Sunday, January 31, 2021

Five things I believe the Yankiverse learned this week...

1. Brian Cashman is done shaking coconut trees... for now. Why do we think this? He did a big talk radio splash last week. That he spoke publicly suggests the facelift is finished, and the Yankees will stand pat until spring training. He might sign a scrap heap bullpen thingamabob, a lefty tool hitter or a backup backstop. Any big moves, they'll wait.

2. Cashman's expression of love for Clint Frazier suggests Red Thunder will stay. It's possible that Cash was simply chatting up Frazier's trade value, but there's a point of overkill, especially considering Clint's popularity (and the Mets rise.) If anybody took seriously the rumors of Yasiel Puig - (why? I didn't) - they are dead now.

3. Frazier's LF housemate - Miguel Andujar - should also stay, at least through spring training. There, Miggy will get a huge chance to showcase his 3B skills, while Gio Urshela recovers from surgery (bone chip.) Gio should be ready for opening day, but Miggy gets to play third-base for a month. If he looks good, the Yanks will have mucho trade options. Andujar is incredibly valuable as a 3B. 

4. As much as we love rom-com endings, don't expect Masahiro Tanaka to ever pitch for the Yankees again, Old-Timers Day notwithstanding. They cut him loose. They broke his heart. If Tanaka pitches his team to the Japanese championship, and then seeks to return to America, don't expect him to offer a Yankee discount. They broke his heart. Hal could have re-signed Tanaka. He wouldn't spend the money. Surgary accolades cannot spackle over that fact. Hal wouldn't spend the money.

5. The Yanks are playing "good boss/bad boss" with Gary Sanchez. Cashman calls him out, Boone praises him. Will that change Sanchez? Over his Yankee career, he's played "good catcher/bad catcher." When he's hot, you know he'll cool off. When he's playing solid defense, you know he'll slacken. He is what he is. Can he be starting catcher for a championship team? Five years in, and we still don't know. But mind games won't work.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

A subtle re-examination of Luis Serverino's timetable raises questions about the rotation's House of Cards

In a flurry of interviews late this week, the famed comedy team of Cash & Boo batted away all questions regarding the 9/11 inside job, the fake death of JFK Jr., who shot JR? the 2021 Yankees. This week's Marianne Williamson Award of Hope goes to  Aaron Boone, who uncorked his personal view that Gary Sanchez will be an all-star. 

Wow. There's crazy and there is CA-RAZY! That's optimism!

Meanwhile, Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman raved about the team's chances which - WAIT A MINUTE, I JUST HAD A REVELATION - can be summed up this way:

The 2021 Yankees are a team of wild cards chasing a Wild Card.

But one little drone seems to have raised concerns: Cashman's revelation that Luis Severino won't return until late summer, and maybe then as a bullpen cog, rather than a pillar of our Olympian rotation. We've come to assume that Severino would function as the cavalry, riding in at the all-star break (Gary playing, of course) to fortify the staff. Now, should we wonder?

Actually, I don't think Cashman has moved the goalposts on us. Severino underwent Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27, and where I come from, it generally takes pitchers 18 months to fully recover. That puts Severino returning around August and, frankly, it would be foolish to rush him, considering his career.

It's time to soberly access expectations for Severino, who could be yet another lost Yankee future ace - Hughes, Joba, Brackman, et al - who raises hopes beyond his abilities. The Yankees - with all their big market bluster - have a tendency to push a few prospects early on - Jasson Dominequez, your pedestal is waiting - and assign expectations that can never be fulfilled. 

Severino's career is a succession of "firsts" and "youngests,"burned into our brains by the Death Star marketing machinery. After being hyped throughout the minors, he burst onto the scene in 2015, the youngest MLB starter that year. In his debut, he became the first AL pitcher in MLB history to strike out seven hitters while walking none. (There is a first for everything, am I right?)

Severino floundered in 2016. That May, he got crushed by the White Sox, 7 runs in less than three innings, and immediately went on the DL with triceps inflammation. He was supposed to be back in a few weeks. It turned into July, when he reappeared as a bullpen lug nut.

That led to his peak - 2017 - when he finished third in the Cy Young balloting. He was the first AL pitcher with an ERA below 3.00 and 230 or more strikeouts at age 23 or younger - since Roger Clemens in 1981. 

In 2018, he became the first Yankee pitcher since Mel Stottlemyre to reach the all-star break with 14 wins. He tailed off, though, finishing 19-8 with an ERA of 3.39. 

On Feb. 15, 2019, he signed a four-year, $40 contract extension. In March, he was diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation. They said he'd miss a month. In April, he strained his lateral. They said six weeks. It turned into September - he never made a rehab start in Scranton. They started him in the playoffs. It didn't go well. 

Last February, as we slotted him in for a Cy Young year, the hammer dropped: Tommy John. 

Listen: At every step along the way, Severino's rehabs have stumbled and lengthened. There is no reason to expect anything different, and no reason to push him into yet another injury that - frankly - would make him a candidate for the New Joba.  

Severino will be 27 this year. He'll miss most of it. Four starts in September? Maybe that's all we'll get. Marianne Williamson, I'm not.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Yankees made a subtle promise to Masahiro Tanaka. They let him down.

Yesterday, while opening a Zoom gaggle to celebrate his re-signing with the Yankees, D.J. LeMahieu briefly flipped the script and showed, once again, the grace of a de facto team captain. 

LeMahieu directed his words toward Masahiro Tanaka, who had announced earlier that, at 32, he will end his MLB career and return to Japan. LeMahieu said: 

“Just wanted to mention what a great teammate he’s been, what an impact he’s had on the Yankees and the city. As exciting as it is, I’m disappointed I’m not going to be able to play with him anymore.”

