Wednesday, December 24, 2014

George Steinbrenner and the Ghost of Yankees Past

Set the scene, picture Hal Steinbrenner sitting at his desk in his multi-billion dollar home with any bill less than a $50 burning in the fireplace for no apparent reason. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s making his list and he’s checking it twice to make sure he didn’t miss anybody. Chris Young, check. Andrew Miller, check. Didi Gregorius, check. Nathan Eovaldi, check. Chris Capuano, check. Chase Headley, check. Garrett Jones, check. Beside that list was another list, a more general and generic list, which Mr. Steinbrenner moved to satisfied with his findings on the first list. Find a shortstop to replace the great Derek Jeter, check. Find a closer to replace David Robertson, check. Improve the pitching, check. Emulate the Kansas City Royals bullpen from 2014 with a three headed monster, check. Keep Alex Rodriguez off the field at all costs, check. Bring back Brian Cashman, check. Fire Kevin Long, check. Fire Mick Kelleher, check. Replace both Long and Kelleher, he’ll have to get back to that. Steinbrenner, satisfied with his offseason even though it’s Christmas Eve and two of the top 10 free agents are still on the board, Hal decides to go to bed in his 8,000,000,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets when he hears something knocking at the door, a ghost.

“Son, it’s me. What in the world are you doing?” says the ghost of George Steinbrenner. Hal, shocked, replies that he was going to bed for tomorrow was Christmas Day and he had hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of presents to open in the morning and wanted to get an early start. This angered the ghost of Yankees past and he snatched Hal out of the bed and ushered him into the kitchen where he poured him a very ironically and strategically placed glass of Kool-Aide. Hal, thinking it was some of his 1996 wine he had ordered from Italy just three days prior, took a big swallow only to realize his mistake, spit out the wine and ask his father “What in the world are you feeding me?” The ghost of Yankees past, which that grin that he was so known for especially around the months of July and November – January, replied “I am simply giving you what you are feeding the greatest fans in the world, the Yankees fans. Now come with me while I show you the error of your ways.”

In a flash George and Hal Steinbrenner sat in the living room of a die hard Yankees fan who owned a blog called The Greedy Pinstripes. Daniel Burch could not see or hear the Steinbrenner’s but they could hear him and watched as he ferociously typed away on a piece about how the Yankees should “get greedy” and “sign Scherzer” and “trade for Tulo” and something along the lines of “World Series caliber team.” That’s when Hal began to shudder as he knew where this conversation was going. He looked up at his father and caught a glimpse of a father looking down at his son in a way that showed not anger, but disappointment. The same disappointment that Daniel had on his face when he waved his hands in a dismissive fashion, closed his Google Chrome and did not click save changes on his post.

Without saying a word, because the ghost of Yankees past knew a word did not need to be muttered, he flashed in an instant to another Yankees fans house, that of Mr. Michael Brogna. Michael was frantically checking Twitter every so often wondering who and what would happen next like he had been for the last number of weeks with little results. Again the look of disappointment on a true fan sporting the interlocking N and Y and once again the utter look of disappointment on the ghost of Yankees past’s face. Hal could hardly look his father in the eyes now and simply replied with a “We spent over $500 million last season and it got us 85 wins.” This angered the ghost of Yankees past and for the first time since they left the Steinbrenner Mansion the eldest Steinbrenner broke his silence and spoke. “We can’t live in the past, we’re always looking towards the future. Nobody cares what you did last season unless it brought us all the ultimate goal of a World Series championship. Can’t you see what you’re doing and how it is affecting the bottom line you care about so much? Look at the attendance the last two seasons as well as the ratings on the YES Network, you know that network I broke my back to build for you to sell less than five years after my death, after putting out such a mediocre team on the field. They sucked and you should be fired. In this market you have to spend money to make money. How much money is this team going to make with declining attendance and no 3,000 hit chase, no farewell tour of a member of the Core Four and no player’s jersey that we can’t keep on the shelves before Spring Training? Don’t answer that as I have one more stop to make tonight if we’re quick enough, so let’s move.”

The third and final stop on the journey went to the home of a Mr. Alex Emmanuel Rodriguez. Rodriguez was on the phone and the Steinbrenner’s only caught the tail end of the conversation. Rodriguez, speaking to an undisclosed person on the other end, was overheard saying “and the best part is I am still going to get $61 million over the next three years and everything they have done pretty much assures me that I don’t have to do anything for it. It’s free money. All I have to do is play once a week, hit my six home runs to tie Willie Mays, collect my extra $6 million bonus and go home to Miami for the winter. They think they are hurting my feelings not guaranteeing me a contract and not giving me any playing time like it’s going to hurt my ego but I’m over it. Two steroid allegations, a steroid suspension and millions of dollars in lost wages will really mature a guy and make him see the bigger picture. I’m not going to simply retire and declare myself physically unable to play I am going to sit on the bench and collect my money like any other person would. Call me Albert Belle, call me Bobby Bonilla, call me Centaur, call me whatever you like as long as the check doesn’t bounce.” And with that the look of disappointment from the ghost of Yankees past went from disappointment to anger. With a flash the two were back in the Steinbrenner kitchen with that same glass of orange Kool-Aide sitting on the counter.

