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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Miguel Andujar finally came to bat last night. The conditions were not optimum.

In case you missed it last night, Miguel Andujar's long and Sisyphean return to The Show -  at last - culminated in a PA. (That's insider wonk-talk for a "Plate Appearance;" not to be confused with an AB, which is an "At Bat.") 

Actually, you might have missed it. The historic event happened in the 8th inning of a 10-2 Yankee massacre. The Death Barge had just plated five runs, and Marwin Gonzalez  - pinch-hitting for DJ LeMahieu - had fanned for the inning's first out. It was raining cats and dogs, and the YES  Apple broadcast team was wondering how long the game could continue. The temperature was plummeting. The grounds crew was ready, and the Yankees needed outs more than base runners. 

Aaron Judge, who had earlier homered, didn't even venture to the on-deck circle. Miggy was summoned to pinch-hit. We can only imagine Aaron Boone's instructions, but they probably went along these lines: "Make an out." 

Miggy took ball one - his first MLB pitch of 2022. He swung and missed at a 95 mph sinker. Another ball, outside. Then Miggy connected - a grounder to third. 

He did his job. 

From this frosty perch in the resettled swamps of upstate NY, it's hard to say where and when Andujar's next MLB at-bat will happen. It could be tonight. It could be years from now, as with the fate of Brigadoon Refsnyder. 

Before being called up this week, Miggy was hitting nearly .350 at Scranton. He got the promotion because of Aaron Hicks' paternity leave. (Hicksy last night celebrated fatherhood by going one for three with a single.) So Andujar in 2022 has a fossil record: He is 0-for-1. 

By the way, I'm not whining. Believe me, when I whine about the Yankees, you'll know it. I'm merely lamenting the fate of a player in whom I once saw the future of this team. There was a time - not long ago, on the Roger Repoz Geologic Scale - when Miggy was being compared to Joe Dimaggio. Now, he's the extra lug nut that somehow turned up in the hubcap. He's the guy with a tantalizing past and no certain future. His Yankee career is so dead that Lady Gaga wants to cut an album with it. 

I suspect that when the Yankees leave KC, Miggy won't be with them. Whatever happens, I just want it remembered: In his final PA, he did his job.

Friday, April 29, 2022

"This is how the world ends..."


 ...not with a bang, but with Rob Manfred."

Enjoy this season's shotgunning of the Birds. We will never have it so easy again.

A passing remark by David Cone caught my attention yesterday: as part of the new general agreement, baseball will be moving to a "balanced schedule."

Turns out, it's true:

https://www.mlb.com/news/more-interleague-games-on-balanced-schedule

Instead of the 19 games currently played against division rivals, your New York Yankees will play only 14 games against Birds, Rays, Jays, and the Succubus from Hell, and 10 games against every other American League team.

So decreeth MLB's own Vishnu, destroyer of worlds.

Well, hey. For all my calamity howling, baseball had a roughly "balanced schedule" from 1979 through 2000, with teams playing almost the same number of games against everybody in their league.

People such as Cone seem to feel this is "fair," in that it evens up the playing field. And much as I will miss the tomato cans from Bal'mere, the Yanks play in a relatively tough division, so it probably won't hurt our boys.

But here's the rub: Il Duce Manfred ALSO wants to add interleague games. A lot of them. 

Starting in 2023, the Yanks will play 46 games against the National League—all of 4 against the Mets, 3 against everybody else. Every team will now play every other team.

It's not all Baron von Manfred's fault. MLB has been moving this way for a long time, first with interleague play itself, then getting rid of the league presidents.  

But the current commish has accelerated the drive to destroy baseball's traditions, starting with the unpardonable destruction of the old minor leagues and the deep-sixing of dozens of teams there.   

Now we get another move away from traditional rivalries, and toward what might be called "Slow Basketball" or "Slow Football." That is, a regular season that is an interminable slog of mostly meaningless games against interchangeable opponents from all over the country.  Followed by a months-long playoff that most clubs will qualify for.  More and more to be viewed on "Cable's Cable"—pricey streaming services that we can barely keep track of.

Oh, joy.

This is yet more of the shift toward what might be called, "Divorced Dad Sports"—with all the traditions that the committed fan has always loved ripped away.  Everything oriented instead toward major leagues attended mostly by divorced dads dutifully driving their kids to a once-a-year-outing. 

Once again, MLB refuses to fix any of the problems that truly alienate its fan base—ridiculous prices, arrogant and undercapitalized owner/grifters, churlish athletes, and an interminably slow, mangled version of the game itself—in favor of "fixes" that its overlords think will reap even bigger profits for them.

How they will succeed is hard to discern. Like so many "improvements" of the past—blasting ads and head-banger music between innings, Three Truly Boring Outcomes, the Manfred Man, etc.—the "balanced schedule" is most likely to keep driving attendance numbers and TV ratings down.

I suspect MLB thinks it will recoup through the likes of legalized gambling. And what could possibly go wrong there?

 




So, are the Yankees this good, or is Baltimore that bad?

Six in a row. Eight out of 10. Tied for 2nd best record in baseball. (And in NYC.) Is it real, or is it Memorex? Or, more likely, Balto/Cleve?

Clearly, the O's and Guards played Will Smithian roles in this week's visits by Mister Ryan McBroom. Especially the O's, whom I - obviously, naively - assumed would improve this season (dismissing the John/Suzyn Scale of Baseball/Life Predictability.) 

Listen, no team sucks forever, right? Stopped clock, right? Yet there they were yesterday, with Jorge Mateo at SS, where the Yanks punted on him four years ago, waving his glove at grounders like a matador at a charging bull. Same old O's. Fourth worst record in baseball. Wasting Cedric Mullins in CF. Still waiting on Trey Mancini, when Henry Mancini might be a better bet. How do they do it?

Okay, everybody, keep repeating, "TO BEAT THE RAYS, YOU BASH BALT BIGGER... TO BEAT THE RAYS, YOU BASH BALT BIGGER..." And we did. So there's that. 

