The Korean Koreans of the Chick Korean Baseball League have announced they will post slugging superstar shortstop Jung-Ho Kang to America this winter.
Kang, 27, batted .360 and hit 36 home runs last season. Unfortunately, he did this in Korea, where the quality of pitching falls somewhere between Scranton and Iceland.
In posting ballplayers to the majors, Korea operates under the old, international blind-bidding, beer pong rules, the same ones that coaxed the Yankees to drop $25 million for the rights to Mr. Kei Igawa. This alone probably elminates Hal Steinbrenner from the party.
But I say it's time for the Yankees to climb back onto the Carl Pavano-boondoggle saddle.
Let's accept that Kang is a crap shot, and there is certain River Styx threshhold - $50 to $70 million maybe - that nobody should cross. There's a current theory making the rounds that Asian infielders don't translate well into the majors because - well - I can't think of why they wouldn't, but it's a nice theory when you're looking for an excuse to sit on your hands. Also, let's face it: Korean baseball is not even Japanese baseball. Kang could clang.
But bum or not, here's why the Yankees should go after this guy.
1. In my 35 years as a reporter, now and then you'd find an editor who was better suited to be handing out towels at the YMCA. They looked at every story and said, "Well, we won't get sued by not publishing." I suspect that among the 15 vice presidents within the Yankee front office, there are a few who always say, "Well, we won't look bad if we don't spend the money." Those guys should be handing out towels at the Y. It's time for the Yankees to take chances. They ignored the Cuban wave. They should jump on this one.
2. We have nobody to play SS. We're not talking about replacing Derek Jeter here. We're just talking about having a shortstop. Are we going to watch Brendan Ryan hit .149 next year? Nor are the free agent options too stimulating. Our best young prospects have not even cracked Trenton. There is no cavalry coming. We could empty our system and trade for a shortstop (So long, Aaron Judge!) Frankly, I'd rather take a half-court shot.
3. Our farm system needs a stalking horse. In spring training, Kang would absorb attention like a Bounty towel. Thus, younger players can fly under the radar, without being subjected to ridiculous Jeter comparisions. Small market teams don't need stalking horses. The Yankees do. Whatever they pay Kang, he could buy time for the system to actually season a shortstop, maybe by 2016.
4. Good grief, we need some pinprick of hope. If Hal plans to sell 2015 tickets on the idea that 2014 was an "off year," that A-Rod will come back, and guys like Beltran and McCann will start hitting... well... good luck with that. Last fall, the YES Men talked giddy about the notion of a full season of Alfonso Soriano anchoring the batting order. Yeah, right. He anchored it, all right. The Yankiverse needs something to hope for, even if it's a mirage.
Close your eyes and think of .360 and 36 home runs. Ahhhhhhh.... Derek who?