Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Searching for meaning in a meaningless game


Now appearing in Tampa, the Star Trek Next Generation Yanks: Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez and Spencer Jones.

The thirtysomethings are taking in the Dali Museum and coughing through the red tide. The restless crowd last night should demand their money back: They didn't even get to boo Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks.

If there's fresh cause for concern, it's Luis Severino, who gave up four earned runs in two ragged innings to a Tigers lineup led by the magical Akill Baddoo, only a few syllables shy of The Babadook. Before last night, our Sevy worries had have centered around his health: Can he deliver, say, 150 innings? (He gave us 102 last year.) It never crossed my mind that he might suck. 

Fortunately, the distance between Feb in Tampa and Oct in NY stretches beyond a trip to Alpha Centari. As meaninglessness goes, last night's outing lacks special meaning.

That said, some notes to be noted:

Dominguez, aka The Martian, reached base twice in two appearances. Dare we dream that he is one of those rare human beings - like Ted Danson and Lady Gaga - who rise to special occasions? No matter what happens this spring, The Martian is destined for Double A Somerset. Still, it's nice to see a kid make the most of his camera time. 

Volpe took the collar and Jones - he of the deep, deep depth chart - has yet to hit a ball this spring. That's okay. Volpe is playing with house money. And Jones is merely here to attack the lunch buffet and figure out the shower settings. 

One other interesting name: potential RH bullpen lug nut Ian Hamilton, 27, who fanned two in a shutout inning. He's bounced around the White Sox and Twins farms for seven years, with a 3.61 ERA last season at Triple A. He pitched in one game for Minnesota - got cuffed around, gave up two runs. He's likely destined for Scranton - assuming his contract doesn't have an escape clause - but here's the deal: Between now and opening day, somebody just like him will emerge to fill that last Yankee bullpen slot. The bullpen might look locked down for now. But gonads will be tweaked, and slots will open. Two strikeouts in three batters? That's a start. (I should note that a similar entity - 29-year-old James Norwood - also fanned two in a scoreless eighth. By then, he was facing the 2026 Tigers. Even the Babadook was gone.) 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the biggest whore of all?


Six major league teams will besmirch their uniforms with advertisements this year. (It sounds a little more heinous if you pronounce that ad-VER-tiss-ments.) I would say that at this point in history, we can legitimately hate the Sox, the Astros, and--for 2001 and the playing of "New York, New York"--the Diamondbacks. And sure enough, all three of them are among the Satanic Six.

The Sox hooked up with Mass Mutual. Remarkably bland, and a name obviously geared to the Catholic audience in Boston.
The Astros are all in with climate destroyer and profiteering fossil fuel purveyor Occidental Petroleum. Known as OXY, which is no doubt a nod to the drug of choice for Astros fans. Couldn't they find a sponsor whose nickname is METH?

The Dbacks will sport Avnet logos. Electronic components. Because the team is so electrifying, I guess. (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

As for the Angels, I'll never forgive them for Rally Monkeys. As horrible a development as Rally Towels, Rally Caps, and The Wave. Plus, they have Mr. Hype Ohtani, the greatest baseball player of all time (Family Guy puke gif here). But with the star power of Oh!Tani and Trout, who do they manage to attract as a uniform sponsor? Foundation Building Materials, the continent's leading distributor of drywall, steel framing, acoustic ceilings and construction supplies. Glamour, thy name is L.A.

The Padres have blown so much money on their lineup, they're either to be despised for making it seem like they need the extra ad dough or they really do need the extra ad dough. Either way, kind of despicable. (Say it like Daffy Duck, it's all they deserve.) And the Motorola logo clashes with the uniform.

The Reds at least went with Kroger, which seems fitting for their minimum wage-type roster (minus Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas, who obviously broke the Bank of Cincinnati). It's hard to hate a team that's projected to spend $82 million on their entire payroll--a little over half of which goes to their two "big signings." Sad.

Of course, we know Hal doesn't need the money, so the Yankees will not look like NASCAR this year. But then, we also know that Hal is a greedy, silver spoon fuckhead who doesn't care about baseball or winning championships, so ya gotta figure there's a big Tide Pods logo coming for  every Yankees' ass sooner or later.


Doomsday Clock: Part Two

Look, I get it. 

The game needed to be sped up for all kinds of valid reasons. Like I wrote yesterday, it was just my first impression but, and this will sound strange... I actually like the slower pace and the space it provides.  

Not the blather, not an excess of space, but space. Time to reset. Time to think.

I understand that I'm not most people. In the long run and for the "health of the game" the clock is an improvement but, commenter Cabish47 said yesterday, “Our engaged minds will speed up to appreciate situations.” And he or she is right. It’s a good point.