And I'm not dismissing the fact that during my bout of Covid - (no lie, I had it) - we won six straight. Scientists know little about the mysterious phenomenon called "Sick Juju," but it's real. You get a toothache or a swollen thingy, and your team goes on a tear. Nobody knows why. But I believe it's because the juju gods are pleasuring themselves with you. (They have no discipline.) They want to see how much pain you will accept, in return for a few wins. This week, it worked - though Baltimore also had something to do with it. 

Okay, as they say in the Canadian comedy, LETTERKENNY, "Pitter patter, let's get at'er:" What hath this streak shown?

1. Our bullpen has started to wince. Four arms per game will do that. It remains our strongest strength. It might be best in baseball. But both Jonathan Loaisiga and Mean Chad Green have endured rough outings, and El Chapo remains a box of Forrest Gump chocolates. 

As long as Clay Holmes and Michael King remain impeccable, I suppose we're okay. But yesterday, despite a huge lead, the game ended with Aroldis warming in the pen. Yeesh. There was absolutely no reason why Chapman should have needed to pick up a ball, much less start throwing. If you believe in the Finite Number of Bullets Theory for pitchers - (and if you believe in sick juju, you're already there) - then Chapman just fired off a round he'll need later this season. 

2. Thanks to Baltimore, the Yankees became opportunists. They made the O's pay for nearly every mistake. That's not nuthin.' And somehow, Tim Locastro played Malcolm in the Middle of every rally. (He went 1-2 with 2 walks and 2 runs.) Locastro is the Reverse Joey Gallo, a small-ball bat on a long-ball team. 

I realize that, at this point, there is no point in arguing for Gallo to be benched or replaced. The Yankees will go with him at least through May. (And they probably should.) But if you look at all the HR firepower in the lineup, I'd submit they need a pest more than another basher. It doesn't necessarily need to be Locastro. But they cannot win a championship with a LF who hits below .200. And, increasingly, that looks like Gallo's fate.

3. Sad story. Miguel Andujar came up for three games - Aaron Hicks' paternity break (yeah, like it's really a break?) - and never touched a glove or a bat. He was crushing it at Scranton. Now, watch him return and go into a deep, disillusioned slump. It's not fair.

I don't know what to do about Miggy, whose defensive liabilities at 3B and LF don't offer easy answers. Still, what a waste. 

Okay, who's willing to get food poisoning for the weekend in KC? Give me an address, and I'll ship the clams.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

They're just doing this to get our goat

 Don't let them get to you. They hate us, that's all. 


Tim Locastro has a place on the 2022 Yankees. Somebody should tell the 2022 Yankees.

Last night, the seemingly impossible happened: 

The Yankees scored a run, using - I'm not making this up - small-ball.

You weren't hallucinating. It happened in the seventh. Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled. He ran on a pitch, taking second on what would normally be Jose Trevino's DP grounder. The Hyphen then took third on DJ LeMahieu's bouncer to first. He scored on a wild pitch. 

Somewhere, Billy Martin raised his snifter and smiled. 

A perfectly tooled, base-to-base, tack-on run. 

The kind that haunts us every October. 

But this isn't about The Hyphen. It concerns outfielder Tim Locastro, who pinch ran in the eighth for Giancarlo Stanton. The O's eyed Locastro indignantly. Under no circumstances would they let him steal second. No way. 

It. Simply. Would. Not. Happen. 

So Locastro stole second, not even close. This stressed the pitcher, who walked Josh Donaldson. Two men on! Something roiling, right? Well, no. Gleyber and Gallo struck out. Look, this is the real Yankee world, people, not The Babe Ruth Story. Not every anecdote has a happy ending...

But right now, the best Yankee late-inning weapon not named "Rizzo" is also the last guy on the roster and the player most likely to get bus fare to Scranton this weekend, when the rosters shrink. That would be a shame. Locastro is one of four Yankees with two SBs - (Aaron Hicks, Anthony Rizzo and The Hypen are the others) - though he has come to bat only 5 times this  season. He has not been thrown out. (Hicks was, once.) 

Frankly, there is no excuse for the Yankees failing to use a player their own propaganda outlet is calling "the fastest runner in baseball." Lately, YES has pushed a new stat called "feet per second," which sounds made up in a marketing pitch session - where Locastro has reached a "sprint speed" of 30.8 per second, the highest in MLB. We've come a long way from Bullet Bob Hayes racing Homer Jones, and while this stat sounds bogus, I'll accept it, if it keeps Locastro in Gotham.

I believe he should platoon with Gallo in left field, especially against wipe-out lefties. He can field any OF slot, and while Gallo and Hicks must succeed or fail on their own, the Death Barge should have no compunction about giving Locastro a shot. 

Nothing boosts a fan base like an underdog over-achiever. (Anybody noticed a guy named Nestor?) And nothing bugs me more than when opposing teams bring in their super-stealer pinch runner, while we have nobody comparable. 

We have Mr. Sprint Speed himself. And we CAN score the old way. How many pitchers does Boone need? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A rainy night in the Bronx marked by The Letter, Sevy, Rizzo and "Joey-Joey-Joey..."

A non-harmonic convergence, you could call last night: Themes running concurrently and in-reverse. Our vaunted bullpen twice nearly blew huge leads against baseball's softest lineup, one seemingly made for a Charmin commercial.  Even at the end, with 12 runs on the scoreboard, El Chapo threatened to walk the tying run to the plate. And this was Baltimore, not exactly a preview of October. 

Still, we won amid a crossfire of emotions:

1. Rob Manfred's letter. Houston's "smoking gun" of Yankee impropriety was finally released to the public. So much for all our self-righteous piety, whining about the Astros and Redsocks. Turns out, the Death Barge was fined $100,000 for trying to cheat, sorta, but doing a lousy job, back in 2015 and 2016. 

So the Yankees weren't as guilty as Houston, who stole signs with electronics after being specifically warned against it. But they weren't virgins, either. 

I wonder who in the Yankee front office thought it a good idea to fight the public release of this letter for the past four years? Seriously, they had to know that it would come out someday - via the court or by leak - and make them look like hypocrites - which, I guess, they are.

Of note, this quote by Brian Cashman, three weeks ago. I mean, in terms of an "Oops, did I say it?" moment, this ventures into Margery Taylor Greene territory. Here's what Cashman told The Atlantic. 

