Monday, March 16, 2015

World may be coming to end: Bill Madden makes sense

The Daily News' Bill Madden must bestride spring training press boxes like a colossus, hearkening back to the era of the late Dick Young - the hateful, hyper-righteous, acid-bombing sportswriter - the MLB equivalent of AM radio's Michael Savage. In recent years, Madden's blinding hatred for Alex Rodriguez caused him to edge shamefully into the silken bathrobes of Hal Steinbrenner and the Yankee top brass - letting them blame Yankees' misfortunes on Number 13.

In today's column, Madden asks a simple question, one that fans have pondered since last July:

What the hell is wrong with Jose Pirela? Does he use the wrong fork? Do his ties not match his socks? What's the problem here?

Here's a guy who wins the International League batting crown, plays several positions, most notably 2B, and yet last September, the Yankees didn't even promote him for a cup of coffee until injuries forced their hand. In the final, dreadful games of a lost season, it was none other than Suzyn Waldman who - in a gasp of exasperation - wondered why Pirela had been left behind in Scranton? (This was after Pirela deftly picked off a runner who had strayed from third base.) And despite assurances that Pirela would compete for a job in 2015, the Yankees went out this winter and signed the bobblehead doll known as Stephen Drew ("Official IT IS HIGH Whipping Mule for 2015") to play 2B. Last year, Drew hit .162. This year, we'll pay him $5 million.

Today, let us rejoice in knowing that Madden is no longer pissing outward; he has turned around to and directing his urine stream toward the fire.

[W]hat is becoming more and more mystifying is why... Jose Pirela, the 25-year-old Venezuelan infielder, who is generating a lot of buzz among the scouts that is apparently falling on deaf ears with the Yankee high command. “For me, Pirela’s got to be on their team,” said one scout for an NL team who has watched almost all of the Yankees’ games this spring.

Who is Madden's source? Don't ask. It could be any of the 150 voices screaming in his head, or the ghost of Casey Stengel, or maybe Dick Young himself. Let's not go there. Let's be thankful that Madden is writing things down. The unnamed scout continues:

"I’ll be honest, I don’t understand Drew. He was as bad a player as I’ve ever seen last year and he hasn’t looked any better this spring. He can’t hit a lick and whether they know it or not, the Yankees need offense. That’s why I’d take my chances on Pirela at second.”

Like the rest of us, Madden has seen this movie before.

Assuming Drew at second base is etched in stone — and there’s no way the Yankees are going to admit a $5 million mistake quickly — Pirela’s only hope of making the team is if Brendan Ryan’s chronic back issue keeps him on the disabled list to open the season... The good news for Yankee legions is there is a long-awaited new wave of legitimate major league prospects on the near horizon. The perplexing news is, the first one to arrive has been received better by opposing scouts than the Yankees themselves.

Small steps. That's how you climb from the abyss. A third straight year of missing the post-season - despite spending $200 million - ought to motivate the NYC media to train its guns on management, rather than A-Rod. (Or on both.)

Still... why must we annually try every retread in captivity before giving young players a chance?


Alphonso said...

The miss on Pirela is due to an incompetent GM. Have I said this before? the Yankee problem is BRIAN CASHMAN.

ceeja said...

It is just possible that Girardi is telling the truth -- that the second base job is for Drew to lose. That does mean, after all, that he is not guaranteed the job and can lose it. If the season started tomorrow, Drew would lose it. And I suspect he won't get much better.

Why would Girardi come out right now and say Pirela wins the job? Spring training is not over yet and he may as well keep the pressure on Pirela and show the vet that he still has a chance.