Thursday, February 29, 2024

Hal said the Yankees weren't done making improvements. He didn't specifically mention Jahmai Jones.

It's generally a bad sign when a player's Baseball Reference photo is two teams out of date. So it is with Jahmai Jones, a light-hitting 2B/OF whom the Yankees rescued yesterday from MLB waiver limbo. The move raises an existential question that is currently reverberating across the Yankiverse:  


I don't mean to whine, but the Death Barge has spent the last two week playing rumor mill footsie with Scott Boras over Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, either of whom would greatly improve the 2024 team. So what do they do? They grab a utility depth piece for Scranton? Yeesh.

At 2B, they have Gleyber Torres for opening day and Jorbit Vivas - obtained from the Dodgers this winter - for Triple A. There is Oswaldo Cabrera, though the warning blinkers - he'll give up switch-hitting - are signaling S.O.S. Until Monday, when he started botching grounders, they had a viable IF prospect in Oswald Peraza. Now, he's got a bum shoulder, and we're signing a backup 2B? 

I believe I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "Uh-oh." 

Or it could be nothing. I suspect Cooperstown Cashman keeps a secret metadata file on every living human being - (he knows that I can still go to my left.)  When someone pops up on the waiver wire, if he is .00001 of a point higher than what we already have, Cashman pounces. Maybe Jahmai Jones is slightly higher rated than Jeter Downs? (Who, by the way, is 1-for-5 with 2 RBIs and 2 Ks this spring.) Dunno. But the Yankees have Jones, and here's what we got.

Ten Fun Facts About Jahmai Jones.

1. He's 26 years old, bats RH, a 2nd round pick from Georgia, where he was the high school player of the year in 2015.

2. Last year at Triple A, he hit .268 with 12 HRs.

3. He used to be a big base stealer - 27 in 2017 (in low minors.) He stole only 12 last year and was caught 5 times.

4. In 90 MLB plate appearances, he's been plunked once.

5. He's not eligible for arbitration until 2027.

6. His best year as a prospect was 2017: He hit .282 with 14 HRs in two levels.

7. What set him back: Tommy John surgery in May 2022. Missed the year.

8. The Yankees are his 5th team, after the Angels, Orioles, Dodgers and Brewers.

9. His dad, Andre Jones, played for the Detroit Lions. His brothers, TJ (NFL, Lions) and Malachi (National Arena League, Albany), play pro football.  

10. His MLB career stats: .179, no HRs, an OBP of .233. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A fake triple makes us stare wide-eyed into the meaningless jaws of Yankee hell, and other observations

When is a triple not a real triple? Yesterday, I suppose.

The box in yesterday's loss to Tampa shows Anthony Volpe's first hit of '24 - an RBI triple. We wanna picture a hip-high laser to the wall, only kept in the ballpark by gale force gusts. In fact, it was a slap single to center, misplayed by an out-of-position SS who dove and missed, allowing Volpe to ramble. 

I don't mean to pee on Volpe or his triple. A hit is a hit, and plenty of liners will zing right into somebody's mitt - Willie McCovey to Bobby Richardson. Eventually, the cosmos will even out, as cosmoses love to do. Yesterday, Volpe hit three flies - to left, to right and to center. One dropped. He's now batting .250. Volpe trivia, eh?

Here's more: He was born in this millennium - 2001 - at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He spent his early years on the Upper East Side of Manhattan - (both parents, doctors) - and moved to Jersey in 4th grade. Let's remind ourselves that Volpe is 22 - same age as Spencer Jones, the YES sensation of the week, and younger than the Double A driftwood who streaked yesterday's lineup. He is the first rookie ever to win a Gold Glove, and while some may question that award, it reflects Volpe's personal drive as much as anything. He still has the ceiling of a future star. 

Coupled with yesterday's news that Oswald Peraza has shoulder tightness - yikes, can anything else go wrong for the guy? - Volpe's health and development is more important than ever. The Yankees need him to:

a) Hit 50 points higher than last year.
b) Play in 140 games.
c) Hit 20-25 HRs.
d) Hold together the infield.
e) All of the above, WITHOUT drawing comparisons to a certain future Hall of Fame SS, who in last year's car commercials had to drive through a perilous rain storm to make it home to his supermodel wife. (A fucking rain storm? Are you kidding me? Have any of those tough Florida Men ever experienced a whiteout on I-81 north of Pulaski?

Yesterday, Volpe batted leadoff. Come April, he'll bat ninth. Let's hope the balls keep dropping. One crazy thing about the Yankees is the number of seemingly established players who - in a strange turnabout from past springs - really need to show something: Giancarlo, Rizzo, Verdugo, LeMahieu, maybe Soto and Volpe. 

In that regard, a fake triple looks as good as anything. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Still searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

Baseball Rule #2024: 

When your closer is Oddanier Mosqueda, you're either...

a) In the Venezuela Winter League.

b) Working on a rap lyric rhyme to "See ya latah!"

c) The Yankees, still claiming they don't need Blake Snell. 

Yes, Oddanier Mosqueda. What finer way to tell the world - (and Scott Boras) - that the Hellbent Yanks couldn't care less about last year's NL Cy Young winner. They've got Oddanier - a 24-year-old, 5'10", lefty exile from Boston's farm system. In 2021, he got the win in the big Americas Olympic Qualifier game against Canada! Last year, in Triple A, he threw 61 innings with an ERA of 5.31. Yeah. That Oddanier. We got this.

Oh, and did I mention the Codys? Cody #1 - Cody Poteet - threw 1.2 scoreless innings. (As Vonnegut wrote, "And the birds cried Cody Poteet.") Cody #2 - Cody Morris - went 2.1 and took the win. Yeah, who needs Snell?

The problem? One pitcher mattered yesterday, and he got Navalyed. (What? Too soon?) Nestor Cortes gave up 7 hits and 2 ERs, unable to last the 3rd inning. (He barely escaped the 1st, after loading the bases with one out.) This against Minnesota, who was playing the cast of Knott's Landing. 

