Friday, February 26, 2021

First Out Of The Box.


 Mike King Starts on Sunday

Here is my assessment:

1.  He has one pitch.

2.  A fastball in the low 90's which he " moves around the strike zone."

3. If he places it perfectly every time, he can get through a line-up once.

4.  And give up 2-4 earned runs.

5.  But he is now ahead of Clarke Schmidt on the depth chart. 

He will spend his career in Scranton. 

Across the Yankiverse, it is the REAL Hope Week

 Breaking news from Camp Tamp: Aaron Hicks is ready for a big year!


Whoops. My mistake. Instead of Hicks, I meant Clint Frazier. He's on the cusp!

Wooah. What a goof. I actually meant Gleyber Torres. He's the one!


 
Wait. My bad. I meant Justin Wilson!


Okay. Wait a minute. I'm sensing an algorithm. Press the APPLAUSE button. Across the Yankiverse, these are the days of wine and roses. Everybody looks great. Everybody is smiling. Hello, lampposts, whacha knowin'? I come to watch yer flowers growin.' All is groovy. 

Everybody - {insert name here} - expects a big, huge, unbelievable breakout year because of his new: 

1. Batting stance.

2. Change-up/two-seamer.

3. Trainer.

4. Wife/girlfriend/kid/family.

5. Belief in God.

6. Commitment to the game.

7. Kegel exercises. 

8. Self-help guru.

9. Financial independence.

10. Desperate need to make money.

11. Lucky penny.

12. Fukkit, just because...

Listen: I've been around. Long, long time. I've seen things. Unspeakable things. Did you know the Harlem Globetrotters once came to Gilligan's Island? Impossible! you say. But it's true. 


On that note, I say this: 

Let's not overanalyze. Let's go with the flow. For the Yankees, this is the REAL Hope Week. Enjoy every sandwich. 

I hear Giancarlo looks good. That yoga is a game-changer!

Ahh, the greatest time of the year. It's all downhill from here.



Thursday, February 25, 2021

Today's Fun Fact


Aaron Hicks is dating the niece of Tiger woods.

Hope they don't ever get in a car together with Uncle T.

Just saying. 

We need our .230 hitting CF who walks a lot. 

The Domingo Song


So we know now that he has spoken to groups of Yankees about his felony.  HIs cowardice.

Providing an apology of sorts, we are told.

But there are no details. And I know the argument why the details must remain " between the clubhouse walls."  But I don't have to like them. 

Is his girlfriend still his girlfriend?

Does he have a new one?  Is he on Tinder?

Why no police, ever?

Is there an apology ( of sorts ) coming for the fans?

Or for the females of this world?  Or males of this world. 

He should try dating a member of the YPG.  The Female Syrian resistance fighters who defeated ISIS.  

Then we'll see how tough he is. 

There is something about this incident that won't go away.  

Even if he pitches well.

I can't explain it. 

It just seems worse than shooting a gun into a garage.

Even though it likely isn't. 


Didn't have this on my 2021 sports culture bingo card

 

I honestly don't know what to say, except - have an apple!

Don't Mess With Him

From the fruitful - but troubled - computer of HoraceClarke66

I found him in one of the little dive bars down by the Harlem River. Nothing too dangerous, nothing too fancy. Just where you’d expect him to be.

 

When I first walked in I thought maybe I’d made a mistake. Before my eyes adjusted to the mid-afternoon bar light I thought he looked too innocuous to be who they said he was. Just a citizen taking a long, liquid lunch, wearing a grey, button-down shirt and an absent expression.

 

It was only when I got closer that I saw the innate power there, the coiled rage just waiting to do damage.  Only then did I notice the muscles in his forearms, the mad gleam in his eye.

 

“Mr. In-between?” I asked. “Mind if I sit down?”

 

In an instant, the vacant look was gone. He appraised me with one long, slow glance, then nodded.

 

“I’ll be upfront with you,” I told him, sliding the photograph across the table to him. “I’m a private dick, with one client. He would like to know if these men came by to see you.”

 

He took his time looking over the photo, then handed it back to me and took a sip from his beer.

 

“Yeah, they been here,” he said finally, derision curling his voice. “They’re here every year about this time. Hal and The Brain. But they don’t look like that now.”

 

“I know.  I saw the after picture,” I said, trying to keep from wincing at the memory. “Mind if I ask what they wanted?”

 

“The same thing they want every year. To mess with me.”

 

“Mess with you?”

 

“Yeah. Come in here pretending they want advice. ‘Hey, Mr. I-B,’ they said, ‘Whattaya think?  Can we win with the team we have?’ And I tell ’em straight out, ‘No, you cannot.’ ”

 

“What did they say to that?”

 

“Oh, they argued about it for awhile. I finally told ’em, ‘Look, your catcher is a wreck, you dropped three of your starters for nothin’, your shortstop of the future can’t play shortstop, an’ nobody in your outfield can stay on the field.’ ”

 

“I see.”