Despite America's horrible polarization, I'm with Maya Angelou, who said, "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." That said, if you're a Yankee fan, and you don't love how Tanaka battled for us over the last seven years - well, Slappy - meet me in front of the Rexall at high noon, cuz this here town ain't a-big enough for the both of us.

For me, Tanaka goes down as a C.G.Y. - a Certified Great Yankee - who gave his all, every game, every year. He finishes at 78-46, with two All-Star appearances, a workhorse, who at any time could have skipped 18 months to repair a tear in his elbow, as some are known to do. Had he'd done that, Tanaka might now be fielding offers of five-to-seven more seasons on a surgically restored arm. Remember that, whenever you think of him.

I've seen Tanaka struggling from the git-go - no command - yet he'd give us five innings on semen and spit. In the post-season, he built a big game reputation - which crumbled last fall in two disastrous outings. Against Cleveland and Tampa, he surrendered a total of 11 earned runs in two starts. Ditch those games, and his October ERA would be 1.76. Heroic. (As it is, his post-season record stands at 5-4, and 3.33.) 

Of course, we cannot choose which games count. And Tanaka's October numbers fall under one huge fog. They don't reflect a World Series appearance, because the Yankees never made it that far.

Seven years, nothing. 

When Tanaka signed with the Yankees, the whispered understanding was that he would get to pitch on the world's greatest stage, with a ring in the balance. The Yankees would provide that opportunity, because - hey - they were the Yankees. 

Repeating: Seven years, nothing. 

Actually, our drought as fans extends to 12. Last time the Yankees were the Yankees - that is, they won it - they played under the looming P.E.D. fog of Alex Rodriguez's uncanny home runs. The final verdict on that 2009 championship will be reargued next January, when A-Rod's rehabbed smile goes before the cranky, self-righteous Hall of Fame voters. 

Tanaka won't make Cooperstown. But his farewell leaves the Yanks without an Asian star, almost a rarity these days. (No veiled charge; I think it mostly reflects the owner's cheapness.) He deserves a plaque in Monument Park - (though, frankly, with 38 honorees there, that's becoming rather diminished.) 

Tanaka deserved more. The Yankees failed him. I hope they're happy with the money they saved. And I hope Masahiro carries his team to a championship. I wouldn't bet against him. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Day - O'


A limerick. 

While O’Day, our bullpen might restore.

It won’t be, to our standards of yore. 

His submariner style…

Will work for a while

Til he faces The Fantastic Four. 

So long, Masahiro, hello O'Day, and - gulp - zoiks, Toronto

After two long months of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" - (Iron Butterfly! wooo!)  - the drum solo has stopped, and everyone is scrambling for an open chair. Latest news: The Yankees switched Adam Ottavino for Darren O'Day - with Brett Gardner in the wings, and Masahiro Tanaka swimming home to Japan, like Kong in the last reel of King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), which surely will outlive all remakes. 

There is much to - as prissy news hosts love to say - "unpack," so...

1. After years of watching him hypnotize us with Baltimore, the Yanks have signed the goggled O'Day, 38, a RH version of Randy Choate, to a $2.5 million deal. This comes hours after we shipped both Adam Ottavino's contract and Adam Ottavino to Boston - creating an unprecedented kismet opportunity: We can replace Ottavino's "0" jersey with a "0" for O'Day. Fuckinay, right? Iron Butterfly! 

O'Day is one of those pitchers who, every time he shows up, you wonder why MLB doesn't have more sidearmers? RH bats hit a career .193 against him - (lefties hit only .228, so no sweating the three-batter rule) - and he reminds me of how Joe Garagioloa described Kent Tekulve: "a long, skinny nightmare." He'll be fun to watch, especially when a RH slugger marches to the plate.

For the record, I still despise the Ottavino salary dump, because it stems from Hal Steinbrenner's miserly and nepotistic cheap-aholic-ness. I don't mind fiscal frugality, but when an owner spends his way into a mudhole - which is what Hal did with Stanton, Hicks, El Chapo, etc. - poormouthing doesn't work. An owner is either trying to win at all costs, or he's chasing money. When the Yankees are doing salary dumps, our owner is cheaping out on us.

But more moves are coming. Maybe Hal will surprise us. I suspect we will sign Brett Gardner and release OF Greg Allen without ever even a glimpse of him. (If that happens, we'll call him "Oumuamua," named after the elongated space turd that flew in and out of our solar system a few years ago, and which might be an alien ship. In our lifetimes, we won't know.  Go, Oumuamura!)  

2. Masahiro Tanaka is returning to Japan. I am alternately relieved and pissed. I'm happy he's returning home - a hero, a great man and most of all... a career Yankee. He will never don another U.S. sports team's jersey. I could not bear to see him, say, clad in the orangey, Dr.-Deborah-Birx-scarflike trimmings of the Mets. But, damn, Masahiro deserved an offer from the Yankees. We need a horse, and he's a great one. 

The Yankee rotation is a house of cards. Roll the dice. It could be solid. Or we end up with one starter - Gerrit Cole - and a no-vacany Injury List. Damn. Masahiro deserved an offer. He didn't get one because Hal didn't want to pay a luxury tax. Horrible...

3. No sooner did folks note Toronto's one weakness - starting pitchers, like everybody - than the Jays traded for Stephen "Mr. Mets" Matz, age 29 and coming off a down year. What's unnerving here is the cold-blooded way that the Mets signed Matz to a one-year deal in December, then jettisoned him a month later, like a plate of bad clams. Nobody gets loyalty from an iguana.

Apparently, the Mets are all-in on Trevor Bauer. If so, yesterday's trade is a double-bank shot against the Yankees: Toronto strengthens its rotation, and the Mets clear space for signing the best free agent pitcher on the market.

