Friday, March 31, 2023

Looks like The Martian won't start 2023 in Scranton

Here are the outfielders listed on the newly updated Railrider roster. Note that the youngest "kid" in the OF is Matt Pita, who'll soon turn 26.  

A great opener and a wonderful day, though there were those - gulp - 32 strikeouts

Yesterday, 62 batters in sunlit Yankee Stadium strode expectantly to home plate for about two minutes. Thirty-two of them then trudged back to the dugout, without putting a ball into play.  

So much for the defensive over-shift ban lifting offense.

I don't mean to carp, because

a) the Yankees won
b) the Redsocks lost
c) the Mets' Justin Verlander tweaked something, and
d) Aaron Judge homered.

Still, 32 Ks. That's more than an hour of watching pitchers and catchers. The millennial bartender who served Stang and me told us how little he cared about baseball, seeing how boring and lifeless it looked. And 32 Ks would not change his mind. 

(As for Stang and me, we were stunned by the dizzying pace of play - so fast that we often could not catch our breaths, and nearly passed out, trying to keep pace. It was like trying to watch a nuclear reaction, so swiftly and simultaneously did everything happen. Fortunately, our hearts did not explode, trying to keep up with the frantic speed.)

Both teams contributed 16. The Yankees were led by Oswaldo Cabrera (coming off a great spring) with a Golden Sombrero,  DJ LeMahiue (who is supposed to almost never fan) with three, and Jose Trevino and Jackie Donaldson with two apiece. 

(Idea for Bruce Springsteen, who I'm told reads this blog and comments regularly under the name "Doug K:" In your ongoing tour, change your iconic song "Forty One Shots" to "Thirty Two Ks.") 

More money-making observations:

1. Gleyber Torres, who we figured was a goner in a trade, turned out to be yesterday's star. This is his contract year, and the fulcrum point to possibly being a career Yankee. (I view him as such, even though he came from the Cubs as a dirt leaguer.)  But something has to give. The Yanks have too many infielders - how strange, Gleyber as DH? If he reverts to a 35-HR hitter, it could save him in NYC and dramatically change the dynamics of this team. 

2. Today, as the Yankees rest, the eyes of the Yankiverse turn to Scranton, where the Railriders open against the Whogivesafuck Isuredonts. Everyone is pondering the same unponderable: Did The Martian - nicknamed "Jasson Dominguez" - make the Triple A roster? Odds are he'll start in Somerset, which launches next week. But the Yankees have challenged him in the past. Would they dare start him in Scranton? We'll know soon.

3. Wandy Peralta looked shaky in the seventh, as he looked all spring. Not ready to sound alarms, but The Wand was the only LH in our bullpen yesterday, and if he has a problem, we have a problem. 

What isn't a problem? The lefty who is gone. How wonderful - a bullpen without Aroldis Chapman, the Human Waterfall! How soothing it was to know Boone would not call on El Chapo in the ninth, endangering the five-run lead. With old Mr. Sweatstream, no lead was ever safe. I don't wish bad things for him - (he didn't pitch for KC yesterday) - but the Yankees kept him for two years beyond his sell-by date, and last October's diva-like meltdown can never be forgotten. No more Chappy fanning the first two batters, then walking the next five. I'll never miss that.

Finally, here's the diff yesterday between NYC's teams.

The Yankees 

The Mets 

Thursday, March 30, 2023



Goodbye Cruel World, It's Opening Day


The gods place bets with loaded dice,
And all our earthly dreams betray,
But listen to one clown's advice,
Goodbye, cruel world; it’s opening day.

The politicians scrounge for power,
With consequences we shall pay.
But somewhere, it's our finest hour,
Goodbye, cruel world; it's opening day.

Our weary age is full of war,
The daily news brings dark dismay,
So surf the dreams worth living for,
Goodbye, cruel world; it’s opening day.

-- 2008 --

Predictions, predictions, "bold" predictions...

In recent days, to bring you an honest, robust and spiritually scientific evaluation of the '23 Yankees, I...  

1. Ran a season simulation with the new AIChatBot
2. Played an entire year with APBA cards
3. Licked several South American toads
4. Spent a night under a Gwyneth Paltrow vagina-scented candle
5. Astral-contacted the late Buckminster Fuller
6. Binged the entire library of Mickey Rourke movies
7. Ate 50 eggs in an hour.
8. Slept with George Will 

The result: I am exhausted. (George, you stallion!) Let the games begin!

So... write this down. Here is what will happen in 2023: 

1. Yank pitching will be a disaster. Gerrit Cole will tweak something - he's 32, going on 40 - and miss two months. That will thrust the weight of the Yankiverse onto Nasty Nestor, who will tweak something and miss two months. Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German will fill in capably, until they tweak somethings and miss two months. The bullpen will be strong, until everybody down to Tanner Tully tweaks body parts we've never heard of, and misses two months. By then, I'll have stepped on a rake, tweaked my brain and be rerunning Mickey Rourke's Angel Heart

I wonder: Will any pitcher EVER again throw 240 innings? Considering the wave of MLB rule changes - all to boost offense - I believe 2023 will be a colossal train wreck for pitching staffs. To compensate, they will throw harder. Beware the tweaks. 

