Saturday, January 3, 2015

In recreating his father's legacy, did Hal Steinbrenner just pull a Buhner?

For years now, I've endured this recurring tragic-comedy nightmare that Hal Steinbrenner is fated to relive his dad's up-and-down record as owner of the Yankees.

If so, that includes the 14-Year Barf - from the early 80s into the mid-90s-  when the Yankees consistently sucked, despite burning money on free agents. The Boss made his reputation by firing people. Would it not be karma's perfect joke if the Son is remembered for clinging to his beloved office underlings?

The 2010 Baseball America
Top 10 Yankee Prospects

Listen: I don't claim to be an expert on Yankee prospects. (Most "experts," as you see, have shoddy track records.) But we've all seen this movie: The princess wants a good sleep, yet all the mattresses in creation cannot supply it.

Despite a $200 million payroll, the Yankees have now gone two years doing what is increasingly difficult to accomplish: Missing the playoffs. Nevertheless, for nearly a decade, Brian Cashman - keenly aware of the trades that destroyed the Yankees in the 1980s - refused to deal our top prospects.

Now, he is doing just that.

Soon, the results will start coming due.

2011 BA Top 10 Yankee Prospects
In the last five months, the Yankees have traded away their biggest power hitting prospect, Pete O'Brien, and two of their most heralded arms, Rafael DePaula and - yesterday - Manny Banuelos. They have yet to be burned by these deals. Nor have they even faced criticism. In part, that is because of the courtier Yankee press, which includes a brown-nosed blogosphere full of Yankee web sites that hope to become the next River Ave. They not only take their news from YES, but they take their cues from YES.

Whenever Brian Cashman makes a move, a wave of cheerleaders immediately concludes that the guy we traded wasn't that good after all, and Larry Rothschild, the pitching coach, will straighten out our new acquisition (just as Kevin Long, the former batting coach, would solve the hitting issues.) This may sound crazy, but there are times when I miss Suzyn Waldman, who is often the lone voice to question Yankee front office moves. (Last year, when Jose Pirela performed well at 2B in September, Suzyn raged, where had this guy been all season, and who said he couldn't play? They were questions asked by fans, but not by the Gammonites.)

Anyway... that reluctance to trade Yankee kids? Forgetabout it. It's over.

Cashman has tasted the meat of meaningful Yankee prospects, and he has found it delicious.

The Braves were happy to trade two arms for Manny Banuelos. Surely, they did this on the recommendation of Gordon Blakely, the longtime Yankee scout, who moved to Atlanta this winter. Was this our Jay Buhner deal? (Or was O'Brien?) I dunno. But the Yankees are finally entering the phase when these deals will start coming home to roost. This summer, we might just see a few former prospects starring for other teams. And in exchange, I'm not sure Cashman has done much more than rearrange the deck chairs on the Yankee Titanic.

If O'Brien or Banuelos emerges, hold onto your hats.

Because we've seen this movie, and it lasts a long, long time.


Local Bargain Jerk said...

This may sound crazy, but there are times when I miss Suzyn Waldman

I can confirm that, all other things being equal, this sounds crazy.

JoeformerlyofBrooklyn said...

I've been sitting around (it's a good time of year to do that) in the past few days -- trying to figure out why keeping Banuelos would have been a good idea.

KD said...

hang on, duque. Suzyn will be back soon enough.

John M said...

Cashman can only trade who he can trade. All the guys we should get rid of have big, expensive contracts that nobody else would take, even if we paid a chunk of them (which is such a waste of good Yankee money...we could sign 20 or 30 Brian Roberts with that kind of dough!).

So, since he can't trade the guys we should trade, he trades the guys we maybe shouldn't trade, because he can. That way no critic can say he sat on his hands when he should've been trading.

It's so simple, even a child could do it. Or was it "simple...except when arthritis flares up." Whatever.

Hermodorus said...

The upside prospects we follow for years turn into "fringy arms" after they're traded for retreads.

And RAB constantly employs Delphi techniques to misdirect front office criticism or drops troll bait to "divide and conquer" the unwashed commentariat.

Rupert Murdoch...just sayin..

Moocow007 said...

And if O'Brien and/or Banuelos doesn't emerge? O'Brien was traded for Prado who ultimately netted the Yankees Eovaldi and another young prospect no? Banuelos was traded for an upgrade over Kelley at the back end of the rotation and a pitching prospect in Shreve was he not? While yes, Banuelos and O'Brien could "emerge" so could the young players that the Yankees got back for Banuelos and O'Brien? The Yankees...surprisingly actually...has held onto their top prospects (Severino, Judge, Bird...who is viewed as a better power prospect than O'Brien...etc). So is this really more about the notion that "home grown" prospects are better than prospects you trade for? That's really more of the issue/concern it sounds like here.