Monday, May 31, 2021

Quantitative Analysis

I was drinking "sidecars" during the game, in honor of the end of the first world war ( one story is that the drink was named in Paris, after the sidecar component of the WWI motorcycles...the sidecar being a shot glass of booze left over from making the original drink).

It is easy to raise a glass and honor the sacrifice and heroism of those who gave their lives, limbs and sanity in the battles of that war. 

 But it is not so easy to think well of any of the leaders of the involved nations, nor of their commanding officers.  Ordering troops to run into machine gun fire just doesn't make sense to me.  Not an inch of ground was gained, and family after family was torn apart. For year after year.

The core reasons behind the war made no sense to me either. 

And,  as history has shown, the "peace" that was finally achieved by the "suits and royalty" at Versailles, soon degenerated into WWII.  At the cost of more millions of lives.  Warriors and civilians. Young and old. 

Today, those nations who murdered each other..... in and out of the trenches of WWI.....not to mention during the unspeakable destruction and horror of WWII... are all playing soccer together. 

So what was the fucking point?  Does anyone " in charge" ever think?

As for my quantitative contribution to baseball, I started doing some " sidecar"  math:  

Giancarlo Stanton is touted as the " exit velocity" king of MLB...due to his mammoth ( though rare ) home runs.   However, if you factor in the exit velocity of his strike outs ( estimated at zero mph ), he is no longer King but impoverished fucking pawn.

That's something to think about.

Have a sidecar everyone!

Ray thread


Memorial Day AYG-HABs and other thoughts

Well, we are two months into watching the unwatchable. A charmless team that lacks everything from fundamentals to... let's face it, fundamentals covers it. 

Can't hit, can't hit with RISP, can't field, can't run the bases... 

Quick question...

Is there anyone on the team who came from a winning program?  I know Chapman won a WS but he was very shaky doing it and has a propensity for blowing big games. And Gardner won with us when he was twelve years old. I guess Cole with Houston. But anyone else?

A quick look at the lineup says no. Stanton is from Miami. DJ - Colorado, Gio and Frazier - Cleveland. Hicks - Minnesota... These are not franchises known for winning it all. OK the Marlins but not in a long while. (Hat tip - Rufus).

Maybe they don't know HOW to win. 


AYG-HAB (Scale of 0-7)

Sigh.  I was going to do this every couple of months anyway but, as many on this blog have said, it's like the scene in Animal House where Dean Wormer reads the GPAs...

Voit - 2.1 because he's hurt and lost at the plate when he's not.  He's thin, then he's buff, then he's injured. I hope he picks a body type and sticks with it. I know that when I work out or do yoga my golf swing goes to hell (as opposed to my normal Purgatory golf swing) until my mind adjusts to my new (albeit temporary) body.  He should decide.

Ford - 0.5  DFA please. Seems like a good guy but I can't watch him any more. 

DJ  - 3.6  Down from 7.  This may be the saddest one. I stopped buying Yankee T-shirts but this guy was on track to join Mantle, Munson, Mattingly, Matsui, (Le Mahieu). 

Gleyber  3.5 

Gio - 3.5

Frazier  1.1  How did I ever think this guy was going to be good? Maybe he should exchange his cleats for tap shoes and try to get on Dancing with the Minor League Stars. So so disappointing.

Gardy  1.0 

Andujar  3.4  I'm still hopeful Miggy Two-Bags comes back to us.

Hicks -  1.3  

Judge  3.1  Last night's final AB says it all. 

Sanchez. Stanton. Higgy...  I. Just. Can't. Continue. Doing. This. 

Maybe when I do the August one we will have new names to consider. 

No matter what happens this week, the Yankees will not launch a rebuild... yet.

It's hard to imagine the Yankees in a more disgraced state than the abomination that took the field this weekend in Detroit. Yesterday, after the third inning, the only reason to have the game on TV was for an old-fashioned hate-watch.

In another era - a reality not so distant - our nebbish, autotronic manager Aaron Boone would be replaced by a scalding, Billy Martinesque personality, and a fire sale would loom.

Giancarlo Stanton would disappear in a haze of money, and the twins of disappointment - Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar - would be dealt or dispatched to Scranton. Then, for the second time since 2016, Aroldis Chapman would be traded from the Yankees to an actual contender. 

Blaspheme? Close your eyes. It's not hard to imagine...

But but BUT... nobody expects such a meltdown - yet. No matter what happens in the next seven games, Boone will stay, and the Yankees will merely flood their self-owned media with updates on Zack Britton and Luis Severino, and chirpy chatter of how (insert player here) looks ready to snap out of his funk. This stems from the sedentary nature of Hal Steinbrenner, who simply sets a Yankee payroll limit and then goes away, stacking his money to the stars. 

But make no mistake: This is a crisis. Following four games with Tampa and three with Boston, the Yankees could actually start contemplating their second self-inflicted meltdown in five years. Here are the standings for next year's draft, kept faithfully at

Not long ago, the notion of being swept by the Rays and Redsocks would be the stuff of Chicken Little. For one thing, Gerrit Cole wouldn't let it happen. But we've now seen enough to know otherwise. Yesterday, John Sterling described the Yankees as a team of Dave Kingmans - everybody batting .220 and swinging from their heels. And playing stupidly.

Yesterday, in the ninth, after Giancarlo Stanton had walked to load the bases on four pitches - each well out of the strike zone - Aaron Judge swung wildly at the first two offerings, neither a strike. The next pitch goes down the middle, a call strike three. Game over. I don't mean to rip Judge, one of the few Yankees who is hitting, but I ask you: With the game on the line, was that a smart at-bat?

