DEAR NEW YORK TABLOIDS

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

"The World Turned Upside Down"

...which was, of course, the tune the British played when their army surrendered to Washington at Yorktown.

Blimey, what a lark!  I can't imagine why anyone objected to our glorious trip across the pond.  Two wins, mate, against those wankers from Boston!  Cheerio, what?  Why I love EVERYTHING about London!

Clotted cream?  More like clotted heaven!  Scones?  Yes, please.  And I don't know why they call them crumpets...how about, "scrumpets"???

All right, all right, let's simmer down.

In many ways, this was indeed the world turned upside down, and there were both good and bad indicators about whether it will turn back again in America.

—Luis Cessa, with 4 scoreless innings against the Red Sox.  Terrific!  Don't expect to ever see it again on this side of the Atlantic.  If Coops were smart, he'd deal him immediately for some magic beans.  (Coops is not smart.)

—Hicks, after swinging at a ridiculous pitch with the bases loaded to kill an early rally, redeemed himself with two key, late ribbies.  Let's hope it's a good sign.

—Bogaerts was back, and homered, so I guess we lost the injury battle.  Great.  On the other hand, this will probably keep Voit from injuring himself even worse in the All-Star Game nonsense.  And  it might mean another shot for Ford, or maybe...Mc-BROOM!

—Encarnacion, even in that band box, 1-10 with a double, a walk, and 5 strikeouts.  No walking the bird around the bases. Hey, the falcon cannot hear the falconer.  Things fall apart, and this rough beast  is slouching toward an early retirement.

—Jack Curry said outright that the Sox cannot win with that bullpen as is.  True.  But an ominous sign was seeing Steven Wright out there, baffling the Yanks as usual.  Who needs a bullpen (in a short series) with a knuckleballer?

—Curry also told us that neither Happ nor CC started today "for some reason."  Those were very, very good reasons.  This was the perfect place for CC to hurt himself.  And Happ?  Well, who besides Red Sox fans really wanted to see Boston score 20 runs?  In the first inning?

Bottom line:  we survived this nonsense, and even prospered.  Better than I could have hoped.

Now back to the reality...which starts with the fact that Luis Severino has had a "setback"...and probably won't pitch until September.

But more on that later.  For now, Bob's yer uncle, BoSox.






Brian Cashman is Bored

Yep.

Here is our Maximum Leader's quote on the "Baseball" in London farce:

"It breaks up the monotony."

Monotony?  Making $5 million a year to run a major-league team?  The greatest team what ever was, in the greatest city in America?

Hmm, maybe that's what that sordid affair a few years ago was all about:  another effort to break up the "monotony."  Or the elf rappelling.

But in fairness, when you think about it, it MUST be monotonous:

—Day in, day out, coming up with new false compliments to lavish upon HAL.

—Month in, month out, finding some new way to get rid of whatever meager talent you've managed to somehow develop in the farm system.

—Year in, year out, identifying yet another "big arm" that will break down as soon as you get it to the Bronx.

And the staffer!  Don't get me started on how boring it must be to find yet another incompetent trainer/coach-who-will-make everyone worse!

Yeah, I could see where that would be a grind.  Off to the British Museum!

We are Okay.....


As long as we score 17.

And the other team removes its starters.

And we don't watch.

" So tell me this, CC, is the Brexit plan in or out?  Did the Brits get another extension?  Where can we get some really good indian food?"


Luke?

That second double could spell trouble.

That's all I'll say.

Today.

Yesterday's biggest winner in London: The Tampa Bay Rays

I watched and listened to most of yesterday's game. At times, I turned it off, figuring the Yankees had won a cruel, Little League-style blowout, only to then learn that - incredibly - the outcome was still in doubt. All I wanted was for the damn thing to end, for a halt to the madness, for someone to put the rabid dog down and cease its inhumane suffering. Okay, it was fun, in a roller-derby sort of way. It certainly was exciting, as any slow-motion train wreck will be. Over all, it was an abomination, a crime against nature.

Dear MLB, next year, please, please, please... send somebody else. 

Yesterday, MLB performed lab rat experiments on its two marquee franchises, with a nearly five-hour pinball contest that rivaled the All-Star Game for incoherence. Both teams may have lost a star player. Practically every inning brought a new pitcher. The Fox announcers gabbed with CC Sabathia for 20 minutes during one nearly endless half-inning. Many starting players were gone by the seventh, and had Boston not replaced Rafael Devers at 3B, he surely would have hit a grand slam to tie the game. Close your eyes, and imagine the monstrocity going into extra innings. Can we, as mere humans, fully conceive of the damage to the pitching staffs? Dear God, what if today's game is like yesterday? Will we have anyone left to pitch against the Mets?

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Tampa beat Texas 5-2 yesterday in the dim, quiet, nearly empty confines of their domed stadium. The Rays unveiled another stud pitcher, he threw six perfect innings, and it once again raises the existential question: If a tree falls in Tropicana Field, does anybody hear it? 

One effect of this weekend's splash in London was to give people the false impression that the AL East is a two-team race, the Yanks and Redsocks. Boston is now 10 games behind and, unless the Yankees completely collapse, playing for the wild card. But Tampa is only down seven, and there's a lot of football left to play. One thing we learned yesterday: 

These games overseas are fucking weird, and nobody emerges unscathed. My guess is that somebody will get hurt today on that wicked turf. If I were Aaron Boone, I'd call for a transatlantic concord red-eye flight, fill it with Scranton Railriders and settle for a split by playing the scrubs. 

Please, MLB, next year, please... find another pigeon. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Quotes of the day...

...have nothing to do with bloody London.


From Jeffrey Gural, "operator of the sports book" at the Meadowlands:

“The Yankees are killing us because they win every day, and the Mets are killing us because they lose every day.”

Runner-up, from Chris Christie himself:

“If you’re betting on anybody but the Mets, you’re doing pretty well.”

Second runner-up, from Chris Christie again:

“I know people who drive to the Vince Lombardi rest station just to make their bets, and then turn around and go back to the city.”

Yeah, you always did know the class acts, Chris.  

But of course they would go to the Vince Lombardi!  I mean, where the hell else are they going to go?  The Joyce Kilmer?  I don't think so—unless they're betting on trees.  The Clara Barton?  Uh, yeah, if they're trying to get off the EL.  The Thomas Edison, the Alexander Hamilton?  C'mon!

Two Down, One More to Go

So, the second longest, 9-inning, regular-season game in major-league history—by all of 3 minutes—came to the end with a Yankees win.

Well, hooray for that.  But really.

Ma Boone was on TV right afterwards talking about how much he respects this amazing event.

I don't.  I don't respect it in the least.  To send 16 pitchers out there, almost none of them effective...Oy.

Okay, so the highlights:

—One game, two players hurt.  Voit and Bogaerts, both with leg injuries.  That will probably hurt them more than it hurts us but still...what bullshit.  Might be another opportunity for Ford and McBroom.

But don't forget: there's another game still to play.  If we get out of this alive, we'll be doing well.

—16 pitchers used.  Almost none of them effective.

—Bogus stat of the day:  Cortes gets a "hold" for 5 earned runs in 3 innings.

—Both teams had ads on their uniforms, helmets, and bats.  This is the real reason for going to London: so "MLB" can test out its most awful, greed head, moneygrubbing ideas.

—The Red Sox lost.  Always feels good, no matter where, no matter when, no matter how.




That Was 11

I have it on good authority that the 30 runs today were the responsibility of the teams' two new, European travel assistants, the Red Sox' Ian Faith, and the Yankees' Nigel Tufnel.