However, I don't really want my engaged mind to speed up to appreciate situations. I get enough of that with everything else.

One of the things that bothers me about watching basketball and hockey is that I actually have to watch it. With baseball my mind is allowed to roam.

Baseball is a vacation for me. A daily opportunity to slow it down. To let the drama build gradually as opposed to being smacked in the face with it.  The expectation that rides on every pitch, each more important than the last…  

It's that level of engagement, those moments, that drew me to the game in the first place. Its why baseball is my favorite sport. I feel like I really know the players and the exquisite anticipation of their success or failure IS the entertainment.

This is just a personal preference.

A quick story...  When New Yankee Stadium first opened I took my then ten year old son to New Yankee Stadium and the game was the least interesting thing there. New Yankee Stadium is a Yankee themed shopping mall. A Vegas hotel.  

Every moment was filled with “entertainment”. There was no space, no silence for me to talk baseball with my son. It was like being in the middle of video game. He was engaged by it all and I realized that the stadium was built for him not me. 

So, yeah I get it, and it had to be done but, baseball was always considered to be a “thinking man’s game.” That kind of thinking needs time and space.

Now it’s just going to be "entertainment", like everything else.  


Greta Thunberg should cover the Yankees, because she could sum up the spring message: "Blah-blah-blah..."

Sorry, if I sound cynical. The Death Barge won twice yesterday. They beat the Braves and Jays, playoff contenders, and, apparently, no one tweaked a body part. This should inspire hope or, at least, help to dilute the lingering scent of last October's 0-4 sweep. Begone, ye Ryan McBroom!

The opening of spring training regularly unleashes an avalanche of crapola, and the Yankees yesterday offered split squad snow jobs. 


And on and on. As Greta T would say, "Blah-blah-blah..."

So... what happened yesterday? There is no way to measure meaninglessness. It's all the same. Against the Braves, it looked like this... 

Gleyber is now 4-for-5. (If he has a hot spring, which now seems almost assured, would Cashman trade him?) Deivi Garcia - the ex-Yankee Pedro, now in his last option with the team - threw two shutout innings. (If he looks good, can they get anything in a trade?) Spencer Jones - the next Judge, at least walking off the bus - looked a bit overmatched. Two ABs, two Ks. (Can they rebrand him?) And Clarke Schmidt has a new pitch. He looked unstoppable, unhittable, unbelievable... in other words, blah... blah... blah...

Meanwhile, against Toronto, we saw a team crafted from the Somerset roster...

When you see a lineup that includes Max Burt, you wipe your eyes. I remember a Jim Burt, a DL for the Super Bowl Giants back in 1986. Stud nose-tackle. All pro. This guy, Max, plays 3B, is 26 years old and hit .205 at Double A last year. Was drafted out of college at Northeastern. Max Burt, everybody. Donno if they're related. But how many Burts are out there?

Okay, the big meaningless story: Anthony Volpe went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases. Nice opening, but I shudder to think of the Toronto pitching. (Matt Peacock! The Fernandez boys, Julian and Junior! Hagen Danner!) Most of these guys won't survive the first cuts. In levels of meaninglessness, this is a summit. From here we can almost see across the Atlantic. In fact, I can make out a teenage girl, standing on a mountain. She's waving her hands. She's yelling something. Listen... it sounds like "Blah..." 

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Doomsday Clock

First Impressions…

Not about the Yankees. About baseball.

Granted it has only been one game, but it was the first time I’ve seen the rule changes implemented. The main one, the one that is going to both save and destroy the game of baseball, is the clock. 

Pastoral timeless baseball is dead. The spaces between the action, where we relax into game, ponder the situations, build tension… gone.

The clock removes the beauty, the opportunity to appreciate a play, to THINK… gone.

Instead, it moves like a freight train. It was like watching using the “Condensed Game” feature on replay. It barely registered. 1-2-3 innings are over in the time it takes to eat a hot dog.

Maybe I’ll get used to it, but I did not like it. I felt rushed and baseball is supposed to be the opposite of rushed.

The Broadcasts Are Going To Be Different

I was forced to watch the Phillies broadcast yesterday and, being the first game of Spring Training, there were some bugs but, the one major takeaway was, there is no time in-between the pitches to do anything.

There was barely any time to show a replay, much less from a couple of angles. That great stab by the shortstop? Might as well have been a Jalon Brunson spinning drive to the hoop ending in a reverse layup. Great while you see it but on the next thing.

There was no time to tell a story.  Even a short anecdote could take two or three batters to complete.

All I could think of was that the YES three-man booth is going to get very weird as everybody tries to get their schtick in what is now, an absurdly tight window.

