The Nub

Reason for Regret on Both Fields

For much of the latter part of the season, best mind Yankee – and fans, sales malady generally – praised team GM Brian Cashman for his roster decisions. Instead of going after available established stars at the trade deadline, illness Cashman chose to hold on to the club’s blue-chip prospects, pitcher Luis Severino and first baseman Gregory Bird, among them. The strategy sacrificed the team’s chances of winning the AL East, but the Yanks did earn the league’s first wild card.

Spilled Milk: Now, following the win-or-go-home loss to Dallas Keuchel and the Astros, the Yanks’ decision not to bid for a Keuchel-equivalent in David Price or Cole Hamels is open to question. Given Mashiro Tanaka’s diminished reliability, the team faces next year, both without an ace, and – even assuming the addition of a Price-like free agent – with grave (if premature) doubts the aging team will soon be returning to the post-season.

Skipper Obama was similarly averse to beefing up his military team on the field in the Middle East. What he wanted most was for Russia to stay off the field. According to New Yorker birddog Philip Gourevitch, Skip now seems to regret that approach:

“The President has preferred to pay the price of doing too little in Syria, rather than too much…(Although he) did tell the UN he was prepared to put the fight against ISIS ahead of the fight against (Syrian President) Assad, and to work with Russia and Iran to that end.”

Most fans at home want nothing more than for our military, with 14 years on the far-away field, finally to reach a post-season of its own.

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The Jon and Jeff Team: What stood out for some of us after watching the opening series of playoff games – was the two key leaders of the Texas Rangers. Team President Jon Daniels bypassed interim manager Tim Bogar to choose Jeff Bannister, Clint Hurdle’s bench sidekick in Pittsburgh, as Rangers Skipper. It was a not a popular choice, locally, but a carefully researched one. The imperturbable Bannister – buttressed by Cole Hamels, another sound, if costly, investment – has guided the Rangers to within a game of eliminating the vaunted Blue Jays from the playoffs’ first round. And Texas will play the possibly decisive game at home Sunday. Incidentally, Daniels identified new Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff as a regrettable part of the Hamels deal. Eickhoff, 25, established himself as a solid top-of-rotation right-hander with the Phils during the last month-and-a-half of the season.

The Matt Harvey Missing Practice Brouhaha: “The Met fans have really turned on Harvey. If the brass is smart, they use him like an old dish rag, and then trade him for a hitter and reliever. He is no Tom Seaver.” – Keith Weber, (Mets fan, Manhattan). “There were a lot of boys on that ’86 team that didn’t make practice, either…It’s really hard for me to criticize. Half our team didn’t make the [World Series] parade . . . We had guys who barely showed up to games.” – Ron Darling (former Met pitcher, now a team color broadcaster)

Who Needs Harvey? The Mets have a legitimate ace in Jacob deGrom. He confirmed that status, outpitching Clayton Kershaw last night. Elsewhere, the Cardinals brought the Cubs back down to earth, and Kansas City rallied to even its series with the Astros.

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.