The Yankees are seeing their worst month of tabloid covers since this blog began keeping count. In terms of attention, they will enter 2021 as NYC's secondary baseball team. But shhh, pass the word: That might not necessarily be a bad thing. 

The music has stopped, and soon, we'll be down to the last chairs. I think the Yankees have another move in mind. Is there really space for both Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar? We should know soon. So, turn on music. IRON BUTTERFLY, WOOOO!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

You Keep Forgetting....

 I have been patiently studying ( and assessing )  all of the well-researched ( and well-written ) articles on this blog, about the latest Cashman gambles, ( acquisitions from the hospital of broken pitchers )  trades, and potential signings.

Similarly, I have been tracking what the Blue Jays are doing, and what Tampa is not doing.  And we have given short-shrift ( thus far ) to that team lying in the weeds :  The Boston Whatevers.  

But every analysis...every fear....every speculation....keeps forgetting one thing:


Does anything else really matter?

Have a lovely day.  

Having added Marcus Semien, the Blue Jays are more loaded than ever

In case you missed it - or better yet, blocked it - Toronto/Buffalo yesterday signed IF Marcus Semien, who placed third in the 2019 MVP stolen election, to a one-year, $18 million deal. This comes just days after the Devil Jays backloaded OF George Springer and closer Kirby Yates, and a month after securing LH starter Robbie Ray. 

Hear that siren off in the distance? It's coming for us.

If the 2020 miniseason had lasted one more week, Toronto might have whooshed past us into the top Wild Card slot that Yankee fans have come to equate with success. In recent weeks, every hopeful Yank move - DJ, Kluber, Taillon - has been quickly countered by the Jays, who look ready to do to us in 2021 what the Devil Rays did last year.

Yeesh. They're practically a tag team. The Rays win the AL East and torture us in the playoffs, and then - come winter - they reload for 2022, slap hands with the Jays and say, "They're all yours!" Toronto had a rising team last year. They've now added three legitimate stars. And they might not be done. Their owner doesn't poormouth about paying luxury taxes.

Here's a possible lineup (with ages this year)

cf George Springer (32)
ss Bo Bichette (23)
1b Vladimir Guererro Jr. (22)
lf Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (27)
3b Marcus Semien (31)
dh Teoscar Hernandez (28)
2b Cavan Biggio, (26)
rf Randall Grichuk (29)
c Danny Jansen (26)

Supposedly, Guererro has ditched the Big Macs and no longer resembles Rosie O'Donnell in League of Their Own. He, Bichette, Biggio and Hernandez are, by themselves, an emerging nation. You might consider Jansen, a defensive catcher, as a weak link; he only finished about 40 points higher than The Great Sanchez.

(We should have a IIHIIFIIc Swear Bucket, where every time somebody blurts out "Gary" or "Sanchez," they must put five dollars toward a worthy charity, such as the Hal Steinbrenner Retirement Fund. Sadly, though, our 2021 may hinge on whether Gary makes a comeback. If he does, we have a chance. If not, well, we'll piss away two months  watching him, and then have to trade for a journeyman. Uh-oh, I gotta  put $20 in the bucket.) 

Toronto has an ace in Hyun Jin Ryu, and a rotation that - though it won't replace Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz -isn't a list of players who are rehabbing from Tommy John. Their top prospect, 24-year-old RH Nate Pearson, will be ready, so spare us your personal excitement about Deivi Garcia. Every team has one.

The Yankees still have a move or two to make. Maybe a LH bat. Maybe a pitcher. Maybe even a trade Clint or Miggy. Whatever happens, we'll likely go to spring training as favorites - for another Wild Card.

Oh, one last thing: 

Fuck "Catsup Curt" Schilling. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Let's step away for a moment...

From the ever-challenged laptop of HoraceClarke66...

Let’s step away for a moment… from the dessicated corpse of your New York Yankees, and think again about the wider game of baseball.


The latest brainstorm from the hive mind of the internet is that the Atlanta Braves should be renamed the “Hammers,” after the late, lamented Henry Aaron.  For once, the wisdom of the crowd looks like actual wisdom.


Let’s face it:  “Braves” is soon to go the way of “Indians,” the old name of the reborn Cleveland Napoleons (oh please, oh please). 


And lest anyone leap upon their anti-PC soapbox, let’s remember that the team presently located in Atlanta—the oldest continuously operating major-league franchise—has had many different monikers in its time:  Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, Rustlers, and Bees.


Nor was “Braves” a tribute to Native Americans. 


It was stuck on the team in Boston by smart-alecky press box types—before 1975, all sportswriters were required by law to be smart alecks, or at least wiseacres—after the franchise was purchased by one James E. Gaffney, a New York real estate developer who made his fortune thanks to his deep and abiding friendship with Charlie Murphy, the chief sachem of Tammany Hall’s political machine.


He's seen here, fourth from right, the sourpuss in the bowler, next to the guy wearing the war bonnet.  (The gent in the top hat, incidentally, is Kennedy granddad, "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald.)

In other words, he was a “Tammany brave,” as the machine’s minions used to style themselves. 


The name was renewed in the 1930s, when yet another Tammany stalwart, Judge Emil Fuchs, the man who did Babe Ruth dirt, owned the team.  Here he is getting a big plaque from Mayor James Michael Curley, another of those wonderful Boston pols—and looking like he's already casing the exits for a quick getaway:

Such were the days of yore, when any New York rascal with enough pluck and gall could venture forth and scoop up entire baseball franchises in lesser burgs.  But I digress.