This is both good and bad. Mostly bad.

Good, in that it will cut down on the prattle. Bad, in that we won’t get the history, the perspective, the humor, the banter, and in the case of John and Suzyn the complaining and occasional show tune.  

There can never be another Vin Scully weaving the game into a greater story about life. No Rizzuto talking about calzones. No Paul O’Neil making fun of the size of Michael Kay’s head. (Actually, I’m OK with that last one). 

The personality of the booth… gone.

And, when you lose the stories, the history, the situation, the contemplation, and the relaxation, then baseball as we know and love it… gone.

---

MLB Just Screwed Itself Big Time

Yes, the game now fits in under three hours making it easy to program. Yes, the faster pace does make for a game that fits the modern attention span and yes, there was a part of me that was happy to watch a whole game and then get on with my life. So there’s that.

But, the Lords of Baseball made one mistake. One Huge Mistake that will undermine their greedy little plans to monetize every aspect of the game…

There is no time to get a bet down. No time for their precious in-game, in-at-bat wagers. The game moves too fast.  Maybe that plays into their plans. Maybe without the time to contemplate whether the pitcher is getting tired or not betters will make more wrong choices but a 15 second clock between pitches just isn’t enough time to answer the phone much less place a bet on it.

Good. Screw them. Maybe they'll slow the game down again.

---

Last

The bigger bases are a plus. They may look huge but apparently they only shorten the distance by 4 ½ inches. I say that’s bupkis and it’s better to give the modern ballplayer and their larger feet the extra room.


Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

And so it began: 

An afternoon of nothingness, wrapped in hope and scented with fantasy. 

The Martian came through. Gleyber came through. Both hit homers. (Note: It's time for The Master to retire his "Like a good Gleyber, Torres is there" homer holler. It's the worst call in Sterling's library, and it's got to go.) The Yankees did basically nothing else offensively: Oswaldo, IKF and a kid named Jake Bauers each got hits. Our batters put balls into play - only five strikeouts and two walks, and nobody used the newly enlarged bases to steal second. 

In the end, a string of no-name pitchers - the law firm of Snelten, Danish and Fitts -  gave up four runs to the powerful Phillies of Clearwater. (With former Yank farmhand Jake Cave taking vengeance on his exes with two hits.) 

If you're looking for concerns, here's a small one: RH pitcher Randy Vaquez - who threw a no-hitter in his last 2022 appearance at Double A, and who was given a moonshot chance at the No. 5 starter slot - got cuffed around: Six hits, a walk and two earned runs over one long inning. Such an outing might not completely kill Vasquez's chances of making the team, but his odds are somewhere around those of Putin winning the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Still, who cares? Opening day of the Grapefruit Season is when Zolio Almonte hit home runs and made us think he could be a viable option. On that same note:  Estevan Florial went 0-for-2, though he didn't strike out. This is the most important month of Florial's Yankee career. He either makes the team out of merit, or they put him out with the red tide.  

And so it begins. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Of course...

IKF leads off... At least Donaldson isn't batting clean up... Yet.

Well, we made it. At long last there's baseball to watch. Unless you live in NYC then you're out of luck. So to sum up... IKF leading off, no one in NY can watch... got it. Plus, the beginning of the Jake Bauers era! 

Here is your game thread.


Let's hope Jasson hits at least one today.  Any thought's on what Sterling's HR call will be? 







Today, for better or worse, in the meaningless universe of spring training, the legend of Jasson Dominguez begins anew

Well, here we go again, Martian style...

Last time Jasson Dominguez appeared in a minor league game, he had what you might call a manifestation. 

It was last fall, the same night that Aaron Judge hit his 62nd HR. Dominguez led the Somerset Patriots to the Eastern League playoffs championship game, hitting two HRs - one from each side - and driving in six runs - a career high - in a 15-0 rout of the dreaded Erie Whateverthefucks. 

For three years, Yank fans had navigated an avalanche of ridiculous hype over a Latino teen millionaire signee - arguably the most money ever paid to a 16-year-old that didn't involve Kevin Spacey - with a press agent's fantasy nickname, "The Martian." We ate it with a knife and fork, even though we knew we were being played. 

For three years we watched the kid turn from a fleet, lithe CF into a musclebound fireplug, wondering if we were watching the next Mickey Mantle or the next Mickey Rourke. Then Dominguez had The Game. 

Get this: After Dominguez homered in his first two at bats - both of them moon shots - so pants-pissing traumatized was Erie that he received the kind of treatment designed for Judge or Barry Bonds. 

Next time up, he was walked on four pitches with the bases loaded. 

Next time after that, on a 3-1 count, Dominguez swung at a pitch out of the strike zone, grounding to first. 