No matter what happens this week, the Yankees won't pull the plug on 2021 - yet. 
But seven losses would move the Yankees up to 13th in the Tankathon. A few trades could re-energize the farm system. A team of young nobodies? It sure would beat hate-watching. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Yanks-Tigers Lost Afternoon Thread


A Theory About All The Injuries Not Just On The Yankees

In the past (before free agency and big bucks contracts) most ball players spent the off season working other jobs. Whether it was selling cars or something more physical, they stopped playing baseball for several months a year.

Spring training was exactly that. A time to get back into baseball shape.   

Now these guys have home gyms, batting cages, and machines that measure spin rates in the "fitness wing" of their homes. Their bodies never get a break. Pitchers throw all year round. That can't be good for their arms.

I'm not advocating a return to low pay. But maybe the off season should be the "Off Season"

HoraceClarke66: One Man Stood Tall


This started off as a riff on something the estimable Kevin wrote the other day, about how no one saw what a disaster the Giancarlo acquisition was going to be.

I’m afraid that’s not correct. One man did. One man saw what an utter disaster that move was, what a millstone Stanton—seen here the night he picked up a Grammy for his smoking rendition of Robert Johnson's, "I Believe I Will Dust My Broom"—would be from the moment that deal was announced.

Not me! I had visions of the Twin Towers hitting 125 home runs between them and countless championships, dancing in my head.

I should have known I was wrong because the last time I had such visions—putting aside certain LSD experiments—was when the Yanks acquired J-Lo’s ex and I actually said out loud: “We’re going to win the next seven World Series.”

Of course, now I would pay cash money for anyone who could net us the 6 division titles and 1 world championship we won with the face of male make-up.

But I digress.

The man who called his shot on Stanton? Our Dauntless Leader, of course: Alphonso, from his all-seeing eye in the Fortress of Solitude, or do I have that mixed up?

I don’t know how he did it, but Alphonso took a close look and decided that contract would drag us down to hell. Maybe it was the 30-plus games missed a year that Stanton had already amassed at age 27. Maybe he actually watched Stanton play, unlike most of this town’s sportswriters.

But whatever it was, he saw just what a poison pill Derek Jeter, a GM who actually knows something about baseball, had slipped us with the Former Slugger Formerly Known as Mike.

The players on the Marlins we should have been trying to pry loose were Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. But we didn’t. Because Brain knew better.

To date, Giancarlo has missed 552 games early in this, his 11th full season of play. Mickey Mantle, the most famously injured player in the history of the game, missed 131 games in his first, full 11 seasons.

When you are injured more than four times as often as Mickey Mantle, something is wrong. 

Just what that is, I have my own theories—but this post is already long enough.

Let me say for now, I completely endorse El Duque’s—Peerless Leader’s!—guidelines regarding criticisms of the players. I don’t think this is about the days when men were men, or about the money. I wouldn’t have turned down a nickel of what Giancarlo was offered, and neither would anyone here. 

There are other, systematic things that are very, very wrong. But all I want to reiterate is…No one saw the Stanton mess coming? You’re wrong, McGee! One man stood tall. Or at least, slumped tall with a cool highball on his lawn furniture.

You heard it here first.

The Yankee tomato can speaks

Emotional words last night from "Knute" Boone: 

“There’s no question that that has to improve. I believe it will improve. But we’ve got to continue to work and make sure we’re making the necessary adjustments each and every day to get to that point. But if we’re going to be the club we expect to be, we’ve got to improve.”

Dammit, he's right! If they're gonna be the team they expect to be, they've gotta stop not being what they think they didn't expect they are! Are you with me, everybody? Wormer... DEAD! Neidermier... DEAD! LET'S GOoooooo!

Insert Sigh Here.

Here are the current top 15 teams in baseball.   

And here is how last year's regular season ended.

As you can see, the Yankees are right where they should have expected to be. 

We are watching the fifth season of Lost, the second installment of Ghostbusters, the fourth Police Academy, C.H.U.D. III, Tremors 4, The Bad News Bears Visit Japan...  the continuing tribulations of a tomato can well past its sell-by date.

This is the 2021 Yankees: An aging, expensive, wild card team with a mediocre farm system, a time bomb of bloated contracts, and an owner who is only accountable to the media that he, himself, owns. Blaugh.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

What a Brief, but Honest, interview would be like....

 Hello Aaron, just wondered what you thought of Devi's game today?

Boone: " He is consistent, I'll give you that."

Would you expand on that?

Boone:  "Yes.  Every time we give him a start....every time...he gives up a two run homer early, putting us in a hole, and then he " leaks " another 2-3 runs."

Boone ( continuing ) :  ".....I can almost predict that he will barely last into the fifth inning, and we'll be down 4 or 5 runs at that point.

Any other observations?  

Boone : " He always leaves the reliever looking at runners in scoring position.  And they always fucking score. One other thing, his delivery is so slow it is putting all of our guys to sleep.  "

Some say he is the Yankees best young pitching prospect...

Boone : " The truth of the statement is that he is young.  

"I can remember when we had an outfielder named Mason Williams who never was any good, but he always seemed to be only 22 years old.  Devi is like that. He'll be young forever, and never be any good. 

What do you think he needs to do to live up to the moniker " the Yankees number one pitching prospect?"

 Boone: "Whatever he needs to do, he'll be doing it from Scranton.  I have advised him to invest in real estate down there. 

And if he is our best pitching prospect, then the future is very, very dark for this yankee franchise."  

How do you feel about your offense?  And you have Giancarlo back now...