Of course, these outings don't matter. (Unless it turns out that they do.) And I don't mean to beat the dead horse known as Blake Snell. I believe the Yankees are making a massive mistake by attaching their best batting order in the last decade to a wafer thin rotation, which won't survive the injuries we know to be inevitable. But whadda I know? Sunday, the YES announcers patiently explained why it's fiscally imprudent to sign Snell; let's appreciate their diligence in carrying Mr. Steinbrenner's bucket of water.

Yesterday's 9-2 win happened amid reports that they are still talking to Boras. Frankly, I doubt this. I think Boras is using the Yankees to drive up Snell's market. The Yankees will play along, because it makes them look like big money tycoons. Hey, they almost signed Yamamoto! 

Nope. You want to see into the Yankee future? Forget Snell. Think: Oddanier Mosqueda.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Searching for meaning in a meaningless universe

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a ballgame, so the Yankees played two. In doing so, they showcased the vast chasm between heaven and hell, in terms of what this team might accomplish in 2024.

Against Philly, they managed one measly hit, an 8th inning slap single by Greg Allen - a moment of relief undercut by the sudden revelation that we have Greg Allen. (Don't mean to pick on Allen, but he's 30 and hit .217 last year; for him to impact 2024, a slew of Yanks must go down.) 

Oswald Peraza made two errors and went 0-3 with two Ks and a grounder to SS that coulda been a DP, if anyone had been on base. Wow. A disaster. Obviously, it's too early to dismiss Peraza, who hopefully just shook off a winter of rust. But he might turn out to be another Yank prospect we shoulda traded when we had the chance. He better not have another game like yesterday, unless he's got a girlfriend in Scranton he wants to see.

Marcus Stroman started, retired the side in the 1st (two flies and a liner), then couldn't survive the 2nd, even after striking out Kyle Schwarber. Three singles and a walk. Yikes. Peraza's botched DP play made it 3-0 Philly, and that was that.

In the second game, played before a fawning YES spin machine, the Death Barge piled up 12 runs with two drunken happy narratives: Carlos Rodon and Juan Soto. 

In the 1st, Rodon mowed down the Jays, a popup and two Ks. In the 2nd, he loaded the bases before retiring the side. In the 3rd, he gave up a HR and was retrieved. YES spent the next seven innings celebrating his return, comparing him to the Bad Rodon of 2023. It's a story line we better get used to hearing. Let's hope it's true.

As for Soto, he belted a HR to left-center - the former Death Valley - and gave Yank fans their first taste of his celebratory bat flip. In this case, it conjured unfortunate memories of Josh Donaldson. As an Old Schooler, I prefer players who don't preen, but - hey - it's a new world. If Soto hits well, nobody will criticize - including me. Celebrating in the dugout, Soto was clearly delighted, and his smile is a beacon. He also walked and grounded out. 

The rest of the game featured pitchers I have never heard of, which is scary because I actually follow the minors. Oh, well, it's just a dream, I right? If a tree falls in a forest, and John and Suzyn don't call it, does anybody hear?

Sunday, February 25, 2024

On the first TV day of 2024, the top 10 YES personalities, ranked

Today, at 1:05 p.m., the Yankees play a key one-game series against the Blue Jays. 

If they lose, the season is over.

It will appear on YES, whose veteran lineup - frankly - needs a Blake Snell,  somebody we can blame when everything goes sideways.

Seriously, some of the best Yankee TV announcers - Bill White, Tom Seaver, Ken Singleton - bubbled up from the pools of arch-rivals. One of most enjoyable parts of YES is watching a former Met or Cardinal turn Yankee. 

And they all do. It's human nature to root for the team that's paying for your new pontoon. I suggest YES hires Pedro Martinez - a delightful man with a ton of anti-Yankee career baggage. I predict he would become a beloved icon of New York, pissing all over those Boston ingrates. Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

Anyway, because I have nothing to do, here are my Top 10 YES personalities, ranked.

10: Todd Frazier, Ryan Ruocco and Justin Shakil. Lumped together. They haven't really made enough of an impact to make my final will or shitlist. 

9. Jeff Nelson. Came in 2019, plays the "veteran pitcher" card. Occasionally makes a good point. No longer a Seattle plant. 

8. Joe Girardi. Returning after a failed managerial stint in Philly. Who doesn't like Joe - the last Yank manager to win a ring? Also, on the night of that great success, while driving home, he stopped to help a motorist whose car had broken down on aina busy highway. Heroic. The problem: He'll still want to manage. I wonder if he can keep that in check?

7. Meredith Marakovits. After 12 years, she still faces the Plexiglas ceiling, suck in Lady on Sidelines mode. She does old school reporting, talking to players before the  game, but most of her stuff is fluff. I wish she had a chance to do radio, but Suzyn will never leave. Never criticizes or complains, even when she should. Basically, her talent is wasted.

6. Paul O'Neill. What Yank fan doesn't love Pauly. That said, he's stuck in place, relentlessly rooting, the biggest homer on the staff. Has it really been 23 years? Again, you love the guy, but his act is tiring. He's treading water.

5. Michael Kay. Not as awful as we sometimes think. The trouble with Kay is that - in his 33rd year now, and 20th since we won anything - he is uncompromisingly associated with teams that disappointed us. He tries to criticize the Yankees - he must bear his teeth for the radio show - but he never unloads on Hal. Also, there's the music thing. After Springsteen, he seems to think nobody ever made a rock album. What kind of childhood did he experience, if he doesn't even know the Talking Heads? 

4. Bob Lorenz. Steady, competent, underrated - he blends into the flow, dishes off to Jack Curry for the assist. Under-utilized, always in control. He knows his role, and he handles it well.

3. Jack Curry. Always has a fresh factoid, and criticizes players or managerial decisions. (Again, nobody sticks it to Hal.) The problem: His hair. I cannot not see it. Could he wear a ballcap?

2. John Flaherty. Flash. Rare to find a former player so technically skillful as an announcer. He never makes a mistake, and he still has the self-deprecating thing about being a bad hitter. A game called by Flaherty always goes down smoothly. 

