When Tom Petty emerged in the mid-Seventies, he was the perfect down-to-earth rock star for the times: a hungry Southern boy playing tight rock & roll in mellow Southern California, kicking against the era’s soft-bellied complacency with hard-jangling realness. On Hypnotic Eye, the 63-year-old and his eternal Heartbreakers return to the scrappy heat of those early days with their toughest, most straight-up rocking record in many years, deepened by veteran perspective. “I feel like a four letter word,” Petty sings on “Forgotten Man,” which sounds like “American Girl” remade as a Bo Diddley roof-rumbler. You can be sure as shit that four letter word isn’t “darn” or “rats”
Hypnotic Eye took three years to make, but it often sounds like buddies out on a weekend garage-jam bender. It’s especially reminiscent of their first two records, 1976’s Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It!, before they hit on the crystal- line polish of 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes. It’s also of a piece with the foundational vibe of 2008’s Mudcrutch, where Petty convened the country-rock band he and two future Heartbreakers (guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench) played in Florida in the early Seventies before they hit L.A.
Yet there are few, if any, attempts to reenact Petty’s vintage hits. This is the Heartbreakers four decades and a million shows later, deepening their attack with sturdy reliability. On “Faultlines,” Petty and Campbell exchange snarling guitar phrases against a swamp-boogie swing from drummer Steve Ferrone and bassist Ron Blair. On “Red River,” the band’s trademark Byrdsy shimmer comes with extra crunch and desert horizon beauty. Sometimes the intensity doesn’t even need to be loud, as with the subdued “Full Grown Boy,” where Tench plays jazz-shaded piano and Petty pushes his voice into a relaxed croon for the wee small hours.
Petty populates these urgent songs with a cast of desperate dreamers, zealots, doomed lovers, loose cannons and alienated zombies like the woman in “Red River” stockpiling powerless religious talismans, the doomsaying town crier in the highway rocker “All You Can Carry,” or Petty himself in the forebodingly caustic “Shadow People,” wondering what role he can play “in my time of need, in my time of grief.”
The most sympathetic of these characters is the defiant freefaller in “American Dream Plan B,” clinging to hope against all evidence. “My success is anybody’s guess/But like a fool I’m betting on happiness,” Petty sings over acrid blasts of distortion. You can imagine the guy hearing this song on his car radio and using it to steel himself for life’s next knee in the grapes. When the God touched chorus kicks in, full of Petty’s ringing chords and Campbell’s psychedelic fuzz, it’s like a backslap of brotherly reassurance. If a Katy Perry song had come on the radio, he might’ve swerved into oncoming traffic. But not today. Tom Petty has saved drive time once again, just like he’s been doing since he was a cranky young man himself.
on July 30, 2014 at 6:05 AM, updated July 30, 2014 at 6:06 AM
ARLINGTON, Texas — it’s getting down to crunch time. TheYankees have until 4 p.m. Thursday to make a move.
General manager Brian Cashman has been relatively quite lately, but there’s no reason to believe Cashman’s stance has changed: He’s said he wants to make moves to turn the Yankees into playoff contenders.
His priorities should be as follows …
1. A bat
The Yankees could use a top-flight starting pitcher over anything. I’m not in the “Masahiro Tanaka Is Coming Back” camp. Who knows with Michael Pineda. But it’s doubtful the Yankees have what it takes to acquire a big arm, such as the Phillies’ Cole Hamels. Forget the Red Sox’ Jon Lester and the Rays’ David Price, by the way, because they’re not dealing their aces to New York.
So that leaves the Yankees with two options: Look for a second-tier starter or a bat. Let’s go with the latter.
The Phillies’ Marlon Byrd might sound the most attractive right now, considering his 20 homers, but he’s got another year left on his deal and where he fits in 2015 a question — Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury aren’t going anywhere. So a rental could make more sense.
But who? If Beltran were healthy, the White Sox’s Adam Dunn might make a good choice, but instead they’d have a DH logjam until Beltran can prove he can play the field. The Rangers’ Alex Rios doesn’t bring a ton of power, but he could be a righty compliment to Ichiro Suzuki in right field. The Twins’ Josh Willingham feels like the ideal fit, considering his 10 homers and .361 OBP. But the Yankees won’t be the only team pursuing the 35-year-old.
The point: There are lots of options and it’s likely Cashman has them all charted. It should be his top priority to make one work.
2. Starting pitcher
The Yankees will try to nab a starter even if they realize their goal of gaining a bat because why not? There are plenty of trade market pieces better than Chris Capuano.