"I get offended when I start hearing we haven’t been to the World Series since ‘09. Because I’m like, ‘Well, I think we actually did it the right way.’ Pulled it down, brought it back up. Drafted well, traded well, developed well, signed well. The only thing that derailed us was a cheating circumstance that threw us off... People are like ‘Oh, we haven’t been to a World Series...’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I don’t think that’s as true a statement as it could be.’ We had a World Series team.” 

As George C. Scott would scream, TURN IT OFF, TURN IT OFF! I've always considered Cashman to be media-wise. Did he not think those words would haunt him? 

2. Barring injuries, this could be Anthony Rizzo's greatest season. He's off to his best start and seems perfectly built for Yankee Stadium. 

So... if this is his career year, what might we expect?

In 2016, age 26, he hit 32 HRs, drove in 109 runs and batted .292 for the Cubs. Damn, those are Mark Teixeira-in-his-prime numbers. 

It's been a while since a savvied LH hitter tailored his swing to the RF porch, but that's Rizzo. Last night, all three HRs just barely made it. I suspect that none would have been out in many parks. (Certainly not in Camden Yards, with its new dimensions.)  

This bodes well. There's a reason why Rizzo wanted to stay in NY, and it wasn't the low crime rate, the abundant fragrance of flowers, and the traffic-free roadways.

3. The way the YES team touted it, you'd have thought Luis Severino was hurling a perfect game into the eighth, rather than the fifth. Still, I get it. 

Sevy is a talisman for the 2022 Yankees. If he is truly healthy and restored to former glory - thus far, small sample - the Yankees are a completely different team on a truly hopeful trajectory. We would have two No. 1 starters - and maybe even three. That would be incredible.

4. It warmed our hearts last night to see Joey Gallo return to the Yankee dugout after his first HR of the season. In case you missed it, the team gave him the silent treatment, a move often reserved for rookies and hangers-on. After he walked the length of the dugout with barely a handshake, his grin widened as the ruse became clear. Then Gallo's teammates mobbed him. A great moment. 

Gallo seems to be well liked. In the end, maybe that will save him. When he came to bat later, the fans actually chanted "JOEY... JOEY... JOEY..." You could feel the stadium come alive. And then he struck out. 

I don't enjoy writing nasty things about Yankees. And to his credit, Gallo hasn't dogged it in the field. But his HR-or-nothing style adds little to the Yankee attack, and it hurts to see a guy so unable to adapt to an over-shift that we're supposed to hope for a rule change next year? Nah. 

On a team with no power, like Baltimore, Gallo might be a key addition. But the Yankees need singles and  doubles, not tape measure solo shots. Somewhere, there has to be a LH slugger who looks at Anthony Rizzo and thinks, "That could be me. I don't need to hit them 400 feet, but into the right place." Gallo isn't that guy.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Haven't We All Forgotten Something???

 

With all the excitement over the Yankees' delirious, 10-6 break out of the box, we are forgetting to honor the man who made it all possible.

This is the silver anniversary of Brian Cashman running your New York Yankees.

Yes, our own, adorable little elf is now enjoying his 25th consecutive season at the helm of the greatest sports franchise in North American history!


So, how is our favorite imp doing? Well, let's take a look. 

It's difficult to come up with anyone else who has run a major-league baseball franchise for so long without owning at least a significant part of it (Looking at you, Connie Mack, last field manager not to wear a uniform!).

But a couple of candidates do come to mind, from our very own Yankees. That is, "Cousin Edgar" Barrow and George Weiss, pictured below with Manager "Marse Joe" McCarthy, enjoying their weekly conference on hemorrhoids.

Now, it's true, many of us here—me, for instance—feel that most of Cashman's success with the Yankees was really due to the team built by the holy trinity of Stick, Bob, and Buck, and that his record has generally deteriorated the further we get from those halcyon days. 

But hey, Barrow and Weiss both inherited some pretty damned good teams themselves. 

Further complicating any comparison, Barrow's and Weiss' tenures overlapped, and it's hard to distinguish just who did what in those years. 

But let's take a shot, starting with overall record:

George Weiss, 1932-1960:    2,771-1,676  .623

Ed Barrow, 1921-1945:         2,362-1,465  .617

Brian Cashman, 1998-  :       2,223-1,565  .588


That is, on an average season, their records were:

Weiss:     96-58

Barrow:   94-59 

Cashman: 95-67

But hey, this is a "rings" town! How do these three baseball masterminds stack up when it comes to winning the World Series?

Here's what we have, when it comes to pennants and World Series wins:


Weiss:      19 pennants, 15 World Series, .789

Barrow:    14 pennants, 10 World Series, .714

Cashman:   6 pennants,   4 World Series, .667

In terms of World Series won-lost records, Cashie's teams fare a little better, albeit in fewer games:

Barrow:      47-24  .662

Cashman:   21-11  .656

Weiss:        70-38  .648

Of course, Cooperstown Cashman's teams have had to play numerous other rounds of playoffs...and here, they did not fare quite as well—as seen in series results, games won-and-lost, and pct.:

ALCS:     7-5  34-31  .523

ALDS:   11-7  43-31  .581

Others:     3-2    4-2    .667

All in all, Cashman's record against other AL teams is 21-13, 81-64, .559. Coops' combined playoff record is 25-15, 102-75, .576.  

But hey, let's not forget The Intern's 13 division titles. And how does he compare in looking at "best record in the league"? Well, let's see:

Weiss:      19

Barrow:   14

Cashman:   9

But still, Cashman has made the postseason, at least, 20 times in his 24 years as GM, or .833 pct. of the time. Would the others have done as well?

Here's where the accomplishments of the Famous Original Yankees Dynasty really get impressive.

Not only did Cousin Edgar Barrow take home 14 flags in 25 seasons, but his Yankees also finished 2nd, 6 times; 3rd, 3 times; 4th, 1 time; and...fell to 7th in 1925, the year of the Big Bellyache suffered by Babe Ruth.  In other words, his Yankees would have qualified for at least a Wild Card in 24 of 25 years, for 96 percent. 

Weiss' record, remarkably, was even better.  Besides 19 flags in 29 seasons, HIS Yankees came in 2nd, 4 times; 3rd, 5 times; and as low as 4th, just once.  Which means that the Yanks would have made the modern playoffs...every time.