2. Aaron Judge will hit 63 HRs, finishing second. Remember when Mark "Vitamins" McGwire broke the Ruth/Maris HR event horizon? Soon, all the HR records were not just broken: They were demolished. We still don't know how to process Sammy Sosa's totals. This will be an explosive year for hitters, and HR records will fly out windows, as balls fly out onto parking lots. Ohtani might hit 70; Harper, 60, Devers, 40, Donaldson, 30. Even Giancarlo might pile up stats, beyond exit velo. The rule changes will turn games into derbies. Good hitters will have great seasons. Imagine career years for everybody. Scary, eh? They sought to shorten the length of games. But 12-to-11 contests will still run five hours.   

3. Cashman will sit in the corner, gun shy. He must be secretly terrified of what happened last August, when his deals killed us. Had he done nothing - no Effross, no Frankie the Yankee - we'd be far better off. It's revealing that Cashman has surrounded himself with GM tribal elders, including Brian Sabean, who left the Yankees many championships ago. Like a fading slugger, he needs protection in the order.

In recent years, Cashman always made deadline deals by the bunch, building teams based on contracts as much as personnel. Last year, the roof caved in on that philosophy. I think he's privately scared. He swung and missed, swung and missed, swung and missed. Now, he can't afford another Joey Gallo. 

4. The Mets will own NYC. Perhaps, they already do. The relentless spending by owner Steve Cohen is exactly what New Yorkers love. They want want their teams - like their Broadway musicals - star-studded, larger than life and bouncing like Ethel Merman. Hal Steinbrenner, on the other hand, wants to tamp down bidding wars with his crosstown rival. (His "talks" about Judge with Cohen last winter nearly edged into collusion. The Yankees sat out the auctions of Jacob DeGrom and Brandon Nimmo, and Cohen never jumped in on Judge. That could change next year, when/if Ohtani comes on the market.) 

5. Anthony Volpe will have a long, grueling rookie season. The Yankees claim Volpe has a great competitors mentality. He'll need it. Sometime, between April and June, he will go 0-for-25, sending the Yankiverse into a barnyard frenzy. That's when we'll know what kind of mentality he's got - and whether the Yankees jumped the gun on his development. I predict he will hit a meager . 238, but get hot enough in September to give us hope. Remember: He turns 22 at the end of April. He is the future - the long haul future. 

6. The Yankees will win 100 games, finish 2nd in the AL East, and lose in the ALCS, as they always do. In other words, same as it ever was. 

Which leaves us with our "bold predictions. Here's where you stand. And if you're not in yet, you have until noon. Let's go, everybody. Time to lay down those cards. 

Name                   Wins                Judge HRs        Volpe BA

Stang                     102                        74                          .241
JM                           101                         55                          .262
Platoni                  101                         52                          .287
EL DUQUE           100                        63                          .238
Ken of Brooklyn  98                       49                         .248
Mattingly’s Mustache  97           60                          .273
Dave Murray        97                        54                          .262
Ranger_lp            96                        47                           .273
Hammer of God   96                       37                          .260
PgPick                      96                       52                         .257
Doug K                     96                       47                          .301
Jaraxle (form Dantes)  96            52                          .282
Gary Frenay          96                       55                          .277
Zachary A               95                       43                          .253
Carl J. Weitz           94                       45                          .271
Kevin                        94                       52                          .274
Vampifella             94                        18                          .225
HoraceClarke66  93                        42                          .244
Hinkey Haines     93                        44                          .272
BernBabyBern     92                         36                          .276
AboveAverage      92                        48                          .281
David Bellela        92                         x                            x
MildredLopez       91                        44                           .251
Lieber                       91                        50                           .282
Rufus T. Firefly    90                       44                           .256
RtotheE                   90                       50                           .250
Borntorun99        89                       36                           .248
Urban Farmer formerly known as Dutch fan
                                   89                        28                            .231
DickAllen               89                        54                            .241
Scottish Yankee fan   88               44                           .245
Archangel             88                         49                           .280
13bit                        86                          51                            .271
CelerinoSanchez  86                       39                           .269

If you're not on the list, add your numbers in the comments. May the best commentator win!

Oh, wait... there's one more.  Can this be real?

Alphonso              77                          47                            .289

Here it comes!


"Well, beat the drum
And hold the phone
The sun came out today..."

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

So long, Tampa. The last meaningless day is done.

 And so it's over - that exercise in meaninglessness: Spring training. No more laughing off bad outings, no more lineups of lost legions, no more excuses, no more assurances, no more waiting.

The world halted last October with Aaron Judge - our final hope - came up with two outs in the ninth, bases empty, with the Astros leading 6-5. A HR would tie the game and surely rally the Yankees into winning four straight and sweeping Philly in the world series. He swung and missed the first pitch. He took a called strike on the second. He took a ball. Then he tapped back to the pitcher. And then... 

And then, tomorrow, when the world starts over.

So, what happened this spring? Better question: Who happened?