The White Sox’s John Danks is the name that appears the most in the rumor mills, but he’s not even ideal, considering he’s owed almost $30 million in 2015 and 2016 combined and it’s not like he’s much more than a No. 3. The Padres aren’t in a rush to trade Ian Kennedy, an ex-Yankees prospect having a solid season and with a contract that only takes him through 2015, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports. And the Post’s George King says the Yankees aren’t looking to acquire AJ Burnett from the Phillies.
So, who could they get? It might come down to whoever teams dangle to the Yankees at the last second, hoping to catch them desperate.
The Yankees bullpen has been solid most of the season, but there are reasons an addition would be welcomed. One, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren — their top performers — have been worked harder than anybody in the pen and might need their innings limited. Two, an upgrade over Chase Whitley would be preferable. Three, who can’t use another reliever? You could never have enough. Scott Atchison of the Indians — he’s 38, but only has a year left on his deal — could be a target.
4. Second baseman
The Yankees could use an upgrade over Brian Roberts, but it’s hard to see this happening unless it smacks Cashman right in the head, a la Leonys Martin. The team seems content with Roberts’ low average and questionable-of-late defense, especially with Triple-A’s Robert Refsnyder potentially the “second baseman of the future,” as the GM recently said. Mark this as a last priority.
Our opponents routinely beat the pants off the Yanks so let’s all embrace the example of our good friend Anonymous (pictured below) and show support for our 2014 Yankees by going pantless to every Friday home game. Sure as hell don’t see fan support like this in Boston!
The five teams: Yankees, Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Redsocks.
No reason in this frickin world why we can’t outbid Baltimore, Houston and Philly – even if they pooled their money. But Boston – damn – they have been building a war chest, without debt, without long-term liabilities. They have plenty of money, plus, this is when dumping a high-priced bum at the deadline – a Peavy, for example – could embolden them to bid higher than usual. (John Henry could decide to screw the Liverpool soccer team.)
This is also when assuming the bloated contracts of a John Danks or a Cliff Lee could deter the Yankees from flinging millions at a workout video.
Another crossroads, folks.
Over the last five years, the Evil Emp has let a gusher of international talent flow by the wayside, without laying down a card. They ignored Cespedes, Puig, Chapman, Darvish, and a host of others – preferring to go cheap, signing the Adonis Garcias, the Ronnier Mustelliers, and the Vidal Nunos. Only this year did they go full bore after Tanaka, but was it because they knew the roof was about to collapse? Considering Tanaka’s elbow, we must wonder: Did Hal think winning the bidding war was worth it?
Aint my money. I say spend it. Who knows what Castillo might bring? Worst case scenario: He doesn’t look at Triple A, and they dish him off next winter for a prospect. This is a purchase that would not affect the Yankees’ luxury tax. It’s a loophole that soon will be closed. If we don’t use it, Boston will.
7 runs in 3 innings. Two off D-Rob, who got the S, which was in actuality a WTF. We put up 12 runs. This means, theoretically, we will be shut out for the next 5 games, having used up our two-per-game limit for the next week or so. Brett Gardner (pictured without helmet), power hitter. Tex, power hitter. Only eight weeks to go and our ace is Brandon McGillicutty. Yeah, that’s a good sign. The Rangers are terrible this year and we came as close as humanly possible to blowing a 10-4 lead late in the game. In the negative run differential derby, the Yankees hold a comfortable lead with -27, easily besting Miami (.500 and -17) and KC (-2, .505). Unless we somehow plug the sieve or begin scoring 12 runs with regularity, we might have a shot at this. Time will tell. Boston is in last place. The Schadenfreude isn’t as satisfying as it should be. Though it’s not bad. The one-game playoff is within our feeble grasp, but feels as secure as the snow globe held by Charles Foster Kane on his deathbed before he whispered, “Tanaka.”
Last night, down in the Stygian coal mines of Moosic, Pa., the Yankees “second-baseman of the future,” Rob Refsnyder went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. That gives him four doubles and a homer in his last eight games, batting .344 over that stretch. At Triple A, he’s hitting .301.
Oh… and did I mention that Refsnyder last night was playing right field?
Yep, right field. That’s where he projects to be a fourth OF or career Triple A player, by the way. Yep, the Yankees “second baseman of the future” now plays practically every other game in right field. Why? Ask your Magic 8-Ball. I’ve given up trying to figure out why the Yankees think and do what they do, other that to conclude that Mr. Brian Roberts – not Lou Gehrig – has been the luckiest Yankee on the face of the earth.
