There is no baseball but that is the least of our troubles these days.
As we wait out this public health crisis, sending hugs and love to you and yours.
Man, you hold your breath each day and hope that another Yankee doesn’t get hurt. The big boppers, Stanton and Judge, muscular and impressive as they are, certainly aren’t durable.
We’re in March now, exhibition games are being played, and we’re gearing up for the start of the season. With the world gone topsy turvy—with no end in sight to the craziness in this election year—there is something comforting about the inevitability of Opening Day and the long season.
Picture by Bags
Luis, TJ surgery. Oy and veh.
And yet … you could feel this one coming.
Picture by Bags
Here’s what I wonder in all of this—Okay, maybe some of the Houston hitters will get plunked this season because they cheated. And of course MLB wants to make sure things don’t get out of control. But what about Houston’s pitchers? Doesn’t this hamstring them? I mean, soon as Verlander plunks someone, don’t you think the other teams will figure it’s on like Donkey Kong?
In the meantime, every day, another player is out there talking about this, ramping up the WWF-nature of this scandal.
I don’t know how you feel but I find MLB’s ineptitude reassuring. A few months ago I met the writer Fran Leibovitz at a book party. I chatted her up for a few minutes and standing close to her you could not avoid the fact that she smelled like cigarettes. My father was a smoker I recall the stilted air in his apartment when I was growing up, waking up to clouds of cigarette smoke. I hated the smell at the time, how stale it was, how it clung to your clothes.
There is nothing charming about the smell of cigarette smoke. And yet, I loved that Leibovitz smelled like butts. It was oddly calming—of course, she smelled like cigarettes, as it should be.
Baseball screwing the pooch is like that. Proof that all is well—or unwell—with the world.
Here’s a fun discussion to have; one I was having offline that was suggested to me to post here: what managers really have “juice” these days? Not PEDs of course, but respect; the kind that allows them to call the shots in the dugout without too much input, oversight or meddling from the GM and front office? There have been many discussions about the true role of the manager in the Age of Analytics, and how the importance of the manager has either diminished or shifted to other points of interest. I thus made an impromptu list of current managers and ranked them by service time, how many rings they’ve won, how many times they led their team to a championship series and the general perception likely by players, fans and others around the league.
The topic arose, ironically, from the latest news reports about the Houston Astros cheating scandal and former manager A.J. Hinch’s role in the whole story. The general conclusion was that Hinch, who was contrite in apologizing for not doing enough to discourage the cheating that MLB investigated and concluded in a mostly direct report, yet seemingly danced around a direct question about the use of wearable tech by players, would likely never manage again in the majors due to his apparent show of weakness among veteran players and his drop in credibility. Depending on the results of the ongoing investigation of the 2018 Red Sox due to their association with Alex Cora and how he reportedly continued his cheating methods as manager, Cora could also likely be blacklisted as a manager of a MLB team, if not worse. Also, with Carlos Beltran continually being outed for his role and impact on other players, Beltran could stand to lose the most from the scandal when all is said and done. But what is most telling is the role the front office reportedly had in both initiating and implementing the cheating in the first place, and how that impacted players who either played along or protested against the cheating. Former GM Jeff Lunhow is very likely out of MLB anything for good, due in part to his alleged oversight of the whole operation (and the fact that he denied any knowledge whatsoever), and also due to the fact he has virtually no supporters in other organizations; many people disliked his personality and hubris.
With all that said, do any managers really have power within the organization to lead or direct players in any capacity beyond writing their names on the lineup card and implementing analysis that was cooked up by a GM and his analytics department? Is there more to it than that and managing personalities anymore? Are managers more than notebook carriers and soothsayers for impressionable young stars in the making? Are style, personality, managing or coaching experience (particulary in the majors) and verifiable results actually unwelcome aspects when considering hiring a new manager in this day and age? Could a Rob Thomson or a Hensley Meulens ever get a manager job over a recently retired player or even a quality assurance coach?