 

“So then they start whinin’ about how they got all these arms, and besides somebody named Pecota thinks they’ll win the most games, and how it is widely acknowledged around the press box that The Brain is a genius.”

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“So then I tell them, ‘Look, I don’t care if Dakota Fanning herself said you was a lock.  You don’t got any pitching.  You just got a junkpile somebody drove up and dumped out by the bullpen for you to sort out. Hell, you don’t even have any lefties!  Nobody at the plate, not enough on the mound.’  It’s the most unbalanced team I ever saw.”

 

“And?”

 

“An’ that’s when they told me that they didn’t need no lefties. That in today’s game, everybody can hit everybody, and vice versa. And that’s when I lost it.”

 

“I’ll say you did.”

 

“What did they expect? Come in here to give me the same line every year. ‘Hey, Mr. I-B, how can we do this on the cheap?  How can we get by with no pitching?’  I tell them to get out there, spend some money, latch on to the affirmative! But they never listen.”

 

He teased a cigarette out of its pack and stared at the grey winter river. The bartender gave him a look when he lit up, but he didn’t say anything. 

 

“This used to be a great town,” he said, without looking at me. “Nobody came to this city without knowing they had to go all out, give it everything they had. I had a very peaceful existence. Now…”

 

I nodded, unsure of what to say to him.

 

“In-between… that’s not a name you hear everyday.”

 

“It’s Dutch.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” 

 

“From down near Leyden, originally.”  

 

Then his eyes fixed on me, the irises spinning like pinwheels.

 

“Say, are you messin’ with me?”

Did Zack Britton become the conscience of the Yankees?

The Yankees owe Zack Britton a thank you. 

Last week, the Yankee union rep and bullpen lug nut took it upon himself to air out Domingo German's domestic violence charges at a time when nobody seemed all that hungry to take up the topic. Of German, Britton told reporters: 

"I don’t think he owes anything to me. I think it’s off-the-field stuff that he needs to take care of. Sometimes you don’t get to control who your teammates are, and that’s the situation. I don’t agree with what he did. I don’t think it has any place in the game or off the field at all.”

So it went. Before Britton spoke, German's case had neatly avoided the back pages. Ever since he raised it, the only question was when German would plead his case before the three modern pillars of judgement: the team, the media, and the fans. 

I have no idea how German's year will play out. But yesterday, he reached Phase II, apologizing to reporters for an incident that troubled people from its inception - a physical altercation with his girlfriend at a 2019 charity event, with baseball operatives watching. It was one of those situations where you wonder: If he does this in public, what happens in private?

So, yesterday, German apologized to the Gammonites. He's not out of the woods - more barely on the trail. He'll still hear the boos and catcalls, the foghorn-throated attacks that cut to his core. People are cruel. At Fenway, they'll be crueler.

But today, let's ponder the role that Britton - for better or worse - took on. By raising the issue of German - and by refusing to let him off the hook - Britton  forced the Yankees, the media and, most of all German to deal with the issue, straight up. 

German was always going to need to address the matter.  It might have happened in two weeks, or around opening day, or it might have even festered until his first start in a meaningful game. But it was always coming. If Britton hadn't raised it, it would have only grown in size and malevolence. He did the Yankees a favor.

Interesting how players evolve. The Yankees seem to have three clubhouse leaders, one for positions (Brett Gardner), one for starting pitchers (Gerrit Cole) and one for the bullpen (Britton.) Should we worry that all three are Wonder Bread white guys? Or am I just seeing it from that perspective? Dunno. But here's a thought: 

In 2021, the team will need Giancarlo Stanton to not only bat cleanup, play 130 games and drive in 100 runs - but to lead. For the time that he's been a Yankee, Stanton has been too  injury-prone to set an example for the rank and file. If Stanton can rise to the level of Gardy, of Cole, of Britton - he can earn every penny of his ridiculous contract. The Yankees need leadership. When Domingo German hears the catcalls, he needs to know his teammates have his back. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The jury is now deliberating the fate of Domingo German

Domingo German delivered two 30-minute speeches yesterday to Yankee subsets - one for position players, one for pitchers and catchers. They might have been closing arguments in the trial he never received.

His Yankee future might hinge on how well his words were chosen, and how warmly they were received. Did he speak from the heart? Did he touch a cord of remorse that teammates can understand? Did phone it in, just reciting the tired words of lawyers or a passing sycophant? 

Either way, he is one of the most interesting stories on the Yankees. ("Interesting" being a word you generally don't want applied to your fate.)

German is accused of abusing his girlfriend in the tumultuous summer of 2019, after his fortunes abruptly soared and crashed in ways that Reddit stock traders surely appreciate.  

