Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:29 AM
Whether it's Yangervis Solarte, Gregorio Petit or the return of Slade Heathcott, nobody rules the rummage sale like the nebbish of nepotism. Our Scranton larder is always stocked with Cole Figueroas and Chris Parmelees... and don't get me wrong: If you treasure each tiny nickel, you'll end up with a great big dime! Every year, some scrap-heaper wins us a game or two. Remember Cody Ransom's home runs, or Greg Golson's epic throw from the right field foul line? Or that rolly-polly guy, Bartolo Somethingorother? Never underestimate a yard sale, where the Yankees remain the kings of coin.
Yesterday, we exercised our fanny pack power and re-signed the perennial whipping boy for draft day critics, none other than Christopher S. "Cito" Culver himself. The 32nd pick in the 2010 draft - taken two players ahead of Aaron Sanchez and four above Noah Syndergaard - has always been a magnet for furious fans - as if he should be blamed, and not the Yankees. (In fact, they played a failed strategy - drafting Culver, who was willing to sign cheaply - so they could later grab Mason Williams, to whom they bestowed the big bucks.)
Cito never hit. A shortstop, he wasted four years batting from both sides, then became a full-time righty. He still has a rifle arm - for years, fans speculated he should pitch - and last season, something funny happened. At age 24, after finally reaching Triple A - much like Kyle Higashawa, the late-blooming catcher - Culver started to produce. He batted .263 in 88 plate appearances - that's not Jeterian, but it's not Eddie Brinkman, either. If he improves, he could become a serviceable MLB utility infielder or maybe even a defensive 3B who hits .250 - which is what the Yankees now have, except they're paying the guy $13 million.
Okay, let's talk about Chase Headley...
Listen: He isn't baseball's worst player, or even the Yankees worst contract. It's just that when Headley comes to bat, fans go to the bathroom. Right now, he and Jacoby Ellsbury are carbon sinks within the Yankiverse; we've seen enough to know that if they're red hot in June, it's gonna snow in July. We should not blame either: It was the Yankees who foisted so much money on them that they became immovable. But it's Christmas, right? And this is when we are still supposed to believe in miracles, right?
So here's my sloppy, feel-good Christmas wish: May we find a taker for Headley. We can eat half his contract and send him to a city where nobody cares how much he's being paid, and where he can climb out from under the shadow of all that money. Then next spring, instead of trading for another pricey veteran, we hold honest tryouts at third. Yeah, I know it's a miracle. I might as well be asking for a pony under the tree. But wouldn't it be nice if the legend of Cito Culver was just beginning?