traded to the Miami Dolphins. Wade whacked two doubles yesterday, playing outfield. Meanwhile, our regular SS Troy Tulowitsky has yet to see a down. Maybe today. Also, DJ LeMahieu - the man who never strikes out - struck out. 

Linebacker Luke Voit homered, and Johnny Lasagna - aka Jonathan Loaisiga - pitched two scoreless innings. We beat the damn Rays, showing that in February and March, we remain Tampa's team. ZOLIO!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Logic! Use It, Don't Abuse It—Part II

This just in from the Yankees Brains Trust:  We don't need no stinking left-handed hitters!  Because...they don't really work anymore.

Yes, this from Fridays's New York Times "sports" page, which was dominated by a big piece on a women's college hockey team in Worcester, and...break dancing, which the Times now considers a sport (I'm not making this up).

But, good news, Yankees fans!  No need to worry about no lefties—we don't need 'em!

"The balance in the lineup is vitally important," Cashman explained.  "But not at the expense, from my perspective of the best player on the board—especially if those players possess the ability to go the other way with power."

Ma Boone concurs (what a surprise!):

"In a perfect world you'd have a bunch of guys that hit .300 and hit for power and hit from both sides of the plate and you can balance them perfectly.  But that doesn't always exist.  I'd rather have better players than acquiring someone because he hits from a certain side of the plate."

Of course.  The Yanks with their starting lineup of 9 Rogers Hornsbys don't really need lefties.  And what's more, they just don't work anymore.

"I used to be a big believer in those big left-handed monsters because of right field [in Yankee Stadium]," Cashman informs us.  "But in the new ballpark, right-center field isn't as deep.  It just plays completely different.  So it's okay to have right-handed pieces that can still go the other way to take advantage."

Gee willikers, Mr. Peabody, aren't we still forgetting something?

Such as the fact that the Yankees play half their games on the road?  Or that, home runs aside, hitters naturally hit better against pitchers who throw from the opposite side because of the way curveballs work?

But that is antiquated thinking!  The truth is, Cashman assures us, he brought in Teixeira and McCann just to tap that right field porch and whattaya know?  They invented shifts!

"When they [Tex and McCan't] got on the Yankees and as the shifts became more prevalent, there's less real estate in right field to play with.  So now these pull-heavy, left-handed monsters are getting reduced because the shifts are so effective."

Right.  And as everyone knows there is absolutely no way you can get around the shifts!  The Yankees want hitters who can go the other way to hit home runs, not hitters who go the other way to beat the shift!

That's right, folks:  effective, left-handed power-hitting no longer exists.  At least not in Yankee Stadium.

Let's review:

—Yankee Stadium now tilts more than ever toward lefties.

—Therefore, it's fine to have only righties because they can hit to the opposite field.

—It's best NOT to have lefties, because of the shift, and they can't hit to the opposite field.

Just on the off-chance that this was not just one more of Cashy's Crazy Aphorisms—such as the immortal, "It's best to draft pitchers who are about to have major arm surgery, because they're bargains."—I checked out the stats on this.

Of the Yanks' five main righties, here's how they stacked up last year, in HR per Plate Appearance vs. righties and lefties, and in OPS vs. righties and lefties:

                         HR/PA vs, RH        HR/PA vs. LH      OPS vs. RH     OPS vs. LH

Stanton             21.24                       13.38                    .792                   1.036

Judge                18.68                       17.875                  .901                      .967

Andujar             21.65                       24.7                      .869                     .822

The Gleyber      26.92                       12.18                    .785                     .912

Ics Sanchez        22.91                       16.5                      .636                     .872

What a surprise!  Four of the Yanks top five righties hit dramatically better against lefties, with more home runs per plate appearance, than they do against righties!  Zowee!  The only exception is Andujar, whose fielding range, yuh know.

As a team overall, the right-handed Yankees also did considerably better against...lefties!

2018 Yankees      24.375                   20.67                     .773                    .800

The Times genius writing the piece, though, assures us that Cashie has a point, because that .773 vs. righties is the fourth-best major-league mark.

Which only makes sense, of course.  When you're doing relatively well in some category, why try to improve?

(One of the three teams ahead of us, in righty-v.-righty hitting, by .817-773?  Hold your breath now:  the Boston Red Sox!  Good thing we don't compete much with them.)