In late May of that season, German was 9-1 with an ERA of 2.60 ERA, christened the "ace" of the staff by YES. He seemed destined for the All Star Game, maybe as the starter. Then came a series of bad starts - HRs took him down - said to be the result of a hip flexor injury. He went on the Injured List, missed All-Star consideration, and returned in July to pitch six shutout innings against Toronto, lifting his record to 11-2. Again, he looked like the Yankee stopper.

But he was inconsistent. By August, the Yankees were blaming his workload, which had expanded beyond anything in the past. They planned to move him to the bullpen, to limit his innings, then bring him back for the postseason, maybe as a starter. 

In September, everything collapsed. MLB suddenly placed him on "administrative leave" following charges of domestic violence, which never reached the police but were known to the Yankees. He is alleged to have hit his girlfriend, who was known to his teammates, raising a quandary that remains within the organization. 

German finished 2019 with an incredible 18-4 record, though his ERA had ballooned to 4.03. (Of the starters, only James Paxton's was lower, at 3.82.) With about 10 days left in the season, MLB booted him from the playoffs. 

In January, it lowered the boom: Suspended for 81 games, causing him to miss half of 2020. Turned out, the penalty killed his entire pandemic-shortened 2020 season. And he began bouncing off the walls. 

Last July, as camps were reopening, he tweeted, "I'm done with baseball. Thanks, everyone." A few hours later, he recanted, saying, "Baseball is my life and I promise I am not walking away."

Yeesh. What a clusterfuck. I wonder - did it matter yesterday that his addresses came just after one of the anticipated lug nuts in the Yankee rotation - Clarke Schmidt - went down with a bad elbow? It certainly shouldn't. But I wonder...

And I wonder how German's speeches went down with Aroldis Chapman? He's a Yankee because the Reds exiled him after being charged with beating his wife and shooting up the family garage. Surely, El Chapo was listening carefully - either sympathetically, or with a discerning eye for bullshit.  A lot of levels to that equation.

The Yankees need German, no doubt. Management seems to have forgiven; at least, it hasn't traded him - yet. Now, it's up to the jury. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

In Rotary confessional blowout, Mariners poohbah spills the beans... and other Tuesday click-worthy clacks

It's always kismet when a three-martini suit speaks truth to the halls of Babbitry. The latest is Kevin Mather, former CEO of the forever-tainted Seattle Mariners, who socked it to the Harper Valley PTA the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club in a recent speech, in which he admitted:

a) Dirty dealing by the owners
b) Collusion by the owners
b) Underpinnings of racism by the owners
d) The moon landing was faked.

Actually, no. 4 is wrong... maybe. Keeping you on your toes. Mather - who resigned after his lapse in felony-grade deceit - basically confirmed everything the players union has claimed for the last seven years. His confessional tour de force stemmed from the claim - (which I don't buy) - that MLB lost $2.9 billion last year. According to the NY Times, he said:

“The industry lost $2.9 billion, and before any of you make faces: No, nobody cares that rich owners lost money. But we lost $2.9 billion last year, and we have taken the position that there are 180 free agents still out there on Feb. 5 unsigned, and sooner or later, these players are going to turn their hat over and come with hat in hand, looking for a contract.”

So it went. This explains why just days before Camp Tampa opened, the Death Barge  signed Justin Wilson and Brett Gardner, and why franchises regularly hold back prospects, screwing them in future contracts. But, yawn, everybody knew this. Soon after the current Players Union contract took effect, the owners began sailing yachts through their loopholes - the biggest one, which allowed luxury taxes to replace the salary caps that union men long ago went on strike to avoid. 

So Mather will spend a few months in the penalty box, then resurface in some quieter job with duct tape over his mouth, and nothing will change - until next winter - dear God, next winter - when the new contract comes up, and all hell breaks loose. 

In other Yankee clickbait...

Surprise! Clarke Schmidt has a barking elbow, and if you're not thinking the worst, you haven't been following the Yankees. The team says it's minor, that he'll rub dirt on it and be back by May. I'm sorry, but who believes this? I've heard more reasonable predictions from Q. Let's wish Schmidt the best - he's already gone through Tommy John surgery - but remember that talk about a six-man rotation? What a joke. Yesterday, they were talking about finding Domingo German another team. Now, he's in the rotation. 

Luis Severino - he of the eternal injury list - told reporters he hopes to be back by July.  Thus, this glass season is either half empty or half full. The last time we saw Sevy, he was battling the cheater Astros in game 5 of the 2019 ALCS. He fought hard, worked 4.1 innings - 97 pitches - and gave up two runs. (We lost, 4-1.) Did the Yankees rush him back from injury? 

If somebody had simply said, "Luis, it's not worth risking you in the long haul, so sit out the playoffs and come back next spring," would we have him now? We'll never know. 

Yeah, I'm oversimplifying this: Severino wanted to pitch, they had nobody else, and he'd looked good in a few regular season outings (until his last one, when he didn't.) But we somehow managed to make a double bank-shot of negativity. We lost the playoffs, and we lost Severino. So... back by July? Sure. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Happy To Welcome The New Season


 I just learned from my veterinarian that black swans are immune to Covid.  So I am thrilled, and can commit to following the team, day by day, as injuries mount.

