Sunday, December 21, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
In his first seven games out of the pen, Claiborne gave up no runs. Nada. Through his first 16, his ERA stood at 0.86. Incredible.
Plus, Claiborne represented a new found hope: That the Yankee farm system wasn't as dead as advertised. Here was a guy who never made the Baseball America prospect lists - but he threw hard and put up zeros. In that regard, he would be the forerunner to the Chase Whitleys and Shane Greenes of 2014. He was a living reminder that, with young players, you just never know.
On Claiborne's 17th outing, against the Dodgers, he got cuffed around: two runs. His ERA jumped to 1.69. Still, more than respectable.
On game 22, against Minnesota, he got smacked around. Two more runs. ERA: 2.05. Still more than respectable.
Game 23: Two more runs. ERA: 2.65. Still respectable.
Game 33: Four runs. ERA: 3.00. Respectable, but only in a Joba-like way.
Then came the late September series against Boston: Outings number 39, 40 and 41. The Redsocks were soaring, but the Yankees - behind the power duo of the newly returned A-Rod and Grandy Man - were making their move. That weekend, Preston Claiborne - and there is no nicer way to say this - crapped the water bed. In 1 and 2/3 innings - spread over three games - he gave up 8 runs, all earned. When it was done, the fans were booing, the Yankees were dead, and Claiborne's ERA stood at 4.15. Not respectable. And never would he be again.
I've often wondered why Joe Girardi kept bringing the guy back. Three games - three unbelievably brutal outings. I always end up with one answer: We had nobody else. When Girardi called the bullpen, Claiborne must have picked up the phone. If he simply had called in sick that weekend, he could have finished his rookie season with an ERA under 3.00. Oh, well...
Yesterday, the Yankees cut ties with Claiborne. He's now a Met. He's still young, 26, and who knows? But being a baseball fan is to perpetually watch young players come and go - rise and fall, swing and miss, and break your heart. The world furnishes a relentless stream of Preston Claibornes. I prefer to remember the one we saw in May, not the September version. And I wish him all the best. He was a Yankee once. He goes to heaven.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Today, the Yankees traded the eminently tradable Martin Prado and long-term bullpen lugnut David Phelps to the
Florida Miami Dolphins, Heat, Devil Rays, Marlons, Marlins for 24-year-old RH Nathan Eovaldi, 33 year-old 1B Garrett Jones and a 21-year-old pitching prospect by the name of Domingo German.
(BTW, this officially makes Prado a journeyman.)
Supposedly, Eovaldi was the Marlins' version of Phil Hughes, circa 2013, so maybe a change of scenery will do some good. He looks good coming off the bus - 6'2, 215 - and throws hard.
Anyway, here is the skinny on Eovaldi.
Here is the deal on Garrett Jones. As you can see, he's very Overbayish and two-years past peak foliage. He bats LH, and the Yankees supposedly wanted him several years ago, whatever that's supposed to mean.
1. Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela will fight it out for 2B. (Fine with me. How bad can they be? Last year we handed 2B to Brian Roberts, until June, when we realized Mr. Oriole was done.)
2. A-Rod is almost never going to play in the field. Even if Teixeira gets hurt, they've got another backup firstbaseman. (It's also interesting to recall that the team went all of 2013 playing Beltran, Cervelli, McCann and Prado as backup 1B.)
3. They're claiming Eovaldi has focus issues, and he'll flourish under pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Maybe. But I'm skeptical when hearing how those superior Yankee minds will do what other teams couldn't. For five years, they were touting Kevin Long as the mystical, scientific hitting coach... then fired his butt three months ago.
4. The last guy, Domingo German, is actually Domingo Jean with a wig and nose job.
It's a marshmallow, marshmallow, marshmallow, marshmallow, marshmallow, marshmallow world: NYC sports
Consider the NFL "Power Rankings," with the Giants - led by Tom "Coach for Life" Coughlin - strutting around as the jewel of the Big Apple, with five big wins. Take that, Redskins!
And then there are the Knicks. Five big wins! Is it possible that Isiah Thomas is secretly still running the team?