But hey, let's get back to Cashy's original premise, shall we?  It's not about who hits from this side or that side, but who the best player is "on the board," correct?

Well, here's a certain Mr. Bryce Harper's lifetime split against RHP: 18.92 HR/PA; .944 OPS—or better than anyone on the Yankees last season.

And here are those for a certain Mr. Manny Machado vs. RHP:  21.67 HR/PA; .824 OPS—both BETTER than his figures vs. LHP.

So...both Manny and Bryce would have been the best players "on the boards" to take advantage of the Stadium's short porch, by Cashman's own criteria.

Huh.  I wonder why they weren't signed.  Could it have had something to do with, oh I dunno...MONEY?????


I Hope My Watching Jynx Only Lasts During Spring Training.

I have returned, only marginally worse for wear.

It snowed in the desert.

My left arm and hand have little feeling, due to the rock I collided with.

But the water did not run out.

Back in civilization, I turned on MLB TV which station, of course, would be showing the World Champion red Sox game.

The announcers were so unctuous and pathetically partial, I nearly went back to the Sonora.

Here was my baseball experience;

1.  The yankees were already ahead 3-0.

2.  I missed the activity ( including the HR ) that got them there.

3.  I got to watch Boston nickel and dime their way back to a 6-3 lead.

4.  I saw Red Thunder strike out...looking unprepared.

5.  I saw a bevy of relief pitchers suck eggs ( you can send that Harvey person home today ).

6.  I saw a chance for the team to tie the game or take a lead, but no one got the clutch hit.

It seemed horribly familiar.

The only item from yesterday's game that really means anything

From the Scoring Summary on

McBroom homered.

Heroic Yankee fan fights for justice in Venezuela

Meanwhile, Boston fans can ponder perv Bob Kraft.

Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe...

The 2019 season has begun. This I know, because Alphonso spent most of Saturday texting condemnations of Yankee batters and pitchers. For all his worries, one stat rises above the rest: Eleven men left on base. Yep, we're in mid-season form. But but BUT... check out these notes...
Greg Bird went 2 for 2, with a double. I'll take it, keeping in mind that he's been Mr. March in past springs. It sure would be nice if he finally came of age.

Clint Frazier singled. I've almost forgotten how hopeful we were about this guy.

Tyler Wade hit a double. I still feel he's more likely than  Tulo to play 50 games at SS. And he stole a base. (Ellsbury is never going to be such a threat.)
As for the pitchers, Cortes is sort of a disappointment, but he's ticketed for Scranton anyway. The only thing meaningful in these games is if someone gets hurt (remembering the Grandyman.) 

And so it begins...

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Sports Illustrated just peed on Giancarlo Stanton

It's only a parlor game, of course, but America's last great jock-sniffing glossy, Sports Illustrated, has ranked the Top 100 MLB players and, in doing so, hosed a few bigwig Yankees. 

Most notably, the mag lists Giancarlo Stanton as 29th, behind the likes of Anthony Rendon, Matt Chapman and Aaron Nola - none of whom could qualify for Dancing with the Stars. According to SI, if the Martians challenged Earth to a best of seven series - a la' Space Jam - Giancarlo wouldn't make our 25-man roster. He'd be in Scranton.

Normally, I wouldn't comb my hair with such a dab of Gammonitic grease. I mean, who cares what a bunch of fat old white guys in NYC think? Give us the swimsuit edition already! Still, my guess is that Stanton is enough of an egoist to check the list and feel his ears redden over the ranking. That's okay, because he needs to do something about it. 
The Bambino

Truth be told, his 2018 numbers - 38 HRs, 100 RBIs, .266 - shouldn't push him anywhere near the top 10, and my boldest memory of the bum is him flailing at three pitches out of the zone in the final inning of the playoffs - an image as seared into my head as the one of Trump's fat rump. If Stanton simply doesn't swing, if he just closes his eyes and counts to 100, he walks, we tie the game and maybe roar back the following night in Boston. Until Stanton does something noteworthy, it's the freshest memory I have.

Okay, to quench your curiosity, Mike Trout ranks No. 1 as baseball's It Girl, Mookie Betts follows, and here are the other Yankees ranked: 

Aaron Judge, 10.
Luis Severino, 28.
Giancarlo, 29. 
Gary Sanchez, 51. (I don't get this, either.)
James Paxton, 58.
Gleyber Torres, 70.

