Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Forget the Soft Soap. It's YANKOPOLYSE NOW!!!


It’s happening!  It’s actually happening!

Brethren, we have entered the Final Days. The Yankopolypse is at hand!

I know that some of you still labor under the delusion that there is a master plan being hatched by HAL (as depicted here) and the Brain. 


There is no plan! 

Oh, I’m sure you heard them talking about what a great lineup we’re going to have next year.

As a renowned baseball expert (see below) has put it:

One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can’t win a World Series, you can’t win a pennant without, like, you know, uh, with fractions. What are you going to score, one-quarter run, three-eighths of a run? What are you going to do when you go from here to Tampa or something? That’s dialectic physics, man!

But I digress.

You can see there’s no plan. HAL and the Brain, they’re more like those kings and wizards frozen with fear and despair from looking into the all-seeing eye of Sauron. 

Nobody ever mistook that pair for a king or a wizard, to be sure. But you can see they’re just staring big-eyed and speechless, frozen in terror while everyone else in baseball is scurrying around nailing down every player they can get their hands on.  

Threadbare as the Yanks’ staff was last year, now they’ve lost Kluber, meager hope though he was. Now the Mets have signed Max Scherzer, the biggest pitcher on the free-agent market, and an outfielder the Yanks’ could have used. Now Robbie Ray and Kevin Gaussman are gone.

The Greatest Free Agent Class of Shortstops, Ev-ah—has started to sign on with other clubs. The Rangers—the Texas Rangers!—have signed two of them!  

What’s next? A new commitment to Luke Voit, as Rizzo and Freeman go elsewhere? Jose Peraza or Didi filling in at short while we wait for the next crop of can’t-miss infield prospects…to miss? 

Sanchez, the Seven-Bellied Beast, at catcher…FOREVER?

It’s easy enough to suss out what Cooperstown Cashman was thinking—mostly because he’s always thinking the same thing and operating in the same way, year after endless year. 

He was going to lay low through all the confusion and the chaos over the new baseball agreement. Swoop in late, maybe just before spring training, and snatch up those great bargains that he is always sure will be there (and never really are).

But even by Cashman standards, he miscalculated. The avenging Angels—and Rays and Mets and Rangers and Mariners (yes, the Mariners)—have already opened up the Seven Bowls of Affliction and begun to dump them on our heads.

(Our merry band, left.)

The Yanks aren’t tanking and they aren’t making a serious run at the whole enchilada. Which in MLB terms means you’re living in a permanent Time of Tribulation, pounded by better teams, envying worse ones. Competing only for the soon-to-be Seventh Playoff Spot, the Wild Card of the Damned.

Like Capt. Willard, I don’t see any method at all. Just…the horror. The horror.

Out of Left Field

Fun Game: Try to guess this former Yankee by his age, teams, and decidedly meh numbers:

Here's a hint:

Yes, it's former Yank Rob "Brigadoon" Refsnyder.

Here's why I'm bringing it up: It was reported today that Refsnyder will be reemerging as a Red Sock next year...didn't see that one coming....

As the Yankiverse screams for action, the front office - for now - seems bent on holding the line


You feel the anger. (Here at IIHIIFIIc, we live it, every day.) Fans are shouting, screaming for action. At first glance, it looks as though the free agent market has exploded, with the Yankees watching from the cheap seats. 

Max Scherzer to the Mets. Corey Seager to the Rangers. The Blue Jays get Kevin Gausman. It's raining gold out there, and here we are - checking the stool sample on Jose Peraza? Today's signings could include Carlos Correa, Anthony Rizzo and the cast of Succession. Then, tomorrow, when the union contract goes poof, everything will stop.

Hey, you know me: When it comes to Cooperstown Cashman, I'm always good for tar and feathers. A beheading? Save my seat! But today - weird as it sounds - I'm throwing in with Cashman's plan, (assuming that's what this is.) For now, he's holding the line - along with our best prospects, Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Peralza. He's not signing someone whose presence will dictate a cascading domino drop of questionable moves.

Look around, and you'll see that the traditional spenders - Boston, San Francisco, the Cubs, the Dodgers, et al - are also lying in wait. They think their negotiating  positions will improve - or at least clarify - after the labor dispute is settled, probably around the time of spring training.

It's easy to see free agents rushing to sign, and then to worry about the Yankees. But I ask you... 

Does anybody really think the Texas Rangers are smart to give the injury-prone Seager a 10-year deal (at $325 million) along with 31-year-old Marcus Semien (7 years, $175 millon?) In an all-or-nothing year, they still have vast holes to fill. 

Close your eyes: Doesn't Scherzer to the Mets give you a twinge of Randy Johnson's time with the Yankees?

Sure, Toronto signs Gausman (5 years, $110 million), but he sorta crumbled at the end of last season. Also, they lose Robbie Ray to Seattle (and the Mariners, who gave him 5 years at $115 million, should wonder if his Cy Young season was for real?)

When it comes to the Yankees, always remember:

Doing nothing means doing nothing stupid.

It could be worse. We could be snowbound in a British pub with an Oasis cover band. 

I say, hold the line.

Ten fun facts about Jose Peraza, the Yankees top 2021-2022 free agent signing (so far!)

1. His middle name is Francisco!

2. He once hit .324 with 21 stolen bases. It was 2016.

3. He has thrice pitched -twice with Cincinati in 2019 (both one inning, no runs!) and once with Boston in 2020. (Not so good.)