All the Braves’ Indian paraphernalia and that excruciating chant—happily converted to “Fu-uck the Braves!” at the Stadium, during our merry upending of Atlanta in 1996—was slathered on the team by assorted half-wits in the stands and the team’s p.r. offices.


Away with it!  And time for a tribute to Hammerin’ Hank, who should have seen Atlanta’s new ballpark named for him, instead of some financial entity calling itself “Truist.”  (Yeah, that’s where I’m gonna put my money.)


The Braves’ fine uniforms could be easily restyled to match the name.  All that’s needed is a hammer instead of that tomahawk, and maybe a silhouette of the most legendary, hammer-driving figure in American history, John Henry.


Nice, how the “Henry” matches, isn’t it?  And think of how much better it would be to hear that great folk song played instead of the “on the warpath” chant every time Atlanta has a rally.  And imagine the delight all of those still smart-alecky sportswriters will have, being able to call some manager, “dumber than a box of Hammers.”

The possibilities are endless.  I know, we’re much more likely to get another ad for Truist as a team name—the “Scammers”?  the “BitCoins?”—but still.  It would be nice…

A Departing Haiku For Masahiro Tanaka

A Departing Haiku For Masahiro Tanaka

Masa of his craft
Another rising sun sets
His arm still attached.

Until Cashman is done, we cannot judge the Ottavino dump to Boston

Sad how the Yankiverse yesterday seemed to turn on Adam Ottavino. 

Yeesh. A Brooklyn boy. Came home. Bullpen lug nut. Solid clubhouse presence. To hear the buzz following his trade to Boston, you'd think he was Randy Keisler after the snakebite: Aaron Boone no longer trusted him.  No bite on his slider. Not worth the money. You'd think Ottavino traded himself to Boston. But his 2020 - a short season for long conclusions - is a tale of two meltdowns:

On Aug. 20 against Tampa Bay, he gave up 3 earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning, blowing a winnable game. His ERA jumped from 1.08 to 4.00. Painful.

On Sept. 7 against Toronto, he gave up 6 earned runs without recording an out. Ouch. His ERA exploded from 3.95 to 7.82, and he never recovered, finishing at 5.89. (Even sadder: Boone left him in. Ottavino didn't complain.)

Delete those two games, and Ottavino finishes the season with 17.1 innings and an ERA around 1.50. Best on the bullpen.

But that's cheating, eh? We don't get to delete the Mulligans. Those were horrible losses to division rivals, and Ottavino spit the bit, shat the bed, ate the baby, mooned the pope, etc. Randy Keisler after the rattlesnake.  

He'd also stumbled at the end of 2019, when his ERA jumped from 1.64 in early September to finish at 1.90. He became Exhibit A in our vastly disappointing bullpen, which has now lost two walk-off seasons in a row. Will Ottavino become Boston's closer? Maybe. Did the Yankees give him away? Yeah. Will Frank German, the prospect we threw in, be any good? Possibly. Will we look back on this deal and wince? Fukkinay, yeah. We just sold off a pitcher to save Hal Steinbrenner a few coins.

Listen: I don't wanna be the brat who finds shit under the Xmas tree and yells, "There must be a pony!" But I believe Brian Cashman has something in mind. The Yanks just cleared $8 million in salary cap space - why call it anything else? - so Hal can avoid his all-important luxury taxes. 

Part of the money might bring back Brett Gardner, at 38, whom we love and respect, yatta-yatta, but... really? 

If we re-sign Gardy - he becomes what? a lefty platoon, a defensive OF? Suddenly, there is no room for Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, Mike Tauchman, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Gardy and the new guy, Greg Allen, who brings superior speed and defense. Under the current crush, Andujar or Frazier could end up opening their seasons in Scranton - Scranton! No, no, nooooooo... that simply must not happen! 

The fault line this winter has always been Frazier/Andujar. Both are potential stars. Both have owner-friendly contracts. A young team could build around either. But the Yankees - even if we anticipate the usual injuries - cannot keep them both. One will die on the vine.

The Yankees need pitching, pitching, pitching... particularly a starter who is not recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery.

For better or worse, I believe Cashman will soon make his biggest move of the winter. 

Only then can we judge the Ottavino salary dump. Because right now, it sucks.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Well, Suzyn, I thank you


Tip o' the hat to Cory Lidle's Scenic Tours.  

Yanks not done yet: Ottavino to Redsocks

 A salary dump, pure and simple.


So... in Jameson Taillon, did Brian Cashman finally land his white whale?

Surely, you know by now that the fully functioning Death Star yesterday traded for Jameson Taillon, who might always be remembered as the guy chosen Number 2 in an MLB draft, between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. 

To obtain Taillon, we traded four prospects from the Yankee Deep State - Charleston, Tampa and Pulaski -none of whom was expected to contribute in 2021. If Taillon pans out - that is, if he shows what once made him so highly coveted - this would be an incredible Yankee bargain, a steal for the ages, the Gammonites tell us. 

And they are right: If this bold strategy of high-risk bets works out, the Yankees will win the AL East in 2021. It would be like drawing a royal flush, and it's hard to imagine another AL team beating them. They'd be on a level with the Dodgers. 

Clearly, this is a deal Brian Cashman had to make. Wherever he's looked this winter, he's seen insane high price tags for pitchers. (The Reds wanted Gleyber Torres for Luis Castillo.) Nobody would accept low-level prospects for anything remotely resembling a sure thing. Thus, they get a pitcher who has twice undergone Tommy John surgery - a troubling history for a team that has been riddled with injuries. Pitchers with two TJ surgeries are generally viewed as ticking time bombs; Taillon could have two or three seasons on his elbow, but probably not more. At any time, a pop can be heard, and the experiment will end. Troy Tulowitzki.