Aaron Hicks, 78.
J.A. Happ, 79.

For the record, the Redsocks score seven on the list. (The Yanks have the most, with eight.)

Yep, it's all bogus, Mel Kiperesque, time-passing, ignorant crapola. But big stars have big egos, and some Olympian gods just got b-listed. Aroldis? Not mentioned. Dellin? Nope. Masahiro? Sorry. Zach-Zack? Be serious. Even Sir Didi got dissed, though surely that's due to the injury. I hope somebody leaves a copy in the Yankee clubhouse. A lot of multi-millionaires just got ranked behind Whitt Merrfield, at #54. It's time to go to work, fellas. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Kaption Kontest

The following was posted a short time ago on the Yankees Facebook feed.  The caption accompanying the photo was "Team bonding today with hypnotist Ricky Kalmon."

Using some good IIH groupthink, I think we can come up with a few better captions.  Examples:
  1. I want you all to close your eyes and visualize not swinging at a pitch that's away and in the dirt.

  2. Except for you Sanchez, I want you visualize blocking a pitch that's away and in the dirt.

  3. ?
Let's hear yours.

On The Way Back

My time of isolation and deprivation is done.

Here is my travel photo, pointing out the direction of Yankee stadium to a local.

Soon I will return to the game we love.

The team we.....( transmission garbled, due to sand storm ).....

Even in the desert, there was joy that Machado became a Padre.

What about the other guy?

Cheap Hal still cheap?

Cashman still dumb as a sheep?


Gammonites: Yankees win the pennant! Yankees win the pennant!

Congratulations to the New York Yankees, crowned by the Yankee Press & Joy-Boosters Club as winners of the 2019 AL East! 

How time flies! It seems like just yesterday the camps were opening, and here they are: the scary good champions of the American League! How did it happen?

Simple! The front office smartly positioned its purse over its crotch and crossed its legs, avoiding that expensive malingerer, Manny Machado, who would have bankrupted both the team and city. Those damn greedy players! They simply wanted too much money. But the Yankees said no. 

Then, there was the crafty decision to ignore Bryce Harper and stand pat at 1B. (Money doesn't grow on trees.) first base. They had bench-pressing hero Luke "the Linebacker" Voit, plus the human breakout prediction, Greg Bird. He'd added 20 pounds of muscle and was raring to raise his average from the .199 he'd achieved in 2018. Everyone could a great year ahead. 

Okay, enough of the parlor games...

First, I don't mean to dis other Yankee blogs. I read them and respect them. Maybe they're right, and I'm wrong. And truth be told, neither Machado nor Harper were perfect fits for the 2019 team. 

What bothers me is the notion that the Yankees owner arbitrarily picks a number - $220 million - and caps payroll, while raking in higher revenues than at any time in history... and the media accepts this. The players are greedy, and the owner is thrifty: There's something wrong with that fundamental notion, and I cannot let it go by the boards.

The Yankees are one more player, one more free agent, from winning the AL East and reclaiming dominance over the Redsocks... because make no mistake here: While Hal Steinbrenner is counting pennies, Boston is winning the modern rivalry. This could be their second straight world championship, and when I look at the rest of baseball, I see only the Yankees standing in their way.

Yes, the 2019 team should be good. (I don't know what "scary good" means.)  Yes, they should contend for a Wild Card slot. But when I study this team, I see a house of cards. We are balancing the infield on a 34-year-old SS whose legs are a road map of surgical scars, and a pair of first basemen, neither of whom has a successful track record beyond 150 at bats. 

You can see this team winning 100 games. But with a slow start and a few key injuries to oft-injured players, you can see it crumbling into a "tank" mode by August 1. So the Yankees look like winners in the AL East? Congratulations. They won the winter. Didn't they win last winter, too?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dear Hal: Sign Dallas Keuchel already, and win the AL East!

Hello, Darkness, my old friend,

What if I told you there is currently a 31-year-old starter still on the market, a certifiable Yankee nemesis who threw 204 innings last year with a 3.74 ERA, and all he will cost you is piss

That's right, amigo. Piss. Because let's face it: to an old-money, country-clubbing billionaire like you, that's what money is. It's zeros in a bank account that your children's children's children will never empty, and no shiny new yacht or underground survival bunker will ever bring you as much joy as a parade down the Canyon of Heroes... which, by the way, would also let you escape going down in history as the cheap little man who turned the New York Yankees into the Padres of the East. What if I told you that?