This time the ghost of Yankees past did not have to say anything, it was Hal that did all the talking. “I understand what you’re trying to show me sir and I get it. You gave complete control to Brian Cashman and I, my brother and Randy Levine took that from him. We signed Alex to that monster deal and big against ourselves much like we did with Rafael Soriano. I refused to write checks to Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and another notable international free agents because of the fear that a Jose Contreras contract put in my heart some 15-20 years ago. I’m the one essentially letting Robinson Cano walk and I’m the one trading the Shane Greene’s of the world while I give Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts one year “reclamation” deals. It’s on me sir and I intend to fix it. I no longer will live in your shadow and I will no longer live in the rearview mirror of the Los Angeles Dodger’s accountants. Dad, get me the phone!”

The ghost of Yankees past handed his son the iPhone 6 Plus and he proceeded to call agent Scott Boras. Within minutes a blank contract and check were faxed to Max Scherzer while a list of available players and prospects were being drawn up and prepared to send to the Colorado Rockies. With his final action the younger Steinbrenner called Mr. Brogna, Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Burch and each phone call had an entirely different tone to it. An apology to Mr. Brogna came after an olive branch containing season tickets for life in A Rod’s luxury suite. That suite was easily handed to Michael because the next call was to Rodriguez and he was told to take his $61 million dollars and go, anywhere but here, and don’t come back. The final call to Mr. Burch was a more somber call and conversation which ended in Hal asking Mr. Burch to be his Peter Brand. Mr. Burch, embarrassed, asked Hal “who is Peter Brand?” with a laugh Hal simply responded “you know, Jonah Hill from Moneyball.” Burch, with a sheepish laugh and with an intended fist pump” screamed “YES!!!” into the phone.

The deals were done, the Yankees were better, the fans were happy, Hal’s conscience was clear and his understand hit a new level while the ghost of Yankees past simply disappeared into the infinite abyss. Hal never knew what happened to the ghost of Yankees past, whether he had been real or an eerily vivid dream, but Hal understood what needed to be done and he did it. Hal did not sell the team and the screams for him to sell the team almost immediately stopped. The Yankees went on to win their 28th, 29th and 30th World Series championships before the turn of the century and once again a dynasty was in place just like the way it should be. All thanks to an old rich guy with bad hair and a huge checkbook, a pissed off ghost and one Yankees fans undying love for the team. The faith and love for the team returned and the fans returned to the Bronx in flocks all to live happily ever after.

Well except for the ghost of Yankees past, he was still dead. The End. Merry Christmas everyone. 

My Highly Unrealistic Plan to Improve the Offense & Acquire Troy Tulowitzki

I hate that I even have to start a post off like this but the world being what it is today I feel inclined to. This is not realistic, as the title stated, and I do not believe it will happen or maybe necessarily should happen. I’m having fun while playing Devil’s Advocate, it’s the holiday season and it’s time for dreams. Jon Heyman floated around the “rumor” that the New York Yankees could be “back in” on Troy Tulowitzki for the sake of garnering clicks to his blog and gaining more followers on his Twitter account. Good for him, that’s his job, and honestly I didn’t click the article because I knew the Yankees blogosphere would be full of articles about it and I would rather give them my views then Mr. Heyman, no disrespect.

Let’s have fun with it and let’s say the rumors are true and that the Yankees and Rockies are once again talking a Tulo to New York trade. How could we make it happen? The package in my eyes would have to start with Luis Severino, a 20 year old starter who barely made it to Double-A last season, and end with Gary Sanchez who was considered to be the Yankees best prospect for many years after the Jesus Montero trade. The package would have to include some pitching, it would have been Shane Greene before the trade so now it would have to be Manny Banuelos, and end with a controllable major league player, a Brett Gardner. Obviously Colorado could throw some money in or a prospect or work something else out but that would be the base of the trade for me.

Colorado Receives:

Brett Gardner
Luis Severino
Gary Sanchez
Manny Banuelos (Nathan Eovaldi could also fit here if ManBan isn’t “enough”)
Optional throw in type, lower system player

New York Receives:

Troy Tulowitzki
Salary relief or a prospect like the team received in Domingo German from Miami

The Yankees have their shortstop for the next six seasons while moving Sir Didi Gregorius to second base thus blocking Jose Pirela and Robert Refsnyder temporarily. New York would still have an extremely solid infield defense while boasting a nice offensive upgrade with Tulo. To fill the now vacant left field position would it be out of the realm of possibilities to plug in Refsnyder there? He played extremely well in right field which shows the power on his arm which leads me to believe that he could hack it in left field without issue. I could be wrong, I’ve personally never seen the guy play the outfield, but it doesn’t seem like that far of a stretch to me. With the addition of Tulo to the Yankees lineup the offense gets pretty potent in a hurry and is the kind of offense that, with a strong bullpen that can shorten games, can win a lot of games in 2015.