Apparently, both men carefully agreed on the size the playing field should be, before handing over the measurements to officials at London's Stadium.  The measurements were as follows:

RF Line:  315"
LF Line:  330"
Dead Center:  425"

The officials were also informed that the distances from the pitching rubber to home should be 60' plus 6', and that the space between bases should be 90".

Working carefully with the unfamiliar American measurements, Ian and Nigel agreed to make the foul territory 25 sq. mi.

The leprechaun dancing around the mound between innings was purely the responsibility of Hal Steinbrenner's personal assistant, Jeanine Pettibone.




Neutral ground, Tanaka and Tauchman... the London experiment is finally here

1. Something I never expected in my lifetime: A game between the Yankees and Redsocks on neutral ground. No Bronx berserkers. No Fenway fanatics. An equal playing field. Amazing.

Or will it be equal? My guess is the crowd will slightly favor us, reflecting the historical and magnetic ties between NY and London. Also, Boston can no longer claim status as adorable underdogs, as it did through the turn of the century. Boston is the dominant franchise in Major League Baseball, the closest to a dynasty that there is. 

I'm not sure the locals will give a shit about the differences between the two. They might associate the "Yanks" with WWII, and the recent anniversary of Normandy, and cheer the team. They might associate them Donald Trump, and boo lustily. Who knows? Most interesting to me will be whether the crowds show basic knowledge of the game. If a batter moves a runner to third with a ground ball to right, will he receive an ovation? (Not sure he gets one in Toronto, by the way.) Will fans shout "Luuuuuuuk?" For that matter, will anyone get booed?  

Much has been said about the crazy park dimensions and fake grass. They'll affect both teams equally. The intangible is the crowd. Will we hear a soccer-style craziness?  

2. Finally, the Death Star is giving Masahiro Tanaka a game on the world stage. When Tanaka signed in 2014, he surely expected to pitch in the World Series by now. He's started five post-season games, gone 3-2 with an ERA of 1.50. But no World Series. (Of course, today's game isn't one, either.) 

When he takes the mound, the whole world will be watching. At last.

We can debate whether Tanaka should have had that elbow surgery back in 2015, and what kind of pitcher he'd now be. Who the fuck gives a shit? What's done is done. Unless you find that porthole to an alternative galaxy, save your breath. The truth is, Tanaka has been a great teammate, a great Yankee, and we should wonder why Hal Steinbrenner hasn't signed another Asian free agent, especially considering their success in America. As the Yankees sit out auctions for Japanese talent, it's as if they're saying, "We have our Asian player, so we don't need another." Tanaka will be a free agent in 2021. Will that be when we finally look westward again? If so, is there a better definition of institutional racism?

3. Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman has gone public with an explanation of why Clint Frazier didn't make the London trip, even though he seems like the natural person to replace Giancarlo the Breakable. (Be honest: When Stanton went down, didn't you immediately think: Good! Frazier hits better anyway!) Cashman says veteran lug nut Mike Tauchman was always going to jump the puddle because of the wide foul lines and the extra OF to cover in London, and they wanted a fielder. Okay, makes sense. Let's give them that.

Also, Cashman denies setting a new Guinness World Record for Pettiness by punishing young Frazier for taking his allotted three days before arriving in Scranton this month. He says Frazier's three days of travel - he must have gone by camel - made no difference in the Yankee decision. Okay, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. 

But it's not as if the Yankee front office has had a winning month. Dallas Keuchel pitched into the sixth inning this week, giving up 3 runs to the Cubs. He's improving with every start. Meanwhile, the Yankees are touting their success with the Bullpen Gang of Seven going every fifth day, a plan designed to meltdown by October. We desperately needed a starter, and Hal let himself be outbid by a measly $1 mill. That leaves Frazier in the outbox, no matter what our owner says about his love and respect for young talent. 

Two games in London. I've hated this idea since they announced it. But today, it should be fun.

Pointless

























The Great English Tour is like so many things in American capitalism these days: an idea that sounds credible when you first say it, but in fact means nothing at all.

The excuse for this nonsense, which has a good chance of not only costing us two games in the standings but leaving a Yank in London seriously injured, is promoted as a way of "expanding" the game, and imitating the admirable, proclaimed global reach of the NBA or the NFL.

To which my polite reply is:  bite me.

I was going to write that baseball is not basketball.  That admirable but simple games like basketball or soccer have a global appeal because they are so simple: Get Ball. Put In Net.

Our baseball, by contrast—and even our American football—is something much more complicated and particular to us.  If they don't spread around the world—and hell, baseball has spread pretty much halfway around the world, between Latin America, Asia, and some parts of Europe—well, to hell with 'em.

But actually, it's even stupider than that.

Where is the payoff for the NFL's farseeing "global reach"?  A rumor that the Jacksonville Jaguars may move to London by 2025.  Oh, the excitement.  And the NBA?  Umm, yeah.

Sure, someday having a pro football team in London will pay off better than having one in Florida.  And someday basketball teams won't mind routinely traveling 6-7 hours by plane...

Time to give it a rest, folks.  Europeans play soccer, not American football.  And they have their own basketball leagues, which are often quite good, and which they will never want to replace with a single, token team that runs over to America every now and then to be flattened by a bunch of top NBA teams.

(For that matter, Americans are never going to be much enthused about a soccer league that serves—a best—as a feeder league for a bunch of European countries.  Or, much enthused about soccer, period.)

Look, some things are just not transferable to a ready-made, global empire.  Sorry, HAL.  Sorry, Rob Manfred.

Your "toehold" in London is going to be just as meaningful as the major-league world tour was in 1913-1914, over a hundred years ago, in which Charles Comiskey and John McGraw paid the stars all of $250 a pop, while pocketing the rest.

Today, MLB giddily reports that it has sold 120,000 tickets in London, and who knows what it will make in merchandise?  In short, this is yet another, short-term, money-grubbing rip-off by the good folks at MLB, who could give a toss about how their "product" is deteriorating at home, but see a great chance to wring a few more doubloons out of curious Londoners and baseball-starved ex-pats.

I hope it rains.












Friday, June 28, 2019

You thought the Ellsbury contract was bad? Meet the new Chernobyl: Giancarlo Stanton

This just in: Giancarlo Stanton recently emerged from his burrow for seven nights, saw his shadow, tweaked a gonad, and scurried back underground for another six weeks. 

Comrades, it's time to fear the worst.

We've seen this movie many times: The star slugger on a Hall of Fame career trajectory - (think Ryan Howard, Chris Davis, Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, David Wright, John Mayberry, Steve Kemp, Jose Tartabull, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitsky, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, et al) - suddenly tanks. It might be injuries. It might be DNA. It's might be a flaw in his swing. Doesn't matter. He goes from slugger to Sluggo. He's never the same.

The latest version looks like Stanton - an 8-year, $265 million, chicken-boned DH with sinews of congealed butter - with an extra twist of lemon: He might just be the biggest boondoggle in baseball history.  

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Stanton could be the worst thing that happens to the Yankees in our lifetimes. 

This year - his last season in his 20s - is now an official washout, one that Derek Jeter deftly avoided by dealing the injury-prone giant for what seemed like a handful of magic beans. If Stanton returns in August-September and gets hot - that is, he avoids the rusty slump that greets most returnees - he might finish 2019 with 10-12 HRs. Wow. In fact, if he returns, he'll probably swing the bat too hard and pull his cabbage basket. The guy snaps like a Hershey bar. He always did. It's not his fault. It's as if his body is too large to control, and something is always out of place. He might have one or two decent seasons left, but he will always be one pitch, one swing, one stretch away from the Injury List. That's the reality of Giancarlo, the human rain of sprain.