The Rangers are in fourth, the Islanders in second. The Mets are the Mets, and Yankee fans are still deluding themselves into thinking the ownership is lying - and we're going to sign Max Scherzer. Right now, the Yankees poll (at left) shows a fan base predicting 4th place - as in, who is going to pitch every fourth day? Alfredo Aceves? Bruce Billings? Chaz Roe? Things aren't even this bad in Buffalo.
Nope. Not prudent. The new Yankee motto: A penny saved is a pennant earned.
Today, in lieu of a fourth and fifth starter, I say the Yankiverse must transcend pettiness and start pondering Trooth - that's right, The Trooth. I'm talking about those great Hobby Lobby framed quotations, which surely hang on Hal Steinbrenner's office wall, next to his Mensa membership. Dammit, people, let's stop whining about money. Money is crap. Money is piss. Let's start realizing that the best things are free... or at least marked down for clearance.
"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that." –Norman Vincent Peale.
That's right, River Ave comment-junkies. Stop bellyaching over Bruce Billings as our fifth starter. Your hearts are looking mighty empty this Christmas. Let's get behind this Yankee front office. Did you know the Yankees just inked Juan Graterol to a one-year? He could be next 2015's Yangervis Solarte. Come June 30, if we're floundering, we can trade him to other teams that are floundering for the former stars who are the reasons they are floundering. Get on board! Pockets without money are pockets of opportunity. And you may quote me on that, Hobby Lobby!
"Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver." –Ayn Rand
That's right, Lohud poo-pooers. Money cannot replace US as the driver. WE are the driver. Money cannot drive anything. Put a wad of cash in the driver's seat of your Prius and say, "Take me to White Plains!" and see what happens. NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. YOU'LL JUST SIT THERE LIKE A CLOD. Money will not buy Max Scherzer. You want Max Scherzer? Try some respect and admiration. If every Yankee fan simply stops crabbing about Hal Steinbrenner and sends Max Scherzer a well-written note with some flowers or maybe one of those Hickory Farms meat baskets, Max will see that NYC is love-love-LOVE personified, and he will pay the Yankees to play there. Either that, or he can fuck himself.
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. –Seneca
Damn straight, culturally iconic Native American wise man! And to all you It's All About the Money muttering moohlah-milkers, get off the can and realize that a rotation with David Phelps and Adam Warren is not a sign of fourth place. Sitting on the can and complaining is a sign of fourth place. If we stop "complaining" (which I think Seneca really said, rather than "craving," it just got lost in translation), we won't be in fourth place anymore.
Got that? Hail Hydra.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Buster "Cherry" Olney over at Gammonite Central is speculating that Cuba might get an MLB franchise in the not-necessarily-really-distant future.
I wonder where all the expat-to-be and currently-expat Cuban ballplayers would want to play if that happens?
That team would be a powerhouse. And their stadium sandwiches -- awesome.
What a lineup!
And maybe Heathcott, too? I smell the Governor's Cup! Paging Dwight Shrute.
The Cubans are coming, the Cubans are coming: Did the Yankees screw themselves by going over-allotment in this year's Latino signings?
|Imagine another Cuban missile crisis, |
except with players instead of missiles.
Nobody yesterday expected to see Uncle Sam and Fidel co-lighting a Cuban fatty, ending 50 years of playground taunts from dueling cabana boys. Of course, the voices of truth at Fox News are already screaming TREASON, but there's beachfront property to develop and dinero to be made, and like it or not, Mr. Rubio, the times, they a-gonna be a'changin.'
And that could mean a raft of Cuban baseball stars (yep, bad pun) floating to America in 2015... while the Empire is required to sit on its $1.85 billion wallet.
This summer, the Yankees overspent their MLB-allowed budget on international youth - the 16-year-olds addicted to HGH and Clearasil. The rules are complicated - like all tax crap - but the Yankees next year will be limited in their offers for international contracts. It's be written that they won't be able to go over $300,000 on a player. Thus, they'll comb the Cuban beaches with metal detectors, looking for pesos in the rough. Maybe Randy Levine can find a loophole - (it's come to that.) - but if Cuba opens the floodgates, the studs will head to LA and Texas.
So here is the question: Did the Yankees just fall onto the wrong side of a massive talent shift?
Obviously, it's too early to say. And if so - again - we cannot blame Cashman or Hal or even Levine (whom I personally enjoy blaming for everything, including Ebola.) In fact, we won't be alone. The Redsocks and Rays also went crazy in spending. It's really too early to fear the worst.
