How to Fix the Yankees

Derek Jeter just played his final home game and after three in Boston, Jeter-Haters can crawl back in their holes for five years and emerge to argue that the man with the sixth most hits in MLB history doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

The New York Yankees have a much bigger problem than replacing Jeter in 2015. This is the second straight year the Yankees won't be playing into October and Yankees' fans should chill as it's going to take some time to fix a team a tune-up won't fix–it needs an overhaul.

What to Keep:

1. Joe Girardi:  It is a testament to his managerial skills that the Yankees remained in the thick of things in both 2013 and 2014. A lesser manager–Bobby Valentine anyone?–would be looking up from the basement. Girardi is goofy looking and unassuming, but he gets a lot of mileage out of Yugos.

2. Dellin Betances: He looks to be the next coming of Mariano. Maybe he won't be, but he's good enough that the Yankees won't have to overpay David Robertson.

3. Shane Greene was a pleasant surprise and is just 25. He won't be an ace, but he'll be superb as a number 3 or 4. Michael Pineda is your #2 and even though he's been injury-prone he's still just 25 years-old.

4. Masashiro Tanaka is worth every dime the Yankees paid to get him if stays healthy. If not, he's unmoveable, so pencil him in every five days.  

5. The pitching was much better than anyone predicted when four of the top five went on the DL. Brandon McCarthy should be retained–if he'll sign for #4 money. If his agent talks like he's a #2, say thanks for the memories. I'd also throw another contract at Hiroki Kuroda, though word has it he's retiring. If that happens, pray Ivan Nova recovers from Tommy John surgery quickly and that C. C. Sabathia can at least pitch like a #3.

6. The everyday lineup flat-out sucks. Brett Gardner deserves to stay; Mark Teixeira will because no one is going to take on his contract given his injury history. I still think Brian McCann will end up being a good signing and figure out the AL. If they don't ask for the moon and half the solar system, both Chase Headley and Martin Prado are useful.  There are some young outfielders in the minors, but I'd pencil in Chris Young as the backup.

What to Dump:

1. Brian Cashman has been a great GM, but he's an old-style thinker has simply overstayed his welcome. The primary thing the Yankees need to do is sign players who will be good, not ones that once were. Not all of the bad contracts have been Cashman's fault, but he's been lousy at getting top players to come to New York and has overpaid over-the-hill talent out of desperation. And we must ask: who'd you rather overpay, Robbie Cano for ten years or Jacoby Ellsbury for seven?

2. The minor league system needs a complete remake. David Robertson was the last proven player to come through the ranks and that's unacceptable.

3. I don't care how highly regarded he is, when a team hits as poorly as the Yankees, hitting coach Kevin Long has to go.

4. Just cut A-Rod. Let him take his sorry steroid-pumped butt elsewhere. The Yankees will end up paying for him one way or the other, so make it far from clubhouse harm.

5. Aside from perhaps Preston Claiborne, who pitches well though the scouts don't like him, every bullpen role player is expendable–especially the lefties. Enough with the friggin' "lefty specialists;" a southpaw that can't get out right-handers as well is a roster clogger. I think we've seen Adam Warren's best. Trade him when his value is highest. Say goodbye to Chris Capuano–please!

6. Move Frankie Cervelli and make J. R. Murphy the backup catcher. Cervelli is the backstop version of Nick Johnson, so get some low-level prospects for him so he be on someone else's DL.

7. Now the hard part. We need to see if these guys can play: Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. We know these guys can't: Stephen Drew (who ought to sue Scott Boras) and Brendan Ryan. All you UZR guys can go to hell–Ryan's glove isn't good enough to compensate for a sub .200 batting average.  

8. Even harder: Even if you have to eat some of his contract, move Carlos Beltran and get prospects for him. He's yesterday's news and was a horrible (and desperate) signing.

9. Controversial: I am not a Jacoby Ellsbury fan. He's Gardner with more power, but a worse arm. If the Yankees can move him and get value back, sayonara. I'd rather see the Yankees throw dumb money at Nelson Cruz or Cuban prospect Yasman Tomas.  

