Thursday, August 22, 2019

We knew there would be a stretch like this; now come the existential questions about this team

We all knew the Death Star would hit a rocky patch between August and October. This is not 1961. It might not even be 2009. As much as we probe and scrutinize this team, great mysteries remain across its roster. The next five weeks may solve a few, and we might not like the answers.

The existential questions... 

1. Who is Aaron Judge? The quick answer is that he is the Yankees' central marketing slogan, the brand that sells more $25 t-shirts than anybody since old Number 2. The tough one is that Judge might be a tin god, installed before his time. Last night, as you probably know already, he went 0-5 with two strikeouts, strangling the bubbly YES Network speculation that one tape-measure HR Tuesday night foreshadowed a volcanic hot streak. Apparently, the biggest position player in baseball simply walked into a fastball, the way countless other sluggers do in waning seasons. Judge's average has dropped to .260, yet Yankee management - waste deep in big muddy? - insists on batting him second, where strikeouts and DP grounders can strangle rallies.

If you deleted the first half of Judge's rookie season - when he hit 30 HRs and .329 before the all-star break - you'd have an injury-prone Brett Gardner - about 22 HRs per season, about .260, great glove - but with too many whiffs. He may have an excuse - he's recovering from a tweaked saddlebag - but we are still wondering who Judge is, and whether we may ever see him and Giancarlo Stanton - twin towers made of breakable china - hot at the same time. 

2. Who will pitch game three? Right now, the Gammonites are struggling to anoint a Yankee "ace," wondering who would start in the playoffs. But the answer is quite easy: Whomever is throwing well at the time. That's a crapola answer, but it fills the space. A far more terrifying question concerns the pivotal game three, often the most important contest in every post-season march. 

Right now, we'd likely choose Masahiro Tanaka for game one: he's throwing well - fingers crossed for tonight. And James Paxton would probably get the ball for game two. (Toes crossed.) But then what? It's a leap of faith to put Luis Severino into the playoffs, much less start him in the most important game of the season. When you reach game three, the Yankee ship looks much like those new shots of the Titantic, melting away at the bottom of the ocean. 

Last night, we hoped J.A. Happ would give us hope. Instead, we got five runs in four innings - what we've seen all year. Right now, game three would likely be Domingo German, 50 innings beyond his rookie sell-by date, or the earnest but horrifyingly slow C.C. Sabathia. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

3. Can the over-achievers keep over-achieving? We've seen enough of Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin and Luke Voit to recognize competent MLB players. But until a hitter goes once around the sun, you cannot be certain that he is the real deal. 

Like scientists seeking a cure for ebola, opposing scouts and computer nerds are constantly trying new ways to pitch them. If anything succeeds, it immediately becomes the norm. (See Judge, above.) Right now, Urshela and Tauchman - and DJ LeMahieu - are the Yankees' toughest outs. Yet we all hold our breaths, wondering what happens with the "stars" return, and their playing time dwindles. These guys still haven't gone a year in the majors. Until then, they remain uncertain.

4. What about the main existential threats? One good thing about last night: Oakland won, and Boston lost. In their quest for the last wild card slot, the Redsocks are now 8 games in the loss column behind the A's, and seven behind Tampa, with about 35 to go. Do the math. They are one bad week away from annihilation.  

I'm sorry, but no matter how good Oakland or Cleveland looks, it's Boston that I fear. Even without Chris Sale, they have a potent lineup and a potentially dominant rotation. Until Boston is put to sleep, we should take nothing for granted.

Then there remains another, perhaps even greater existential threat: The Mets. More and more, they look like the magic wild card team, the young lineup that wins the heart and mind of NYC. This could be the first year since we began counting that the Yankees fail to walk away from all competitors in the race for tabloid back pages.

Already, Alonso has replaced Judge as NY's most exciting player. Meanwhile, the Yankees buried their own potential breakout star, Clint Frazier, even after he helped save the team in May. Cameron Maybin is nice. But he doesn't move the needle. 

Which raises the final question.

5. Who on this team gives us hope? I have no answer. But we will soon know.    


13bit said...

