Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Garnderson was sent back to us by the devil.
His job is :
1. to strike out
2. to kill rallies with double play ground balls to second
3. to not hit with runners in scoring position
4. to get turned around on fly balls in right field.
5. to no longer hit home runs
6. to have a batting average under .200
7. to cash an outrageous paycheck
8. to keep Wells or Ichiro on the bench, spitting seeds.
We can only hope some pitcher nails him again. Nothing serious; just another 12 weeks on the DL.
Over the last 50 years, it's become a cliche to say that whenever the Yankees trade or dump a guy - be it Reggie Jackson or DeWayne Wise - he'll rise from the grave, lerch after us and eventually eat our intestine. Last night was just another whupping at the hands of an obscure ex-Yankee zombie - the 31-year-old Chris Dickerson.
For the last two years, Dickerson excelled for our Triple A team. (Trivia question: Who did we trade to get him? Answer: Sergio Mitre, to Milwaukee.) This included a hellish season touring Ramadas along the Thomas A. Dewey New York State Thruway, where the club spent a few Twilight Zone episodes in Batavia. Dickerson hit .316 last year at "Scranton." That garnered him 14 ABs in a September call up: He hit 2 HRs and stole 3 bases.
Last year, with Gardner out and a flow-through tea bag of retreads trying to replace him, the Yankees never gave Dickerson a chance. Over the winter, when the team signed Ichiro to a two-year, a part of me went down to the basement and screamed, "WHAT ABOUT CHRIS DICKERSON? WHAT DOES CHRIS DICKERSON HAVE TO TO TO GET A SHOT? HOW MUCH BETTER WILL ICHIRO BE - FOR $20 MILLION - THAN CHRIS DICKERSON?"
(Let me note something here: I make no claims to be a baseball scout or expert. I only speak with the gravitas of being an irrational Yankee fan. OK? I don't want to make it sound as though I claim to always be right, because I certainly was wrong in my assessments of Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells. I am simply a Yankee id, yelling in the basement.)
Last winter, we pitched Dickerson into the sea. Twenty-eight days later (Cueing Danny Boyle) the O's signed him. Last night, well - he killed us - two HRs.
Like I said, Dickerson is just the latest in a long tradition. But here's the rub: The way we're churning through players, some very good ones could soon become ex-Yanks with scores to settle. We've got a slew of "all-stars" coming back, and our 25-man roster is going to pop like a helium balloon. Come August and September - and maybe October - there will be several new Moose Skowrons out there. Beware.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Last night, as noted by comments in a previous post, John unveiled his individualized home run calls for David Adams. (Note: Nowadays, we have to refer to The Master's homer calls, because he does not limit them to one.)
DAVID IS GOLIATH.
And the closer:
CALL ME, ADAMS.
The first is self-explanatory, and as Mustang says earlier, it's good to see John getting back in tune with Judeo-Christian roots. But the second one still dogs me. Mustang contends it's from a Broadway show, referring to "Call me, Madam." I dunno. Mustang - despite his sterling record as blogger - is right about 25 percent of the time.
My more focused investigation has turned up these possibilities:
1. "You can call me Adams," an obscure MySpace photo site used by a teenager who, as a joke, pretends to be Ansel Adams. ODDS: Unlikely. John doesn't use a computer and has never to my knowledge commented about Ansel Adams or nature photography.
2. "They Call Me Adams," a rapper with 79 friends on MySpace. None is listed as John Sterling. However, the artist posts this cryptic note: Hey ima be at the Grand Opening of GOTHAM CITY FRIDAYS this friday night.. i heard its gonna be super crackin. You should come check it out :) invite all of ur friends.
3. "Call Me Adams," a race horse. Not much more. But I think this is it.
4. Reference in Munsey's Magazine, Vol. 72: I couldn't look for the title of the story because - well - I just couldn't. But check out this passage:
"Don't call me Adams. That's just a flag."
"Flag?" I repeated, puzzled.
"Sure, an assumed name; an alias."
