Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Marcus Stroman, the guy who shut us down last night, is the reason why the Yankees need draft picks, not old guys

Imagine a 23-year-old Yankee pitcher, a first-round pick from two years ago, hitting the Bronx and shutting down a rival for eight innings. Think the Yankiverse would be abuzz? We would be partying like it's 1999.

Last night, the Yankees were shut down by Marcus Stroman, a kid who grew up practically within a pizza delivery of Yankee Stadium. A first-round pick.

We haven't had a young stud like that since 2008, when 60-year-old DH Billy Crystal electrified spring training. (We also had Hughes and Joba, the two future Hall of Famers.) Two years ago, the Jays drafted Stroman with the 22nd pick. Eight selections later, we stepped to the lectern of death and chose a Texas high school pin-cushion named Ty Hensley, who has barely thrown 100 pitches as a professional, due to multiple hip surgeries and a hernia. The guy is a walking full-employment act for hospitals. Who knows? He might still make it, but after all that time in rehab whirlpool, he's probably just another Matt Drews, another tanker in an epic stream of Yankee wrecks.

This year, for all the jubilation over our "top" pick - (we can't say "first round" pick, because we had none) - the Blue Jays had selected three guys before we even reached the microphone. We drafted a college closer at number 55.

I want you to close your eyes and think of something wild:

Draft picks.

What a concept! Can you imagine it? Teams actually horde them and energize their systems! How - you ask - HOW DO THESE WIZARDS DO SUCH A THING? Don't ask the Yankee brain trust, because they're clueless to the strategy. The Angels, Redsocks, Cards, Rays and Rangers have done it for 20 years - they let free agents walk, make them a qualifying offer, and bank the extra first-round pick, when the guy rejects it - and they get the Yankees' pick, when we sign the guy.

In 2012-13, the Yankees let players walk too - and received two extra first round picks. I thought, WE DID IT. WE FINALLY SOLVED THE MYSTERY.

Nope. I was wrong. Last winter, the Yankees stood to get extra picks for Curtis Granderson, Robbie Cano and - had he not re-signed - Hiroki Kuroda. We also could have made Phil Hughes a qualifying offer, and I doubt he would have taken it. Hughes ended up getting a nice three-year deal with Minnesota, and we sure could him now, eh?

But... nope. Last winter, the Yankees signed three players with other teams' qualifying offers, nullifying our entire first round. Instead of Brian McCann (currently 8 HR, .218) for five years and a pick, we could have signed Jarrod Saltalmacchia (6 HR, .237 at Miami) or A.J. Pierzynski (4 HR, .255 at Boston). Both went for shorter deals, and neither cost their new teams a draft pick. (The Redsocks, Braves and Cardinals, you see, are still playing the strategy game.) Carlos Beltran (7 HR, .220) cost us a pick. So did Jacoby Ellsbury, whom we have for seven years. The Yankees could be powering up with first-round picks. Instead, we played our old-style hand, and - well, folks... Here. We. Are.

The Yankees have scored four runs in three games. Do the math. Yes, that's 1.33 runs per game. (The 0.33 leaves Derek Jeter in a rundown.) But friends, ours is not a three-game malaise. This is a five-year drought. This is the Texas Panhandle under global warming, and the Yankee front office seems to be just as much in denial. We just continue business as usual - signing guys a year after their sell-by dates - and let the draft figure itself out.

Until the Yankees start building the smart way, rather than the stupid way, all the 16-year-old Latino millionaires in the world cannot lift this organization from the doldrums. But cheer up. If Marcus Strohman becomes a star in Toronto, we'll certainly sign him at age 30 - and give the Blue Jays, or whatever team he's then playing for, our first-round pick.


Ken of Brooklyn said...


Alphonso said...

I wonder whose fault this is?

Perhaps we should look toward the GM's office.

Perhaps someone should be held accountable.

Perhaps our approach to the game is wrong.

Perhaps teams never win doing what we keep insisting on doing.

Perhaps Cashman should be fed to a tree shredder.

Perhaps I should just drink myself numb.

Perhaps Cashman learned failure under Dick Cheney.