When the deal came down in the winter of 2018, one question was whether Stanton might choose to opt-out of his contract in 2020. That concern is now a punchline. The Yankees shall be lashed to this lead-humped whale through 2028, when they can finally pay the ransom buy their freedom for $25 mill. Imagine how bad he'll be in LF at age 35. That year, he'll earn $32 million. 

Moreover, he will function as Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner's walking, gold-plated excuse to never again sign a high-priced free agent. This will allow the owner to bank team profits and buy politicians instead of players. Whenever a star eyes New York, Hal will simply point to Stanton and say, look, look, LOOK... and the YES courtiers and Gammonites will nod agreement.

Stanton's latest injury may have achieved the impossible: Tipped the scales on judgement over the deal that sent him to Gotham. It's hard to think Miami could have won the trade, especially with Starlin Castro, the big name we gave up in return, now batting a measly .232. But Castro's bloated contract ends this season, freeing the Marlins to move on. The Yankees will be just getting started. 

(So, what about the ancillary prospects that they Yankees dealt away? Jose Devers - younger brother of Rafael - now 19, is hitting .325 in high Single A for the Marlins. That's pretty good. And the pitcher, Jorge Guzman, 23, is in Double A, with an ERA of 3.87.)

The china doll syndrome has plagued Stanton throughout his career. Jeter foresaw it. To ditch the Stanton contract, Miami will pay the Yankees $30 million, if he doesn't opt out after 2020. That's a pittance, of course. But it stands to remind us of everybody knew: The Yankees were absorbing the worst contract in professional sports.

Okay, I've been hard here on Stanton, maybe too hard. I'm angry and lashing out. (This shouldn't get personal. But for me, the Yankees are always personal.) No player desires to be hurt. I'm sure that Stanton and Jacoby Ellsbury have endured deep depressions over what has happened to derail their careers. As I said earlier, it's not their fault. The Yankees gave Ellsbury a seven year deal, and they assumed Stanton's pact. They knew what they were doing. As fans, we didn't. 

As fans, we thought we were going to see a great slugger in the prime of his life. Instead, we must steel ourselves for the worst. And it might just be worse than anything we've ever seen. Contractually, this could be our Chernobyl. We're trying to salvage a lost Yankee decade. Are we already fated for another one?

This was always a bad idea...





Yep, those are ballplayers at the Sphinx of Egypt, during Albert Spaulding's 1889-1890 World Tour. And as you can see here, the ancient icon could really use a good mani-pedi (and no, Napoleon's officers did NOT shoot off the nose).

The world tour was supposed to be a big deal, spreading baseball around the world.  In fact, like almost everything having to do with Spaulding, it was a con job.

A few months before, John Montgomery Ward, nothing to do with the late, lamented department store but the remarkable shortstop, pitcher, and lawyer for the New York Giants, had managed to secretly form a "Brotherhood" of baseball players.

The new baseball union actually managed to demand—and get—some rights; their first rights pre-Marvin Miller, really—including some restrictions on the reserve clause, under which baseball owners had declared that all of the basic laws of contract and capitalism didn't really apply to them.

The owners were truly stymied about what to do until Albert Spaulding, the most wily and devious among them, hit on the idea of a great big world tour to spread the American pastime around the globe!  He then invited all the best players—and the leaders of the union—to go with him, in the interests of peace and love and industrial peace.

While they were away, Spaulding's fellow owners presented the remaining players with an even MORE restrictive reserve clause, which included strict limits on how much any player could be paid, up to a ceiling of $2,500—not a whole lot even in 1890s dollars.

The idea was to present the returning players with a fait accompli, sort of like a hidden ball trick or something.  Didn't see that coming, did you? 

Much to the chagrin of the owners, the players simply went out and formed their own Players' League, which essentially ruined the old American Association, one of the two major leagues at the time, and nearly capsized the National League as well, before Spaulding and friends quietly bribed the Players' financial backers to go away.

The Players' League was such a great idea that I don't know why they didn't try it again back in the 1994 strike, but there you are.

Today's big tour, following similar, stupid efforts to play major-league games that count in Australia and Japan and elsewhere, is to give "MLB" "a toehold" in England, according to Grand Vizier Rob Manfred.

Just what good a toehold will do is anybody's guess.  More likely, toes, heels, fingers, hips, and, of course, lats will be busted up on the ridiculous playing surface where the Lords of the Game are willing to risk hundreds of millions in human flesh.

Well, I suppose it's all insured by Lloyd's Suckers of London, which is maybe why they're going over there in the first place.  The 1889-1890 tour ended up in England, too, where the Brits very politely watched everyone gambol about the green for a time, and then said no thanks.

Look, they have their own bat-and-ball game over there, which has caught on in a few of the Dominions, too.  And if it's basically One Old Cat dressed up in spiffy whites and tea breaks, well, that's their business, too.

It's been 130 years—there was another tour in 1913, too, which was yet another ploy to rip off the players—and they still don't want to play baseball.  Their loss.

Rob Manfred, HAL, and the rest of them ought to take their toes and hold them till they turn blue in the face for inflicting this on us.








Thursday, June 27, 2019

Fun Facts from Over the Pond!

Did you know that the best team in England is the London Mets???

It's true!  "Mets" being an abbreviation here for "Metaphors"!

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/26/sports/yankees-red-sox-london-.html

Oh, all right, it's an abbreviation for "Meteors."

But...Bonus Fun Fact!

The London Mets could beat the New York Mets!

It's true!

Today, the Mets blew their fifth straight game in which they had a multi-run lead!  No team has done that in the major leagues since...the 2011 New York Mets!

Other teams in England that could beat the Mets:

Tottenham Hot Spur
The Arsenal Gunners
Wolverhampton
Leeds United
Man City
Man U
Man U Too Buddy

Yes, they are all soccer teams!  But they could still...beat the Mets!



At How Many $100,000 per At Bat?

The infamous Giancarlo Stanton, 2017 MVP of the National League, and one of Brian Cashman's "steals" ( to the tune of what, $165 million ?), will now be out until mid to late August.

In effect, he is out for the season. 

We would be better off.  My fear is that he returns in time to lose the play-offs for us, with his uncanny command of hitting into double plays and striking out at key moments.

And this total waste of money will stare at us from the bench, where his loyalty will be on display as his waist-line slowly expands.  I prefer not to see his face.  Every shot of him sitting there with bulging eyes is a proud reminder of what a mistake he was for this franchise.

It is like forcing fans to put his portrait over the fireplace in our homes.

Can't we send him to Omaha until he is fully recovered?

Oddly, this means nothing for Frazier.  I am starting not to be so bothered by this, because I don't think he can become a fine fielding outfielder.

If possible, he has "fielding yips" which causes a panic to set in and ruin his ability to zero in on the baseball....he cannot accurately calculate speed, angle, distance and height.

So lets bring up Estrada and let him play.  I know he is not a natural outfielder, but he looked comfortable and is a great infielder.  Those skills do translate.





A Tale of Two Teams

Here's how the Red Sox are going to London:

https://sports.yahoo.com/check-red-soxs-luxurious-plane-005816617.html

But don't worry.  HAL has the Yanks on stand-by at Air Liechtenstein:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/9185910/A-dismal-welcome.html


Tauchman? Are you kidding? They're ditching Clint Frazier for Tauchman?

Shocker: Giancarlo Ellsbury is out. Again. Bum knee. 'Till September? Who knows? Gianni, we hardly knew ye...

