Friday, April 30, 2021

Tigers Game Thread... they're GRRRRRRRRRRRRReat!


The IIHIIFIIC Alternate Universe Yankees Challenge

We’re all pissed. Clearly we need a new GM and manager.

So here's the challenge... Our collective is now the GM. We can fire Boone. OK, let’s be honest… we WILL fire Boone. But replace with who? The person has to be available. And, if possible I’d like to know why the new guy?

Do we try to do all the fixes at once? Tank and set us up for free agency next year? Understand that Hal is still the owner. So, think one free agent next year not five. Try to stay under the luxury tax this year as well but a great trade could be approved.

I just realized that I’m setting my self up to be Hal for this exercise. Don’t mean to. We can be "Collective Hal" too. 

Let’s really try and fix the team.  

The only caveat is, our suggestions have to be realistic. So, no trading Station and 100% of his salary to Kansas City for their ace because, that’s not happening because 1) He has a "no trade" and won’t go to KC. 2) They’re not taking the salary 3) No one trades an ace.

The whole organization is ours. You want to trade The Martian. Go ahead. Sanchez for a bag of balls? If it means that much to you. Do it.  

I’m interested in seeing what our solutions are. I also secretly hope that our readership includes someone in the front office.

If possible, maybe one of us with a good baseball program can make the trades and run a season sim and let us know how we did. 

Let’s see what we’ve got.

PROGRAMMING NOTE:  This is my last post for a while (or not). I’m heading out on Sunday to drive cross country to see my Mom. I’m fully vaccinated, got new tires, and a case of wanderlust. I plan on hitting a few ball parks along the way. Denver, KC, and Pittsburgh.  

I will be in NYC sometime towards the end of May if anyone wants to hang out. I’m up for an early June trip to the Stadium (unless we are boycotting). I’d do the Duchess County team as well.   

That said, I’ll probably keep commenting and if anything of note comes up I’ll write it.  

As to the challenge... I'll try to announce our roster before I leave unless the conversation is going strong. If that's the case I'll post from the road sometime next week. 


Question to the Yankiverse

 Why, why, WHY... didn't Aaron Boone in the tenth yesterday load the bases with walks to create a force at home with two RH batters facing Jonathan Loaisiga?

The Yankees plan for moving runners: Hit a homer

The incredibly miserable 2021 Yankees have now played four extra inning games, losing three.  In their lone victory over Tampa, Rays pitcher Colin McHugh dissolved into goo after our pinch-hitter, Mike Tauchman, laid down a sacrifice bunt. Tauchy was the Yankees best bunter - actually, their only bunter - before they traded him this week for a pitcher named Wandy Peralta. I wonder if he can bunt?  

With Tauchman gone, the Yankees have reverted to their main strategy for scoring under the new extra innings rule. It's the same strategy as always: Hit a home run. 

That's right. Imagine you're in a Calgon Bath Oil Beads commercial and.... SWING AWAY! The Yankees don't bother with "situational hitting." They value their freedom and liberty. Swing away!  When they start the 10th inning with a free runner on second, it's a chance for a 2-run homer, instead of the usual solo shot.

Solo shots. These days, that's the Yankees.  They hit seven homers against Baltimore this week. Six were solo shots. In fact, the Yankees have no more chance of scoring with a man on second than by starting with a clean slate. What matters is whether the opposing pitcher will toss a meatball, which a Yankee can bash over the fence. If so, the Yankees will score. It's actually quite simple.

Yesterday, in the 10th, the Yankees called upon Tyler Wade to bunt their free runner to third. He failed, horribly, in fact, so astonishingly ineptly that it begs a question: 

Could it really be that a career 26th man, a utility IF-OF, whose game is based on speed, hustle and the ability to play multiple positions, has never learned to bunt? 

Of course, it is possible. This is the Yankees! Why would anyone expect the fundamentals to be a thing? 

Last night, "Tyler Wade" was trending nationally on Twitter. I felt bad for the guy. I haven't seen such brutal comments since the Houston cheating scandal. The Yankiverse is angry. Still, I blame Aaron Boone for bringing in Aroldis Chapman too early. At least for now, when El Chapo looks unhittable, he should pitch the 10th, with a runner on second. 

The reason? Well, it's not fair. Other teams can bunt. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

"Tyler Wade" is trending on Twitter, and it's not pretty

 Normally, I would cut and paste some of the worst comments.

These are too harsh, even for me.


The Judge Situation

Reading El Duque this AM got me to thinking about what I am now calling, “The Judge Situation”. (Good title for a dramedy BTW.)

I think we’re looking at the wrong thing. It doesn’t matter to me what his injuries are or what their extent is. The real question is WHY? Why is this guy always hurt?  

In the past I blamed it on his girlfriend’s aggressive love making style but I think she’s in jail now so that can’t be it.   

Here are some possible explanations…

1) Aaron Judge Is Actually Over 60 Years Old

DickAllen asked, "Minor multiple things. WTF does that mean?”

I think he knows. I think we all know. Today it's my knees. Yesterday I was getting something off the top shelf and extended too far. A couple of days ago I slept poorly. Heartburn. Eczema. Seborrhea. Psoriasis. Did I mention my knees? Also, I think a LEGO I stepped on several years ago created some kind of heel damage… 

In other words, multiple minor things.  

2) The Cycle of Doom

Judge never fully recovered from his appearance at the first Home Run Derby. Too many hard swings. So he builds up, does his yoga, light weights, whatever. Then his mind says, “swing hard” and his body says, “OK… but you’re going to pay.” 

On the field it looks like this...

Phase One:  Lots of OK swings. Maybe a single or even a double.

Phase Two: Encouraged, he swings a little harder making better contact ending for the most part in deep fly outs.