Well, that's what I'm saying. The name, of course, is Dallas Keuchel, and as you read this, he is waiting beside his phone with a Yankee cap and a Norelco, and if you make the call, he will instantly complete our rotation, vault us ahead of Boston and maybe save - along with your deteriorating reputation - the life of Mr. CC Sabathia.

That's right. I'm talking about a great Yankee warrior who is now saddling up in the hope of pitching another full season, barely three months after undergoing emergency angioplasty. If you seriously intend to trot out CC every fifth day, I hope you keep a defibrillator nearby. It's your choice: You can give him extra rest - make him the sixth starter - or you can run him like a sled dog. Happy trails. 

Oh, and you can also maybe put an end to this Boston dynasty business.

That's right, sir. Because despite the moo-ings of the Yankee courtier press, Boston remains the team to beat in the AL East. In case you've forgotten, they have the reigning MVP (Betts), a rapidly ascending star (Benintendi), three Cy Young candidates (Sale, Price and Porcello), a potential breakout star (Devers) and baseball's best pure hitter (Martinez.) Meanwhile, the Yankees are banking on a "comeback" by Gary Sanchez and the improbable Second Coming of Troy Tulowitzky, a truly heartwarming tale that water-carrying Gammonites love to sell, but one that simply doesn't add up over the course of a long, grueling season. But what do you care; he came cheap, right?

The Redsocks have sat quietly all winter, savoring their rings. This has given Yankee fans a false sense of security. I would suggest you not sleep on Boston. Soon, they'll sign someone, as they did last year around this time. Apparently, you will sit out the auction for Bryce Harper, as you did Manny Machado - two stars who would have pushed this team into supremacy. Now, there is Keuchel, a potential ace and rotation linchpin. Are you going to count your money and let him go, too? 

It's all piss, Mr. Hal. If you want, you can swim in it. But when the Yankee rotation falls apart this summer - and it will, we all know this - you'll be scrambling to drain the already weakened farm system for somebody just like Keuchel. You can do it now, or you can do it later. It's all piss, Mr. Hal. How much of it do you want to horde?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Manny must wait five years to be a Yankee

Peabody here. Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 2023. That's right. We're going forward, into the vast unknown. Set it for San Diego, California. That's right, the city famous for SeaWorld. I've always wanted to see SeaWorld. 

Wait, see that fellow in the parking lot, next to the disabled Rolls Royce, holding the gift shop stuffed Orca? It's none other than Manny Machado, star first-baseman for the Padres. He looks tired. He's just opted out of his 10-year deal with the team, ditching $30 million per season, because he's tired of finishing third in the NL West, and second in the heart of San Diego - (to SeaWorld, no less!) His beachfront mansion is almost underwater. And he wants to be closer to his wife and kids, who live in New York. 

Manny has had enough. For starters, he never wanted to play in San Diego; the Padres just offered the most money. It was fine for the first three years, when he was hitting and teams nearly won wild cards. Then came the knee injury and the lost 2022 season. Because he comprised nearly half the team's payroll, the media blamed him for the last place finish. The booing began. Good grief, he was playing with a bum; didn't they understand that he needed to jog? If not for a decent second half, with the Padres out of the race and trying to trade him, Manny might have decided to stay the last five years - at $30 million per - in this hellhole.  

But with the Padres in tank mode, it occurred to Manny that unless he declares himself a free agent, he could wind up in Milwaukee. Besides, his one goal remains: he wants to play for the Yankees. The question is... can he fit? 

Well, it's been a tough five years in New York. Giancarlo Stanton missed most of 2022 with zombie deer disease, having eaten tainted venison from a trip upstate. That left the Yankee offense to Aaron Judge, Antonio Cabello and Everson Pereira. The team's problem: pitching, pitching, pitching. Chance Adams can't do it alone! Fortunately, the world champion Redsocks - led by graying Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Bryce Harper - are faltering. Manny would be a perfect fit at 1B for the Yankees... when, you guessed it... the juju gods intervene.