That's right, kids and kittens: over the course of 40 seasons, 1921-1960, the Bombers not only took 24 pennants and 18 rings, but also finished lower than 4th exactly once—and lower than third, only twice. Yes, they would have missed the playoffs just once in those 40 years.

Take away the last two war years, and that record would undoubtedly have been even better. And don't forget, after the Yankees replaced Weiss with the immortal Roy Hamey, the team went on to take another 4 pennants and 2 World Series.

And here is where our main critique of Cashman comes into focus. It's true: the further we get from the teams other men built for him, the worse he has done.

Besides those 9 best-in-the-AL records, Coops' teams have also run up the 2nd best record in the league, 3 times; 3rd, 3 times, 4th, 4 times; 5th once; 6th once; 8th twice, and 9th once.  

What's more, every single finish below fourth-best-in-the-league came AFTER 2012, when the last of the Old Warriors were all but shot. Only 1 finish AS LOW AS 4th came before 2012. And since 2012, your New York Yankees have won exactly 1 division title, and have NEVER again finished with the best record in the American League.

Oy. 

To be sure, these three men ran teams in very different eras. Weiss was an inveterate racist, who shamed himself and his franchise by refusing to put Black or Hispanic players on the major-league club for years. And both Barrow and Weiss had the advantage of the reserve clause.

But it's hard to believe that Weiss would have been allowed to do anything that racist today—or that he COULD have, if he wanted to win. And while Coops doesn't have the reserve clause, his Yankees, in the age of TV and electronic media, make exponentially more dollars, even in real-money terms, than those of Barrow or Weiss.  

It's true, in the days of Weiss and Barrow, at least 1/4 to 1/2 of their competitors were generally owned by undercapitalized knuckleheads, who squeezed every dime. And in the time of Brian Cashman...at least 1/4 to 1/2 of his competitors have been owned by undercapitalized knuckleheads, who squeezed every dime.

Plus, for long stretches, Cashman had the advantage of working under the ONLY owner willing to spend big bucks, regardless of any attempted restraints.  

So...who IS the greatest Yankees baseball executive ever?  Keep watching the skies...













In the matter of trading Joey Gallo, the Yankees must revoke the Iron Rule of Cashman

Apparently, the Death Barge last winter spoke with the Padres about a possible deal for Joey K. Gallo, the current Yankee pariah. Apparently, SD was willing to take the all-or-nothing strikeout machine - though only at a price tag far below what Cooperstown Cashman gave up last August to get him. 

(Note: Here's that package, small sample sizes: 

Ezequiel Duran, 23, IF, hitting .254 at AA. 
Trevor Hauver, 23, 3B, .103 at High A.
Josh Smith, 24, SS, .273 at AAA.
Glen Otto, 26, P, 5 IP, 1 ER at Texas.

We also received Joely Rodriguez, whom we recently converted into Miguel Castro.)

As long as Gallo is hitting .146 - (his OBP is .255) - nobody shy of Red Klotz and his Washington Generals will give up a bag of lint for him. To make Gallo disappear, or convert him to Bitcoin, the franchise must abolish the Iron Rule of Cashman, which states that the Yankees only trade players when their market value plummets to near Absolute Zero. 

To trade Gallo, Cashman needs the slugger to get hot. Then comes the paradox: If Gallo is hitting, the Yankees won't trade him.

Over the years, let's give Cashman credit: He has shown one great talent. He signs players off the scrap heap. Consider Lucas Luetge! Geo Urshela! Cameron Maybin! Nestor Cortez! They got them all for next to nothing. When it comes to picking up aging, reanimated bodies, Cashman is the Pete Davidson of GMs. He buys "cheap," always knowing that his boss loves "cheap." 

Last year, right about now, the Yankees signed Rougned Odor for no other reason than Texas would pay his salary: The Rangers had seen enough. It didn't matter that Odor had hit .167 the previous season - and .202 before that. He checked the "cheap" box. Hal Steinbrenner approved.

The Rays have built their organization by perpetually trading players at the peaks of their value - and obtaining younger versions. Last winter, they traded Austin Meadows for prospects. Cashman would never do such a thing. For four years, despite reservations about the player, Cash refused to trade Clint Frazier; he feared Frazier would become a star for another team, and it would sink the GM's reputation in NY. 

Same with Gary Sanchez, whom Cashman traded after all other options were kaput. Same with Greg Bird. Michael Pineda. Joba Chamberlain. Dear God, stop me. It might soon happen with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, each of whom a year or two ago could have brought the Yankees huge trade packages. But we hold players when they're hot, and we trade them when they're cold. (Tom Selleck should be in the YES booth, selling reverse mortgages.) 

So... Gallo? At some point - in theory anyway - he will get hot. Broken clock, right? Gallo will meet a struggling Triple A pitcher and launch two or three tape measure HRs - huge exit velos! - prompting the YES team to declare that our long national nightmare has ended!

That night, the Yankees need to trade Gallo - boom - for whatever they can get.

Alas, I'm dreaming. The Iron Rule of Cashman ensures that they won't.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Six vs Balto & KC: It's time for the Yanks to make a move

Suddenly, the Death Barge is firing. Gerrit Cole, the bullpen, the lineup, even the creatures of the bleachers. Yesterday, after we took a 3-0 lead, did anybody think the Yard Guards had a chance? They so couldn't wait to leave that some took their showers in the outfield. Elsewhere...

Cole. Admit it: You started to worry. That's how it goes with a beloved pet. If King gets out, you drive the neighborhood, calling his name. If Mittens isn't eating, neither will you. 

Players become our dogs, our soul mates, our best friends. Some last 15-20 years, providing great joy and inspiring boundless love. Some just cannot live on a leash. They get hit by the garbage truck. All that potential... they weren't meant to live on your lap.

It's irrational, the fear. You can't help yourself. The stakes are so high: A tweak or strain for Cole would be unbearable news. We need him to win 17 games, throw 180 innings and keep his ERA close to 3.00. If he does, we almost surely reach the postseason.   

Right now, the rotation is popping. If we can go a full cycle - rattle off a five or six-game streak - we could finish April in first. The Yankees need April. 

