Happy Thanksgiving, everybody

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Yankees are M.I.A. on another Cuban free agent

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six year contract worth $68.5 million. This, of course, comes four months after the Redsocks signed OF Rusney Castillo - aka "Brett Gardner with Power" - for seven years, at $72 million.

So... recapping for those at home.

Arizona gets Tomas, age 24, for six years at $68 million.

Boston gets Castillo, age 26, for seven years at $72 million.

The Yankees get Carlos Beltran, age 37, for three years, at $45 million.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Are we having fun?

Deal Hal Steinbrenner: This Thanksgiving, which are you? "Mr. Austerity"... or "Mr. Kinky Boots?"

Dear Madam or Sir:

Sorry if I appear confused. I'm just not sure to whom I speak.

This Thanksgiving, are you Harold Z. "Hal" Steinbrenner, alias...

a) "Mr. Austerity" 

or b) "Mr, Kinky Boots"

This year, are you a tightwad... or a Johnny Wad?

From what we hear - aka, Joel Sherman - we are entering another "Yankee Austerity Off-Season." The team will avoid long-term deals with evil Max Scherzer or tainted Jon Lester. We will even ditch 4-year commitments to Chase Headley or David Robertson. Prudence, people! Mr. Austerity wants us to hitch up our belts, pull away from the pizza buffet and cut our costs!

Or... is this your "time of the month?" (Wink-wink)

Forgive me, but since your father died, you have not exactly been a cornerstone of consistency. You have:

a) Declared Austerity, demanding that the payroll be cut to $187 million, with an absolute moratorium on two-year deals.
b) Same month, signed Ichiro to a two-year deal.
c) Ditched the Austerity plan altogether, claiming $187 million was merely "a goal."
d) Announced a new Secret Austerity plan, refusing a long-term deal with Robbie Cano.
d) Same month, ditched the new Secret Austerity plan, signing long deals with McCann, Ellsbury, Beltran et al.
e) Purged all distant memory of the new Secret Austerity plan, with salary dump deals for Headley, Prado, McCarthy, et al.
f) Announced this winter's new Double-Secret Austerity plan, avoiding long-term deals...

Unless you change your mind, heh heh. O, you crazy cad, you wild tumbleweed of desire! What gets into you?

(Wait a minute... TIME OUT. I just realized something: The Yankees are owned by a psycho spoiled rich kid, sitting in the 19th hole with a Scotch and a six-page menu, and he can't decide whether to order the hamburger or the surf 'n turf.)

So... today, we're frugal, right? But come July, when we're 6 out and tanking, you'll approve a pile of sub-prime salary dumps - bringing in a new crate of old slobs, designed to grease the engine and keep the team afloat through September 15? Then... next winter - you'll announce the new Triple-Secret Austerity Plan! No long-term deals! Time to cut Yankee costs!

(Holy crap... I just realized something: We're dealing with a psycho spoiled rich kid who has a drug addiction, and he's always planning to quit, but he never throws away his stash.... and he's stoned out of his gourd... )

So... recapping now: Consistent policies? Who needs 'em?

Which is it? Austerity... or Sailor Moon?

This Thanksgiving... which Hal is carving the turkey... the one we will be lashed to in 2015?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Yankees outlast None of the Above to be voted "Best Run NYC Sports Team"

To set the bar any lower, we would have had to include New Jersey.

Wow. The next Cooperstown class is going to be solid

Thirty four players on the ballot. Let's face it: A few have no hope. But what a class...
(Yankee connections in blue; not counting the Crime Dog.)
(Redsock connections in red, not counting Bagwell)
Rich Aurilia, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Mike Mussina, Troy Percival, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Sammy Sosa, Alan Trammell, Larry Walker.

We now interrupt coverage of the Yankees with this bulletin...

Last night, to cleanse myself of dark thoughts relating to Hanley-Sandoval, I turned on the network Evening News.

It was a pregame show for the Ferguson riots, with kickoff scheduled for 9 p.m. Eastern - 8:00 o'clock Central - and enough top news celebrities for an awards show. I've never seen a riot so professionally hyped in advance. This practically had a Super Bowl media week leading up to it.

And at 9:05 p.m., following the opening theme and introductions, the camera crews were perfectly stationed to be in range of tear gas canisters and thrown rocks - to equally represent the ugly stereotypes of both sides. They had helicopters and graphics, fires and explosions, plucky blondes and smoke. It was great TV. If Sylvester Stallone had popped up to jack looters to the wall, it couldn't have been more exciting.