Andres Chaparro, for one. He's a 23-year-old 3B bulldog - (might move to 1B) - who led the Tampkees in HRs with 5. He's 6'0," 200 lbs, and might open in Scranton. With the entire cast of Succession stacked in front of him at 3B - Donaldson, DJ, Oswaldo, Oswald and IKF - it's hard to see a path for Chaparro in 2023, beyond trade fodder. But he went to Tampa as a nobody. He's now on radar screens. It's been a long time - like, forever? - since the Yankees developed a young 3B. A new El Chapo?

Oswaldo Cabrera, best player in Camp Tamp. He played everywhere, did everything, belted 4 HRs (team runner-up) and led in RBIS. Sadly, he could ride the pines on opening day, beneath the paper blob contracts of Hicks and Donaldson. Cabrera could start at any of four positions: LF, 3B, 2B and maybe CF. It makes no sense to start Hicks over this kid, but that's Chinatown, Jake. We'll have to wait for Hicks to get hot, then get hurt.   

Jasson Dominguez, aka The Martian, who hit 4 HRs and led the team in batting, at .455. He so invigorated the crazies of the Yankiverse that Team Cashman had to hustle his ass to minor league camp, to stem the fantasies. Still, every fan with a magic inter-web hookup will monitor Dominguez on a daily basis, wherever he is (Scranton? Maybe?) Yes, there's a mountain of hype behind this guy - so much that we overreacted? - but let's savor every hopeful moment. He sure looked good this spring. We'll always have Tampa.   

Anthony Volpe. Can't place this one. Saw his name in my notes. Anybody know anything? Stool sample?   

Ian Hamilton, arguably the best pitcher in camp. He threw 9 scoreless innings over eight games. He's a 27-year-old RH bulldog, a Roy Hobbs type who missed all of 2020, then languished in the minors over the last two years. Who knows? Bullpens are full of former prospects who somehow figured it out. Mean Chad Green is gone. Hurricane Ian?

Finally, don't forget to make your predictions for 2023: Number of regular season wins, number of Aaron Judge HRs, and Anthony Volpe's batting average.

Tomorrow, I'll issue mine. And as of then, things matter. It's almost over. The meaninglessness, I mean. Meanwhile, save us all...

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Victories and big wins

 I predict an 85 win season. 

If I am way off, I predict 77 wins. 

I see us in the fight for the cellar of the AL EAST.

I see no new flag flying over the stadium as next season breaks.  

I predict Cole gives up three home runs and 5 runs in 6 innings of work on Thursday. 

I predict ( as my tie breaker ) that Judge hits 43 Hrs. 

I think Volpe will hit .289

I am already looking forward to the football season.

I would like some really good onion rings now. 

As long as we're predicting...

Not to step on the annual predict the number of wins contest but there's only one more day to do this. 

What number will Volpe choose and why?  

He is currently wearing #77 and I read that Mickey Mantle was his grandfather's favorite player. 

When he was interviewed yesterday on YES he didn't sound high on it. Plus, the number has been sullied by megabust Clint Jackson Frazier all too recently.  

I have my own prediction but I'll post it in the comments later. 

It's time to sharpen your pencils and "boldly" predict the upcoming Yankee season

Today, the Death Barge plays its last meaningless game of 2023 - at least, until the end of September, when we'll surely be campaigning for John Sterling to manage. I get the feeling that '23 will be The Master's finale, that we might never hear a homer holler for The Martian, or - gulp - a world series win-warble. 

For whatever it's worth: Today, they'll play the Nats and - I'm not making this up - the Yankees are favored to win. They have the second worst record in the AL this spring, ahead of lowly Oakland, yet somebody, somewhere, in charge of setting odds, thinks they'll care enough to be considered today's favorites. And somebody else, somewhere else, is so obscenely addicted to gambling that they'll put good money down on it. Amazing. The world we built, eh? 

For whatever it's worth: This week, Sports Illustrated released its 2023 "bold predictions." What's with these "bold predictions" that pundits feel compelled to make? It takes no courage, no gumption, to make a "bold prediction" about baseball. If you predict dolphins will rise from the sea and protest nuclear testing, now that's a bold prediction. How bold is it to - as SI does - pick the Yanks to win the World Series over the Padres? Also, did this come out before Sevy's latest injury? It's already outdated. 

For whatever it's worth, nothing matters. Not today.  What almost matters, though, is that it's time for you to make your own "bold predictions" for 2023. Between now and Thursday morning, we need to know:

How many regular season games will the Yankees win this year?

Tie-breaker: How many HRs will Aaron Judge hit?

2X tie-breaker: What will be Anthony Volpe's batting average?

Also, some free advice: Lighten up, all of you. The snow is melting, the days are lengthening, and Giancarlo Stanton wants to play LF. 

Last March, none of the genius commentators on this blog - NOT ONE OF US - predicted the Yankees would win 99 games. In fact, I was one of the stupidest of the stupids, by far. I predicted disaster. Here's our/your/my records. 