Boone: "When you get 3 hits and 1 run against the Tigers, in 2021, you might as well raise up the white flag. And slipping a golden sombrero into our line-up every day just doesn't seem smart, does it?  So I'm going to let the big guy get his timing and rhythm back by sitting on the bench and eating pumpkin seeds.  That would seem a good use of Hal's $30million  per year for the next decade...."

Want to go to Hooters?

Boone: "They have them in Detroit?  I could go for some onion rings...."

Yanks-Tigers Nightmare Game Thread


It's time to ask ourselves if the Yankees are worth following.

They say you can't predict baseball, Suzyn. But I can predict Giancarlo Stanton. Frankly, we all can. We've seen this movie, replayed over and over, since 2018:

For the next 10 days, he will slump.

Then, for about 10 days, he will go on a tear.

Then he will strain something and miss three weeks.

That puts us into July, when the cycle will repeat. 

Last night, Giancarlo delivered four strikeouts in five at-bats. The golden sombrero, which is what we see when he steps to the plate after returning from his latest tweak.  

I have a question for Giancarlo, and I don't mean to be impertinent, sir, because - alas! - who am I but a disgruntled fan, a bile-infused mouse, stupid enough to waste last night at home, when he could have been dancing at a TikTok disco rave or listening to a podcast - any fucking podcast, seriously, who cares? I have this one question, which accompanied me to bed and nagged me all night, during my sporadic wake-up calls to pee, and I offer it sincerely and earnestly, without rancor or accusation.

Could you have had that Golden Sombrero night in Scranton? 

Again, I apologize for the tone. I don't want to be Old Mister Meanie. But I didn't hear Meredith ask this question last night, and I'm afraid that my ability to root for this particular Yankee team is starting to wane. 

For 15 years now, I've been a faithful Yankee blogger. But blind loyalty doesn't last forever. And this question - well - it bugs me.

Couldn't you have had that night in Scranton? Isn't that what rehab assignments are for? 

Of course, when you're facing Koufax & Drysdale Manoah & Mize, I suppose a lineup needs all the firepower it can get.  

Reason I ask... you see, last year, well... the world changed. Suddenly, we were all reminded of how precious health is, how fleeting life can be, and how important it is to make the most of what time we have here on this earth. 

If there is a message from the last 12 wretched months, for me it is that we should embrace the things that bring us joy, and discard the things that turn us toward despair. 

Fun fact: Once upon a time, I was a huge Knicks fan. Willis, Clyde, the Pearl, Patrick, Oakley - I followed them relentlessly. Over the years, I jettisoned the Knicks, because they simply sapped all hope. Even now, I can't get enthused. They're just a team I used to follow, long ago, something I was better off without.  

I can't take this much longer. Life is too short.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Tiger Game Thread


With Memorial Day approaching, it's time to ponder the slow death of the Yankees

We can talk ruefully about the Giancarlo Stanton contract, a nightmare of financial constriction that will likely outlast the Covid pandemic, the pop group BTS and - perhaps - American democracy. 

But there is special dung-heap in hell for two contract extensions,  bestowed within 10 days of each other, in mid-February of 2019, upon Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. 

The deals are celebrated annually in Boston, Tampa, Toronto and wherever Yankee-haters fester, like the tube worms that they are. Today these two eternal, Satan-rendered parchments frame a Joel Sherman thumbsucker in Murdoch's Daily Bigfoot. 

It's worth a read, as long as you don't live near a bridge. Here's a taste:

"... [U]nless Hal Steinbrenner authorizes exceeding the threshold — and he should do that if trying to win a title is truly the goal — then the Yanks will likely have a limited pool from which to choose and/or will have to invest more in prospect capital to get another team to eat dollars."

"... [I]n the four seasons Ellsbury got on the field for the Yankees he played more games for them (520) than Hicks has in six (493). "

I believe I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "Yeow!" Halfway through the piece, I felt like George C. Scott in "Hardcore," screaming "TURN IT OFF! TURRRN IT OFFFF!" But Sherman nails it: Over 10 horrifying days, which were then applauded as "Cooperstown" Cashman's crowning achievement, the Yankees lashed themselves to a pair of contracts that now rival tickets on the Titanic. 

Before going further, let us remember the sacred IT IS HIGH oath - similar to the pledge by Superman never to take a human life, and that of Lassie to never bite people: We do not blame players for getting hurt. Yeah, some are incredibly breakable, some are incredibly stupid, and some are incredibly inventive when it comes to vitamin supplements - but ballplayers are generally just dumb fucks trying to feed their families. They may be millionaires, but they must deal with billionaires - and their lawyers, conniving shitheads who somehow stole the keys to a key American cultural icon. So... let's not pile the current malaise upon Hicksy or Sevy. Let's just wish them health. It's not their fault.  

Their contract extensions came 14 months after the bloodless coup that brought Giancarlo Stanton and his own wretched contact to Gotham. Ever since, time seems to have suspended itself, with the Yankees perpetually chasing Tampa, or Boston, or somebody. 

We watch our rivals bring forth waves of young players, while we sign burned-out Bruces and odious Odors. The Rays, especially, roll out rookies like assembly line candies in a demented Lucille Ball skit. And before yesterday, who the hell ever heard of Alek Manoah?

Great Yankee teams of the past always possessed several key elements:

1. A solid catcher.

2. A great centerfielder.

3. Lefty sluggers.

4. Homegrown stars.

Yeesh. We just went 0-4. We have no catcher. We have no CF. We have no lefty sluggers. And home grown? The Yankees used to have a Core Four - Mariano, Andy, Jeter, Bernie, and you could add Jorge - perennial all-stars, if not Hall of Fame candidates - raised from puppies in our system. 