Phase Three: He takes his “real” swing. Home Run.  

Phase Four: Injured.

Or it's entirely possible... 

3) She’s Out On Bail



Thursday matinee game thread

 (It's Jordan Montgomery v. Jorge Neverherdofim.) 

A laugher victory brings a few laughs... and concern over Aaron Judge

Last night, the Death Barge won its third Grade A, stock-issued, certified laugher of 2021 - all three over the hoary hosts of Baltimore. 

The other two came in our 4th and 5th games of the season - behind J. Montgomery (7-0) and G. Cole (7-2). The Yankees blitzed the O's, but managed to piss them off enough to win the final game of the series. This afternoon - with luck and J. Tallion - we can take this series 3-1 and skip town ahead of blowback. 

Hey, a laugher is a laugher. Last night, everybody chuckled. Clint Frazier made a stupid baserunning error, but could laugh about it, having homered for the first time this season. Kyle Higashioka went 0-4 with two strikeouts, but could laugh, because he's the starting catcher. (Higgy is tied for 8th among MLB catchers with 4 HRs, despite having played in only 12 games.) Aaron Hicks went 0-3, lowering his average to .147, second worst in the majors among CFs - (his once-vaunted On Base Percentage at .225) - but he could laugh, I suppose, because - well - it's called a laugher.

Unfunny, though, is the continuing bewilderment over how the Yankees handle questions about Aaron Judge. He sat out last night's game with "lower body soreness," whatever that means. He's listed "day to day," whatever that entails. Later, to clarify matters, Aaron Boone said.

“Because I think there’s multiple minor things that pop up that I don’t think it’s really necessary at times to go into — there’s times when it is absolutely clearly is specific - there are other times when it’s a little bit gray. It’s a little bit of wear and tear and that’s what I leave it at.”

Aaron Stengel. 

In a normal time, with a normal player, against a normal tomato can, this would be no issue of consequence. Judge has played 21 games this season, a serviceable number, more than Mookie Betts, Michael Comforto, Adam Eaton and many other starting RFs. If the Yankees are resting him, fine. They've made a decision to rest Giancarlo Stanton - a fulltime DH at age 31 - for the next eight years. Without a DH spot, when Judge needs a rest, the bench beckons.

Here is where, in my opinion, the Yankees' continuing refusal to disclose or discuss injuries undermines the franchise. By playing mum, they leave the fans and the festering media to their imaginations, and here goes mine: At any time, a news release will announce that Judge shall miss the next [fill in the number] months due to a tweaked [fill in the body part], which has been hampering him. They didn't tell us he was playing in pain - subjecting him to criticism if he failed - and then he's gone. That's my dirty old imagination. And here's the scariest part: What are the odds that it won't prove to be right?  

I realize that the job of the Yankee front office is to win, not appease segments of the media. If the Yankees win, we fans will fall into line. Happily! I would add. (Seriously, Yankees, just win and you'll find the dark and dismal opinions on this fan site change dramatically.) I believe that, by being vague about injuries, they are seeking to protect their players from criticism; in this case, Judge's health record poses an existential threat to his popularity in Gotham. But saying nothing might work in a small market. In NYC, it just fuels more fear. 

And I can't help but wonder if that's not what they really want: More attention, more controversy, more media narrative. Never forget: Ink is ink, and the Yankees - for the first time since we began taking count - are not leading in the tabloids back pages race. Right now, the Mets are New York's top team.

I don't expect an itemized printout of Judge's aches and pains. I'd just like to see the Yankees more open to discussing such matters. As it is, when it comes to injuries, whatever the Yankees say, there's no reason to trust it. So whadda we think about Aaron Judge? Damned if I know.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Night of a hundred O's game thread...


Remembering Hal Steinbrenner on Broadway

HoraceClarke66: A Miller's Tale

 By HoraceClarke66...

Even though he was a lawyer, Yankees manager Miller Huggins was not always the sharpest tack on the bulletin board. In 1929, for instance, he became obsessed with the health benefits of tanning, and general exposure to the sun, or sun lamps.

Within a few weeks, Huggins had a mysterious black mole on his face. Within a few months, sadly, he was dead.


But whatever Huggins lacked in medical understanding, he made up for in baseball smarts. It didn’t take until August of 1925—the first year that Lou Gehrig had more than a cup of coffee with the team—for Hug to put Babe Ruth and Gehrig back-to-back in the Yankees’ lineup.


Didn’t matter how good a hitter Yankees outfielder Long Bob Meusel was—and he was a very, very good hitter. Didn’t matter that Long Bob was a righty, and that Ruth and Gehrig were lefties.


Miller Huggins, though shamefully deprived of algorithmic printouts, figured out that two of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen should be hitting back-to-back, belly-to-belly.


For your New York Yankees of the 21st century, it seems to have taken Aaron Boone and his boss three years to figure out that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton belong back-to-back in the lineup. Granted, this has often been impossible due to the fragile nature of both sluggers, who more often resemble Steve Kemp and Nick Johnson than Ruth and Gehrig. But still.


Last night, the YES men informed us that the Yanks are 9-0 in games in which both Judge and Stanton homered. This is, I realize, an awfully small sample size. But it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t continue the experiment.


And speaking of sample sizes, we have a very large one in the case of Gary Sanchez. The YES men also informed us last night—at the behest of Brain? Who knows?—that Sancho is batting just .199 over the last four years, the lowest average by any player with at least 1,000 at-bats in that time. Even in this batting average-scorning age, that just won’t do.


I agree with our Peerless Leader that it’s time for a moratorium on the Sanchez piñata. And as I’ve written many times already, when Sanchez first came up—and right through the 2017 playoffs—I thought he looked like a young Johnny Bench. Great arm, great power, and even a prodigious ability to frame pitches. 