-          Ellsbury
-          Tulowitzki
-          Beltran
-          McCann
-          Teixeira
-          Headley
-          Gregorius

-          Refsnyder

What I Want for Christmas: Yankees Edition

Yesterday I asked for Max Scherzer under my Yankees themed Christmas tree to fill out the Yankees rotation and today on this Christmas Eve I ask for someone to help fill out the bullpen. Enter Rafael Soriano an AL East and New York tested battle closer who could fill the defined 9th inning role for the Yankees, untuck.

Sure Soriano has lost a MPH or two on the fastball but not enough to worry about him as he is likely to land a one year deal, two years max, after losing his job in Washington last season. Signing Soriano allows the team to get multiple innings out of at least one of, if not both of, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances every single night. Add in an inning from Justin Wilson, Jacob Lindgren, Adam Warren or any other Yankees reliever and the starters, the biggest question mark on the team, need to simply get through 5 IP and go take a shower.

Bring me Soriano wrapped in a bow, I’ve been good. Untuck. 

TGP Daily Poll: Yankees Will Terminate Alex Rodriguez’s Contract

Sometime during the 2015 season, whether it be before Opening Day, Memorial Day as what was previously reported, or before the end of the World Series the Yankees will terminate, buy out or essentially end the contract of Alex Rodriguez.

Vote in our poll!

Yankees to Pay Education Costs for Both of Rafael Ramos’ Children

I know I am a couple days late on this but with the craziness of the holiday season I am playing catch up a bit on this and my other writing job, my apologies. George Steinbrenner’s Silver Shield Foundation is going to pay for the education of the children of murdered NYPD officer Rafael Ramos. Ramos and Wenjian Lui, who had no children, were brutally murdered in Brooklyn last week while in their patrol car. Steinbrenner’s foundation Chairman William G. Walters announced the foundation would pay for the educational costs early in the week.

Steinbrenner started the foundation 32 year ago and since the organization has paid for over 800 children of fallen servicemen and women to go to school. Ramos’ 13 year old son, Jaden, and son who is in college will have a free ride for as long as their education takes them and that is a heartwarming story despite the circumstances. By no means does this make up for, replace or help with the tragic event that occurred but it is one less thing to worry about for the family and sometimes you cannot put a price on piece of mind.

So Merry Christmas from the Evil Empire and the New York Yankees and our thoughts, prayers and warmest wishes go out to the families, friends and all those affected by this horrible act. 

Yankees to Delay Search for Hitting Coach Until Holidays are Over

In the early stages of the offseason, it was thought the Yankees would hire a new hitting coach before the conclusion of the World Series. But they haven't done so yet, nor will they try to at all in 2014.

Team GM Brian Cashman revealed that that's New York's plan going into the new year Monday, telling reporters he'll instead deal with the opening in January. The Yankees interviewed Dave Magadan and Chili Davis for the job back in October, but walked away empty-handed after choosing not to employ either. 

“I am not doing anything with the coaches until the holidays are over,’’ Cashman said, via The New York Post's George King.

The Yankees are searching for a successor to Kevin Long -- now with the Mets -- whom they fired October 10. They batted just .245/.307/.380 under Long last season, and ranked 20th in the league in runs scored. 

They aren't currently looking at anybody to fill the position, though, with the only recent news regarding the vacancy being speculation about old-timer Jeff Pentland

“He was suggested to me about a month-and-a-half ago,’’ Cashman said, referring to Pentland. “I haven’t called him. That doesn’t mean I won’t call him.’’

Pentland's spent 15 years as a major-league hitting coach, last working for the Dodgers from 2010-2011. His 2003-2005 stint with the Royals and 2005-2008 one with the Mariners are the only periods in which he competed in the American League, making the AL East the only division yet to acquire his services. 

Still, that doesn't mean he'd neccessarily have a tough time fitting in if signed by the Yankees, as Pentland coached club manager Joe Girardi (then a player) with the Cubs from 2000-2002 and was a colleague of bench coach Tony Pena during his aforementioned time in Kansas City. 

This Day in New York Yankees History 12/24: Jose Contreras, Santa Claus & the Evil Empire

On this day in 2002 the Yankees officially got the moniker the "Evil Empire" from the Boston Red Sox when they reached an agreement with free agent Jose Contreras. The 31 year old right handed Cuban defector would sign a four year deal.

Also it is highly unreported that on this day George Steinbrenner bought Santa Claus from the North Pole for season tickets to the new Yankee Stadium.