Well, we finally made it to the world that George Orwell envisioned - perpetual wars, everywhere.

Last night, as I watched, an old song played in my head. It cuts to the soul of this blog...

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you...

Dear Mr. Cashman: The last time the Yankees over-reacted to a Boston move, the result was Kei Igawa

Dear Madam or Sir,

Little known fact: As a teen, I was bitten by a genetically altered clone of Matt Nokes, which gave me powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. My secret super power? On occasion, I can somehow channel the entire disassembled zeitgeist of the Yankiverse, and present it into one crisp, cohesive, primal bleat. Today is one of those moments.

I am about to close my eyes and let my Nokes-enhanced superfingers autonomously dance upon the keyboard, speaking for the Yankee multitudes whose tongues this morning are too grief-stricken and gin-swollen to move. Here goes:


Yep. That's it. Fukkit. That's what she's a-thinkin.' Trust in the Force, sir. And the Force today is saying... Fukkit.

This morning, the Redsock Nation is congratulating itself, pleasuring itself, imagining itself at Curt Schilling's airport security pat-down, and putting in vacation requests for next October's ring ceremony at Fenway. They're so smart, so full of righteousness. After all, they suffered all those years, when Uncle Harry died without winning a World Series. Now, they can stuff themselves at the MLB cruise ship buffet, while the world admires their frat boy butts for never gaining weight.

Yep, this week, Boston won the 2015 World Series. So... fukkit.

Listen: Those idiots just signed Hanley Ramirez for five years. Trust me, he will replace Manny Ramirez on so many levels that, to understand things, you'd need the Monty Python troop to make a movie. And then there is the fabulous Kung Fu Panda, who certainly looks like a young version of David Ortiz, so he's sure to grow into an older one, am I right? Hey - maybe it will work, as long as the MLB drug task force only investigates Yankees.

Yep. They won. It's over. They now have six outfielders and can trade for somebody, anybody - King Felix and Clayton Kershaw, most likely - and throw in Mike Napoli, because they have no place for his clanking glove either. Let's just stand back and let the world admire this fantastic conglomeration of horse meat.


So... why am I thinking of Carl Crawford?

Sir... breathe. Just breathe.

The next two weeks could make or break the Yankees' 2015 season. This is no time to run out and trade for anybody named Elvis - or Tulo - or, for that matter, anybody known by one name. We have a guy known by one name. The one name is A-Rod. Do we want another? If so, I'd go for Liberace before I'd take Tulo, at the price Colorado will demand - especially in the aftermath of a Boston chess move.

Sir... Fukkit.

It's a long long drop from Hanley and Pando to the dark pit known as Chase Headley. It's like the difference between Max Scherzer and Brandon McCarthy. And it's possible that, for now, the Yankees are merely playing for the 2015 Wild Card Away Field One Game Birth. It's possible that, for now, the Yankees must realistically be looking to 2016. But I don't think such things. This is no time to go nuts over a back page on a throw-away paper. The last time we went crazy over a Boston signing, we brought Kei Igawa to New York City - and doubled their long term celebrations.

Let them party.

We got them where we want them. Fukkit.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Yankees' reaction to Boston signing Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sanduval

We signed Jonathan Galvez.

Anything can happen

This week, we saw the national pundit corps wipe its eyes over Marion Barry, while vilifying Bill Cosby.

So, yes, Carlos Beltran could have a bounce-back year.

Last night's death rattle in the Meadowlands could be a sign of what's to come next summer in the Bronx

Last night, the Jersey Giants lost to the always-despicable Dallas Cowboys in what should have been a Meadowlands heart-breaker. But when the last dagger plunged - the NFL's Hunger Games supreme command overturned a ref's decision - the NYC crowd erupted into cheers.

Cheers. This was not a hallucination. The place cheered for Jerry Jones, which is like rooting for herpes.

And in my home luxury box, so did I.

Dear God, I confess... lock me up in chains... but I wanted Dallas to win.

This is what happens when you've become so dispirited - so sour on a team's management - that all you want is for certain people to disappear. This must be what it's like to be one of those 75-year-old Obama haters in Arizona. I used to love Tom Coughlin. Now, I cannot stand to see him fling his hands into the air like an electrified Chuckie doll. I loved Eli Manning. Now, I yearn to see Ryan Nassib. Ryan Fricking Nassib! DEAR GOD, I HATE MYSELF. And last night, I rooted against the Giants, because the worst that can happen would be for them to win five meaningless games down the stretch, finish at 8-8, and extend this dead management for another three to five years.