Le Pen. Let's give Cooperstown Cashman and his arm gurus credit. (Though surely, they already are taking it.) Last year, they touted "the Gas Station," their Tampa boot camp where spin doctors supposedly added mph to every live arm, along with sharper cuts to the curve. Last year, it sounded like junk science and typical YES bullshit.

But right now, we have a lights-out pen, quite possibly the best in baseball. If/when somebody falters, we have arms in Scranton awaiting the call. Right now, all we need is an early lead and three runs. From there, with King, Loaisiga, El Chapo, et al, we'll take our chances. (Though Chad Green is starting to worry me.)

Giancarlo. He's slumping. That's okay, because that's Stanton - up and down. Think of this: We just kicked the asses of the best team in the AL Central, with absolutely no help from our biggest bat. 

Gleyber. Against the Guards, he went 4-for-8 with two doubles and a walk. His average rose by 47 points - to .227. Dare we hope?

For the last three years, Torres has been the Yankee fulcrum point. If he recaptures the bat of 2019 - 38 HRs - most of our problems will vanish. If he continues to flounder - well - we might trade him for a box of buttons. This weekend, he looked good. And Saturday night, he celebrated with this lady, his wife, on Times Square. Oh, to be young. 

Gallo. He was red hot against Cleve: 2-for-11! His average is now .146! He achieved his mythic first RBI of 2022! Struck out only six times! Another few weeks of this, and I do believe the show will be canceled. 

Don't gemme wrong: I'm rooting for Gallo to show us something. But I'm looking at mid-May. If by - say - May 20, he's still horrible, there has to be a move. Locastro in LF? Miguel Andujar? A trade? Something. Mid-May. 

Trevino. Again, credit Cash. This guy might turn out to be the frontline catcher that Higgy just isn't. The fact that he caught Cole yesterday - and it worked - is huge. As battery mates, Higgy and Cole go all the way back to high school.  

When I see Trevino, all I can think is: Why, why, why did we stay so long with Gary Sanchez? 

Tonight. No game. Time to watch Netflix, before the password crackdown and the ads start kicking in. Tuesday, Balto visits for three, then we go to KC. Then shit turns real. Three in Toronto. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

WTF!!!!

I'm in Terra Haute Indiana tonight. 

Great win today. I was able to hear four innings of the Cleveland broadcast before everything went all Reds v. Cards.

I wasn't able to post this until now but... I was at the Hall of Fame last week and saw this! WTF????




"Luck is the residue of design."

 

That was the favorite saying of one of the greatest of baseball men, Wesley Branch Rickey. 

It pertains to the continuing descent into unreality of your New York Yankees. The latest symptom of which being David Cone's claim from the broadcast booth yesterday that—according to their "exit velo"!—the Yanks SHOULD have been hitting .446 on the day...instead of the .290 they did end up hitting, or the .233 they were hitting until the last two at-bats of that dramatic, walk-off win.

Sigh. 

THIS again?

How long will the Yankees and their apologists continue to exist in this twilight reality?

"Exit velo" is not a real thing. It means nothing whatsoever. And the notion that the Yanks thus far have been hitting in "bad luck" and will soon break out—as evidenced by their "exit velo"—is fanciful, to say the least.

Sure, the Bombers are almost certain to improve on their hitting start to the season. They could hardly fail to do so. Before yesterday's game, that start rivaled the worst hitting done by any team, ever, since 1900.

But that doesn't mean this is a good-hitting team, just held back by luck. 

Line drives—and particularly huge, lazy flyballs—often get caught in baseball. This has always been so, and always will be.

Take it from somebody old enough to have seen Sparky Lyle as the Yanks' closer, back in a time when the Stadium outfield was much larger than it is today. With certain, right-handed batters, Lyle would just toss it in there and let them hit prodigious, harmless flies that were easily tracked down by Mick the Quick and company. 

What Branch Rickey—pictured above with his 40-year-old son, whose growth was unfortunately stunted by Rickey's insistence on smoking cigars everywhere—realized was that, yes, luck is part of the game. 

But more often than not, it's only going to reflect the preparation you have made. Rickey, who put together not one but two baseball dynasties on a dime, understood that where the mind leads, fortune will follow. Get some good hitters—hitters who know how to make contact—and the Yankees' "luck" will make a miraculous about-face.







The long historical evolution of Isiah Kiner-Falefa's time with the New-York Yankees

Nowadays, when we see Isiah Kiner-Falefa, it's hard to remember a time when this iconic Yankee immortal wasn't delivering big hits and leading his team to victory. 

You younger readers may not be old enough to recall the early days - a dark period, back in the beginning - when "The Hyphen" had yet to inscribe his punctuation mark on "New-York."

As hard as it is to imagine, there was actually a time when Gammonites and YES announcers expressed concern about the newly pinstriped shortstop, who sought to replace the a phenomenon known as "The Kraken." It seemed impossible, and some critics even wondered if "IKF" would make it in Gotham. 

Let's return to the early days of April 2022, back in the heyday of CNN+, back before the Depp-Heard trial of the century, and before Nestor Cortez became a household word in Yankee households. This angry, rage-filled era predated the Testicle Tanning craze and Florida's annexation of Disneyworld. The Yankees were two-thirds of their way into the first three-game homestand - and Kiner-Falefa was batting .000. 

I'm not making  this up. It's not a misprint. IKF was hitting zero - more than .200 points below his career average. Nor was he playing solid defense. And the critics noticed.

The Hyphen endured an exhausting two-game period when, try as he did, his average remained at .000. Then, one day, in the third game, against Boston, the clouds lifted


Instantly, IKF's batting average rose by .100 points - to .100! Though that number still left a long way to go, historians view fateful Game Three as a turning point for not only Kiner-Falefa, but the New-York Yankees.

For you kids out there, there's a moral here: Never - ever - give up! (At least until May 1. Then it's over. Looking at you, Gallo.) 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Prophet Speaks....


 I see Gleyber Torres in the starting line-up tomorrow. 



Yankee fans are truly terrifying

 The Bronx Dog Dunker.