The Yankees are about to become the most ungrateful team in sports, and I am now dreading the return of the superstar lineup
OK, you get my point, right? I'm in love with Lyle Overbay! There! I've said it! The forbidden truth! We want to get married! We want to adopt! But his boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble, hey-na, hey-na...
Listen: It's weird, rooting for this Yankee team. It's unlike anything we have seen since 1994. It's like 1983, the crash year, except we're winning.
Last night, Lyle, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells stole another victory with the kind of clutch hitting that, frankly, our big stars failed to furnish over the last three years. The A-Rod menagerie always put together big numbers, and we made the playoffs - but they were always a disappointment, never as good as they should be, because nobody hit with runners on base.
Now this. Overbay is on a course to hit 20-25 homeruns and hit .255 - which is about what we'd get from Mark Teixeira (OK, maybe 30-35 and .240). Hafner would smack 30, and Wells, 35 - but folks, it aint gonna happen, because in another month, Joe Girardi will be rationing ABs like bottled water after an earthquake. As for David Adams? He'll be back on the DL - the Demoralized List - in Scranton, with Brennan Boesch, Corbin Joseph, Vidal Nuno, Austin Romine and maybe Eduardo Nunez.
In about two weeks, Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis return. Shy of a suspicious series of airport restroom accidents, there is no way Overbay can stay a Yankee. We will salute him as he walks out the door - to Boston, Baltimore or Tampa, wherever - knowing that the most serendipitous Yankee acquisition since Aaron Small - the girl we've come to love - will soon play against us. And then... what will we become?
The old baseball rule says you can't lose your job to an injury. I accept that. It's not Teixeira's fault that his wrist popped. But the old pessimistic fan in me says Tex will come back slow, cost us a few games, then finally start hitting and - pop - there's goes the wrist, and this time, he'll need an operation.
Same with Youk. It's not his fault that his back feels like he sleeps on a bed of nails. But the old doomsdayer in me says he'll come back slow, cost us a few games, then finally start hitting and - ohhh - this time, gone for the season.
A-Rod? You know the drill. By then, David Adams will have languished in Scranton for two months, and whatever magic this team captured in May - well - we can remember it and smile in September.
It's amazing: I am literally dreading the return of the superstar Mega-Yankees.
Last night, Curtis Granderson came up in a critical situation. In his signature move, he struck out on a 3-2 pitch that was above his nose, then marched skillfully back to the dugout, shaking his head. By my estimation, we have about 150 Grandy strikeouts to track through between now and October. Each will be more maddening than in the past, because he'll be taking ABs from Hafner and Wells. For a while, we'll have seen another option.
I don't claim to know what Cashman can do. Frankly, this has been his greatest spring as a general manager. For us fans though, the Yankees have always been an affair of the heart. That's why we are so irrational and impulsive. I make no excuses for my rants and behavior. But this is one pain I can see coming. We're about to have our hearts broken.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Speaking on behalf of the Yankiverse, we face Freddy Garcia tonight in Baltimore, and you better believe there will be some whining if we lose
Listen, I have nothing but respect for The Chief. He pitched well for us - in fact, one of his best outings came in a must game against Baltimore. But two years ago, he was on his last legs. How old can the guy be? A hundred?
He's going against C.C. Sabathia. I'm telling you, this is scary. Some of these guys, they're like zombies - they just keep walking and snarling, and until somebody shoots them in the brain, they'll eat your liver. If we lose tonight, it's like losing to Houston. It's like losing to yourself. It's five losses, bottled up into one. It's not Freddy Garcia. It's Freddy Kruger.
Instead, the season resembles an early 2000's burner - Yanks/Redsocks, and then the East Division tomato cans.
Without Jose Reyes, Toronto looks like - well - Toronto. Over the winter, Baltimore and Tampa flat-lined. After his third year, Showalter's act starts to fray. Worse, the O's didn't improve their pitching (that guy, Miguel Gonzalez, who shut us down last fall, is getting hammered). The Rays might have made their first certifiable bad deal. (That kid, Wil Meyers, whom they obtained for James Shields, is hitting .250 with 4 HR at Triple A.) Both teams are three games over .500.
