Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Posted by el duque at 7:23 AM
This practice is also employed each spring by Yankee GM Brian Cashman, when welcoming his employees to Tampa. Now and then, Cash hires homeless people to hold various positions until an actual starter can be found. As an added bonus, the NYC media plays along, pretending the extras are critical cogs in the upcoming season.
The greatest examples of this were centerfielder Bubba Crosby (2005) and third-baseman Cody Ransom (2008), who came to Tampa with great hopes that Cashman had finally made that career discovery - the scrap heap signing of a great star, for next to nothing.
Now and then, such things do happen - but not to us. In 2012, the Baltimore Orioles picked up Chris Davis from Texas. The previous season, he hit 5 HRs. Last year, he chased Roger Maris. Every child in Toronto knows the story of Jose Batista, who rose from nothing to be the game's best slugger. And then there is the tale of David Ortiz, who was released - yes, released - by Minnesota in 2002. The Redsocks picked him off the scrap heap. (Supposedly, old George himself told the Yankee brass to sign him... but they didn't.)
In his career as Yank pooh bah, Cashman has never found a Davis, a Batista or an Ortiz - but not for lack of effort. He signed the likes of Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones and Juan Miranda. Cashman occasionally has found bullpen arms and spare part fielders, such as Jayson Nix. But usually, the Yankees sign players on the way down, at least three years from all-star status. Cash is still looking for that one player - the something for nothing - on whom he could hang his management career.
Which brings us - long-windedly - to Dean Anna.
Over the winter, Cashman traded a decent bullpen prospect to San Diego for Anna, a veteran minor league infielder who seemed to have a breakout season in the Pacific Coast League. Jeez, the guy led the league in hitting! Supposedly, Dean can play 2B or 3B, and he's slated to challenge Brian Roberts, (who seems to have the inside track.) If Anna can be a major league 2B - maybe hit .270 and field - it would be huge for the Yankees. What they haven't had in recent years is that player who comes to Gotham and blossoms - the David Wells type. We are overdue.
Alas, Dean the Dream may be just that - a dream. But right now, the Yankees' infielders aren't the only ones temporarily keeping seats warm. The Yankees need a player who arrives from nowhere. And Cashman needs one, too. Because if this team tanks - and everybody knows that's a real possibility - it's his seat that could be empty next spring.