Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dear Mr. Steinbrenner, When pondering the Yankee future, here's a phrase to consider: REBUILDING YEAR

Dear Madam or Sir,

I won't whine about 2014. Nope. What's done is done. You won't hear a mean-spirited verb from me. Instead, I'm thinking of the future: 2016.

Follow my advice, and you shall again prance the light fantastic in your kinky boots along the Canyon of Heroes... but not next year. Think of the place behind the pines... the year after next.

Here is my 11-step plan.

1. They say you're re-signing The Quipster, Brian Cashman. OK, fine. Whatever the guy has on you, I don't want to know. Give him this mandate: He MUST win in 2016. Stress this. Instead of winning every year - which is impossible - he must target 2016. Every move should be predicated on building a team two years away, not for next month. If we do win in 2015, that's gravy. But next August, even if we are within spitting distance of the one-day, away-field wild card, do NOT alter the course: Think about twenty-sixteen.

I know this will be tough. Write it into Cashman's contract.

2. You about to wipe a shitload of money off the books. I count $57 million from next year's annual payroll - give or take a David Phelps. We dump Soriano ($18 M), Kuroda ($16 M), Jeter ($12 M), Ichiro ($6.5 M) and Robertson ($5). Wow, that's an Adam Sandler movie. If Kuroda decides to return, sign him. I'd like to see Robertson stay, too, but that depends on what he seeks. Either way, you've got at least $30 million. That's a Pauly Shore movie - with a walk-on role by the hot young comic, Mark Teixeira.

3. Face it: We have no choice but to ride the A-Rod train next year, and see where the hell it takes us. My guess: Boise. If he does come back, who knows! We could win it all. If A-Rod can still play 3B, wonderful. I'm thinking 1B or worse - DH - or worst, nothing. Whatever. Next year, Alex either carries us to glory or hauls us into his personal, self-inflicted black hole, with new girlfriend, Amanda Bynes. He could be a giant human lump in the middle of the lineup. I would not sign Chase Headley, because a) he won't come cheap, b) he's an LOB machine, and c) because of A-Rod, we have no place for another lump.

Best case scenario: A-Rod has a solid 2015, so we can eat the contract and deal him to Miami before 2016. Everything should be predicated on A-Rod going home for 2016.

4. We need a big ticket pitcher. Sabathia won't last through 2014. Probably, neither will Tanaka. So sign John Lester. He is a) the best pitcher out there, b) a poke in Boston's eye, and c) he won't cost a first-round draft pick. Let's shoot for a sever-man rotation: Lester, Pineda, Tanaka, Green, Sabathia, Phelps, Nova, maybe Brendan McCarthy (depending on what he wants.) That way, when two people collapse, we'll have five. In 2016, maybe Luis Severino will be the next Guidry. But I'm betting he's the next Manny Banuelos. Whatever that means.

Anyway... write this down: We cannot lose first-round picks.

5. We need a slugging OF. I say try the 23-year-old Cuban, Yasmani Tomas. Yes, he'll be overpriced. And yes, he might be a bust. But these Cubans are making big-bucket splashes, and if this one turns out to be Fidel's communist spy, he'll still have trade value. We desperately need a young OF, we have the money, and this guy won't cost a first-round pick.

Note: We want to keep first-round picks.

6. Dump Carlos Beltran. The Pirates often recycle our mistakes. Let's admit that Beltran is one, and be done with it. Get a prospect, or a bullpen arm, or an iPhone 6, whatever. We don't need another Alphonso Soriano, or a Brian Roberts, or a Travis Hafner, or a Vernon Wells, or an Andruw Jones, or a Mark Teixeira, or a Carlos Beltran, or Insert Name Here, clogging the middle of our lineup like a hairball in a drain. Keep in mind, we'll have A-Rod. We want a seven-man rotation, not a seven-man DH staff.