1. David Cone. The star, the everyman, he even has a knowledge of 1980's punk rock, which astounds Kay. Coney is the breakout personality, and he's never better than when telling a story. He even makes the Exit Velo seem interesting, though his love of it is a trope. The Yankees must never let him go to ESPN fulltime. Often, he's the best part of a game.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Game Thread: Important things to know about today's game...

Baseball returns for the Yankees today at Joker Marchant Stadium. home of the Lakeland Flying Tigers . 1PM EST. 

Why is it called Joker Marchant Stadium?

"The stadium is named after former Lakeland parks and recreation director Joker Marchant, who was instrumental in the construction of the park in the 1960s. A statue of Marchant stands just outside the ballpark to greet fans."

What's with the name Flying Tigers? 

 "The Flying Tigers were  American volunteer pilots recruited by Claire L. Chennault, a retired U.S. Army captain, to fight the Japanese in Burma (Myanmar) and China during 1941–42, at a time when Japan's control over China's ports and transportation system had almost cut off China's Nationalist government from the outside world." 

Or... there could be actual flying tigers. If so, and you are going to the game... watch your ass. 

Can I get an "all you can eat" ticket? 

Not today but, yes.  

All-You-Can-Eat Wednesday

Enjoy unlimited hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, pretzels, slow natives, and fountain drinks from 5:30 - 8:30 PM. 

Games start at 1PM.

Who is in today's lineup?  

Aside from Volpe none of the other regulars. 

Should I bother to watch the game? 

This question will be asked numerous times throughout the year. As it turns out, today's game is only on radio so unless you are there you can't.

Update: Spencer hit a HR

Spencer hit a HR

So there's that.

Aaron Boone is gushing over young Yankee arms. Unfortunately, the franchise's track record speaks otherwise

When students of life ask about the secret to happiness, I always say, "Pitching, pitching, pitching..." It's true: The solid rotation is God's 5-Day Deodorant Pad.  When the Yankees can boast five healthy starters - as they can today - that's kismet with the cosmos. 

Of course, I should add one note: It's February. Doesn't matter. The Yank bullshit machine is already churning in Full October Mode. It's assuring us that the tranche of young pitchers we traded this winter was merely the excess runoff from a talent overload. 

Yesterday, in a master class of positivity, Aaron Boone touted an influx of young pitchers: Chase Hampton, Brock Selvidge, Kyle Carr, Brian Hendry, Luis Serna and Trystan Vrieling. Write down those names. Some will never again appear on this site.

Boiled down, the Yankee spring narrative goes this way: 

In recent years, in some secret, hollowed out volcano, the franchise quietly built "The Gas Station," the world's most advanced system for developing young pitchers. As a result, the Yankees had too many golden arms. They needed to bleed some off. Thus, they converted them into Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham. Don't worry: They still have an endless supply.

Yep. They want us to believe that somewhere in Tampa, or Scranton, or Wappingers Falls, hellbent Yank scientists cross-indexed the Da Vinci Code with the reanimated brain of Billy Connors and, Voila! We have gobs of pitching, pitching, pitching

So be it. Today, I'm officially swallowing the red pill. Why not? Hope beats despair.

One problem, though. It's been - well - a while since the Death Barge produced an ace. Their last homegrown starter with three strait +3 WAR seasons was Andy Pettitte, and that was 20 years ago. They've had short-lived near misses - Chien-Ming Wang and Luis Severino come to mind - but best homegrown young pitcher in the last decade might turn out to be - gulp - Michael King. And he's gone.

The Yankees just have not developed aces. Instead, they get them the old-fashioned way: They buy them. Mussina. Sabathia. Tanaka. Cole. They tried this spring with Yamamoto. Their inability to trade for aces is even worse: Montas, Pineda, Happ, don't make me list them; it hurts too much. 

Which brings us, of course, to Blake Snell. I've given up picturing Snell in pinstripes. Why bother? If they get him, he'll tweak something, a la Carlos Rodon, and be out until August. If they don't get him, he'll sign with a rival and kill us, resenting the Yankees for not spending on him. Honestly, even if you're hellbent on positivity, it just doesn't matter.

Today brings the first meaningless game of 2024, a season in which the Yankees are said to be going "all out." Yesterday, Hal Steinbrenner said the Yankees are not done improving this team. That means Brian Cashman is scrounging recycling bins. And Boonie is throwing out names for us to remember.

Well, we have no choice but to go along for the ride. I hope you'll join us.

Friday, February 23, 2024

The Yankees in 2024: It's all about Soto.

Monday, Juan Soto met Destiny. 

The Yankees held a "media availability" with Soto, their status symbol acquisition of 2024. (Here's a tidbit for Ripley's: They even invited IT IS HIGH, via Zoom -first time ever. Surely, someone will be fired.)

(Note: Didn't attend, life being too short.) 

Soto sat before a canvas festooned with the corporate logos of the Yankees and Toyota. He wore a T-shirt that said, "The Generational Juan Soto," apparently, his new catchphrase. He spaketh for about 30 minutes, thanking everyone like an Oscar acceptance, praising in particular his childhood mentor Robby Cano. (Note: That sends shudders on several levels, from jogging out grounders to walking away from NYC.) Overall, he fielded creampuff questions, which is okay. There will be times to channel Tom Cruise's cross-examination from "A Few Good Men." On the first day of camp, a YES love-in is fine.

I say this because Soto is the most transformative Yankee addition since Mark Teixeira in 2009. Certainly, the Hellbents will ride the shoulders of Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole, but that's the normalcy of 2023 - (and it wasn't enough last year.) The Yankees want Soto - perhaps the purest natural hitter since Manny Ramirez - to elevate their entire batting order. 

If he succeeds - that is, if the Yankees win - I believe Hal Steinbrenner next winter will fight to keep Soto in the way that Volodymyr Zelenskyy does a northern province. We can rightfully question Hal's refusal to spend on free agents this winter - our big acquisition was Marcus Stroman, probably the fifth best pitcher on the market - but if Soto is truly "Generational," I believe Hal will have no choice but to bury him with money. 