In the eighth, his final shot at a three-homer game, he was again walked on four pitches. Basically, they became Lake Erie.  

Over five Eastern League postseason games, the 19-year-old Dominguez went 9 for 20 with three HRs, four extra base hits, five walks, seven runs scored and 10 RBIs.

And today he will start in the outfield against Philadelphia. 

As of today, I am officially leaning into the Dominguez hype beast. I know it's crapola. I know it's potentially mind-rotting, that it could ruin the kid, and that almost nothing good likely will come from it. Dominguez still must prove himself at Double A and then Scranton. He still strikes out too often (about 30 percent of the time.) He's a year away, at best.

Last year, over three levels of minor league ball, Dominguez batted .273 with 16 HRs and  37 SBs. Those are not the numbers of stardom. But he's ours, we've watched him from a tadpole, he just turned 20 two weeks ago, and he's the only guy I've ever heard of with an extraterrestrial nickname. 

So, we all have a choice here. We can be stupidly optimistic or conveniently cynical. Take your pick. Either way, he's there for us to watch: Another great diversion known as baseball. I don't know how many more years I'll have to root for the Yankees, and whether I will live long enough to see a championship team - or a homegrown star. Dominguez surely might prove to be nothing. But we might as well enjoy every moment. We have ring side seats, and a whole community to weigh in with.

And today, it begins anew. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Calling Matt Nokes: The Yankees have a major hole behind the plate

Turns out that "Bad News Ben" Rortvedt, the human pin cushion, has far worse than a bum finger: Those tingles he reported last week stemmed from an aneurism in his shoulder. He had surgery yesterday. Let's wish him well. (Hilarious snarky comments deleted.)   

But but BUT... here's the thing: 

We. Are. Screwed. 

The Rort will miss a couple months. He was our No. 3 catcher. Now? Well, No. 3 is just a concept. Here's the current depth chart (as proposed by Mike Axisa, in his Patreon site; subscribe to it):

Yankees: Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka (Fun Fact: Both will play in the World Baseball Classic, so who catches spring training?) 

Scranton Railriders
: Josh Breaux, Rodolfo DurĂ¡n and Mickey Gasper 

Somerset: Austin Wells and Anthony Seigler 

High-A Hudson Valley: Antonio Gomez and Carlos Narvaez

Low-A Tampa: Agustin Ramirez, Alex Guerrero, anybody with a pulse

Question: What here gives us hope? 

Trevino spent the second half of 2022 reverting into a pumpkin. Higgy has never hit outside of spring training. We're a tweaked gonad away from Mickey "The Gasp" Gasper, age 27, who hit .266 last year at Somerset, and 5'9" Rudolfo Duran (aka "Hands of Stone?") who hit .222 there. (Note: It's possible that Gasper ranks Number 3 on the All-Time Yankee Mickey List, behind Mickey Klutts and some other guy.) There's talk about Austin Wells - he of the mystery bruised ribs - but Wells is a legitimate prospect who needs Triple A experience. They could traumatize the kid by bringing him up too soon.

Meanwhile, nobody - NOBODY - is going to trade us a catcher, unless his fingers are tingling, and even then, they'll demand a pallet of Ozempic in return. The situation looks so dire that we may actually be pondering the return of Gary Sanchez, the man who invented "Defensive Indifference." 

The bottom third of our Opening Day batting order could easily be Aaron Hicks, IKF and Higgy. Great time to make a sandwich.  

So, tell me, please... what gives us hope? Show of hands? Class? Anyone?

Okay, here's my cheeriest thought. Dumpster diving was always Cooperstown Cashman's greatest skill. Some 30something dude will get sent to Salt Lake City or Armadillo, and Cashman will be on him like ketchup on Tatter Tots.  

Somewhere out there, some team is sitting on our No. 3. Nobody knows it yet. But he's out there. And he might just be the most important player we add this spring. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Birthday to Remember


Let's all bring Mustang a cherry pie for his birthday.

I realize that cake is more traditional, but Mustang is not traditional. 

Have an exceptional slice, Mustang.

And stop worrying about our pitching staff.  

Worry about our catchers.

Humbug - numbers don't tell the tale.


 Judge will have a major decline. 

 His worst category will be stolen bases.  Of which he will have 7.

You can look up my HR forecast, or I can give it to you here:

39 HRs and 39 RBIs resulting therefrom ( is this one word or two?)

He may get a few more RBIs from bases loaded situations, where he walks in a run. These will be offset by the number of times he is thrown out trying to score from second. Net zero. 

 I think he has 2 errors in the outfield this season, and 11 assists. May earn a gold glove if he plays in RF only.