Today, here's the list of Yankees who have never known another organization: 

Mike Ford
Brett Gardner
Estevan Florial (up for a few days)
Miguel Andujar
Jordan Montgomery
Kyle Higashioka
Gary Sanchez
Tyler Wade
Aaron Judge

We have a Core One: Judge. And a bunch of injuries. And a bunch of bad contracts. 

So... tonight it's Detroit? Insert sigh. I guess we can always beat the tomato cans. But where is this franchise going?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Yippee, Bunch!

Some swell summer eatin' from back when the Yankees were good!

Hey fellers!  If you twist the ring, it creates what will become known as a defensive over-shift.  The dum-dum players from the next millennium won't know that all they have to do is tilt the ring to the side to lay down a bunt.  Our species is doomed and that ain't swell!

And, Hey!  That Pineda feller's ring is all covered with tar!

IT IS HIGH, IF IT FAR, IT IS... strained. Game(s) thread


Thank God, we're saved


A guy who can't hit and a pitcher who can't pitch.

Great moves, Brain. Thanks.

Knockout blows? Or a test of grit? Yesterday's bad news could define the '21 Yankees... and Cashman.

For some time now, I've had this lingering suspicion that 2021 will be Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman's final stand.

It's now been 12 years since the Death Barge reached a world series, and the tribe has grown restless. For the first time since we've kept score, the fury tabloids of Gotham are devoting more back covers to the Mets - maybe even the Knicks. Mired below Boston and Tampa - our old and new rivals - the Yankees look unusually tired, dull and saggy, a funeral procession of strikeouts and rally-killing DP grounders. It's gotten so I cannot watch an entire game. Four hours of strikeouts, walks and HRs? No thanks. Who's flashing cleavage on Bravo?

Baseball did not age well during the shutdown. Its fathers are not only changing the nature of the ball, but using the minor leagues to field-test rule changes, some of which would negate the last 100 years of record-keeping. They think they can tweak their way out of this mess. They can't. 

Thus, if the Yankees continue to stumble, as they have now for their longest period in history, Cashman could be the biggest casualty. If we are truly facing a megadrought, Cashman will be our Salton Sea.

On that note, yesterday piled onto our GM's desktop a hefty - perhaps, impossible - challenge. In one day, the Yankees lost their No. 2 starter and 1B - this, one week after their CF went down. The rallying cries of "Next man up!" have vanished along with Thairo Estrada and Mike Tauchman. 

It's also worth noting that yesterday, as Corey Kluber was leaving for two months with a strained shoulder, two ex-Yanks - James Kaprielian and Michael Pineda - both shone. Kaprielian - the former first-round pick we traded for, ugh, Sonny Gray - threw seven shutout innings for Oakland, lowering his ERA to 1.53. Pineda - whom we let walk in 2017 - gave up one run over six innings with the Twins; his ERA stands at 2.62. 

To be fair, both pitchers have rattled around MLB for several years, and it's hard to imagine the Yankees still keeping them. But if either, or both, end up pitching in the All-Star game, NYC sports radio will explode with Piss Christ-level bile, and back pages devoted to the Yankees won't be what the franchise seeks. By then, Rudy Giuliani might be demanding "trial by combat," and we know where that goes.

Today, heading into a rain-out double-header, the skies over the Bronx look unusually dark. 

So, WTF should we do? 

In these moments, some Gammonites pointlessly scan MLB rosters for trades that might happen. One problem: The trades never happen. Whatever we feel about Cashman - and his lost decade of mediocrity - the man is relentless. If somebody's out there, Cash and his wonks will find him. But these acquisitions - despite what the Yankees tell us - are never cheap. We have drained our farm system to the point where our premier prospect - for two years now - tops the list without even having seen a professional pitch. Our rivals show waves of young talent at Triple A. We have a fairy tale fantasy who hasn't even reached the Gulf Coast League.   

Over the years, one issue is the Yankees' blind spot for their own prospects. The current 1B at Scranton - 27-year-old, 6'4" Chris Gittens - is hitting .323 with four HRs. He is said to have the best 1B glove in our farm system (which might not be much.) He bats RH; then again, so did Voit. Must the Yankees sign another Jay Bruce, when a stopgap solution might be right in front of them? 

What will Cashman do? Fukif I know. We'll probably see The Great LeMahieu play 1B with Rougned Odor - and his .165 average - full-time at 2B. It sure would be nice to Tyler Wade get a shot. But that's not how the Yankees operate.

As for replacing Kluber? We could elevate Deivi Garcia from Scranton, where he looked decent in his last two starts. But with Cashman, the next Sidney Ponson is always a phone call away. 

The fear about Kluber was always his health. That concern also haunts Domingo German and Jameson Taillon, neither of whom threw a pitch last year. Even if Luis Severino returns - (and until he's here, he's a setback waiting to happen) - does anyone not expect another starter to wither under the load?

This weekend, the Yankees will probably activate Giancarlo Stanton. It's worth noting that Stanton didn't return with the end of his 10-day injury list. When he was placed on the list, the Yankees pooh-poohed the extent of his injury and stressed that he would be back in 10 days. Now, we find he's running the bases. Too bad he cannot pitch. Right now, we need an infusion - not a full-time DH. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

And So It Goes....

 Luke Voit, recently returned from the IL, has gone back on it.

Our lead-off hitter swings with an exit velocity of 116 mph and, when he misses the ball ( 8 times out of ten est. ), it puts s strain on those oblique muscles. 

So he is sitting down for a while.

Speaking of which, our number two starter ( of recent no hit fame ) is " not going to throw for 4 weeks."

Then what, said I?

