Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dismissed as organizational fodder, ignored for a September 1 call-up, Jose Pirela makes his case

Throughout the 2014 season, Jose Pirela faced one unshakable problem: He wasn't a 30-something castoff from some penny-pinching National League team. If Pirela had been - say - a scrap heap meatball from San Diego or Washington, the Wizard of Waivers, Brian Cashman, would have snapped him up long ago, and Jose would have gotten a chance to play for the famous New York Yankees.

Unfortunately, Pirela spent the season hiding out in Scranton, where Cashman's scouts either never look - or when they do, they use the wrong end of the telescope. Pirela, who turns 25 next month, played a full year at Scranton - that's 130 games and 535 at bats - where he hit .305 with 10 HRs. (He also stole 15 bases.) He played every position but pitcher and catcher. You'd think it meant something when August ended.

Early on, the Yankee brain trust - yes, the same Brainiacs who put their eggs in Brian Roberts and Dean Anna - decided that Pirela was not a major league second baseman. So in June, when 2B prospect Rob Refsnyder literally smashed his way up from Trenton, Pirela was dispatched to left field. And when Sept. 1 came, Pirela didn't even get a coffee call to New York. It was only after injuries to Martin Prado and half the Atlantic Coast that the Yankees remembered Jose Pirela was alive. Last weekend, with the team facing a stretch with Francisco Cervelli at first base, Pirela arrived.

So last night, in his first-ever major league start, what does this No Name, who is studying to become a Nobody, do? Pirela gets two hits, including a triple. That's practically an entire week's output for Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, the Bobbsy Twins of Sloan Kettering.

Of course, you're shaking your head - (I am, too) - saying, "But Duque, it's one game, too small a sample size. You cannot draw conclusions from one night!" And you're right. But here's the rub, and from my perspective, it's maddening:

Pirela could go 10 for 20 this week. It won't matter. Next year, he'll find himself back at Scranton. And Refsnyder, who has crushed the ball at every level, could hit .330 next March in Tampa. It won't matter. Martin Prado - thanks to his performance over another small sample size - will play 2B for the Yankees. That's written in the stone tablet of a $22 million contract. Thus, both Pirela and Refsnyder - if they're not lucky enough to be traded - will be exiled back to the Electric City of the Poconos, disillusioned and depressed, to become the 2015 versions of Austin Romine and Zolio Almonte. They'll hit .150 in the month of April, then get injured, and then forgotten. How many times does it have to happen?

Meanwhile, Brian Cashman - in his next waiver tour d'force - will pluck another Chris Young, Jesse Outman, Antoan Richardson, Zelous Wheeler, et al, from other teams' out baskets. Scranton will be larded with cynical 30-something dead-enders, and in the owner's box, Hal Steinbrenner will scratch his manicured head, wondering why the Yankee farm system does not produce players?

Here's a thought - and yes, I recognize that it comes from far left field, from a washed up, psychological misfit with nothing better to do than think about the Yankees every morning after gargling with a pot of coffee - but dammit, DAMMIT... here goes:

Could it be that the Yankee farm system does produce players? The problem is that the top of the organization simply lacks the courage to give them a chance?


Tom said...

to answer your question: Yes, it could be that the head is dead.

Not Anonymous said...

Prado should be playing 3rd next year. I'm pretty sure 3rd is his natural position anyway. he can split time there with A-Rod. Then we can have Ref starting at 2B

I will not understand at all if they waste money re-signing Chase Headley as there is no room on this team for him.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

The Yankees need an apocalypse of injuries to grudgingly cough up a few games to evaluate what could be the future of the team,,,, if it wasn't for those contract$$$$$$$$$

Ass backward, as always!