7. Take a leap of faith: Play Rob Refsnyder at 2B... just to see what happens. Jeez, if our farm system cannot supply ONE effing position player in five years - since Brett Gardner - fire the losers who are running it. We need SOMEBODY from the system, and if Refsnyder can't cut it, try Jose Pirela. If he can't do it, bring up Angelo Gumbs or Derek Toadvine, just for the name-shock value. I DON'T GIVE A DAMN. Give somebody young a crack. In other words, cut the dead wood from their paths. If next June, Refsnyder is hitting .198, there will be an old veteran on the market to replace him. Let's not exile Refsnyder to Scranton with a Zoilo Almonte sign on his back... and never see him again.

8. Invite Teixeira in for tea and scones. Compliment him on his hair. Play soft music. Give a back rub. Gently - politely - tenderly... explain to him that he either starts hitting to the opposite field, or he should try stand-up comedy. Right now, he's a comic with no punch lines. If his wrist is shot, he should retire. Tell him the Yankees will hire comedy writers. Call Billy Crystal. Maybe Tex can get his own TV show. But he CANNOT clog our lineup for another year and bat .220. We are a ball club, not a nostalgia act... or worse.. a clown college.

9. Shortstop... Jeez, I was afraid you'd ask. Frankly, I have no clue. There is a Korean named Jung-ho Kang, and he has a bang-up highlight video. But it's Korea, which is sort of like SUNY Brockport. I dunno. I say re-sign Stephen Drew, because we don't lose the draft pick. (Have I mentioned that you shouldn't give up a first-round draft pick?) Drew can't be THAT bad. He has no power, he hits .160... and he can't figure out the over-shift? Still, come on... NOBODY is THAT bad. He ought to be cheap. If he's not cheap, wish him the best. Hello-o, Korea!

10. If we don't re-sign David Robertson, give Betances the ninth. Maybe that lefty we drafted last June, Jacob Lindgren can make the jump. The bullpen is the bullpen. It always manages to find its own level, moving from lights-out to mediocrity. But Lindgren is another reason why you need high draft picks.

I'd trade Cervelli or Murphy or Romine for a couple young arms, so Gary Sanchez plays every day at Scranton. Move kids through the system. Do not let contracts get in their way. Next year, it's all about A-Rod, and Boston could be really tough. But in two years, they'll fold, and we can be young, improving and - who knows? - maybe champs.

Sir... think big, think long term... think: REBUILD!


Alphonso said...

If it is Brian Cashman who must carry out this plan, you hae wasted a lot of thought and good ideas.

He is the reason that choices and decisions like those you propose are necessary:

He created this mess through a life-long commitment to winning it all next year. Re-building is not a word in his vocabulary.

If John & Suzyn return next year, you will never hear the word on the air.

Cashman will load up again, the way he did in 2014, and hope to win about 92 games by scores of 2-1, 1-0, etc.

In other words, the best ideas in the world, applied to the realities of the moment, have no place in his world.

As a result, it is better to accept what is and simply watch the mediocrity until the next generation of Steinbrenners take over, and Cashman is in an old age home.

We are screwed.

KD said...

So, it looks like you'd like to keep McCann? Did his September win you over?

KD said...

P.S. I fear that Lester would do for us what he did for the A's.

el duque said...

What else can we do but keep McCann? Nobody else is going to take him off our hands, not with that contract.

As for Lester - I'm glad he's out. A few less innings of wear and tear on the arm... for us, next year!

John M said...

The biggest problems this team has going forward are the Steinbrenners, Cashman, and Girardi. Talking about players is entertaining and in a grand sports fan tradition, but the problems are at the top. We only see them reflected on the field.

On the player front, however...look, we're not going to be good. We have too much detritus making big money, and you know the Yankees must play anyone making big money no matter how bad they are. So next year--the next couple of years, probably--are already lost.