Then again, we're Yankee fans. We ALWAYS fear the worst.
(Quick test as proof: How many of you think Masahiro Tanaka will get through July with that partially torn elbow? Show of hands: Hmm. Two out 500! I thought so...)
This wouldn't be the first time the Yankees were caught trousers-down in a world, cultural upheaval. One reason why the team stank in the late 1960s was its refusal to embrace the emerging Latino market. The Tony Olivas and Mike Cuellars boosted Minnesota and Baltimore, while we waited for Roger Repoz and Steve Whitaker. (If either of you happen to be reading this: I'm still waiting! And merry Xmas!)
I don't know what the Yankees can do, except follow the wisdom of Warren: Send lawyers, guns and money. The times, they are a-gonna be a-changin.' Viva Hydra!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
NO PENNANTS, NO PEACE: If Hal Steinbrenner is more interested in being pennywise than winning the World Series, it's time for a fan revolution
As we end another cruel year, it's time to ponder a deeper question than where Brett Gardner should bat in 2015. (BTW, third.)
Should we, as die-hard Yankee rooters, give a crap that the ownership is becoming fiscally prudent?
Before unfurling my tirade, a few understandings...
I am writing as a consummate Yankee fan asshole. Yes, I'm aware that we spend more than almost any other team in baseball. What bugs me is the word "almost." Last year, the Dodgers outspent us. The frickin' LA Dodgers. Why? Because their owner wanted to win more than our owner did.
The margin by which we outspend almost all other teams is shrinking - while the value of the Yankee franchise continues to skyrocket. Old George Steinbrenner was worth millions. Each of his dirt bag sons is worth billions. George didn't trifle over money. So why are they? It's pointless. To Hal Steinbrenner money cannot matter. It might as well be infinite. Good grief, we rail about A-Rod being overpaid to be a DH, but the Steinbrenner boys get overpaid to crap their beds.
Secondarily, I am writing as a pathetic Yankee drone, incapable of switching allegiance. Most likely, you are, too: A Yankee sex slave, a prisoner, an addict, a Dick Nixon in Hell. When our team wins, we ejaculate confetti. When it fails - as it has since 2009 - I want someone boiled in Gray Goose. There is no in-between.
Nevertheless... Didn't we all privately puke when Robbie Cano jogged off to Windows Town for another meaningless zero on a piece of paper? That God he's gone. If playing for the New York frickin' Yankees means nothing, screw the bastard. Nor do I see why anyone should go $200 million into the tank for 7-Inning Max Scherzer - and yet - that one philosophical question remains unanswered:
Should we give a gaddamm whether the team is saving money?
This winter, the Yankees have balked on big name free agents. But... they are spending more in other areas. For example, we now field two teams in the Gulf Coast League. That means more chances to develop talent. Next year, they will add a Single A team in the Appalachian League. Again... more chances to raise puppies. They will have more affiliates than anybody else in baseball. This... is... smart.
Also, they lavished a shitload of cash this summer on young Latino prospects. Trouble is, they are too young - age 16. Aside from the ethical questions of buying a 16-year-old (who has been groomed by some predator scout since 12), I'm not sure it's wise. For every Miguel Cabrera (signed at 16) there are several Jackson Melians, Wily Mo Penas and Ricardo Aramboleses - who disappear somewhere between Trenton and Gomorrah.
But why have we been such wimps on the international market? We sat out the bidding for Puig, Abreu, Castillo, Tomas - Masahiro Tanaka is an exception. We always seek the Dollar Store alternatives, the scrap heap bargains. It's as if we want 25 Yangervis Solartes instead of one Derek Jeter.
And why didn't we fight the MLB rules that clearly were written to destroy the Yankees? Bud Selig always envied the NFL for one reason: It has no Yankees. By laying down against Selig's revenue-sharing rules, Hal Steinbrenner has been like the guy in a bar fight yelling "Lemmie at him! LEMMIE AT HIM," as he backs out the door. Then again... regardless of how the Yankees do, Hal just gets richer and richer.
Now, we face a looming Yankee apocalypse. We've won nothing in this decade. Our farm system is still shaky at the top. We enter 2015 chasing a Wild Card. Unless something changes, the greatest professional sports legacy in U.S. history is transitioning into the Buffalo Bills.