As a happy opener, lets just write off Clark Schmidt. 

He was once a top pitching prospect out of South Carolin who, early on had TJ surgery.  At least I think that was the reason his debut was delayed.  It could have been shingles.

Nevertheless, he looked highly mediocre last year, although Boone "loves his stuff. "

I digress. 

 He has been put on the shelf for at least a month due to some elbow or shoulder problem in the limb from which he throws the baseball. Sounds like:  the surgery didn't take.  Or, it couldn't repair the damage. 

What this suggests is that Schmidt is a player who will always be plagued by injuries, and who will frequently be " coming off of an extensive rehab."  Convenient excuses, by the way, for a guy who regularly gets shelled by major league hitters. 

Fortunately, for Yankee fans, our starting pitching solid and deep. 

Except, of course, for the fact that a number of current Yankees want to get German into an alley and beat the shit out of him.  So let the " trade winds" blow with the Yankees holding no cards. 

And ( my opinion only ) King is useless.  

 Losing Schmidt is not a major blow, but it is a start. 

I feel better already.

  

Reggie retires from retirement, and other Camp Tamp clicks

We're still in the 2021 predawn - not one Aaron has been injured yet - and the Yankiverse brims with hope and hubris. Let us chronicle the looming journey with clicks, sweet clicks...

Reggie Jackson, 74, is no longer advising the Yankees. Yeesh, March won't be the same without The Candy Bar marveling about Jose Tabata or Slade Heathcott - or giving pep talks to one Gary Sanchez. From here, this doesn't look like a breakup thing. Reggie's just getting up there. Let's hope he's in good health. 

Stan Williams, 84, has died. Once upon a time, the Yankees traded Moose Skowron for him - one of the mistakes that led to the Hoss Clarke Era, aka the Eleven Year Barf. Condolences to the family, and let's remember: Never blame the player for a bad trade. 

Domingo German's domestic abuse case continues to linger, as drips and droplets still become public. Long ago, we thought it advantageous that no police were involved. But worse - for German, anyway - it involved teammates, who came to his girlfriend's aid. The Yanks have not forgotten, and it might just be that German needs a new team.

Corey Kluber threw 21 pitches in batting practice. No water pipes burst. His arm remains attached. Congrats to all.

Yankee outfield is logjammed. The soap opera begins: With Gardy returning, will Clint get his shot? Can Tauchman be forgiven? Who is this mystery man, Greg Allen? You'd think folks expect Hicks, Stanton and Judge to stay healthy. (Really... is yoga that powerful?)

Syracuse may have fallen hopelessly behind in the annual Golden Snowball race, measuring snowfall across upstate NY. Binghamton - a perennial cellar-dweller - is having a career winter. Over the weekend, despite snowy forecasts, Syracuse tumbled below arch-rival Rochester. Time to fire the mayor?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Stop hitting yourself," said the hammer to the nail.

 


Then stop hyping him.

This is the year that Cashman's vaunted farm system goes on trial

For about 10 years now, Hal Steinbrenner has moaned about MLB luxury taxes, while vowing to finance a strong and vibrant Yankee organization. The man we call "Food Stamps" pushed one simple mantra: 

You don't need the highest payroll to field the best team. 

What you need is smart management. 

Under Brian Cashman - a technician and career insider, whose specialty was in finding low-cost investments - the Yankees always contended, but never won. 

It's been 11 years since the Bronx hosted a world series, the longest drought in franchise history.

Longest drought in franchise history. 

This summer, we will learn just how well Cashman's organization works. 

In 2020, the Yankees - like everyone - consolidated their upper-tier talent into one location: Scranton, PA. There, a brain trust of trainers, coaches, tutors, gurus, nutritionists, healers, mentors, shrinks, hypnotists, acupuncturists, masseurs, sex therapists and epidemiologists worked with about 50 players. Meanwhile, the Tampa facilities hosted younger prospects, who played fake games against each other. Teachable moments, every day, without the taint of other, less efficient organizations.

Though the Tampa Rays developed more shovel-ready talent - their youngsters carried them to the world series - they had started with more Triple A players, on the cusp of the majors. Our top prospects were said to be in the low minors. Thus, in developing talent, we couldn't effectively measure the two systems.

That's about to change. This summer, the minor leagues will restart, and we will once again receive a daily read on how well the Yankees develop players. Will our top prospects - after a year of independent instruction in our vasty superior organization - dominate those from other teams? Will we keep pace? Will we, gulp, fall behind?

This summer, the system that Hal financed - and Cashman built - goes on trial. 

This will be one of the most interesting things to watch in 2021. I can't wait.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

So Then What?


 So I notice that the Yankee gurus on this blog are beginning to make predictions about players and such.