My " over and under" for  days on IR ( not necessarily consecutive) is 25.   I am taking the over. 

 He will have a problem with his batting thumb.  Or another largish digit. 

He will start using a lighter bat in August. 

We'll start hearing a lot about his girlfriend in September. 

No contract extension or raise at the conclusion of this season.

NY Times scientific chart shows Aaron Judge probably won't hit 62 HRs again this year.

 


Let's have a little Judge and Jury contest.

I'm saying he hits 52 HRs.

First tie-breaker is average. (He hit .311 last year.)

I'm saying .293.

Second tie-breaker is RBIs. (Last year, 131.)

I'm going with 122.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ben Rortvedt has a barking finger, and Yank fans may be ready to shout, "Chop it off."

It's his middle finger. The one given us by Fate. 

So... where to start? Frankly, you don't need to hear me whine about Ben Rortvedt - of the bulging biceps and multi-consonants - who missed most of 2022 with a cavalcade of injuries, including knee surgery. We hoped his bad luck was over. Now, we have to wonder. 

Some poor guys just lurk in that Twilight Zone dimension, always on the snake-bitten fringe, flittering at the precipice of the 40-man roster, always seeking to return to a place where they have never been. Think of Mike Pence, for example. Or Colter Bean. The Rort might just be one of those players, their begotten souls eternally consigned to walk the Earth in pain and suffering, while we check their weekly stats in Scranton.

This week, Rortvedt's inability to take the field prompted some strange crosscurrents in the Yankiverse: 

1. Get this: The Yanks are listed as one of several potential landing strips for Gary Sanchez, the former Kraken, whom we traded last winter for Rortvedt. Frankly, this seems absurd. Is Salvador Dali blogging about the Yankees? 

Gary, now 30, hit .205 with 16 HRs last year with Minnesota - enough for the Twins to punt on him. One possible positive: He was charged with only four passed balls in 91 games - (he had 18 in 76 in 2019, when Yank fans began to boo.) Gary last year suffered 27 wild pitches - (his career high was 60, in 2021.) Not bad. Has he finally figured out how to block pitches? Or did he simply have friendly Gammonites in the scorer's booth? 

Either way, former Yankee stars always return home someday, but Gary might be too young for his Old Timers Day reunion. 

2. Prospect Austin Wells generated ink this week after arriving in camp with bruised ribs, a mystery ailment that makes you wonder: WTF? Was he playing football? Skiing? Breakdancing. I don't recall an explanation for his bruises. It's probably nothing, none of our business. Still, bruised ribs? 

Wells was the 28th overall pick in the 2020 draft. He supposedly can hit with power, and he's a lefty bat. All of the above make him an important possibility this year, assuming his ribs can avoid bruises. Snowmobile accident? Bar fight? Roller derby?Bruised ribs? 

3. The status quo: Jose Trevino and Kyle Higashioka. Both are popular, in part, because they've never let us down. We simply had no expectations. Nobody figured Trevino to hit his weight and make the all-star squad. He was the feel-good Yankee of the first-half. And despite leading the team in HRs last spring, Higashioka never drew comparisons to Elston Howard (as Sanchez did in his  rookie breakout.) Still, it would be nice to have a lefty hitter option at catcher, which is where the Rort supposedly came in.

So, is Rortvedt damned for eternity? Obviously, it's too early to say. And a finger is a finger - not a big toe, as with DJ. I wish Rortburger no harm, but - damn - he needs a solid spring. A bad finger isn't going to cut it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

I will never complain about IKF again




Manny Machado a free agent? Yankee fans can hardly hide their excitement! There is, however, the past...

Manny Machado's potential free agency - baseball's version of the Doomsday glacier - could hit MLB next winter, and - holy cow, everybody! - some Gammonites say he might become a Yankee!

Yessiree, bob. Reports say Frugal Hal Steinbrenner and his hall of fame brain trust could go ALL-IN next winter, if Machado opts out of his 10-year-deal with San Diego. (And aside from prison inmates, who spends 10 years in San Diego? Seriously, how many times can you visit Sea World?) According to the internet, the Yankees "flirted" with Manny four years ago, when he last limp-legged the open market. 

"Flirted." That's the word. The Yankees "flirted" with Machado in the way that Vladimir Putin flirts with the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, their Pete Davidson/Whatever Still Walks romance was never meant to be. Ahh, such golden moments..

Remember how Manny and  Bryce Harper both came a-courtin' to Gotham, hoping to coax shy Hal Belle out of her shell? Machado's wife wanted to live in her home town, NYC. Harper had famously grown up a Yank fan and sought to fulfil his childhood dreams. The Yankees took each out to dinner, then skipped out through a back door, ran home and hid under their beds, screaming "LALALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" until the phones stopped clanging. 