Joey Votto - out of baseball for two years due to a double mastectomy/hip replacement - wows the Yankee brass in a 45-minute private workout. This prompts owner Hal to sign the 40-year-old slugger to an MLB minimum wage contract. It's a win-win for the team: If Votto can't return - (but damn, he looked good that day, blasting pitches from Larry Rothschild) - the Yankees can stick with regular 1B Ryan "Boom Boom" McBroom. 

So Manny's shot could depend on winning the DH slot over Rob "Brigadoon" Refsnyder, who magically returned last August to lift the team. But even if Manny misses NY, there may be a happy ending, after all: Buck Showalter wants him in Kansas City, where the Royals are rebuilding! It's going to be a great decade, the 2020s, if only we can finish that wall!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The wellspring of hope is tapped and flowing in Tampa

The annual spring gush is gushing, and - holy crap! - she's a gusher! Have you noticed the excitement, the positive vibes? Every Yankee prospect (except Michael King) is a future star, every former disappointment (except Mr. Ellsbury) has a new focus, and everybody (except Larry Rothschild) is rock-ribbed, anvil-armed and "in the best shape of his career." Some thoughts from the whacked reality of Yankee camp:

1. Miguel Andjuar has worked tireless all winter on his dance steps. That was his problem last year: Footwork. Even Aaron Boone, a former 3B, visited the Migalodon for personal instruction. If Miggy can play 3B without airmails into the Hudson, the Yankees can overtake Boston. If he cannot, he's a 23-year-old Presidential emergency declaration.  

2. This winter, Jonathan Loaisiga hired a personal trainer to strengthen his shoulder. Good idea, Johnny! Everybody loves the plate of Lasagna, in part because our alternatives are a) Luis Cessa, b) Domingo German and c) the cast of Rick and Morty. But at times, it just seems as if his tiny body cannot handle the strain of his own pitches. He throws hard... then, poof. But he's healthy now! Go, Johnny, go!

3. Giancarlo Stanton has come to acknowledge his great fortune: He signed one of the last massive contracts before the ownership collusion machine went into effect: I suspect Manny Machado and Bryce Harper secretly hate him, because he and Joginson Cano have become NY poster boys - (with Mr. Ellsbury) - for never giving anybody a long term contract. Soon, it won't matter. At the end of 2020, the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners will expire. That will unleash the hounds of Hell. Gio won't need to worry about his financial future. But if wants to be popular at the Home Run Derby, he better hit.

4. Zach (Zack!) Britton had a secret leg injury last year in the playoffs. He hurt his calf, had an MRI and was not available for game three. Donno what the hell that means now. But with El Chapo and Betances always riding their psycho-emotional roller coasters, Britton looks like a consistent closer who survives on guile rather than wild animal heat. He won't strike out the side, but he might close an inning on four pitches. Looking at Boston's bullpen, it's a wonder they let the Yankees outbid them on this guy. But he's ours, calf and all.

5. Troy Tulowitsky convinced the Yankees to sign him after a private workout for the team's brain trust. He looked great, took seven rounds of hitting. Thus far, it's been a perfect marriage, a love fest! Then again, he just showed up, hasn't taken a grounder. The Yankees have a three-headed shortstop - Tulo, Gleyber and Didi - but it's easy to foresee them with nobody, nada, zilch. Tyler Wade, come on down!

Overall view: Everything is beautiful. This team could win 120!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Michael King should remind us of how quickly pitching can go south

It's well known by fans that the first first casualty of war is truth. But far fewer can tell you the first casualty of the Yankees' 2019 spring: Michael King. 

He's a 24-year-old RH starting pitcher from Rochester - Cito Culver City! - who rocketed through the farm system last season, saving face for the Yankee organization, which finished with few sexy prospects bringing the bling. What do you say when your second best prospect - Estevan Florial - has a terrible year, hitting poorly and getting hurt, and then moves up on your list? You say, "OWW! STOP TRADING PROSPECTS!"

King came out of nowhere to reach the Yankee top 10 list and remind us that the fun about prospects is finding new ones. I mean, check out the numbers: Overall, he went 11-5 with an ERA of 1.79. He finished going 4-0 in Scranton, pitching 39 innings and giving up just 5 earned runs. Good grief, if they had given him a shot in September, could he have pitched worse than CC or Sevy? (Or Sonny?) You have to wonder: Did the Yankees sit on a streaking no name who might have helped them down the stretch?