Here’s the list of current managers for each team (courtesy of BR Bullpen):
Wowzers, you see it coming and yet…
Boston, still without a manager a week before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, traded two of their most significant players to the Dodgers, right fielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price, in a three-way trade also involving the Twins for regarded young outfielder Alex Verdugo from the Dodgers, and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol from the Twins. The Twins in turn get starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers. It is indeed a seismic move involving three star players changing coasts and leagues at the same time (well, Maeda goes halfway, but you get the picture). In a likely corresponding move to make room for Betts, the Dodgers also traded outfielder Joc Pederson (along with a rookie league prospect) to the Angels for a young infielder I’ve never heard of, but will likely be pushing for a spot during the upcoming Spring Training portion of the show.
What’s the initial take? Dodgers pretty much get a Golden Ticket to the 2020 post-season (as long as they stay healthy) with Top 5 (Top 3?) outfielder in Betts, but then what of former All-Star and current borderline albatross David Price? Fortunately for L.A., the Red Sox are apparently sending a boatload of cash with him in the deal, and apparently by sending Maeda to the Twins, who send one of their pitching prospects to Boston, this evens out somehow. They are once again the team to beat in the N.L..
For the Twins getting Maeda, who finished 3rd in ROY voting in 2016 after eight largely stellar seasons in Japan, goes a long way in stabilizing a rotation that has Jake Odorizzi leading a staff including José Berríos, Homer Bailey and… um… yeah. Michael Pineda will finish out a 60-game suspension in mid-May while Rich Hill recovers from surgery and will probably return sometime in June. Minnesota needed this after having a huge season, yet falling short to the usual suspects in the playoffs.
The Red Sox, you say? I was having an offline discussion about this; basically this is salary relief in the disguise of retooling. They get a young(er) outfielder plus a prospect in Verdugo from the Dodgers and Graterol from the Twins, while also getting something instead of nothing for Betts. While they apparently have to pitch in a significant portion of Price’s salary to move him, he’s essentially one less conflict they have to deal with head-on (and vice-versa). Thus the price (pun… not intended, but liked) for a championship (albeit with a cloud hovering over it) and spending with near-reckless abandon to achieve it. The fans will probably HATE this move, but will definitely find ways to rationalize it.
Why does this matter to us Yankee fans, you might also ask? (You might, rabbit, you might…) Well, obviously it weakens a close competitor significantly; what Boston gets in return does not move the needle much as far as contending is concerned. If anything, they get a young player with value and more years of control and a really manageable salary… but GTFOH, he’s not Mookie Betts. He’s not charging up Aaron Judge in man-to-man WAR comparisons… not yet anyway. The pitcher they get may or may not make the rotation, that remains to be seen. All-in-all, the Red Sox accomplished their main goal in shedding significant salary, and we should be happy they did, more contending for the Yanks. And the best part is Mookie’s in the NL now, so the Yanks don’t haver to face him (or Price for that matter) nearly as much.
So that’s that so far. I may easily change my mind about all of that as more updates come; whereas much of this happened only recently as of this writing, so more details are sure to come. Comment away!
A day late and a dollar short on this but, whadda ya say? Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer!
It was so much fun watching him and rooting for him all those years, from precocious rookie—all the girls loved him!—to salty vet, he was the model Yankee of his generation, taking over where Don Mattingly and Willie Randolph left off. Sure, he was a little frosty in the second half of his career, but there was no doubt we were seeing the best shortstop in team history and that was just so much fun.
Watching him was fun because he was having so much fun—at least between the lines.
Jeter was voted in by all but one voter and naturally that’s caused a stir, but hell, that’s how we stay warm in the off-season, right? Mincing words over stupid stuff.
Nice to see Larry Walker get in, too. He always seemed like a no-doubt-about-it guy when he played. Great swing, serious hose, so damn good. But what’s up with that Sponge Bob T-shirt he was wearing when he got the call? Dag, jocks can be goofy, dude.
Boom. As fans, let’s take a few moments to assess what we just witnessed in the latest edition of “As The Baseball World Turns”…
I wish I had time to go in-depth on this situation, which is still evolving as we speak. But I do have some references for you to follow up and discuss if you wish.