They will look again and see if he can loosen up with a bouncy ball.  No reason for concern here, eh?  "Not at all like last time, " right Corey?

So now the question surfaces:

Who will be our number two starter?  It won't be Devi because he can't get the ball across the plate in minor-league ball. It won't be Jessica Dominguez because he doesn't pitch.

It won't be that other guy we used to count on, because he never made it out of spring training...what's his name?  Pitched at South Carolina, I think.  Another once top prospect? Aha is it Clarke Schmidt I seek?  I have already forgotten him. 

Can't " speed up" old Severino because he got cut real late. 

How about we trade some young prospects for an old guy?  

What think, Brian?

Time to cash in all remaining chips on a clunker?

Thank God it is raining. 

Buffalo Blue Jays Game Thread (Rained out)


We're bigger than they are.


Went to the Hudson Valley Renegades game last night. 3-2 win. Very few strikeouts and THREE, count em THREE bunts!!!! Maybe they are teaching contact and fundies again.  

Nice stadium and our SS Oswald Peraza looked very good in the field. Wanted to see catchers Josh Breaux or Anthony Siegler but they didn't start. They also have a lefty, Ken Waldichuk who is averaging over 18Ks per 9. Didn't see him either but it was nice to know he exists.

Sat behind home plate for $15 and enjoyed an evening of what baseball used to and should be.


As to the juju gods and Kluber. .. I'd like to think he got Rockefellered.  If that was his last full game it's how you want to go out. 

With a full count on Aaron Judge, what are our chances? Deconstructing Judge - pitch by pitch

Last night, in the bottom of the first, Aaron Judge battled to a full count against the odious former Met, Steven Matz. 

In that moment, Judge faced a statistical flashpoint. Over his six-year MLB career - long enough to draw digital conclusions - on 3-and-2 pitches, he was just slightly more likely to walk (163 times) than strike out (155 times.) 

Well, he fanned - his 156th full-count K - foreshadowing a dismal Yankee night. And I mean dismal. In fact, I have a question for the juju gods. 

One game after his no-hitter, could you actually injure Corey Kluber? 

If so, that's the cheapest shot you've ever taken. You should be ashamed. You call yourselves deities? You should be fixing musical chairs kiddy mixers in snake-passer church basements. And don't think having Clint Frazier heat up is a fair trade. This Kluber shoulder business is one of the slimiest things you've ever done, and I'm including Scott Proctor. I'm warning you: DON'T MAKE ME TAKE OFF MY BELT!

So, where were we? Ah, yes, we're taking a statistical deep dive into Aaron Judge, the heart and soul of the Yankees. In his sixth year, this is no small sample. This is him, courtesy of Baseball Reference.  

When ahead in the count, he is Ruthian. When behind, he's Ruth Buzzi. 

On a 3-2 count, he has a 50-50 chance of reaching base. (Which is pretty good.) 

With two strikes, or behind on the count, his batting average is rather dreadful - below .200. But with two balls - especially a 2-0 count - he's a monster. (Hitting .583.)

On 3-0 count, his On Base Percentage is - holy crap! can this be real? - .912. Get him up 3-0, and nine out of ten times - NINE OUT OF TEN - he'll get on base. Holy crap! 

What about lefty vs righty pitchers?

Not much there. Higher HR totals correspond to the number of at-bats. He hits both sides, equally.

He's far tougher at home.
This is nice to know.  The Yankee Stadium delirium does matter. When Judge comes to bat, go wild, everybody. 

He hits consistently all season. 

No one month stands out. The second-half drop-off stems from 2017, his breakout year, when he fell apart after the All-Star Home Run Derby. (Never again!) 

He is generally unfazed by the game situation.  

Overall, he's not one who greatly pads numbers in blowouts, though it would be nice to see a few more hits with two outs and RISP. He's more likely to hit a HR with the Yankees ahead rather than behind - but he comes up more times in such situations. 

Let's hope for some 3-0 counts tonight. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

HoraceClarke66 sez: “Mother of Mercy, is the new deadball keeping the Yanks alive?”


Five straight, “shutout” starts by our suddenly crack starting staff. Thirty-five scoreless innings, a number last exceeded 89 years ago this month (the year the movie above came out), by a rotation that included future Hall of Famers Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez. (Real future. There wasn’t even a Hall of Fame yet.)

 Along with Johnny Allen and George Pipgras, those Yankees threw 40 straight scoreless innings in all, en route to a 107-win romp to the pennant, and a legendary World Series sweep.

 Sure, the Yanks of 1932 scored over 1,000 runs in just 154 games and were not shutout a-once themselves. But the team’s staff led the league with a 3.98 ERA—in a season when the entire circuit batted .277 with an OPS of .750.

 Is this year’s contingent really that good?

 I doubt it. By contrast, the Junior Circuit right now is batting only .238 with a .711 OPS. The Yanks themselves are hitting all of .231, with a .701 OPS.

 The slugging has been devastated by the now expected spate of injuries, by age, and by whatever mystical approach the Yankees now have to hitting, something that seems to involve sacrificing a goat for all the sense it makes. 

 And while the fielding and baserunning have both improved immeasurably, there still have been many times when this club looks like it has just been introduced to a baseball field.

 So, what gives?

 Well, it’s the pitching, see? Which at the start of the season looked to be the team’s glaring weakness. That whole, ramshackle array of battered cabooses, leaky tankers, and retired LIRR cars that Cooperstown Cashman hitched on behind the Cole Train has turned into the Cannonball Express.

 The bullpen, which looked like nothing more than a loose collection of lugnuts going into the season, has snapped into place like they were bolted there by a high-steel rivet crew of yore. Even the guy who’s actually named Lugnut, excuse me, Luetge.  