Carl J. Weitz: 97
Ids Dutchfan: 97
Above Average: 96
Parson Tom: 96
JM: 95 (Top IIH Blogger)
Gary Frenay: 94
Doug K: 93
Kevin: 93
Platoni: 93
Local Bargain Jerk: 92
ZacharyA: 91
Dantes: 90
Yankees Shamus: 90
Alphonso: 89 (Yeesh)
Ranger_lp: 89
Anonymous Bosch: 89
Publius: 88
Hinkey Haines: 88
Ken of Brooklyn: 88
Borntorun999: 87
Scottish Yankee Fan: 87
DickAllen: 86
The Hammer of God: 86
Oasisdave: 85
Hunter: 84
Rufus T Firefly: 83
13bit: 82
The Archangel: 81
el Duque: 81 (Yeesh)
The Win Warblist: 80
HoraceClarke66: 77 (Yeesh)
RtotheE: 70  

I'm getting out the slide rule, abacus and tarot cards, compiling my bold projections for 2023. I'll put them out Thursday morning, in order to incorporate the latest Yankee injuries. (I also expect a trade in the next 48 hours.) Get ready, everybody. A bold new season approaches. Today, nothing matters. Thursday, that changes. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Oswald Peraza Is Toast

We should be happy. After all, yesterday was a great day for the franchise. An extraordinary moment in Yankee history. Not just because it was the first official day in Volpe’s Yankee career, but that it happened at all.  

A break in the pattern. An escape from the Whirlpool of Doom that is Yankee player development. 

A pattern of ill use that contains variations of the below...

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.   

Tinkering. (Also known as changing what they are good at to fit some organizational philosophy.)

The depressing soul crushing trade for an overpriced older player that blocks the path.

A high-pressure Cup O’ Coffee. (After the inevitable injury to the above.)

Being sent back down to Scranton upon the return of the injured player without regard to how well he played. 

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. 

And finally… The Trade.


Miraculously, Volpe has managed to skip all of these.  

Sadly, Peraza is still caught in its vortex.  

His time with the big club turned out to be a Cup O’ Coffee.  

When the Yankees decided to go with IKF in the playoffs, despite Peraza clearly being the better option, it was stupid but he could take comfort in the idea that this year was going to be his year to play short.  

IKF was just a placeholder. A placeholder for him. Instead the spring became a high-pressure competition and it screwed with his head. He was pressing. He lost.

He has now been replaced by a player that blocks his path. OK it wasn’t a trade. It was a miracle. He’s blocked regardless. Peraza is supposedly the superior defensive SS by the way.

He now faces a depressing, soul crushing, return to Scranton.

Unless there is an injury he will be there for at least a year and, if Gleyber plays well, he will languish there... forever. A broken man subject to “tinkering.”  

All that’s left for him is… The Trade.

It's the End of the Beginning, and Anthony Volpe's fate will soon appear on one of two Yankee lists

The 2023 Yankee fates can be summed up in a pair of haunting, divergent lists.

Xander Bogaerts
Carlos Correa
Corey Seager
Trea Turner
Trevor Story
Francisco Lindor 
Manny Machado

These are the high-priced shortstops who in recent years hit the market - as free agents or trade chips - only to find the Yankee brass hiding under its bed. 

At any time, Hal Steinbrenner could have stepped up, jumped in, and outbid the planet for any one of them. Instead, he played with his lobster and didn't answer the phone.

The Yankees tried Troy Tulowitski, Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa as stopgap SS's until either Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, Anthony Volpe and/or Anybody McAnyone could rise through the system and secure the position. And the Yankees continually paid the price, with season-ending exits by Columbus Day. 

Could Volpe make the first list irrelevant? Can he be worth the wait?


Miguel Andújar
Tyler Austin
Greg Bird
Clint Frazier
Gary Sánchez
Billy McKinney
Thairo Estrada
Mike Ford 

These are the ill-fated position players who - with varying degrees of YES-fueled hype - appeared and disappeared. With each, Yank fans went through the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Yankee Prospect Failure:  Anticipation, Excitement, Concern, Denial, Cashman Death Threats. It's been a hard slog. The Yankees have logged an entire lineup of frustrations, awaiting breakouts that never broke. 

That said, we should weigh this list of exasperations against one name: Aaron Judge. Somehow, the Yankees managed to elevate and keep baseball's greatest slugger and a once-in-a-generation captain.   

So, onto which list will Volpe end up? The all-star shortstops? Or the lost causes? 

I'd like to say that we will soon know, but that would be untrue. The thing about long haul decisions is that they take time to cook down. The historian, Charles Beard, asked to sum up the vagaries of humanity, said, "The grist of the gods grinds slowly, but infinitely small." It will take years to get a true sense of Volpe's fate. Then he'll end up - etched in concrete or maybe bronze - on a list that doesn't lie. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

He did it.


A year ago, the Yankees were deep in young pitchers. It's all gone.

Remember "The Gas Station?" It was the Yankee developmental site in Tampa last year, where young pitchers increased their spin rates and radar gun numbers. The Yankees seemed to have cracked the code on raising minor league starters, and it suggested a looming new era of pitching depth. 

Yeah, right. 

Today, it looks more like a short-term mirage, a burst of hubris spawned by a coincidental wave of young talent, which is now scattered to the winds. 

That wave was traded away for players who were defined by their contracts, despite the Yankees being the wealthiest franchise in baseball. The youngsters were sent to the three or four MLB teams willing to trade with the Yankees, if the deals are sweet enough.