What happened? Maybe Sancho is the most stubborn or thickheaded player who ever lived—but I suspect the fault lies more with a coaching and training staff for whom he is not an outlier but par for the course. Something needs to be done about that.


In the meantime, I wish him well wherever he’ll be traded. Maybe the Brain will even insist on getting a player in return.

Comment of the Day (thus far)

 From Doug K...

Apologies in advance but your comment moratorium on Gary Sanchez left me more flat footed than Stanton rounding third.

What am I supposed to do with these?

What’s the safest place at Gary Sanchez’s birthday party?
Inside the piñata.

Knock Knock
Who’s There?
Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez who?

And last…

The night before the 2020 ALCS Gary Sanchez, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit walk into a bar. The bartender asks them, “What’ll you have?” Gleyber says, “Give me two shots of Cuervo Gold” and Luke Voit says, “An ice cold beer” and Gary Sanchez says, “Surprise me.” and the bartender says, “OK. You’re benched.”

I'm good now. I promise.

Doug K.

Can Corey Kluber's core keep kloobing? And can Higgy have a heavier holler?

Last night brought something totally unexpected: 

The Yank bullpen didn't get roused before the old Daily News 5th.

Imagine that? A starter, not named Gerrit, lasting into the 7th. The stuff of wizards and wild cards, of peyote dreams and Lotto commercials. Could Andrew Yang be mayor? Could Caitlin Jenner run California? Can the Death Barge find a No. 2?

Alas, it came against Baltimore - home to the musical team of Mountcastle and Mancini. Let's not count the teeth on this stallion. Still, for the first time in 2021, Corey Kluber transmitted a thin beam of hope through the Stygian black pandemic skies. The Yankees' most expensive free agent from last winter lasted into the seventh, the 7th!, where Jonathan Loasiga could take over.

Dare we believe the rotation has a No. 2?

Here are Kluber's 2021 game logs, last night at the top.

As you see, it hasn't been pretty. Still, last night was by far his best of 2021. The  Yanks took an early lead, steadily widened it, and  Kluber squashed the O's like a carny fat lady sitting on a heckler.

Tonight, it's Domingo German, whose last outing went six innings and gave up 2 earned runs. Thursday, it's "The River" Jordan Montgomery, who - well - has been Kluber in reverse. He started April like Whitey Ford. He's finishing like Whitey Bulger.

June and July are light years away. We could all be dead. But after basically missing two years, it's fair to think Kluber would need a month to regain command. He's like a stroke patient, relearning how to talk. He may never dominate, as he once did for Cleveland. But if he becomes a No. 2, that is a tumbler clicking into place. We'll still be three cards shy of a full house, but we won't go four days a week cringing at the cosmos. 

Secondary note: Kyle Higashioka is soooooo the starting Yankee catcher that it's no longer funny or pleasurable to badmouth on Gary Sanchez. I am hereby calling for an IT IS HIGH moratorium on ripping Gary unnecessarily  - (note the qualifier.) 

Traditionally, the Yankees go through a phased mating dance with diminishing sluggers, before they finally invoke the Scranton option. If the slugger accidentally leans into one - blasts it 500 feet - raising his average to .120, the YES announcers zestfully rejoice, proclaiming that this was just the hit he needed to snap out of the funk. Thus, he gets to go another 0-30. 

Gary Sanchez is deep into that sad cycle, so well into the drain that it will even be hard for Aaron Boone to claim rebirth and resurrection. He is now the backup catcher, and a hitter who needs to seriously rethink his game before it's too late. It's no longer worth treating him like the IT IS HIGH pinata. Frankly, we should worry. 

Meanwhile, John Sterling needs to upgrade the Higgy call, which is "Higashioka... the home run stroke-ah!" Many Yankees have a prefix and suffix HR holler - (Example: It's a Tex message... Oh, you're on the Mark, Texieira!") Did I  miss something? Has The Master created a suffix for Kyle? If not, I would like to submit one.

Higgy... comes up biggy!

That's all I got.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021



Babe Ruth is trending on Twitter, and we should be proud

 A true American hero.

The Maginot Line

 I jotted down these random rants after the game ended ( okay, a few during the fucking game ):

1.  The yankees cannot win if they give up two runs.  That is our Maginot Line.  And, I might note, just as effective as the real one.

2.  I am sick of hearing about Dievi Garcia as " the Yankees best pitching prospect."  If he is, we are so screwed.  Every time he pitches he gives up a quick homer, and then a few more runs. He was lucky it was the lead-off guy, or it would have been a 2, 3 run deficit immediately...just as in the playoffs, need I remind anyone.  

The " little Pedro" only lives up to the first part of that nickname.  Get used to it. 

3.  Did Mike King die?  He pitched the best 6 innings of any Yankee ( in relief ); then pitched another three shut out innings ( struggle, but still no runs ); then disappeared.  Who loaded him onto a fast bound freight to Mexico?

4.  How do we evaluate our Marcus Thames now?  Why isn't the " hitting " coach taking a fall?  He only gets credit when the hitters look good? No accountability for failure?  Thats the Yankee way.

5.  Kay and Cone made a big deal ( mostly Kay ) about how the Yankees had won 18 straight games at Camden...until the end of Covid season, when we lost three straight there.  Now it is four straight and counting....

6.  "Watching the Yankees is boring."  This came out of Cone more than once.  I found myself nodding in agreement, as I had been switching to 'Life Below Zero" re-runs as soon as the first Yankee swung and missed, each inning.

7.  Duque is right.  How can Frazier hit when he is balancing on one foot, looking backwards, and flipping his bat like a metronome?  Simple answer;  he can't. 