What we know so far:
There has been and will continue to be plenty of discussion about what this all means for the people involved; we know that the Astros lose their first and second picks in both the 2020-21 drafts and also have to pony up $5 million; an unprecedented punishment indeed for the fifth-year commissioner Rob Manfred and for baseball overall, but then Crane went beyond that and fired Luhnow and Hinch for essentially embarrassing the organization and the city of Houston. Cora is still under investigation; he was singled out as the person who implemented the cheating system, then allegedly carried it over to his new job as manager and won a championship with it there. If he gets the book thrown at him, it will likely be bigger than the one thrown at Luhnow and Hinch, and likely result in his dismissal. meanwhile, Beltran, while not escaping the eye of MLB investigators, managed not to get punished by MLB. Yet, that doesn’t mean the story is over for him; there will likely be internal discussion about his suitability for running the Mets going forward, depending on what or if he told the Wilpons and GM Brodie about his part in the scandal and whether or not it means anything to them (did they even ask?) The New York press is going to have a field day with this, for real.
Happy New Year, folks, your Hot Stove is on fire…
MLB.Com (video featured)
Welcome back to another round of Where & When! Big things have happened since our last entry around the league; definitely a climate change from last year’s humdrum conundrum that led to existential angst about the motives of the powers that be. As it turns out, premium starting pitching is a thing worth waiting for, and the Yanks did a nice job sewing up the top free agent starting pitcher in a decade to say the least, and now they have gone almost full-android with their coaching by bringing in a new pitching coach who loves analytics as much as neatsfoot oil (they also let go of yet another strength and conditioning coach, but that’s likely a sore subject we need not explore), not to mention an under-the-radar hiring of a new organizational catching coordinator (subscriptiion link). But enough about baseball for a few seconds, here’s what we have on today’s docket:
I can tell you the date on this will be really hard unless I either tell you or if you find a similar picture to work with, and I won’t stop you from looking hard because there are only a handful of sources to tell you anything about this pic. But if you do find it and suss it out, please tell us a little bit of history about this location and what it’s current status is, if any.
Keeping it simple for the New Year, folks. There were some harder locations to consider, but I figure a nice one to lead us into the New Year wouldn’t be a bad idea. Have fun, and see you on the other side of 2020!
Dellin Betances, the kid from Brooklyn, signs with the Mets. I know he is a risk—big, tall guy and all—but he is a home town guy and he’s never played for anyone in the majors but the Yanks.
Maybe it is smart that the Yanks didn’t keep him, that I can’t say. I say that I will miss him. It stings imagining him having great success with the Mets. Still, hope things turn out well for him. He had a memorable run with the Yanks.
Hope you are all well. Sending best holiday wishes to you and your loved ones.
Picture by Bags
The holidays are upon us. Lots doing in the Hot Stove so far this year, especially compared to last off-season.
What else you want the Yanks to get you for Christmas/Channukah?
Picture by Bags
Yanks ink Cole to record contact. Hey, Now, the Big Spenders are Back.
So, to recap: Yanks now team to beat: Whirled Serious or Bust. Everyone hates the Yanks. The world is in order.
Picture by Bags.
Welcome back to another scintillating episode of Where & When! Last week’s season debut was fun and informative, so we decided to do it again; this one is also relatively easy, so to make it more interesting I’m going to ask for some qualifiers: not only will you determine where this picture was taken and when, but you’ll also be tasked with finding out who or what preceded the tenant of the particular building prominently featured in this photo, and who followed all the way to the present. I think what you’ll find makes a rather interesting story in itself:
Bonus points if you can name one present-day landmark restaurant in the same neighborhood; you’ll definitely get some nice brownies for that. Have fun, I’ll check in with you soon!
Hello again, good to be back! Where & When is here to accompany you through the 2019-20 Yankee off-season; entertaining and educating as we continue to sleuth out some locations in and around New York City (with an occasional deviation from the norm). A little birdy told me that some of you folks missed this game, so I decided to find time to oil the gears and bring it back to the storefront, yay!