Of course, this is stupid fan logic second-guessing. Surely, they wanted to protect King's arm, and that meant limiting his innings. He'd had a great season; why push him too far? Also, there was that roster thingy; he'd have to replace one of those cagey vets the Yankees always collect, as the September Doomsday Clock ticks down. Surely, they did the right thing. 

All of this is merely recapping the last episode of As the World Churns. King is the first known casualty of the 2019 camp. He's been shut down after an MRI showed a "stress reaction" in his right elbow. The key word is "elbow." He'll rest three weeks, then get another MRI. Obviously, he was feeling pain; otherwise, why the scan? The Yankees say he'll get a start late start. That's being optimistic. Something about that word - "elbow" - gives me a stress reaction. Often, when you hear it, Tommy John is tap-tap-tapping at the chamber door.

So King is the first shoe to drop. (Note: I am refusing to consider Jacoby Ellsbury as a new injury.) And that's the truth of war and baseball: Nobody ever has enough pitching. But these days, I would expand that sentiment: You never have enough of anything. Last year, I'd have bet the house the Yankees had too many outfielders. Then they played the month of August with Shane Robinson in RF. 

So when anyone says the Yankee roster is full, or that the rotation is solid, or the outfield is crowded, I have to laugh. We're just getting started. Nobody has thrown an official pitch. King is first to go. Get ready, everybody. The winnowing is about to begin. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

It's hard to believe we're hearing the truth about Jacoby Ellsbury

Hot scoop: Jacoby Ellsbury will miss opening day.

(Insert laugh track.) 

Last year, he didn't play a down. Not one. It was one ailment after another. Legs, hip, ankle. Now it's the feet. At this point, it really doesn't matter. He's not a player. He's a punch line. We can't even trade him for another team's pariah.  The Yankees will pay him $21,142,857 this year and next. Then in 2021, they'll have the option of a $5 million buyout. I wonder what they'll do. (See what I mean? A punch line.) 

Wait a minute. My spider sense is tingling. Something's fishy here. If I were the IRS, I'd launch an audit. Do the Yankees plan to write off Ellsbury's entire salary, through insurance? If so, that's a double victory for the Yankee owner, and a double loss for fans.

Here's why: 

Whether the Yankees pay him or not, Ellsbury's salary affects the team's payroll tax: All $21,142,857 goes into calculating whether the Yankees are over the luxury tax threshold. But if they actually don't pay Ellsbury, because insurance foots the bill, what a scam!

Hal Steinbrenner can use Ellsbury's numbers to plead fiscal integrity, saying it's ridiculous for the Yankees to land above the tax threshold, because they put money into the hands of competitors. This argument receives a lot endorsements from the Gammonites, who seldom question Yankee austerity plans.

But what if the Yankees don't even have to pay Ellsbury? Then Hal gets to wave his surrender flag and sit out negotiations for Harper and Machado - citing the tax threshold - and then have insurance pay the full load on Ellsbury.

Right now, it's hard to imagine Ellsbury ever playing for the Yankees. The fans would revolt. And why should he, especially if both sides are agreeable to his current status - sitting out, getting paid and spending time with his family. 

Something's just not right. 

The Yankees are notoriously secretive about injuries. They see no advantage in disclosing the truth about injuries, and let's face it: they're not a government entity. They can say whatever they wish. They can lie, if it suits their interests. Nobody cares. 

But this deal with Ellsbury is really looking crooked. If I were an insurance company, I would be looking to hire Robert Mueller, as soon as he's free.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Logic! Use It, Don't Abuse It.

So here is a wish from our estimable friends and fellow Yankees fans over at River Avenue Blues, who have put forward "Four Ways the 2019 Yankees Could Be Better than the 2018 Yankees."

Hey, optimism is always appreciated, especially by me, whose secret, superhero identity is Dr. Doom.

But take a look at No. 4:  "Stanton is entering Year Two."

Why is this a reason to be cheerful?  Well, they tell us, "more than a few players join the Yankees and struggle in their first year, only to rebound in year two."

Fair enough—were it true.  Weirdly enough, the Bluesmen give us six examples:  Beltran, McCann, Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield, and Teixeira.