 The pitching as a whole is first in the American League in ERA, first in shutouts, fewest walks, most strikeouts, and the hearts of their devoted fans. It’s second in most everything else.

 Could it be that Brian Cashman has somehow become an infinitely more brilliant judge of pitching talent than he has ever shown us before?

 Let’s not get carried away. Dr. Occam tells us that there’s another possible explanation that is the simplest and most logical, and it’s that the same new ball that’s turned every game into a long day’s trudge into NYCFC highlights is, well, helping us to turn this whole station wagon around right now.

 So what are we to do? Do we accept the diminishment of the game itself, just because it helps the Yankees to win?

 I, for one, advocate full denial: Our hitters stink because Brian Bleeping Cashman has destroyed them all with his inane theories. Our pitchers are lights out because they have, on their own, learned to become some of the greatest hurlers in Yankees history.

 Yeah, that's it.

 And the new ball…just takes a little getting used to.

The Yankees are about to make perhaps the most important move of 2021

Rumors buzzed last week that the Yankees - desperate for a CF - were on the verge of trading for Delino Deshields Jr. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the SEAT BELT signs. Passengers should return to their seats and prepare for a bit of turbulence. You might want to check in the seat pouch for your stomach distress bag. Flight attendants should take secure positions...

Cooperstown Cashman's annual spring mating dance is about to begin. DO NOT PANIC! DO YOU HEAR ME? DO! NOT! PANIC!!!!! A trade is coming, that's all, hahahaha, (somebody shoot me), and we should snuggle into the recliner and fortify our courage. For Alphonso, that means a cistern full of canned mixed drinks - the "Sidecar" his current bev of choice. Whatever Cash does, it will conjure a universal "WTF" across the Yankiverse, and the clouds part and the mountainside comes into view.

The problem with Deshields? Nothing personal. It's just that he'll turn 29 in August, he bats RH - (yeesh, don't we need lefties?) - he's a career .246 hitter, he has no power, his base-stealing isn't what it used to be (or what his dad used to be) and his current big numbers at Triple A - he's hitting .365 - reflect a sample size smaller than Ivanka's cosmetically altered overbite. If the Yankees acquire him, it will be strictly for defense - which is reasonable, I suppose - but - yeesh - if that's all there is to the circus, why not just try Estevan Florial, or Thomas Milone, or Tyler Wade, or the wall-bouncer, Cliff Frazier, and see what happens? 

What we need is a Cameron Maybin, and frankly, there aren't any. The Mets, who actually have the real Cameron Maybin - now hitting 0-for-19 on the season - are looking for the Maybin guy who performed so well two years ago.  (Also, Maybin is not a CF, so... nope.)    

Another factor might complicate a trade for Deshields. Apparently, he has a June 1 "opt-out" clause in his contract, allowing him to become a free agent unless the Texas Rangers promote him to the majors. Thus, to get anything in a trade, Texas must call him up, slap him on the back and then deal his ass. Having seen the Rangers a week ago, I think I speak for humanity in wondering, what would be the point? In return, they might pry Nick Goody or Mike Montgomery from the Scranton roster. (And here's the kicker: They probably have June 1 "opt-out" clauses in their contracts, too.) 

Greg Allen, whom the Yankees signed last winter, would normally have gotten a call by now. He's 28, a switch-hitter CF with speed. Unfortunately, he's out with an oblique injury, and those things are bastards. So, we're back to square one.

My hope is that Cooperstown has his eye on some veteran lug nut out there, showing speed and defense at Triple A, with another June 1 opt-out. If there is one thing we've learned over the years, it's that the Gammonites never correctly predict a Cashman trade. Whomever leaked it that the Yankees were talking about Deshields - Cashman? - did it with the purpose of kicking the tree, perhaps after Texas asked too much?

This we do know, at 38, Brett Gardner cannot play CF every day. He'll dissolve. He already looks 40. His best use is as a fourth OF, who spells the starters now and then. We need somebody who can cover ground and torment pitchers when he reaches base. (Frankly, I'd love to see Wade get a shot, but that's not Cashman's style.) 

If the Yankees can find a cheap alternative, we will not have to pay the king's ransom on the Aug. 1 trade deadline. If we fail, the last few weeks in July could be a torture chamber.

A deal is coming. Brace yourselves, everybody. It's going to get a little bumpy.

Monday, May 24, 2021

HoraceClarke66: Baseball Götterdämmerung

 From the computerized quill of Hoss...

“What an exciting game!” Paul O’Neill told us somewhere from the wilds of Florida, before signing off Friday night after the Yanks’ 2-1 win over Chicago.


Indeed! Um, sort of. 


What more could we ask for? A one-run game that featured a home run by a player who is showing signs of life for the first time in two years. A triple play in the ninth inning—a walk-off slide (a slide-off?) for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.


What’s not to like???


Well, just the fact that until we got to the end of the game, the Yankees and ChiSox gave us some of the most somnolent baseball I’ve ever seen. When it wasn’t completely incompetent.


A combined four errors and 26 strikeouts. Nearly three hours of swing and miss, boot and bobble.


I know baseball works in mysterious ways. I know it is a game that, by its very nature, often builds slowly, often deceptively to moments of incredible excitement and tension.


Not so much the other night. More like numbing boredom and ineptitude, followed by a couple of surprises.


I then switched over to watch the Mets, who were still playing in the 12th inning in Miami. The Marlins were dressed in what looked like the uniforms of an especially poor community college team.


On the mound was one Adam Cimber (NOT pictured above. Apparently he looked too weird to get past the MLB censors.). He seemed to be wearing kneepads and had his socks pulled up so high he looked almost as if he were wearing shorts.


