Thursday, July 20, 2017

If the Yankees are supposed to be different, then why are they doing what every other team does?

I view readers of this blog as Yankee zen masters, mountaintop gurus with doctorates in Yankeeology - philosopher-fans whose vast knowledge of the game - as well as of life itself - cannot be questioned by less evolved fan-bases. 

On that note, I certainly don't have to tell you that two nights ago, the franchise dealt one of best prospects, Blake Rutherford, for two veteran relievers and a 3B two years past his sell date, who is hitting .207. Nor must I tell you that for the last two nights, the Yankee-owned media has been celebrating the three additions like gifts from heaven, no strings attached, sent to help the Yankees. Yesterday, Suzyn Waldman actually argued that it doesn't matter if Rutherford someday becomes a great White Sox star, it's still a smart trade. (Yeah, just as dealing Jay Buhner surely looked smart for a week.) To the surprise of no one, the Yankee-owned media has cheered this deal with all its might, and the increasingly desperate Gammonites of print - while sifting through buyout offers - cannot expect to have phone calls returned if they get smart-mouthy toward the front office. Thus, almost everywhere you look, it seems as though the Yankiverse is rejoicing the deal. It's almost as if the Russians are running this league.

But the more I look at it, the more I see one of the worst moves in recent Yankee history. Once again, it shows an ownership unable to stick with a long term strategy, and unwilling to actually put the Yankees in a class apart from other franchises. By going for broke this year - by trading prospects for veterans - we are betraying the traditional Yankee ethos of trying to build dynasties, rather than one-shot Wild Card seasons.

Okay, let's drop the theoretical bullshit. Let's play this simple. Let's say this trade pays immediate dividends: Todd Frazier regains his long-lost stroke and goes on a tear, (as Alfonso Soriano did a few years ago.) Let's say David Robertson - a disappointment in Chicago for the last two seasons; his ERA was well over 3.00 - continues with his resurgence. That will leave the Yankees one starting pitcher from post-season contention. We might have to trade - well - it would be a much steeper price for Oakland's Sonny Gray. (Thinking Clint Frazier, Jorge Mateo, Justis Sheffield, et al.) But let's say it works: Kaboom - the Yankees win the 2017 Wild Card game, then run the table, winning the World Series. Owner Hal Dolanbrenner will bestow life-time commitments upon Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi - whose contracts end this winter - and hell, we might even sign Todd Frazier to a three-year deal. We will ride the Canyon of Heroes, toasting our first world championship since 2009.

Remember that one? We won the Big Burrito on the juicy power of A-Rod, along with a payroll splurge - CC, Tex and AJ - that dogs us to this day. We're still paying it off. It's the one Yankee world championship we tend to overlook because - well - it launched eight years of pain. We sacrificed our future for one big year. Ever since, we've been paying the piper.

Today, that's how teams succeed. Look at the Cubs. Last year, they couldn't load up on enough stars and chess pieces. This year, they carry the stench of an bloated also-ran. Look at the Royals, the Giants, the Cards, the Mets, the Nats, even Boston - they traded the fruits of their farm systems for one-year shots at championships - damning the long-term consequences. So why shouldn't the Yankees do the same? That's how every other team does it, right?

Well, maybe so. But speaking now to you true Yankee fan-philosophers, I'd like to pose the notion that our team should be different. We don't want to compete for a Wild Card every year. Under the current MLB system, any team can compete for a Wild Card: Just be around .500, and you're a Wild Card contender. But Yankee fans want great teams - dynasties with a Reggie-Thurman-Gator-Catfish axis, or a Jeter-Bernie-Mo-Jorge core - teams that win multiple rings. We don't want to one world championship per decade, followed by nine years of Sidney Ponson and Lyle Overbay, because of salary caps or spent farm systems. The Yankees are supposed to build dynasties, not merely clubs hoping for a Wild Card and a hot October. 

Today, I doubt the Yankees are done dealing prospects. I think we've only begun. Last August, Dolanbrenner announced a new concept - "the Baby Bombers" - but I'm not sure if it was a strategy or marketing slogan. For a year, they have vowed to build with youth and aim for a great team in - say - 2019 or 2020. The had quit the prospect-trading addiction, gone cold turkey on old turkeys. But this week, they reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. And it tasted really nice, especially coupled with all that adoring encouragement from the Yankee-owned media. Now that we're all-in on the 2017 Wild Card, we'll need a starting pitcher. Sonny Gray? It won't be cheap. And even if we somehow get lucky and win this year, it's going to cost us in the future. Once you start drinking again, the shot glasses fill up mighty easily.

