Monday, July 3, 2017


Photo: Jason Farmer/Citizens' Voice Staff Photographer
Tomorrow is America's Independence Day, but Yankee fans should already be celebrating their liberation from a June that was nothing short of a royal pain in the arse.

The month saw seven starters hit the disabled list, a stout bullpen melt like Velveeta, and a four-game division lead evaporate beneath a 13-15 record that included the season's longest home and road losing streaks. It was the team's first month of sub-.500 play since April 2016 and  made all the more painful by nine one-run losses, including three of the walk-off variety.

It ended with the call-up and subsequent horrific injury to outfield prospect Dustin Fowler in the first inning of his major league debut, the re-injury and return to the DL of rookie first baseman Tyler Austin and -- adding insult to  injuries -- the reappearance of the momentarily designated-for-assignment  Chris Carter to replace Austin.

To shoehorn Li'l CC back onto the roster, Joe and Brian saw fit to demote Miguel Andujar, who in his own major league debut the day before had helped the team to victory with four RBI -- the equivalent of 16 percent of Carter's season production over 59 games. In short, if the 30-20 Yankees of April and May were MLB's love bugs, June hit them like a speeding windshield. Splat.

Perhaps nobody has embodied the Yankees' worst expectations for this season or symbolized the organization's old paradigm of overpaying for castoff band-aids better than Carter. As's Brendan Kuty noted: "Carter has had a terrible season, hardly making good on the one-year, $3.5-million deal he signed with the Yankees in the offseason."

Photo: New York Post
Which can only makes one's eyes roll at Joe's explanation for heading Carter off at the airport when he cleared waivers (that's right, nobody else in MLB wanted him either) and recalling him to the Bronx before he could even report to the team's Triple A affiliate, the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Railriders.

"He's a guy that's going to strike out," Joe explained. "That's been in his game ever since I remember but he's also a guy who really has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. So maybe the five days off will really help get him going."

Being unemployed for a week because he's been so bad nobody else in baseball will have him at any price -- let alone as an overpay -- will really get him going, Joe? Is that really the story you and Brian are going with?

Just playing along for a moment that Joe's serious about a paid vacation week for an under-performing overpaid free agent as a motivational tool,  I would really like to ask him what kind of motivational message he thinks that sends to the rest of his team -- and specifically to his younger players he's supposedly grooming in this rebuilding year for a future dynasty. How does he suppose sending down Andujar to bring back Carter went over with the kids in the system?

Photo: Newsday
Better yet, how does he think re-hiring Carter off the street and handing him his old job back after sending him packing is going down throughout the organization when Ji-Man Choi, the Scranton first baseman,  is hitting .333 with six dingers, 15 ribbies and eight runs scored over his last 10 games?

And if the 30-year-old Carter had boarded the plane for Scranton, where exactly did Joe and Brian plan to bury Choi; a 6'1 230-pound lefty-swinging 26-year-old  with a .299/.391/.461/.852 line over 209  games and 712  at bats in Triple A; who has averaged a .306/.404/.490/.893 line over all minor league levels in his seven-year pro career; who hit five dingers and had a 12-percent walk rate over 129 major-league plate appearances with the Angels last season and who reportedly turned down offers from 10 other clubs last winter to sign a minor-league deal with the Yankees?

If Joe and Brian are genuinely sincere about wanting to motivate Carter and also sincere about being competitive during this rebuilding year, wouldn't the more constructive strategy be to reward the younger Choi who's performing well with a call-up to try and fill the Yankees' hole at first base  and let Carter try to "get going" with the Railriders in his place?

Performance over excessive payroll. Isn't that what Hal has always said this rebuild is all about?  So it may not actually require a full-blown declaration of independence on the part of a binder-bound manager who prefers to play it safe or a salary-conscious GM too stubborn to concede a bad signing to bump Carter and find a competent stand-in for Austin after all.

Maybe all it takes is a small revolution -- and a pair of tickets on the Scranton Shuttle going in opposite directions.

--Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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