King is King of the Yankees, but the bullpen is where he belongs

Last night, Michael King - (Rochester native! Woo-woo!) - not only saved our baby-powdered butts but revived Cooperstown Cashman's track record for pre-Rule 5, roster-clearance, obscure-player, scrap-heap deals.  

Back in November of 2017 - reeling from the ALCS loss to cheatin' Houston and in need of roster space - Cashman obtained the then-22-year-old King from Miami for 1B Garrett Cooper and P Caleb Smith, neither of whom moved the Yankee needle, though both have achieved serviceable careers. (Last year, Cooper hit .284 with 9 HR for Miami; Smith threw 113 innings for Arizona.) 

Meanwhile, King has showed occasional glory bursts  - none more than last night, when he fanned seven straight Indians Guardians. Today, he ranks third in the AL in strikeouts, with 18, and sits on leaderboards in several junk stats, each as clear as hieroglyphics. King is:

Third in the AL WAR for Pitchers (0.8)
First in Base-Out Runs Saved (6.48) 
Fourth in Win Probability Added (0.8) 
Fourth in Championship WPA (0.5)
Second in Base-Out Wins Saved (0.8.)

I'm reminded of a line in the 1956 boxing melodrama The Harder They Fall, where cynical journalist Humphrey Bogart barks at the conniving Rod Steiger, "Don't give me your numbers! You can make those numbers jump through hoops!" And to be sure, an avalanche of ginned-up algorithms lately claims to show Joey Gallo is hitting well. Florida math, eh?

But last night, King resembled the Second Coming of Houdini Robertson, if not Delin Betances. He left the Guardians at their gates. It's rare for an opposing dugout to cheer the sight of Aroldis Chapman, but that's what happened - and will likely see it more often, as Chapman's final (?) Yankee season unfolds.

Today, there is talk of moving King to the rotation. WTF? Who would he replace? Boone won't ditch Gerrit Cole or Luis Severino - too much investment - and the rest have pitched well. If tomorrow an opening develops, I suspect they'd go with Clarke Schmidt and call up Manny Banuelos, age 31, for the feel-good story. For another month, no matter what he says, Aaron Boone will stick to pitch counts like Biden to a teleprompter. That means pulling starters in the fifth and sixth. The Yankees will need middle inning burners like King, as much as anyone. And damn, how about that incredible Championship WPA thus far! Could he be the 2022 Championship WPA champion? 

Final note: Last night I tested positive for Covid. Stuffy nose, scratchy throat, minor headache, not much sleep. Will keep you posted. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Never Mind the Mendoza Line!...

 

...Much of this team is struggling to stay on the "Interstate."

That's right.  A number of your New York Yankees are struggling to keep their averages NOT just above .200—now deemed, somehow, a sufficiently high batting average if accompanied by enough home runs and walks, which it never is—but just to stay on the Interstate.

That is, to stay hitting above .100.

One of our starters, Kyle Higashioka, has actually gone off the Interstate already, exiting along a service road to...who knows where? I'm thinking maybe Pa


Palookaville, which is where .097 hitters play. 

Higgy, in what may well be the worst start by any Yankees catcher, ever, also has zero home runs and zero RBI. A true triple threat!

(Here is the original Mario Mendoza, left, a lifetime .215 hitter in reality...which puts him 9 points above TOV Gallo.)

As of today, The Gleyber, Crusty Ol' Josh Donaldson, and Joey, Joey, of course, are below .200.  Torres and Gallo, at .167 and .135, respectively, WELL believe that Mendoza Line.

But is it possible that they will swerve off the Interstate as well?

Gallo was down to .111 in yesterday's Debacle in Detroit, before managing to muscle a single to the opposite field (For which, of course, he was promptly fined $50,000 by Cashman for achieving an "Untrue Outcome.).

It would take a lot, now, for Gallo to get back down under .100. Which is why it is so rarely achieved. But I have faith in Joey!  And in Gleyber!


But hey—I still have faith that even Stanton, currently coasting along at a lofty .216 has it within him to get below .100. 

Who knows how low it can go???

If I can just get off a this L.A. freeway

Without gettin' killed or caught...





The Way ( Mao, Tao ?)


 I've been saying this for a while, but mostly on the "down low" ( the comments section; remarks to friends, etc ).

But I think it is now time for a public airing.

I have found a way to survive ( even thrive ) as a Yankee fan.  And it does not involve communism. It does not involve insurrection and felony. 

It became too much of a downer for me to root for them in the traditional way. They can't hit, field, throw or run.  They don't make good baseball plays or decisions.  Their hot prospects always become mulled wine instead of Bordeaux.  ( You really think Jessica Dominguez is going to become Mickey Mantle?).  

We make arguments that just getting into the play-in game " opens the door.  Once you are in the play-offs anything can happen."  Only we learn that it can't.  

So we turn our hopes to the springtime and look for blossoms. In the end, however,  more weeds arrive as the bus turns into the stadium parking lot. We are older and slower than ever. 

The solution:

I have become an "anti-Yankee " fan.  I still root for them, but I root for them to lose and for total collapse.   Suddenly, the strikeouts bring moments of glee, not anguish. My theory is based upon the following reality:

Hal is not going to sell the team.  Hal is not going to fire Cashman or Boone. 

Unless;  there is a Yankee train wreck so bad that even he cannot ignore it.  

The Yankees must become such an embarrassment that it is as if Hal were walking around with a large " evacuation" in his $4000 suit pants.  And he can't hide it from his family, his friends or himself. It stinks and the stain keeps showing up. 

At that point, when his family and friends at the country club all run from him, Hal will be forced to change his suit.... and maybe his diet.  He will need someone to take the fall. And all that remains is Boone and Cashman. 

So I am all in on the Yankees.  I don't have to hate them.  I can love Gallo and Donaldson.  I can cherish Stanton's strikeouts and Higgy's inability to hit.  I may buy a Cole jersey to proudly wear.  Injuries become my friend. 

It is the only way for long term fans to endure because, despite the recent failures, Hal grows richer by the hour. .

Who's in? 

There will be peace and joy in this valley.



The Heat Is On!

 

Hey kids, it may have been cold up in Detroit this week, but the Yankees' "Race to the Bottom"—the heart-stopping, pulse-racing, hives-generating competition to see who on the Bronx Mighty Winds can break the season record for strikeouts—started to really heat up!