In the words of Bowie (David, not Kuhn), where are we now?

 Or more to the point, when? 

Comment of the day (thus far)


What do, the late Jay Bruce, Aaron Hicks, Mike Ford, Clint Frazier and "Roughy" Odor all have in common?

They all have batting averages below Whitey Ford's. You can look it up!!  Sanchez and Stanton still have a chance cuz they are hovering around the .173 mark needed.

That IS NOT the way to honor him this season.

For the Yanks this year, we should change it from the "Mendoza Line" to the "Whitey Line."

Bad teams find a way to lose, as proven once again by the 2021 Yankees

I feel like Dr. Rick, the guy in the TV ads who schools young people on how not to become their parents. Last night, when Aaron Judge was out at third, it was like when the kid passes with blue hair, and Dr. Rick says, "We all see it. We alllll see it."

So, let me blurt it out:

The Yankees are a bad team. 

We all see it. We allllll see it. 

We are weak at the following positions:

1. Catcher. I appreciate that Gary Sanchez is running out grounders, but has anybody detected an adjustment in his swing? It still starts in the Roman Empire and concludes around 2525, if man is still alive... He's hitting .182 with 15 strikeouts in 55 at bats. As for Higgy? He's a far better backup than starter.

2. Second base. The Irishman, Roogie O'Doar, has homered a few times lately, but I cannot shake the fatalism of a guy recently cut by one of baseball's worst teams, all to avoid giving an opportunity to Tyler Wade. Odor - hitting .159 - has a well defined ceiling: Last year, he batted .167 with a strikeout in every third plate appearance. Even if he gets hot - which, by the way, he hasn't - we all know his numbers will inevitably shrink. Especially galling is to see him batting fourth - dear God - due to the lack of LH hitters.

3. Centerfield. Aaron Hicks is beginning to look like one of the worst contracts on a roster full of them. He's ours, at about $10 million per season, until 2026. Today, if you look at the comparisons of Hicks' career to those of similar batters, Roger Repoz pops up. Roger Repoz. I swear I'm not making this up: Fifty five years after he last patrolled the Yankee outfield, Roger Repoz has returned to the Yankees, and his name is Aaron Hicks. 

4. Clint Frazier is starting to look like a guy with endless talent and a ridiculous swing. I watch him twirling the bat above his head, pretzeled into the batters' box, and I wonder how he's made it this far. I don't claim to know the mechanics of hitting, but there are many gurus out there, and I wonder what they think of Frazier? Maybe he'll pull out of this. But unless he starts hitting soon, he'll be back in Scranton, and I  wonder if he'll ever escape?

5. First base. Mike Ford? The over-shift's best friend. Soon, this will change. But if Luke Voit starts slowly, shaking off rust, we could be floundering into June. 

6. The rotation, numbers 3-5. I'm tempted to say everyone but Gerrit Cole, but one of the Floor Four manages to pitch into the fifth - the new Yankee bar of success! Imagine that: Anybody who lasts into the fifth is greeted like a hero.

7. The middle innings bullpen. I almost ignored this, because what team in baseball doesn't have firebombers in the fifth and sixth innings. Trouble is, our bullpen is starting to crack. It cannot continue at the current pace. 

These are not small problems. These are fault lines. And for now, the Yankees have no remedy but to keep playing the same lousy cards. Last night, we lost to Baltimore, the team we've tortured for a decade. People... this is bad.

We all see it. We allllll see it...

Monday, April 26, 2021

Lord Baltimore game thread

 With appreciation to Red Thunder

"The worst is yet come my friends…”

Hey, nothing like an April weekend in Cleveland to brighten one’s prospects, right? Three-out-of-four, and even if the last one was yet another of the severely mangy dogs your New York Yankees seem to specialize in this year, there were tiny green sprouts of hope, no?


The team winning percentage vaulted from .333 to .429! The Gleyber showed signs of life—which is to say that he raised his average from .186 to .213 and drove in a second run! (Still no homers, but what the hell do you want from a guy?)


Mike Ford came back up and homered, already matching Jay “Shoot me now” Bruce’s total for the month! Clint Frazier (.146, still no homers, 1 RBI) made a very nice catch!


Oh, all right. Perkiness only goes so far, even with a four-game set in Baltimore about to start. 


Fact is, these Yankees remain on a historic pace—for impotence. Currently, the team is hitting all of .206.


That puts it 8 points below the record-setting, 1968 Yanks’ batting average of .214. I don’t mean just record-setting for the Yankees: That was and is the lowest average by a major-league team since the start of the 20th century. 


But in 1968, we’re talking a year when there was no DH, pitchers threw from the top of foothills, shortstops were the size of jockeys, the only juice was at Southern Cal, and the only weight rooms were at your doctor’s office (Get it?). 


That ’68 team, in fact, finished in the first division with a winning record, thank to a pitching staff with a 2.79 ERA, a defense that ranked third in the league, and an offense that attempted to find in motion what it lacked in power (They stole 90 bases—and got caught 50 times.).


Our 2021 Yankees? 


What stands out most is how consistently bad the hitting has been. They have yet to score more than 8 runs in a game, and have run up double digits in hits only 4 times, and only once in their last 15 games. 


Steal a base? Why the Yankees of today have absorbed all the vital, algorithmic data about the futility of such larceny and run only when they know they can make it—they are stealing 1.000 percent! 


Of course, that means they have swiped only 4 bags on the entire season. For that matter, the 1968 team foolishly wasted 56 outs on sacrifice bunts (29 by their pitchers), and 30 on sacrifice flies. The 2021 team has, sagely, just 2 sacrifice bunts and not a single sac fly.