For the record, the Yankees say Refsnyder is not ready for prime time at 2B. Thus, they’re playing him in RF, where I guess he can learn 2B by watching it from a nearby position. Well, actually, they say he’s learning the slot, but they’re not going to bring him up this year, because it would mean a roster move, and they are complicated – anyone seen Bruce Billings lately? – Ref needs work on the glove, and Scranton’s battling for fourth and – “Hey, isn’t that Scarlet Johannson?! Isn’t she great! Move along, everybody, there’s nothing here to see, we’re working on trades, can’t talk now, move along, la-la-la, take it away, Michael Kay!!!!”
The 2014 Yankee season has been marked by two Prime Yankee Directives:
1) Honor Derek Jeter in his final year.
2) Play Brian Roberts at second base.
Listen: I got nothing against Roberts. Once, he was a great Oriole. He’s a grinder, a class act, a wily veteran, takes a lot of pitches, nice to children, holds the door for ladies, yattayattayatta… Only one drawback: At this point in life, he sucks. He’s ninth among AL 2B in hitting – and arguably the worst in the league, if you consider the two guys below him have more power.
The old Brian Roberts never showed up this year. Though hobbled in spring training, he was handed 2B on a plate of oysters. The Yankees traded Eduardo Nunez and went north with Dean Anna – remember him? – and the iconic Yangervis Solarte, but as soon as Roberts limped off the DL, The Dean of Hitting vanished and Yangervis bumped the mysterious Kelly Johnson off third, where Solarte eventually fumbled too many balls to keep the position.
Roberts enjoyed a nice little hitting streak in late May. His batting average rose to .260 – bottle oxygen! – then slowly began to wither down to the naked .230s, where it hasn’t budged. He has the range of a clam. Lately, his glove has also become clam-like: It doesn’t open at the right time. Last weekend, Roberts botched an infield bloop that opened the flood gates for Toronto. It was a play we might look back on someday as the fulcrum point of this season. It wasn’t ruled an error. (Oh, what home cooking by the Yankee official scorers.) It was just a play Roberts had to make… but didn’t. Folks, this is a recurring theme. He doesn’t make the plays that must be made. He won’t get younger. He’s old, he’s tired, and every aspect of his game is cracking, like a tire left too long in the sun. I hate ripping the guy, but what else is there to say? Do we close our eyes and pretend he’s doing the job?
Meanwhile, the Yankees remain adamant – adamant! – that Refsnyder will NEVER get a shot this season. He’s simply not ready. It’s the same thing they said about their other Scranton 2B – Jose Pirela, the International League’s all-star 2B. Pirela is batting over .300, but the Yankees two months ago began moving him to other positions, as if to make it clear to anyone unfortunate enough to play 2B in Scranton: Don’t even think about New York, pal, not as long as Brian Roberts can lace up his shoes.
So here we are: A tired, faltering team, always looking for ways to lose… and a desperate front office, preparing to mortgage the future at this annual trade deadline. Every other franchise in baseball would make the move toward youth. Every other franchise would say, “Why not?” But not the Yankees. Nope. We’re smarter than they are. We know something they don’t know.
So… exactly what photographs of Hal Steinbrenner are out there?
What secrets are he hiding. How do we get a Polaroid? Or a video. Witness? Deposition? Bodies?Kinky boots? Whatever… we need it. Apparently, that’s the only thing that’s going to change this wretched organization.
The Tampa Bay Rays want to do it, but come on, man, how can they?
The Boston Red Sox don’t really want to do it from an emotional standpoint, but from the business side, they’ve got no choice.
The Philadelphia Phillies sort of want to do it, know they don’t have to, but are wondering if they should really should.
Welcome to the dwindling hours of Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline, where teams are frantically wondering whether to trade the most coveted commodity on the market – elite starting pitching – by the 4 p.m. ET Thursday deadline.
We canvassed seven high-ranking front office executives and scouts around the game to get the answer for us. The officials – who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of trade discussions – not only helped reveal the value of these pitchers in this heavy sellers’ market, but prepared us for a possible doozy.
Dodgers face tough decision with trade deadline looming
You remember that Los Angeles Dodgers-Red Sox trade two years ago when the Red Sox dumped $262.5 million worth of salaries, and became a World Series champion a year later, while the Dodgers emerged from obscurity to prominence?
Well, don’t be surprised if it happens again.
The Phillies are the team most poised to do a copycat version of the Red Sox’s mega trade of two years ago. They are shopping starters Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett, and are willing to give away first baseman Ryan Howard and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Makes sense for them. But the guy everyone wants is Cole Hamels.
The Phillies really don’t want to trade him, considering he is signed through 2018. They aren’t making him readily available. And considering they are flush with money and have a new TV deal, his $22.5 million salary is no problem.
