Thursday, December 8, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:24 AM
When winter began Nov. 2, that stick of pepperoni hanging next to the ice skates, the one we most coveted, was Aroldis Chapman. For six weeks, we forded a river of saliva over that wonderful, spicy prong of muscle. Meanwhile, all we heard was that El Chapo wanted to come home, to play for us, and that we wanted to sign him.
And yet... we'd become so conditioned by Hal Steinbrenner's penny-pinching that nobody - not I, anyway - anticipated last night's triumph. Nope. We figured the Nats or Dodgers - some team looking to win - would grab him. We'd spend today watching talent leave through the Rule 5 draft, while the YES happy talk machine touted the virtues of Reuben Tejada... another ride to Boone Logansville.
No. Aroldis is ours. He liked us. He really liked us. He wasn't just saying so, to be kind, to be gracious, or to gin up the bidding. MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY! HE LIKES US, HE REALLY LIKES US.
I, of course, am typing this from the tub, in a celebratory Calgon Bath Oil Beads haze. I will spend the day in these curing waters, contemplating contemplations, such as:
1. Signing El Chapo doesn't sabotage the Yankee youth movement. In fact, his presence should calm a young bullpen, lessening PTSD from bad outings. Luis Severino can return to the rotation, rather than pitch the eighth. Both Chapman and Matt Holliday should fit our long term plans. (If we signed a 3B, what about Miguel Andujar? If a 1B, what of Greg Bird?) We've supplemented prospects rather than blocking them. Hot damn!
2. Just days after the new players union agreement has been fully digested, we are seeing a scramble for top prospects. The White Sox launched a fire sale, and in one day scored enough young studs to put them above us on the suddenly all-important Baseball America prospect rankings. I think we're seeing the results of the new CBA: In its quest for parity, baseball is becoming the NFL.
3. With that in mind, here is a very real fear: The Redsocks could become the New England Patriots. For starters, they're willing to cheat. They have plenty of money. And they've had a fruitful farm system for so long now that we take it for granted. Teams want their prospects, because of the track record. Boston has assembled a stable of veterans and rising stars that very much resembles the Yankees of 1996-2000 - even a future Core Four: Bradely, Bogartes, Betts, Benintendi. Moreover, they have a smart owner, who built an empire rather and inheriting one. Yikes, the water in this tub just turned colder.
4. If you were to rank teams in the AL right now - I mean, today, this minute, right now - not bothering to think about where Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbow wind up - here's my guess:
Divisional Champs: Boston/Cleveland/Houston
Wild Cards: Texas/ Kansas City
Close But No Cigar: Seattle/Yankees/Baltimore
Close But No Camel Filter: Detroit/Oakland/Toronto
Tomato Cans: California/Oakland/Tampa/White Sox/Minnesota
On this scale, the Yankees sell tickets into September - the most critical objective of the team these days. Without Chapman, we would fall in that lower tier. And if a few prospects don't pan out, we could be so bad that President Trump is tweeting about us.
5. Once again - third year in a row, in my opinion - the most important figure in the Yankiverse is Aaron Judge. If he becomes a star, there is hope. If he fails, we are fukkinay screwed. It's that simple. The worst scenario is utterly terrifying: He's a bust, we punt on him, then he becomes a star elsewhere. Fortunately, we also have Clint Frazier. But everything hinges on some outfielder to evolve. We cannot afford more Slade Heathcotts. (Wherever he is, I wish him the best. No hard feelings, not from this bathtub, not today. Hey, it just didn't work.)
6. El Chapo has an opt-out clause triggered after 2019. I hate those things. But if he pitches well for three years, the opt-out could actually be our salvation. If he wants to squeeze us for more money through the next decade, maybe he'll hit the open market and spare us the final two years, which everyone assumes will see us owning a Papelbon. But hey, you know what? I donna giva sheet. For Hal, this is clam dip money. Besides, if the Yankees haven't developed a raft of young pitchers by 2019, well, we're going to have far worse problems than an overpriced bum pitching the ninth.It's a good day. WE HAVE... THE MEAT! Calgon Beauty Bath, take me away!