Sunday, November 1, 2015
Posted by el duque at 7:10 AM
So, for the rest of the winter, whenever you see a Met fan jabbing a pillow with an ice pick, whispering "Clippard, Clippard, Clippard.." they're just chanting mantra and bestowing happiness upon the cosmos. And we - as miserable, ugly, hunch-back Yank fans - must gently try to remind them that everyone is a winner... including Tyler Clippard.
Surely, Met fans will forgive Clippard for walking two Royals in the 8th last night, opening the floodgates for the three-run rally that sank the World Series. And my guess is that Clippard will be gone within a month - having left the same way he came in, as death to the Mets.
I remember Clippard's introduction in the 2007 mid-season Subway Series. He came up from Scranton, pitched six innings, gave up a run, and belted a key double. I loved the kid. We called him "The Yankee Clippard." Clearly, it was his destiny to pitch for the Yankees.
But - as we know - Clippard was not one of "The Big Three:" Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain. He was just a lowly over-achiever, a precursor to David Phelps and Adam Warren. We had a star studded rotation: Roger Clemens, Kai Igawa, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang. We certainly had no room for an over-achiever. Therefore, Brian Cashman dealt him.
We traded Clippard straight-up for Jonathan Albaladejo, a relief pitcher that some scout said was throwing hard in a Latin winter league. And I'm sure he was. Alba threw hard in spring training, threw hard in April, threw hard in May... with only one problem. He didn't throw as hard as he was being hit. The balls went out harder than they came in. And then, poof, Alba was gone.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Clippard created a statistical category - a "Clippard" being a game when he came in to get the win. One season, he won 11 games out of the bullpen. He twice made the All-Star game. He twice made the top 10 in games pitched. After nine years, Clippard's career ERA is 2.88. And we traded him, straight-up, on a whim.
I don't mean to rip Cashman again. Hey, bad trades happen. But over the years, this one always struck me as particularly unnecessary - a case of "churning" for the sake of churning. Somewhere, Cashman must have had a binder that rated Clippard as a 3.72 prospect - and Alba as a 3.73. So he traded up. It was such a minor deal that I still don't understand it. We traded a young RH pitcher that we knew for a young RH pitcher that we didn't know. It was a trade based on some unnamed scout, whose opinion clearly differed with that of the Nationals.
I've always felt the Clippard deal belied the two Yankee problems of the last 10 years:
1. Hubris, the view that we're smarter than everybody else.
2. A blind spot to the value of our own prospects.
I'm still not sure we're over it. Look how late this season we finally gave Rob Refsnyder a chance to play 2B. The fact is, if not for Stephen Drew's dizzy spells, Ref would have never gotten a look. Again and again, the Yankees seem to not value their own prospects - (although, I must say, it was refreshing this summer to see them promote Greg Bird and Luis Severino, and refuse to empty the system for a rental.) Are we finally turning the corner? I honestly don't know.
But I do know this: Last night, Tyler Clippard messed up, and the truth about Met fans is that they'll scream about him until they day they die. They'll want him waterboarded, boiled in oil and sent to Gitmo. They'll say they're not the vengeful type. But here's the plan: Whenever you see a Met fan, mention Tyler Clippard, and let's see what happens. Because everybody knows they're not like us.