4. Last year with the Mets, he played SS, 2B, LF and one game as DH!

5. He played in the 2014 Futures Game with future Yankee teammates Joey Gallo and Domingo German!

6. That year, in most rankings, he was considered the Braves #1 prospect!

7. In 2018, he finished third in the NL in At-Bats, with 632!

8. That year he led the NL in Errors, with 22!

9. Four times, he's finished in the top 10 in Caught Stealing!

10. Among his statistical doppelgangers are Bill Rigney, D'Angelo Jimenez and Pat Kelly.

Bonus: Last year with the Mets, he played in 64 games, hitting .204 with 6 HRs and 20 RBIs!

Monday, November 29, 2021

In 2022, the Mets will own New York. For Yankee fans, that might not be a bad thing


Well, the worst (or best?) that could happen may have happened: 

Max Scherzer is a Met. And the team's owner might not be done writing checks. 

Meanwhile, the Yankees today signed minor league SS Jose Peraza, 27, who hit .204 last year.

Okay, breathe. 

I still believe Brian Cashman might be technically wily by playing the long game - that is, waiting until after MLB's labor dispute is settled, and then acquiring free agents at theoretically reduced prices. Waiting might be the smart way to go.

But the Mets are going to score a lot of tabloid back pages over the next two months, and once the lockout begins, the Yankees will be an afterthought.

This presents an existential threat to the Yankees, as New York's premier sports team. It will be the first time in Hal Steinbrenner's ownership that "Food Stamps" feels actual financial pressure to win. Until now, winning has been simply part of his family spirit. If the Yankees lose, oh, well, the money keeps rolling in... 

The Bombers are about to become Gotham's second team. That means reduced home and away attendance, lower YES ratings and fewer games on national TV. Fewer sports talk shows will debate the Yankee bullpen. Fewer Yankee caps will show up on the streets. Fewer celebrities will be seen at games. 

Moreover, if the Yankees stumble - that is, if they produce a lineup as dreary and unwatchable as the 2021 team turned out to be - Hal could face financial issues that he never would have imagined. Don't get me wrong. He's a billionaire, and he will never face a financial hardship, as long as he lives. 

But one of these days, it will not be fun for Hal, anymore. 

And you know what? 

Maybe this is what we need.

Kluber to Tampa: Dare Yank fans fear the worst?

Prelim thoughts after hearing Corey Kluber - "Mr. No Hitter" - has fled to Tampa for $8 million and his weight in carrots: 

Good riddance. The guy gave us 16 starts, sixteen - most of them in a crusted state of rehab. He's an Injury List all-star who turns 36 in April, and - excuse me - frickin' Tampa? Are you kidding me? Tampa? After all we did for him? Hey, thank you, Dear Loyal Corey. And if you ever again pitch in NYC, pardon the boos. Hey, everybody, once this guy clears his physical, raise the drawbridge and never let his name be uttered in our otherwise melodious Yankiverse without a chorus of purely distilled bile. We're better off without him. Sit on it, Tampa. He's all yours.

Then a terrifying name popped into my head: 


Yeah, Bartolo... as in Colon - the pear-shaped sex bomb that Brian Cashman famously fished out of the burning Cayahoga in 2011, and who miraculously cheated time for another seven seasons, after the Death Barge cut bait. Cashman was happy to take a flier on Colon as a cheap longshot - but he didn't want to be left holding the bag. So we missed out on one of the great baseball comebacks of the 2010s. 

Of course, nobody knows if Corey = Colon, though he proved last year his tank still holds diesel. The question: Can he can pitch more than 16 games? And we know the Rays - the franchise of Nelson Cruz, Rich Hill, David Robertson and - not long ago, Charlie Morton - aren't afraid to pay an old coot now and then. Also, the Rays don't seem to make mistakes. 

Damn, why does it have to be Tampa? 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have a history of nursing injured birds back to health  - does the name Nathan Eovaldi strike a chord? - so they can fly around and bite us. Will this be another?

Meanwhile, I suggest you tune out the cacophony this week, as teams move to sign free agents. It will be a long, cold winter, and if Cashman is truly playing a four-corner stall - that is, waiting until a labor agreement is in place before making any big move - well, we should let him do it. 

Come Thursday, the music stops, freezing everyone into place until a new labor contract is signed. That could be March - or much longer. 

I believe small market teams will make big moves this week, because by buying a big name, they can sell tickets on him during the lockout. 

Waiting is a viable strategy. I gotta believe prices will come down on the other side of this dispute. In recent years, the Yankees have occasionally seemed to "win the winter." It sure didn't pan out. A lotta shit is going to fly over the next 48 hours. It's going to be impossible to process.

But here's something that's solid: Corey Kluber is a turncoat.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

On Wednesday, everything stops. Will the Yankees be in the process of blowing up?

This is getting, well, weird... 

Wednesday, the MLB Doomsday Clock strikes midnight on the collective bargaining agreement - aka "the union contract." The owners will padlock their diamond mines and bring in the Pinkertons - and ongoing Yankee plans will be instantly frozen in a Hal-sized glob of amber, perhaps to be decoded in the year 2525, if man is still alive. 

By Wednesday, clubs must decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible veterans. For the Yankees, that could mean cutting ties with Miguel Andujar, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez, three former future lug nuts - only days after dropping dimes on Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade and Rougned Odor. 

The Great Purge will have begun. 