For example, who will be our six outfielders?  Mostly, the answer, while correct, is boring.   

I mean : Gardner as a .220 hitting 37 year old is, for sure, our 5th outfielder, and Tauchman or Allen will be our 6th?  What difference can any of that possibly make?  I don't even like our second or our fourth on the list. 

Who wouldn't be happier to see one of those guys named Florial or any name other than Hicks? 

Everyone is talking about the "family feud" guy, Domingo German.  He is not going to be anything to shout about, unless the cops arrive again.  He will, mysteriously, suck from day one.  

As will Sanchez.  He'll likely get an opposite field single early in the season, and everyone will say, " he's back.  Now we'll see the "real" Gary...No we won't. Well see more of the 38 year old than we see of Gary.

But none of it matters.

We have Giancarlo Stanton for seven more years. 

 Did I mention that he chose to honor his entire contract with the Yankees?  Did anyone note that his signing was the biggest thing Cashman accomplished in the off season?  Convincing Giancarlo to remain a Yankee.  Who wouldn't want to be a "fly on the wall" in that conversation?

If we are lucky, and all are vaccinated by the end of summer, we can meet and watch the yankees vie for the wild-card, play-in game. 

This will be another over-hyped, under-achieving, boring season for Yankee fans. Old, slow guys striking out a lot, and lousy pitching. 

Yours truly,

The original " Dragonfly Man."

 

Brett Gardner... the captaincy, dugout roofs and Oumuamua

Brett Gardner is returning for one more go at a world series ring, a plaque in Monument Park, various evil AL umpires and the Yankee dugout roof, which - like a cursed teen's acned chin - shall forever show the scars of Gardy's inner rage. (See right.)

As our own LBJ reported last night, and as was expected since November, Gardner is back on a one-year Rocket Mortgage. At 37, each at bat will face the monochrome of a career in twilight, and Gardy last year hit a piddling .223, his worst ever. This could be his final shot at the glory that 12 years ago seemed a regular destiny - ticker tape parades, clubhouse champagne blasts and talks with Jimmy Fallon, fates that would instead befall our rivals. No wonder the dugout roof is so dimpled.

So, for now anyway, here is the Yankee outfield depth chart.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Hicks
Giancarlo Stanton
Clint Frazier
Brett Gardner
Mike Tauchman
Miguel Andujar
Greg Allen
Jay Bruce
Estevan Florial
Socrates Brito 
Ryan LaMarre
Michael Beltre
Thomas Millone
Trey Amburgey

From this, let's choose six. (Normally, we'd select five, but surely at least one main OF will tweak a gonad.) The bottom six are lottery tickets and fillers. 

My guess: Judge/Stanton/Hicks/Frazier/Gardner/Allen or Tauchman.

Allen is a switch hitter with defense and speed. Tauchman is either the 2019 Tauchman (keep him) or the 2020 version (cut him). Andujar simply remains a soul imprisoned in the limbo of the lost.

If Bruce has a great spring, he could complicate matters. But let's face it: Gardy is a lock. The Yankees didn't sign him to dump him. Also, last year, after hitting .077 in July and .190 in August, Gardner hit .288 in September. His season ended too soon to overcome the slow start. He won't hit .277 (in 2010, his career peak). But he won't hit .223 (last year, his lowest), either.

I'd argue that, to fully exploit Gardner's value - and to pay him tribute - the Yankees should name him Team Captain. He fills every leadership role and is the lone holdover from 2009, our last fling. The comparable captain candidates would be DJ LeMahieu, Gerrit Cole or Zack Britton. Gardy beats them all, and considering Aaron Boone's easy-peazy, low profile, maybe this team needs a captain.

Which brings us to "Oumaumua" - the turd-shaped object that in 2017 flew in and out of our solar system, prompting speculation that an alien probe was taking our picture. (This from a Harvard professor whose knowledge of the cosmos might rival his sense of what sells books.)  Who will be the Yankee Oumaumua?

Right now, our most likely Oumaumua is Jay Bruce. His time in the Yankiverse might last from Feb. 28 to April 1 - one brief glimpse of a mysterious object, with unknown implications for the future of Yankeekind. It could also be Green. We'll just have to see.

Welcome back, Gardy. May the roof in Tampa be made of rubber.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Gardy Deal Tardy But Done

 

Brett Gardner is returning.


One year.  $4 million.  SNY notes that setting up the contract as a one-year deal with an option actually lowers the luxury tax number for the Yankees.  Somehow.

Regardless, this makes sense to me.  Team leader, c
areer Yankee, lefty bat, low-cost insurance policy in case of injuries...what's not to like?


With bromides, bluster and a bit of hope, the Yankees begin anew

So, yesterday afternoon, with "Britton" trending on Twitter, who here didn't feel the terror? 