Still, Taillon offers us the Fantasy Land option: We dream of everyone returning at full strength, singing Aude Lang Syne like the ending of It's a Wonderful Life. This can be our escape from reality, and of course, we will take it. 

But today, anyway, let's ponder two soberting notes.

1. You can never truly access a deal until the prospects run their course. The Yankees yesterday gave up Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Maikol Escotto , and Canaan Smith. Any of them could become a star and make us ban the sound of Taillon's name. 

Yajure, 22, pitched three games for us last year. John Sterling thought he looked good. (John has a tendency to do that.) The Pirates say he'll compete for the rotation this year. He represents the first judgment: It will hurt if, say, in September, Yajure turns out to be the starter we need. Contreras (21), Escotto (18)  and Smith (21) missed last year, so WTF does anybody know? Each seemly had a breakout season in 2019, albeit deep in the minors. The Pirates GM is Ben Cherington - yes, the former Redsock cluck - who surely did his diligence on the Yankee system. Escotto sort of scares me. He plays SS, he hit well in a rookie league, and I never heard of him (Yankees hiding him?) Cherington didn't just pick his name out of a hat. He might well be the most important piece on Pittsburgh's side. But he's a long, long way from The Show.

2. The Yankees have assembled a remarkable risk pool of pitching. 

Thus... hyperbole! If Taillon, Corey Kluber and Luis Severino return, they could have the best rotation in baseball - no, why stop there?... the best rotation, ever, anywhere! Add Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt - candidates for Rookie of the Year! - and don't forget Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German, fighting it out for Number 5! Then there is Jhoules Chacin, Asher Wojciechowski and - a new guy, signed Friday - 25 year old Stephen Ridings who is 6'8" tall (and last seen in Single A, though) Future Hall of Famers, every one! 

If casino odds are what we want, March should be fun. 

But we all know Brian Cashman's Waterloo: His inability to land that one starting pitcher - the Verlander, the Beckett, the Scherzer - who leads us to Valhalla. His failures - from "Pine Tar" Pineda to "Big Maple" Paxton - remain too depressing to list. For 25 years now, Cashman has chased the white whale. When he started, he was a young man. Did he finally succeed? Jameson Taillon? The roll of the dice? The missing ingredient?

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Trade That Made Sense

It looks like El Duque had the inside track in his post of this morning.  

The Yankees are reporting they acquired Jameson Taillon today.  We didn't give up Clint Frazier but did send four propsects to the Pirates:

  • RHP Miguel Yajure (Yankees' No. 15 prospect, per MLB Pipeline)

  • RHP Roansy Contreras (No. 19)

  • OF Canaan Smith (No. 21)

  • SS Maikol Escotto
So, the trade that made sense came true.  If we could somehow sign Tanaka, that might make sense, too.

One proposed Yankee deal makes sense, but the other one...

The Yankees are said to be "the frontrunners" on Jameson Taillon, a 29-year-old former uber-prospect from the Pirates, a RH starter, an innings-horse still recovering from TJ surgery in 2019. Fun fact: He was once picked 2nd in the draft, between Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, which explains why Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh. 

This is him.

Note the absence of 2020, which in baseball seasons has become the 13th floor of a skyscraper. If the Yankees trade for him - and the Pi-Rates are clearly tanking on 2021 - they could end up with three starters who, in essence, missed the last two years: Corey Kluber, Luis Severino and Taillon. Add Jordan Montgomery, who notched 44 innings last year, and Domingo German, suspended for 18 months, and you have a plague-worthy rotation, a giant syringe full of question marks. You have Larry King interviewing Robin Williams, in the human form of Jerry Lewis masquerading as Jim Carrey. Good luck fathoming that metaphor.

There is reason for hope. There is reason for concern. All five could fail, leaving the rotation as Chernobyl, with Gerrit Cole pitching every fifth day and the city of Scranton sending its firstborn to fill the cracks. It sure would be nice to have a tried-and-true workhorse - say, a Masahiro Tanaka - but we all he costs too much. Money doesn't grow on trees, people!

I'm not knocking a Taillon trade. In any deal, the devil is in the details. We haven't yet learned Pittsburgh's asking price. And no matter how concerned we should be about elbows on the mend, Taillon is what the Yankees desperately need: Starting pitching. This makes sense. 

Which is why the weekend's second rumor is so disturbing: 

The Yankees are supposedly still chasing free agent OF Yasiel Puig.  


This is him.

Once again, as you see, nothing in 2020. Last July, Puig tested positive for Covid, causing Atlanta to scuttle his looming contract. He never saw a pitch. Puig is an intriguing soul, seemingly consumed by his vast talent, who may have peaked too early in LA, creating impossible expectations. He seems to ignite bench-clearing brawls, not that there's anything wrong with that. But here's the reason for concern. Puig is a RH corner outfielder, of which Yankees already have too many. Could their interest in Puig be signaling possible trades of Clint Frazier and/or Miguel Andujar - or even the seemingly untouchable Aaron Judge? (Now, that would be a blockbuster. But didn't Mookie's deal last year shake the ground in Boston?) 

Repeating: Devil in details. (Future note: In case of Deivi Garcia, remind me to say, "The Deivi is in the details." Always thinking ahead.) Still I cannot imagine a more joyless change than losing Frazier and replacing him with Puig. We've waited four years on Red Thunder. I really look forward to seeing what he can do with 150 games. I'd hate for it to happen in, say, Pittsburgh.

Let's assume this is a bogus rumor, something pushed by Puig's agent to roil the bidding. Wouldn't be the first time. How far out do the Yankees want to walk on the ice? The devil's in the - oh, fukkit - but next week could be unsettling.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Yankee anonymous source: No comment (and you didn't hear it here)

Tough news cycle.