I was going to write a haiku on who gives me hope, but I could not gin up the energy or rah-rah spirit to pull it off. My initial first line was "No one gives me hope," so I decided to delete the document.

Tanaka is a warrior. The young guys - the guys who were NOT part of Casholo's plan when the season began, but who stepped into the breach when everybody got mowed down by the Gonad Gods - THEY give me hope. Thunder gave me hope - a roller coaster kind of hope, but hope, nonetheless.

Other pitchers? Shit, I think Domingo is tired, at best, and needs a few weeks off. Sevvy? Let's play Lotto. Maple? CC? Happ? Let's play three-card monte. The coaches, the staff, the manager, the management? None of them gives me hope.

Maybe it's the wrong question, Duque. Maybe it's the wrong question. Maybe it should be "Does anybody or anything give you hope for how we work the Hot Stove League this year?

This season is beginning to look - and we're not there yet, but it could happen - like a potential grand, cosmic-grade clusterfuck sodomy job - the kind of slow motion, no-lube collapse that people will be talking about long after we're dead, but not too long because the planet probably won't last much more than another 40 years, anyway. They'll be growing vegetables in the infield, those few humans who remain, and using the dugouts for carp and catfish farming.

Do I have hope? Hey, are you kidding me?

Carl J. Weitz said...

13 this point, I'd settle for a three-inning Monty, should the lying Bloated Front Office ever tell us the truth about his prospects for pitching in 2019.

Duque, Judge may not be hurt very much. It appears that something won't allow him to get around the ball and pull it very often, at least with not much power and launch. But maybe that's his way of adjusting to being pitched outside. He also may be trying to do a Jeter and inside-out the ball when being pitched high and in. Perhaps we have seen the best of Judge at the plate and he can't make the necessary adjustments to the way pitchers now try to get him out. I don't think it's as easy to adjust mechanically/physically when you are that big.

Anonymous said...

These are good questions. I would also add..

6) Will management take their head out of their ass?

You (and all of us)bring up common sense solutions all the time.

A) "Judge's average has dropped to .260, yet Yankee management - waste deep in big muddy? - insists on batting him second, where strikeouts and DP grounders can strangle rallies."

This! Drop him to 6th!

B) Bring up Frazier! As Hoss said, if only to add a little ginger to the line up. They need an infusion of passion. How hard is it to understand this?

C) Fire Larry!

Seriously. Forget how bad he is (and he is bad!) how about just having a different voice in this role. CC was mentioned here. That would be interesting and be a two birds with one stone kind of thing.

I don't know enough about who is out there but it's time for a different approach. Where is the Billy Martin pitching coach? Someone who gets in their faces!

Or fuck it, bring in Mariano for the save and let him lead prayer circles...

Whatever works but stop trotting Mr. Moobs out there. It ain't working!

D) Put Domingo on the EL. Let him miss a start or two.

E) Time to move Happ to the pen. There is nothing more depressing than the foreknowledge that your pitcher doesn't have it. It ramps up the pressure on the team before they take the field. (If they got a the above mentioned "Billy Martin" pitching coach I'd give him a couple more starts to see if it worked. But if they don't, stop running this guy out there.

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

Last thing:

I know that I suggested not pitching 3/5 of our rotation. But how can anyone else be worse that Happ and CC? What? Is are the new guys going to put the Yankees in a 4-0 hole by the third? And that is different how? Maybe we can catch lightening in a bottle and get that third playoff starter we need.

Correction of earlier post: Collective asses not ass. Clearly there is more than one ass.

Doug K.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Mr. Bit, Gonad Gods need to enter common language and get an entry in next year's OED.

To all who want Frazier in the bigs, I believe the magic number on his service time is August 26th. It would not surprise me that someone hits the EL on the day. Perhaps Mr. Sunday. I fear the front office will try to get him to 20 wins.

The clock is ticking on playoff availability for Severino and Monty. They need starts VERY soon to be ready. I don't see it happening. If Severino comes back, the top three would be Tanaka, German, and Severino. I just realized that looks like members of the WWII Axis. Not a good omen.