The only positive - aside from not having to wait for his next injury - was that Clint Frazier would get another chance. After all, the guy hit .283 with 11 HRs for us (209 plate appearances) and helped lead the team through its dark injury days (which apparently are not over.) Perfect fit: Frazier for Stanton. Might even be an upgrade.

Nope.

The Yankees yesterday announced that Mike Tauchman will make the trip to London, leaving Frazier to languish in Red Rock Country. WTF? Good question. According to Bob Klapisch of the Times, the front office - (Cooperstown Cashman, of course) - was miffed over Frazier taking his allotted three days of personal time before reporting to Scranton like a good little soldier. And amazingly, the disillusioned and depressed Frazier didn't go on a hitting tear in the city where he's now played three straight years. 

Great young hitter. Fiery temperament. Runs into walls. They can't wait to trade him. 

Long term repercussions here. 

A Get Well Card for Giancarlo

With apologies to the great Woody Guthrie.

Giancarlo came up and we cheered ourselves hoarse,
He'd break every record as a matter of course.
He huffed and he puffed and he swung like hell
And the next thing we know he's back on the DL!

Singin' so long, it's been good to know ya,
So long, it's been good to know ya.
But for this game I am too strong
And I gotta be driftin' along.

The Red Sox were wobbling they were ready to go,
Giancarlo said "I'll win it with one mighty blow.
I'll give it a ride, you should have no fear"—
And the next thing we know we're done for the year!

Sayin' so long, it's been good to know ya,
So long, it's been good to know ya.
I gotta get back to the weight room now
But wait'll next year I'll show ya and how!

Well, he swung the bat and he blew out his shoulder,
He slid into the bag and he rolled his knee over.
It's a good thing he can't play the field much,perhaps,
For if he caught a ball he might just collapse.

Singin' so long, it's been good to know ya,
So long, it's been good to know ya.
The balls he hits they sail far out of sight,
But as he circles the bags his hammies get tight.

His body is just like a well-oiled machine—
After it's been tenderized with a ball-peen.
He's got biceps of iron and abs of steel
But he just can't stay on the darned field!

Sayin' so long, it's been good to know ya,
So long, it's been good to know ya.
We're off to London to play for the queen,
And we hope while we're gone you won't rupture your spleen!

















Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I Want to Play Poker with Aaron Boone

Boone at his postgame press conference today, talking about Paxton.

Adjusts hat, touches neck, pulls at nose.

"I really do think he's going to take off.  And as long as he remains healthy, he's going to pitch well."

Moves head to one side, touches ear, looks sideways.  Adjusts jersey.

Reporter: "You did mention the lack of authority on Paxton's fastball today.  And his health.  Are you sure maybe his knee wasn't bothering him a little bit?"

Touches fingers to lips, looks down.

"Yeah.  I mean, I haven't checked with him after the game.  But I feel good about where he is from a health standpoint."

Okay then.
 



Congrats to 2019 Yankees for HRs in 28 straight games: So what did it get us?

May 25, 2019 - a date that will live in infertility...

That's the last time the Yankees took the field and failed to wallop what Mel Allen used to call a "Ballantine Blast." It was the nightcap to a doubleheader sweep against KC - they'd homered that afternoon - but nobody whacked one after dark. 

So, last night, with four solo shots, the 2019 Yankees have now out-dinged the mighty 2002 Texas Rangers: They have gone the most consecutive games with home runs... ever! 

What a thrill, to be compared to the 2002 Rhoid Rangers, with Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmmeiro, Michael Young, Carl Everett, Rusty Greer and a spry young lad called A-Rod.

Fourth in the AL West.

Yep. Fourth. 72-90. Last place, 31 games out of first.  

The reason? Pitching, obviously. After 37-year-old Kenny Rogers, whose ERA landed slightly below 4.00, the Texas rotation included three B's: Burba, Bell and Benoit. (Quick: Tell me their first names?) The team was so bad that it cost A-Rod, who hit 57 HRs, an MVP trophy and eventually prodded his trade to Boston NY.

So, a legitimate question for 2019: Will the Rangers' successors know success? 

Well, we're better than they were, obviously. 

But on the night of May 25, after dispatching KC to its lonely cornfield, the Death Star stood at 34 and 17 - a .667 winning rate, first in the AL East, three games ahead of the Tampa Toddlers.

Over their last 28 homery games, the Yankees are 17-11 - .607. 

Yep. They've actually been a worse team. But we're splitting hairs, sorta. They're still in first, and their lead now stands at 6 games. (Eight ahead of Boston; that's all you need to know.)

Have they become homer-happy Grandersons? That could still happen, but for now, the stats say otherwise.

In the month of June, their team batting average has been .271. For April-May, it was .256. Not only have they hit HRs, they've put balls into play, led by the first-half AL MVP: DJ LeMahieu. 

Perhaps the biggest concern is Luke Voit, who keeps talking up the idea of competing in the Horrible All-Star Break HR Derby. On May 25, Luke was hitting .261. He's now at .268. That seems to be his baseline. The biggest drops in batting average belong to Gio Urshela (which was expected, he was at .330) and Gleyber Torres (who was hitting .320.) Both remain effective, and Torres might challenge LeMahieu for MVP at season's end.

The biggest concern: Aaron Hicks is on the verge of sinking below .200, a demarcation line that defense and occasional power cannot justify. Last night, for the first time since he arrived, Hicks found himself in the bottom third of the lineup. That's where he belongs. It would be damn nice to see him hitting .250 - (good grief, how our standards have fallen) -  but right now, he looks like a walking bundle of frayed nerves and tweakable gonads. 

His OF companions, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton - (assuming either lasts the London games on artificial turf, or if Stanton even makes the trip) - should hit at least .260. Edwin Encarnacion - now at .143 with us - could be drifting into homer-happy territory. (Did Seattle see something?) But for now, let's just assume he's trying too hard. The Welcome to New York thing.

The moral? This HR record is a big, fat nothing burger. (Not to be confused with the Impossible Burger, which someday I will try.) The 2019 Yankees will live or die with starting pitchers. The key to this team will never hit a HR. His name is Luis Severino. One of these days, the Yankees will either bring him back or shut him down. If it's the latter, THAT will be a date to stand in infamy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

This Just In: Stanton Out

MRI for knee contusion.

Let's hope he's okay.  But if Coops trades the Red Menace at this point he's nuts.


Why It's Bad for Us that the Mets Stink

It's summertime, and Theatre of the Absurd seems to have opened up for yet another season over in Flushing.

First, we have Jason Vargas joining Brett "Bleach Gun" Saberhagen and Bobby "Let Me Show You the Bronx" Bonilla in the growing tradition of Mets players who have attacked or threatened to attack older, weaker guys who are forbidden by their employer to fight back.

Meanwhile, Manager Mickey Callaway has yet to don Bobby Valentine's old Groucho Marx disguise, but he's probably being fitted for it as we speak.

Hey, you have to be a real stud to threaten to punch out somebody who will be fired if he punches back.  Reminds me of how that choice thug Chris Christie used to go around getting in people's faces with his bodyguard a foot behind him.

Mr. Vargas, to date, has made over $63 million turning in 14 years of thoroughly mediocre pitching.  If he were on my team, I'd have the press secretary making reservations for Mr. Studly on the Palookaville Express, but this is just par for the course over in the three-ring circus by the Sound.

Callaway asked, not so rhetorically, if Billy Martin hadn't punched out a sportswriter.  No, he specialized in marshmallow salesmen and his own pitchers, and loved such tried and true methods as the sucker punch and the cold cock.  The one time he didn't make sure there were people around to break it up, Billy ended up almost bleeding out in a Texas alleyway.