Well, they certainly were. This spring, the Yankees starting rotation has turned into an Agatha Christie novel - pitchers disappearing, one by one. In the case of Luis Severino, the latest to go, it's a sad, desperate normalcy. 

Sevy - now in his final year before free agency - is one of those rare MLB players who has the Ellsburian ability to injure himself while rehabbing from a previous injury. 

He will probably miss April and May. 

Today, I got nothing. This spring has become an unfunny joke. Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez - who were always destined for Scranton -are now prime contenders for the No. 5 starter slot, and Tanner Danish - relentlessly drilled all spring - might be a setup man. And there is a week to go. Will anybody still be around? 

Saturday, March 25, 2023


 We finally have a top draft pick who looks like he can play.

Yes, Volpe will likely come north with the team. 

The thing is;  it won't matter.

We have no pitching left. 

And day one isn't even in the books. 

Chronicle of a Death Foretold


Ah, why is that Black Swan always right? It must be the Einstein of birds.

But this one was predictable. Indeed, we all predicted it. Setback Luis Severino, down again.

I was surprised to see that some of my brethren here never liked Setback Sevvy. I loved him. By his third year in the show, he was one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, finishing third in the AL Cy Young race. By the next season, 2018, he was even better, the ace of the staff.

That year, as the Yanks came charging up the standings, chopping 7 1/2 games off the lead of the streakin', cheatin', BoSox, it seemed as though there really might be another dynasty. On July 1, our boys slugged the Carmine Hose in a Sunday night game at the Stadium, 11-1, leaving them tied for first after exactly half the season. The Yanks were 54-27, and their potential looked eliminated.

But in that game, too, you could practically call the pitch when Sevvy's career went from gold to dross, unlimited to marginal. 

In the 7th inning, with the Yanks up 9-0, Sevvy was cruising. He'd allowed only 3 walks and 2 bangles, and struck out 6. He got the first two outs of the 7th, too, inducing Rafael Devers and Brock Holt to bounce into routine groundouts. He'd only thrown 99 pitches, and Christian Vazquez, the Sox' right-handed, light-hitting catcher was up.

But all of a sudden, Sevvy was out of the game and Dave Robertson was in. No explanation, and the Yanks were mum about it the next day. But it soon became obvious that Luis was hurt.

Before that game, Sevvy was 13-2, with a 1.98 ERA. The rest of the way, he was 6-6, 6.19, and in the playoffs he was obliterated by Boston.

The Yanks said that he was tipping his pitches. The Yanks said that he inexplicably showed up late for that playoff game in Boston. 

They lied about this, of course. They lied about it just as Brian Cashman's front office lies about everything, all the time, and especially the injuries that his incompetent staff constantly allows to happen and constantly fails to fix. 

Persisting in that lie, the Yanks—Cashman—gave Sevvy a huge new contract after the 2018 season, which with the option year has now amounted to almost $56 million. A contract like that, for a guy who supposedly can't hide his pitches and shows up late for a key playoff game?

Obviously, he was hurt. But Brian Cashman, who hopes for good things to happen like a desperate child, thought coughing up the big bucks would change reality.

Well, reality is a stubborn thing. For all that money, Sevvy's won exactly 9 regular-season games, and gone 0-2 in the postseason. And now he's hurt again.

For all of the other things that have gone wrong since that July night at the Stadium—for all of Andujars and the Hickses, and the Gleybers and the Giancarlos, and the almost endless horror flick that was Chappie the Sweat Meister—obviously, Luis Severino was the heart of the Yankees, and they've never been the same since.

I don't blame Sevvy for this. I blame Brian Cashman. And as Dr. T. asked in a previous post comment—like Zola thundering "J'accuse!" during the Dreyfus Affair—when are Cashie and his minions EVER going to be held accountable?

The answer, of course, is the same for the question of, "When will the Yankees win again in our lifetimes?" 


Shocker: Setback Sevy suffers setback

A strained lat muscle. Out a month, maybe two?

(Assuming no setbacks.)

As the Yankees stagger toward Opening Day, Anthony Volpe offers what this team desperately needs: A buzz.

On a day when two top March Madness seeds went kaboom, Anthony Volpe claimed the Yankees' first tabloid back page in over a week: He homered, prompting the Daily News to joyously proclaim "Volpening Day," a burst of  excitement that broke across the Yankiverse like a new Kardashian sex tape. 

If Volpe doesn't make this team, if he's sent back to the strip malls and hilly permafrost of Moosic, the Yankees' Opening Day lineup will be remembered for its contrasts: A standing "OH!" for Aaron Judge, and a wall of silence, if not outright booing, for Josh Donaldson and Aaron Hicks, the villains of last season's final episode. In the eyes of fans, Volpe has come to represent hope on a Yank roster that has conjured little of it this spring.

Nobody expects Judge to hit 60 HRs again, and the last month has derailed the notion of a powerhouse rotation and lockdown bullpen. (Check yesterday's  line on Albert Abreu: Yikes!) 