Which brings me to the Yankees.

I have not descended into that Code Red Zone of Venom about the Yankee front office - not yet. I am still gullible enough to gush over Zelous Wheeler, when he homers in his second at bat, and start pondering his plaque in Monument Park. But last night, the seeds of another mediocre Yankee season were being sown.

As the Gints were whiffing against Tony Romo, Boston was entering a five-year deal with Hanley Ramirez. This would be good news for Yankee fans - Hanley is a creaky SS with holly-jolly hamstrings - if it signified an end to the Redsocks free agent build-up. In fact, it likely represents the beginning.

Right now, Ramirez is more likely to play 3B or the OF. And the looming question is whether his signing means Boston has punted on Pablo Sandoval, or they plan to stack slugger bookends at 1B and 3B - building the most potent lineup of 2015.  Either way, they can trade for pitching - keep in mind, they're flush with prospects - and they may still be in the hunt for Jon Lester.

Do we expect to counter that with a bounce-back year from Carlos Beltran?

But Yankee fans know The Big Fear: That Boston's build-up prompts Hal Steinbrenner to do something incredibly stupid, such as make a doomsday trade for Troy Tulowitski. We could wrap our future around an aging shortstop from the fortified air of Colorado, a star of 2013, with a crumbling set of hips. Throughout the 1980s, Hal's father made such moves repeatedly. Is the son doomed to repeat his father's past?

Last night, we saw the apocalypse: The people of New York cheered for the Cowboys.

Next September, could we be hearing that same kind of death rattle in the Bronx?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

To be or not to be... Boston is asking the essential question

The home of the Gammonites shows an uncanny knack for laying out the limitless range of possibilities.

The most earnest of the non-Shaugnessys - Nick Carfado - gazes wide-eyed into the jaws of Hell, comes to terms with his apocalyptic mortality, and writes that the Yankees:

a) May be gun-shy. or b) May be ready to pull the trigger.

It's hard to say. What will the Yankees do? That's the question, all right. And it's a fine question... it's THE question. Nobody knows the answer. But at least we now know the question. Because if you don't know the question, how can you know the answer? Soon, we will know all. Progress!

News mash: Waiting for Ferguson grand jury report v. waiting for new Yankee hitting coach

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP)BRONX. Crews erected barricades around the building where a grand jury the Yankees have been considering whether to indict hire the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown as their new hitting coach.

In recent days, tension has been mounting in Ferguson the Yankiverse, with many speculating that the grand jury's Hal Steinbrenner's decision could provoke violence among the crowds of protesters Yankee nut jobs.. But no announcement was made Saturday, although there was a noticeable uptick in security preparations excuses being made.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson Yankee GM Brian Cashman is accused of shooting the teenager team last summer. 

Wilson is white and Brown, who was unarmed, was black. Joe Girardi is Italian.

Obama putts with El Capitan

Exclusive: Obama told Jeter the Yanks should re-sign Ichiro and trade for Nick Swisher.  Jeter responded by saying, "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi" whenever the President prepared to swing. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014: The year of commercially orchestrated Yankee emotions

From Jeter's powerful "Respect" ad - which sold Gatorade - to this heartwarming, 30-second ditty, the Yankees in 2014 became a touchstone for any corporation in need of a public relations face-lift.

This one came out in July. I almost forgot about it, until it popped up on Reddit yesterday.

For all its misery, Buffalo has a mere 10-inch lead in the Golden Snowball

Buffalo, dealing with snow.
Buffalo - the media darling of late for winter whiteouts - has squandered an incredible opportunity to run away with the 2014-15 Golden Snowball, which is annually awarded to the Upstate NY city that is most buried in snow.

As of Friday noon, Buffalo leads this season's race with 17.2 inches - only 10.3 inches ahead of Rochester and 12.4 over Syracuse.

Considering the week's apocalyptic blizzard, this is pathetic.

If I lived in Buffalo, I would be fuming over these numbers, which are measured by the National Weather Service at the city's airport. Frankly, Buffalo should be leading by 40 inches. A 10-inch lead? That is nothing. I speet on a 10-inch lead. Pttuui.

Let me put this into Yankee terms:

This is like having loaded the bases with no outs in each of the first two innings, but having only scored one run, with Alfredo Aceves on the mound, at Fenway Park, on a windy day, when the game is on national TV, and Preston Claiborne has just started warming in the pen. There is simply no way the lead will hold.