In the meantime, there's one classy thing I think we can do. Resign Ichiro. I know, I know, I can hear the howls already. But look, he's a future HOF. He's still faster than everyone on the team except Gardner. He's still the best outfielder after Gardner and Ellsbury, whose fragility means we'll need extra outfielders. He batted .285 in a season of offensive decline across the majors, where the overall BA fell to .251 or something godawful, and he still kills lefties. No power, but he actually walked sometimes this year to bring his OBP to about .325. On this team, that's MVP caliber. No power, but never had it. He keeps himself in amazing shape, doesn't go down to injury, and has a great attitude. The only thing he's missing is Matsui's porn collection. Plus, when he actually decides to pack it in, we can have a big celebration. And we can have another one when he gets his 3,000th hit next year.

The Big Power era is over, because everybody is too afraid to get caught taking PEDs. Fragile guys will be more fragile, because everyone is afraid to get caught taking PEDs. A steady, durable, Roy White-plus kind of guy isn't something to toss out with the hot dog wrappers.

Let's keep him for a year and see how it goes. At least we'll get one big moment out of it. With the squad we'll be fielding, it will be the only big moment we get.

el duque said...

I love Ichiro as a person. And he's a first-ballot HOF. But I'd rather see a kid out there, who might be improving, than another old guy on his last legs.

ceeja said...

Ichiro was a good Yankee. But I would prefer that they use Prado as the back-up outfielder and that way free up more time for one of the kids to play 2B (Pirella/Refsnyder).

The Yanks need to conclude right now that their parade of aging stars are all parttime platoon players. DH and 1B are two spots in the order to platooon A Rod, Beltran, and Teix. Unless Prado is your starting RF, they need a real outfielder. They also need a shortstop, third baseman, and second baseman.

I like Headley at third and Pirella/Refsnyder at second. The Yanks seem weak with internal candidates for OF and SS. Would rather see them spend for those positions then to waste a lot of money on long term pitching deals.

John Bogle said...

You slipped it in there as an aside, Duque, but the thing I hope for most is Teixeira retiring. It would be the honorable thing for him to do.

Also, it'll take Ichiro another two seasons to get to 3,000 hits. So, keeping him next year won't mean that he'll reach that milestone in a Yankee uniform.

joe de pastry said...

if they resign Suzuki I will not watch any of their games next year. I have no interest in another farewell tour, especially for a guy who has been one of the weakest hitting outfielders in MLB as a Yankee. Resigning another old stinker means 1. They will not be a contender next year and 2. They will not be rebuilding either.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

My current pet peeve is the need for the Yankees to use the DH as a rest home for some aging or injured player, that should ALWAYS be a spot in the rotation for some Big Papi monster home run machine, of which, we don't have anyway,,,,, The 'new Yankee reality' means that that spot is off the table for it's intended use, which to me is another screaming red flag for what is wrong with this team.

John M said...

I completely understand the reasons for NOT signing the Ich. And I don't really disagree with those reasons. But this is the Yankees. The idea that his roster spot would be taken by some young kid is awfully optimistic (in the 'you may say I'm a dreamer' category, really). They'll just sign a lugnut off the scrap heap to be a backup outfielder.

I'd rather see a productive vet like Ichiro hold down the job. The guy is still consistently good, which is more than you can say for somebody like Beltran.

Now, if they actually decide to pursue some kind of mini-youth movement, I'd say go with that and let Ich finish up somewhere else. But again, this is the Yankees. That just isn't going to happen.

Mister D said...

Ichiro wants to be a full time player, and the last thing the Yankees need is another 500 ABs from a guy with no power in a power position. The truth is there are any number of young players that can replace his production at a fraction of the cost.

Yes, the big power era is over, but this is not the dead ball era either. This team is anemic. I have hopes that McCann can bounce back given his age and history, but to expect much from Teix, ARod and Beltran may be asking too much. We know we won't get power from left, center, short or second. We cannot write off right field as well.

As for a target year, I'm more inclined to aim for 2017. CC, Teix and Beltran will be off the books, and ARod will be in his final year, so cutting him (if needed) will be easier to swallow. We'll have a lot more flexibility (over $70m off the books), and hopefully a couple of our kids (like Judge) will be establishing themselves as major league caliber.