This is not a role model for anyone in today's game, or even yesterday's game.  But hey, it seems that Callaway, who so far has gone through an entire half-season without getting his own lineup wrong, has decided to send a more macho message.

Willie Randolph must shake his head in wonder that, 12 years later, he's still on the shelf while this bozo runs a team.

In short, it's the same as it ever was out in Queens.  All that's missing is a bunch of clowns in a tiny car and Vince Coleman to toss firecrackers at the fans.

The real estate racket known as Wilpon & Son has filled up its holes with the usual suspects, has-beens and never will bes such as Todd Frazier, Joggy, and Lagaras.  Their gold-glove shortstop of the future has now let up more runs than any other fielder in baseball, and yet another can't-miss, young guns pitching staff has shot itself in the foot, both knees, and at least one testicle.

Sure, it's hard not to laugh.  That's the thing with clowns.

But the last laugh is on us.  HAL and the rest of the human calculators who run your New York Yankees don't need the Mets in town.  It does us no good to have the idiot younger brother over there, the perpetual fuck-up cousin who has just completed his third DUI class and is thinking about selling Amway products for a living.

Even the Nets are pushing the Knicks now.  What the Yanks need is the same:  a wily, well-run NL rival that will fight them for every dollar and back page, to the point where even HAL will start to worry that he might lose the town—i.e., big bucks—to the other guys.

Instead, we have this:  yet another bellyflop into Fishhooks McCarthy's toxic bay, while the Wilpons spend their nights stuffing all that Madoff money into their mattresses.

Hooray for them, but the way to improve is not by competing against a team of Fredos.

 






A Picture You Might Not Have Come Across


I belong to a few train-related Internet groups, including ones involved with metro NYC.  The picture below appeared from one of this morning's feeds:



The photo shows Lou Gehrig and his wife Eleanor boarding a train in Penn Station NYC on March 18, 1937 for a trip down to spring training.  Apparently, Gehrig was leaving late for spring training that year because of contract issues.

Be sure to click on the picture to zoom in and get the full effect.  It's a great "moment in time" shot.

Art Of The Deal

Okay.

Pull the trigger.

Marcus Stroman for Jonathon Holder.  We get a guy who acts like Odel Beckham and they get our best long relief guy.

 ...burp.

Marcus Stroman loves NY. So what?

Last night, as if campaigning for the lead in "The Bill de Blasio Story," Marcus Stroman told reporters.


"New York's like the Mecca of the world. I love excitement. I love bright lights. I love competition. I love pressure. I've always loved pitching here, even though I haven't always pitched fairly well here, I've always enjoyed it. Yankee lineups are brutal. They're hard to kind of navigate. But yeah, I love the spotlight. The bigger the moment, that's where I've always wanted to be."
Ass-kisser. I hope they trade him to Milwaukee. Stroman, 28 and having a good year, will be a free agent in 2021. We can sign him then, (except we won't: our owner doesn't do bidding wars.) Or there is the nightmare option: We bequeath our future to Toronto in exchange for him.

Let's understand one thing here: Stroman is not JA Happ. Last year, when the Jays broke with tradition and dealt Happ to their division rivals (for Billy McKinney and that 3B with the migraines), they were trading a 34-year-old, two-month rental at the edge of his sell-by date. Happ came advertised as the guy who beats Boston. He didn't. This season, after inking a 2-year deal, he's been worse. Maybe he'll figure it out; he's got the "crafty veteran" thing. But if Toronto didn't get much for him last July, it's not as if he were the second coming of Verlander. Repeating for slow-learners: Stroman is not Happ.  

To get him, my guess is Clint Frazier would be first to go, with Thairo Estrada in tow. Already, that gives me the hives. But Toronto would be just warming up. 

They would probably demand Deivi "Davey" Garcia, the 20-year-old, RH current Hollywood "IT" girl of the Yankee farm. In his last two starts for Double A Trenton, he a) struck out 15 batters and b) threw five no-hit innings. He's tiny - 5'9", 163 pounds. (Both Pedro and Guidry were 5'11".) For a little guy to throw so hard, he's either a Tommy John surgery-in-waiting or a genuine, storm-born, breaker of wheels and father of dragons. This year, he's thrown 59 innings, clearly on pitch counts. He should soon be promoted to Scranton. If he continues to dominate, well, things get murky. In theory, he could arrive in September, maybe even as a post season unicorn. That's unlikely, though. What's more likely is that he'll go somewhere in a trade, for Stoman or some reasonable facsimile. These days, that's the reality of rooting too hard for the Yankees. If there's a young prospect who gives you hope, don't follow him, don't think about him, don't hug him. He's won't be around for long.

But how can we not want to see Garcia? Since April, the Death Star has been assuring us that Luis Severino will return. It's been three months, and he's still in the hot tub. Now, they say Domingo Jean German will be back before the All-Star break. Either or both could fill the Yankee rotation and salve the need for Stroman. That would mean Frazier in LF next year, and as for Estrada, who has no path to the Yankee infield, at least he could be dealt next winter, when trade partners stand on equal footing. 

Meanwhile, the sad fate of Jonathan Holder has shifted to Wilkes Barre. The Yankees ditched him last night - what choice did they have? - after an abysmal eighth inning, when he couldn't retire a batter. Here's where Dellin Betances was supposed to come to the rescue. That's not going to happen. In Scranton, our best bullpen options are 

a) Joe Harvey, who got walloped last night. 
b) Stephen Tarpley, whose pitched effectively lately. 
c) Chance Adams, because he's always there.
d) JP Feyereisen, a 26-year-old RH, who hasn't given up a run in his six appearances, fanning 15 in 9 innings. Hmm.

There are also a few crusty journeymen - Drew Hutchinson, Rex Brothers, et al - on one-and-done contracts. And Ben Heller, supposedly recovered from TJ surgery, in Single A rehab. He'll need at least a month.  

For the next few weeks, Cashman will be jogging through small markets in musk-scented underwear, hoping to rouse something. The real question is what he's prepared to give up. 

So, Marcus Stroman loves New York, eh? Great. So didn't King Kong. Don't mean a thing. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Blowouts like yesterday shouldn't bother us... unless they awaken the front office

So, another Old-Timers Day - (politically correct name: Golden Citizenry Afternoon) - has now been flashed into our collective memory. Whitey couldn't make it. A-Rod and Clemens are still waiting. John Flaherty remains stuck behind the plate. And once again, the current Yankee team assumed a fantasy somnambulance and crapped the bedpan.

Last year, we lost to Tampa 3-1. The year before, we fell to Texas 7-6. Both games winnable. Yesterday, no way. We flat-out stank. In all three Golden Citizenry Afternoons, the Yankee Present was embarrassed, humiliated and left for dead in the presence of its glorious past.

I think it stems from prep. The Yankees watch the codgers shambling around, three gimlets past 11 a.m., and they see themselves in 20 years, hooked on boner pills and flirting unsuccessfully with the Early Bird Special waitresses at Denny's. Something happens inside them. The engines seize-up. Yesterday, from the opening pitch, we were dead squirrels on the side of the road. Verlander was laughing. He never had it so easy.

But blowout losses are a thing for the 2019 Yankees. Before yesterday, our last defeat came at the hands of the mighty White Sox: 10-2.) It's as if this team bundles three games worth of mistakes into the occasional abomination. If so, we might have to give Aaron Boone some credit. While we were screaming for him to remove JA Happ yesterday, maybe Boone foresaw the stinker coming, put the game on Cruise-Control, and left the Happster in until it was 8-0 - (56-0, if it were a football game.) 