The heaviest fog rolls in at catcher, where the Yankees have no replacement for the underperforming Sanchez, and the free agent market looks thin as a coat of Windex. If the Yankees let Gary walk - and if they don't, will fans riot? - Cooperstown Cashman might have to go weeks or months, until a new contract is in place, before filling the gopher holes.   

Until then, we could be sitting on a lineup of "TBAs" at SS, CF, 1B, 2B, C, and throughout the pitching staff. What if the Redsocks or newly owner-riled Mets do something crazy - like make outlandish offers for Freddie Freeman or Robbie Ray? (Note: The Mets signed Sterling Marte last night, so it may have begun.) That could force Cashman to bid on players while navigating not only the union dispute but - (jeeze I hate to write this) - fallout from a potential new Covid surge. 

We are entering into the most volatile Yankee period since the summer of 2016, when Sanchez and Aaron Judge arrived. 

We were never going to get much in trades for Voit, Sanchez and even Andujar, who once represented our golden future. 

But yeesh, imagine them walking out the door with almost nothing in return - as what happened with Frazier. 

Come Wednesday, when the Clock stops, the Death Barge will face far more questions than answers. 

I think it's fair to believe that Cashman possesses the technical expertise to run the Yankees. But does he have a grand strategy in mind, beyond annually trading for veterans in August to make a run at the wild card?

This could be getting weird.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Ho ho ho. It's time again for The Master and The Boss to usher in the new season

Note: Nothing is happening today in the Yankiverse.
Go out, eat and spend money.


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Ten fun facts about the remaining Yankee paradox (You won't BELIEVE number 7!)

Following last week's Cashmanic roster purges, Miguel Andujar still remains a Yankee. (For now, anyway.)

How did such a great-looking youngster turn into such a Thanksgiving turkey? 


1. In his 2017 major league debut, he went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs, breaking the Yankee record for RBIs in a rookie's first game.

2. Next day, the Yankees demoted him to Scranton.

3. In 2018, Miggy joined Joe D and The Mick, as the only Yankees (under age 24) ever to go seven straight games with an extra-base hit.

4. That year, his 47 doubles broke DiMaggio's rookie record. He finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind Shohei Ohtani. 

5. In April of 2019, he suffered a partially torn shoulder. After going 3-34, he underwent season-ending surgery.

6. Miggy missed almost all of pandemic-shortened 2020. Playing LF, he went 1-14 as a Yankee and spent the year at the alternative site in Scranton.

7. Last year, Miggy hurt his wrist in July, suffered a setback in rehab, and never returned. On the year, he hit .253 with six HRs and a miserable OBP of .284. He played four games at 3B. 

8. At this stage of his career, his statistical MLB batting doppelgangers are Trot Nixon and Moises Alou.

9. The Yankees have him under contract until 2025.

10. He'll turn 27 in March.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Yankee fans excited about receiving "cash considerations" from Angels. And Giants face "Tanksgiving."

We're still waiting to forensically assess the haul for Tyler Wade, whom the Yankees yesterday dealt to the Angels. From all indications, Cooperstown Cashman has once again pulled the wool over some GM dupe's eyes. 

We will receive either a Player To Be Named Later (aka PTBNL) or "cash considerations" (aka CC$?

The problem: Figuring out which to prefer.

We must decide, because Clint Frazier will likely go today, and Rougned Odor tomorrow, if anybody returns Cashman's calls. The Yankee cupboard needs to be cleared for the Winter Pre-Lockdown Clearance Sale, which begins Black Friday. 

This Christmas, do you really need to send steak knives? What better way to say "Happy Holidays" than with cash considerations!

But these days, what is fair exchange for a functional, 27-year-old, all-purpose, lefty-hitting utility man with speed? Remember: Because the Yankees waived Wade, they had no bargaining spunk. Also, a confession: In all the years of following baseball, I've never figured out why some deals involve a player to be named later. 

Does that mean that right now, without knowing it, some unwitting Angel is actually a Yankee? If so, he will celebrate Thanksgiving while living a lie: He is in a veritable Limbo of the Lost? Or... is there a Secret List of the Damned, from which one player will be chosen to by the Death Barge? Are DNA samples currently being analyzed on ancestry.com? Or... wait: What it if it's not a player at all? What are "cash considerations?" 

Obviously, I dunno. Best estimate. The Angels might need to clear a player or two after the December Rule 5 draft, and one of those players might go to the Yankees... unless we don't want him, in which case LA send Cashman a gift card to Starbucks. Does that make sense?

My hope: We get a kid deep in their system that some Yankee scout remembers fondly. Yeah, I know, teenage lottery tickets seldom pay off, but I hate to think we followed Tyler Wade for seven years... then gave him away for chickenfeed. And Red Thunder goes next.

Other Tuesday thoughts:

1. I get it that Cashman might wait until spring - until a new labor agreement is in place - before making his move on a SS. Right now, there is a huge free agent logjam at the position, headed by Carlos Correa and Cory Seager. Until they sign, everything is murky. Still, it strikes me that the next few weeks will be the perfect time to fortify the rotation - sign a pitcher or two. Nothing should hold us back here. We can always use pitching. And we have those extra cash considerations, right?

2. Next season, the Yankees will employ three batting coaches. Three. One for each strike. Does anybody understand this? I sure don't, unless they're messing with us. Still... I wonder: Will any of the three coaches push batters to hit to the opposite field, to adjust to over-shifts, to bunt, or to tighten his swing with two strikes - or any of the things that old codgers bloviate about, when they start yipping about the sad state of the game? Will one coach do that? If not, I say hire a fourth?