Hey, why waste an out moving runners along when you can always fan the breeze?


But don’t worry. This year’s Yankees have already walloped 26 homers—good for third in the league! And when it comes to the stats that really count, we know that the 2021 team is far ahead, with a line that reads .206/.302/.353/.655, to just .214/.292/.318/.609 for the 1968 Bombers.


Or is it so far ahead? Take away those hitting pitchers, and the 1968 team’s line is .224/.303/.333/.636. If they’d been able to slot in a DH, they’d likely be ahead of the 2021 Yanks in slugging percentage, too.


So far, our current Pinstripers have survived because of a pitching staff that is now second in the AL, thanks mostly to Gerrit Cole and a lights-out bullpen. The latter is almost certainly not going to continue.


Time to go to the “tag-team starters” some here have been suggesting, two starters throwing 4 innings each in the same game—but even that likely won’t be enough. Yes, the hitting will improve as the weather warms, but it won’t be that good, and at this rate the pen will be fizzling like so many roadside fireworks by the Fourth of July.


Take it from Tony: The worst is yet to come and babe, it won’t be fine… 

The Yankee with the widest horizon of success or failure is starting his comeback

You know how one adorable tyke always holds the secret to controlling Kong, or Mothra, or Charlie Sheen? That's how I see Miguel Andujar. For all the crapola yet to come in 2021 - (expect an avalanche) - he's still the key to the monster. Miggy.

One week from tomorrow, the Scranton Railriders will play the Syracuse Mets in a stadium I used to remember, before teams began selling 10-year naming rights. (I think of it as "All For a Dollar Stadium" or "Your Name Here Stadium.") Come the night of Tuesday, May 4, the usual gaggle of reanimated corpses - political oil cans and professional windbags - will gather to scream epithets at fans and open what used to be the International League, before they realigned the minors into "alternative sites," which sound like C.I.A dark ops. 

The Railriders will bring the usual suspects: elders looking for one last fling with the Show, rising prospects (though it's the Yankees, so not many), pitchers riding the shuttle (Nick "Nolte" Nelson, Michael King, Brooks "The Great" Krisge) and rehabbing stars (Luke Voit, maybe... and Miggy.)

Right now, there is no easy path for Andujar's return. Gio Urshela is our starting 3B, and the OF - though increasingly mediocre - is full of RH bats. Miggy is recovering from strained hand muscles - that's a thing, I guess - which forced him to miss April, when he didn't thrill anybody in Camp Tampa: He went 2-15 with no HRs, before being shut down. 

That kept him from proving himself at 3B, the OF and even 1B. Beginning next week, we will know where the Yankees see him defensively or - gulp - if at age 26 we are looking at a fulltime DH? (What a devastating thing to do to a young player.) 

It's been three years since Miggy hit .297 with 27 HRs, numbers worthy of $30 Million LeMahieu. He hit enough doubles to be considered with Joe DiMaggio. The Yankees have him on contract through 2025, which makes him valuable to teams like Cleveland, who might be dumping salaries the trading deadline. If Miggy hits in Scranton, if he flashes a glove in the field, the Yankees will either find a place for him - (there will be injuries) - or shop him around. As a trade chip, he would - at the least - bring a bullpen lug nut or fifth starter. 

Not sure where the hell we'll be in late July. The scenarios are haunting: In a worst case, Cashman could be blowing up this roster. But probably, we will be within spitting distance of the wild card, the new Yankee bar of success.

Either way, the Death Barge faces the prospect of becoming NYC's fourth top sports story of 2021 - behind the Knicks, Mets and Nets (and, possibly, the Rangers.) If they finish out of the playoffs, with a lost September-October, Hal Steinbrenner will feel the financial pinch of a second pandemic. And Brian Cashman will probably find an exit.  

So if the Yankees are close, look for Cash to be making mad deals, and his biggest card would be a healthy Andjujar.

Final thought: I'm not pushing for the Yankees to trade Miggy. He's one of my faves, and all I've wanted over the last two years was to see him become a star. But here's the reality: That stardom might not happen in pinstripes. I'd rather see it come about somewhere, rather than not at all. And whatever happens, it will depend on what goes down in Scranton, beginning next week.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

It's the game thread, Ed


Quote Of The Day

 “That’s the way I am. I don’t like to lose."  - Rougned Odor                                                            

At some point, Giancarlo Stanton needs to start playing the outfield

The greatest home run hitter in history, the late Henry Aaron, played all but two of his 23 seasons in the National League, without the bean chair comfort of the DH. (He finished with the Brewers, who were then in the AL, before retiring at age 42.) When the stresses of age threatened Henry's body, he moved from LF to 1B. He was always out there, playing both ways.

Likewise, the all-time HR leader, Barry Bonds, played his entire career in the NL. In his twilight - 1999, at age 34 - he played DH in a few interleague games. When he retired in 2007, age 42, I count 38 games overall as DH. (Note: We can mock Bonds for steroids and his weather balloon noggin, but give the man his due: He played defense, all the way. Had he been a DH in the AL, he might still be playing.) 

Which brings me to Giancarlo Stanton, our full-time DH at the nubile age of 31. (Actually, he's been more or less a fulltime DH since he left Miami, at 28. Last year, he didn't play a game in the outfield.) 

As we all know - from ripping out hair - the Death Barge will cohabitate with Stanton until 2028 - if humankind is still here - when he is 38, for about $30 million per season. Okay, cue the music: IT'S A DEATH TRAP, IT'S A SUICIDE RAP, TRAMPS LIKE CASH, BLAH-BLAH-BLAH...  let's skip the primal scream... but the worst of this is how it lashes us to Stanton for most of the decade. He'll sit in the dugout while everyone else fends for himself. Soon, Luke Voit will return - but with no easy day at DH. Nope, that's Giancarlo's job! What happens when Aaron Judge inevitably strains a tenderloin and needs a half-day off? Well, nothing happens. That's Giancarlo's role, until the rivers run backward. 

