Sunday, December 31, 2023

Two Things...


First of all, can someone explain to me why when I did an image search to get a picture of him this is what came up. It's almost like DuckDuckGo's search engine was trolling Yankee fans. 

I mean, I know he didn't pitch much (or well) for us last year but I'm pretty sure he was on the team. 

As to next year...

If he's hurt he's hurt but if he's not then it will come down to character. 

I don't have a good read other than he is pissy. His blow off kiss to the fans... stuff like that.  

Being pissy can go two ways. If he has a strong character he says, "Screw you! I'm really good and I'll prove it."

If he has a weak character he says, "Screw you! I'm not going to bust my ass for you ingrates. I'll just cash my checks."

Next year will tell us who he really is. Obviously we are hoping for the former and, if that's the case he will be who we thought we were getting (and paying). 

If not, we are mega-screwed. 

Roki Sasaki


"He's the 21-year-old sensation from Japan who's already the most electric pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball. He's a once-in-a-generation talent in the class of Shohei Ohtani"

OK. Not to nit pick but how can he be a once-in-a-generation talent and then get compared to a person who is both playing and in his prime? That's at least two-in-this-generation, right? 

More importantly, we will not be getting him. The Dodgers will. 

Much like how this picture told the real story of where Yamamoto was going to sign...

Sasaki is pals with and is being mentored by Othani and Yamamoto and, since he's not a true free agent and can only get a few million, being part of a Transformer type superhero rotation in LA is where his big time marketing bucks will be found. 

I hope Hal realizes this early. like now! 

As more pitchers fly off the board, the Yankees options dwindle

Yesterday, cheapo Boston signed Lucas Gigolito (two years, $38.5 million), and the even cheaper Reds grabbed Frankie Montas (one year, $16 million), suggesting the music has stopped, and free agents will start scampering to empty chairs. 

The biggest name pitchers - Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery - will demand (and receive) huge, ridiculous contracts, inevitable boondoggles. Hal Steinbrenner will flinch, but here's the rub: Steve Cohen won't. 

Two weeks ago, when the Dodgers unveiled their voodoo economics on Shohei Ohtani, the MLB Matrix changed. Now, when that music stops, it's not clear if Hal knows what to do.

He thought Yoshi Yamamoto would be drawn to the Yankees aura and mystique.  

He thought the Dodgers would have no money left over after Ohtani.

He thought the Big Apple stage would be an attraction. 

He thought letting Montas spend 2023 in rehab - so he could showcase himself in September - would mean a cost-friendly deal.

Nope. Didn't happen. None of the above.  

If the Yankees' hope to trade for Dylan Cease or Corbin Burnes, good luck with that. They have already spent most of their young arms, the modern currency of the realm. 

Then there is Brian Cashman's horrible track record in trades over the last two years. He is the Detroit Pistons of GMs. 

Increasingly, it looks as though the Yankees believed their own bullshit about  Yamamoto wanting to be a Yankee, then were caught flat-footed by the Dodgers' tax evasion schemes. 

Two days ago, I outlined reasons for hope in 2024. They still exist. The Yankees are two, maybe three pitchers away from making a run at the AL East. But without pitching - yeesh - it's back to chasing Wild Card births in the expanded playoffs system, which is practically a bunch of Little League participation trophies. 

I'm not saying that because Giolito and Montas are gone, the world just collapsed. The free agent auctions have just begun. But there won't be any bargains, and unless Hal digs deeper, this could be a rough year.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Rock in the new year with John and AC/DC!


This is funny.


Quick note before the rockin' New Year's Eve: a friend sends this analysis of who the Yankees might possibly plug into the IKF role of utility falafel. It's written by someone named Randy Miller for something called NJ Advance Media, and it's actually a pretty good analysis.

What I love, though, are these comments from an anonymous, "veteran MLB scout":

Oswaldo Cabrera

"...The Yankees need to get his bat back to where it was in the minor leagues. His swing changed big-time.  This used to be a foul pole to the foul pole guy had a chance to hit big-league pitching. Watching Cabrera last year he had no chance. He got to the big leagues and started being pull happy and trying to hit the ball out of the ball park. He's not that kind of guy. His high groundball rate last year tells me that he's topping them too often. Somebody screwed with his swing."

Oswald Peraza

"...I still like Peraza. For me, he's an everyday shortstop once he gets his bat together. But like Cabrera, Peraza's swing went backward once he got to the big leagues. I think Peraza is trying to force power instead of letting it happen. He was trying to hit everything in the air. All through the minors, he was a line-drive, gap guy. He needs to get back to that, because everybody loves his defense. He has a chance to be an above-average shortstop. I like him at second and third, too."

Goodness, what could possibly have happened to these young men??? Whose advice could they have been taking?  

I just hope that Brian Cashman's team audit finishes soon, so we can have some answers.