I know what you're thinking: What a toady! Guy gets invited to a Zoom, and now he's gone soft on the Beastmaster. Look, I don't wanna to get lost in the weeds, but if Soto hits in 2024, it will mean fucking everything to the Yankee lineup. And if he doesn't, well, we're left hoping for Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton to magically be revived and carry the team. If Soto fails, for whatever reasons, we're cooked.

Last season, in the media cacoon of San Diego, Soto hit .275 with 35 HRs and 109 RBIs - for him, an average season. He played 162 games, led the NL in walks - creating a .410 on base percentage. But here's the real thing: He'll basically be replacing the LH comedy team of Willie Calhoun, Jake Bauers and Billy McKinney, which drove in an accumulated 60 runs. This is a massive upgrade. 

"Generational?" I dunno. But 2024 starts Saturday, and make no mistake: It's all about Soto.  For better or worse, he is meeting his Destiny.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Do You Know Me?


Do you know me???

Here are a few clues:

I'm 28 years old, a left-handed power hitter who generally plays centerfield, but also won a Gold Glove in right (I can also play first, in case your starting first baseman has a history of mysterious head injuries.) 

I suffered a bad injury myself that left me as a shell of my former self for three seasons, but before that I was Rookie of the Year, MVP, and a Silver Slugger winner. Last year I was all recovered, and won another Silver Slugger and Comeback of the Year.

I batted .307 last season, with 26 home runs, though I have hit as many as 47 homers in a season. And even with those 3 bad years, my lifetime OPS is .829.

Who am I?

Do you know me???

I will be 28 in May. I am a left-handed outfielder who is also a power hitter. Though maybe "power hitter" is an exaggeration, as I have never hit more than 13 homers in a season, and my lifetime OPS is only .765.

I was supposed to be the next great centerfielder once upon a time, but I haven't played center since 2021. I did finish 12th in the MVP voting—in the Covid season. 

Who am I?

Do you know me???

I'm 31, and one of the very few pitchers ever to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues. I won the second award just last year.

My lifetime ERA is 3.20, and it has been as low as 1.89 and 2.25, in my Cy Young years.

Ring a bell?

Do you know me???

I'll be 33 in May. I'm a pitcher, too. But my lifetime ERA is 3.65 (and 3.95 last year), and my lifetime won-loss record is just one game over .500.

I stand just five-foot-seven, and I have a history of getting into silly internet feuds with fans, general managers, and pretty anyone else I can antagonize.

Who am I?

Do you know me???


Oh, of course you know me! I'm Jordan Montgomery, and I used to pitch in the Bronx. 

My lifetime ERA is 3.68—and it would probably be much lower if anyone had ever taught me how to pitch here. Instead, I had a terrific postseason last year, helping the Texas Rangers to a World Series championship. 

The Rangers don't seem to want me, but I'm still just 31 and looking better every year. Don't you want to see what it will take to get my wife and I to come back to New York? I sure was hell would!

Gee, does it seem to anyone else that the Yankees are settling for second- or third-best this year...only because of money??? Nah, nope, couldn't be, impossible!

One week into camp, health-bent Yankees are marvels of fitness and wellbeing

Okay, everybody... ALL ABOARRRRRD!

Stow your baggage! That's you, Doug K. Down that hoagie, Hoss, else it goes in the Putin. Chug your Bud Lites, ladies, and stand away from the unbolted Boeing door. Flight attendants, check the overheads, flush the loos and assume the pregnant stork position: 

This Yankee '24 train, or plane, or motor scooter - whatever - it's leaving the station...

After one week of Gammonitic scrutiny - 1 percent of the precincts reporting - we have BREAKING NEWS from the IT IS HIGH SITUATION ROOM/KOSHER DELI: 


Okay, maybe we're jumping the juniper. It's early. But but BUT... one week into Camp Hellbent, I challenge anybody, anywhere, to gimme one stinkin' reason why we should not be ejaculating great glowing gophers of hope. 

By this time last year, as you may recall, the Yankee Posturepedic had been permanently shat. We know the culprits: Rodon, Nestor, Sevy - a Bataan March of tweaked tushes and strained breadbaskets. That was then. This is - well - not then. We're taking our O-o-o, Ozempic!, plus the little pill with the big stow-ree to tell. We're bundling our home and car insurance. This is Week One, and everything is Liberty-Biberty!  

I'm serious. Last year, after one measly week in Tampa, we'd already lost Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas, and Carlos Rodon was just warming up for his season-long disillusionment. 

Right now, no Amber Alerts. Everybody is healthy - (sorry, Scott Effross, you weren't here long enough to be "missing.") Let's enjoy this, while we can.

Both the Mets and Orioles - two rivals we must vanquish in 2024 - have already lost aces. (Kodai Senga has a "tired arm;" Kyle Bradish a strained UCL.) Boston looks baked. The Jays and Rays slept all winter. And fuck Jose Altuve, he's a year older with nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, we are pillars of nutrition and hygiene. 

Yeah, Aaron Judge says his bum toe must be "maintained." Nobody knows how Slim Gio Stanton will hit without that bowling ball he was lugging. The future of Anthony Rizzo remains as foggy as his head was last July. 

Fukkit. I. Don't. Care. 

Strap in, everybody. We're going for a ride. This train don't pull no doubters, this train...

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Carpe Diem!

I spent yesterday thinking about JM's reminder that every season could be our final one and that we should enjoy it. I couldn't agree more. 

This last year saw my 96 year old  mom moved to an assisted living facility in another state, the almost total wiping out of the old guard in the neighborhood I grew up in...  people that I still called  "Mrs. and their last name",  and saw my prostate cored out like the inside of an avocado by a thulium laser as I became the living embodiment  of the joke... 

I went to my doctor and he told me he needs a blood sample, a urine sample, and a stool sample and I said, "Take my underwear." 

The entire experience was massively disconcerting but in the end...

(Note the wordplay in "but" and "in the end" when talking about prostate surgery -  One day, when the study of  IIHIIFIIC is a curriculum requirement at Utica College, these will be the kinds of things that get focused on. 

El Duque's, "Across Camp Hellbent, sunblock-smeared Gammonites stand in awe of the rock-ribbed backstories that now gush from every tap. If Ponce de Leon could see this, he could die in peace, having found the Fountain."  is a three hour lecture right there. 

