Once again, the Yankee front office is delighted with itself, big in the britches, proud of the discipline it has shown by holding the line against wasteful spending. The newest evidence is the brass' decision to not go over $40 million in the bidding for Rusney Castillo, the 27-year-old international man of mystery from Cuba - the so-called Brett Gardner with power.
Over the weekend, the Redsocks signed Castillo for $72 million, beating out the Tigers. Clearly, neither of those front offices don't respect U.S. currency, as much as the Yankees do.
Instead, the Yankees three weeks ago traded Pete O'Brien, the best HR-hitter in their farm system, for 30-year-old Martin Prado, who will be paid $22 million over the next two years. This weekend, Prado tore the cover off the ball against the White Sox, hitting two home runs - to bring his seasonal total to eight. Yes, eight! This hitting spree has allowed the Yankee front office to declare the trade a complete success and award themselves pats on the backs.
Castillo has no MLB track record. Unless Boston straightens out his entry VISA, he might not even get to play this year. So next year, we'll learn whether he is the next Puig, Cespedes, Abreu, etc. - or the next Ronnier Mustellier.
Prado, on the other hand, comes with a clear skill set, based on his career in Atlanta and Arizona. Baseball Reference lists for him these statistical astral twins:
Let me abandon my usual snarkiness for a moment and state categorically that I have nothing against Martin Prado. He looks like a decent player, a nice lug nut, who could add a lot to a really good team. He plays three positions and hits 10 HRs per season. And if Prado hits 10 over the next month and leads the Yankees to a 2014 World Series - well - I'll happily eat crow.
But from where I sit, $11 million per season is a lot to spend on Les Bell... or even Mule Haas.
And no matter what happens to O'Brien - moments after he was dealt, the Yankee blogosphere immediately started declaring him a failure - I just hope people remember that it was the Prado acquisition that effectively took us out of the bidding for Castillo. According to various reports, Hal Steinbrenner simply wouldn't authorize further spending over the current payroll, because of the crushing luxury tax. Thus, Boston had an open path to sign the next big name from Cuba. We weren't even close to running up the price tag.
So we get two more years of Frank Demaree.
Like I say, who knows how this will turn out? We have a nice little spare part with Prado. But is that going to win a World Series? The way I see it, the Yankees can either be the big spending, bombastic, Gotham-based Evil Empire - and throw their weight around, whenever a new star appears on the horizon - or they can be the team that counts its nickels and occasionally overpays for Les Bell's statistical doppelganger.
Next August, if Castillo turns out to be Brett Gardner with power, I'm wondering whether Prado's 10 HRs are going to feel so nice. Of course, by then, we all know the deal: The Yankee front office will be congratulating itself on another Moose Haas. Some things don't seem to change.