The Yankees look far weaker than they did a month ago, before the tweaks of spring rolled into Tampa like the red tide. Expectations have withered. After he signed Carlos Rodon, Hal Steinbrenner - in an adrenal burst - said, "We're not done!" In fact, he apparently was. The only thing Hal has signed since are autographs, assuming anybody wants one. The YES team's ginned up excitement over the competition between Willie Calhoun and Rafael Ortega did not reach nuclear fusion. The team offers eight infielders and two outfielders. If it were a plane, it would have six propellers and one wing.

In recent weeks, Volpe has emerged as the prime narrative of camp. In the last few games, he seemed to be lagging. Yesterday's HR may have sealed the deal, though Oswald Peraza enjoyed a similar day: Two singles in four at-bats.

As opening day SS, Peraza makes a lot more sense. He's slightly older, 22; he played in the Majors last September; and dispatching him back to Scranton - where he excelled last year- would feel like the Yankees were punting on third down. But Peraza hasn't contributed any back pages yet, and Volpe is working on his third. 

To keep NYC from becoming a Mets town - it already may have happened - the Yankees need something, somebody, new. His name is Anthony Volpe. And next week may be Volpening Day. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

With Opening Day fast-approaching, 10 ponderings about the Yankees

Somewhere in the bars of Cigar City, a 55-year-old, semi-balding GM is furiously working his iPhone, with nobody returning calls.

The Yankee pipe dream - trading an extra infielder for a lefty-slugger LF - may need to wait until August. To paraphrase old Rumsfeld, you go to war the season with the army lineup you have. The war is a week away. Meanwhile...

1. Anthony Volpe picked a crapola time to turn frigid. He's 0-8 in his last two games, his BA dipping to .279, Roy Smalley territory. Three weeks ago, Volpe was Tampa's IT Girl, and his quest for opening day Jeterhood seemed inevitable. Now, we wonder: How long will this mini-slump go, and how will he respond? 

2. Sadly, Oswald Peraza has failed to take advantage of Volpe's hiccup. After another hitless day, Peraza's spring average stands at .171, Alvaro Espinosa territory. Small samples come with grains of salt. But these numbers are sobering, and these days, who wants to be sober?

3. If we were to name a spring MVP, it would be The Man Without a Place, Oswaldo Cabrera. He homered yesterday, his third, the lone Yank run. He has done everything asked of him - LF, CF, SS, 3B, 2B, 1B - yet the brain trust seems determined to play Aaron Hicks (.250). That's Chinatown, Oswaldo.  

4. According to Forbes, the Yanks remain - by barges and barges - the most valuable franchise in baseball. They're supposedly worth $7.1 billion, more than $2 billion more than the first runner-up Dodgers. Hold onto that Yankee Shaman headdress. Next time Hal whines about the luxury tax, we riot. 

5. Check out the 2023 Tabloids Covers Race (left), and you'll see why Hal actually should worry. Through March, the Yankees have received their fewest barrels of free tabloid ink since we began counting. Hal's dad always ruled the back pages. He saw the gold in those screamer headlines. As a result, the Yankees have owned NYC for decades. Could they be entering a mega-drought? Climates - even financial ones - don't change overnight. Once flipped, the switches don't soon turn back. 

6. Carlos Rodon threw a session yesterday, and the Yankees are ecstatic delighted overjoyed blah-blah-blah pick-your-B.S. with what they saw. Rodon is critical to 2023, and yesterday was a baby step, as he returns from a tender forearm. What he didn't throw were breaking balls, supposedly the source of his earlier pain. We'll see in five days, when he tries again. Fingers crossed. Without Rodon, the quest becomes the wild card.  

7. Along with the battle for SS, the search for a Cinderella left-fielder has also dried up. The two early non-roster wonders - Willie Calhoun (.282) and Rafael Ortega (.161) - have turned back into mice pulling a pumpkin. Estevan Florial remains a pinch-runner/defensive replacement, and little more. For all the talk, they all might disappear, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa could stay. 

8. Josh Donaldson attributed his two HRs the other day to a revamped swing. Keeping in mind that batters often say such crapola, it's still nice to hear. The only thing that can save Donaldson's career is his willingness to change. Sluggers from Justin Turner to JD Martinez used so-called "swing doctors" to taper their moves and keep going. Did Donaldson get the memo? We'll see. 

9. Fordham's Justin Shackil will replace Sweeney Murphy as host of the post-game radio show. He'll also call 30 games with Suzyn, in place of John Sterling. It won't be easy, replacing a God. Shack comes by way of the Trenton Thunder, Tennessee Smokies and Mobile BayBears. You don't follow Yahweh without paying your dues. 

10. Let me state what everybody is thinking: Aaron Judge should have played in the World Baseball Classic. That last at-bat - it shoulda been Otani v Judge. And everybody knows it. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Yankee silence suggests an uneasy calm before the impending Cashmanic storm.

Sorry, but right now, there's nothing to say about the '23 Yanks - who currently rank 8th in NYC tabloid covers this year, behind the Jets, Nets, Mets and Damar Hamlin. Nope, there is no wise but whimsical rant. No hard-edged venture into hilarity. No wide-eyed glance into the jaws of Hell. Nothing to say. 

Sometime, in the next few days, the Yankees will alter this team, either massively - (think: Gleyber gone) - or microscopically - (so long, Estevan Florial.) They will also decide between Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza at SS. Then, and only then, this year's team will take shape. 