… but in the end, despite looking a little too much like the chubby guy on the Depends box for around a month and a half, I am happy to report that taking a leak is back to the twenty to thirty seconds it should be, and that includes washing my hands. (Most of the time.) 

No longer do I have to stand there humming "Red River Valley"," The Erie Canal", and other water themed songs in the hopes that my bladder will take the hint and join in on the fun. 

By now you are asking one of two questions... Where can I sign up to get my prostate nuked? Or What does this have to do with the Yankees?

Carpe Diem! 

It's Spring Training and I'm going to use this time to fully embrace the hope. I'm going to buy into what I previously called out as bullshit as recently as my comment on the last post. 

"Nestor Cortes strikes out Yankees’ Juan Soto three times to ace first spring test"

Yes!!!! Nestor is Back! 

So Soto struck out three times. He was just being a good teammate. Giving Nestor a little confidence as he works himself back into shape. 

And speaking of shape... Stanton's new exercise program looks like it's paying off! Sure he can no longer dead lift random drunk women in nightclubs... unless they are anorexic supermodels. I'm pretty sure he can still do those... 

This spring is about showing the world that he can still be a "ballplayer" he's going to run, hit, field, throw, catch, lay off the low and outside pitch and reclaim the job of cleanup hitter that he inexplicably never had to vacate despite hitting below .200. 

"Yankees camp has been buzzing about DJ LeMahieu" - The Athletic

Hey, he had a great second half! 

Rizzo? Concussions heal. 

Aaron Judge says: ‘There might be another move on the way’ for Yankees as free agents linger."  - NY Daily News 

Plus MLB is making the players wear new uniforms! 

How cool is that! 

Face it, there's a lot to be excited about but I'll stop now because, nature calls and by G-d I'm ready to answer. 

The Yankees have five starters. Why could they possibly need Blake Snell?

Sometimes, for wanton self-pleasure, I imagine Hal Steinbrenner rising from his desk, shredding the NY Post and going bonkers berserk, flinging office tchochkes  - his WORLD'S BEST DAD mug, the REGGIE bobblehead, the click-clack toy, his fidget spinner, his POGs and Magic Cards, whatever he can grab- at a cowering Cooperstown Cashman. "WHADDAYA MEAN WE NEED ANOTHER STARTER?" he rages, reaching a level of emotion unplumbed since his last Barry Manilow concert, during the opening cords of Mandy.  "WE ALREADY GOT FIVE!"

And, dammit, Hal's right. In this techno era, you need five, and the Hellbents currently can check that box. There is no need to sign a Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, another starter, at least until we've used up the ones we already have. 

Every team needs pitching, pitching, pitching, and - frankly, as currently constructed, the Yankees don't look dadgum awful. With a little luck and some string ties, who knows how far this starting five can go?

But but BUT... let's set the Wayback for Feb. 21, 2023 - one year ago, to ponder what can happen. 

Last year, around now, the Yankees presented the deepest starting rotation in baseball: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas and Nestor Cortes. Five legitimate Cy Young candidates, five former all-stars, five pitchers on the verge of great seasons. And behind them: Clarke Schmidt, Michael King and Domingo German. A depth of starters unknown by any other team.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, how about everything? Montas, Severino and Rodon didn't make it out of spring training. Cortes went down in May. German blew up in July, and long before June 1, Schmidt was our No. 2, and we were down to Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez, both of whom had been ticketed for a year in Scranton.  

We can pleasure ourselves because Rodon and Cortes are currently throwing well, but here's the reality: The Yankees are a tumbling domino away from Clayton Beeter and the cast of Succession. Our rotation, for now: Cole, Schmidt, Rodon, Cortes and Marcus Stroman. After that, Luke Weaver? Yeesh. 

We can have great hopes for Chase Hampton and Will Warren, but both need time at Triple A, rather than to be thrown to the Vlad Juniors and Gunnar Hendersons of the AL East.

That's why Scott Boras is holding out on Blake Snell: He knows elbows soon will start barking across training camps, and the price of pitching will only rise. 

For me, I'm hoping the only Yankee elbow to boink is Hal's, after he throws his WELCOME TO MYRTLE BEACH mousepad at the wall. You can say the 2024 season hasn't even begun, and yeah, you're right. But the Yankees are already standing on thin ice. Shoes are about to drop. A rain of them. An "atmospheric river." We better have an umbrella. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Soto Question

I've been hearing and seeing a lot of carping lately about Juan Soto. Namely, why would we spend $31 million plus to have a guy for only one year? (And give up a slew of young pitchers plus Higgy to get the opportunity.)

The argument seems to be that if he's just a rental, it was stupid. Because if we can't lock him up for the rest of his baseball life, it's just not worth it.

I don't get it.

The kid is amazing, a great hitter. He and Judge...well, that's going to scare the shit out of every team the Yankees play.

Yes, we could have used the young pitchers. Especially, to my mind, King.

On the other hand, the problem last year wasn't so much the pitching. It was the offense, which was terrible. I mean, once Judge stubbed his toe, we sucked. Putting Rizzo out there day after day when he had a concussion was stupid writ large. Stanton sucked, again. (And watch this year. I bet he still sucks, but just takes up less room doing it.) The kids all sucked, thanks to the ace coaching staff who fucked up their swings.

We needed a big bat. We got Soto. We also got Verdugo. Yes, I would have preferred signing Bellinger, but there's a pretty big risk there. He had a great year after falling apart. Can he keep up the production? Nobody knows.

At least Vertigo is a lefty. Prime porch material to go along with Soto.

And keep in mind, Vertiginous is likely a placeholder right now until J'asson D'ominguez, the Martian, comes back. Unless he flops after surgery, he's our center fielder now and in the future. Judge is just filling in at the moment, which is not going to destroy his fragile frame any more than running back and forth for years destroyed Scottie Pippin or whoever else you plug in there.

And yet...and yet...I hear the cry echoing throughout the land that Soto might or probably will be a rental, and we should somehow feel bad about that and worry about what might happen in 2025.