Funny how billionaires want free and unlimited spending for elections - but when it comes to running the game of baseball, they institute tax-regulated payroll limits.
I say it's time for Hal Steinbrenner to make a stand.
Yoan Moncata is a 19-year-old Cuban SS with great potential. From all indications, he could be a star. Soon, he'll go out for bids. Moncata won't come cheap. Whoever gets him will probably overpay. So... will the Steinbrenners shell out? Or will they lie to us and claim they can't afford it?
They can afford it.
If they poor-mouth on Moncata, we must not accept their lies.
If Hal Steinbrenner - with nearly infinite wealth - simply cares about the bottom line, which is a parlor game to him, it's time for Yankee fans to start crapping on that bottom line.
You get the tar, I'll get the feathers. This blog is a mere mosquito bite on the butt of the Yankiverse. But gaddammot, the revolution has to start somewhere! Play ball. Hail Hydra. Bring it on...
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The Yankees signed Juan Graterol.
No, that's not a two-stroke engine lubricant. He's a minor league catcher.
"As soon as a left-leaning person hears I’m a Yankees fan, the incredulity begins. “How can you be a liberal and a Yankees fan?” they demand, often followed by the cliché—delivered as if it were an original witticism—'That’s like rooting for General Motors!'"
You CAN be a Liberal and still root for the Yankees.
(No, it's not written by Nelson Mandela.)
Gimme a pill.
I know, I know... some of you blokes think it was a pip-pip jolly good idea. Obviously, the Yankee brain trust did. And look at all it did last year with a measly $210 million: Six wins over .500. (Oh, but that's because of the injuries.)
Signing Headley means the team will pass on Max Scherzer or James Shields, just as signing Andrew Miller meant showing David Robertson the door. We don't improve. We just maintain. With the likes of Beltran, Teixeira, McCann, et al, eating up money, what's another $52 million? I mean, we're shooting for the 2015 Wild Card, folks... seriously, eight over .500 might do it. How good do we need to be?
Insert sigh here.
What hurts most is the Boredom Factor. I hoped the Yankees in 2015 might field an interesting team to watch, with players whose ceilings are not so layered in concrete that you want to take a sleeping pill and fast-forward to 2019.
Headley's future is well defined by his past. Thus, here's what to expect: He'll hit .240 with 15 HR. If he hits .350 in April-May, he'll hit .150 in June-July. These guys are like homing pigeons; they always manage to find their numbers. What Headley really supplies is a chance for the Yankee front office to bench A-Rod and shame him into buy-out. The bar here is low, folks. Get used to it.
Wouldn't it be incredible if the Yankees found players who might actually evolve into stars?
I hoped they would sign Yasmany Tomas, the 23-year-old slugger OF from Cuba, who might be the next Puig or Abreu. Nope. Tomas signed with Arizona. We get Headley.
I hoped they'd sign Yoan Moncata, the 19-year-old shortstop from Cuba, by far the most exciting free agent this winter. Who knows how good he'll be. Not us. We get Headley.
I hoped they'd even chase Jung-Ho Kang, the 27-year-old Korean SS who hit 40 HR in some ridiculously obscure Asian league, because - well - you never know. Aint a-gonna happen. We get Headley, Headley, Headley.
We get Headley, we get Headley, WE GET HEADLEY - that is, until his chronic bad back seizes up, and then - as usual - we'll just blame the whole sorry season on injuries. We get Headley, we get Headley, we get Headley... and where's that sleeping pill? I'm feeling Headley.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Of course, the Yankees are going to sign Chase Headly.
Of course, we are going to trot out the same, tired relish tray on offense that we saw last year.
Of course, Brian Cashman and his Jim-Dolan like idiot owners, are not going to re-buildin a coherent, reason-to-hope way.
Of course, you are not going to see either of our two most promising Scranton players in pinstripes this season.
Of course, they will be trade bait when we reach the July deadline and this aged, creaky team is staring at an enormous line of traffic between them and that one game play-in.
Of course, you continue to raise hope for some degree of Yankee planning and rationality, based on the fact that we have done nothing idiotic yet.
Of course, you are dead wrong.
Here's another: If we sign Chase Headley, we'll be basically rolling out the same rickety dessert tray that finished 12 games out last year. Ah... the poetry of standing still!