For us, it's all pitching, pitching, pitching. We're coaxing great years out of fragile arms. But Andy's gone down twice, and we all secretly wonder how long Mariano can go. In Boston, Clay Bucholtz and John Lackey aren't exactly Iron Man. Everything can change in a week.
And this could be one of those weeks.
We play Baltimore and Tampa - three game sets that could show dominance - or pull out the rug.
Either way, this has been a May unlike any in recent years. Usually, in May, our superstar lineup tanks, losing more than we win, and causing a crisis within the Yankiverse. Likewise, Boston fell apart last May. This year, both teams have thrived.
In two weeks, May 31, we host Boston for three games: Two teams playing above projections. John and Suzyn are already scoreboard watching with Redsock games, talking about our hold on first place. It's way too early to obsess over scoreboards. But this could be another 2003... or, gulp, 2004?
Sunday, May 19, 2013
I know what you're thinking: Shirley, you jest! As in Bob Shirley. That year, we finished out of the running despite such Old Timers Day luminaries as Jerry Mumphries and Steve Kemp. We were on our way to likes of Mel Hall, Andy Hawkins, Deion Sanders, Claudell Washington and the Perez brothers, Pascual and Melido - all while spending the most money in the game. Yes, folks, it can happen. And watching it - and perhaps being scarred for life - were two teenagers named Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman.
Which brings us to the Los Angeles, California, Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they call themselves. Hell's Angels are 16 and 27, the second worst team in the American League, after Houston. That's like saying herpes is the second worst virus going around, after Ebola. The Lastros have a lineup of Theotis Nobodies. The Angels last winter signed Josh Hamilton, ($17 million) adding him to the line up of Trout, Kendricks, Trumbo and Pujols. Pitching? They signed CJ Wilson two winters ago.
Plus, for the last 10 years, the Angels had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of hot prospects, thanks in part to an aggressive policy of spending over slot money to draft picks. Their payroll lists them 7th in the MLB, behind the top dogs - the Dodgers, the Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, Redsocks and Giants.
Second to last in the AL West. They ditched Vernon Wells to the Yankees for a bag of corn meal. He has 10 HRs on the season.
This will change, of course. They should start winning. But in the 1980s, George Steinbrenner had a tendency to panic around May/June - start lawn sales to boost the team and win the back page. Will the Angels?
We know the Mariners will collapse. Oakland? Crap shot. Texas could be for real, and all the AL West teams get extra games against Houston - a huge advantage in the Wild Card race.
But the similarities are there. And Shirley, they mean something.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
One of our blogger mates noted in a comment to an El Duque post ( below somewhere ), that Curtis Granderson did not play last night.
And the Yankees won.
This team is better off without any of its so-called, " stars."
Except Robbie, who has been riding this team bus from the outset.
If the God of the Old Testament exists, the architects of that miserable concrete ribbon someday will break out in fiery boils and watch their children sold into slavery. It's always bad. But yesterday, it became intolerable.
John refrained from condemning the roadway, outright. That's not his style. But The Master didn't disagree with Suzyn's assessment. It took an hour and a half to get to the game. An hour and a half. In the fourth inning, he was expecting his family to visit the booth, but they were probably still out there, sitting on the Deeg. An hour and a half.
"Everybody here has a story to tell about getting to work," John said.
An hour and a half. That's not America. How can you live happily when it takes an hour and a half to get to work? NY is getting to be like California. Suzyn noted that out in California, if you ask someone how far away a destination is, they'll say, "It's 20 minutes, without traffic."
"But," she asked, "when is there ever no traffic?"
The radio airwaves filled with the sound of John shaking his head.
Only one positive last night: Hiroki Kuroda and a big Yankee win. This plucky ball club has a knack for winning when its pitchers throw shutouts. And John noted one slight benefit to all that traffic on the Deegan.
A lot of fans, he said, were out there sitting in traffic, listening to the game on the Yankee Radio Network, driven by Jeep.