In a normal time, it would mean that Zack Britton reported to Tampa in a cast, or as a woman, or with a tumor the size of Tom Cruise and the message would be: Don't worry, everybody, he'll be back by Columbus Day! Instead, "Britton" popped up due to a tweet from Domingo German, which was like the Pentagon mobilizing over this new threat from Gorilla Glue.

Baseball has begun. 

So, today, let's set aside our fears over the bullpen, our concern for Miguel Andujar and our bewilderment over the fate of Gardy. Let's wish warm winds upon all those in the cold, and let's welcome the first baby-step of normalcy after a long, dark nightmare, which surely is not over.

But, dammit, baseball has begun.


Listen: 2021 won't boil down to autographs and baby-kissing. We'll face infuriating mishaps and daily controversies. The Yanks look like a good team in a weakened division, and our world series drought has become jinx-worthy, our owner's looming legacy. The Dodgers are baseball's premier team. We're not even a consensus runner-up. (Worse, that distinction may go to the Mets.) 

Still...  baseball has begun.


So, yesterday, Britton was dishing on German, who had tweeted cryptically - not for his first time - about his future, then deleted the tweet, raising ques-  aww, you know what? I'm not gonna sweat tweets this year... so, Britton ended up denouncing domestic violence, which is fine, righteous, important... but it's also a layup. He might well have said he thinks that he will never see a poem as lovely as a tree. 

And with that, baseball has begun...


My last pre-pandemic event came 11 months ago, in Sarasota. The Yanks were playing the O's, and "Coronavirus" was trending. We went to the game, taking selfies with giant Corona Beer posters, swimming in a viral sewerage pond - no masks, no social distancing, we might as well have licked the the toilet handles. Next day, Trump announced the lockdown. We caught the next flight home. Since then, nothing has been normal, except that I no longer fear house arrest.

Baseball has begun.


So, enough waxing. How about Red Thunder! I predict 35 HRs, 100 RBIs and .265. How about you? 
Only reason I ask is... 

Baseball has begun.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

German Surrenders Gets Frazierized

Today's New York Post has an article titled...

Domingo German posts unsettling message after Yankees give him second chance

Essentially, German posted “a cryptic message on his Instagram account (that) said in Spanish ‘everything is over."

I clicked. I read.  Here's my take...  I'm guessing that what he meant was that his troubles are behind him. Want proof?

"German then deleted all his previous posts and then wrote again in Spanish ‘I’m ready.’

I get the feeling that, because he was so depressed last summer that he wanted to quit, and previously wrapped up a lengthy suspension for hitting/beating the crap out of his wife/girlfriend in public, 

(We'll never know the details, but I want to be clear, that was BAD!!!!!!) 

he is going to get the Clint Frazier treatment. 

By this I mean, 

Clint Frazier took batting practice today with two-day beard stubble. Is he going to break the Yankees facial hair rules??/!!!!!

Hopefully, the Gammonites won't be doing this anymore to Clint.

German's "issues" are click bait.  Since he doesn't seem to be the most stable and in control guy he is easy pickings. I hope it doesn't push him over the edge.

Or, put another way...

Blogger Fears German Might Go Over The Edge!

 

2009 World Champion Yankees open Camp Tamp, and all is groovy

You know the agenda is "HOPE" when your manager says this of last year's Worst Player Ever.

“We believe in him. We feel like he can be a game-changer-type player when he’s right. We’re going to continue to support him and try to get him to be the best version of himself that he can be. Hopefully this is the year when he can kind of put it all together.”

Said player -  won't print his name - hit .147 last year, stuck in mediocrity as if hair-sprayed with Gorilla Glue. But that was 2020, the dark ages. It's 2021, sunny, and today, he's tied for the league lead in homers.

Camp Tamp has opened. It's a whole new ballgame. Why focus on the greenish fuzz atop the clam dip? Winter is over, metaphorically, and the boys of summer - rock-ribbed Olympians all - are emerging from their hibernations, each in "the greatest shape of his life." We savor the tales of their renewal. Ed finally found the right woman and settled down. Marcus fathered a child and has something new to play for. Zeek discovered Christ, Arturo the pills of Dr. Growbig, and Andy just wants a new Dodge Charger. They are ready to play, to reclaim their careers, to rule the game, the city, the Yankees... and whisk away our seventh-grader hearts.

Look, look, LOOK at what springs eternal... 

Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are doing yoga - the Yoga Berras! 

Aaron Boone says all he needs this year... is luck. Deal him in.

Domingo German is again tweeting mysteriously on Twitter.  Is he retiring or just inarticulate?

Boone says he hasn't forgotten Miguel Andujar! Who?  

The Yanks have signed 31 year old utility man Derek Dietrich. Our new Derek?

First workout tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Our favorite Martian deserves a new nickname: How about "Clickbait?"

The Information Superhighway buzzed yesterday after a sports site opined that Yankee prospect Jasson Dominiquez is - at age 18 - "more advanced" than Mike Trout was at the same stage of his career.