Here are your standings thus far, complete with projections over the entire, 162-game season!



Stanton:        19  237

Donaldson:   17  212

Gallo:            16  199

Judge:            14  174


May I just say...WOW?  

Okay, so while "Irascible Old" Donaldson continues to hang tough, it still says here that he won't be in the race after his inevitable break down. 

The long-term staying power of Aaron Judge, now that he seems to have discovered an almost uncanny ability to hit one, weak groundball after another to shortstop, has also begun to worry us.

Joey "Ton of Value" Gallo got back in the race with a "golden sombrero" day in Detroit. But his level of play has now dropped SO low that I begin to wonder about his ability to stay in the lineup even on a Cashman team.

Which leaves the Big Swisher. 

Giancarlo Stanton, after an alarming, early tendency to make contact, has regained his "Mechanical Man" swing, whereby, with almost freakish consistency, he manages to take the exact same swing at the exact same level on every pitch, apparently assuming that every pitcher is an idiot.

What's more, this year Giancarlo—always looking to up his game—seems to have added a nearly supernatural ability to guess wrong, letting at least one flat, 92-mph fastball float across the plate on every at-bat, without offering at it.

Think of the heroic discipline this must require!

Stanton is now ahead of the pace needed to break the record of 223 K's. There are so many things that can derail our glass behemoth, of course. But who else possesses both the ability to whiff this much and also produce juuuust enough to stay in the lineup? 


 




The Yankees just split a road trip against two of baseball's weakest teams, and other joyful observations

The Yankees are averaging three runs per game. They rank 25th out of 30 in MLB. In other words, it's worse than you thought...

1. Clutch hits have been a rarity for so long now that I cannot remember a Yankee team known for its grit and intensity. With a game on the line, who do we want coming up?

I guess DJ LeMahieu - the 2020 model, not last year's. After that, yeesh, Anthony Rizzo? I dunno. But Judge and Giancarlo do not vault to the top of my preferred list, and therein lies a problem. 

2. If the Yankees fail to sign Aaron Judge next winter, it will be a mark against the franchise's once great tradition - but a highlight for its growing reputation of corporate frugality. Maybe Hal Steinbrenner can serve as a global beacon for fiscal responsibility, leading the nation in the fight against inflation! 

3. The guy I originally considered the key to the Gary Sanchez/Geo Urshela trade - catcher Ben Rortvedt - has been disappeared by Thanos. Damn those infinity stones. He's already missed April - a strained lat - with no word on when he'll return, and - worst - we still don't know if he's any good. 

I mention this because Kyle Higashioka has failed to follow up on his big spring training, when he belted seven. Everybody loves Higgy, but there's a lingering suspicion that he's a much better backup than a front-line catcher. Three back-ups aren't going to solve our problem. Wait, didn't someone say Kiner-Falefa can catch?

4. Yesterday, Joey K. Gallo singled in the ninth - woo hoo! - lifting his BA to .135. He's an easy target, but overall, the Yankees are hitting .220 - that's 20th among MLB teams. You know who hit .220? Wayne Tolleson. In 1987. We are a team of 1987 Wayne Tollesons.

5. Among the true outcomes, we rank 15th in HRs, 13th in walks, an 12th in strikeouts. We are on a pace to fan 1.446 times - most in team history - with Giancarlo leading the way, with 19. Last year, around now, we were squawking about the Ks. Who imagined that we'd add Josh Donaldson (17 thus far) and Gallo (16) to the whiff parade? 

6. This is a huge existential threat to the game. The Orioles are on a pace to strikeout 1,670 times - more than 10 per game. The lords of baseball are tinkering with pitch clocks and over-shift bans, but neither will solve the sport's emerging malaise. 

The game is dying because balls are not being put into play.

7. Looking for hope in the Yankee farms? Good luck with that. Miguel Andujar - remember him? - is the only Scranton Railrider hitting above .240. (he's at .278.) The infield Oswalds - Peraza and Cabrera - are hitting .179 and .158, respectively. Remember all those prospects we touted through the spring? None have broken out. But... it's early, right? 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Even when he makes the right move, everybody hates Aaron Boone

Today, he intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera in the eighth, choosing to a lefty-on-lefty matchup. The next Tiger doubled, scoring two runs, the feeble Yankees lost 3-0, and everybody left the park booing Boonie. 

Still... he did get in the best postgame zinger:

“Miggy was jawing at me after I called for the walk. I told him we’re even. He cost me a World Series in 2003, so now he can sleep on 2,999.”

 


Today, Monty was great, Castro sucked and Lugnut ok to so-so.

Hicks is down to .270. DJ holds at .308.

Hicks, Judge and Rizzo coming up.  

DJ, Gallows, and Falafel up. Last chance saloon.

They say nobody ever has enough pitching. Right now, pondering the 2022 Yankees, that's not true.

Enlightenment 101: A key to life is knowing when you've got it good. 

Right now - 4/21/22 - let this news herald from the snowy mountaintops and fruited plains, to the ships at sea and toll booths along the Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, to the tornados of Topeka and the sinkholes of Sarasota, and to lizard aliens in far regions of the galaxy: 

The scientists and shamans got it wrong. You CAN have enough pitching.

For now, the Yankees do. 

For now. 

Savor this moment, comrades. It won't last. Intrinsically, we know that nobody EVER has enough pitching. It's one of Zeno's Paradoxes, an unwritten law of Newton: It is mathematically impossible to have ENOUGH pitching - (unless you're working of a math text from Florida, perhaps) - and yet, have you noticed? 

The Yankees have now endured three crapola outings from Gerrit Cole. We're talking about three starts that should have pushed our bullpen into Defcon 5 - and yet, it's still standing. 

The Yankees have endured:

a) A complete meltdown by Joey K. Gallo, offensively and defensively. 

b) The continued implosion of Gleyber Torres, whose path might follow those of Gary, Clint, Birdie and Miggy. 

c) The bumpy arrival of Josh Donaldson. 

And yet, we've still had pitching, pitching, pitching - enough to send JP Sears to Scranton. 