Friday, May 17, 2013
It was to Scranton as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is to Trenton. Much like most of the Yankee prospects who have moved through Moosic, it stayed there about three years too long. Nevertheless, like Alberto Gonzalez pitching in the ninth, you had to watch.
So... you missed it, eh? You were watching the Knicks or the Rangers or - gasp - The Mentalist. What happened? Well, not much. There were tears and speeches. It kept both heels pressed on the poignancy pedal. But the plot arcs ended happily. We were left - as Yankee fans often are - pondering a change, and we're not sure in which direction it will take us.
Of course, like Seinfeld, Cheers, Taxi, et al, this will go on forever in syndication. If you missed last night, no problem. It will keep replaying until the asteroid hits, and if the machines outlast us, it will keep replaying after we're gone.
But everybody in Scranton today knows that it's over.
Dellin Betances is now a Yankee.
The number of qualified catchers we now have is dwindling. Go ahead, count 'em.
Cervelli is still down for a long count.
Stewart pulled a groin last night and, for a catcher, that is grim news. It is not a, "a day to day thing," when a player plays from a crouch and is active on every pitch.
He will be out a long time and that is a major loss.
Stewart has shocked us all, playing exceptional defense, throwing well, and even hitting a bit.
Now we have the Romine we all wanted to see. A catcher who bats .080 or less, but a catcher nonetheless. Perhaps his AAA batting eye will return with regular work.
So I am putting out a call to all retirees. If you are 40+ and once regarded as a great defensive catcher, please call the Yankees. Money is good and accommodations first class.
Great clubhouse snacks, and the curried chicken salad is to die for.
We are down to one catcher and JR Murphy in AA. That's a stretch to say two catchers.
Moments later, up to the plate strides Jesus Montero, the Second Coming of Thurman, or Chili Davis, or maybe Matt Nokes - nobody yet knows. I strain to see Jesus's batting average, which stands at - huh? - .203. OK, I figure he's hitting for power, right? Nope. Three HRs, nine RBIs. Those are Gus Molina numbers. Those are not the numbers of the Baby Jesus who for the last six years dominated every Yankee prospect Top Ten List the way Beyoncé rules the pop charts.
(Note to self: Remember this next winter, when Yankiverse goes crazy over Top Ten Prospect Lists.)
Moreover, in the ninth - when I'm in a secure location with audio, Montero nearly throws a ball into leftfield on a stolen base, and the announcers mention he is 1 for 19 in catching base stealers. (Gardner promptly steals third, making him 1 for 20.) In other words, baserunners have a friend in Jesus, and unless the savior changes his ways, he's destined for the Seattle version of Scranton - a location that, until recently, was believed to exist only in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.
So after all the gnashing of gteeth, all the sound and the fury (signifying nothing) - and, yes, folks, I know Hector Noesi pitched well last night, and that the overly hyped Campos youngster is still - well - young - but after all the chest-beating, the 2012 winter trade looks like an exchange of Raleigh Coupons for Pepsi Points. (Sorry, Mallo Cup fans.) It had the gravity of a treaty between Hitler and Stalin. It was a big fat mirage: Two teams trading a bucket of magic beans, neither of which would ever grow.
And right now, last night notwithstanding, it looks like we won on the hell deal, because Pineda is striking out imaginary batters in Tampa. As long as he's not in Scranton, getting Bootchecked by the Mud Hens, we can sit in our dark bedrooms and still fantasize the Betances-tall Pineda throwing 150-mph strikes. Call the game, everybody! We won the deal. Final score: Yankees 0, the Mariners Negative 1.
Then again... they did dish us Ichiro, didn't they? Strange how these transactions play out in their second lives, am I right?
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Never thought we'd lose until that final out.
No Hafner to pinch hit for Nix?
Why, Gards, did you wait until the ninth?
Andy, are you OK?
What happened to Chris Stewart?
Is everything falling apart?
Did we celebrate this team too soon?