Of that number, according to their own statistics, 3 of the 6 actually got worse in Year Two:  Giambi, Shef, and On-the-Mark.

Which means...this is a statistical proof of exactly nothing.

But we can fervently hope they're right about Giancarlo!

Counting the questions with the first one: Where do I start?

Yesterday, the Yankees locked up Luis Severino through the next four years with an option for a fifth. Who can whine at any deal that gives a guy a chance to be a lifelong Yankee? And Sevy is the closest thing we have to an ace, so there's that.

But there remains the unsolved business of 2018, and whether Sevy's wretched second half represents an aberration... or the future norm. 

I just dunno. For a team that won 100 games last year, I cannot remember so many question marks opening this spring. 

Here is my list of question marks:

First base, second base, third base, shortstop, catcher, left field, center field, right field, rotation, swing man, bullpen, manager, minor leagues.

We have Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and a bullpen. After that, everything is in flux. Not the worst situation: Competition in spring training is a good thing. But everywhere... question marks.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The New Big Lie

For years, the Big Lie around New York City baseball was that the Mets could not compete because that rotten Bernie Madoff had robbed them blind.

Come spring training, the writers would cluster around Wilpon Senior and ask him if his team had any big moves planned, and ol' Fred would just look shamefaced and scratch at the ground with his shoe, and bravely mumble something about, "Well, of course I can't talk about the ongoing investigation..."

And everybody would nod in sympathy, and go off and write something along the lines of, "Eli Wiesel AND the Mets?  That Madoff!  Arrrrgh!"

Somehow, none of the Knights of the Press Box ever got around to ask how it was, if Wilpon had been such a big victim, that the federal investigators were trying to claw back money from the Mets owner.

In other words, the Wilpons weren't victims of the Madoff scam at all but beneficiaries, and—wittingly or unwittingly—accomplices, their big name helping to pull in more of the rubes.

"The loss" Fred was referring to was that he would no longer have the guaranteed, every-quarter-like-clockwork, 18 percent payoff on his investment that Madoff delivered to his clients, all of whom should of course have realized that this was simply the latest twist on Mr. Ponzi's marvelous invention.

The Wilpons, in reality, were always an undercapitalized family for major-league ownership in the first place, and more interested in running real estate rackets than anything to do on a baseball field.

Now, though, they are about to be put in the shade by the latest Big Lie:  Hal's Crushing Debt Service.

Haven't you heard?  Poor Hal and his billionaire family have to shell out $90 million clams a year—count 'em, 90,000,000!—just to service the sparkling new ballpark they have bestowed on us, so lovingly plopped right in the middle of what was once a beloved neighborhood park.

We can go into just how awful that park—the first major-league stadium ever NOT to have full views of the field for its bleacher denizens—really is.

But before the consumers of Hal's best scotch and steak get started on just how onerous this debt is upon the Bronx's very own Jean Valjean, let's get the facts down:

—As previously noted, the Yankees received $1.2 billion in tax breaks and direct subsidies for the new House that Hal Built:

1.2 billion—that's over 13 times that $90 million a year payout.

—As reported here and elsewhere, Forbes claims that the Yankees spend the smallest percentage of their revenue on payroll, just 29.7 percent.  In dollar terms, that means of the $650 million in revenue the team reported for 2018, it spent just $193 million on payroll.

That's a gap of $457 million—or over five times the annual, backbreaking payment of $90 mill in debt service.

—Of course, determining actual team revenue is about as easy as getting meaningful Russian GDP stats out of Vladdy Putin, as Ma Boone calls him.  It's not clear at all that that figure includes what the team hauls down from YES, the network it is planning to buy back.

And I don't know just what YES under its current ownership pays the Yankees.  But I do know that, according to Forbes, the team got $3.04 billion—that's BILLION—for selling 80 percent of YES to Murdoch back in 2012-2014.

Take away what little in taxes the Steinbrenner's pay and maybe any remaining, minor partners, and they probably cleared, what?  At least $2.5 billion?

Or in other words, close to 30 times that annual debt service.  And we're not even talking about the Yankees' money for radio, foreign-language broadcasts, social media rights, or their share of the national networks' payout of $800 million a year—which comes to about $26.7 million a team.

—Also, let's break down those ticket costs.  The Yankees last year had the highest attendance in baseball, at 3,482,855.

