Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The Yankees penchant for retiring numbers extends through their farm system... except when it doesn't
Posted by el duque at 8:00 AM
1. Recent Yankee 7th round draft pick Jhalan Jackson, a free-swinging RF, looks like an NFL running back in a Google programmers' ping pong tournament. He went 0 for 5. Didn't matter. Looks good coming off the bus. He has 4 HR. He's 22. Nobody is going to start a brawl with Staten Island, not with this guy coming off the bench.
2. Kyle Holder - our recent supplemental first-round pick, and a pipsqueak, compared to Jhalan - excels both at fielding... and hitting... grounders.
3. Nobody on Staten Island wore any of the Yankees' 18 retired uniform numbers. (Actually, I found later that a pitcher named Bret Marks wears Bernie Williams' No. 51. Why would they hold out other numbers, then give out Bernie's uniform? Weird.)
But this is policy: When the Yankees retire a number, they ban it from their entire farm system... almost. Frankly, I don't understand why the Scranton Railriders shouldn't use the first 10 uniform digit, considering that none of the Yankee immortals ever played there. Then again, what's weirder is that some players do wear the sacred numbers. Go figure.
Here's a breakdown of the royally knighted numbers that are still in use on top Yankee farm teams, according to the franchises' web sites. (Keep in mind that No. 2, Derek Jeter's number, has not yet been formally retired.)
Kyle Roller 23 (Don Mattingly) Roller plays first... symmetry?
Ben Gamel 6 (Joe Torre) I don't get this at all.
Austin Romine 7 (Mickey Mantle) Romine has been at Scranton now 4 years, long enough to run for Congress. He's hitting and will probably soon be traded. But Number Seven? My guess is that he received this number before they started phasing them out.
Cito Culver 6 (Torre) A former first-round pick, once touted as Jeter's replacement, floundering.
Tony Renda 9 (Roger Maris) Recently acquired in the horror deal for David Carpenter (perhaps to be known in the future as the "Manny Banuelos Giveaway.") So they gave him Number 9? Wow.
Jake Cave 8 (Yogi Berra) A rising CF prospect. But... gulp... Yogi?
Al Pedrique 23 (Mattingly) He's a coach. Strange how they seem to think nobody will notice 23.
(By the way, Aaron Judge is listed as wearing number 99, and Luis Severino, 19. Do they really want Judge - the most touted hitting prospect in years - to wear 99? Ugh.)
Nobody. No sacred numbers. This must be because the Junior Boss, Hal Steinbrenner, hangs around Tampa, and he would notice. Right? What else makes sense?
Travis Chapman 23 (Mattingly) He's listed as a Defensive Coach. Evidently, 23 is semi-retired... or the ban doesn't apply to coaches.
Angel Aguilar 7 (Mickey) He's a 20 year old IF with power, though currently hitting .202. Still, you have to wonder: Who is this Angel Aguilar? Is he not the Chosen One? Who wears Number 7 for the Yankees?
Jorge Mateo 2 (Jeter) Like I said upstairs, he's not yet wearing an official retired number. But this guy is our top SS prospect, a base-stealing machine, maybe the fastest kid in baseball. By giving him No. 2, are they not trying to anoint him for greatness?
Chris Breen 8 (Yogi) A power-hitting 1B... not necessarily a stand out. Yogi?
Derek Toadvine 5 (Joe Dimaggio) A light-hitting infielder. He ought to get his picture taken in that jersey, whenever possible. Someday, we might sing: Where have you gone, Derek Toadvine, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you...
Weird, eh? As I said upstairs, I can't see why the Trenton Thunder shouldn't use all the numbers at their disposal. Wouldn't it be exciting to see Yankee prospects wearing 1, 2, 3, 4... etc.? Seriously, don't you want to know more about Angel Aguilar... Number 7?
My guess: Like many aspects of Yankee management, this is simply a half-baked policy. (Consider mustaches and the ban on facial hair.) It reminds me of Hal's vow a few years ago to reach the sacred payroll limit of $187 million - and how he banished AJ Burnett and refused to re-sign Russell Martin - and then later did his Emily Litella routine and meowed, "Never minnnnnd." This looks like one of those.
Oh, well. It doesn't really matter. Just keep your eyes on Jhalan Jackson. He wears 43. Cool number, eh?