Sunday, January 19, 2014

In defense of... (gasp!)... the infamous Cito Culver

To hear various bleating voices from the Yankiverse, the Yankee brain trust should be fired because of Cito Culver. Last week, one blogger called the former first round pick a complete whiff. (Ah, the reason we blog: to vent.) Culver was selected number 32 - end of the first round - of the 2010 draft, outraging all those experts who consider themselves to be the Mel Kiper of baseball. (Which is terrifying, if you think about it.)

In his great novel, "The Art of Fielding," Chad Harbach writes about a prospect who is told by the St. Louis Cardinals that they'll draft him first, if he'll sign for a certain amount. He jumps at it. Thus, the team can spend bigger on other picks, luring studs away from college. It's a viable strategy, which the Yankees played. Did it work? Too soon to say. But some people can't move beyond ripping Culver as Exhibit A in the case against Brian Cashman.

Fact is, they're wrong.  Culver, 21, is a fine prospect, and it's time for folks to stop whipping him like a rented mule. In the middle of last season, he quit trying to be a switch hitter, and now bats exclusively from the right side. His average jumped 40 points. He hit .313 in August and moved to High A. Here's what he did between Charleston and Tampa.

Listen:  If Culver takes three years to reach the Yankees, he will be still only 24. He has a gun for an arm, and his glove is solid, and if he can hit .250, we've got our shortstop.  By the end of next season, he could be knocking on the door.

I'm always good for ripping the Yankee brass, which seems to hate all its own prospects - and prefers players on the way down to those on the way up. That's a strategy doomed to fail.   But good grief, cut Cito Culver some slack.

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