Before we start ‘er up, some ground rules: the name of the game is Where & When, meaning that I give you a picture of a location and you have to determine the location and time frame the picture is depicting. For example, I presented a black-and-white pic of some brick church-like building with antique cars parked in front of it; using those and other clues within the pic, you can use your intuition or research the net to pinpoint the address and year in which this picture was taken. Utilizing your fine detective skills, you determine that the address is 222 Suchensuch Blvd in the Bronx, taken in 1922; by which the building featured prominently is the Metropolitan Executive Municipal Events Depot, which upon further review is where Sherman Peabody used to work and is now split between Duane Reade and Chase Bank (the details after the date are for bonus points). To keep it fair and show that it wasn’t just a lucky guess (although that can happen in the more obvious locations) or peeking at the credits (more on that), I ask that you explain your method in making your determination; i.e. I found a similar pic at this site or I looked a listing of similar buildings and made a match, or even better I live(d) in the same neighborhood. If you do find it on the net, please credit your source as well; we try to avoid some copyright issues when possible.
I have to explain about peeking; I do try to credit my sources, but it would not be fair to other players if you simply clicked on the credit link to find the answer. The credits are for copyright purposes and we don’t want the Banter to get into too much trouble, do we? So for fairness’ sake, if I credit a particular source, please refrain from using that source yourself; consider it out-of-bounds. Now, if you happen to come across the link on your own during your research, I can’t stop you from checking it, but I would hope you don’t follow it and instead let it lead you to a similar source. That’s not hard for the easier games, but you might be tempted for more obscure ones, which I try to limit for that reason. Still, if you are intrepid enough and uncover interesting trivia pertaining to the particular location, you will be rewarded and it might even put you ahead of the competition.
Oh, the rewards: being that this is a Banter game and we have a lot of inside jokes from the past and present, I like to keep it simple: you win , you get a root beer. Bonus points come as brownies or cookies; winner’s choice in fact. I like to think we’re all winners already for partaking in the chase and discovering something new about our spiritual hometown. I know it sounds corny, but hey, we don’t have sponsors, so we do it for the fun of it, yes? If I left anything out or if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments or answer in kind of you know.
And now, on the show:
One other thing I didn’t mention: some of you know I tend to drop very subtle hints in my presentation, so you’ll scour my post to see if anything I said is helpful. Feel free to keep doing so, you know how we do. Often, I will provide you with a direct clue to help in your tracking efforts. Other times (like with this one), I will be a bit oblique and just tell you to look carefully, as the pic might have enough clues to help you. You can make as many guesses as you wish, and you can even post your progress if you like. If you ask, I might give you an indication of how close you actually are (but please don’t expect a prompt reply). If no one comes up with an exact address, I may usually take a ballpark figure and reward the player closest to the answer; sometimes the answer itself isn’t precise and I don’t even know exactly where or when, so guessing helps in a way; admit to it if you want credit for your sleuthing. With this one, you may be thrown off a little if you’re not careful, so I can tell if you’re cheating, haa >;)
With that, have fun! I’ll be in and out to check on your progress and close out the game mid-week, I’ll try to keep up with these weekly as time permits. Also, unless it’s something breaking ad extraordinary, feel free to banter about the latest moves in the Yanksverse or anything else baseball; these are meant to keep us occupied during the long hot stove season after all. Later, gators! >;)
You got to love the Yanks giving Ellsbury a hard time on the way out. After all, it was one of the worst deals in franchise history. Nobody to blame but themselves, of course, but whatever with Ellsbury, he’s a fink. And it’s funny, it’s not like this was a good gamble that went wrong. We all knew it was a turkey of a deal from the start.
Ah, well, good riddance.
Sorry that Greg Bird didn’t work out, though. I always wanted him to be the next thing. If not a star, then just a reliable, durable dude. It wasn’t to be and he’ll forever reside in the Yankee cutout bin right behind Nick Johnson.
In the meantime, it’s the first of the winter holidays. Eat, drink, and enjoy your friends and family.
Picture by Bags
Looks like free agency’s officially here and open for business.
Given the last few years, how can we tell if the market will favor legit stars like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg or… not-Cole/Strasburg? Last year, it was decidedly the latter; though Bryce Harper and Manny Machado eventually got much of what they wanted in heavy, long term contracts, they had to wait an awfully long time to actually get them (and not necessarily from teams that were first on their supposed lists). Will it be different now that we’re talking about two dominant Cy Young candidates with some good years still ahead of them heading the list? Only the GMs and the supporting stats departments know with MLB Analytics driving the conversation. As we’ve seen recently, not everything is what it seems.
