Quite the Horror Show

Just in time for Thanksgiving, my dad stumbled upon this beautiful article by Tim Brown for Yahoo Sports titled “Yankees Horror Show Looking Like a Sequel.” The premise, if I understand correctly, is that because the Yankees just resigned their players from last year, they are doomed to another horrific season. What would you call a season where a team got off to a bad start, but rallied to win 94 games and make the playoffs in a hyper-competitive American League? A horror show. That’s what.

I think it’s safe to say that Brown hasn’t spent much time covering the Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the occasion of Alex Rodriguez’s third American League MVP award and with his contract negotiations by now presumably in the seventh-inning stretch, this is a good time to consider what it is A-Rod so desperately desired to come back to.

The Yankees, that’s what. The team that will undoubtedly give him the best chance to win a World Series over the next 10 years. There is no question. Did you know the last year the Yankees did not qualify for the playoffs was 1993? I know, crazy.

The New York Yankees have lost 13 of their last 17 playoff games and basically dismissed their iconic manager because of it, and they just spent nearly $400 million to put the same product back on the field, only with potentially less pitching.

Potentially less pitching, but probably more pitching. You left that out. You know Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Hughes? Those guys will be there all year. And there are about 6 or 7 other young guys who have a reasonable shot at contributing. But I’m sure you know that. And that $400 million they spent? That’s not for next season. That’s for 18 years worth of contract. Worth noting.

Assuming Scott Boras can get Rodriguez’s contract through the seventh and eighth innings – outs the Yankees well know are the stubborn part of any game – next year’s Yankees are looking again like the team that no longer does October with assurance and vigor.

Assurance and vigor?? How does a team “look” like they “do October” with assurance and vigor? Perhaps this article is relying that the reader won’t really understand what those words mean. But I do. You’re talking about confidence and mental health. I didn’t see that in the box score, but you know what member of the team is most responsibly for that stuff, October or not? Oh right, the manager.

Indeed, assurance and vigor have gone the way of Mystique and Aura, capricious mistresses last seen on Curt Schilling’s arm.

If by “gone the way of” you mean “are random made-up terms that have no basis in reality” then yes, I’m following you. And Curt Schilling’s arm was the last thing to have Mystique and Aura? Do you mean that his arm helped kill Mystique and Aura? So let me get this straight: The Yankees had lots of Mystique and Aura until 2004. Mystique and Aura (along with assurance and vigor) help win World Series. But, as we are constantly reminded, the Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2000. What gives?

So, for the seventh consecutive winter the Yankees are working their way back from something less than a parade. See! I told you! This time, they do it as the second-best team in their division, a three-hour train ride from the trophy that once was so routinely theirs they should have claimed naming rights.

Yes, the champion – again – is in Boston. The manager is in L.A.

Right, the one who produced the club that had no assurance and vigor. Wait, wait, I just checked baseball-reference.com: A-Rod’s 2007 Vigor? Only 17 vigor units. Dustin Pedroia’s Vigor? 121 vigor units. Now it’s starting to make sense. I don’t even want to tell you how much Assurance Schilling has. It’s truly embarrassing.

The ace of the staff – in standing if not numbers – is in Houston. Roger Clemens is, too.

Back in Gotham, Brian Cashman spent the past month reassembling the regulars: Rodriguez through 2017, Jorge Posada through 2011, Mariano Rivera through 2010, Bobby Abreu for another year.

It wasn’t easy, and it definitely wasn’t pretty, but neat and clean wouldn’t necessarily be the Yankee way.

What does this even mean? Is there a Don Mattingly’s sideburns reference in there somewhere?

Everything in the Bronx is a crisis, or perceived as such, or represented as such, and it all eventually wends its way back to Cashman’s office inside Yankee Stadium.

“Basically, we’re trying to move toward something, which is toward a championship,” Cashman said Monday afternoon. “Time will tell if we’re moving closer to that.”

The Yankees will again be the offense that led the game in runs and batting average and on-base percentage, and that’s why they re-upped Abreu, A-Rod and Posada, typically their three, four and six hitters. Hideki Matsui ought to be over his knee issues and Jason Giambi is – can you believe it? – in his walk year, meaning if he can stay upright and has anything left at all, we’ll know it by July.

Which leaves, well, you know.

The Yankees didn’t pitch that well again. They haven’t been among the top five earned-run average staffs for four years, and in those four consecutive playoff series losses have had an ERA under 5 once. Their ERA against the Cleveland Indians this October was nearly 6.

Wait, you’re using statistics to prove your point? What happened to vigor?

Chien-Ming Wang was assumed to have matured into a No. 1, then pitched poorly twice in the playoffs.

No. 1 starters cannot pitch poorly in the playoffs. Just ask C.C. Sabathia.

Andy Pettitte is home, choosing between a hammock and Yankee Stadium. The Clemens era has run its course. Mike Mussina is winding down, if not already wound down.

And as of today, the Yankees rotation has one sure thing: Wang. It has four pretty sure things: Mussina, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. And then it has Kei Igawa and Jeff Karstens.

So you’re complaining about the pitchers who might have to be the Yankees’ SIXTH starter if Pettitte does NOT come back? What a fool Cashman is, for only having 5 or 6 decent starters in November.

If they were to brave a move to enhance their starting pitching – and, really, since Chamberlain is going to the rotation, the seventh and eighth innings are of equal importance – it would only get done if they freed up at least one of Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy. Cashman wouldn’t budge when the Texas Rangers insisted on Kennedy (or Melky Cabrera) for Eric Gagne, and presumably would hold the same line should Johan Santana, Danny Haren or Eric Bedard, to name a few, become available.

I will go on record right now: if any of those pitchers were available for Kennedy and Melky, they would be in pinstripes.

If Cashman is concerned, he wouldn’t reveal it in words or tone.

“Look how good we’ve done,” he said, “with guys who’ve done it a long time.”

Carl Pavano came to mind. Randy Johnson. Kevin Brown. Clemens II.

“What difference does it make if they’re 21 or 31? Or 41?” he said. “It is what it is. You just go by ability. At least these guys are building on a factor they’ll benefit from.”

Hughes had a 2.73 ERA in September (beware the September numbers) and was terrific in two AL division series appearances against the Indians.

Chamberlain was sensational when not shellacked in insects.

Kennedy was great in three September starts, against Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Toronto.

[…]

So you’ve just presented a good counter argument for your earlier premise. Way to go.

And then he concludes with this:

[A-Rod] being there will help [win a championship]. The Yankees had better hope he brings his bat, though. Mystique and Aura don’t have big-league fastballs.

I’m not sure how to coherently respond to that one, other than to say that it makes NO sense. Seriously, I’ve been asking other people, no one knows. Comment below if you can figure it out.

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