Last night, Brian Cashman went on teevee to say the Yankees will sleep through the bidding war over Max Scherzer. This was a courtesy to other owners, declaring that we shall compete. But apparently thinking that Yankee fans needed something shiny in their stockings, Cashman noted that we're still in the running for Chase Headley!
And you were hoping to find a lump of clean coal...
If the Yankees resurrect Headley, that means A-Rod becomes DH, Martin Prado moves to 2B, and our two best rookies hopefuls - Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder - return to Scranton, if they're not traded. Last season, both hit over .300 at Triple A. Usually, when a guy hits .300 at Triple A, he gets a shot at the majors. But the Yankees - being that 6-above-.500 powerhouse - certainly can't allow that to happen. Nope. They'll have too many free-falling veterans who need to play. And the direct reason would be that we added Chase Headley to the mix.
Now, I recognize that many of you reading this do like Headley and want him back. I'm willing to accept that your opinion is as fine as mine. OK? I'm not the Oracle at Delphi. And I understand that Headley is a professional 3B, and on a powerhouse team like the 2003 Yankees, all you need is a Scott Brosius type, and he might fill that function. But...
Last August, Yankee fans saw a different Chase Headley than was experienced by the bootless minions of San Diego. The Padres' Headley had hit .229 with 7 HRs - which worse than what Yangervis Solarte (.254 and 6 HRs) had given the Yankees. Headley came to Gotham and sharpened his game: 6 HR and a whopping .262! The way the YES Men gushed, you thought A-Rod returned with a bucket of hypodermics.
If we sign him, this year, we'll get to see the Full Headley - San Diego side and all... as we once experienced the Full Ichiro, the Full Vernon Wells, the Full Hafner, the Full Andrew Jones, the Full Brian Roberts... get the point? And we'll get the full Headley for at least three years, maybe four. Imagine him in 2018, when he's earning the most and pushing 35.
I don't know which is more depressing: Wanting Chase Headley or getting Chase Headley.
Ah, the symmetry of the treadmill! Running hard and going nowhere. Welcome to the 1980s, everyone.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Either I'm losing my mind, or Madden's gone mad, because today, I read his column and nodded my head in agreement. Contrary to the blogs that are screaming for the Yankees to make a move - any more - Madden says the recent Winter Meetings weren't such a debacle, after all.
[I]t could’ve been worse, actually a lot worse, if Cashman had done a lot of dumb things such as trading off any of his three top farm prospects — the electric, fast-rising righty Luis Severino, lefty-hitting first baseman Greg Bird — the Arizona Fall League MVP — or outfielder Aaron Judge, the hulking 6-7, 230-pound outfield slugger — or given the kind of four-year contracts, for $48 and $54 million, McCarthy and Ervin Santana got from the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins, respectively. If nothing else, you have to commend Cashman and the Yanks for the restraint they’re showing this offseason.
He's right. With a little creative self-immolation, we could have Jimmy Rollins - age 36 - playing SS next season. Or we could have drained our still-iffy farm system for a Matt Kemp or Howie Kendrick, and be plodding in fourth place until the polar caps are growing palm trees. We didn't do anything stupid. What a great rallying cry.
I'm holding my breath here. The Yankees are like a sawmill sign that counts the days since the last workplace accident. I personally put the number at 104.
I believe our last severed appendage came July 31, when we traded Pete O'Brien for Martin Prado. I do like Prado, but O'Brien is one of the top power prospects in the game. You don't trade him for a guy who peaked in 2010, especially when all you're trying to do is prop up a desperate run for the last wild card spot. I grant that Prado played well for us in August - (before, surprise!, he got hurt.) But soon after we added Prado's $11 million per year contract to the payroll, we sat out in the bidding war for Rusney Castillo, the so-called Cuban "Brett Gardner with power," who signed with Boston. We still don't know who good Castillo will be. But he represents my biggest fear: If the guy follows in the footsteps of Puig, Cespedes, Abreu, et al... the Redsocks will have a rising star in the OF. That could vault them ahead of us for years - and I gotta believe our trading reactions will never let the sign outside the sawmill rise above 104 again.
We haven't done anything stupid... yet.
I agree with Billy Madden. What hath God wrought?