The House of Steinbrenner - the former mighty powerhouse, built on money and fueled with bombast - never made an offer, terrified that Machado or Harper would accept.

So, now, four years later, we're supposed to believe the Yanks would be all-in on Machado next year? Yeah, and I'm the Easter Bunny. 

The Yankees have now sat out through two straight winters, each loaded with all-star free agent shortstops, because a kid named Anthony Volpe had a breakout 2021 season in Single A. You'd think he was the Second Coming of Number 2, which is a hell of a boulder to pile on a 20-year-old. (That said, Volpe is the second-most hyped Yankee prospect: The "Martian," Jasson Dominguez, has received even more ink.) Last year, around now, they were lowballing Aaron Judge, hoping to snag him at a bargain price. He shamed them by hitting 62 HRs, and, in November, they still nearly lost Judge to San Francisco.

Look... I don't mean to always end up whining about Prince Hal. For one thing, it gets tiring. For another, he did step up this winter - spending big on Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Carlos Rodon. But let's not kid ourselves: New York has one big-spending goliath, and it ain't us, anymore. We can fantasize Machado in pinstripes, but the Death Barge let him slide four years ago, and they won't outbid the world for him next year.

Let's hope Volpe is worth the wait. In the meantime, let's be real about how much more Hal will spend. The holes on this current team - LF, SS, 3B - will be filled with whatever we already have. And come next winter, we'll be hiding under the bed once again. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Charles Schulz Foresees Modern Yankee Reality

 

Peanuts, 1961



Boone Appetit!


Hope Week continues: DJ says his troubled bigtoe is good to go

Generally, when it comes to complex medical matters, I try to break things down to the simplest terms, so the bootless and uneducated among you can follow along. Unfortunately, to do justice to today's clinical matter, I must get a bit precise, in terms of predisposed nomenclature, heretofore. 

Over winter, DJ LeMahieu chose against having bigtoe surgery.  

This was no easy decision. DJ had recruited a top big toe surgeon with a pedigree in bigtoe work: bigtoe-ectomys, big toe reductions, bigtoe enhancements and cosmetic bigtoe bunion lifts. He was on the verge of dipping his bigtoe into the surgical waters, so to speak, but in the end, he told el bigtoe, "Hell, no!" He'd keep his old bigtoe, warts and all, and let the healing balm of Mother Time weave her bigtoe-saving magic.

Apparently, DJ's old bigtoe - the one that hits .330 - is back!   








Listen: It's a given that Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole are the two biggest bigtoes on the Yankee foot brigade. If either accidentally chops off a bigtoe, say, in a tragic kitchen accident, we're screwed. If all four bigtoes stay healthy - (remember: each man has two) - we have a shot. But beyond those two key cogs, the 2023 Yankees face a pair of widely divergent scenarios:

1. A healthy and happy DJ bigtoe. He bats leadoff, hits .320 and plays 140 games at 3B, 2B and 1B, wherever needed. This is the team to beat in the AL East.

2. An angry and barking DJ bigtoe. He hits .250, requires special socks, and often hops on one foot, running the bases. This team chases the AL wild card.

We can talk wistfully about the bigtoes of Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe, and we can dread the return of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh "No Show Toe" Donaldson, but it is LeMahieu's mammoth foot walrus that solves nearly all our infield toe woes - or leaves us with no sure solution.

Today, the bigtoe feels crackingly fine. Cross your fingers. And toes. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Who said it?

Jesus H. Christmas, we really are in Spring Training, aren't we? Okay, riddle me this:


“I’m really excited about this year and our team. I think the front office did a really good job getting the pieces we needed.”


Ah, the delightful optimism of early spring: It's already Hope Week in Tampa.

 Setback Sevy is smelling the paycheck!


Scrap heap journeyman Nick Ramirez has developed an unhittable slider!


Wait a minute. Clarke Schmidt has a nasty new cutter!


Speaking of Nastiness, don't forget Nestor!

Barney Miller's Fish predicts a great year!
Don't forget the potential breakouts. These guys could be grrreat!

It's Superstar Sunday in Tampa, the first true signs of spring. The first bullpen session - nothing but filth! The first HRs in BP - those balls were crushed! The first looks at strapping youngsters - that guy must be from Mars. 

We're not so old and craggy that this day shall go uncherished. Today, everyone is happy. Everyone is safe. Everyone is on the cusp of a great season. Here's to newly discovered unhittable pitches! 




Saturday, February 18, 2023

The modern all-time "Looked-Weird-in-Pinstripes" Team.