Of the Yankees' nine losses in June, only two were nail-biters - to Toronto and the White Sox. Consider the margins of our last seven losses:

4-9
2-10

4-5
4-10

4-8
2-5

7-11

In six out of seven, the scores don't adequately convey the depth of the Yankee malignancies. We didn't just stink; we openly, pungently reeked. In five games, our starters blew up on the launch pad - three mulligans by Paxton, and one apiece for CC and Happ.

Listen: We are in first, Boston lost yesterday to Toronto, and we were freed to enjoy a sunny afternoon on our green-painted concrete lawns. I'd rather the 8-game streak end with a blowout than an 8th inning collapse that evokes the last days of Scott Proctor, preparing to burn his mitt at home plate. The streak wasn't going to last forever. Maybe it's good to be embarrassed at home in front of a sell-out crowd. (Unfortunately, it didn't do any good last year, or the year before.) 

But Happ's continual flops are becoming a thing. Were he a Nestor or a Chance, he'd be sent to Scranton to ponder those wisps of methane the scientists have found on Mars. As it is, he is a five-inning clunker and a bane to our bullpen. The Yankees cannot trade him. They can only hope he figures it out soon.

Because there is one lingering problem with the occasional stinker blowout loss. It ramps up the pressure on Brian Cashman to make a trade. Last year, he brought us Sonny Gray, who didn't even make our playoff roster. Now, we hear the daily drumbeat for Clint Frazier and Thairo Estrada to be bundled up - like the Yankee losses - go somewhere for another Happ. 

Like all of you, I want the Yankees to not just win this year, but two win two or three championships in a row. That's when the modern Yankees can effectively be compared to the Old-Timers from 1999 and 2000. To build a dynasty, the Yankees need young players like Frazier. What we don't need is another Happ. I wonder if anybody sees that? 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Today's Big Game: Happy! takes on Verlander



He might need Chris Meloni for this one. Cross yer fingers.

Heading for a collision


This Needs to Happen

Aaron Boone stumbled downstairs Sunday morning, his head still a little dizzy from the half-glass of port he'd imbibed to celebrate the Yankees' 8th straight victory the night before. Suddenly, he stopped.

There, filling his living room, were his wife Laura, their 56 adopted children, his father Bob, brother Brett, and—gathered in the back of the room around the couch and the loveseat—every Yankees fan in creation.

"What—what is this?" Boone mumbled, his mouth suddenly dry.

"Oh, I think you know what it is, dearest," Laura said, running a smoothing hand down the side of his face.

"Not-not- "

"Yes, dear.  It's an intervention."

"Noooooo!"

"Please don't be like that, sweetheart.  You know and I know that this was bound to happen if you kept on doing what you've been doing," Laura told him, trying to keep her voice as soft and possible and choke back the tears.

Bob Boone got up off the credenza and came over to his son.

"Aaron, you've always been a good boy, and a fine ballplayer—if not quite as good as Brett was—"

"Not quite as juiced, you mean!"

"Let's not get into that again.  You know what we're here about."

"No!  No, I don't!" Aaron yelled, and stomped his foot, wanting to run, to hide, to be anywhere but in that room.

"YES, YOU DO," said all the Yankees fans in creation.

"You see that?" his dad told him.  "They only want the best for you.  As do all of us here.  But this has got to stop."

"What has got to stop?" Aaron screamed—though deep in his heart, he knew the answer already.

"Son, I hoped it wouldn't come to this.  But I'll spell it out for you, if I have to," Bob Boone told him, a stern look on his face.  "You have to stop using Jonathan Holder."

"Nooooooo!"

"YES. YES, YOU DO."

"Oh, now I know, I know," his father said, putting an arm around the shoulders of his now sobbing son.  "He's out there in the bullpen.  He's wearing a uniform, with an actual number on it.  You think of him just like a real major-league pitcher.  You want to put him in every big game.  You keep telling yourself, 'Hey, this will give him confidence!' "

"Well?  What's wrong with that?" Aaron spat out resentfully through his tears.

"Son, you got to give it up.  What is it they call the definition of insanity in these recovery programs? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results?"

"It's not MY fault!  Mr. Cashman says I HAVE to use him, that the analytics check out.  And, and, and Mr. Hal said I did, too, that he is really inexpensive, and—"

"What's this now, son?  Denial?  Passing the buck?" his father asked, while Brett gave an ill-concealed snicker. After a sharp look from Bob, he stared blankly out into space again.

"Well, it's true!"

"Oh, c'mon now, son. You know and I know that thanks to Mr. Cashman and Mr. Hal you have 196 pitchers out in the bullpen on an average night. You know you don't really have to use Holder in any important situation.  Wouldn't his services be put to better use peddling hot dogs in the bleachers?"

"Well, yeah, I guess so," Aaron said, sniffling a little but beginning to feel better about himself.

"You could easily just change his number with somebody else's—Cashman is not going to notice.  And Hal is too busy watching the World Cup, to plan his exciting new women's soccer league venture."

"I guess."

"And think of what a good thing you'll be doing for all the Yankees fans."

"YES, YOU WOULD.  WE WANT TO TEAR OUR OWN FINGERNAILS OUT WHEN WE SEE JONATHAN HOLDER WARMING UP."

"Okay, okay. I'll try to stop using him. But I can't go cold turkey. I still have to pitch him some in blowouts, and stuff like that."

"WE UNDERSTAND. JUST AS LONG AS IT'S BLOWOUTS IN SCRANTON."

"Hey, c'mon!  Is that nice?"

'WE'RE NOT NICE.  WE'RE YANKEES FANS.  AND WE DON'T WANT TO SEE JONATHAN HOLDER AGAIN.  EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER."

"Okay, okay, you made your point!"

'THANK YOU.  WE'LL BE GOING NOW.  AND SORRY ABOUT THE COFFEE TABLE."






 








Saturday, June 22, 2019

News around the Death Star


A thaw that has nothing to do with global warming

Could this start something?


So Where Are We?





1.  The Stanton "hitting honeymoon" lasted one game.  He struck out three times last night, and that "look" has returned to his eyes.

2.  Judge is still looking for his first hit and he launched a throw to second that was caught by Urshela at third.  But he'll get it together.

3.  We scored runs only because of two-run homers, one each by Sanchez and Torres.  At least the young guys are making it happen.

4.  We lost Maybin and have yet another worry about Hicks ( who is hitting below .200 ).

5.  We used the entire pitching "A" team last night (5 in total), and barely got out with the win.  Houston had the tying run at the plate.

6.  Encarnation, at age 36, out-shined Luke Voit as a defensive first baseman, making three " game saving" plays.

So things are good, right?


And suddenly the Yankees have no outfield depth

A year ago, around now, the Yankees didn't know what to do with all their outfielders. They roamed the Bronx like feral cats in a trailer park. There were the Aarons - Hicksie and Judgie - Gardy, Giancarlo, and then the B-Team: Neil Walker, Jace Peterson, Clint Frazier, Billy McKinney, et al. It was like the waiting room on Mount Everest. So deep was the larder that Cooperstown Cashman dealt McKinney to Toronto and jettisoned Peterson. And then, one day, suddenly, they were all gone.

Come the stretch run, the Yankees traveled to Fenway with Shane Robinson, a career minor leaguer, in RF, where they were swept away. (To his credit, Robinson drew a dramatic late-inning walk in one game, which could have inscribed him into Yankee lore, if Aroldis Chapman held the lead.) All those outfielders... poof.