Happy New Year! Enjoy some memories with John and Barbra


Hats off to Yankee batting leaders of 2023

 Congrats to the '23 Yankee Team Leaders!

At times, Gleyber flirted with the magical .275 mark. Placing second is Aaron Judge, with .267, followed by Anthony Rizzo at .244!

Historically, Gleyber's .273 average is tied for 398th on the all-time Yankee single season list, along with 10 others, including Tony Lazzeri (1935), Tony Kubek (1960), Chase Headley (2017) and Melky Cabrera (2007).

One year after beating Roger Maris's historic 61 in '61, the Captain's 37 "Judgeian Blasts" place him 42nd on the all-time single season Yankee list. He's tied with Graig Nettles (1977), Dave Winfield (1982), Mickey Mantle (1955), Jason Giambi (2006) and the immortal Lou Gehrig (1937.)

Finishing second in the Yankee homer enslaught is Gleyber Torres with 25. Third is Giacarlo Stanton, with 24. "Giancarlo, non si puo de stoparlo" (You cannot be stopped.)

Judge comes in 316th on the all-time Yankee RBI single season RBI leader board- tied with 10 others, including such stalwarts as Billy Martin (1953), Joe Sewell (1933), Brian McCann (214) and Phil Rizzuto (1947).

Finishing second is Gleyber Torres with 68. Whisking away the Bronze Medal is Anthony Volpe, who drove in 60.

Congrats to our 2023 Sluggers!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Happy Birthday, Alphonso

 The Yankees will surprise you. But not necessarily in a good way.

Let's jettison the downer of 2023: Ten reasons why the Yankees will rebound in 2024

In the end, the choice is ours: We can pick hope or despair. 

Today, let's try hope.

(Note: This does not ignore the crapola 2023 and the two-year daisy chain of disappointments. If the Yankee brain trust wants happy fans, posting contentedly, all it needs to do is win.)

That said, 10 reasons for hope in 2024.

1. Gerrit Cole. He is baseball's best pitcher - not Yoshi Yamamoto, who will spend his career being brutally appraised due to his ridiculous contract. Cole is too classy to feel snubbed. But the world will be watching, and God help Yama the first time his elbow barks. (Fun fact: It will.)

2. Anthony Volpe will hit. Say that again: Anthony Volpe will hit. We haven't seen his ceiling - nothing close -but this we know: It's not .209. Throughout his minor league career, Volpe hit well at every level. He will improve. 

3. Juan Soto's LH presence will ignite other Yankee bats. The team hasn't had a decent lefty lineup for several years. At last, a batting order that befits the Yankees. What took them so long?

4. On that note, Alex Verdugo! He strikes me as a powder keg, a passionate guy who holds onto grudges like Super Glue. Boston pissed all over him, trading him to the arch rival. I'm still amazed that they did it. He's in his contract year, he'll turn 28 in May, and he's angry as hell. Good signs. 

5. Gleyber Torres had a quietly, surprisingly strong 2023. Might have been the AL's best 2B. Could be, he's finally reached a comfort level? No reason to think he can't repeat.

6. Believe it or not, I haven't given up on Oswaldo Cabrera. I know, I know - shoot me. Guy didn't hit a lick last year. (I won't print his BA.) Still, he's got that look, that confidence, that smile. Call me a dolt. I think he'll figure out MLB pitching and have a nice career. And it'll start in 2024.

7. It's now-or-never for Giancarlo Stanton. He either hits or gets Elsburied. Nothing in-between. Whatever happens, it will beat continually waiting and being disappointed. Giancarlo might have one final big season in him. If so, it will be 2024.

8. It feels as if we've been waiting decades for The Martian. (That's the effects of interstellar space travel on time.) When he returns, likely in July, Jasson Dominguez  will be - holy shit - 21! He could rehab all summer in Scranton and still be one of our youngest/best prospects. There is no rush on this guy.

9. Here's a tidbit: In those recent trades, when the Yankees seemed to empty out their pitching war chest, they somehow managed to keep their best arm: Chase Hampton. He's a RH moose, age 22, and with luck, he could arrive next summer.

10. Sure, the '24 Yankees could be a total disaster. An injury here, a disappointment there - and ka-boom, they could finish last in the AL East. If that happens, we'll have a great time hate-watching. Hold onto your poison darts, everybody.

So, there you have it: Ten reasons to be cheerful. And I didn't even mention No. 99.  

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Great REAL Moments in Yankees History, Part II


November 17, 1976*

Yankees front office. Gabe Paul and assistants are working the phones. George Steinbrenner, stylish as ever in a white turtleneck and checkered sports coat, paces nervously around them.

GEORGE: Boy, oh boy, I love this free-agent bidding! Nerve-wracking, though, ain't it?