Syracuse is the 1927 Yankees of the Golden Snowball. Sure... Buffalo may have the early headlines, but our snow machine hasn't even warmed up.

Nice try, Buffalo. But soon it will be our turn at bat.

Bring canned food

The weirdness of life in Syracuse:

If somebody soon ponies up $150,000, the city will get Lady and Tony. 

Waiting for MLB's off-season version of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand

It's been said that, when a butterfly in China flaps its wings, it sets into motion a series of events that culminates in Taylor Swift getting a yeast infection.

One of these days - perhaps even before Thanksgiving - the butterfly will flap, toppling a line of dominoes that will end with the Yankees doing something crazy, like trading the entire city of Scranton for Troy Tulowitzki.

It could be the signing of Max Scherzer, which would unleash the scrambling hordes for the two remaining Sisters of Fate, James Shields and Jon Lester.

Or it could be Boston signing Pablo Sandoval - a move said to be "90 percent" likely - which would goose the market for Chase Headley into a frenzy.

Several options, though, would be unaffected by these moves. I'm talking about the international market - pitchers from Japan, and position players from Cuba. (Why are so few defining position players from Asia, and/or pitchers from Cuba? Any ideas?) These deals hinge entirely on money, which is the Yankees greatest field of expertise. In fact, it seems to me that the Yankees have only one remaining advantage in baseball anymore, and it's in the international market.

There is enough talent out there - and none comes at the expense of our first-round draft pick - to fill nearly every hole on the Yankee roster, except for shortstop. There is an interesting Korean star, but he might be way overpriced and a stretch.

So when the dominoes fall, we should not panic if the Yankees do not quickly leap into the vortex. On the contrary, if we run out and sign another All-Star from 2008, or somebody that costs us our top draft pick, it might be a sign that Hal is done for the year with the international market.

That would unleash a butterfly in the Bronx, which could end up with Vladimir Putin getting shingles. It's a strange world.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is it relevant that on the day Brian Cashman slept on the streets of NYC to draw attention to the plight of homeless teens, he signed a 16-year-old Columbian to a $500,000 contract?

I honestly don't know. But sometimes, those are the questions that life delivers.

(Either way, kudos to Cash for the effort.)


Zelous Wheeler - the pride of Sylacauga, Alabama - is going to Japan.

Who can forget his first MLB game?
He homered in his second at bat.

On behalf of the Yankiverse...
Good luck, Zel.

Buffalo has jumped the starter's pistol in the Golden Snowball award

If you're lucky enough to live in Upstate New York, nothing more delights you than the annual race for the Golden Snowball. It's like the Stanley Cup, the World Wrestling Federation Championship Belt and the Oscar for Best Special Effects - all rolled into one.

Five Utopian cities - Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton and Albany (Sorry, Utica, mwa-hahaha...) - scramble to see which will tally the most winter snow.

As of Thursday, here are the standings.

As you can see, Buffalo has claimed an early lead. (Note: These totals reflect the National Weather Service official measurements, taken at each city's airport. Buffalonians commonly whine that their numbers are under-reported, but the fact is, most of that "five-feet of snow" you heard about this week fell outside the city, in towns like "Cheektowaga" and "Gowanda," with names full of sexual innuendos.) But Syracuse remains the New York Yankees of snow. We in "the Salt City" have won the Golden Snowball 10 out of the last 11 years. (Rochester took it 2011-12.)

Frankly, nothing more delights the Syracuse city fathers - as they seek lure to town a new dioxin plant or prison for the criminally insane - than our well deserved national reputation for whiteout blizzards.

Which brings me to a looming scandal.

This year, Buffalo has cheated. It has jumped the starter's pistol. It's not even December 1, yet they have established a foot-long lead. A foot-long lead.

This is wrong.

Baseball doesn't count spring training victories toward the pennant race. This recent storm - the one they're ludicrously calling "Knife" - is the equivalent of Jim Boeheim's Syracuse basketball team beating Adrian College last week. The score was 84 to 35. But it was an exhibition game. It doesn't count toward the Final Four.

When December arrives, and the games matter, you better believe that we Syracusans will lace up our cleats, get out there and start shoveling ourselves into heart attacks. Until then, this whole thing is a sham.

If cities start winter earlier every year, it'll soon become like Presidential campaigns - which never even end. It's time to hold the line, Golden Snowball. I don't care how grumpy those Buffalonians are. If exhibition scores counted, Zolio Almonte would be the star Yankee outfielder. Opening day is still a week away. Call back the racers, and let's start over. There's yardage to record.