Well, I'll tell ya. We're all gonna die, and most of us can see the finish line from where we sit. Does that mean you worry about that and just give up and not enjoy your life to the fullest (within the limitations time has wrought)? So why do people sit around and moan about Soto being a rental (which, for all we know right now, he might not be at all, depending how the season goes)?

My advice is to ignore the nattering nabobs of negativity, those Yankee fans who insist on thinking like Mets fans. Carpe diem. I say, carpe annus, and I'm not talking about Porn Hub.

Enjoy this season. It could be the only one we have Soto and Judge together. For any of us, it could our last season, period.

Don't fuck it up for yourself.


Skinny Stanton, the Snell staredown, and a new flamethrower light up Camp Hellbent

Like Frampton long ago, Tampa has come alive. Every morning, it's like Dorothy stepping into Oz. Every returning vet, every emerging rook, every tool in the box, every dingleberry in the shower - it's cause for unbridled hope. 

Such is the beauty, the wonderment, of pre-spring. 

Across Camp Hellbent, sunblock-smeared Gammonites stand in awe of the rock-ribbed backstories that now gush from every tap. If Ponce de Leon could see this, he could die in peace, having found the Fountain. Yesterday, Juan Soto gave his first press conference. (That's what they do; like Ari Fleischer, they call press conferences.) He said nothing, but nobody cared. The stars walk a mowed red carpet, posing in their midnight blues and projecting one grand assurance.

Everything will be okay. 

Everyone will be a star. 

This year will be different: Everything will come together.

So, enjoy the joy. Meanwhile, here are the trope storylines...

1. The dieters. Seen the shots of Giancarlo Stanton? He's dropped a stone, maybe more. (O, o, o, Ozempic?) Weight loss - the fading superstar who quit the kugel this Christmas - is one of the great traditions of spring. Long ago, we saw it with CC Sabathia. Later, Gary Sanchez. It's the first sign that a slugger or ace recognizes an existential threat to his career, that even though the spring days are getting longer, his time in The Show is growing shorter. 

This week, both Giancarlo and Carlos Rodon reported looking as toned as Miley Cyrus. Let's hope it works. For both stars, it's sorta now or never. If Rodon doesn't bounce back from 2023, he probably never will. And if Giancarlo flounders, the Yankees will disappear him. He's faltered now for two years. As Auric Goldfinger said, "Once is happenstance, twice coincidence, and three times is enemy action." The Yankees cannot win with a DH who hits .190. 

2. The last hope. Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery remain holdouts, and - frankly - WTF? (Especially Montgomery, a perfect fit in Texas. What is wrong with the Rangers?) 

Either would greatly elevate the Yankees' chances in 2024. In fact, it's so painfully obvious, so abundantly clear, considering the thin rotation, which is likely to crack before opening day. Apparently, runner-ups and wild cards will be Hal Steinbrenner's legacy, and he's okay with that. 

Every day, sportswriters squeeze out copy suggesting the Yankees are still in on Snell, even though Hal insists they are done. It's like kids on Christmas morning, holding out for the pony. At this point, I hesitate to even mention the rumor. It will just hurt more when they sign with the Jays or the Mets. 

3. The fireballer. In this case, it's Nick Burdi, a 31-year-old, RH, non-roster invitee who has been kicking around the majors since 2018, never throwing more than 10 innings in a season. He's 6'3," 225, so the worms will know he's out there. He's impressed the Yankees, and good for him.

I Googled the guy. This I know: The issue has never been his ability to throw hard. It's all about the ligaments, the things that go pop in the night. If his arm holds together, Nick Burdi can help this team. Remember that name. And light a candle for his gaskets. 

Everything is beautiful. Spring is coming, everybody. Peel me a grape.

Monday, February 19, 2024

The most intriguing Yankee in camp might also be the most tradeable.

Whenever I ponder the endless possibilities of the 2024 Yankees - (which is every second of every minute of every hour of every day) - I hit a reboot snag on the cherubic image of Mr. Alexander Brady Verdugo. 

For starters, his mere presence in Tampa makes little sense.  The Yankees traded three minor league pitchers for him, and it's not even certain he has a position to play. If Trent Grissom plays CF - the preferred defensive scenario - then Juan Soto moves to LF and Verdugo mines splinters. That's a combustible situation, because Verdugo is not above complaining about management. 

The trade for Verdugo came days before the bigger move, which acquired Soto for a tranche of young arms. At the time, it seemed a stopgap, in case the Soto deal collapsed. Ever since, the Hellbent Yankees have been raking the methane fields, scrounging for pitchers. You can almost imagine them trading Verdugo - a fun scenario, now that he shaved his beard - to alleviate the dearth of pitching. But I doubt Brian Cashman wants to admit he made a mistake, so Verdugo is here to stay, at least until August.

But here's the crazy part: 

I can't dispel the notion that Verdugo is the most intriguing player in Tampa. Here's why:

1. He'll turn 28 in May. Agewise, he's entering his prime.

2. This is his contract year. Next winter, he's a free agent. 

3. He's a grudgy type - outspoken, edgy, a partier - who never forgets an insult and will likely hate Boston forever. 

4. He bats LH. This winter, Cashman finally realized the insanity of a RH-hitting lineup in Yankee Stadium.

5. He seemed to always hurt us. I hated to see him in clutch situations.  

6. Maybe - just maybe - this could be his career year. 

Let's explore that hallucination. Verdugo is a career .281 hitter who slid last season (amid a teamwide Redsock collapse) - to .264. BTW, that would still have placed him third on the Yankees, who were certifiably pathetic. (Gleyber led the team with .273.) He hit 13 HRs, and that's the knock: Little power. But he'll be hitting in Yankee Stadium, not Fenway. He'll have the Porch instead of the Monster. 

Let's imagine that all the above reasons converge to bring about Verdugo's career year. Here's what his numbers could look like: 

15-20 HRs, (previous best: 13.)
75-89 RBIs. (previous, 74.)
Batting average .310-.315. (previous, .308.)
10 stolen bases (previous, 7.)
An On Base Percentage of .380 (.367.)  