Now, with dynamic pricing, getting any figures on average ticket prices is difficult.  But here's CNBC with a 2015 claim that an average Yankees ticket then was $101.43.

Figuring just a moderate inflation in that cost—say, to $110—were talking $383,114,050 in seat prices alone...or four times that notorious $90 million.

—Of course, one of the rottenest things the Yankees did in building their rotten new stadium, was to  eliminate over 9,000 seats from Yankee Stadium II, in order to almost triple the number of luxury suites, from 19 to 56 (and to lower capacity by about 27,000 from the 74,200 the Yanks first shoved in there on Opening Day, 1923).

Again, it's hard to calculate just how much more money than means, with "dynamic pricing"—i.e., "turning a vendor into a sort of gigantic, institutionalized scalper."

But since the suites currently go for $8,500-$15,000 a game—and can go for up to $20,000 for "premuium" games, I'm figuring they increased revenues on that alone by about $30-$40 million a year.

All right, I won't even go into how much the Yanks probably make in profit on their outrageous parking fees, or their merchandise, or their concessions.  (Hey, rat dropping don't grow on trees, you know!).  Or how much they're planning to realize on MLB's brave new push into gambling.

I'll leave it to the good folks at Forbes to estimate how it was—even back in 2015—the Yankees were the wealthiest franchise in the game, with a valuation of $3.4 billion, or nearly 40 times the white-man-from-Cleveland's annual burden.

Finally, there's this:  taking into account that the Yanks can deduct that $90 million from their expected luxury tax and revenue-sharing bites—and taking into account that wonderful accounting trick known as "depreciation"—does anyone at all think Hal is REALLY paying out $90 million a year to start with?

Just wanted to ask, before the Next Big Lie gets its boots on.

The parlor games continue: The graying of our staffs

Yesterday, for the sheer hell of it, we looked at ages of Yankees and Redsocks position players, to learn basically nothing we didn't already know: Both teams skew slightly on the wrong side of peak foliage, but still possess enough ascending talent to easily rule the tomato can-filled AL East in 2019.

Today, let's look at pitching. Once again, I remind you that this merely a dumb parlor game, a notch above Charades. For all the advanced metrics in the Bill James universe, nobody has ever come up with a perfect way to evaluate pitchers. That said, age is as a good a factor as you'll find.

If we assume that age 29-30 represents the peak years for major league pitchers - you can debate otherwise, but I've got the mic, so the hell with you - here's how the Eco-Yanks and Gas-guzzling Socks stack up:

Yankee starters
Paxton (31): -1

Sabathia (39): -9
Happ (36): -6
Tanaka (30): PEAK

Severino (25): +4
Total: -12 

Redsock starters
Sale (30): PEAK

Eovaldi (29): PEAK
Price (34): -4
Porcello (30): PEAK
Rodriguez (26): +3

Total: -1

Obviously, with three pitchers at peak fertility, Boston is primed to birth one of the best rotations in baseball. If Eovaldi approaches last season's output, they have four Cy Young candidates. Add the mysterious knuckleballer Stephen Wright, 35, and we're in for a long summer. This is why the Yankees should not sleep on Dallas Keuchel (31). 

However... Let's look at bullpens:

Britton (31): -1
Chapman (31) -1
Betances (31): -1
Kahnle (30): PEAK

Green (28): +1
Holder (26): +3
Ottavino (32): -2
total: -1

Barnes (29): PEAK
Workman (31): -1
Hembree (30): PEAK

Everybody else: TBA

Fact is, Boston has such a meager bullpen - at least for now, anyway - that our  comparison is worthless. Here is where the Yankees should rule. It's hard to imagine the Redsocks not signing a few pitchers soon, but the Yankees will still have a superior bullpen. At least in the parlor.

UPDATE: Pitcher Michael King (23), who shot through the system last year to make himself a long-shot starter, has arm troubles. So it begins...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Wonderful moments - the photo tour

I am soon disappearing into the desert for my usual sabbatical.

THIS POSTING ......if it works due to the effort of a Yankee fan bartender in Barstow, Ca.  This is the end of the road, if ever you’ve seen one.

But the thrills of last season endure.  Who can recall this moment?

Is he tipping a pitch?

Is it before or after the all star break?

Is it the game that propels us into the AL lead?