How long will this last? Dunno. When that liner hit Jordan Montgomery last week, I instantly figured him out for the season. Now, he looks like a solid No. 2 starter. Whenever Luis Severino pitches, we expect him to grab a gonad and disappear into a helicopter. But last night, he battled through tough innings and prevailed. Then there is Jameson "The Unbearable Weight of Massive" Taillon and baseball's version of Mysterio - Nasty Nestor Cortez. How far can they go? Dunno.

Which brings me back to Cole. (And, by the way, if you're wondering what's gotten into me, this optimism? It's a TWO GAME WINNING STREAK, BABY, THAT'S WHAT! WOOHOO.) If Cole turns out to be a 2022 washout, we're screwed, tanned testicles or not. No matter who steps up, we will eventually face a reckoning of blown leads and - worse - blown elbows. The Yankees cannot withstand such a loss. But Coles' woes Tuesday stemmed not from velocity but control. Guy couldn't throw strikes. Let's remember that, in a normal reality, these would be the final hours of spring training. Time is a flat circle, and space is Woody Harrelson's beer bottle. And ever since Cole brought that kid's sign - Yankee Fan for Life - to his Yankee unveiling, I have loved this guy. Fingers crossed. He just needs a solid outing. That's all. Right? (Tell me I'm right.) 

How long will this little fling last? My guess is we'll be screaming for Sears - or Cashman's head - by May 1. 

But jeeze, let's be wise here. Right now, right this minute, we have something the juju gods never bestow upon our like: The Yankees have pitching. So, let's go... Sweeeeeeeep.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

One Bad Outcome

 


Just to riff on something Zach was writing: Isn't the whole idea of "Three True Outcomes" baseball to provide, well, power?

So where is it?  Either for the team as a whole, or Thousand-Yard-Stare Joey?

Gallo, of course, is part of the one-third of our starting lineup that STILL does not have an RBI, much less a homer, 11 games into the season.

Even worse, the Yanks as a team have only 10 home runs so far—AND, 10 (grounded-into) double-plays, the very sort of outcome that the Three True Outcomes are supposed to evade.

Generally, through the years, the Yanks have hit home runs to double-plays on about a 3:2 ratio. Some years, it's been more like 2:1. In the long ago, golden age of 2019, the Yankees had almost THREE TIMES as many homers as GIDPs, 306-113. 

There are anomalies and exceptions, of course. 

In the fabled season of 1978, for instance, your New York Yankees had only 125 homers and 126 GIDPs—and still won the World Series. I suspect this was due, though, to the fact that the Yanks were riddled with injuries for the first half of that year, which meant untold numbers of raw bushers or gammy-legged oldsters trying to leg it up to first.

This year? This team needs every out it can get. 

Not only is the New Baseball a mind-numbing, soul-killing bastardization of the game we all love...but we're not even very good at it.

  



Ticky-Tack

 


To the tune of "Little Boxes"—with apologies to Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger.


Was a pitcher

A great pitcher

And he always pitched with ticky-tack

And he never lost the game.


Up in Pittsburgh

Down in Houston

He always pitched with ticky-tack

And he never lost the game.





Now this pitcher

Is our pitcher

'Cause he always pitched with ticky-tack

And he never lost a game.



But this pitcher

Our ace pitcher

They took away his ticky-tack

And it's driven him insane.


He lets up walks

He gives up hits

'Cause they took away his ticky-tack

And he's never been the same.








Boone Confidence


 "I like what I see from Cole.  I think he is settling in to have a really good year."

Yes, Aaron.  He should room with Joey Gallo.

Don't look now, but Binghamton just overtook Syracuse for third place in the Golden Snowball

For years, Syracuse has dominated the Golden Snowball, which tallies snowfall in the five largest upstate cities. Now, we can't buy a trace... 

Is this an omen about the Yankees in the AL East? Here are the latest standings...


For his own good, the Yankees must do something about Joey Gallo

Last night, after he fanned for the fourth time, dropping his batting average to .121, having left two more runners in scoring position, and having earlier botched a throw from left field to the plate... the YES cameras zoomed in on Joey Gallo, as he plunked himself down in the Yankee dugout.

He twisted off his batting helmet and lowered his head. His hands pulled at his hair. His eyes bulged. His mouth formed a gargoyle's grimace, and he raked his face - up, down and sideways. Nobody consoled him. He just sat there, brain on fire, rubbing his head, a soul adrift on a path to hell. 

Lord knows, we've been tough on Gallo. But last night, watching the poor guy - I dunno, anymore. To say Gallo is "lost" suggests he has a destination in mind. A month ago, in Tampa, he was mocking himself in jokes and occasionally  batting third, between Judge and Giancarlo. Now, he bats seventh and swings like a pitcher. He ranks third in all of baseball with 18 strikeouts - (one more than Josh Donaldson, by the way.) 

Both Aaron Boone and the YES announcers have sought to protect Gallo - assuring us that he'll soon break out, that he's just been unlucky, that his eventual HRs will justify all the strikeouts and missed opportunities... but I dunno, anymore. 

Some guys just aren't right for New York. Watching Gallo self-immolate last night, the camera tight on him - as nutty as it is to say this in April, the Yankees might be reaching a point of no return on the guy. Gallo needs a few days off, a reset button - or would that only stress him out more than ever?  

Of course, to bench Gallo, the Yankees need a replacement - preferably one who hits left-handed. I never thought that - this early in the season - we'd be wondering about Brett Gardner. Tim Locastro (RH) looks more like a fourth OF. Miguel Andujar (RH) has disappeared into the coal mines below Scranton. Estevan Florial (LH) is 8 for 31 (.258) in Triple A, but with - gulp - 10 strikeouts. He's now 24. 

Last August, despite their claims to the contrary, the Yankees paid a huge price for Gallo: Four decent prospects. Like the stooges who update Putin on his war, they've been publicly slathering lipstick on the pig ever since. 

Right now, Gallo needs a break. He could end up leaving Detroit with a batting average below .100. From where he sits, the Mendoza Line looks like Rod Carew. Can somebody help this guy? I'm starting to worry.

Note: Had a wonderful night drinking with the great Doug K, who assures me that his threats to become a Met fan are simply negative juju. It worked!