Reports,"according to a person familiar with knowledge of the team’s personnel decisions..."

The Yankees “are talking to everybody free agents and trades, starting pitching and bullpen,” the person said. “Talking to everybody on market. Nothing close.”

Yep. Nothin' happening, sez nobody, (and you didn't get it from me...)

So it goes. The takeaway: Sleep well, everyone, because the Yankee brain trust is omnipresent, tireless, relentless... spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Somewhere, right now, on a muddy hillside near Timbuktu, shoeless street urchins are hitting rocks with vuvuzelas filled with dried dingo stool, and a Yankee scout is watching, taking notes and waiting for the DNA results from the lab. According to unnamed sources, they are even monitoring free agent talks over Marcel Orzuna, a RH-slugger, which makes so sense whatsoever, unless Hal has decided to become the planet's preeminent collector of LF/DHs. 

This is a weekend for Biden to eliminate the Diet Coke button, for Bills fans to destroy folding tables and the rest of us to remembering the greatest LF ever, Hank Aaron... whom Yankee fans never got to fully appreciate. Aaron played in the NL, only facing the Yanks in the world series of 1957 and 1958 (hitting .364 overall), and, of course, he topped our ultimate legend, the Babe, himself. 

Greatest player of all time? Who else qualifies?

Let us also note that Austin Romine has signed with the Cubs for the bargain basement price of $1.5 million. Frankly, I don't get this. Romine, at 32, hit .238 last year for Detroit and supposedly drew raves for defense and leadership. Yet he signs for a $3 million pay cut? And once again, as a backup? Huh... what am I missing?

I understand that the Yankees - in their inexhaustible, ceaseless and unrelenting quest to improve - would not join the bidding on Romine. 

They have Kyle Higashioka and Gary Sanchez. 

Let's leave it at that. (Go, Bills!) 

Friday, January 22, 2021

What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson; Hammerin' Hank has left and gone away


A friend writes:

Two stories I just heard from callers on WFAN:

1) When he retired in 1976, he was the only player left in MLB who had also played in the Negro Leagues.

2) In 1951, when he was playing for the Indianapolis Clowns, he got two offers to play in the Major Leagues, from the Boston Braves and the NY Giants. But the Braves offer was $50 more per month than the Giants, and that $50, was the difference-maker of a potential NY Giants outfield of Aaron & Willie Mays. Wow!

Damn. We lost Hank.

So good for so long. RIP.


In gift to spelling-challenged bloggers everywhere, Yanks sign Asher Wojciechowski

Asher Wojciechowski. (Pronounced as it looks.) 

This is war. 

This. Must. Not. Stand.

O, there hath been dirty deeds done (dirt cheap) by Brian Cashman - aka the Y-anon Shaman - but this, THIS, takes the urinal cake. I'm still battling with LeMahiue and the occasional Teixeira... with PTSD flashbacks to the Spell Checker Kraken of 2007, the good-hearted Doug Mientkiewicz. Now... this? It's unforgivable, I tell you, a cruel joke by a demon who humps buildings in an elf costume. And here's the worst part of this treachery: Wojciechowksky might be here to stay

Why would I think this? Well, for starters, he is one. And right now, the Yankee rotation is Geritt Cole dressed as a Five-Day Deodorant Pad. (Millennials, ask a boomer.) Wojciechowksky - known, of course, as "Wojo," (rare Barney Miller reference; ask a boomer), toiled last year for Baltimore, with a 6.82 ERA over 37 innings (including seven starts).  He is 32, a righty, a 6'4" war horse, originally drafted (first round, no less) by Toronto, back in the Obama administration. Over his MLB career, Wojo has thrown 198 innings with a 5.95 ERA. Basically, he's a guy who takes the ball. 

If you need a Yankee comparison, last year he was an older, better version of Michael King, who threw 26 innings with a patriotic 7.76 ERA. 

Signings like this raise the specter of a Sergio Leone movie. (Ask a boomer.)

The good: He signed a minor league contract. Whatever happens - no harm, no foul. History is paved with pitchers who peak after 30; the Jays just signed one, Kirby Yates, for a Putin-level pile. If Wojo is smart - if he has guile and guts - he could be our fifth starter until somebody else emerges.

The bad: Nobody might emerge. This signing - as "no fault" as it seems -  suggests how dire the rotation situation currently looks. Cashman is quietly looking under rocks. Also, it's interesting that Wojo chose the Yankees. He and his agent saw a pitching vacuum, a wide-open opportunity. 

The ugly: The Yankees might keep him in April and May simply to screw rookie pitchers out of future arbitration years. He might start, even with younger and better options available, simply because he's cheap. On the Yankees, no less...

Also, I gotta spell this guy's name for the next four months. Asher Wojciechowskie. Damn you, Cashman, you've won again

Thursday, January 21, 2021

"It's not a matter of life or death..."

 Filed on behalf of HoraceClarke66, whose computer was stolen and sold to Russia...

“…What is, what is?”


Well, actually a lot of stuff, much of which is being debated right now.  But let’s not go there.


Instead, I want to talk about something trivial:  The proposals to make the 2020 Abomination Rules—7-inning games in doubleheaders, starting every extra inning with a runner on second-base—a permanent disfigurement of the game we all love.


“Who cares, who cares?”


The words above were penned by the great Elvis Costello in 1980, part of a song called, “Hoover Factory.”  It’s about an old Hoover vacuum factory outside of London that was about to be torn down, like several other abandoned Art Deco buildings from the 1930s.


As you can see, it was drop-dead gorgeous:



But hey, what would be the big deal if it was reduced to rubble?


“It’s not a matter of life or death…”


Neither are these moronic new rules for pandemic baseball.  Installing them will just be one more example of chipping away at the great game for no discernible reason.