In his first Yankee incarnation, Sierra whined that the team only cared about winning, not HR totals, prompting him to pitched out like a plate of bad clams. When he returned, Sierra was an elder statesman, clubhouse leader and warrior against evil - so much that Torre, in a season-ending mini-tradition, chose Ruben to manage the final game. And when Sierra took out a pitcher, he mimicked Torre's walk so perfectly that both dugouts cracked up.
I don't know if Vernon Wells can do Girardi's hand-wipe across the forehead. But he came to NY with his share of critics. Did you hear the way he was booed in Toronto? (Maybe he'll hear it in LA, too.) Much of it was his big contract - (it amazes and distresses me how fans blame players for bad contracts, letting the owners skate) - But Vernon Wells has an officer and a gentleman in NY, and I think last night Girardi gave him a loving back-slap by letting him play 2B in the final, meaningless inning.
Wells is having a great season. If he stays on course - big if - there is no reason to think he can't hit 35 HRs, drive in 100 and bat .280. He's done this before. He's not too old. Whatever issues he had are in his head. And he's been given a second chance - maybe his final chance - on baseball's greatest stage. If there is a better candidate for Comeback Player of the Year, tell me who? (OK, Mariano, yeah, but dammit, don't stop me when I'm on a roll.)
Can Vernon become Joe's Ruben? (Woah, that sounds kinky.) Let's hope. Otherwise, we're left to wondering whether we already had his Ruben - the name was Raul - and in a spasm of owner chinziness, we punted on him. No more cries of Rauuuul. It's Verrrrrrrrrrn!
1. I think I previously offered the idea that this Yankee team might just get worse as each injured
" star " returns.
Case in point: The first to return was Granderson. He promptly killed a rally by grounding into a DP in his first at bat. Exactly what he did last fall in the playoffs, when he wasn't striking out.
Last night, he nearly did it again, only there was no rally imminent. His defense has been mediocre, and his presence in the line-up has changed the chemistry for the worse.
2. While happy to see Romine get some major league work, there is the one, over-riding problem; he can't hit.
By and large, his swings are laughable. And his batting eye is not that of Swisher or Overbay, it is closer to that of Ryne Duren. Most times, he just stands there and takes three strikes
3. Great foresight on the Yankees part bringing up another no name pitcher to give us 108 pitches in relief of Phil Hughes. Unfortunately, it took our recently acquired shortstop to get the last batter out.
And let's give thanks to that Seattle batter who, by the way, took a nothing swing to end the embarrassment. He accepted our white flag at his own expense. Classy.
4. I repeat: this Yankee team will deteriorate in direct proportion to the return and playing time of the
injured " superstars" now on the DL. Derek being the only exception. Because he is still a star, and the others are not.
5. Critical game tonight. Or today. When do they play?
Next, Kendry Morales hits a fading liner to left. It's catchable, but Granderson slips out of his stance. The ball bounces in front of him. If not for the glitch, Seattle goes out: no runs, one hit, one left.
Well, no point agonizing over what if's. Last night's reality tape shows Phil Hughes disintegrating into another trash heap of uncertainties - short and long term - and it's a bad sitcom we've watched now for four years, and it's grown more stale than the closing season of The Office.
Still, I respectfully submit that over the last two weeks, the Yankees have not only been scrappy, but they've been lucky. Yes, I'm invoking the juju gods of baseball happenstance. Several hard line drives in critical situations have been hit directly at Yankee infielders - one for a DP. Our pitchers escaped jams, not because they beat the batter - they/we were simply lucky. Maybe that's juju. Maybe it's random events. Yes, good teams make their luck. But it was Yogi who said he'd rather be lucky than good, and no truer words were ever spoke in the game of baseball.
Last night, our luck ran out. The laws of chance caught up with us - so destructively that we may never again trust Phil Hughes. I mean, you can get used to pushing your nose onto the red button and getting a tasty food pellet, but how many times can you receive the electric shock before you decide it's not worth nosing the button anymore?