Look, I get it why the Yanks made Stanton the permanent DH. He's a walking hospital ward. Also, unlike Aaron and Bonds, he's a goon in LF - a threat to nearby players and walls. But encasing him in bubbled plastic won't work. Just watch: He'll soon tear open a hickey while running to first. And having a full-time DH threatens our 2021 chances.

We desperately need LH bats. (Thank you, Hicksie and Odor, for making yesterday's blog entry - whining about the LH malaise - look bad.) One remedy: Sign a lefty DH. (Our original intent with Jay Bruce.) But with Stanton locked down in the position, we have no flexibility... for the next seven years?  

Listen: Stanton will get hurt. Bird gotta fly, fish gotta swim. It won't matter what he's doing. Something will zing, or pop, or bark, and he'll disappear for a month. You can't kill the boogie man. And you can't mollify the juju gods. They're bastards.

And here's the dirtiest little secret of all: Between now and 2028, at some point, the Yankees will conclude that having Stanton as a fulltime DH is simply not worth it. To save the team, he'll need to play OF or 1B.  (Also, they won't be able to dish him off to an NL team, if he's spent five years in the dugout.)

I don't mean to bash Giancarlo. He's not dogging it. He's a good teammate. And remember... we do not blame a player for: 

a) getting old
b) getting hurt on the job
c) having a social conscience (whether we agree with him or not
d) negotiating a good contract for his family. 

I just think the Yankees should challenge Giancarlo. Let him play the OF, now and then. It frees us to make moves. And last night notwithstanding, we still need a lefty bat.

Look, Giancarlo is not Henry Aaron. But he doesn't have to be Smokey Burgess. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Can the homer-happy Yankees win with virtually no power from the left side?

What the? What's this? These are the numbers? 

Look at these numbers, LOOK! This is disgusting! This is an outrage! You call yourselves Yankees? You oughta be ashamed of yourselves! LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS, NO, LOOK AT ME, DAMMIT, WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU, AND AT THE NUMBERS, BECAUSE I'VE HAD ENOUGH, DO YOU HEAR ME? ENOUGH... 

See those disgraceful, rancid, horrible averages? Practically every Yank is 50 points below sea level mediocrity. Several - Frazier, Hicks, Giancarlo, Gleyber - are sitting at 100 fathoms below crush depth. Even DJ and Aaron Judge are floundering. We're a team of Zolio Almontes.  (Actually, Zolio finished at a career .211, far above most of these flunkies.)

But but BUT... we won last night. Everything looks better after a win. 

(Okay, I know what you're thinking. I'm a coot, yesterday's meatloaf, for still looking at batting averages, when we have a vast menu of statistical delights - from BABIP to WAR - to ponder into the abyss. Well, I don't cater to WAR - Wins Against Replacement - because - wait a minute, REPLACEMENT THEORY? That's for right-wing nutjobs. GIVE ME OLD FASHIONED BATTING AVERAGES, AND AT LEAST WE KNOW WTF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.) 

So... we've won two in a row. Two. Are the Yankees becoming woke? (Not politically, but hittingly.) Hard to say...

For starters, dear old Cleveland looks like a bona fide, stock-issue, Del Monte-meets-Chef Boyardee tomato can. They are still recovering from the decade-crushing, soul-torching trade of Francisco Lindor, their best generational hitting talent since Manny Ramirez. For Indian fans, it will be a long year, and it might have just started with a visit from the Yankees.

Meanwhile, we must worry about Aaron Hicks' inability to hit from the left side. He was supposed to thrive batting between Judge and Stanton. So much for that experiment. From the left side, Hicks is hitting .100 with four measly singles on the year. That leaves us with nobody, nothing, nada to counterbalance a RH lineup. We have three LH homers this season, including one from AARP member Jay Ford. Tonight, Justin "Shane" Bieber - a fierce RHer - will rip through the Yankee lineup. Be afraid. Be very afraid. 

Still, look at those numbers. To a person, they are ridiculous. Over the next six grueling months, will they correct themselves, come in line with past performances? For now, that's the hope. 

Everything looks good after a win. 


Friday, April 23, 2021

Friday Night in Cleveland? Pinch Me! Game Thread


The Greatest World Series Ever, Game 6: Up 3-2, can the 1951 Yankees close it out?

The Greatest World Series ever heads back to the renovated Yankee Stadium for Game 6, with the 1951 Yankees holding a 3-games-to-2 edge over the 1998 Yankees. 

The 1998 Yankees were down 3-1 in their opening series in the second round (they had a bye in the first round), and down 3-2 in the third round, but rallied to win both series in 7 games. Do they have another comeback in them? We'll see.

Here are the lineups:

1951 Yankees: Phil Rizzuto, SS; Hank Bauer, RF; Gil McDougald, 3B; Yogi Berra, C; Mickey Mantle, CF; Gene Woodling, LF; Bobby Brown, DH; Jerry Coleman, 2B; Joe Collins, 1B. Starting Pitcher: Allie Reynolds.

1998 Yankees: Derek Jeter, SS; Scott Brosius, 3B; Bernie Williams, CF; Paul O'Neill, RF; Jorge Posada, C; Tino Martinez, 1B; Chuck Knoblauch, 2B; Chad Curtis, DH; Shane Spencer, LF. Starting Pitcher: Andy Pettitte.

After Robert Merrill sings the national anthem, we're ready to go. Click below to get the details.

One Other Point .....

