Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's not the Yankee draft picks we should mourn; it's the reasons for them that haunt the NY fan base

Despite all the bluster and crapola, the annual MLB draft always disappoints Yankee fans. It's not that the team makes bad picks (though that does happen.) The problem is that, aside from a few Mel Kiper wannabees - I call them "drafties" - all you get are no-names and hype. Realistically, nobody can judge a draft within the first three years, so what can anybody really say on draft night? At least this year, we didn't sit it out.

Nevertheless, last night, I sat popped into nyyfans.com, a forum populated by psycho draft fanatics, and - woah - for whatever it's worth, they were not happy. Our first pick, 21-year-old RH James Kapriellian from UCLA, drew instant ridicule, even though the guy was a consensus first-rounder. Their problem: He is a "safe pick," projecting as a 2nd or 3rd starter, and the drafties wanted more from the 16th man chosen. Soon, they were screaming about the Yankee front office, as hard as that is to imagine for a Yankee fan to do.

Same with the sandwich pick, No. 30. We grabbed another West Coast 21-year-old, a college shortstop named Kyle Holder. He drew fire as a good-glove no-hit.. the next Brendan Ryan. Ugh. (Though, frankly, some of these drafties had personal faves, and nobody else would satisfy them.) If this guy doesn't hit, well, let's put it this way: He'll probably start at Staten Island, three levels behind Cito Culver (the whipping mule for Yankee draft critics), and he's not much younger. Cito, after all, is 22.

But it was Round 2 when the horror phrase popped up: "under the radar." The Yankees drafted a 23-year-old (yep, twenty-three, that's no misprint) LH named Jeff Degano, who has already had Tommy John surgery, and wasn't on the power lists. The Yankee history of drafting guys "under the radar" is, to say the least, sketchy. The fact is, the Yankees have drafted some under-the-radar duds in the 2nd round - Angelo Gumbs (2010) and Gosuke Katoh (2013) aren't even hitting .200 in Single A - (and they're both still younger than Degano... seriously: the guy is 23?) 

Here's where I believe the Yankees are not at fault. They are merely responding to the new financial realities of MLB: Everything is skewed to help cheap, small market teams.

In the Yankees' draft, they must weigh "signability" and "slot value" ahead of simply picking the best talent available. It's what the Yankees should never have to do: fret over money. But under Bud Selig's communistic regime, the Padres, Astros and Royals (and soon, Bud's Brewers) are the powers. All a team must do is continually suck, and eventually, it will win, simply via the draft system.

God help the franchise that tries to win every year. (Frankly, until the Dodgers ascended, I can only think of one.)

I had to laugh yesterday, because MLB was beating the drums over the All-Star balloting, trying to rouse fan support. Right now, the game could field an AL team comprised almost entirely of Kansas City Royals. That's not going to hump the ratings. But I say, good: Let MLB suck on it. Let the AL team be the Royals, and let's hope Spike Network airs a decent Bruce Willis flick that night. (Maybe next year, the game will be on Spike.) It's one thing to tweak a system for parity. It's another to turn baseball's most iconic franchise into the Royals.

It amazes me how the draft system works for the owners, all of whom are billionaires - (yes, never forget this: Billionaires, with a B.) Used to be, a kid drafted Number One had leverage, and the small market owner - (yes, still with a B) - had to open his wallet to sign the guy. Not anymore. If the kid doesn't sign, the team receives a compensation pick next year. And if a kid doesn't like the offer, the owner pulls out his pockets and says, "Sorry, I'd love to spend more, but our rules don't allow it." Try that on the plumber who fixes your sink. "Sorry, man, I'd love to pay you what you ask, but my rules don't allow it." See where that gets you.

What the drafties are pissing about is not the Yankee picks. It's the new reality that actually makes it tougher to win in big market cities, due to the distractions and craziness. I think the Redsocks last year understood that quite well, when they dismantled their team. And frankly, I think Boston is still the team to beat in 2015, because of what they did. And I think that sucks.

Good luck to our future Yankees. Let's hope the psycho drafties are wrong. And remember: Cito Culver is younger than our second-round pick.


Alphonso said...

I don't really give a damn about the financial handcuffs you describe. I do object to the fact that the Yankees are more brain dead about drafting talent than the US is in selecting governments to support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Seriously, another Brendan Ryan? If a top 30 pick can't hit .300 in college, it might as well be me! This is the Yankees solution for a future Yankee shortstop?

And yet another pitcher of no note. Great.

We should have drafted Cito's younger brother.

KD said...

why do we need another Brendon Ryan? we've already got one! isn't that enough?

Richard H said...

I should have known better than to doubt John Stirling on the use of English. He said they are having an "inter-league" game with the Marlins. I thought Miami was in the American league (like the Yankees) so, since they would be in the same league, he should have said they would be playing an "intra-league" game. But, the Marlins ARE in the National League, so he was correct to say "inter-league".

Also, I am not too fond of women sports announcers, but if we have to have a woman, Suzyn Waldman is great. it's good that George Steinbrenner hired she. Her profession had been Broadway plays -- mostly singing in musicals, and she knew nothing about baseball, but she learned fast and is now very, very good.