GABE: Yep.

GEORGE: So who are we going for again? The pitcher, right?

GABE: Don Gullett, yep.

GEORGE: And who else? That Reggie Jackson fellow?

GABE: No. You told us we should go with whoever Billy wanted. And Billy doesn't want Reggie.

GEORGE: Hey, whatever Billy says is good by me! I mean, after all, he took our team to the World Series this year. Sure, maybe they could've won at least one game there, but never mind! So, uh, who does Billy think we should go after?

GABE: He wants us to sign Joe Rudi and Bobby Grich. 

GEORGE: Really? Can we really get both of them?

GABE: Word is they want to play together. So if we can just sign one of them, the other will fall into line.

GEORGE: Uh-huh. And who are we closest on?

GABE: Word is, Rudi is going to make a decision today.

GEORGE: I see. Great old pro, Joe Rudi! Great slugger. How many home runs did he hit for Oakland last year?

GABE: Thirteen. But he missed 32 games because of injury, so there's that.

GEORGE: Sure. But usually, Joe's an iron man, right? Dependable old Joe!

GABE: Well, he missed 36 games the year before. But he can play first and left field.

GEORGE: I see. And...we have a pretty good first baseman already, don't we? That Chambliss fellow, hit the big home run for us against the Royals?

GABE: We do.

GEORGE: And don't we have a left fielder?

GABE: Actually, we have about three right now, if we want. Piniella, Roy White, Gamble—

GEORGE: I see. But this Rudi fella, he'll be more of a Yankee Stadium hitter, won't he? He's a lefty bat, right?

GABE: No. Righthander.

GEORGE: I see. But the idea is to get not just him but Bobby Grich, too. I get it. And Grich is a real slugger! How many home runs did he hit last year?

GABE: Thirteen.

GEORGE: But he's the big lefty bat we need, right!

GABE: Actually, he's a righty, too.

GEORGE: And what does he play again?

GABE: Second base.

GEORGE: Um, but don't we have a pretty good second baseman? That Randolph kid from Brooklyn? Stole a lot of bases, made the All-Star Game as a rookie? Plays a pretty good second base?

GABE: Yep. Billy thinks we could move Grich over to short, and replace Chicken Stanley.

GEORGE: Oh, good thinking! And Grich has played shortstop in the majors before, right?

GABE: Yeah, he played some games there in his first full season, back in 1972.

GEORGE: I see. Four years ago, he played some shortstop. And now he's gonna be how old?

GABE: Twenty-eight.

GEORGE: So, uh, not to question Billy's judgement, he's done such a great job for us and everything. But, uh, what do you think he sees in these guys, anyway?

GABE: Well, he thinks they're good, all-around ballplayers.

GEORGE: Uh-huh. So they hit for high averages, steal a lot of bases?

GABE: Rudi hit .270 last year and stole 6 bases. Grich hit .266 and stole 14.

GEORGE: I see. 

GABE: Excuse me, George! I got a call coming in from Rudi's agent. This could be it!

Gabe Paul listens for a few minutes, nodding his head.

GABE: I see...I see...You know, we could probably top that...No? He's set on staying in California? Not even if we gave him another fifty thousand? A hundred thousand?...I see. Well, if that's how he feels. I wish him luck.

Paul hangs up, and throws off his headset.

GABE: Dammit! Joe Rudi is going with Autrey and the Angels. Says he doesn't want to leave California, no matter what we offer. And that means we just lost Grich, too!

GEORGE: I see. Well, that's a shame. Gabe, go sign that pitcher. And get me Reggie on the line. 

GABE: You mean his agent?

GEORGE: I mean Reggie Jackson! I want to know when he's going to be in New York next, and then I want to talk to him. Personally!

GABE: Gee, I dunno, George. Word is Reggie wants to sign with the Dodgers—

GEORGE: The Dodgers! (snorts) He's not signing with the Dodgers—not after I show him New York! Oh, and tell Billy if he doesn't like it, well, he should've won a goddamned game in the World Series.

*All "great real moments" based on actual events. Dialogue and settings may be invented.

With Yamamoto off the table, the Yankees must now spread around the $300 million they were ready to spend

In recent years, one of my fave new words is "Frankenstein" - the verb - which means to assemble something with spare parts and a jolt of electricity, knowing that, in the end, will rise up and strangle you. 

Which brings me to the '24 Yankees, with a pitching staff to be Frankensteined over the next eight weeks with scrap heap signings, salary dumps, an overpriced free agent and copious amounts of YES team hype. 

This comes as the franchise seeks to recover from its stunning recent slap-down by Yoshi Yamamoto, plus the revelation that the Yankees' era as MLB's biggest fish has ended.  The franchise will remain among the spending leaders, but it won't be top dog, not even in NYC. That ship has sailed, folks. The Yankees will be No. 2 in Gotham, with or without a workable Frankenstein.   