 1.  You are absolutely right, Duque, about telling Sanchez he is now the back-up catcher.  ( Aside to readers:  we all know there is no way in hell Boone has the cajones to do this ).  High is clearly better in every way.

2.  You omitted the other aspect of the win last night.  Boone kept Giancarlo away from the bat. The team dies with expectations and disappointment when he plays  We don't need his 3 Ks and 110 exit velocity double play balls. 

The horror is;  Boone never sticks with what wins.  He gets those beauties to visit his room and he moves to another motel. 

So you'll see Stanton back in the line-up and likely Sanchez striking out. Boone just cannot stay with what works because it doesn't look right. 

At some point, the spotlight has to return to the manager's decisions.  

Tomato cans to the rescue, and finally, a chance for Gary Sanchez to excel... (as backup catcher)

Ah, Cleveland, gateway to Ashtabula! Great to be here and - while we're on the subject of catastrophes - how 'bout that Indians bullpen: Edwar Ramirez, Colter Bean, Chris Bootcheck and bad Scott Proctor - on a cold night without mayflies! Here's to tomatoes, fresh from the can! Can I get a war-whoop from Chief Wahoo? No? 

Ah, Cleveland. It's nice to put Toronto and Tampa behind us - to escape Florida with its sinkholes and pythons - and revisit pre-apocalypse America. How about a nice little win streak - say - three of four? Five of six? Nineteen of twenty? From Cleveland, we visit Camden Yards - Earl Weaver's tomatoes, right? - then come home for the Tigers and the cheating Asterisks. If we're still losing, those games with Houston could produce the loudest boos in Yankee history. 

Listen: There's nothing wrong with beating tomato cans. For some reason, the Rays and Jays can't do it. Five wins would haul us above .500. And the first-place Redsocks have lost two straight. Let's face it: They're playing for 2022. 

But but BUT... one win is not a streak. Tonight, it's the Mysterious Montgomery: a gift from above or a demon from hell? Saturday is King Cole, and Sunday, the famous TBA. Is Sidney Ponson still an option?  

So, about last night... 

1. Is there any reason in Creation not to make Kyle Higashioka our starting catcher? He is tied on the team for 2nd in HRs, one behind Aaron Judge (who has 4), even though Higgy has batted only 17 times. (Judge has 58.) 

Yeah, Higgy's Ruthian spree - hitting .356 - won't last.  But what does it take to be elevated on this team, an act of Congress? His defense is superior to Gary. His hitting is superior to Gary. The Yankees should let Sanchez plot his comeback on the bench. 

Nothing against Gary. Frankly, he's been hustling. No complaints about commitment (as we've heard in the past.) This is about the hole in his swing, as bleak as the Cuyahoga. Until it's fixed, he flails at the same pitch, over and over, and 2016 looks like the dead ball era. Great rookie seasons don't last forever. This is such a no-brainer that I actually feel sorry for Gary. He's watching his career slip away. But we're still in last place. It's time to play the better catcher. 

2. Rougned Odor - (who, let's be honest, we all want to hate, right?) - came through again. Look, he's not the Second Coming of Raul Ibanez, but his bases loaded, two-out single in the seventh turned out to be the Toyota/NRA/Oath Keepers/Little Debbie Snack Cakes Drive of the Game. Something tells me: If he doesn't get that hit, and we blow another opportunity, that game flies out the window. 

I have not bonded with Odor. I prefer that Mike Ford gets the chance, and truth be told, I'd rather see Tyler Wade. But Odor's career is dangling by a thread - one of the worst teams in baseball just waived him - and his beardless chin must really be cold, because he wore a full mask last night. Could he have something left? This is the part of the wedding where your bat speaks or you forever hold your peace. If he gets shipped to Scranton, he can restart the beard, because I doubt he'll be back. 

3. My hopes are draining for Clint Frazier. Dammit, Red, swing the bat, swinnnng battah!  Last night, he patiently observed two third strikes - meatballs - as they grooved the center of the plate. He might as well have been watching a movie. I'm tired of hearing about Frazier's "legendary bat speed." I don't claim to know hitting, but his stance looks like a Bollywood medley of unnecessary movement. Can someone settle him down? I still want Clint to get 200 at bats (he has just 47). But he needs to show up soon... or it might be too late. 

Somewhere out there, in the laundromats of Moosic?, wither goest Miguel Andujar? We sure could use a hitter.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Hello, Cleveland

Game of Threads.


Hoss' take: “Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel…”

 From the demented computer of HoraceClark66... 

“…Never ending nor beginning, on an ever-spinning reel”—this is the musical definition of our Yankees conversations nowadays.

 The song, “The Windmills of Your Mind,” was first sung by Noel Harrison for the 1968 movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, in which Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen first introduced us to the idea of chess as foreplay.


(That’s right, young people:  That’s how classy America used to be!  Watch it and weep!)


But I digress.


A full season of games like the ones your New York Yankees played this week and not just the Yankees but the entire game of baseball will be deader than a mackerel. This is not only pathetic, it’s mind-numblingly dull.


A few statistical milestones:  last night, the Yankees dropped to 6-11, their worst start since 1991. They have scored all of 58 runs this year—their worst total in the first 17 games of the season since 1984.


Last night, the Yankees became the last team in the majors this year to score in the ninth inning. They have also scored one (count ’em, 1) run in the first inning this season.


We were discussing earlier the fizzle of Gleyber Torres, our superstar of the future, who is hitting .186 this year, with no homers, 1 RBI, and all of 2 doubles—never mind his awful fielding. 


But Gleyber’s problems didn’t start this season. According to the good souls at YES, he has hit all of .238 since mid-2019.