At age 12, Macaulay Culkin was more advanced than Brad Pitt. At 14, Hanson was ahead of the Beatles, and at 16, Greta Thunberg would surely beat Al Gore. 

Which brings me to the greatest revelation I've gleaned from 12 months un pandemic home arrest, clicking my way across the Internet: Did you know that former child stars don't look the same 30 years later? Holy crap! Some enterprising journalist ought to rank them! (Number 43 will absolutely BLOW... YOUR... MIND!) 

So, yesterday, from the assembly line of crapola - the NY Post on Twitter - vaulted this gem:

Let's be brief. And no link. With camps opening, Dominiquez will soon roam the streets of Tampa, drawing coos from the predatorial Lolitas who happen to be more "advanced" at their pubescent flowering than was Dolly Parton, before the equipment arrived. He will surely be entering his Prime of Miss Jean Brodie... if not Miss Jean Brodie herself.

Here is what happens when a site hypes Dominquez:

1. The site generates traffic.

2. The kid's hat size expands.

3. The prospect's fate - as a future letdown - is sealed. 

Imagine this: Unless Dominiquez turns into the greatest player of his generation - i.e. Trout - to some, he will be a disappointment.

This is terrible. Nobody should carry such a burden. If Dominiquez ever reaches the majors, or becomes a serviceable player, he will still face honking catcalls from opposing fans and ill-tempered Gammonites. 

All for a few clicks on a slow news day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Cashman on pitching: "We understand it comes with risk. Can they stay healthy? Can they pitch in New York? Can they pitch in the AL East?”

Pineda and Paxton and Gray, (oh my.)

Joel Sherman looks at Jameson Taillon and sees a troubling past. 

Seemingly minor pickups this week could be huge by summer... but what about Gardy?

In the last 72 hours, the Death Barge has signed three cagey vets to non-disclosure agreements minor league deals, and - frankly, all life decisions should be this easy. 

I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "Keep the old guys coming, Mr. Hal!"

Sunday brought Jay Bruce. Yesterday ushered in the return of Justin Wilson - a 34 year-old LH innings-eater, who slots into the bullpen between Mean Chad Green and before Luis Cessa (both of whom we obtained in a trade for Wilson long ago.) 

Here are Wilson's beautistics: 

Today's acquisition is Robinson Chirinos, a RH catcher who'll soon turn 37. Chirinos played against us for Houston in the 2019 post-season: he went 0-13, thank you, amid the coded clanging of Astro trash cans. He could battle Kyle Higoshioka for backup playing time - that is, if Gary Sanchez comes to realize why he was benched last October. (Hint: One-four-seven.) Here are Chirinos' numbers:


Again, I see no downside to patrolling the waiver wires and nursing homes for retreaded bodies - especially considering last year's non-season. 

There is, however, the unresolved matter of Brett Gardner... 

These pre-camp signings seem to boost the possibility that the Yankees do NOT intend to keep Gardy. (Note: I'll believe this when it happens.) 

I realize that IT IS HIGH readers seem divided on Gardner: His return could jam up Clint Frazier, who needs a full season in the way that Galveston currently needs snow plows. Still... the sight of Gardy in another uniform? 

No. Just... no. 

Either way, Gardy's fate must be resolved soon. No more waiting. Today. And then let's sign more codgers.

Monday, February 15, 2021

A thing that makes you go, "Huh."


 DJ LeMahieu is 6 for 9 with three home runs against Chris Sale.

The Yankees' interest in fortifying their bullpen is a reminder of last year's failure

A common thread played out in last October's ALCS: 

Whenever the Yankees rallied, Tampa brought in some new bullpen stud - they had a lifetime supply - and, poof, everything melted. At the start of 2020, our staff of relievers was hailed as the best in baseball. By the end, our Geiko calls to the bullpen were being answered by Cellino & Barnes.

We can parse many reasons for this. Basically, we never found one young breakout reliever. Whenever someone looked promising, he got whacked. 

For a while, Michael King encouraged us. His final ERA: 7.76. 

Nick Nelson briefly gave hope. He finished at 4.79.

Albert Abreu? The cannon arm? His came in at - yikes! - a 20.25 ERA. (That's no typo or a mix-up with the lone hit from Zager & Evans.)

Miguel Yajure? Well, he's now a Pirate. Ben Heller is gone. Michael Holder is gone. James Reeves? A Padre. Gone guys.

We spent March heralding the wave of young arms. We spent last October turning over rocks. We had described the Yankee Tampa complex - with Forbin Project computers to track spin rates and exit-velo - akin to Professor X's Mutant Academy. But instead of the Beast, we got the Spleen. Of course, we blame Covid. But every team in baseball faced the same virus. We kept slogging, waiting for someone to arrive. Nobody did. Tampa's staff came of age, and that's China Town, Jake.

