Friday, February 6, 2015

Miguel Andujar v. the Yankees' woeful, rancid, horrible record of developing thirdbasemen

The other day, while drinking beer, I gave Alphonso my annual unvarnished, x-rated and five-dimensional rundown of the Yankee farm system. You don't need to hear it - basically because it's just me, gurgling out of my ass. Truth is, I wouldn't know a future star from the next Lenn Sakata. I just read the blogs, which are mostly mirrors reflecting mirrors. Only one person knows... Alphonso.

Anyway, I eventually unveiled Our One Great Yankee Hope, the kid who will save or condemn to eternal hell the Yankee farm system in 2015: Miguel Andujar.

He turns 20 on March 2. He's a big-boned Dominican stud-muffin who played last year at Single A Charleston. He started horribly, but around June, caught fire. He ended the season at .267 with 10 HR, but the numbers don't tell it. He held his own in an accelerated league for age 19. The more I slobbered about Andujar, the more Alphonso shook his head. Still, I planted the seed of hope... because that's what Yankee fans yearn for.

But here's the reality about Miguel Andjuar:

He would be the first Yankee-born-and-raised star third baseman since Clete Boyer.

Yep, It's that bad. Over the last 50 years, the Yankees have raised one - ONE - 3B who was a legitimate star: Mike Lowell... whom we traded for a handful of magic beans.

After that, forgetaboutit. It comes down to Jerry Kenney or Mike Pagliarulo, neither of whom ever hit a lick. Our star third basemen always came from other teams: Graig Nettles, Scott Brosius, Alex Rodriguez, Charley Hayes, Wade Boggs (and now Chase Headley?) Between them, you can briefly stuff in a Mike Blowers, or a Russell Davis, or a Pat Kelley, (who was more a 2B), but seriously, is that a legacy?

At third, the Yankees have crapped the historical bed. Can any team have so botched one position for half a century? Why should we bother hoping for Miguel Andujar, or Dante Bichette Jr., or Eric Jagiello, or Dopey Dildox, or anybody? Fifty years is not a small sample size. It's clear: The Yankees don't make third basemen.

The question, though, is why?

I have pondered this question for much longer time than is healthy.

To be honest, I have no answer. Here are my theories.

1. Third base is a skill position that requires some experience, and the Yankees historically refuse to give kids a crack at proving themselves. That's why they traded Lowell - whom Brian Cashman still calls the worst deal he ever made. The mighty, big-time, big-money Yankees are just too big for their britches to allow a rookie to play third.

Of course, last year, that's what they did. Yangervis Solarte! And he actually played as well as the old-slog they wheeled in to replace him... our new man at third, Chase Headley. But at the time, Yangervis was slumping, and the Yankees were chasing that vaunted final wild card slot and... oh, please... let's not dwell on it.

2. The Yankees rarely develop anybody, anywhere, so what's the diff? If you name a team of the greatest home-grown Yankees at each position - in modern times - good luck with that. At 1B, you have Mattingly. At second, it's probably Robbie. At SS - geez, I can't think of anybody - and the outfield? Well, Bernie and... um... uh... Brett Gardner... Jay Buhner... Rickie Ledee...?

There is only one position where the Yankee farm system stands proud: Catcher. From Elston to Yogi to Thurman to Cerone to Posada - we develop catchers! This is why it's been so hard to digest the failure of Jesus Montero and (perhaps) Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez. How did we forget the art of raising catchers? WTF happened?

3. Blame Central America. For the last 20 years, the Yankees have sought to replace the draft - where we almost never had high picks - with big money splurges on Latino 16-year-olds. Beyond the perilous psychology of turning a Latino teenager into a millionaire, there are also the changing physical dynamics. By their eighth year in the Yankee system, they look nothing like they did when signed, and the kids we once projected at SS are lucky to play 1B.

The first one to actually make it would be Miguel Andujar.

But why bother hoping?

So there you have it, Alphonso - a 12-pack rundown on the Yankee future, and I buried the lead, which is rooted in our dismal past. All that crap about Andujar? Take it with a grain of salt - preferably after tequila.

Fifty years, folks, and not one 3B worth blogging about. Let's have a little perspective here. And a moment of silence.


ceeja said...

Pags could hit 30 homers in a year, so he wasn't all bad. Jerry Kenney..., well there's a name that brings back memories. I believe, by the way, that they gave him number 2, so someone thought he was going to pan out.

The question is this: is it inevitable that a team will over time develop enough good talent to field a good team? Absolutely not. There is no reason why (absent $) the Yanks should have any success for the next 30 years. Only massive infusions of cash make this a plus .500 team over the long haul.

BernBabyBern said...

"I wouldn't know a future star from the next Lenn Sakata."

Wait ... Sakata isn't considered a star?