Listen: The weather changes quickly in June. And last night, we caught a glimpse of the 2018 bugaboo. In a span of hours, the Death Star disclosed a nagging shoulder injury to Hicks, which might account his dismal hitting. (He's seeing Mr. MRI.) And halfway through the game, Cameron Maybin - Mr. June - limped onto the I-ELL(sbury) list with a strained calf. He's officially out for 10 days, but don't you believe it. He'll probably be gone through the all-star break, at the least. 

So, here we go again? 

Last year at the solstice, we stood in first place, two games up, with a record of 50-22. (We are now 5 up in the loss column, at 48-27.) Last year, we were sitting in the catbird's seat, just like today.

Well, this afternoon, to replace Maybin, Cashman will either recall a pitcher or another OF: Mike Tauchman or Clint Frazier look like the main candidates. The career minor-leaguer or the stud prospect. After Frazier powered the Yankees through May, you'd think he'd get the call. (If you want to drain him of hope during Hope Week, ignoring him is a fine way.) But the Yankees will probably opt for Tauchman, the expendable journeyman, the type who'd get sent to put out the fire at Chernobyl. 

Listen: I'm a Frazier fan. I want to watch his narrative play out on the main stage. He is one of the most interesting Yankee players in the last 10 years. He could be a great hitter. He could be a future punch line. This is why we become fans - to see what happens to our favorite characters.

That said, I steel myself for the trade that converts Frazier into a pitching rental. When the Yankee owner grabbed his hamstring and limped out of the bidding for Dallas Keuchel, we basically tweeted our plans for Frazier. He's fodder... good as gone.

Or, he was... until last night. In that brief span, the juju gods last night served notice: In a world of over-shifted defenses and over-sized biceps, the landscape changes quickly. When the Yankees do trade Frazier, they'll be a tweaked gonad away from another Shane Robinson - or in this case Ryan McBroom (having a nice year in Scranton, by the way.) We can look flush in June, dead in July. 

Funny thing about all those cats. They have a way of disappearing. 

A Stitch in Time Saved Our Nine?

All right, I am throwing caution to the wind, challenging Dr. Odu, and going straight to it:

I DEFY Brian Cashman to trade The Red Menace now.

Maybin on the EL for 10 days.  Aaron "Mr. Glass" Hicks hurting.  Gardner due for his annual breakdown.  Giancarlo and Judge just back, and capable of going out again at any moment.

There is simply nobody left.  Unless Coops really thinks he can win the World Series with Estevan Florial and Michael Tauchman in the outfield, he HAS to know that he can't trade a serviceable outfielder.

The bad part?  This makes Thairo the Pharaoh all the more of a target.  But I don't think he alone can bring what Coopsie wants.

Hah!  Another evil plot foiled by sheer luck.  (And, of course, some surreptitious animal sacrifices.)




Friday, June 21, 2019

The Scoop On The Yankee Book I Referenced.

The New Yankee book is:

Inside The Empire:  The True Power Behind the New York Yankees.

Book by Bob Klapisch and Paul Solotaroff.

Note to readers:  A good book if you need a sleeping aid, and are willing to listen to arguments that Cashman is not ( inherently ) as bad as we think.

And that Hal is at least as bad as we think.

Goes best with Gentleman Jack and a bag of Sea Salt & Vinegar chips.

Real Yankee tweets from 2009







On Cameron Maybin's behalf, the Yankees need somebody to tweak a gonad

For now, the Disney-worthy saga of Hammerin' Cameron will continue. But dark clouds are approaching on the Yankee feel-good story of Hope Week 2019.

Last night, to offset the impending return of Aaron Judge, the Yankees dispatched bulk-innings magnet Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr. to the fracked farmlands of Scranton because - well - because they could. Cortes had options. If the Death Star had chosen to cut bait on, say, Luis Cessa - and his Andrew Brackman-esque 5.73 ERA - Cessa would surely have been scooped up like a golden Pog. Cortes had options, which means return bus tickets to Clark's Summit. When it comes to pitchers, the Yankees are hoarders. Woe unto the young reliever with options. 

But this means surviving the Chernobyl-hot month of July with a 12-man pitching staff - which, in this day and age, looks thin as a coat of Windex. To us geezers, who are only now becoming comfortable with bagged salads and fruity beer, the 12-man staff may seem a luxury. But when every fifth game is a bullpen group hug, it won't last long. As soon as JA or CC - or any starter - gets bombed, either Cortes or Chance Adams will be called upon to bolster the oxygen-depleted staff. And when Brian Cashman looks for an Expendable, his bloodshot eyes will settle on Maybin.

Don't blame Cash. Don't blame anybody. But the Yankees can toggle pitchers for only so long. At some point - soon - Maybin's tale of resurrection will splatter against a windshield or wall. In fact, with two outs in the ninth last night, it almost looked as though the juju gods were delivering a solution. Maybin misplayed a long fly to left, crashing to the ground and clutching his wrist gingerly. (By the way, if Clint Frazier botched one like that, the Yankiverse would be up in arms... just sayin'.) If he tweaked a wrist and missed two weeks, would it not be positive karma? In two weeks, somebody will probably be hurt.

For now, a fifth OF makes sense. If our main threesome is Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Judge - (Encarnacion as DH) - that leaves Brett Gardner as 4th Man/base stealer/defensive replacement. With Judge rusty, it's feasible to rest him in blowouts, torrential downpours and games to be played on London parking lot surfaces. But as well as Maybin fields, he's no defensive upgrade over Hicks or Judge. Over the long haul, there is simply no place for him.

Unless somebody tweaks something. Since Hicks, Judge and Stanton have used up their tweaking privileges, the job falls to Gardy, who nearly came through last week by beaning himself with a helmet. Nice try. In his early years, Gardy was known to crash into walls and miss time. These days, he's like Iron Man Sterling. (And by the way, this is not to wish an injury on anyone, especially our favorite Yankee.) But there is no Yankee future for Maybin beyond the next Yankee bullpen stress-out. And that can happen at any time.

Tonight, though, let's enjoy this. Judge returns, supercharging a lineup that - with the exception of Hicks - could easily represent the AL in next month's midsummer classic. If Big Maple Paxton delivers a solid six, lessening Zack and Otto's load, maybe Maybin can keep his string going. Damn. This Disney stuff works even better in baseball than the movies.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

You Can Stop Speculating Aboyt Hal ( " I'm not cheap" ) Steinbrenner

I just finished a book about the Yankees and it gave insights to the inner workings of the Yankees.

The bottom line is;  Hal never wanted the job ( overseeing the Yankees ) and doesn't even like baseball.

But the other brother, who does love baseball, is apparently useless.

So whatever Hal says to the public, to the fan base, or to anyone, basically, is a lie.  He models himself after another famous liar in America.  Thinking:  if a billionaire makes a decision, it has to be right.  Otherwise, he wouldn't have all that money.

So the Yankees could not be in worse " ownership" hands. The old man would be rolling in his grave on cut glass if he knew.

The book also revealed that many of the " idiotic" moves made by Cashman, and documented on this site, were forced upon him by Hal. 

I almost thought the book was written by Cashman, as it absolves him of so much stupidity.  Which really occurred due to Hal.

It doesn't mean that Cashman has any ability to identify quality pitchers outside the organization, but it is clear he wanted to "go young" and stay young. It actually suggests that Cashman was driven by hanging on to young talented prospects.

Ruined on nearly every occasion because Hal made rancidly stupid decisions which forced Cashman to take actions he didn't recommend.

