Interesting headline in today's Murdoch. "Greg Bird's Swing is Heating up Chris Carter Debate."
Debate? Who's writing this stuff, Jerry Hall? How can there be a debate? Just last month, Feb. 7, the Post called Carter "the ideal Yankees signing," noting that the Empire got a slugger on the cheap, allowing Frugal Hal to walk "the tightrope" between contending for a Wild Card and rebuilding for the future.
The Yankees... pounced on Carter because they still hope to play meaningful baseball this year — even as they field what should wind up as their youngest squad in a generation. At this price, the Yankees felt they could overlook Carter’s career .314 on-base percentage, his 751 strikeouts in 1,953 at-bats over the four prior seasons and his awful defense.
Across the Yankiverse, "experts" praised the Carter signing as a show of Yankee ingenuity. The team hedged its bets on Greg Bird at first base and brought cheap insurance - Carter cost only $3 million (plus $500,000 in incentives.) The two would platoon, solidifying the lineup.
Well, now that Bird has hit three HRs this spring, the notion of two streaky sluggers platooning doesn't look so ideal any more. In fact, it could backfire on both. And here's a newfound gem from today's write-up:
[I]t’s not like Carter has dented lefty pitching. He is a career .221 hitter with a .796 OPS against lefties. Last year he batted .224 with 12 homers, 31 RBIs and a .875 OPS versus southpaws.
Wow. That's - um - inspiring, eh? The big slugger hits .224 against lefties. Add this: Yesteday, Joe Girardi was describing Bird as a young John Olerud, a hitter known for putting balls into play, rather than fanning 206 times, as Carter did last year. Suddenly, Carter looks more less like a bat than a tumor.
And let's be honest here: The only reason the Yankees signed Carter was that Hal Steinbrenner wanted to go cheap, and insisted that Brian Cashman spend only $4 million more on a 2017 team with more holes than a Swiss cheese sandwich. That left Cashman to troll the scrap heaps, where Carter was waiting, mainly because nobody else wanted such a one dimensional player. We had a gaping void in our rotation - (our third starter, Michael Pineda, went 6-12 last year) - yet we ignored several free agent pitchers who were looking for one-year deals, and then we signed the cheapest car in the lot, even if we didn't need it.
Of course, there was a motive: They wanted a hedge against Bird failing, and - yes - it could still happen. Carter could become our first baseman, as horrible as that sounds. But today, the Yankees are shopping Rob Refsnyder, for whom they'll likely receive next to nothing - because Carter has taken the roster slot. If Bird needed to platoon, Refsnyder could have played first base, and by May, Tyler Austin would have been healed from a foot injury. We had young alternatives, each of whom would have provided speed and flexibility - (Carter is basically a second DH) - yet the Yankees chose an old, tired guy, who either homers or strikes out... because he was "cheap."
Debate? What debate? It was a terrible signing a month ago, it still looks terrible, and it stems directly from a billionaire opting to poor mouth rather than fix the team. For an extra two or three million dollars, we could have signed a veteran starter on a one-year deal, and 2017 wouldn't look so tenuous. And until the Yankiverse starts condemning Hal's cheapness - rather than celebrating his penny-pinching and his profits - nothing will change.
We can build with youth. We can supplement with free agents. Nothing can stop us, except Hal clutching his purse and hiding under the bed. That's the debate.