Which brings me to the latest rumor: The Yankees are said to be in "serious" talks with Justin Wilson, the 33-year-old lefty who is remembered fondly as the guy we once traded to get Mean Chad Green. One problem: Wilson is also talking with the Mets, setting up perhaps the first time that Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner go head-to-head in a bidding war. (Spoiler alert: I'd bet on Cohen.)

Right now, here's the Yank bullpen:

Aroldis Chapman, 33.
Zack Britton, 33.
Chad Green, 30.
Luis Cessa, 29.
Darren O'Day, 38.
Jonathan Loaisiga, 26.
King, 26.
Nelson, 25.
Abreu, 25.
Brooks Kriske, 26.
Kyle "Bear Claw" Barraclough, 30.
Asher "Wojo" Wojciechowski, 32.
Hey, there, you? Yeah, you. Wanna try on a uniform?

The 2021 Yankees look like an old, fragile team with a lot of uncertainties. They could win the division by 10 games. Or they could be dumping salaries at the deadline. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Jay Bruce: Yankee for a month? Or the new Gardy?

Yesterday afternoon, the word "Gardner" became one of the top trending topics on Twitter. No, Melania hadn't announced her giant Venus flytrap sanctuary at Mar-a-Lago. It was Yank fans, wondering if the signing of Jay Bruce signaled the end of Brett Gardner's time in Gotham. 

Most opined, no: The Bronx is big enough for two aging LH outfielders. They noted that Bruce - who failed to hit his weight in 2020 - signed a minor league contract. Thus, no harm, no foul. If Bruce struggles - well - we'll be riding out that night to case the promised land.

So... Bruce. Basically, he's the quintessential short-term slugger who peaks at 26, flounders at 30, falls off the boat at 32. (Take a good hard look, Red Thunder.) Now - 33 - he's one more 0-for-April streak from forced retirement. 

As you see, Bruce is a HR/K/BB machine, a graduate of the Gary Sanchez School of Lunging. In last year's Covid season, he reached a new level of dreadfulness - hitting below .200. He is not an everyday OF for a contender.

But but but... as a Yankee, Bruce would almost never face lefties. A full platoon hitter. Here are his career splits:


Not exactly Ron Blomberg, but better than Swoosh Sanchez. For the record, here are Gardy's career splits.
 

It would be nice to have a guy who absolutely crushes RH pitchers, but apparently, this is what the scrap heap offers, for now. 

So, why did they sign Bruce? Some theories.

1. The Yankees actually do plan to jettison Gardy. (I'll believe this when it happens.) 

2. They're playing mind games with Gardy in contract talks. (Won't work.)

3. They expect our Bermuda Triangle - Judge, Stanton and Hicks - to miss substantial time with injuries. (Do they know something? Last year, we found out in February that none were ready.) 

4. They think Bruce can play backup 1B? Because they need one. (In his career, he's played 51 games at 1B.)

5. They're doing this as a favor to Bruce or his agent. He gets an audition. (To mangle Sinatra: If he can't make it there, he can maybe still make it anywhere.) 

The 2021 Yankees will carry at least four backups. A catcher (Higgy.) An infielder (Wade or Thairo). A speed/defense OF (Green, Tauchman, or Gardy.) A solid hitter (Andujar, Gardner, Tauchman, Ford, Bruce?) Preferably a lefty.

Theoretically, there is room for Bruce and Gardy. If the Rays bring in a big righty, Gardy gets on base, and then Bruce smashes the HR.  

Yesterday's deal didn't necessarily end the Gardy Era. But the two Mikes - Ford and Tauchman - they should worry.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Are the Yankees really going to nickel-and-dime Brett Gardner?

I would hate to wait on Hal Steinbrenner in a diner. Something tells me, he's one of those guys who deducts taxes from the tip. On a $10 tab, he leaves nickels and a dime, talks incessantly on the phone and empties the "Need a Penny?" coin cup near the register. When he comes in, the waitresses take a break.   

This week, an Interweb report suggested that the Yankees' reunion with Brett Gardner is not the certainty we're certain of. It said the Death Star has yet to make Gardy an offer - with mere days before camp opens.

Apparently, the front office is playing chicken with Gardner, trying to wrangle a few spare pennies from the table. It's an authentic question to wonder if the Yankees actually need Gardy - another OF, albeit a lefty bat? But really, people, who here does not expect Gardy to re-sign? Show of hands? That's what I thought. 

Nobody expects to see him in another uniform.

So, here's the question: How much hemming and hawing should they apply to negotiations over their de facto captain? Are they really going to quibble over every thin dime? Is this how the cold winter of 2021 slides into spring, with the Yankee ownership fighting over every last 5-cent bottle deposit?

The Yankees seem content to field a competitive team in the AL East. This comes at a crossroads season, with several stars hitting their primes (Cole, Voit, Gleyber, Judge) or twilights (El Chapo, Stanton, Britton), and one additional cog - a LH bat or bullpen lug nut - could make the difference. But they have stopped. And now, are they really going to quibble over the price of Gardy? 

Sad.