Take the Yanks’ own free agents:
We already know CC is retired; hope he recovers from his latest injury well enough to enjoy his first year off from baseball in what has to have been a very long time. As for the rest, it’s easy to say that none are solid locks to be on the 2020 40-man for the Yanks; if anything, Didi would be the most likely to remain, and that’s not stated with a whole lot of confidence. Fan favorite that he is, when he came back from Tommy John surgery, he wasn’t up to what we’ve come to expect of him year-round. Personally, I would not find this to be the tipping point in any negotiations, though Didi doesn’t necessarily have the leverage he could have expected a year ago pre-injury, thanks to the year natural-shortstop-playing-second Gleyber Torres had; playoffs included. Gleyber is ticketed for stardom no matter where he plays on the diamond; provided he doesn’t get injured (which, ironically, is what we would have said about Didi last year at this time). I don’t like the idea of Didi being dismissed, given that Tommy John surgery is not something you bounce back from so quickly either as a pitcher or a position player, but the talent hasn’t disappeared either. With a full off-season to recover and rebuild, I would expect him to return to Hidden Dragon form. Hopefully the Yanks will find a way to keep him here.
Dellin Betances, too; I hope that the team will bring him back. 2019 was a disaster for Betances; first recovering from right shoulder surgery, then suffering a lat strain during rehab that cost him most of the season, and finally after returning for one game, tearing his ACL and being done for 2019. This was just a horrible season for Dellin, especially since it was a contract season where it was expected he would be lights out while either finalizing an extension or moving into free agency as one of the top sought-after relievers. Now the best he can hope for is that the Yanks decide to bring him back for a season or two to rehab and get back into form; failing that, his options are likely either accept any offer he can get from another club (which will likely be very low) or take the year off and rehab until next off-season, then take a likely pillow-contract to re-establish his value. Man, sucks to be him right now (and I mean that kindly). Again, the promise of talent is what keeps his value from slipping into AA territory, and I hope the Yanks feel that it’s worth the investment, regardless of the fact that he’s well past 30. But I dunno, it’s bad territory to be in for him.
All that being said,
the biggest name on the FA list for the Yanks has to be Aroldis Chapman has been extended for another year at an additional $18 million. He still can chuck it over 100mph, but it’s getting harder and harder as the seasons go by and we’ve seen less of it this season than in others. Then there was that slider… well, I don’t think the team will hold that against him so much (though it was not his best pitch by a long-shot) and given his usage, you can almost not blame him for using it, but that’s neither here nor there; there were plenty of other reasons the Yanks lost. The thing is, though the Yanks do have someone to replace Chapman, it came down to how much he wanted to remain in New York (a whole lot), how much they were willing to pay to bring him back (a whole lot) and, ultimately how much stronger he makes the pen (a whole lot). As freely as the team spent in the George Steinbrenner era, the team is willing to be thrifty in the Hal Steinbrenner era and seem hellbent on going down with the ship to prove to whomever that The Yanks Don’t Buy Championships (*cough-cough2018 Red Soxcough*) and also don’t need to TANK! to build a champion contender. If anything, the Winning Formula Award® now shifts to Dee Cee and the Nats, who are also the comeback players of the year (century?) and looking at some harder decisions than the Yanks this off-season. Would I like to have him back? I like having him back; having a super-duper bullpen is never-ever a bad thing, but I hope it’s not at the expense of keeping Didi + Betances and/or signing an ace; Hey-ell no.
So what’s left:
Brett Gardner… another tough call, honestly. He is the realest example of a True Yankee; drafted and bred in the Yankees system, made an impact from day one and through sheer hard work and perseverance became a solid everyday player and a fairly important one at that, even when his production went down, the team gambled on him holding the fort while others played in front of him and that gamble paid off in different ways, culminating in one of his best seasons of production in his career this past season. However, he’s 36, he’s not stealing many bases anymore even if analytics suddenly found them useful and there are quite a few guys on the team who are champing at the bit to do what he does (at a cheaper rate to boot). Between Clint Frasier, Cameron Maybin and Mike Tauchman(!), Gardner had his hands full just staying on the roster, But it says a whole lot that not only did he remain, but he competed hard and was quite productive in the process. It was a gamble both he and Cashman won this season despite ups and down throughout. This time, I don’t think fans would be so averse to having him around for another season, also given how injury-prone Stanton and to a certain degree Judge have been. Plus, he’s the last link the team has to their last championship on roster, and at a glance probably the only player in the clubhouse with a championship on his resume; at least as a starter. That cannot be discounted in any regard.