Wrong post, but Hoss' clown bike should be Ca$hmoney's official site portrait, published every time we need a photo of him. Or maybe Mr. Moobs. Tough choice, but it should be in heavy rotation.

13bit said...

Interesting point, Rufus, on the Tri-Partite/Axis nomenclature. Something to consider when we make our next sacrifices. Could it be that the dark side has completely infiltrated the Yankee organization and is siphoning off our otherwise-good energy for evil purposes, perhaps in another dimension that are completely unaware of?

And I'll leave you with one sobering thought before I head off to possibly swim, despite my pinched back or whatever the fuck is going on with me. Are you ready? This thought will change your life, according to Doctor Olu...

SOMEWHERE on the planet today, at SOME TIME that is not yet determined, Randy Levine's sweaty ass will form a perfect seal with a toilet seat and the results of his cleanse/detox will make themselves known.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Sobering thought?


More like emetic.

I need to restock the mind bleach.

On a happier, or more life-threatening note, I now have tickets to Sept. 8 Carmines game at Phen Weigh. Lost the beer holder seats right behind the Yankees dugout due to my friend's hesitation (the Westchester snob from the projects). Did manage to get two seats in the next row back. Look for us on TV. I'll have my Hawaiian shirt, and I'd guess he'll have his Yankees retired numbers jersey (he has all on the back, but not Jeter yet. That will be two out of four games that weekend. My next door neighbor is getting married on Saturday, so I'll miss that one...

Alphonso said...

Will someone please translate the above for me ( Carmines? Then Weigh?) I am Dutch and only understand Flemish, German, french , Italian Indonesian and English.

I want to watch for the hawaiian shirt on September 8th.

Rufus T. Firefly said...


First of all your nickname appropriately auto-corrects to 'frenzied'.

Carmines, because my computer auto-corrects to Red SUCKS.

Phen Weigh Pahk is the place where the racist townie assholes congregate to root for the players they would beat up because of how they looked, if they wandered into their local bars and they weren't baseball players.

Add pig latin to the list. I have a friend who works for akamai who lists that on his linkedin page.

And why did you never learn Walloon? Or you including that in French?

Fun fact "Beer" translates phonetically to most worldwide languages. Drunks helping drunks.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing at what a lousy job Cashman did refurbishing his pitching staff.
First, he signed Severinio to a ten year contract. Then, he re-signed injury-
prone Sabathia for another year. Next, came old man Haap. A trade was then
made for Paxton instead of spending megabucks for local boy, Corbin. Hal was
in favor of all these moves because they did not incur any luxury tax.

Anonymous said...

Hey kids! This weekend is players weekend, where the players get to pick their own nicknames for the backs of their jerseys and MLB gets to make big bucks selling them on t-shirts.

But what if WE the fans got to pick for them instead? I think it would go something like this...

Arron Judge: “The Arbitrator” Not quite the power of a real judge but once you commit you have to see it through.

Giancarlo Stanton: Casper . A friendly ghost.

Luke Voit: “Brewser” Both because of his size and strength and because he is Most Likely to Own a Beer Distributorship when he retires.

Brett Gardner: Oh, there are so many, “Thumper” “The Mad Batter” but I’m going to go with “Hey you upstairs turn down the damn music!”

Aaron Hicks: “Tweaky Fromme”

Clint Frazier: Oh yeah, no we ordered one really. It’s uh… in the mail. We’re sure it will arrive in time. What was it? “The Red Herring”

Gary Sanchez: “Cryptorchidism” because he’s been working really hard not to let so many balls drop.

CC: “C Ya”

J.A. Happ: “Pilot” because he helps batters get up in the air and travel to faraway places.

That should get us started. Anybody else?

Doug K.

Anonymous said...








Oasisdave said...

This team isn't going anywhere. Might be better if they just imploded and we have another one and done wildcard loss. Sad that this team could have been lethal if just a little effort would have been put into the starting pitching. Oh and would somebody please fire Rothschild cuz he SUCKS. Thanks for another wasted year Cash & Hal! Oh by the way, you guys SUCK too

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