Baseball isn’t overrun by extra-inning games, especially not those that go on and on, inning after inning.  The owners long ago all but eliminated doubleheaders, so that they’re only played in the case of monsoon-level rainouts.


Nor do the lords of MLB have any interest in actually shortening the games.  Or addressing  the real problem, which is that the game today is more one-dimensional—and boring—than it has ever been.


What they are after is making the game more predictable.  Squeezing it into reliable, three-hour boxes.  This way it can be turned all the more easily into one of the timed games that baseball envies so much, football and basketball, where advertisers can be assured that the action will always take place within certain time slots.  


It’s all for the money, of course, like everything else, and if it mutilates the game some of us love so much, well, is that really so bad? 


And will it really be so bad when, not long from now, MLB puts ads on the outfield grass?  Then on the infield grass, the bases, and the uniforms? 


When all teams, as well as their stadiums, are named after their corporate sponsors?  When our favorite team becomes the My Pillow Yankees?


“Who cares…?”


The Hoover Factory, incidentally, was saved.  It was converted into a supermarket and apartments, with all of its salient elements preserved and it looks great. 


Just another beautiful thing.  Just something to make people feel better as they go into it or drive past it on another working day.  Just the way we think of baseball. 


If only somebody would save our favorite thing.



Conversations With Myself - Can We Win it all in 2021?

ME:  I saw that the Blue Jays signed Springer.

ALSO ME:  That’s great! Now they will be too preoccupied arguing with each other over who impregnated the waitress who works the seats behind home plate to play well. 

ME:  Not Jerry Springer. George.

ALSO ME:  Oh. Well, that’s not good then. You know, I never liked Jerry. I blame him for 9/11.

ME:  Seriously?

ALSO ME: Yeah. Before Jerry Springer, the media images of America that we broadcast to the world were tough guys like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. It said, “Don’t mess with us”. 

Jerry Springer showed the world a bunch of fat stupid people arguing over who the baby daddy is. It gave the world the impression that, “We can take these guys. ”

ME:  Baseball…

ALSO ME:  So, big deal, the Blue Jays signed George Springer, in year six they’ll regret it.  Besides, we got DJ back.

ME:  You don’t do irony do you?

ALSO ME: The Yankees will be fine.

ME:  Face it. Toronto got better we got worse. The more I think about it the worse we got. It will take a miracle injury free season from Stanton, Judge, Kluber, Sanchez, and Hicks to be any kind of good.

ALSO ME:  It’s possible. 

ME:  Please, this team is so fragile they should install  a M*A*S*H unit next to Monument Park.   

ALSO ME:  You worry too much.  Toronto has no starting pitching. Also, they might be forced to play in Buffalo this year. Their post game spread will be Beef on Kimmelwicks and Hot Wings. Toss in a few kegs a day of Genny Cream Ale and they’ll self destruct like the Red Sox did.  

ME:  Beef on Wick.  Man, I miss those. A little horseradish sauce…

ALSO ME: Baseball…

ME:  So, can we win it all in 2021?

ALSO ME:  What do you want from me? I know what we’re dealing with.  We’ll have another winning season. What is that like, 47 in a row? We make the Wild Card again. Once the playoffs start it’s a crap shoot. We just need to get hot at the right time. Sanchez is in the best shape of his life, we’ll get him some Prozac,  Devi is the second coming of Pedro, Severino will be back mid-year, German is truly sorry, Frazier got nominated for a Gold Glove, Stanton has something to prove, Hal hasn’t made his ninja move yet…   we’re due damn it, WE’RE DUE!!!!!

ME:  Speaking of due, have you seen the results of Kathy’s pregnancy test? 

ALSO ME:  It wasn’t me.

ME: Well, it wasn’t me…

And we’ll be back, after this…

Do the Yankees think time is on their side? Because it might not be...

Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez says Gary Sanchez last year wasn't having "fun." 

Speaking on behalf of the Yankiverse, I confirm this:

Slogging back to the dugout last season, bat in hand, eyes drooping, head down... Gary seldom looked jocular, mirthful, lugubrious. Rather, he seemed a bit depressed, bummed out... Clapton-Tears-in-Heavenish

It's hard to imagine Gary so down in 2021. I mean, it's almost physically impossible, right? Surely, he'll improve. Can a guy hit worse than .147?

Don't answer that. Soon, we'll know. The Yanks have not upgraded at catcher, and it looks as though we'll ride it out with Sanchez, Higgy and fervent prayer. At 28, Gary would be considered relatively young for a catcher - that is, if he could catch. He'll probably never relive that magical half-season of 2017, but as they say at Lotto: Hey, you never know...

And speaking of Lotto... how about that Corey Kluber! Isn't it fun to imagine him returning at full strength? We'd have two aces - two! - as The Master would say, "back to back and belly to belly!" He'd be great, if he comes back...

Today, I think that about sums up the Yankee fan base: Let's roll the dice and hope that time improves this team. Yes... time. 

Trouble is, I'm not sure if time is our pal.

Here are the Yankees who, based on age alone, would seem likely to improve in 2021.

Gleyber Torres, 24 next season
Clint Frazier, 26
Tyler Wade, 26
Miguel Andujar, 26
Thairo Estrada, 25
Deivi Garcia, 22
Michael King, 26
Jonathan Loaisiga 26
Nick Nelson 25

Let's assume that either Frazier or Andujar could go in a trade. There is also the usual busloads from Scranton - (Clarke Schmidt will be 25) - which every team has. Are we feeling lucky yet?