 From a thread on Reddit: 

C - Ivan Rodriguez

1B - Lyle Overbay 

2B - Brian Roberts

SS - Tulo

3B - Youk

RF - Ichiro

LF - Lance Berkman

CF - Kenny Lofton

DH - Jose Canseco  

SP - Randy Johnson

RP - Flash Gordon


(Hon Mention: Tim Raines, Kerry Wood, Andrew McCutcheon, many many more.) 

Friday, February 17, 2023

As the quote machines rev, a new season takes shape, and the Yankees are very, very, very hopeful

Fielding media mush balls yesterday, Aaron Boone proved himself in Midseason Orwellian Newspeak Form. Here is the Skipper, bubbling with enthusiasm after disclosing that Frankie Montas will miss most of 2023. 

“Anytime you have some attrition, especially at this time of year when you have pitcher injuries, that always scares you. But it’s also a part of the team that I have a ton of confidence in. I feel like our rotation, on paper — and I caution we’re in the middle of February right now, but I’m excited about their potential impact and what they can be. I’m also really excited about the depth of our bullpen.”

Yeah, and I'm really excited about another year of Boonie Bullshit. When the Death Barge re-signed him last November, it guaranteed another season of hearing him gush over somebody's "take" on a pitch or throw from LF. Whatever happens, Boone's nightly hostage video will assure us that all is fine. Trouble is, when every day is Christmas, there is no Christmas. And when all the news is hope, there is none. 

Don't gemme wrong. Every team has problems. But thus far, damn... Day One, we lose Nestor Cortez through early April. Day Two, we lose our 4th starter for the year. Day Three? That's - gulp - today, and excuse me if I soak my head in a bucket of ice water. 

Thus far, some whispery narratives of spring:

1. The loss of Montas may have put a fatal crimp in Top Secret Classified Yankee plans to trade for Brian Reynolds. The Pirates want a Mike Trout package in exchange for Reynolds, who is not Mike Trout, and I gotta believe Cooperstown Cashman dreads the possibility of another horrible, awful, no-good trade. Over the last 12 months, he's had a string of boners. Montas was just the cherry on top.

Over the years, Cashman has shown the career survival skills of Rasputin. But if he blows another massive trade - damn - somebody's gotta walk. I think that's why Cashman surrounded himself with retired executives: They're expendable. Nobody can survive another big bad deal. And I think the likelihood of any major trade has just fallen. 

2. Lately, there have been suggestions that if Anthony Volpe goes wild in Tampa, he'll force himself, Jeter-like, into the Opening Day scrum. This is fun to imagine. It is also pure fantasy. The Yankees won't bring Volpe north for Opening Day. They'll limit his contractual service timetable for future arbitration cases. The realistic hope is Volpe arriving by midsummer. 

For now, that puts the focus squarely on Oswald Peraza. He must show MLB-worthy defense at SS and win the position, hands down. Anything less, and the Yankees have a big hole in their lineup. 

3. Soon, maybe today, we'll hear from Gleyber Torres. Wednesday, he tweeted that he has ignored social media since November, and that he has a kid. Good for him. 

Gleyber is 26, and my guess is that, over the last three months, he's been offered to every MLB team except Boston, because the Yankees would never trade him there. He hit 24 HRs last year, despite a rough July and August. For months, he has been the biggest trade chip at Cashman's disposal. 

If the tea leaves ring true, and Montas' injury has lessened the chance of a big trade, Gleyber is here to stay. Interesting.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Why We're Better Than Last Year

I'll play contrarian, or as Val Kilmer said in Tombstone, “I’m your huckleberry.” and don't worry, we're still nowhere good enough to beat the Asstros. 

As Alan Price sang in O’ Lucky Man:

Hope springs eternal in a young man’s breast

And he dreams for a better life ahead.

Without that hope you are nothing, nothing, nothing…

You’ve got to find out for yourself that dream is dead.

The Outfield is Better!

Right Field

Judge is Judge

Will he hit 70? Maybe on the Deegan late at night but not in the HR race.

That said, he will still provide no small number of good at bats and perhaps, as one of the faces of baseball and newly anointed Yankee Captain, start to get the benefit of those “strike” calls at his shin.R

But the main reason is… Judge now gets to play ALL his games in right field, saving his legs and making that position better than every time he had to play center because...

Bader is Better!

Better than Hicks. Better than the Ghost of Gardy and defensively, better than Judge, who was no slouch.

Supposedly he is one of, if not THE, best defensive centerfielders in the game. That’s runs saved. He also hit in the playoffs (Alas, he was really the only one) He wants to play well for his hometown team and he will. This year he takes to another level. Oh, and it’s his walk year.  Yeah we only get one year of him – (Cashman! Grrrrr.)

