Thursday, June 22, 2017

The secret key to the everlasting Yankiverse is named Austin Romine

Austin Romine grew up within the sacred orbit of the Baby Jesus. Obviously, I mean Montero - the former future Yankee superstar, to whom Romine always played homely backup singer. This was the case, even though a few Yankee scouts secretly recognized that Jeez was more comfortable with a fork and spoon than a catcher's mitt.

Drafted in the 2007 second round, Romine actually could catch. Ten years later - now nearly 29 - I can't help but think he could start for several MLB teams, yet we need him too much to let him go. 

Earlier this season, when Gary Sanchez pooched his wrist, Romine stepped up. In April, he hit .314 with 2 HRs and 10 RBIs, and I swear each one mattered. Last night, with the team facing a possible 8th straight loss, Romine delivered a critical double, driving in two runs. He went 3 for 4, lifting his average to .237. (It dropped in May, after Sanchez returned, and Romine semi-disappeared.)
Barring injuries to Sanchez, Romine will always be a Yankee backup. Thus, he gets overlooked. In many respects, he mirrors the evolution of Francisco Cervelli, a popular Pirate catcher with a .276 average over three seasons. Four years ago, we traded Cervelli for LH reliever Justin Wilson, who was later converted into Luis Cessa and Chad Green - last night's bullpen savior. It's a small world, the MLB.
I mention Romine because soon - within the next month - the Yankees must decide whether to be trade deadline buyers or flea market sellers. Should we trade for a starting pitcher or 1B... or stick with what we've got? I have argued for the latter, but let's face it: Not all youngsters succeed. One or two will become stars, one or two will be duds, and if we're lucky, we'll score a few Austin Romines.

Sherman, set the Wayback to 2012. Let's look at the Top 20 ranked Yankee prospects according to John Sickels, the self-appointed minor league guru. Five years ago, here's what Yoda Sickels had to say:
1. Gary Sanchez.  "Excellent power production in full-season ball at age 18; that is rare. His glove needs work and he needs to take his career more seriously, but he has time to outgrow emotional immaturity." Well, he got that one right, and so did we, by keeping him. MY SCORE: PLUS TWO.
2) Manny Banuelos, LHP: Now 26 in the Angels system and getting whacked (5.24 ERA) at Triple A. We traded him for Chasen Shreve and David Carpenter, (whom we traded for Tony Renda, who was then part of the deal for Aroldis Chapman. Like I say, small world, eh?) So, I'd say we won on Manny. PLUS ONE. 

3) Dellin Betances. "Ceiling is a tad higher than Banuelos, but I'm less confident that he'll reach it. Depending on what happens with his command, he could develop into anything from a number two starter to a disappointing mop-up man." Sickels got him right and wrong, eh? But we did well by keeping him. PLUS TWO.
4) Mason Williams, OF.  Stuck at Scranton. Not much hope, because of Ellsbury and Gardner. This would have been a guy to trade. MINUS ONE. 

5) Dante Bichette, Jr. 3b. Mired in Double A, not looking good. Still only 24. Long bypassed by a herd. We got nothing. MINUS ONE.
6) Juan Campos, RHP: Now Vincente Campos, 24, in the Angels system. Came to us in the Montero/Pineda deal. We traded him to Arizona for - gulp - Tyler Clippard, the current bogeyman. If we discard the last week, this was a successful conversion. PLUS ONE HALF.
7) David Phelps, RHP. Now 30, we traded him with Martin Prado for future injury Nathan Eovaldi, nothingburger Garret Jones and Domingo German - our newest bullpen flavor of the day. We did all right, I guess. PLUS ONE HALF. 
8) Ravel Santana, OF. Hurt ankle, lost speed, vanished. Nothing. MINUS ONE HALF. 

9) Tyler Austin, 3B-1B. Homered last night in Scranton. Recovering from broken foot. I speak for the Yankiverse in saying, "GET THIS GUY TO THE BRONX." PLUS ONE HALF.

10) Adam Warren, RHP. A true lug nut, who went to the Cubs (with Brendan Ryan) in the deal for Starlin Castro. A solid, positive return. PLUS ONE.

11) Austin Romine, C. "I don't like Romine as much as a lot of other people do. His bat is stagnating and his performance doesn't match his reputation behind the plate, at least in terms of throwing out runners. Still, he should have a long career and at age 23 he can improve much further." PLUS ONE.

12) J.R. Murphy, C. We traded him for Aaron Hicks. Big return. PLUS TWO.

13) Cito Culver, SS. At Scranton, poster boy for first round draft over-reach. MINUS ONE.

14) Brett Marshall, RHP. Nope. MINUS ONE HALF.
15) Slade Heathcott, OF. Another lost first round pick. Now hitting .268 with 11 HR in Triple A for the Giants. Was whispered to be head-case. I still root for him. He's 26. MINUS ONE.

16) Angelo Gumbs, 2B. Nope. Was high draft pick. MINUS ONE HALF.

17) Nik Turley, LHP.
 Finally made it, recently, with Twins. Pitched in two games, was rocked both times. MINUS ONE HALF.

18) Daniel Lopez, OF. No idea where he is. Might be drummer for Mudvane. MINUS ONE HALF.
19) David Adams, 2B: Lost two seasons to broken ankle. At one point was said to be key cog in possible trade for Cliff Lee, then went south.  MINUS ONE HALF.

20) Ramon Flores, OF. Another Angel (what's with it with all these Angels?) we traded him for Dustin Ackley. In the minors somewhere. Not looking good. MINUS ONE HALF.

Final arbitrary score: PLUS 3. Not bad. Actually, much more successful than I figured it would be.

Today, we have a stronger farm system than in 2012. We could have three or four stars. But here's the rub: Some probably will have to go. The key will be separating the John Ryan Murphys from the Austin Romines. And, of course, getting what we can for the next former future Yankee superstars.


Tom said...

Why can't we have our cake and eat it, too? Send Romine or Sanchez to third. Let the other one catch. Make Headley a bench coach because he clearly takes the game quite seriously.

What a relief to gather a W last night. Thank God for Ricky Nolasco, a truly bad pitcher. Maybe Sciosia will run him out there tonight?

John M said...

Wait a minute. We had a guy named Angelo Gumbs and we let him die on the vine?

It's simply criminal to waste a name like that. Better than Chet Lemon or Mookie Wilson.