10. More controversial still: Stay away from free agency, admit that 2015 will be challenging, and wait for the kids on the verge: pitchers Luis Severino, Ian Clarkin, and Jacob Lindgren; catcher Gary Sanchez; and position players Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo, and Jake Cave. Accept that attendance will drop 20%, shave payroll, and do that most un-Yankee thing: wait. 


As Long at CT Exists, MA Drivers are Not New Engalnd's Worst

If you see a plate like this--run away!

On the way home from Pennsylvania yesterday I did something I almost never do: drive through Connecticut. Massachusetts drivers have a deserved reputation for idiocy on the highways and byways, but as long as Connecticut remains a New England state, the "Massholes" of legend will never sink lower than being the second worst drivers in the Northeast. You should indeed quake when spotting Massachusetts tags, but you should flee in terror if you see those sky blue Connecticut plates.

Mass drivers are sometimes idiots of the first magnitude–prone to doing things such as imagining that a six-foot-wide SUV stopped fifty yards from the right-hand turn lane can easily squeeze through a three-foot space left by a line of parked cars. No MA driver ever has more than one hand on the wheel–the other must, by custom, be thrust out the driver's side window into the air with middle digit extended. That's done either to determine wind velocity or out of sheer frustration that the car in front refuses to believe that a six-foot wide car can't fit through the three-foot space. Those are the real reasons; do not believe the folktale that the driver is gesticulating because he's furious that someone has usurped his right to be the biggest moron on the macadam.

Still, MA drivers are like little old ladies on their way to an antiwar protest in comparison to those Nutmeg Nightmares to the south. Driving through Connecticut is like being in a perpetual motion three-lane parking lot–minimum speed 75. Earlier on Sunday there was a rumor that a stretch of 1-84 had enough space between cars that it was possible to read the bumper stickers of vehicles two car-lengths in front. A dozen cars were dispatched to the scene and immediately spun off the road into a patch of ornamental grass. That's called "parking" in Connecticut and seems to involve about 10% of all vehicles in the state, with another 15% preferring to come to rest in the median strip.

One also observes that the average Connecticut driver lives in mortal fear that he or she will accidentally use the turn signals. They never use their blinkers, the only exception being if they intend to exit a highway–in which case they turn on their signals seven to ten miles in advance. It is also apparent that the state could save a lot of money simply by not repainting lane markers. There are no lanes in Connecticut, nor is it expected that anyone would deign to look before darting in front of another vehicle. It's caveat auriga–let the driver beware–in the state that put the nut back into nutmeg. Connecticut motorists like to reinforce that value by randomly weaving like a drunken crotchetier working on an ugly afghan.

Insofar as we can tell, there are several other state standards that would be considered bad form or felonies in other places. Passing on the left is for sissies–one should always pass on the right, using the shoulder if necessary. Extra points for taking out sections of the guardrail. Tossing fast food containers onto the highway surface is acceptable if you are going at a high rate of speed and driving erratically at the time. Towing or stowing unstable cargo such as log splitters, homemade campers with mismatched wheel sizes, used mattresses, or junk-laden carts is perfectly peachy as long as the load is not secure, there are no annoying red flags attached, and absolutely no brake lights or turn signals are connected. It is considered gauche to slow down in construction zones, or to pay the slightest attention to those signs that say that fines are doubled in safety corridors. State Motto: Hah! You'd have to catch me first copper! Speaking of which, by our estimate there are just eleven traffic cops in Connecticut, none of whom has ever had the audacity to issue a ticket to a truck driver. Or to any driver sporting those frightful sky blue plates.

Do you need to get anywhere west of Danbury? Do what any sane person would do–take the Mass Pike to the New York state line, pay 35 cents for the short stretch that takes you to the Taconic State Parkway, and proceed south until you connect to I-84 a good half hour west of Connecticut. If you see any Massachusetts plates, honk, and wave. You've nothing to fear from them–they're just jerks; Nutmeggers are malevolent from the grill to the muffler.