The whole image was so bizarre I thought the problem must have been the pot gummy I’d popped a few minutes before. But no. It really did look that crazy—almost as if the Marlins had a mechanical man, or some fantasy creation out on the mound. As if all of this were happening in an alternate reality.


The Mets sent up Kahlil Lee, a rookie pinch-hitter who had just set a record by striking out his first eight times up in the majors (The announcers informed us that he had not even made contact in those eight at-bats.)


Lee, who was playing because almost half the Mets’ roster was hurt, managed an opposite-field double. Hooray! Then the next replacement player, Joneshwy Fargas, came up and hit a dying quail to right field that the Marlins rightfielder dived for and missed. He chased the ball into the corner—where he fell and sat on it. Finally, he threw the ball in—where he managed to cut down Fargas trying for an inside-the-park home run.


Wow! Whoee! I hadn’t seen a play quite like that since Little League.


The Mets held on to win, 6-5, and it was all so exciting. The whole effort featured a combined 18 pitchers, striking out a total of 25 batters.


That’s right: two games, 51 strikeouts. Five errors, all kinds of stumbling and bumbling. But what an ending, huh?


I’m sorry, people, but that’s not baseball—at least not as I know it.


Half the roster injured—on every team. As usual.


Endless pitch-and-catch, a bunch of stumble-bumbling…and then a boffo ending.


It’s not enough.


Over seven-and-a-half hours of snoresville, much of it played by guys in clown suits, who themselves have been put half-to-sleep by how slow and dull their game has become.


I don’t care how good the ending is. That’s not the game I came to love.

It's time to recognize that last year in baseball never really happened

One quick way to fathom the false read of 2020 is to study baseball's current leaders in RBIs. (And, nope, no Yankees.) 

1. Trey Mancini, Baltimore 41
2. Rafael Devers, Boston 39
3. Adolis Garcia, Texas 38
4. Yuri Guriel, Houston 38
5. JD Martinez, Boston, 37
6. Randall Grichuk, Toronto, 36
7. Vladimir Guerero Jr., Toronto 36
8. Jose Abreu, Chicago, 35
9. Eduardo Escobar, Arizona, 35
10. Shohei Ohtani, LAA, 35

Congrats to all: They stand as Leaders Heading into Memorial Day. 

Of this group, two - Abreu and Devers - finished in last year's top 10. Three - Mancini, Garcia and Ohtani - barely played in 2020. Two more - Martinez and Escobar - basically sucked.

I believe 2020 shall be remembered as the Las Vegas of seasons: 

What happened in 2020... stays in 2020.

At this point last year - in games played, that is - pennant races were ending, a handful of games to play. Boston was dead last - yes, below even Baltimore - and Minnesota possessed the AL's second-best record. This year, both have flipped those scripts (though Baltimore remains awful.)

The 2020 season ended with DJ LeMahieu batting .364 and Luke Voit hitting 21 HRs, both leading the majors. They'll always hang framed certificates of achievement on their bathroom walls, but neither number is realistic. LeMahieu is a fine hitter - he's now won two batting titles - but .364? Nah. Voit has decent power - 30 HRs, sure - but he was collapsing physically at the end of last season. Another HR crown? Nah. 

On the flip side, Gary Sanchez hit .147 - was that even possible?- and Aroldis Chapman notched three saves. Three. Eric Kratz finished third on the team in batting average - he hit. 321 - and James Paxton - remember him? - started five games, with an ERA of 6.64.

Last year was a ghost, a Mulligan, and everything that happened - did Jose Altuve really suffer the yips?, did Andrew Benintendi really drive in just one run? - was a drug hallucination, a trick of the mind.  

I say this because we - as thinking, empirically-minded Yank fans -have a natural tendency to add last year's nothingness to the first two months of 2021 and seek conclusions. Aint gonna work.

We must come to grips with the fact that Boston was smart to tank last year. Once Chris Sale went down, they played rope-a-dope and went with youngsters. They are probably far better than we figured them to be. (But they are sliding, currently tied with Tampa, which is even better than in 2020.) 

Last year, Gleyber Torres was - look: there is no nice way to put this - a mediocre shortstop. He hit .243 with three HRs, and he botched routine plays. The slump carried over into the first month of 2021, and we rightfully grew terrified.

I now say 2020 should be expunged from Gleyber's permanent fossil record. It never happened. 

Last year, Aaron Hicks was a veritable Yankee iron man - he played in 54 of the 60 games. This happened because the early season, when he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, was canceled due to Covid. Well, it never happened.

Domingo German never threw a pitch. That never pitching never happened.

Corey Kluber's lost year? (He pitched one inning.) Never happened.

Jameson Tallion? Jordan Montgomery? Giancarlo Stanton? None of them happened.

We are about to move into the third month of 2021 - with three more months to come after that. Pitchers are about to start throwing far more innings than they did in all of 2020. (Gerrit Cole has thrown 64; last year, he threw 73.) 

All bets are off. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Sunday SUNDAY... threadheads


Is it a coincidence that the Yankees' best streak of the season happened without Giancarlo Stanton?

The quick answer - all you Giancarlo buffs: 

Maybe yes, maybe no. 

Let's do some old-fashioned, by-the-book, forensic analysis. 

Since Stanton went on the IL, ten days ago, following Tampa's blowout 9-1 win, the Yankees have gone 7-2, winning their last five and keeping pace with the Redsocks and Rays. (Boston has won four in a row, the Rays - uh-oh - nine.)