One other thing about juju, dammit: Even Eric Holder by now should recognize that Raul Ibanez in Yankee Stadium conjures up some incredibly terrifying juju. The guy must be killing small animals in the locker room before each game. Or maybe he's wearing one of Babe Ruth's teeth around his neck. I dunno. But last October, during the Yankee collapse, the Tigers pitched around Raul, walking him so he couldn't hurt them.
If Joe Girardi doesn't do the same tonight, we ought to be asking why?
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Proof that God has a kinky, David Lynchian sense of humor: David Adams will start his Yankee career in a game against the Seattle Mariners
For those of you scoring at home, Adams was the Yankee second base farmhand whose broken ankle in 2010 prompted Seattle to scuttle an announced deal that would have sent Cliff Lee to NYC. (Originally, it was thought that Adams' ankle was merely sprained; when it found to be broken, and he would miss 12-to 18 months, Seattle pulled out. By the way, the 12-to-18 months rehab time is something for fans and physicians of Derek Jeter to ponder.)
The deal would have sent Adams, Jesus Montero and Zach McAllister to the Mariners. Instead, Lee went to Texas (for the appropriately named Justin Smoak) and beat us that year in the playoffs. Who knows how the post-season would have gone, had Lee been pitching for us, instead of them?
In some alternative universe, the ankle stayed healthy, the deal went down, and we might be working for our 30th ring. But in that multi-verse, tonight, David Adams is playing for them, instead of us.
For a guy with no fossil record in the majors, Adams has already had a controversial Yankee career. He was the prospect Cashman excised from the 40 man roster when Vernon Wells came to the team - prompting an eruption of outrage from the anal-intensive Yankiverse (of which this blog is as bad as anybody). Somehow - and I gotta believe the Steinboys doled out serious shekels - we resigned Adams to a minor league deal. (I suspect it had a May 15 out clause.) I really thought we had lost him, and it was infuriating.
So tonight, with a lifetime of water under the bridge, David Adams starts his Yankee career.
Of course, he's c-blocked for life at 2B by Robbie. And soon, Youkilis returns, and then A-Rod. Assuming that both can bend down and play defense - (I'm assuming nothing from now on), there would be few future infield slots open for Adams. So maybe around August 15, God will pull the final trigger on David Adams:
Maybe he'll be waived and sign with, of course, Seattle. Why not? He's already in their heads, like the final episode of Twin Peaks. It would be so... Lynchian... would it not?
Don't gemmie wrong. To beat the Rangers, Angels and Tigers, we need both guys. Trouble is, without a tweaked gonad, their return will end Lyle Overbay's time as a Yankee. After the last six weeks, he's not fracking off to Scranton. He'll be playing against us, and it's hard to imagine how that's going to feel.
Last night, in a typical Overbay over-play, his sac fly scored our winning won. He has delivered huge hits for us and saved his best for the clutch - hardly a hallmark of the 2011 and 2012 Yankee millionaire rows. This season, we've seen Chris Stewart lay down perfect bunts, Travis Hafner hit to left to beat the overshift, and Overbay, time and again, shorten his swing to make contact in situations where a strikeout would be fatal - like the Ks that killed us in October.
Selflessness is a mark of hungry players.
Last year, the Yankees bludgeoned opponents with home runs. Nobody bothered to move runners; they just tried to hit another HR. It was almost a virus, a individualistic philosophy that infected the clubhouse and eventually spawned the hideous Met-like collapse in the playoffs.
Last night, Grandy returned. Hate to admit it, but I'm glad he didn't smack a HR. I'm hoping he doesn't hit one all month. A batting average closer to .300 than .200 would be wonderful. Soon, Tex and Youk come back, and eventually - yes, even Arod and Jete. Once again, we'll field the $200 million lineup. But money cannot buy hunger.
Let's hope these stars - while swinging bats in the swimming pools - glimpsed the dreary afterlife that awaits them outside baseball - without the adulation and, especially, the attention. Let's hope it makes them hungry. If it doesn't, well, we just saw the most fulfilling baseball of 2013.
And it will be hard rooting against the Overbays when they come to town in different hats.