3. Never - EVER - express hope for the NY Giants. If you think of something positive, keep it to yourself. Last night they once again sucked on national TV, leaving fans with no recourse but to want them to tank. But here's the crusher: They'll spend all spring talking about the need for an offensive line, and then, when the draft comes, they'll pick a "playmaker." That's what they call them. An "offensive weapons" for Daniel Jones, "a tool from his tool box." And a year from now, I'll be cutting and pasting this same paragraph. Because that's the Giants.

4. Here are the MLB free agent catchers: Yan Gomes, Luke Maile, Stephen Vogt, Jeff Mathis, Rob Brantly, Roberto Pérez, Wilson Ramos, Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos, Kurt Suzuki, Andrew Knapp, Chance Sisco, Sandy León, and Austin Romine. 

Yeah. Happy Fucking Thanksgiving, eh?

Monday, November 22, 2021

Wade traded to the Angels for a handful of magic beans

The Yankees received either a player to be named later or cash considerations. 

Once again, Cooperstown Cashman has taken the Angels for a ride! (Last time was Andrew Heaney.) 

The road to Odor: A sad tale for a chilly November morning

In case you missed this in Sunday's IIH comments section, a few thoughts from ZacharyA... (Parentheticals are mine.) 

"A sad tale for a chilly November morning…

"* The Yankees draft James Kaprielian in the 1st round of the 2015 Draft (at No. 16, he was the highest Yankee draft pick since 1993), passing on Walker Buehler, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Austin Riley, etc.

(By tanking in 2014, both Boston and Houston drafted ahead of us. The Redsocks took Andrew Benintendi, and the Astros grabbed Kyle Tucker and Alex Bregman. The Yankees actually had two first-round picks that year; at number 30. They chose Kyle Holder.) 

* The Yankees trade James Kaprielian as the headliner for Sonny Gray in July 2017.

(They dealt Kaprielian at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, as he was recovering from TJ surgery - his lowest value. They added Dustin Fowler [now of Miami] and Jorge Mateo [now an Oriole.])

* The Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds for Shed Long in January 2019 after Gray’s disappointing tenure in New York.

(In 2018, Gray's 4.90 ERA prompted the Yankees to leave him off the post-season roster. Also, in the trade for Long, the Yankees threw in reliever Reiver Sanmartin, who last year posted a (small sample size) an ERA of 1.95. Final note: In 2019 with the Reds, Gray had a 2.80 ERA and finished 7th in the NL Cy Young balloting.) 

* The Yankees trade Shed Long to the Mariners for Josh Stowers in January 2019.

(Because Gleyber Torres was clearly their long-term 2B, the Yankees shipped Long - supposedly an offensive 2B - to Seattle on the same day they obtained him. Last year, at 25, Long hit .191 for the Mariners. Meanwhile, Stowers - a CF - in 2019 hit .273 with 35 stolen bases for the Yankees in Single A. They touted their trade acumen for getting him.) 

* The Yankees trade Josh Stowers to the Rangers for Rougned Odor in April 2021.

(This deal happened because Texas, one of MLB's worst teams, waived Odor and was/is still paying his full, hefty salary. By now, Torres was clearly the Yankees long-term SS, and they needed an offensive 2B - preferably one who hit LH. By taking Odor, they would overlook Tyler Wade at 2B, also one who hits LH.) 

* The Yankees DFA Rougned Odor in November 2021.

(With the Yankees, Odor hit .202 and fanned 100 times in 322 at-bats. 

And here we are... 

Last year, at age 27, Kaprielian went 8-5 with a 4.07 ERA. Oakland views him as a frontline starter. Statistically, he outperformed the Yankees Jameson Tailon and Domingo German.

Sonny Gray remains in Cincinnati. Last year, his ERA was 4.19 in 135 innings. Statistically, he outperformed Tailon and German.

This weekend, the Yankees waived Tyler Wade. Last year, he hit .286 and led the team in stolen bases.

Kyle Holder is a minor league free agent.

Last year, in 32 games, most of them at SS and 2B, Mateo hit .280. He's 26.

Thanks again to Zachary A.

Enjoy the turkey.) 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Master's word on Watertown


Are you starting to sense that the Yankees' winter is going off the rails?

 In the last few days...

* The Yankees reportedly offered $25 million for Justin Verlander, only to be easily outbid by Houston.

* The Blue Jays re-signed Jose Berrios, perhaps the best No. 2 pitcher on the free agent market.

* The Yankees waived Clint Frazer and Tyler Wade, eliminating their value as trade chips. 

* Hal Steinbrenner gave an unbridled vote of confidence to Joey Gallo. 

* Brett Gardner indicated, via rumors, that he'll return in 2022.

* A report suggested the Yankees won't sign a big free agent SS, because their two best prospects play SS. 

* Oakland indicated it wants a huge package of prospects, including at least one of the Yankees young shortstops, in any trade for Matt Olson. 

Yeesh. Fun times, eh? You'd almost think Joe Manchin is running the team: It costs too much money to sign a star, and it will cost too many prospects to trade for one. So, WTF do we do? 

Now and then, you sense a terrifying answer: Nothing.