Meanwhile, we ingest recycled crapola: For example, this bottomless blathering of nothingness from the dean of NYC sports talkers, Mike Francesca. Yesterday, on the matter of Volpe, the Oracle said.

"If he's ready and they feel that he's ready - they're around him every day, and they know if he's ready. If he's ready... I think you put him on the team and let him be. It doesn't mean he's going to blossom into Jeter. But if he's ready to be there on a daily basis, you don't bring him up here and put him on the bench. You bring him up here if he's going to play. If he's going to play every day, then you play him. If he's not, then you don't bring him up here."

WTF? Should I disagree?
If he's ready, DON'T bring him up? Send him to Scranton! And if he's NOT ready, bring him up?  

The saddest part is, right now, that's all there is to say: Nothing. Just wrap it into a loop and let it run.  

It's not Francesca's fault. Across the Yankiverse, this is the most excruciating period known to fans: With Opening Day approaching, we must simply sit here, crapping pineapples, and wait for Cashman to do his thing. Shoot me. In the meantime, a few thoughts, which may or may not be fully basted...

1. Whatever happens, cheers to Isiah Kiner-Falefa! With trade talk swirling, there he is, donning catcher's gear, hitting his usual .241, and giving the Yankee fans one more reason to love the guy. Last year, it didn't work for IKF, playing fulltime SS. But he remains a great teammate. And trust me on this: We will need a third catcher. 

Whatever we get for him in a trade, it won't be enough.

2. Michael King continues to excel: He hasn't given up a run this spring, and he pitches two-to-three innings at a time. Shouldn't the Yankees consider him a short starter? Especially if/when German or Schmidt go belly-up. This is not some acid trip idea. It's how most teams develop their starters: They rise up from the bullpen. It's the path traveled by Nasty Nestor. Could King be the next Nasty Nestor? I'm just saying, it's worth exploring. 

3. Yesterday, our two biggest spring disappointments - Peraza and Florial - went a combined 0-for-7. How enjoyable this last week in Tampa could be, if only they looked good. There'd be no debate, no red tide, no fear of a looming Cashmanic disruption. Both would be locks for Opening Day. Instead, Peraza is hitting .188 and Florial, .167. Sad.

Nothing to say. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Just A Friendly Reminder....

 I am still here.

Welcome to an exciting new season.

A year filled with promise and grand expectations.

I only report the news I don't make it.

So blame nothing on me when what I mention, ruins your day.

So who is starting at shortstop?

Josh Donaldson hit two HRs yesterday. Trade him. Now.

A week from tomorrow, the world begins anew. 

No longer shall there be Covid, or political strife, or wildfires, or mudslides, or pain and suffering... though it will still be nearly impossible to get a plumber on weekends.

I refer to Opening Day, the holiest date on the IT IS HIGH calendar after July 4, the birthday of John Sterling. Sometime, between now and O-DAY, the Yankees must make a move. Actually, several. They will need to jettison someone, to cull the herd and make way for 2023.

I hereby speak for the entire Yankiverse in asking Brian Cashman - today - to phone, text, Facetime or butt-dial every single MLB general manager on the planet - and Miami, too.  He should offer around the newly rejuvenated Josh Donaldson - a reborn and refurbished slugger who has rediscovered his 2015 MVP stroke, and who is headed for a fantastic season, Comeback of the Year! Do they know he's only 37 - 11 years younger than Derek Jeter, who could easily hit .260. Donaldson is one of those seasoned old pros who can "teach the kids how to win." He's already won the respect and admiration of African-American players by kiddingly calling them "Jackie." He's a veritable Gold Glove at third, and he hit two HRs yesterday. Did you see that? Two HRs. He's back. Hey, Monty, let's make a deal!

Look, I hate to mock Donaldson. It's not his fault that somebody gave him an outlandish contract, and the Yankees then traded for it. That dust-up last season with Tim Anderson? Let's give Donaldson the benefit of the doubt. Let's say he wasn't being racist. But he still represents the trouble with the modern Yankees. Like a recurring movie sequence, every year, after avoiding bidding wars on free agents, they trade for aging veterans with incredibly bloated contracts. They did it with Kevin Brown. They did it with Giancarlo. They did it with - dear God, don't make me go down the list - let's just say that Donaldson is the latest former star the Yankees acquired from some GM who was desperate to ditch. Also, to make matters worse, last October - on the world stage - Donaldson was putrid. The fans booed, and the Yankees this winter found no team willing to take him. End of story?

NO! HE HIT TWO HRS YESTERDAY! If, say, he hits two more today, could they find a taker?

I don't think Donaldson is a bad person or the cause of Yankee rot. He's just another guy whose contract overwhelms his actual value. If the Yankees could trade him tomorrow - for anything, forget true value, just to a team that would absorb his contract - here's their infield:

1b Rizzo
2b Gleyber
ss Volpe/Oswald
3b LeMahieu
back ups: IKF, Oswaldo

Trouble is, we have Donaldson, the Yankee equivalent of a teetering bank that is too big to fail. We must play him. We must endure this mating dance with our own crapola. If he gets off to a hot start, it simply means he will play longer into the summer before the slump hits, before age catches up to him. 