I've been hoping for one last great Yankee dynasty in my lifetime. I sort of thought 2020 might be the year - with rookie Blake Rutherford in CF, beside Clint Frazier and Aaron Judge. Now, I'm wondering if Cliff Frazier will even be there at all. The Yankees are going for broke on - gulp - the 2017 Wild Card. Even if we somehow win, we will lose sight of what we once were - a team unlike all others.


Anonymous said...

Know what you mean, duque - - Cash-Puss intimating that we're not done dealing sounds really, really ominous, to these old ears (well, the one that's still working right, anyhow).

Just one thing, though: we are NOT going to win the Big Enchilada this year, no matter HOW hot we get - - with the starting rotation we have, plus ANY one starter available out there - - not Sonny Gray, not Yu Darvish, not even Chris Sale, if the evils were willing to trade him - - OR the seemingly-rejuvenated Mr. Price. Nope. Not going to happen. You read it here - - and I stand behind it, unlike some damned interview in the failing, sick, NY Times - - which only prints FAKE NEWS (just wait a few days, and we'll get confirmation of that - - tape, or no tape).

If Cash-Puss & Prince Hamlet delve any deeper into our treasure-chest of prospects, we won't win next year, either - - nor the year after that...just sayin'. LB (No J)

JM said...

My mom is 93, loves the Yankees, watches them practically every game, and has heart problems. I know she'd love to see them win it all one more time. But there is nothing Cash can do that will bring us a ring this year, maybe not even next year. That doesn't mean he shouldn't try to trade Chapman, but it does mean he shouldn't be trading youth for lugnuts yet again.

What is it with these people? Are they living in a bubble? Don't they understand how much they've screwed up over the years?

I know, I know, stupid question. They think they're geniuses. I've known guys like that. None of them were.

Buhner's Ghost said...

I am honored to be mentioned as the apex of Yankee stupidity, so in that regard I hope this trade works out for you Bumbers. Looking forward to seeing you in the Safe this weekend.

13bit said...

When can we have a IIHIIF meet up at the Stadium this year?

HoraceClarke66 said...

That is a brilliant post, duque.

What it comes down to is the worst thing you can do in any human endeavor: equivocate about what your purpose is.

Cashman would sort of like to rebuild and create a dynasty, and—still chasing the fool's gold that was this Yankees team pre-June 13th—sort of like to win the World Series this year.

He can't have both, but he won't accept that, so he will not have either.

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

If you posted a poll on this site -- "who would you rather see at 3B right now for the NYYs, TFrazier, Headcase, or Andujar" -- I'd bet the answer would be the kid. Maybe by a big margin, too.

This does not mean the assembled multitudes who gather here are always correct.

However: While AndyBoy might have made a few errors at 3B, and perhaps he would not be 3-for-4 in every game, we'd find out NOW if we have something there. There might be an UPside, if not in 2017 maybe later.

We already know what we've got, right now (and forever), in TFrazier and Headcase. The upside with those 2 fellows is gone, gone, gone-baby-gone. From hereon in, it's all downside. Or so it would seem.

If you boil it down to this, then the trade is a piece of the future for a coupla pitchers.

I know y'all already knew this.....somehow it eluded Cashman.

Vampifella said...

Trying to be a little positive know trading Rutherford seems stupid but you may recall that for years everyone moaned about how nearly all of our first round picks sucked? I know it probably won't happen here, but the odds are very against him being very good.

In fact, Judge was the best thing since Jeter and there was very little in between worth talking about. In baseball terms, for the last 30 or so years, the Yankees are probably batting around .050 with first round picks.

So the White Sox got two of our number one picks. Clarkin lost a ton of value and if I'm not mistaken, he is due up for rule 5. The Yankees were never going to use him so obviously he had to be traded as we have too many better players to protect. Basically he had to go.

I remember Rutherford being a Jeter type guy where he drafted low because other teams knew not to touch him because he wasn't open to talking to other teams. Basically he was Yankees or more college guy. So it was really insulting to me to trade him off. Honestly he was probably the key to making this trade as he had the most potential. I'm really hoping he won't because a superstar which people were hyping him up to be last year when we got him.

Polo is one of those toss-in players that hops around from team to team in trades. I highly doubt he'll ever become anyone's star. The best thing about him is his cool name. Tito Polo!

And anything to get rid of Clippard, right? I wonder how long it'll be before the Sox will release him? And how long it'll take for him to turn up back on the Yankees yet again like the bad penny which he is?

So it was basically one top rookie, one meh rookie, one trash rookie and a bag of garbage. It was probably a fair trade for what we got in return given how the market is on pitching these days.