You'd almost think the Yankees feel that - as winners of the 2021 AL Away-Team Wild Card Slot - they don't need to blow up their roster. Close your eyes, and you can imagine an opening day lineup that looks distressingly similar to the most disappointing Yankee team in this millennium. 

Which leads me to the Existential Question of the Day:

Could the Yankees stand pat? 

Seriously? Could Cooperstown Cashman decide that...

1) Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino and Aroldis Chapman all have another year in them? And that, in their current incarnations, none has redeemable trade value?

2) Either Gio Urshela - or a lower tier free agent - can solve the hole at SS until the prospects arrive?

3) The bullpen can always be rebuilt from the scrap heap? There's always a Nestor Cortez out there.

And 4) All the Yankees really need to do is win one more game than last year, and gain the home field advantage in the wild card? From there, anything can happen.

Wait... there's also talk of expanded playoffs. Thus, the Yankees don't need to improve on 2021. Making the playoffs will be easier than ever before. Finish a game or two above .500, that's all. 

One of these days, somebody is going to pony up $300 million and sign Carlos Correa or Cory Seager - the two shortstops most coveted by the Yankees. That will fire the starter's bazooka on the 2021-22 free agent fraternity rush. 

The Yankees have two choices: Blow up the roster, or hold their water. 

Thus far, they haven't shown their plans. 

Ever get the feeling they haven't yet settled on one? 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Either too soon or too late - take your pick - the Yankees jettison Clint Frazier and get almost nothing in return

Well, it's over. The Clint Frazier Era... 

After six years and a million expectations - with great victories and resounding defeats, like a war on some ethereal enemy - the dance with Red Thunder has ended, and nobody is sure what happened, or why? After all that's happened, it's over, and he's gone - with nothing in return.

Wow. I didn't see this coming.

At last, we have reached sort of a closure on the Andrew Miller deadline deal of 2016. The most impactful player has turned out to be J.P. Feyerisen, now a lug nut in the Tampa bullpen. (Seattle still waits on Justus Sheffield, who we converted into an injury year of James Paxton, and somewhere out there, Ben Heller is pitching to a coach and maybe taking a side course in selling insurance.) 

At last, we put to rest the fantastical imagery of Frazier's "legendary bat speed," as Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman once put it. The only thing legendary about Frazier will be the hype that surrounded him. Ever since he came to the Yankees in the summer of 2016 - the Summer of Gary! - we penciled him in as a future star, the rare slugger who would hit for power and average. We kept waiting for his arrival.  

At last, we dispense with the Great Numerical Outfield - with Frazier, #77, and Judge, #99, framing a great CF who would wear #88. (Jasson Dominiquez?) It was going to be one of the great Yankee mystiques of all-time. Nope. Not gonna happen.

At last, we dispel the notion that the Yankees didn't like Frazier's type A personality, embodied by the story that he once asked to wear #7, a joke that backfired due to the cattiness of the organization. The fact is, the Yankees gave him most of 2021 to prove himself. He got his chance. He didn't hit. 

At last, he gets to press the career RESET button at age 27, and start over in another place. And for all the ups and downs, the Yankees decision yesterday came either way too late or way too early. In the end, they'll get next to nothing for him. (I believe Cashman has 10 days to trade him? Is that how it works?)

For the last three years, Frazier could have anchored a trade. Now, he's floating on an iceberg. In the end, they'll have converted Miller - one of baseball's best pitchers into a injury-withered season of Paxton. From Red Thunder to Big Maple, we were always waiting for something good to happen. It never came.

It would be fun to say, "Ha! Told you so!" For me, that would be a lie. I loved the Andrew Miller deal and for six years have followed Frazier, waiting for his moment. For several years, the Yankees sat on him, didn't give him a chance. Last year, they did, and he sucked. He hit .186. 

I'm sure Cashman has already shopped him everywhere. Nobody wants to trade for a guy with dizzy spells. Which brings me to one last thought: I sure hope he's alright. Clint Frazier's Yankee Era is over. But I hope he cobbles together a good career. He was fun to watch. Loved the smile. Hate to see him go. 

I can't end without mentioning Tyler Wade, who also was waived yesterday (along with Rougned Odor, a fine fellow who needs a new approach to hitting.) Wade has been a hopeful Yankee presence since 2013, when he was drafted in the fourth round out of high school. He rose through ranks and in 2017, at age 22, was named International League all-star SS. He hit .310 in 85 games, with 7 HR and 38 stolen bases. His future seemed limitless.

The following year, he got 66 at bats with the Yankees. Sixty-six. He hit .167 and was exiled to Scranton and told to become a utility man. (As backup, the Yankees preferred 32-year-old Neil Walker.) 

Looking back, I wonder: How do you sit on a 22-year-old with so much potential, and give him only 66 at bats? For five years, Wade has lived the Scranton shuttle, finally becoming last year's pinch runner - an electrifying stealer of bases. 

If the Yankees had simply played him in LF last August, rather than obtain the strikeout king, Joey Gallo - it's not hard to imagine them winning home field advantage in the Wild Card. Think of all those strikeouts. Wade batted .268 - that's 108 percentage points above Gallo, the whiff machine. 

They had a great prospect. In the end, they get next to nothing. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Rule 5 Thread

From MLB Trade Rumors

"The Phillies have acquired right-hander Nick Nelson and catcher Donny Sands from the Yankees in exchange for minor league first baseman T.J. Rumfield and minor league lefty Joel Valdez, per announcements from both clubs.'