With Yamamoto gone, Hal Steinbrenner has few options beyond overpaying for the free agents still out there. The Yankees could float a trade by bundling Oswald Perazza, a catcher and/or one of their few remaining prospects. This might bring a No. 4 starter, a bloated salary, a declining veteran or somebody recovering from a major tweak. Any trade is a roll of the dice. And the more that the Yankees deal young prospects, the more likely it becomes that they make a generational mistake and trade a future star. 

Honestly, the prize tag for Yamamoto was flat-out amazing. We can say the Dodgers have ridiculously overpaid, those Hollywood happy fools. But now comes the part where everybody else follows suit. There's a new normal, and it means no cheap pitchers.    

So, what should we expect? Here's a basic outline of what might happen. 

Over the next eight weeks, the Yankees will... 

1. Sign a veteran starter. It could be Frankie Montas, or somebody like him - recovering from surgery, trying to prove himself with a one-year deal. We'd like it to be Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, but the costs will make Hal flinch. (Also, we can all imagine Boston bidding up Montgomery, pleasing their fans by jabbing us in the eye.)  

2. Sign an international free agent. No names here. They're too hard to spell anyway. He'll come from Japan, Korea or Cuba, and probably work in our bullpen. But I think Hal will bite on this. There are more future Yamamotos in the pipeline, and the Yankees don't want to be the lone big market team without an Asian star.  

3. Sign one more hitter, an infielder. Matt Chapman, maybe? He's 30, a solid glove and conjures imagines of previous slugging 3B. (Graig Nettles, Scott Brosius.) Unfortunately, he hits RH. The Yankees have DJ LeMahieu, whose greatest value comes as an all-purpose infielder. If they trade Peraza, they could need a 3B. Wait... is Josh Donaldson available?

The Yankees were willing to spend $300 million on Yamamoto. They better be willing to spend as much on his Frankensteinian replacements. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Greatest REAL Moments in Yankees History, Part I


Sometime in October, 1946*

Setting: The Yankees front office.

Yankees co-owner and general manager Larry MacPhail sways in through the door, whiskey glass firmly in hand; mean, lopsided grin on his face.

MACPHAIL: That'll show 'em!

MacPhail's co-owners, Dan Topping and Del Webb, enter, both looking shocked. Topping is tall, tanned, athletic. Webb is a little shorter and thinner, looking more like an office suit. But his expression is cryptic and he has a hand in one jacket pocket.

TOPPING: Are you serious, Larry?

MACPHAIL: Damn right I am! I fixed that arrogant son-of-a-bitch, once an' for all!

TOPPING: You really traded Joe DiMaggio?!

MACPHAIL: Thass what I said, isn't it? He's gone! Off to Washington for Mickey Vernon.

TOPPING (still uncomprehending): You traded Joe DiMaggio for Mickey Vernon.

MACPHAIL; Whattaya, hard of hearing? Thass what I did! 

TOPPING: But-but, Joe DiMaggio is a star! He's-he's an icon! He's a god!

MACPHAIL: He's a washed-up bum, who never got over the war years! 

TOPPING (moves toward MacPhail, angrily): He's the greatest centerfielder anybody's ever seen! Mickey Vernon's a first baseman for the Senators!

MACPHAIL: Was the greatest cennerfielder! The legs are shot! Shows how much you know about baseball, what with chasing all your starlets an' ice skaters an' your other whories! Mickey Vernon led the league in batting and doubles this year. 'The Great DiMaggio' spent 22 games on the disabled list!

TOPPING: Don't gimme that bullshit! Mickey Vernon never hit as many as 10 home runs in a season in his life! 

Topping moves threateningly toward MacPhail, who shows no sign of backing off. Del Webb quietly moves around behind MacPhail, still clutching hard to whatever's in his jacket pocket.

TOPPING: Are you drunk again, Larry? Christ, it's only ten in the morning! You smell like a still—

MACPHAIL: So what if I am drunk? I still put one over on that Clark Griffith! 'The Old Fox' they call him. Well I fixed that fox!

WEBB (quietly, but with something ominous in his voice): You had no right to do that without our authorization, Larry. Dan and I own two-thirds of the team.

MACPHAIL: Take another look at your paperwork, you cheap hood! As the GM, I gotta right to make whatever deals I want! And this one is done. All it's waitin' on is a final confirmation from ol' foxy Griffith, an' Joe DiMaggio is a Washington Senator! We'll see if he's so high-an-mighty then! An' you two can go to hell!

TOPPING: (cocks a fist) Why, I oughta pop you one—

Del Webb restrains his arms.

WEBB: Don't bother, Dan. I got some friends in Vegas, investors in my Flamingo place there. They can take care of our little problem here.