Nor is it All About The Gleyber. The fizzle, as you have named it, extends to nearly every player who blossomed for the Yankees since the glorious “Bronx Spring” of 2017. 


Aaron Judge is 3 for his last 17, with 1 ribbie, no homers, 3 walks, and 7 strikeouts.  Take away his 3-hit, 2-homer game against Toronto, and he’s 3 for his last 26. 


Clint Frazier’s blooped single finally drove in his first run of the season last night. He’s hitting .175 on the year. Gary Sanchez is down to .200 and sinking fast. He’s had no homers and 1 RBI after the first two games of the season.


We are all fizzle, no rake.


I have never seen so promising a group of young players crumble so fast and so mysteriously. 


Players get hurt, and they are gone forever. Dustin Fowler runs into a utility box, and is never right again. Miguel Andujar slides back into third and goes from Joe DiMaggio to Joe Shlobotnik. Greg Bird looks like a world-beater until he fouls a ball off his foot and it’s as if he’s fallen into, well, “a tunnel you can follow to a tunnel of its own, down a hollow to a cavern where the sun has never shone.”


Everyone gets hurt, no one gets better.


We’ve come up with a hundred visions and revisions as to why this Yankees team is so bad and getting steadily worse. But it all comes down to the same, terrible tautology.


Obviously, the Yankees’ coaching and training staffs—not to mention their scouting and player development departments—stink.


They should be replaced, a clean sweep. But they can’t be replaced. Why? Because Brian Cashman hired them, and getting rid of them would reflect badly on Brian Cashman.

Obviously then, Brian Cashman should be replaced. But he can’t be replaced. Why? Because HAL Steinbrenner is convinced that Brian Cashman is a baseball genius who saves him millions and millions of dollars.


Obviously then, HAL Steinbrenner should be replaced. But he can’t be replaced. Why? Because he owns the team.


You see the dilemma here.


“Like a door that keeps revolving in a half-forgotten dream, or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream…”


Nothing can get better until it gets very much worse—and maybe not even then! In the meantime, we’re stuck, as the images unwind, like the circles that you find, in the windmills of your mind.


"Et tu, Coney?" The Yankees, facing an existential crisis, are in danger of losing the YES team

"When I die just bury me
"With a bat and a couple a balls,
"And tell 'em ,'Verne struck out, boys!'
"If anybody calls..."
 Robert Coover - 
   The Universal Baseball Association Inc.: Henry J. Waugh, Proprietor

Okay, this we know: The Yankiverse has gone mad. Whoever is running this fiasco - this hapless, miserable hoax of a sham - they've lost it. On his private Skull Island, Hal Steinbrenner is licking toads. In his penthouse office, Brian Cashman is playing online Settlers of Catan. In his boiler room, near the stacked corpses, Aaron Boone giggles as he spins the cylinder, mouths the barrel and clicks the trigger. Nobody is in charge. Nobody is coming to save us. And everything we heard about the '21 Yankees was a lie. 

Even the YES team - that final pillar of unrelenting (and well-paid) support - is souring on this wretched, last-place team. 

Last night - as the Yanks continued their meandering sleepwalk through the pre-post-pandemic world - Michael Kay finally spit the bit. Kay - an 8-hour-per-day talk machine -generally finds hope in the darkest caves of despair. But last night, in the eighth, he broke ranks after Gio Urshela was removed, due what turned out to be lower back tightness. 

Kay noted that Urshela - the most happy fella - loped to first on a grounder in the previous inning. It wasn't like Urshela to jog, he said, unless something was wrong. And Kay, without wishing illness on a Yankee, said he hoped something was wrong... because otherwise, the Yankees had a situation. 

And then Kay realized that the Yankees have a situation.

His name is Gleyber Torres, of whom we spent Wednesday pondering. Two innings earlier, Torres tapped a dribbler in front of home plate, just the kind of nuisance ball that can befuddle a catcher. In this case, though, no problem... because Gleyber barely ran. He was channeling Joggy Cano, aside from the batting average, which is well below his weight. He was easily thrown out. 

For the final two innings, the YES broadcast team struggled to find positives: a bloop single by Clint Frazier, driving in his first run of the year due to defensive indifference, and the upcoming road trip to Cleveland and Baltimore, tomato cans from heaven! But even Paul O'Neill and David Cone - generally unflappable supporters - found little optimism to share. Dead team. Dead air. 

Most of this week, the YES techies played clips of O'Neill battering water coolers and accepting farewell chants. At this rate, they will exhaust their bank of video diversions by May 1. What then? 

A long, long time ago, during the worst period in Yankee history, the lone reason to watch games turned out to be the poetic wisdoms of Phil Rizzuto. Deep into lost months of July and August, The Scooter spake delirium riffs about the squirrels in his backyard or the cardboard boxes in which his grandchildren built forts. In this millennium, Yankee fans have never experienced Augusts like the ones Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer and Tom Seaver - (R.I.P., Sirs) - so heroically faced, like soldiers on a doomsday mission. We can only wonder what Paulie and Coney will be like 70 losses from now. 

Then, of course, there is The Master and Suzyn. Last night, I didn't catch the radio broadcast. But I can imagine the pain in their voices. No homer holler. No win-warble. Just endless in-game advertisements and lost opportunities. This might be John Sterling's final year. Will his September be a fog of torture? 

Let me say it again: 

It's still early. It's still April. A 10-game winning streak will make this all go away, just a bad dream. 

But you can see it: The YES team is starting to crack.  In 1968, Robert Coover's magnificent novel painted a reality of imaginary players facing an existential crisis. The answer turned out to be simple: God exists, but he's gone crazy. 

We're not there... yet. But those mirrors on the floor, is it my imagination, or are they beginning to crack?