Those would be all-star numbers. Verdugo would likely end up hitting leadoff. Yes, imagining career years is just a parlor game. He could shit the bed. But if you're pondering the Yankee lineup, searching for hope, you have Judge and Soto... and then what? A bunch of maybes. Wanna imagine DJ LeMahieu (at 35) having his best season? Or Anthony Rizzo, 34? Good luck with that.

Verdugo is approaching the greatest chance of his life: He could play LF in Yankee Stadium, with a short porch, with protection in the lineup and a pile of games against the franchise that traded him. Come October, a contract of gold could be awaiting him. Is he smart? Does he recognize the opportunity? I guess that's what we'll find out.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Top Ten Meaningless Storylines of the Week in the Yankiverse

They're all just dangling, shiny objects, but here goes anyway...

1. Carlos Rodon has lost weight.  

2. Aaron Judge wants to bat third. 

3. Potty-mouth Aaron Boone says team is "hellbent" to win. 

4. Nestor Cortes' injury, which nobody told us about, won't be as bad as we didn't fear. 

5. Cashman is relentlessly churning waiver fodder - McKinley Moore, Jordan Groshans - to improve Scranton roster.

6. When anyone mentions Blake Snell, the Yankees yell that they're done spending. 

7. Jose Trevino's strained calf again proves Yanks can get injured anywhere, at any time, doing anything. 

8. Clean-shaven Alex Verdugo looks like adorable kewpie. 

9. The Yankees won't offer contract extension to Gleyber, won't get a chance to do one with Soto.

10. As Yanks go for broke in '24, Mets seem to be building for long term.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Sit down for this. Brace yourself. It's time to spew blaspheme about Brian Cashman

Before continuing, a warning: The post you're about to see contains words and images that some readers may find upsetting...

I suggest you take a seat. Do you use blood pressure medication? Take it. Maybe a shot of Buffalo Trace?  Breathe. Close your eyes and go to a happy place: You're running barefoot through a field of erect nipples. Okay, are you ready? Here goes...

Brian Cashman is right.

There, I said it. The world didn't explode. The floor didn't cave in. No Satanic trumpets blared o'er the hills. Don't worry: I won't say it again. You don't go taunting the Beastmaster. But Brian Cashman - yes, our Brian Cashman - is absolutely right in refusing to trade Spencer Jones and/or Jasson Dominquez for the missing link to 2024, a starting pitcher. Make no mistake: He is doing the right thing for the Yankees, even if it is not the best move for his job security.

How can I speak such blaspheme? Easy. It's true. 

For better or worse, the 2024 the Hellbent Yankees have built an all-or-nothing roster, balanced on key players entering their "walk" years. This includes Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo and Gleyber Torres, all central to the batting order. 

The Yankees are all-in for the coming season, but it might not be enough. They appear to be at least one starter short, and Hal Steinbrenner is refusing to spend more. That leaves Cashman with one recourse: Trade a top prospect for - say - Dylan Cease of the White Sox. Such a deal would instantly make the Yankees favorites in the AL East according to the lapdog media - (with a few exceptions: talking to you Mike Axisa and Joel Sherman) - and a YES team of analysts who should know better.  

Thus far, Cashman is holding the line, refusing a trade. He could push the button, invoke the memory of Clint Frazier, and secure a starting pitcher. He is holding back at his own peril. 

This is his Crunch Year, or as Mel Brooks would put it, Springtime for Cashman in Germany. If the Yankees flop, I gotta believe Cash disappears. Those barnyard photographs of Hal that he keeps in his safe? They have lost their punch due to AI deep fakes. If the Yankees shit the bed in 2024, mark these words: Cashman will be operating a McDonald franchise in 2025. He cannot afford to miss the playoffs two years in a row. 

So, he can trade the remaining Yankee seed corn, further depleting a farm system that has already been seriously drained. In a way, he has nothing to lose. Those prospects won't reach stardom for years, and he might not last that long. 

We rank on Cashman all the time. He's our go-to whipping mule. Now, let's give the guy some credit: He's refusing to push the button on a bad, long term deal. 

Okay, open your eyes. You're no longer in that meadow of blossoming areola. You're back in Jersey City, or Lackawanna, or Ashtabula, and the engine light is still regularly flashing on your dashboard. Nothing has changed. But dammit, the world has been transformed. A miracle has happened. Cashman is right. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hellbent Yanks have many worries, but none about Giancarlo

The older you get, the more you view relatively short timespans - say, four years from now - as Eternity. 

I mean, who bothers to ponder 2028? By then, the caps will have melted, the asteroid will have hit, the super-volcano, the space nukes, the Taylor-Travis breakup - WWIII, the aliens, AI, "everything bagels" - something will get us. Four years from now? If we're lucky, we'll be sitting in a rehab cafeteria, eating creamed corn, watching Gomer Pyle. 

Which - "Surprise, surprise, surprise..." brings us to Giancarlo Stanton. 

At age 34, Giancarlo has finally reached The Precipice. 

If he doesn't hit in 2024 - if he begets another .190, hobbling, injury-pocked year - he will officially become a pariah - a Bonilla, an Ellsbury, a Sandoval - a podcast punchline to be remembered for his franchise-killing contract, and the premier reason why Hal Steinbrenner will never again splurge for talent during his sorry-ass time as owner of the NY Hellbent Yankees.

Listen: We can list the keys to 2024, but Stanton aint one. 

If he doesn't hit, so be it! If he's wallowing below the Mendoza Line on June 1, the Hellbents simply must ditch him - in any way possible. DFA. Salary dump. Ozempic overdose. Doesn't matter. What they cannot do is waste another season waiting for a slugger who has lost his ability to turn on a fastball. It happened to Ryan Howard. It happened to Mo Vaughn. It happens all the time. What you don't want is to prolong the experience, to yank off the Band-Aid slowly. 

If Stanton doesn't hit, no problem! Just free him. "Liberty-Biberty!" Absorb the payroll hit. It's called "the price of doing business."