MACPHAIL: I'd like to see 'em try! An' that still won't get you back your DiMaggio!

There is a knock on the door, and a telegram delivery boy enters.

WESTERN UNION BOY: Telegram for Mr. MacPhail! From Washington!

MacPhail seizes the telegram and rips it open. His mean, drunken face crumples.

MACPHAIL (incredulous): 'Nix on DiMaggio deal.' That rotten old son-of-a-bitch isn't as senile as he seems. He turned down the deal.

Del Webb snatches the telegram from MacPhail's hand and confirms what it says. He relaxes his grip on the blackjack—or the shiv, or the pistol—that is in his pocket. He and Topping both breathe a sigh of relief.

WEBB: All right, your power to cut deals without our permission is hereby canceled, Larry. And I'm calling Mr. Hughes to get one of his best lawyers in here. We're going to put it writing, make it ironclad so you can't possibly do anything like this again.

Webb and Topping exit—along with the telegram boy, his outstretched hand ignored. MacPhail shakes his head.

MACPHAIL: I can't believe it. Joe DiMaggio for Mickey Vernon. How could he turn that down? 

His eyes light up with a sudden idea.

MACPHAIL: Hey, maybe I can get that idiot Yawkey to take him for Ted Williams!

*All "great real moments" based on actual events. Dialogue and settings may be invented.

Fun holiday pics!


From my friend, David:

Boone has managed to attain midseason blather form

Hot scoop: Aaron Boone is excited!

"With reasonable health around and some guys returning to form, then 
it’s got a chance to be a special lineup," he told reporters yesterday. "The left-handed presence - you guys know how much I obsess on the balance sometimes, especially when we haven’t had it... I believe it has a chance to be a tremendous fit.”

Yep, there you have it. It's Dec. 27 - spring training two months away - and Boonie is already writing out his lineup with a Sharpie. And, dagnabbit! he's right! If the Yanks have reasonable health, and a few guys return to form - the AL East had better guard its nuts sack, cuz - SING ALONG! - the Yanks are comin', the Yanks are comin,' and we won't come back 'til it's over over there! 

Insert sigh here.

And so, dear comrades, do we prepare to conclude yet another lost year - 2023 - in much the same way that it began: With Skipper Boone - having somehow survived another management guillotine - perched on his haunches and braying to the moon about what could happen in an alternative Yankiverse - one where gonads don't tweak, aging sluggers reach their peaks, and he doesn't have to cower like a tortured hostage in nightly postgame shows. 

It's the universe where kids grow up dreaming of playing for the Yankees, the world's greatest collection of men, who stand for everything that's exceptional about America. It's a world still comprised of those who love or hate the Yankees, with everybody else merely passing time until their team - the Royals or Twins, who cares? - visit the Bronx to be tested.

This is a Yankiverse that basically disappeared 20 years ago, and it won't come back, whether or not it's over over there. The Yankees used to have something, a mystique, you might say, and they pissed it away long ago to cut their luxury taxes. I'd like to think they still possessed the grandeur as late as 2019, when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado both pleaded for the chance to wear pinstripes, and the Yankee ownership hid under the bed. Or maybe it ended a few years earlier, when they ceded Robbie Cano to Seattle - yes, big-spending Seattle. 

Oh, well, it doesn't matter, does it? Four days from now, the calendar will turn, and it will be Groundhog Year, with Boonie once again warbling about a grand and wondrous future. And why not? The Yankees yesterday traded Estavan Florial for a bullpen lug nut whose main virtue is multiple roster options, which translates into numerous rides on the Scranton shuttle. And soon they'll sign somebody - anybody. You can almost hear the organ grinder playing "Aude Lang Syne" for Frankie Montas, while we run in circles and gather coins from the onlookers. 

It's going to be a long, hard year - a bullpen year - coupled with a presidential election, the Olympics and God knows what. Still, Boonie can't wait to fill out that scorecard. And if everybody stays healthy, and a few players return to form, well... it could be really something!   

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Now Watch Florial Flourish


The Yankees have traded former top prospect Estevan Florial to the Cleveland Indiguardians.  I wish we had seen more of Florial but, if he lands us a pitcher, I suppose that's a good thing.

Cody Morris, the pitcher we're getting, has pitched a total of 31.2 innings in the majors.  That makes this is a "we''ll see."

In other news, I still want Jordan Montgomery back.  I still want Montgomery never to be gone.



Boxing Day

By Above Average

Don't hold your breath
Don't bite your tongue
There's still way too much
That's left undone

Let them hear us
Loud and clear
We want a better team
Next Year

Yankees Brasses
Get off your asses
And turn off that Steinbrenner

No Yamamoto
But we still need pitching
or we'll never stop
Our collective bitching.

Great Moments in Yankees History, Part III


June, 1949.