Also,  they’ve designated Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade for assignment.

Why Tyler Wade??????

That's 5 off the 40  man so far.

Update: They used the space to protect 

Oswaldo CabreraRon MarinaccioEverson PereiraStephen Ridings and JP Sears.

Congrats to the new MVPs; both should have been Yankees

The ballots have been counted - (I hear 5,000 dead sportswriters voted via Hugo Chavez) - electing Shohei Ohtani and Bryce Harper as 2021 MVPs. Hooray for both. Worthy recipients. (In the AL, Aaron Judge finished fourth, and Gerrit Cole, 17th.) In the past, I've whined that Yankees always get screwed in postseason awards. Not this year. Fourth and 17th sound about right.  

Still, somewhere out there - in that alt-universe, where the sun is shining bright, where the band is playing, and where hearts are light, and where men are laughing, and where somewhere children shout - Mighty Casey has struck out, both Harper and Ohtani play for the Yankees.

Yep, it's the Alt-Earth where the Yankees, in the cold winter of 2018, did more than slobber meaningless lip-service when Harper came to pursue his childhood dreams. After seven years with Washington, everybody knew Harper's desire to become a Yankee. He said so as a teen in the Sports Illustrated article that introduced him to the world. He said so in interviews, so often that he had to quit pronouncing his destiny. And when he finally became a free agent, and came to New York in search of a ballcap and a contract, Food Stamps Hal Steinbrenner turned off his phone and hid under the bed. 

Insert sigh here.

Look, over the years, Hal has served as a fine whipping mule for this blog. I feel compelled to note that he has, on occasion, done the right thing. For example, he signed Gerrit Cole and gave both Jeet and Mariano great sendoffs. But there have been gigantic whiffs, worthy of mighty Casey. Remember when he refused to give Russell Martin a multi-year deal, cheaply cutting him loose with no other catcher in sight? Or when he let Yoan Moncada go to Boston, unleashing a series of events that would win them a world series. And in 2018-19, when Harper knocked on the door, Hal sat on his fanny pack. 

Imagine Harper's LH bat, sandwiched between Judge and Giancarlo, the most potent trio in baseball. Hurts, eh? That was also the winter when Hal ghosted Manny Machado, whose wife wanted him to play in NYC. The Yankees simply clutched their pearls and said no. And today, Harper is the MVP. He's 28. Barring injuries, a future Hall of Famer.

Then there is Ohtani, "the Japanese Babe Ruth," whom everyone in baseball, back in 2017, figured would sign with the Yankees. Here, I cannot blame Hal. Turns out, Ohtani wanted to play on the West Coast, closer to home. A reasonable desire. Time zones are hell. 

Still, I wonder if the Yankees could have tried harder. Their history with Japanese players has run hot and cold - from Godzilla to Ichiro to, ugh, Kei Igawa. Once upon a time, the Yankees appeared to be the prime recipients of an exodus of players from Asia and Cuba - a surge of international talent that would restore the franchise to prominence. Most came to America with no strings attached; all we had to do was shell out the money. And the Yankees had more than anybody else.

Instead, they shot their wad on 16-year-old cabana boys, most of whom are out of baseball, while passing on more expensive players. In 2017, they were hardly the dominant franchise that Ohtani had grown up following. In fact, they were simply a team that foreshadowed our current predicament - the collector of Wild Cards!  

Again, I can't blame Hal for Ohtani being an Angel. But in recent months, he's said to be unhappy with the sad state of that team. In another era, that would be a dog whistle for the Yankees to bring him to NY. Not anymore. If Ohtani wants to play for a perennial challenger, he's referring to the Dodgers (or maybe the  Giants.) Certainly not the Yankees, who haven't been the Yankees for a long, long time.

So, exciting news on the wire: Hal says he expects Joey Gallo to have a big year! Wow! Baseball fever! Can you feel it?

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Report: The Yankees have finally wised up?

A report in the Daily News by someone named Matthew Roberson - (relatively new to the News, but with a pedigree from Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs) - says the Yankees have decided not to bestow lifetime contracts upon either Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, et al, and will instead seek a stopgap SS, until one of their infield prospects comes of age.

Dare we believe..?  

Could this actually be happening? 

The Yankees are a big, nasty, smoking burial mound of long-term contracts - some negotiated, some traded for - that have clogged our arteries since 2001. Their insane policy - sign another free agent to staunch the bleeding - cannot go on. 

Not sure I believe the report. It might be a ploy, with Brian Cashman trying to tamp down the bidding, until he dives in. Or the Yankees could be playing dead until Dec. 2, when the music stops due to a looming labor dispute.

But signing yet another player for the next five to 10 years would mean they've learned nothing from the past 12. (And at some point, they must sign Aaron Judge to an extension.) 

Of course, there is one theoretical strategy: Re-live 2009 and just go bonkers - signing Correa, Freddie Freeman and Robbie Ray. But would Shallow Hal Steinbrenner go there? Doubtful. And anything less brings us a colossal, long-term country club - while the fruits of our farm system go elsewhere, and we watch the AL dominated by younger and more vigorous teams.

For weeks now, I've accepted the demoralizing notion - pushed relentlessly by the Gammonites - that the Yankees would sign either Correa or Seager. 

Now, dare we hope?

I say, there is an alternative. 

Sir Didi Gregorius.

Wait! Don't click that mouse! Hear me out!