Left Field is Left Field. But…

Gallo is ALREADY GONE! That’s a half year of unbelievably bad at bats off the books. Whoever they shove out there will be better. Even Hicks. But it won’t be Hicks. At least not as much as we saw Gallo. Remember GALLO?  Yeah…. We’re better.

The Infield is Better

Rizzo is Rizzo+

I added the plus because that’s what we do now. Like when the kidz added a Z to everything to make it cooler.

Competence thy name is Rizzo. A real first baseman. The Judge whisperer. Oh, and this the real reason he will be better. No shift! No shift means at least another 10-15 balls that were caught by the beer league short fielder will now drop in.

Shortstop will be WAY better

I have to do shortstop before second for reasons you will understand.

Peraza is the shortstop. He is SO much better than IKF both in the field and with his bat. He will either start all year making it a vastly improved position or give way to Volpe.

Either one is fine with me. IKF is not going to be the shortstop unless there are injuries.

All the 2nd Base options are good

Gleyber stays - He was OK.  Not great. Not bad.  A wash.

Gleyber goes - For an upgrade in left field.

DJ is the starting 2B – It is his best position.

Peraza is bumped to 2B – Because the #7 prospect in baseball has established himself at SS.

Cabera is the back up 2B because let’s not forget about him either.  

3B is better

As much as I hate Donaldson he supposedly did a really good job defensively. He’s crossed the tipping point with me so it’s hard for me to recognize anything good about him but I suspect that DJ will get more games at 3rd especially if the Yankees are covered at 2B and I believe they are.

More DJ means more offense while providing solid D at third. So better.

---

The Catcher will be more of the same. Maybe a little worse since we can't count on a great first half by Trevino.

So all that’s left is pitching.

The Pitching is Better 

The starters are better

Cole = Cole

Rodon = Big improvement! 

Sevi = Until he’s hurt is Sevi. Was #2 now #3.

Nestor =  Nestor. The injury was a fake way to bow out of the the WBC. Was #3 now #4. That's right. Nestor is #4. What other rotation has an All Star at #4? 

5th Starter?   Doesn’t matter really.  I think Montas would have sucked anyway.  Doesn’t absolve Cashman. Worst. Deadline. Trades. Ever. But, the Yankees will fill in somehow.

Bullpen is MUCH better

Why? Two Words. No Chapman. 



Frankie Montas - aka the latest of Cashman's Cuties - casts a sudden cloud over the 2023 Yankees

Yesterday's news, however painful, did not taze anyone who has followed Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman's career over the last five presidential administrations. They foresaw the asteroid:

Projected 4th starter Frankie "Sonny" Montas will undergo shoulder surgery next week, which means...

1. He will almost surely miss all of 2023.

2. Along with Nestor Cortez's hammy, the Yank rotation is down by 2/5, without a pitch being thrown.

3. The Union of Concerned Yank fans has moved the Yankee Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight (aka Yankeegeddon.)

4. Cashman's amazing string of bad pitching acquisitions remains intact.

5. The odds have risen that Cashman will need to trade for pitching. (For context, see #4)

Lately, I've detected a strange undercurrent of hope among the Gammonites, bloggers and homeless internet whack-jobs who follow the Yankees. For some reason, the Yankees seemed to have "won" the AL East this winter, and I wondered, WTF? 

Now, I admit that we at It Is High have a tendency to dwell upon the misery side of Yankee life. I plead guilty, with a note of pride: We are a fan base that demands world championships, not postseason appearances. To us, a mere winning record is a travesty. The only successful season is one that ends in a ring. Got that?   

What I see today is the same basic Yankee team that played .500 over the second half of 2022. It's a roster of china dolls and underachievers, wrapped around a superstar. We kept last year's stars - Judge and Rizzo, swapped Carlos Rodon for Jameson Taillon, and dumped El Chapo for Tommy Kahnle. But with the news about Montas, Cashman's hard-won reputation remains intact.

He cannot judge pitching. 

The landscape is strewn with wreckage. Michael Pineda. Sonny Gray. Christian Vasquez, twice. He traded Mike Lowell for four young arms, Gary Sheffield for three. He gave it up for Kevin Brown, Kenny Rogers, Jared Wright, Jose Contreras, Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano and early Nathan Eovaldi. He signed an ancient Randy Johnson, a declining Roger Clemens, the too early/too late Bartolo Colon - don't get me started - while Boston traded for aces such as Josh Beckett, Chris Sale, and late Eovaldi. Should we feel nervous about Gerrit Cole's health, or that Boston is planning a rotation built on former Yanks: James Paxton, Corey Kluber and Garret Whitlock?

We haven't even opened camp, and we're down two starters.

S.O.S.