"Mr. Weiss, sir: Tom Greenwade is on line one."

"What? I hope he's not bothering me about wanting to sign some Negro League star again. I keep telling him: integrated baseball is a passing fad!"

"No, sir. It's about this prospect he found in Commerce, Oklahoma—some 17-year-old kid, saw him play with the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids? He says he needs authorization for an $1,100 signing bonus."

"Oh, I bet he does."

"Sir, he says the kid's father is threatening to sign him with the St. Louis Browns if we don't come across."

"Well, then he oughta go sign with the Browns."


"Like I don't have better things to do than sign some slag-heap kid shortstop with a scattershot arm! On top of that $1,100, we'll have to pay him $400 for what's left of the Class D season. I didn't get where I am, o unnamed nabob, by just throwing away the Yankees' money."

"Sir, Mr. Greenwade seems to think this kid is pretty special. He says we could always move him to the outfield—"

"We already got more outfielders in this organization than I can shake a stick at. Why, my big headache this year is trying to get more playing time for Cliff Mapes."

"Mapes, sir?"

"Sure! Guy hit .308 with power in Kansas City last year, before we brought him up. Strong arm, you can put him in right field or center. And you see how he's built? Six-three, 205—now there's a ballplayer who looks like a Yankee!"

"But Mr. Greenwade says—"

"Look, kid, you know what really makes this whiz kid special? He's got a rare bone disease. Osteomyelitis. Don't ask me to spell it, but I checked it out with the team doc. Got it playing high school football—and thanks to God knows what other poisons they got lurking around out there in mining country."

"I had no idea, sir!"

"That's why they pay me the big bucks, son: to know things like that. You get back on the blower and tell Tom Greenwade his Commerce gimp can sign with the St. Louis Browns or the St. Louis Cardinals or the St. Louis Hucklebucks, far as I'm concerned."

"Yes, sir."

"When it comes to some unknown kid with a bone disease or a man like Cliff Mapes, well, make mine Mapes, every time!"

If the Yankees plan to trade their way back to relevance, good luck with that.

First rule about the '24 Yankees: After the Yama-Christmas debacle, we cannot believe anything they say. 

The more we learn about their inconsequential 3rd place offer - the bronze medal for nothingness - the more stark is the chasm between big spenders and the piddling, penny-pinching Yankees. 

Both the Dodgers and Mets offered $25 million more than what Hal's fanny pack would allow, and the Yankee excuse - they wouldn't go above Gerrit Cole's payments - smacks of Old School Mealy-Mouth. Cole is a players union man who understands raising the payroll bar, and all he wants is a ring, not some fake corporate proclamation of loyalty. The Yankees spent the last three months touting their intention to sign Yamamoto, then they fell $25 million short.

Second Rule of the modern Yankees: Whomever the next top free agent is - maybe even the top two - Steve Cohen will be laying down his money, and the Yankees will be writing their excuses.

That talk of being "all in on 2024?" Well, Baltimore is the best and youngest team in baseball, preparing to add Jackson Holliday, the game's most exciting prospect. The Rays are the Rays, Toronto is one player away, and the Yankees have emptied their farm system of young pitching - which is still the life blood of baseball. 

To fix the roster, Brian Cashman may have to trade, and therein lies the rub: 

Who goes? Who do they have that other teams want?

1. Prospects? They've already drained the system. There are Oswald and Oswaldo (Peraza and Cabrera), neither of whom showed much last year. Everson Pereira rose meteorically and burned out. They'll get absolutely nothing for Estevan Florial, having sat on him for five years, and it says something sad that they signed the funny namesake, Jeter Downs, after he was jettisoned by - gulp - the Washington Nationals. I thought it was cool, until I realized, WTF? that's a roster spot. 

2. Hitters? Um, correct me if I'm wrong here, but weren't they one of baseball's saddest offenses last year? There's Gleyber, I suppose. But wasn't keeping him a sign of Hal's '24 commitment? They could trade DJ LeMahieu - at his lowest value. They could house-flip Alex Verdugo; it would be fun to think he shaved his beard for nothing. But who do they have that another team wants? (And nobody will take Giancarlo; not even Cohen.)

3. Pitching? Yikes. That's the problem. They're still overly invested in Carlos Rodon, and Nasty Nestor - when not attending Trump rallies - may have passed his sell-by date. Our No. 2 starter is Clarke Schmidt. 

So, in a nutshell, here is the Yankee plight.

Free agents? We're up against Cohen, and we won't win any bidding wars. Trades? We have nobody to give, plus there's Cashman's horrific record over the last two years. 

Sorry to be such a downer. But the Yankees leveraged their winter on adding Yamamoto, and they didn't even finish runner-up. 

I don't know where they go from here. But it sure looks gloomy. 