Because here are the Yanks whose best years, based on age, is likely behind them: 

LeMahieu, (o, it hurts, but it's true) he'll be 32.
Giancarlo Stanton, 31
Brett Gardner, 37 (assuming he returns)
Aaron Hicks, 31
Kyle Higashioka, 31
Zack Britton, 33
Aroldis Chapman, 33
Adam Ottavino, 35

To this, add Tyler Lyons (33) and the various reclamation projects Cashman will sign.  

So... are we having fun yet? Could Gary have a comeback year? Sure. But if he doesn't, we're screwed. Could Judge and Stanton stay healthy? Sure. But if they don't - and they haven't yet - we're screwed. Could Gleyber become a star SS? Sure. But if he doesn't... screwed. 

Look at Tampa or Toronto. You see waves of youth, career years still to come. What happened to the Yankee surge of 2017, when we seemed on the cusp of league domination? We slipped in 2018, faltered in 2019, fell last year, and now we stagger into 2021, with Hal Steinbrenner clutching his wallet. Time is not necessarily on our side. 

Yesterday, J.A. Happ signed with the Twins. Good luck with that, Minnesota. 

Today, we hear the world champion Dodgers might sign Trevor Bauer. Good luck with that, every other team in baseball.

Remember when the Yankees did such things? We added Mike Mussina? We added Jason Giambi? We were the premier franchise in baseball, in all of sports. We were Alabama football. We were Duke basketball. Damn, it was fun.

Unless some crazy intangibles break our way, 2021 could be a tough year. If Gary Sanchez isn't enjoying himself, beginning in April, we might not have much fun, either. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Springer and Yates to Toronto? So much for thinking a diminished AL East would be easy pickings

Last year, the Blue Jays' regular CF was a lad named Randall Grichuk. 

Today, it is George Springer.

Last year, the Jays' closer was somebody called Anthony Bass. 

Now, it's Kirby Yates. 

Woah, holy crap, what was that? Did you feel it? A cold, shuddering breeze, coursing through my parka. I'm still shivering. WTF was THAT..?

Well, it was Toronto, whooshing past us, en route to Alpha Dog status in the AL East. Yesterday, the grounds shifted in a division the Yankees not long ago were proclaiming themselves Team To Beat. 

And unless Brian Cashman can coax a few extra doubloons from Hal Steinbrenner's chastity belt/fanny-pack, the Death Barge will enter 2021 as contenders for a Wild Card berth. Yes, another bronze medal could soon be hanging in the stadium's historically insignificant rafters. It's the new Yankee Stadium: Where nothing has ever happened!

Could 2021 be the year Buffalo wins the Super Bowl and World Series?

Here's something even crazier: Toronto's centerfielder last year - the unheralded, 28 year-old Grichuk - was not only younger but far more productive than our superstar, the famous Aaron Hicks. Mr. Nobody Grichuk hit 12 HR and batted .273 - doubling Hicks' HR total (6) and surpassing his anemic .225 average. Now, with Springer aboard, Toronto could move him to a corner slot or trade him - for pitching, or whatever they need. 

We talk about the Yankee OF glut? The Jays also have Lourdes Gurriel, 26, who hit .308, and Teoscar Hernandez, 27, who hit .289. Both topped anything from our OF last year, aside from - say - jersey sales. O, and did I mention that the Yanks might coax back Brett Gardner? Everybody loves Gardy. He'll be 37.

Last year, in hated Houston, Springer hit 14 HR and batted .265. That outproduced the great and mighty Aaron Judge, (9 HR and .257.) The Yankees boast truly big names... just not big numbers. 

But wait, there's more. Unto the Jays' bullpen now comes Yates, who in 2019 led the majors with 41 saves. Here's a jolly note: Their closer, Bass - with 7 saves - outdid our own Aroldis Chapman, who supplied three. 

Last week, when we signed DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, the Yankees briefly reigned as favorites in the AL East. Let us cherish that halcyon moment. Float it into amber. Take its picture. Because unless Hal goes to his checkbook - and we know how he loves paying luxury taxes - it might just be the peak of 2021. 

The year of Buffalo. (Go Bills!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

5 Pitches to Midnight

Thanks to all who liked the AYG-HAB™. There were some really good other metrics in the comments.  

Senior Duque’s suggestion for a pitching metric got me thinking…

It’s not so much are we glad the guys IN as the need for one that tells us when to take the guy OUT.

Truth is, all pitchers, unless they are pitching a no hitter, must be taken out at some point. Even closers. (Cough, Chapman in any elimination playoff game, cough!)

What we need is a metric that measures the time frame for the implosion. I’m thinking something like a Doomsday Clock. Sort of a 5 Pitches to Midnight type thing.

For example. Tanaka has been mowing them down for three innings. He comes out for the 4th and walks the first guy. START THE CLOCK. Five Pitches to Midnight. If the next guy gets a single. Pull him because that three-run home run is just a 2-0 count away. If he strikes the guy out or gets a pop up everybody can exhale, and we can reset the clock or turn it off.

Maybe we could have a special pitching coach sitting on the bench in a lab coat to advise Boone as to when the clock starts.

Put it on the Jumbotron! It will become a fan favorite in no time.


One more thing on the AYG-HAB™…  In my fantasy it’s an app, and while the game is on all the viewers enter their AYG-HAB™, the app amalgamates, and the booth has to report it.  

Imagine John Sterling saying,  “You know Susan, I’m not a big fan of numbers and statistics and all that, but the fans have Gleyber’s AYG-HAB™ in this situation as a 5.7. “  and she replies,  “He’s at least a 6.3 in my book.”  “Well let’s find out here’s the first pitch…”

It's a NEXT GEN solution for keeping the game interesting and, best of all, it doesn't require gambling.  

Oh...  No money stream at the fan's expense.  So I guess that ain't happening.