Brien Taylor knows that he was MLB's No. 1 prospect, that we penciled him in for Cooperstown, and now he's 45, chubby, and checking in regularly with a parole officer. And let's not forget the great Ruben Rivera, who was ranked in 1994 by Baseball America as the game's No. 2 prospect. Then he stole Jeter's glove. Last year, Ruben hit .228 for Tabasco in the Mexican League. (Note: This is an actual fact; he's still playing.)
So let's acknowledge that prospect rankings are a parlor game, a notch below Settlers of Catan. If I rank my t-shirt collection, it'll have as much import to the Yankee future as anything else printed with buckets of ether. So... you're with me, right? Rankings are crapola.
That said... Holy shit, Gleyber Torres is No. 2 by Jim Callis, of MLB.com! He's jumped a few places, based on his breakout MVP performance in the Arizona Fall Instructional League. If Callis is right, we have the top SS prospect in the baseball, and this should hold at least until grapefruit league games begin! Move the sand trucks into place, everybody! We need to reserve the Canyon of Heroes!
But but BUT... while we're celebrating... here are Callis' top three, as mentioned in a mailbox chat:
1) Yoan Moncada
3) Andrew Benintendi.
Yes, that name again... Yoannnn Monnnnnnn-cadaaaaa.
A month ago, Boston owned two of the top three prospects in baseball. They converted Moncada - described as "Robby Cano with speed" - into Chris Sale, which makes them a powerhouse favorite for at least the next two seasons. Still - Robby Cano with speed? - we might actually have dodged a bullet by having them trade the guy to Chicago. And once again, it bothers me - as it should every Yankee fan - that Boston simply outbid us for Moncada.
In simple terms, they got Moncada - and now, Chris Sale - because their owner wanted to win more than ours did. In both cases, it was men with nearly infinite amounts of money, but their owner wanted to win more than ours did.
Lately, a public relations campaign has been underway across the call-in shows and online forums of the Yankiverse. It is designed to make us feel good about Hal Steinbrenner's thriftiness, in avoiding big free agent auctions. We're supposed to hail Hal's frugality, and root for the Yankees to get below that luxury tax margin. That way, Hal can spend more of his family's money. Until then, we should wait patiently. Money doesn't grow on trees, you know.
Yesterday, Brian Cashman assured the Yankiverse that he will not deviate from his long-term plan to build the franchise with prospects, such as Gleyber Torres. And, yeah, that's a good thing, because the other strategies sure as hell were not working. But every time we hear those names - Yoan Moncada and now Chris Sale - we should be reminded that, when the cards were on the table, Boston's owner simply wanted to win more than Hal did.
Until the Yankees are back on top - it could be many years from now - that's the only ranking that matters.