He'll be 32 this season. Last year, with Phily, he was certifiably awful - perhaps the worst SS in baseball. He hit .209 with 13 HRs and a WAR of negative .08. For that, they paid him $13 million. This year, his walk year, they'll pay him $15 million. Listen: They'll trade him for a phone-charger and tickets to Chicago.

Didi bats lefty. He loves NY. He loves the Yankees. He's a great teammate. He's got heart. He's got a bounce-back season left in him. And if he fails, he can get us to August, when either Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza can take over. (Or we get another stopgap.)

I'm crossing my fingers that Matthew Roberson got this right, or that he's not being played. It could just be Cashman feigning disinterest, while adding more zeros to his  offer.

Could the Yankees finally have wised up? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Presented without comment


Dear Mr. Cashman, a miniature trade deadline is about to crash; are you ready?

Dear Sir,  

For the sake of a parlor game, let me tell you what you already know.

You have until Friday to finalize the Yankees' 40-man roster before the December Rule 5 draft. Supposedly, you have too many unbelievable, can't-miss, super-prospects to protect, so you're in the market for converting a few of them into an established star. You know... the usual move this time of year, a holiday tradition!

According to the Internet, you are talking with Oakland about obtaining 1B Matt Olson for a bundle of prospects and Lovable Luke "the Lug" Voit. 

Well, I won't tell you what to do. Why bother? You never listen. You look at me with those puppy eyes, and you nod, and I want to believe that you are absorbing my wisdom. But I know better. You're humming a tune in your head. You've been angry at me since Jesus Montero - yes, I was wrong about the human Ice Cream Sandwich, but Pine Tar Pineda wasn't exactly Cy Young, was he? And Sonny Gray? I mean, come on... so, yeah, I won't tell you what to do. But I can say this:

Once you cut your first deal - whatever it is - you better have the follow-up moves locked and loaded, because all Hell is going to break loose. 

Let's say you obtain Olson, a fine player who should solve our 1B woes. Immediately, that undermines any bidding war over Freddie Freeman (who, let's face it, will probably will stay in Atlanta anyway) and Anthony Rizzo (who - hmm - we know is coveted by Boston.) With the Yankees out of the 1B market, the Redsocks might move quickly on Rizzo, or re-sign Kyle Schwarber, or both. Either way, they get their 1B without a checkbook duel with the Yankees. It might happen within hours. 

By then, you need to be well into your next move: Finding a shortstop. To get Olson, it's almost a certainty that either Anthony Volpe or Oswaldo Peraza - our best two prospects, both shortstops - will go to Oakland. That leaves the Yankees with a potential long term hole at SS. Instead of two prospects competing against each other, we'll have one, and the odds of a farm system solution wither dramatically. The notion of a stopgap, one-year SS - you know, Didi or Elvis - becomes much less viable.

Thus, if you swing that deal for Olson, signing a big name SS becomes The Immediate Priority. You better know who you want - Correa, Seager, Story, the cast of Glee, whomever - because the stampede will have begun. And once you make that offer, and once you get your shortstop, every other team in baseball will know that Elvis has left the building. North to Alaska, go north, the rush is on! The SS market will explode. 

By then, you need to be into your next move - the hole in CF. (Note: Aaron Hicks is now officially an afterthought. Your 40-man roster will have two or three openings. You can fill them with prospects or go after a CF, or pitching, pitching, pitching. 

Whatever you do, sir, keep your powder dry. A miniature trade deadline is about to crash. I assume you are ready? Right? Hello...? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Yankees didn't exactly run a slate of prime candidates for 2021 Rookie of the Year

Congrats to the MLB 2021 Rookies of the Year - Randy Arozarena and Jonathan India - topping what the NY Times calls "a deep rookie class." 

Obviously, the Gray Lady wasn't referring to the '21 Yankees. I wonder if anybody from the team received even a sympathy vote? 

I can't even decide the IT IS HIGH YANKEE 2021 YANKEE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award. Consider the candidates:

Chris Gittens: 36 at bats, a .111 average
Estevan Florial: 20 at bats, 6 Ks
Rob Brantley, 20 at bats, .150
Trey Amburgey, 4 at bats, .000
Hoy Park, 1 at bat, .000 
Michael King, 63 IP, 3.35 ERA
Luis Gil, 29 IP, 3.07 ERA
Nick Nelson, 14 IP, 8.79 ERA
Deivi Garcia, 8 IP, 6.49 ERA
Brooks "The Amazing" Kriske, 7 IP, 15.26 ERA
Stephen Ridings, 5 IP, 1.80 ERA

Yep, there it is: The Yankee Rookie Class of '21! 

Honestly, I am at a loss for words. But congrats to the Yankee organization in developing young talent! I keep hearing about how deep the farm system is and... um... hummina-hummina... wow... 

Wait... here's a thought: Wanna know why this wretched team so consistently tanked - that is, they'd win a few games and then lose an equal number? Well, maybe they had no youth, no newcomers, nobody playing above himself and with a limitless future. All they had were veterans whose ceilings were known to all. 

For example, if Rougned Odor went 10-for-20 in a series, everybody knew he'd follow it up with an 0-for-20 - because that's what he does. He might get hot, but he'll always slump his way back to .200. 

We had maybe three rookies who provided a brief jolt of hope: King, Gil and Ridings. None mattered. As for Gittens, Amburgey, et al - the brass never considered them worthy of an actual shot. They only appeared due to a plague of injuries - literally, a plague - and unless they put up Kevin Maas numbers, they were destined to disappear. (It was sad, though, to see Amburgey get hurt, after finally reaching the show; I thought he might bring a hot bat. He's now a minor league free agent. One game...)