Someone left the cake out in the rain: The Yankees may regret leaving Kyle Roller unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 draft

Yesterday, the Evil Empire added four "kids" - Tyler Austin (age 23), Danny Burawa (25), Branden Pinder (25) and Mason Williams (23) - to their 40-man roster, protecting them in next month's Rule 5 scavenger hunt. Left outside the Bronx bubble is first-baseman Kyle Roller. 

I understand the decision. Roller is 26. Also, he plays a position where the Yankee drain is clogged: Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, two immovable statues stand in his path.  But Roller last year hit 28 HRs and batted .300, jumping from Trenton to Scranton. He's ripe for the pickings. I can't help but feel that another one is about to fly out the window.

Oh well, you can't keep everybody, and - believe it or not - I don't presume to know more than the Yankee scouts. I speak as a fan, not an insider. But wearing the ball cap of the fan, I say simply: WTF?

The Yankee brain trust is currently saying that, a) They expect nothing next year from A-Rod (which, actually, is smart p.r.) and that, b) they expect a bounce-back season from Teixeira. They say most wrist injuries take at least a year to heal, and that Tex clearly was bothered throughout 2014. Thus, next spring, he'll be ready.

When I hear that, a question emerges: WTF? If they knew Tex was likely to tank in 2014, why didn't they secure a backup 1B? At one point, they played Carlos Beltran, who hadn't stood at the position since high school. Nor did Brian McCann have experience. And when it became abundantly clear that Tex was not hitting - he finished the season at .216 with 22 HRs - they never gave Kyle Roller so much as a cup of coffee.

In the second half of 2014, Teixeira hit .179 with 5 HRs. How much worse could Kyle Roller have done? The only reason the Yankees stayed with Teixeira - as far as I can see - is they were paying him too much money not to play him. He was the baseball equivalent of JP Morgan - incompetent, but too big to fail. So he anchored the batting order, and pulled the team underwater.

Meanwhile, down at Scranton, Kyle Roller - an actual first baseman - was tearing it up.

We all know the deal: Sticking with old names - Brian Roberts instead of Jose Pirella, Chris Young instead of Zolio Almonte, etc. - is standard Yankee policy.

It is also the policy of cowards.

OK - so next year we'll have Tex back, plus A-Rod - and if they get hurt, there's McCann, who plays 1B like a catcher. After that, well, they can try Beltran, or sign some modern day version of Matt Nokes.

I get the feeling that Kyle Roller is about to roll out the door. Just another guy who wracked up numbers and never got a chance. That's the Yankee way, eh?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

If Pat Venditte turns into a star in Oakland, there will bloodshed in the Bronx

After a thousand lifetimes mired within the Yankee farm system, Pat Venditte - the only switch-pitcher you or I will ever know - has been signed as a minor league free agent by Oakland.

Over seven seasons in the Yankee scrub lands, Venditte rose to Scranton, but never received so much as a courtesy cup of coffee. The Yankee "baseball people" - experts of the radar gun - detected flaws in his pitches, so he never got a call.

Fine. OK. No problem.

Surely, we accept that the Yankee "baseball people" knew what they were doing, by denying their fans so much as a glimpse of the lone switch-pitcher of his or any generation.

Thanks to the Yankee "baseball people," if we ever see Pat Venditte pitch, he will wear an A's uniform.

Just know this: If Venditte turns into a Major League star, there will be trouble.

That's all I'm going to say.


Yankee president Randy Levine thanks the wrong deity for A-Rod's diminished status;

Yesterday, Yankee president Randy 'Fright Wig" Levine snatched another 15 seconds of internet fame from the oiled cheeks of Kim Kardashian, with his two-syllable reaction to the news that Giancarlo Stanton - the most feared slugger that nobody's ever heard of - just replaced A-Rod as baseball's wealthiest player.

Randy said - quoting now - "Thank God."

Of course, Yankee fans know the reality of Stanton's 13-year, $350 million contract: Before it's done, he will be dumped on us, like a truckload of yellow Buffalo snow. They all do. Kevin Brown. Roger Clemens. The Big Unit... They hear the pledge of Lady Liberty: "Give me your tired, your old, your sore elbows and your designated hitters, yearning to retire..." I'm betting Giancarlo arrives in NYC by 2020, not half-way through his trek through the tit and coke dunes of Miami... alias "South Gomorrah."