Monday, December 25, 2023

The MLB All-Heavenly Host Team

 From Baseball's Substack, which is led by our own Alibi Ike. Go there and subscribe.

Merry Christmas, the Yankees are hopeless, and happy new year.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Great Moments in Yankees History, Part II.


October, 1934

"Mr. Barrow, Mr. Barrow, sir! Charlie Graham is on the phone, and he says—"

"What is a Charlie Graham?"

"He's the owner of the San Francisco Seals, sir. He says that he wants to talk about a deal for Joe DiMaggio. He says that any five ballplayers and $25,000, and he's ours!"

"DiMaggio, DiMaggio...isn't he that kid who blew out his knee back in August?"

"Yessir. But Mr. Graham says the knee is fine now, and we can have him examined and everything. He'll even keep him for another year, just in case we want him to prove it."

"Yeah, I bet he would. I remember Charlie now. Always was a slick one. And now he wants us to take his broken kid off his hands—for only five players and 25 large! He's got balls anyway, I'll say that for him."

"But sir! DiMaggio plays the best centerfield anybody's ever seen!"

"Did, son. Did play the best centerfield anybody ever saw. That knee went, how? Crumpled when he stepped out of a cab? Yeah, he's gonna cover a lot of ground with that."

"But sir—"

"Forget it, nameless minion! We already got Ben Chapman in center, he made the All-Star Game this year, hit .308, led the league in triples, and stole 26 bases. Is this DiMaggio kid going to top that?"

"Chapman hit five home runs, sir. And led the league in times caught stealing, too. And sometimes he likes to turn around and call the fans in the bleachers, uh, anti-Semitic names, sir."

"Yeah, well, if we have to, we can always move Twinkletoes Selkirk into his spot. These are the Yankees, kid! Nobody's indispensable!"

"But Mr. Barrow! DiMaggio's not just a great glove. He was hitting .341 when he got hurt. In the Pacific Coast League, which is almost the majors! And the year before, when he was still 18, he had that record, 61-game hitting streak—"

"Yeah, yeah. Yesterday's news, kid. Look, we got this Jesse Hill guy coming up. He hit .356 in the PCL. Hit .349 in Newark last year, our top farm team. Why, we been seasoning this guy forever. Why should be pass him up for some kid with a bum knee?"

"Jesse Hill?"

"Look, kid, last time I looked, there was still a Depression going on, am I right?"


"But I'm supposed to pay $25 g's to this Charlie Graham joker. And then, with all the publicity, whattaya think DiMaggio's gonna want? I'm bettin' we can't get away with paying this kid anything less than, oh, $8,500—and that's just to start! Where if we give Jesse Hill five grand, he'll be more grateful than a Bowery hooker with a finiff."

"But don't you see—"

"No, you don't see! These days, we got enough payroll for one big star on the Yankees. We got that big palooka, Ruth, down to $35,000 before we fobbed him off on the Braves just now. That leaves Gehrig, and the big galoot is so naive we can get away with paying him just $25,000. In fact, I think I can cut him another $2,000 for next year. All he did for us was win that Triple Crown thing—"

"But that makes this the perfect time to add someone like a Joe DiMaggio! Why, we get him and the future's unlimited! Even with this Depression, we could take, maybe, I dunno, seven pennants in eight years, maybe win six World Series. We'd be making money even with what we pay him—"

"Nix, kid, nix! The fans'll be satisfied watching Gehrig. And maybe throwing things at Ben Chapman. Joe, Joe DiMaggio? We don't want him on our side." 

It is high, it is far, it is... CHRISTMAS!

Damn. This is just so depressing... 

The Yankees finished fourth in the AL East, third in the Yamamoto sweepstakes... but first in the bidding for Jeter Downs.

We'll return to documenting the atrocities after the Giants get pummeled by the Eagles.

In the meaning, Merry Christmas, all. 

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Great Moments in Yankees History, Part I.

 December, 1919.

"Colonel, colonel! Great news! I just got word that Harry Frazer wants to break up the Red Sox! He's willing to sell off most of the team to you—and all he wants is a few benchwarmers and a lot of money, of which you have all there is in the world. Why, he's even willing to sell us Babe Ruth!

"Easy, easy liebkind. Why would we do such a thing? What does this Babe Ruth do, anyway?

"Well, he's the best left-handed pitcher in the majors. And he set the home-run record this year—as a hitter, in a shortened season!"

"Think, liebkind! Why would we need such a player? What team led the majors in home runs last year?"

"Well, we did. With 45. But—"

"Exactly! Our team is nicknamed "Murderers' Row. We even have a third baseman called Home Run Baker. What more do we need with more of these home runs? Besides, this Ruth is known is as quite the carouser. How long before he eats and drinks his way out of the game? How old is he, anyway?"

"He'll be 25. Next February."