So... today the Yankiverse awaits Brian Cashman's next set of moves. From all indications, it will involve trading more young prospects for some other team's chunk of the past. Long ago, when Cashman became GM, he vowed never to become that kind of front office vampire - like the cavalcade that came in the 1980s. But in the stress of July - and facing the reality of his own horribly unbalanced roster - Cashman dealt away 10 of our best young players... to cheers from the Gammonites of Gotham. We were supposed to be delighted that the Yankees rallied to chase the wild card.

It's quite possible that the Yankees won't unveil a meaningful rookie in 2022. According to the rumors -and the dizziness of a fan base that has been conditioned to only think about next year - we will sign a star SS to a five-year deal. This will basically destroy the paths of our two top prospects - Anthony Volpe and Oswaldo Peraza, both shortstops. We've seen how this movie ends. That would leave us with one highly touted prospect - Jasson Dominiquez, aka "The Martian," a creature born of hype and well edited videos. I will believe in the guy when he actually starts hitting, because he didn't in 2021. 

A team without rookies is a team going nowhere. So... where are we going?

Monday, November 15, 2021

With a deadline approaching, the Yankees will soon make their first move of winter, and we should be terrified

By Friday, MLB front offices must finalize their 40-man rosters in anticipation of next month's Rule 5 draft. That's the annual rearrangement of talent, the one in which the Redsocks last year surgically plucked Garrett Whitlock from our system. Yes, that's the Garrett Whitlock who locked down their bullpen, and whom they plan to make into a starter. Yeah, that Garrett Whitlock.

In recent weeks, the Yankees' propaganda machine - also known as YES - has steadily pushed one narrative: Our farm system is so brimming with talent that Brian Cashman will need to trade prospects, rather than face the prospects of losing prospects in the draft. We certainly don't want to lose another Garrett Whitlock. 

Keep in mind that:

1) The Yankees last year produced no impact rookie - not even a bullpen lug nut, who made a difference. The closest we had was Luis Gil, who pitched well until he magically disappeared. The rest - Clarke Scmidt, Deivi Garcia, Nick Nelson and Estevan Florial - bombed. We went 0-for-2021. 

2) In late July, the Yankees drained their system of 10 prospects in order to bring us the Bore Four: Joey Gallo, Andrew Heaney, Anthony Rizzo and Clay Holmes. These deals helped us take the final AL wild card slot. In case I forgot, belated congrats to all.

3) Generally, when the Yankees trade prospects, they receive players who were all-stars about three years ago, and who have outstayed welcomes with their old teams. For example, Rougned Odor, a fine fellow we obtained last spring, and who spent the season proving that Texas - his ex-team - was right about him: His HR swing had holes in it, and he needed to change his entire approach to hitting. But he didn't.

So, the front office patter goes this way: The Yankees have too much talent to protect in the draft, so they will bundle prospects in a trade to bring us another veteran - and if the prospect-huggers out there don't like it, they can go to Hell. 

Well, I am a prospect hugger. 

Also, for Yankee fans, this is Hell. 

Every dark period in Yankee history has coincided with a "win-now" philosophy that is balanced on trading the future for the past. 

If the Yankees really believe in their prospects - the ones they're suggesting will be lost - they should dump the established players who stand in their way. 

If that's Gary Sanchez, so be it. If it's Luke Voit, so long. Every year, Tampa Bay owns us with a wave of emerging young players. In 2021, so did Boston. Toronto and Baltimore are building. We cannot go on this way.

Last year's Rule 5 problem was not that the Yankees had too many prospects, and thus protected them instead of Garrett Whitlock. The problem was that they protected aging veterans instead of young talent.

So, should we fear what's to happen this week?

Sunday, November 14, 2021

R.I.P. Sam Huff, and beware of Cortaca

In 1967, he spoke at my high school. Afterwards, I got to shake his hand. All I remember is his size: far smaller than on TV. He was just someone's dad. 

The Giants are a miserable franchise. I can't even decide  whether to root for them - or if they're better off tanking. It's that bad. But next time the Giants play in the Meadowlands, I hope the place is blue with No. 70 jerseys. They'll hold a moment of silence and then, probably for the last time, the landscape will swell with the chants of "HUFF... HUFF... HUFF..." 

Another punch list item to cross off. It's getting alarmingly short.   

While on the subject of our national pastime - (BTW, nothing is happening in the Yankiverse) - Cortland State beat Ithaca  College yesterday, 28-27, to maintain the Cortaca Jug, the fiercest and most intoxicated rivalry in modern football. Think of it as a war between opposing tribes of future gym teachers, most of whom are the size of Sam Huff in 1967. Consider the legendary Cortaca riot of 2013, when cars were flipped and barbecue grills fell like rain. Upstate NY has its secret Mr. Hyde moments. Cortaca used to be one. (BTW, it was a thrilling game, played in sunshine, rain, sleet and snow - and decided by a blocked FG in the final moments. I tried to watch on streaming video. I kept getting messages that the servers were overloaded.) 

Two years ago, they played Cortaca in Met Life Stadium, an insane notion, considering the size of the colleges. It drew more than 40,000 - largest Division III football crowd in history. 

Next year, they will play in Yankee Stadium. 

Wear a helmet.