I say, make the calls, Brian. It's a cruel business, baseball, and today might be the best shot you get. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Yankees will soon get a prognosis on Carlos Rodon - and maybe the 2023 season.

The Yankees OVER 7 ERA club
We've indulged ourselves lately, chattering happily about Anthony Volpe's quest to conquer the old, calcified Yankee establishment and make the opening day roster. 

Soon, that question might not matter.

Any day now, the Yankees should learn whether their biggest addition from the winter of 2022-23 will be a viable starter or the next Yahoo Serious. 

Soon, Carlos Rodon - sidelined with a tender forearm - will throw a bullpen session that could decide whether the Yanks enter 2023 with a capable rotation - or sirens blaring. 

If Rodon feels pain, the projections could be bottomless. His immediate fate can range from missing a few starts - and, hell, every pitcher does at some point - to needing surgery, which might cost him the season. The latter would bring devastation to the Yankees. They would have lost two of their planned five-man rotation, with no guarantees about the others. We would almost have to wonder if the franchise should start viewing 2023 as a rebuilding year.

I hate to be banging on garbage cans here. The world is crazy enough without alarmist bloggers ranting about asteroids, floods and Frankie Montas. Also, no team is immune to injuries. Look at the Mets and Edwin Diaz. The Yankees have much going for them: LeMahieu, Judge, Rizzo and Stanton might be the best top-of-the-order foursome in baseball. But to lose Rodon for an extended period - yikes. He was the one addition from last winter that seemed to elevate the Yankees from their also-ran status of last October. And for now, we don't know... 

If Rodon is hurt, or his return is delayed, the options look thin. The Yankees have struggled in just building trade packages for a left-fielder. To obtain a starting pitcher - that would cost far more. And Yank fans also know the implicit danger that lies ahead: 

Over the years, finding starters has been Brian Cashman's great white whale. From Javier Vasquez to Sonny Gray, he has repeatedly failed in trades and signings. (We love Gerrit Cole, but his best years have still happened in Houston.) Look at the chart on the right. Aside from Cole, Yankee starters this spring have been pounded. We can console ourselves that these games mean nothing. But April is near. 

Keep the candles lit, everybody. If Rodon is hurt, this could be a long year.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Signs of...Hope? The Apocalypse? Somethin'?

This time of year, right around the Vernal Equinox, is when we baseball fans look for signs. Maybe signs of Mickey Vernon (almost traded for Joe DiMaggio, by an owner even madder than a Steinbrenner.).

But I digress.

A couple of signs have popped up of late, and frankly, even the pigeon-entrail assessors I summoned from the Pantheon have been stumped.

Good? Bad? Indifferent, in the meaningless world of foreplay, constant contention without consummation, that HAL Steinbrenner and his family of skinflints have created??? You tell me.

First, of course, the Reggie Bar is back—and New Hyde Park has got it, as Newsday proudly proclaimed.

I was in the stands the day the Reggie Bar was first distributed, free, at the Yanks' home opener in 1978. Like everyone else there, I thrilled as Reggie homered off Wilbur Wood—technically, his fourth homer on four pitches in games that counted, going back to the last game of the 1977 World Series. 

It set off a sight such as I have never seen at a ballgame, before or since, a flurry of the square, orange-wrappered bars that poured spontaneously from the stands like a tribute at a bullfight, or some such more ancient, primal spectacle. Even Reggie, the original hambone, was startled and a little unnerved by it.

(Being too far from the field for even my longest toss to make it, I simply ate mine. Not bad! And no, when you unwrapped it, it didn't tell you how good it was.)

The home run proved to be all the Yankees needed, en route to a 4-2 victory. It proved to be the first of Ron Guidry's awesome, 25-win season. It proved to be the first step on the road to the 1978 World Championship, with the manager of the OTHER team on the field that day, Bob Lemon, in the Yankees' dugout at the kill.

Is it a foreshadowing? And how could it be anything BUT a good sign? 

Perhaps it doesn't meet Yankee Stadium III's heady nutritional standards. Are there sufficient rat turds in Reggie Bar II? I'm sure HAL's health inspectors will be giving it the once over.

But that's not all!

She's baaaaaack!

Yes, IBS Lady has reappeared! 

Mrs. Calabash noticed that the fabulous Ilana Becker, who deserves a lifetime Oscar—or something—for her dazzling role in an IBS drug commercial, popped up in a small role recently on the network show, Ghosts.

Forget I said that. There are no small roles, only small actors. And the latter certainly doesn't apply to our gal. YOU try playing an irritated colon for laughs!

But all Ms. Becker needed was a whig, a hospital sheet she quickly turned into a cape, and AT-TI-TUDE!

But what does this all mean?

A return to those halcyon days when Ilana was first cutting up in doctors' offices, and your New York Yankees were surging up the standings once again?

Or...does her reappearance serve as a metaphor for what will happen, once again, to our team? Waylaid once again by a debilitating intestinal blockage just when things were looking good?

You be the judge. Or Judge will be the judge. But two signs from the juju gods is two signs too many.

SOMETHIN's happening out there!