Friday, September 12, 2014

Thank you, Chris "Forever" Young. You spared us from a night of ignominy that, even in this cold year of mediocrity, would have forever stung

In recent years, a handful of players came to New York to be magically reborn. It's a short list: David Wells... Paul O'Neill... Nick Swisher... Scott Brosius... Bartolo Colon... Russel Martin...

Some needed lineups with more support (O'Neill, Brosius). Some needed the giant stage of Gotham. (Swisher, Wells). Some needed juice. (Bartolo).

Often, donning the pinstripes brings a month of improvement. The second chance in baseball's biggest market, or to be injected into a pennant race, transforms a player... for a while. Trouble is, there is always a reason why the old team dumped him. And that's where the Yankees sometimes drink their own electric Kool-Aid.

The oft-told YES Network myth goes this way: The newly acquired Yankee, an all-star from 2008, will sit with Kevin Long or Larry Rothschild, correct his flaws, and the Yankees will have outsmarted yet another team and get something for nothing. That story has become not only tiresome but a drain on the organization.

Last year, we saw it play out with Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner, two middle-of-the-lineup sluggers who had solid Aprils and then killed us through July, until they were mercifully benched. They murdered us in the same way that Andruw Jones had done in 2012 - and before him, there came Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, Marcus Thames, et al. This year, of course, we endured the death rattles of Alfonso Soriano - and, of course, we still have Ichiro - the man of 20 RBIs - playing out his final string. (A hero last night, by the way.)

In recent weeks, the Yankees have auditioned Chase Headley, Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Brendan McCarthy, Rich Hill, Jesse Outman and Chris Young for possible key roles next season. (For better or worse, we have Martin Prado for two years at $11 million per). To be honest, I don't know what to think.

Last night, Young enjoyed the kind of signature Yankee moment that, in another season, would have guaranteed him a juicy contract. He saved us from a no-hitter and then from spiritual elimination from the 2014 wild card race. (Which will probably come this weekend.) If Young keeps hitting, are we required by a secret Yankee law to bring him back? Is there some statute that requires the Yankees to never learn from their own past? Do they see the worm on the hook and, without blinking, just bite it?

Because if we learned one thing about salary dumps, it's that "dumped" is there for a reason - and that other teams are not inherently stupid, as the YES crowd sometimes wants its fans to believe. In fact, some teams - many, perhaps - have better track records of evaluating talent than we do.

Listen: I have no clue how the Yankees next year can climb out of this pit. It's taken us four years to dig this rat hole, and it might take four more to rise out of it. Any quick fix - like what we tried last winter - could flush this organization down the toilet for a decade. If we drain the system for a Tulo, or a Giancarlo, or anybody, we might regret it for a generation. And if we bring back Chris Young, will we expect him to do anything but hit .200? Because that's what he did all season.

Thank you, Chris Young. You spared us from a no-hitter that would have ended Jeter's farewell season like a left hook from Ray Rice. But I'm not sure I want to see you batting fifth next opening day.

5 comments:

Tom said...

True Yankee, obviously. We must lock him up with some diamond-encrusted gold handcuffs.

John M said...

20 million for two years. You think the Ichiro deal was bad? At least the Itch has been hell on lefties and, at 40, is still faster than three-quarters of the position players we have. But true, an RBI and power man he's not, and never was. If we had some of those, we'd be in much better shape, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Dear John,
In about 75 words you said nothing.

Try lomotil

Tom said...

Exactly right, John.

Not Anonymous said...

he just did it again

what is going on