President Randy was thanking God because the Yankees are no longer keeper of baseball's most rancid contract - the one that tethers Hal Steinbrenner to Alex Rodriguez - which, if you think about it, is proof that Karma is one sick bastard. From now on, whenever a Gammonite feels compelled to self-righteously spew about the insane amounts of money foisted on athletes - as opposed to bards - their user-keys will be programmed to say "Giancarlo" instead of "A-Rod."

Of course, Alex will remain baseball's Bond villain, the human magnet for indignation about steroids. As soon as he leaves, the game can pronounce itself clean again. And you better believe the new commissioner - He Who Is Not Bud - will avoid the PED issue like a fresh pile of puke from a passenger on Air Africa.

But here's the rub, folks. Baseball's bottom line is exploding. For 40 years, the game has blamed the steady rise of player salaries on the Yankees. Now, with parity looming via luxury taxes, team payrolls are not falling. They're shooting out of the stratosphere.

This week, Russell Martin received Brian McCann money, (after McCann last year scored Yadier Molina money.) Billy Butler is getting Carlos Beltran money, (which was practically Carl Crawford money.) David Robertson wants Mariano money, which means Max Scherzer and Jon Lester - dear God! - they might get Robbie Cano money.

And nowhere in these ridiculous bidding wars will you find President Randy Levine.

Nope. He's hoping Chris Capuano will settle for Phil Hughes money.

So... (insert sigh here)... what should we - as Yankee fans - think?

Remember: These owners are billionaires - not millionaires. They sit atop taxpayer-funded shitpiles, they are lawyered-up, and every player is insured, so if he pops a gonad or beats his girlfriend, the suits cut their losses. If we don't like where baseball is going, they are the people who are taking us there. The Gammonites will scream and moan about the players, because that is what Gammonites do.

Yesterday, President Randy thanked God that A-Rod is no longer baseball's fattest golden calf.

Frankly, I think he was looking in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Robbie to Seattle: Send more money

The sighs you'll hear in the future will be from Mariners fans, when they realize they needed the hitter last year, because Robbie isn't getting younger.

How ISIS recruits

The enemy of my enemy is my drinking buddy: It's time to root, root, root for the Cubs and Giants; or Boston will be back in the driver's seat

It's a critical week for the Evil Empire - Hail Hydra! - as the Redsocks try to reload.

The Fratboy Nation has made muy gigundo offers to Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, their top free agent pinups. Last summer, they ditched the deadwood for just this moment. Moreover, they have a bubbling geyser of young prospects, as opposed to the Yankees' farm system, baseball's version of the XL Pipeline. If they add Lester and Sandoval, it's easy to imagine them whooshing past the Yankees in 2015. In fact, it's easy to imagine Prince Hal Steinbrenner doing something batty - Troy Tulowitzki comes to mind - which could relegate us to permanent Third World status for the rest of this decade.

Two people stand in the way of the Redsocks' plans:

1. Theo Epstein, the former Redsockian consigliere, who is trying to resurrect the Cubs with manager Joe Madden and a roster replica of the 2008 Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Theo needs Lester in the way that the Bill Cosby needs six months of solitude. If he outbids Boston - of if Lester still feels the taser sting of being jettisoned last summer - it would force the Redsocks into chasing Max Scherzer or James Shields. Both pitchers are solid, but Scherzer will require a Giancarlo Stanton price tag, and Shields is 32 (Lester and Scherzer are 30.) That two-year gap is a mofo when when you're looking at a five-year commitment. Go you Theo. Hail Hydra!

2. Brian Sabean, the former Yankee wonk, who built the Giants with other former Yankee wonks. (If only the Yankees were wonked by their former Yankee wonks.) Sandoval has three rings in San Francisco, and - at age 28 - he could fill his hand by staying put. Will he feel loyalty to the town and team? Let's hope so. Because it's not hard to see him flicking pop-ups off the Green Monster and having the peak seasons of his career, much like David Ortiz, who came to Boston at age 27. If the Redsocks whiff on the Panda, their fallback at 3B becomes Chase Headley - ha! - and, at the least, we can bid up Headley's price and make Boston pay way too much. Think of it this way: Their next fallback is in Zelous Wheeler territory.

So watch the skies. If Boston nails both Lester and Sandoval, Team Hal Hydra will declare Code Red, and all the Yankees really have to trade is their future. Of course, even if Boston goes oh-for-two, they still have plenty of wiggle room. It wouldn't be the first time their plans went blooey - and they ended up on top. Remember the winter of 2003 and a fellow named Alex? Hail Hydra, or - better yet - Hail Hubris!