"Yes—and already making $5,000 a year. Next thing you know, he'll be wanting $10,000, $20,000.

"And in any case, where would we put him? I hear he likes to play the outfield. But already out there, we got the Duffy Lewis, we got the Ping Bodie, we got the Sammy Vick. This Vick is only 24, too. I think he's quite a comer."

"But don't you see the potential here, sir? With Ruth and the other Red Sox stars, we could have a champion ball team overnight! Why we could take over this town—take over the whole sports world! We could even move out of the Polo Grounds, and build a stadium of our own! Why, I bet we could draw one million fans on a season!"

"Patience, patience, my anonymous little subordinate! Are we doing so bad right now? No one is ever going to draw a million fans in a season. But we did over 600,000 this year—third best in the league. And we finished third—just 7 1/2 games behind the White Sox! That great Boston team with their great Babe Ruth came in sixth."

"But sir—"

"Look, liebkind, right now, we play in the best ballpark in the majors. The Giants charge us a very reasonable rent to be play here when they're not at home. Why should we want to risk building our own stadium? Or grabbing up the stars on some other team? What would our fellow owners think?

"Money doesn't grow on trees, you know. What do you think I make for a living, anyway?"

"Beer, sir."

"That's right. And with this terrible Prohibition coming in, the whole, wonderful business my father left to me is kaput. No Constitutional amendment has ever been repealed, you know. Nobody will ever drink beer again in this country! 

"We have to hold on to what we got. You know what they say: no guts, no sorry. In another five years, your Babe Ruth will be a wreck, and maybe we can scrape out a pennant. We'll fill the Polo Grounds, then! On Sundays, anyway. 

"Why, I can see us drawing as many as 700,000 fans in a season. And won't we feel better having done it all on our own, without making the fans of some other team feel bad? And you know, I bet Sammy Vick will be leading that fine team!"  

Merry Christmas? Bah. The Yankees are stuck in the chimney

Our doctor is a student nurse.
Our health, it's not so well.
It's Christmas in the Yankiverse,
We're stuck in fuckin' hell.

Don't know if I could feel worse,
This is no place to dwell.
It's Christmas in the Yankiverse,
Ignore the sulfur smell.

The owner claims an empty purse.
We're stuck deep in this well.
It's Christmas in the Yankiverse,
Dear Hal, it's time to sell. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Here comes Santa Claus. Drown your tears about Yamamoto and sing along with Elvis and the Master


Plan B? There is no Plan B. There was never even a Plan A.


So now comes the toughest part of the Yankees' annual CashieCon celebration, when they try with a straight face to convince us that this latest, thoughtless failure is what they had in mind all along.

We're about to be subjected to weeks—maybe even months—of talk about how what they really planned to do all along was to "super-charge" the bullpen, or go after Blake Snell, or old friend Monty.

Don't believe the hype.

Look, there is a perfectly reasonable argument to be made that Yoshinobu Yamamoto was too untested a commodity to be given such an enormous contract, and that the Yankees would have been better off using that sort of money—or a fraction thereof—to invest in two or three or four pitchers, or maybe trade Vertigo on and sign Clay Bellinger.

But if that's what they had in mind, the time to go after their real targets was these past two weeks, when the big spenders were chasing Yamamoto, and before the market was "set" at these obscene levels. 

Think Josh Hader's or Snell's or Monty's agents would have sneered at, say, a really good offer for 3-5 years? I don't. But they will now. Everything the Yankees allegedly want or need will cost much, much more—if they can get it at all.

The truth is that the Yankees didn't put their "real" plan into effect because there was no real plan. There never is. Only a plan to pretend to chase the top names, so that a fan base they think of as unsatisfiable and irrational will stop hocking their chinik for two minutes.

There is no great scheme in place to develop more players from the minors, or pluck off the best, underrated free agents. Everything is seat-of-the-pants, everything is just hoping for the best like a little child, then trying to figure out the next, dog-ate-my-homework excuse.

This is why Aaron Judge ended up taking them for so much money, because HAL and Bri would not or could not think seriously a year or two in advance about whether they wanted to keep him or not. It's why, if our noodnik down at second, Gleyber Torres, has any kind of passable performance this season, he, too, will hold them up for much more than he's worth.  

Someday, I suppose, we'll find out what Yoshinobu Yamamoto wanted when he set up a second appointment with the Yankees. For now, the mystery galls and grates. Was it yet another case of a star offering the Yanks a discount, as we now know that Carlos Beltran, Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper all did? Could they have been so stupid as to pass—again?

It won't really matter by that time, of course. If we're not long dead, the Yankees will be.

Just remember: there is no plan, there never was a plan. There is only a grubby little man chasing after Prince Hal of the Shipwreck Steinbrenners, trying always to save him as much as possible of the money that Hal believes in his bones that he earned, but that in fact came entirely from all of us.