Yet, according to one-ranking official directly involved with the talks, the Los Angeles Dodgers recently asked for Hamels. They were told the price would be three of their top prospects – center fielder Joc Pederson, shortstop Corey Seager and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias.
Sorry, the Dodgers said, but no interest.
The Phillies haven’t dropped their price tag, and are insisting on three top prospects and a mid-tier prospect in any deal for Hamels. Yet, since no one else has come forward, they could lower the asking price if Hamels is packaged with bad, bloated contracts like ones belonging to Howard and Papelbon, clearing more than $150 million off the books.
The Phillies, who refuse to go over the $189 million luxury tax, suddenly would have money to hit the market again this winter, sign free-agent starter Max Scherzer or Jon Lester, and even infielder Hanley Ramirez.
While the Phillies say there have been no talks involving a package deal, several executives came to the same conclusion when broached with the idea: Love it. Do it. Now.
Oddly, the Dodgers could be the ones doing it in reverse this year, packaging outfielder Matt Kemp and the remaining $113 million in his contract, or Andre Ethier ($61 million), with one of their top three prospects to land Lester.
Kemp wants out of Los Angeles if he can’t be their everyday center fielder. The Dodgers want Kemp out since he’s not going to be their everyday center fielder. The only question is whether Kemp is dealt now or this winter.
The Red Sox, who spoiled a lot of sellers’ plans by dropping out of the playoff race, are now damaging them even more by shopping Lester.
The Red Sox would like to keep Lester, who’s a free agent in three months, but only at their price, which was $70 million over four years in spring training. Lester, 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA, and on pace for his sixth 200-inning season in seven years, could likely command about double the Red Sox’s original offer.
Certainly, Lester is saying all the right things. He says he wants to stay and he would be willing to return to Boston as a free agent. Yet once Lester is on the open market, even the Red Sox realize he’ll be gone forever. In perhaps a signal of a move, they scratched Lester’s scheduled start today.
Jon Lester scratched from start, so what’s next?
The asking price for Lester is two Grade A prospects, according to executives involved with the Red Sox talks. Lester is invaluable, and proved it a year ago in the World Series, but having him for only two months and one pennant race won’t bring nearly the haul Price could.
Indeed, the executives tell us Price could elicit three elite prospects. He’s not only pitching better than anyone in the game not named Clayton Kershaw, but the winner of the sweepstakes gets Price for about 42 starts, who can impact two pennant races.
The team also receives exclusive negotiating rights for 15 months, and if they don’t sign him, receives valuable draft-pick compensation. There would be no draft pick compensation for failing to lock up Lester because he’d be traded in the middle of the season.
The Rays certainly are tempted to trade Price. They know they could receive a tantalizing package from the St. Louis Cardinals that could include prized 22-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras, 23-year-old starter Shelby Miller and their first-round pick in the 2015 compensation pool.
The Rays’ front office could sell it to their fan base that Price would be around for only 10 starts this year anyway before trading him and his projected 2015 salary of $20 million this winter, and set themselves up for the future.
It may make perfect business sense, the high-ranking executives say, but with the Rays on a 28-12 run – climbing within seven games of the division lead and 4 ½ games of a wild card spot – good luck explaining your decision to the clubhouse. The Rays have no choice but to keep him and deal him for a lesser return this winter,
the executives say, if they want to avoid a clubhouse mutiny.
The Rays, remember, have a history of trading their aces during the winter, not the summer. Matt Garza was traded in January 2011, to the Chicago Cubs. James Shields went to the Kansas City Royals in December 2012.
Price, who’s scheduled to make his next start Wednesday afternoon against the Milwaukee Brewers, should be traded afterward to the Cardinals or Dodgers.
It just may be five months afterwards …unless someone makes an offer the Rays just can’t refuse.
A baseball trading deadline looms, and someone surely is going to surprise us.
In a scene in which any number of us who have broken stuff with a baseball can relate, Cabrera’s second home run against the Boston Red Sox went over the Green Monster in left and landed on the windshield of a white SUV in a parking lot across the street from the ballpark. A three-run job, it happened in the middle of a nine-run sixth and gave the Jays a 13-run lead. It also ruined somebody’s night by breaking a car, even if he or she didn’t know it yet.
CJ Zero on Twitter screen-capped the damage, in all of its glory. You could drive it home, but the glass needs to be replaced. Someone’s insurance should cover it, since it was an act of baseball and not of God. But if not — are the Blue Jays liable? Melky himself? Red Sox pitcher Felix Doubront? MLB? The company running the parking lot?