Robinson is a beloved Yankee and we were probably drooling to get him back. But for me it's almost like getting Joba back instead of getting Warren back. I just don't see it working out but if it does then it should work well. Like "No Runs DMC" well. Obviously we paid Rutherford to get him. I'm thinking overpay, but then again look at what we got last year for our relief pitching. We probably screwed them over.

Kahnle is basically like a zillion other middle relief guys. You put out a dozen of them out on your team to see which one sticks. I think we overpaid for his three year 2 range ERA because it'll quickly swell to 5+ for the Yankees, only drop down to a 2 for his next team. I'm guessing we needed someone immediate to replace Clippard and didn't want to bother testing other players. He was probably worth a Clarkin given that we couldn't protect him from rule 5 and had no role for him on the team.

Getting Frazier just seems stupid as didn't we just get rid of nearly the same thing in Carter? And don't we have numerous rookies that can do the same exact thing? I'm guessing he's the Clippard of the deal and didn't cost us one of our rookies. I'm thinking with him it was more than likely that we didn't want the Red Sox to get him, not that he would be any better for them either. Honestly we should have signed Sandoval if we were out to collect crappy 1B/3B.

So in context to other recent trades, it was probably a fair one. We got two immediate pitching helps and traded away only one decent rookie and one borderline rookie. Frazier was probably a toss-in like Clippard/Tito and didn't really cost either team a thing.

The thing is that unless this is followed up by at least two killer trades to actually make us contend then it was completely unnecessary. I think Rutherford was worth keeping vs. two relief pitchers that we could have got later on in the year/offseason or developed for ourselves over the next few months. So I think to really judge this trade, it depends on what else the Yankees will do in the next two weeks as it seems like rather a stupid move by itself.

el duque said...

That last line won me over.

The poll would be 90 per cent for Andujar.

We can't have both.

I'm in.

We are always remembering you.

They write their own press clippings, and then they come to believe it.

You're right. We're not going to win this year. Period.

Anonymous said...


You're right - - this trade makes no sense BY ITSELF - - and that is precisely what scares me about it. What Capuano, Pavano, Igawa, Vazquez, etc., is Cash-Puss going to stick us with next??...and what prospects are we going to give up to get them??

On top of that: yes, we gave up B. Ruth (as one of you so aptly reminded us) mainly to get High-Socks back - - that, and 13 MILLION bux/year for (probably) a one-inning relief-pitcher - - no matter how much we might care for him.

....and, yes - - it was pathetic how we brought Andujar up here for one damn game, and he delivered - - and got sent back immediately. GREAT lesson for those prospects, toiling away at SWB, Trenton, etc.

Approbation for access, is the name of the game for the suck-ups who praise Yankee brass so unreservedly (or for promotions, if you work for them, like Meredith, Michael Kay, etc.) LB (No J)

Anonymous said...


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JJ in MA said...


You post some brilliant stuff here on a daily basis but this might be the best and most thoughtful thing I've read about the Yankees this season anywhere. Excellent work, and thank you for it.

CJ from CT said...

Duque-I usually agree with you about 90% of the time (As Ed Koch once said, "if you agree with me 90% of the time, you're a genius...if you agree with me 100% of the time, seek psychiatric help!") but the Yankees obviously soured on Rutherford believing he would never develop the power to be a corner outfield and not gifted enough defensively to play center.So they traded him when his value is the highest.

Look, the Yankees have made historically bad first rounders but that was more under the regime of Lin Garrett, Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman (the worst of the 3).Gary Denbo seems to be doing a more competent job over the last 3 years running the scouting dept.

The Yankees have tough choices to make regarding the 40 man roster. They are becoming a victim of their recent success. They have quite a few Rule 5 players coming up this year and next. They have to use them in trades or lose them in similar circumstances to Ben Gamel. Jorge Mateo will be the next to go....there is no room for him on the Yankees with Gleyber, Didi and Andujar in front of him. If they can use him as a useful chip to get a Sonny Gray, so be it.

Duque, I know like many long-time Yankee fans, you suffer from Cashman trade PTSD. But if they use the proper mix of trading good but expendable minor-leaguers (even if a couple do become break out ML players, that's just the price you have to pay .

CJ from CT

Leinstery said...

Nice throw Joggie

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Thanks for the insurance-runs, Joggie - - we need them, with El Chapo in there; without those two runs, he would have had two batters up with the go-ahead run at the plate - - which would make him even wilder than the one WP he threw.

Meanwhile, Dellin managed to hit Segura, in the 8th. BP still looking a bit shaky, especially if Joey Blue-Binders continues to put inning-numbers on his "better" relievers. LB (No J)