Austin Romine, however… there’s a lot to be said about having a good backup catcher. For one, they are very rare. For another, the Yanks sure do need them. With the way Gary Sanchez’ career has played out so far, they were blessed to have Romine on the roster. It may or may not stick with him, but he proved to be very valuable given the playing time he had and the number of times he had key hits that either kept them in contention or won games for them. And more importantly, pitchers liked pitching to him. That always is something to take into consideration. That said, this may not simply be a matter of if the Yanks want him back or not, but rather if they are willing to compete for him. Several teams need upgrades in the backstop department, and Romine could fit in any contender’s roster as well as a rebuilding team in search of a steadying force in the infield. He’s not a star per se, but he might be just what some team needs to keep the pieces together. I’m not sure if there;s an immediate replacement for Romine in the system if he were to walk; top catching prospect Anthony Seigler is way too far away from the majors, and Kyle Higoshioka is decidedly not Austin Romine.
Cameron Maybin, well he deserves a decent contract somewhere. He proved to be a solid contributor for the Yanks after signing with and being released by San Fran, signing with Cleveland and then being bought out by the Yanks all in 2019. After effectively replacing Frasier who was inept in the outfield and in interviews with reporters, he hustled his way to consideration as key fourth outfielder beyond all of the injuries plaguing the team until his momentum was stopped cold by the same injury bug that felled many of his teammates. But he returned in due time and was a key contributor the rest of the way, including the playoffs. He’s a talented player; even if he doesn’t often hit for power, he puts bat on ball more often than not and he’s a good outfielder to boot. I’d hate to lose him to someone else, but I would not begrudge him a starting role somewhere else (out of the division, of course).
Edwin, thanks for the memories. However, you proved to be the exact definition of a luxury; the homers were nice and it’s a good thing you could play first, but nah, we’re good. By the way, you weren’t when we needed you to be, but you already knew that. This… is an ex-Parrot.
The rest are not so much a Who’s Who gallery as it is a Who Dat? list. David Hale is the most familiar name as the Yanks have released him several times and reacquired him and sent him every which-a-way for the past couple of seasons, so I wonder if he’s also a masochist. Cliff Pennington, I only wondered if he was related to former NY Jets QB Chad Pennington (PS: I doubt it). Cory Guerrin and Eric Kratz; I’ve got nuthin’.
Okay, so feel free to chime in and sound off; this will probably stay open for a couple of weeks if it remains active, after which we’ll likely throw in another stream of consciousness or distract you with a Where & When cameo (those were fun) or even maybe try to pick up where we left off recounting famous Yanks For A Minute or who knows, something new for the Hot Stove Season to keep us engaged? Only time will tell, but thanks for the fun season, for sticking around and psst, keep
an eye on the cash register having fun>;)
The Yanks got four runs off Justin Verlander in the first and that’s all they’d get but it was enough as our boys pushed the series back to Houston tonight for Game Six.
Win or go home. You know the drill.
Never mind the odds:
Let’s Go Yankees!
[Picture by Bags]
Welp, our boys picked a hell of time to have one of their sloppiest games of the year. Now the missed chances in Game 2 and Game 3 hurt even more. C.C. Sabathia limped off the mound last night too hurt to pitch anymore, his career over. It was a long, somber moment. Even the Astros gave him a hand and it didn’t seem condescending. Then the Yanks kept making more errors and just looked terrible on a cold and windy night in the Bronx.
The good news is that they’ve got a game today. The bad news is that they’ve got to face Justin Verlander. But the good news is they’ve got a chance, they’ve been resilient all year and hopefully they can send this series back to Houston and make them sweat just a little bit.
So never mind the tears:
Let’s Go Yankees!