In that period, the Yankees have used four DHs:

Luke Voit: 1-7.
DJ LeMahieu: 0-4.
Gary Sanchez: 0-4.
Aaron Judge: 7-16, two HRs. 

Overall, the Yankee DH's are a combined 8-for-31  - .259 - not far below Stanton's .282 average for the season. Of course, before tweaking his whatever, Giancarlo had gone on a tear and was leading the team in RBIs (before Judge this week passed him.)  

But without Stanton as everyday DH, Aaron Boone could give various members of the lineup a half-day rest. Over the course of a seven-month season, a half-day here and there can make a huge difference. With Stanton as DH, the Yankees have no flexibility.  

But but BUT... this recent streak has little to do with the DH. It has hinged on the Yankee starting rotation, which masterfully shut down the Rangers and (thus far) White Sox. The Yankees twice won without scoring three runs, and with anemic batting averages in the bottom of the order.

Yesterday, Mike Ford homered while playing 1B. Were Stanton the DH, rather than Voit - who received a half-game rest - Ford would not have played. 

By resting Judge as DH, the Yankees have given LF Miguel Andujar a few more at-bats, and he has shown signs - fingers crossed - of breaking out. (Clint Frazier? Not so good.) If Judge were RF those four games, Andujar would have continued to rot on the bench; he might have even been returned to Scranton.

With Stanton out, Tyler Wade has received more playing time, and he also seems to have finally secured a place on the roster. 

Listen: A five-game streak is too small a sample size to judge any player's value. But here's a painful realty: The Yankees apparently plan to use Stanton as DH through the year 2028.  

I've said this before: The Yankees should play Stanton in LF and - damn the toll on him - make him a full-time war horse. At 31, he's too young to be coddled. It's too soon to become a fulltime DH. His best year came in the NL, when he played defense. A veteran lineup - which the Yankees will always have - needs a flexible DH slot. It's too early to make Stanton into a dugout kewpie. Play the guy. And if he gets hurt - well, what difference does it make? He's already getting hurt. And turns out, without him, we didn't fall apart.

Okay, some will say Stanton's defense is too rancid to play LF. Clearly, he'd have to improve. He'd have to take flies, he'd have to work on throwing - all that stuff that baseball players are supposed to do. Late inning defensive replacements would be common. And at times - such as the playoffs - he would be the DH. 

Soon, maybe today, Stanton will return from the Injury List. Of course, his bat will help. But the last five week should remind us - it's all about pitching, pitching, pitching... and if we get it, we can win without Stanton. I say, let him play.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

White Sox Game Thread Dread


While the Yankees trade to fill short term holes, Tampa trades for long term success

Yesterday, the Tampa Rays once again did what the Yankees seem incapable of: They traded a player at the height of his value, so a younger, cheaper version can replace him.

Specifically, they dealt starting SS Willy Adames, 25, and reliever Trevor Richards, 28, to Milwaukee for two stud relievers - Drew Rasmussen, 25, and J.P. Feyerisen, 27, a former Yankee farmhand. The two should markedly boost Tampa's bullpen. Feyerisen, whom the Yankees received in the famous Clint Frazier/Justus Sheffield-for-Andrew Miller deal, has been lights-out this year.

Tampa then promoted Taylor Walls, a 24-year-old switch-hitting SS who was batting .327 in Triple A. (The Rays use Triple A to develop prospects, as opposed to the Yankees, who use Scranton as a place to stash aging lug nuts.) 

Every year, Tampa trades players at the crest of their talent curves, rather than wait until they're descending, and then trying to dump their salaries. 

Soon, they will promote Wander Franco, a 20-year-old wunderkind SS, reputed to be baseball's best prospect. Franco is hitting .281 at Triple A. (Comparatively, the Yankees top prospect, 18-year-old Jasson Dominiquez, has yet to see a professional pitch.) When Franco arrives in Tampa - possibly this summer - they'll likely trade Walls for more pitching. 

For the last 20 years, Tampa has been developing and trading young talent, and challenging for the AL East, while paying fraction of the costs incurred by the Yankees. 

My guess is that whenever Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner screams at his employees, raging about the $210 million Yankee payroll, and orders Cooperstown Cashman to limit the payroll, he is staring at Tampa's roster and wondering why the Yankees cannot do the same?

Good question. 

Of course, the Yankees play a different strategy, based on how much money a player is being paid.  They absorb big contracts with the assumption that if you pay enough money, the player will perform well. 

Last month, they didn't really need a second-baseman. But with Texas offering to pay the entire salary of Rougned Odor, the Yankees signed on. It was a financial consideration. Thus, they traded young prospects for Odor. (By the way, they're running out of young prospects to trade.) And while he's rather plucky - great turn on the triple-play last night! - Odor has yet to crack .200. From an offensive standpoint, he represents a career in decline.

The Yankees almost never deal players at the height of their trade value. Cashman fears a star blossoming elsewhere, which would make him a pinata for the NY press. So... we keep Gary Sanchez. 

Right now, the Yankees have no emerging star in Scranton, a player who might force his way into the Yankee lineup. (I suppose you could say OF Estevan Florial, who was just promoted, but he doesn't look ready and - besides - we'll probably trade Florial for a CF band-aid. That's the kind of trade the Yankees make.) 

It's not that complicated. Every year, Tampa simply trades players at their peak value and replaces them with younger, cheaper versions. Yeesh, you'd think it was the Manhattan Project. So Tampa keeps chugging, Cashman fills another hole, and Food Stamps Hal, tucked away on his yacht, will continue to wonder why his team is always chasing the Rays?

(Note: You might ask why I'm not celebrating the winning streak. I am practicing reverse juju. As long as we are winning, nothing good can come from speaking hopefully. )