And we shall soon see more of these come into play ( because of the non deal for the pitcher starting tonight, for the Braves ).



On the eve of Dallas Keuchel's debut with Atlanta, Hal Steinbrenner talks about being a big-spender

Yesterday, Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner emerged from his burrow, saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of austerity. Outside the owners meetings, presumably between martinis and lap dances, the beloved family trustee whom we call "Food Stamps" vowed to shoot his wad, money-wise, sometime around Aug. 1, even if it thrusts the Yankee budget above the de facto payroll cap, which his billionaire colleagues have illegally enforced for the last three years.

He said:

“If we feel we need another starting pitcher or even more help in the bullpen, we’re going to look at it. If I really felt we needed that deal that takes us over the top then, yes, I would, but we still have a decent amount of cushion.”

Translation: Fuck you, Yankee fans.

Okay, wait, fine, great. Hal says he plans to spend... maybe next month, yep, if the occasion warrants it, who knows? We'll see.

Well, Friday, Dallas Keuchel will start for the Braves. His first appearance of 2019 will come 24 hours after the Yankees employ their current fifth starter - The Entire Bullpen - against Keuchel's old team, the Astros.

Why rant? If a Yankee fan screams in the grandstand, does anybody hear? Instead of spending about $13 million on Keuchel, we have Edwin Encarnacion (for $3 million) and an impending salary dump trade, which will likely include Clint Frazier and the cast of Empire. Until then, our rotation will include a weekly stint by Chad Green (who hasn't appeared late in games, making him a two-inning starter), followed by Nestor (Octavio) Cortes Jr., a rookie. Some would call it "smoke and mirrors."  

But in the category of having-cake-and-eating-it, Steinbrenner also addressed the issue of Frazier. He said.

“I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s been working very hard on his defense and will continue to do so... He’ll be a big part of this team going forward. He certainly has the capability of doing that.”

This is sweet. It's also surgically worded bullshit. If Hal really wanted to keep Frazier in pinstripes, he would have ponied up for Keuchel instead of wallowing deeper into the DH hole for Encarnacion. Both moves effectively sealed Frazier's fate as a Yankee, and if Steinbrenner doesn't know this, he must be even dimmer than we thought.

Listen: It's hard to mope when we just swept the second place team in the AL East. But from now on, it's a two-team race, and I'm not referring to Tampa. The Redsocks are surging, and if they reach the wild card, it's hard not to see them as favorites, considering their rotation. I don't know what Hal has in mind. What should bother us all is that I don't think Hal does either. I hope he enjoys his martinis. 

Is Paul O'Neill All Right?

Does anyone know if O'Neill has spoken about his sister's death on the air?

I was surprised to see him in the broadcast booth, and he has seemed especially animated of late.

I don't mean this as a knock.  I know from my own experience that there can be a great sense of relief when a loved one has died after a hard, extended illness—a relief that they are no longer suffering, and that you no longer have to see them suffer.  And going back to a familiar, friendly work environment can be a big help after something like that.

In any case, RIP Molly O'Neill.  It was a storybook adventure in New York for her and her brother.



Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Batting third for the mightiest lineup in baseball... and hitting, gulp, .204?

The Yankee saga of Aaron Hicks began in Nov. 2015, when the Retrieval Empire dealt John Ryan Murphy - the catcher formerly known as "JR" - for the then-failed Twins ex-first-rounder. That season, it looked like a straight-up trade of clap for chlamydia. Hicks hit .217 - about 70 points above Murphy - who was exiled to the Triple A hinterlands.

In the spring of 2017, Hicks emerged from his pumpkin. In the first half of the season, he hit .290, (10 HRs) with an on-base percentage of .398 - all-star stuff! Then he strained a saddlebag and returned to his gourd. In the second half, he hit .217, finishing the year at .266 and 15 HRs, still enough for the Yankees to have "won the trade." 

Last year, though his average continued to fall (.248), Hicks hit 27 HRs, and was commonly hailed on YES as "the second best centerfielder in the AL," which was sort of a joke, because nobody tops Mike Trout. This spring, he signed a deal that extends through 2026, at $10 million per. The writers called it an omen of the new frugal Yankee ownership, signing a core player to a lifetime contract. Days later, Hicks again strained his cabbage-basket and went onto the EL (the Ellsbury List.) He stayed in Ellsbury Hot Tub Land until May 15. 

Since returning, Hicks has been nothing less than mediocre. Last night, he fanned twice and stranded six runners; he has killed more scoring opportunities than plaque psoriasis. Worse, he's done it while batting third. In a lineup brimming with All-Star candidates, he's a Thruway rest stop. Here's what happens: DJ LeMahieu singles, Luke Voit walks - and Hicks hits a grounder into the over-shift. It's been this way for a month. When the Yankees obtained Edwin Encarnacion, we figured Hicks would drop in the order. Nope. When Giancarlo Stanton returned, we figured Hicks would drop. Nope. Next week, Aaron Judge returns. Well, WTF?

Listen: This isn't a rip on Hicks. He's a gazelle in CF. And one of these days, he'll heat up. But batting third? Seriously. In a good year, Hicks shouldn't bat third in this lineup. The more he struggles, the more rallies he strangles, the more we should start to worry about his long-term value.

And then there is the saga of Mr. Cameron Maybin.

Lately, the debate over what to do with Hammerin' Cameron has neglected one possible option: CF. In fact, once Judge returns, Maybin's ticket to the waiver wire is as good as punched. There simply is no path for playing time, unless somebody gets hurt. But, but BUT... if Hicks is still fanning once every four at bats, and if his average dips below the Mendoza Line, shouldn't the Yankees consider maybe Maybin in center?

Oh, why am I bothering! Of course, this won't happen! We have an eight-year contract with Hicks; plus, his trade remains a signature victory for Zoilo Cashman's GM record. The Yankees "won the trade." (Murphy, for whatever it's worth, is now a Diamondback, hitting .177 with 4 HRs.) So it's Hicks... for now. But what if a month from now, he's still clogging the arteries... or tweaking his tummy-tuck? Wouldn't it make sense to keep Maybin... just in case?

One other weirdness: According to Scranton manager Jay Bell, the newly declawed Clint Frazier will play CF for the Riders of the Rail. Supposedly, Frazier is more comfortable in CF, though this is sort of like saying Lyme Disease is more enjoyable than Ebola. Could the Yankees actually be prepping Frazier for center, if Hicks continues to flounder? The answer, we all know, is NO. Frazier is now officially an afterthought, a player in pre-trade Purgatory. He might as well play shortstop. 

One final point: Last night, some intrepid Gammonites ripped Frazier for not reporting to Scranton immediately after his cruel demotion. What disgrace! What blaspheme! The horror, Mr. Kurtz! They compared him to Tyler Wade - who took an Uber to reach a Triple A game, and Mike Tauchman, who practically emailed himself to the Electric City. Well, both Wade and Tauchman flubbed their trials in Gotham, while Frazier had been the Yankees best hitter. If he needs to get his head right, he has 72 hours to do so. Thus, there is no outrage, no collusion, no obstruction, WITCH HUNT! In fact, the stories stick of media hissy-fit, considering Frazier's strained past relations with the scribe tribe. If he doesn't show within the required 72 hours, write your stories, asswipes. But this guy is playing baseball - he's not being vetted for the Supreme Court - and he just got screwed by a team for which he dreamed of playing. Gimme a break. And for everybody's sake, bat Hicks eighth or ninth, until his bat catches up with the league. This shouldn't be so hard.