The Yankees will pay Stanton $106 million through 2028. That includes a $10 million buyout and $20 million, which will be paid by the Marlins - (thank you, Jete) -  who in 2017 were so desperate to disappear their then-MVP that they opted to pay partially for his final two seasons, which they knew would be abysmal. 

Look, okay... yes, there is a chance Stanton will mount a comeback. This is America; anything can happen! Three years ago, he hit .273 with 35 HRs. He claims to be working harder than ever, with a new approach to hitting. (Heard that one before.) If so, good for him! 

But the worst thing the 2024 Yankees could do is face another full season of Stanton hitting .200, batting 4th or 5th, and clogging the DH hole so other hitters cannot rest. 

We finished fourth last year.

We don't need to worry about Stanton. 

Stanton needs to worry about Stanton.  

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Not a pitch has been thrown, but Yankee injuries have begun

Yesterday, pitchers and catchers cameth unto Tampa - aka: The Big Guava - and the Yankees immediately lost one of each.

1. Scott Effross - a bullpen lug nut penciled in to chug 50 to 70 innings in 2024 - was revealed to have undergone back surgery in December. This follows his Tommy John cutup in 2022, weeks after Cooperstown Cashman obtained him in a trade for Hayden Wesneski, (currently competing for the Cubs rotation.) Effross could be back in June. Or never. He's 30. Just sayin.'  

2. Then there is Jose Trevino - the all-star reserve catcher and feelgood story of '22 - who somehow, (taking out the garbage?), tweaked a calf last month and will miss the opening games of spring training. In a normal, meaningless February, this would barely be a blip upon the Death Barge firmament of meaninglessness. But recent springs have shown us something about setbacks: They breed like feral cats. So, I suppose we should wait and see. 

In theory, we can spin Trevino's olden calf as a plus: It will push the Yankees to use their young catchers, most notably Austin Wells, with the A-team rotation. Obviously, we at IIHIIFIIc are "glass half full" creatures of positivity. Trouble is, it's Day One of the First Days, and already the calves are creaking. 

For months, we begged Prince Hal to finish winter with a flourish, to sign Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery and enter 2024 as kings of the AL East. Well, those pleas went nowhere.  

Instead of making a sizeable splash, the Yankees yesterday signed 32-year-old Lou Trivino - who came in the disastrous 2022 Frankie Montas deal - to (sorta, anyway) replace Effross.

They also traded a 19-year-old lottery ticket pitching prospect to Milwaukee for 27-year-old lefty Clayton Andrews. He'd been DFAed by the Brewers, so it was one of those "gun-to-the-head" trades that Cashman loves. 

Last year, his third season at Triple A, Andrews pitched to a 2.52 ERA. He was called up to Milwaukee for an audition, and he got absolutely bombed - 3 innings, 10 earned runs. So it goes. And now... space nukes? Call 007! Calgon Bath Oil Beads, take me away! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

They shaved Verdugo, and he looks 12 years old


Life is Good

Winter’s been raw as a campout in Banff,
Your new basement walls are moldy and damp,
Your curtains caught fire from a knocked-over lamp —
.      Relax!

.      Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp.

Your check-writing hand’s developed a cramp,
Your bills are all due and you ain’t got a stamp,
Creditors cling to your neck like a clamp —
.      Smile!

.      Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp.

Your yard is now split by a new freeway ramp,
Your son is engaged to a gold-digging tramp,
Your “guitar hero” neighbor’s just bought a new amp —
.      Life is good!

.      Pitchers and catchers are reporting to camp.

Yankees claim a guy waived by Miami; 10 fun facts about 3B Jordan Groshans


1. It's pronounced GROW-shins.

2. At 6'3", he'll at least look good coming off the bus.

3. He has options to spare, so he'll probably play the year in Scranton.

4. Shades of Red Thunder, another former first-round pick.

5. At one point he was ranked #3 prospect in the Blue Jays farm system.

6. Three times, he made Baseball America's Top 100 rankings. (Last was early 2021 - he was #34.)

7. Last year in Triple A, he flopped, hitting .243 with only six HRs over 528 plate appearances.

8. But he's only 24.

9. He is a career .271 hitter in the minors, though no power. 

10. In his pro career, he's been intentionally walked once.

Bonus: He has played 3B, 1B, SS, 2B and RF. 

Double Bonus: To obtain Groshans, the Yankees waived LH reliever Matt Krook, a prospect who is 29. And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

You say PECOTA, I say Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm

So Baseball Prospectus has this thing they do (not "That Thing You Do!") that you're probably familiar with. Here's their explanation:

PECOTA is BP's proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with historical player-seasons. There are three elements to PECOTA:

1) Major-league equivalencies, to allow us to use minor-league stats to project how a player will perform in the majors;

2) Baseline forecasts, which use weighted averages and regression to the mean to produce an estimate of a player's true talent level;

3) A career-path adjustment, which incorporates information about how comparable players' stats changed over time.

They also use PECOTA (not to be confused with Ricotta) for entire teams in order to "predict" (not actually a prediction, they point out) the final season standings. From what I could understand, this is based on players performing according to their "normal" (not necessarily normal) performance, which for the Yankees is kind of dumb since half the veterans will miss up to 100 games or more due to breaking down.

However, this is what their UNIVAC has spit out for the 2024 season.

Is that readable? Readable-ish? Hope so. We're projected as division winners, with Baltimore somehow projected to be fourth. I know, bizarre in both cases, but Boston is in last place, so there might be some truth to this divisional possibility (not really a possibility, imo).

At any rate, if everyone on our team plays up to their "normal" level, we win in a cakewalk, way, way, way ahead in the percent chance of winning the East (but not actually making it to the Series, with abysmal odds).

By the way, this is a cakewalk. I doubt anyone on the Yankees will do this as they come down the stretch, but I dunno. Maybe Boone. Maybe Hal, wearing his kinky boots.

Oh, and by the way again, PECOTA seems really full of shit, but that's algorithms for ya. And AI, which runs on algos and data mining and other unperfected tech. Just never know what kind of crap it'll churn out. Though I suppose we'll be seeing a lot of it in an election year.

Anyway, enjoy our 94.5 simulated wins! Whoo.