FIFTY THOUSAND MOONS
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:06 AM
If you imagine Alfonso Soriano times Andruw Jones, (the 35-year-old versions), with a sprinkle of Ruben Rivera's uncapped potential, and have him smoke a Cuban cigar, you've got Yoenis Cespedes. I don't mean to bash the guy, because he did help lead the Mets' post-season drive for a month last summer... but of all the free agents we didn't chase this winter - which is all the free agents in baseball - Cespedes is the one I'm most thankful didn't come our way.
Listen: When a guy bounces around from four teams in two years, there's a reason for the game of hot-potato. It has to do with seeing the player up close. When hot, Cespedes can carry the team. When cold, he leaves the population of mainland China in scoring position. And if for some reason he explodes, has the year of his life, then Met fans can watch him break their hearts. He has a one-year opt-out clause - the new reality of baseball - and it's a lose-lose proposition for any team that's willing to sign away its management capability.
Isn't fate amazing? Fate, and its brother, hubris?
If you look at U.S. presidential politics, the Republicans figured to have a cakewalk of money, after the Supreme Court eliminated donation restrictions for rich candidates. But instead of streamlining the system, the new rules allow extremist candidates to stay in the race forever, backed by a billionaire, and gum up the party machinery. It's the same in baseball, where the owners instituted a de facto salary cap, via luxury taxes, to defang big market teams like the Yankees. So what happens? The players and agents start writing in opt-out clauses, basically eliminating the long-term tie to any team.
Come 2017, when Food Stamps Steinbrenner ventures back into the free agent market, will all our acquisitions be one year opt-outs? Could be.
What bothers me this winter is a sense that the Yankees themselves waived their big market advantage - which included, I believe, the most loyal and ardent fan base in American sports. Cespedes wanted to play in NYC. So could have others - like David Price or Zach Greinke. Not long ago, it was assumed that the Yankees always make the playoffs. Now, it's assumed they will always try to make the playoffs. If a couple unlucky injuries happen this summer, we could see a Boston-like meltdown. It could have been averted. But we sat out the auctions.
Well, at least we didn't sign Cespedes, a round peg for the big square hole in our lineup. We are team of elderly statesmen and low-price trade aquisitions, every one of them flawed in some way or another. (Chapman has his domestic abuse, Hicks was a disappointment in Minnesota, Castro had worn out his welcome in Chicago, etc.) But at least we don't face any opt-out clauses. Good for us, I guess. Right?