Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Stupid or Greedy? You Be the Judge!

I'm having an ongoing debate with a friend on the other coast—a Yankees fan, originally from these parts—as to whether the front office of this team is greedy or stupid.

My friend holds with Baker's Maxim:  "Never underestimate the role of stupidity in human affairs."

Me?  Well, to paraphrase the poet, if the Yanks must perish twice, then greed is great and will suffice.

But after the Hicks signing today and the Times article—another part of the Hal/Coops p.r. campaign about how wise they are to pass up those big, awful free agents—I just don't know.

Are they really more stupid than greedy?  

Or...could it be BOTH???

You know, sort of a "You got chocolate on my peanut butter!" situation, in which the greed drives the stupidity, and vice versa?

First off, the Hicks signing is ridiculous.  

Don't get me wrong.  I like Hicks, and I give Cashy his props for grabbing him up for almost nothing.  For once, his dumpster diving for a former Big Prospect paid off.

Sure, saying he's the top CF in baseball is just one more way of exposing the limited value of WAR as a stat.  If, say, the Red Sox were to put Mookie Betts in center, Hicks wouldn't even be the top CF in his division.

But let's admit the guy's a useful part.  He plays a good (not great) CF, runs pretty well, can steal 10 bases or so a year, has power, hits from both sides of the plate, and possesses decent power.

He is also highly injury prone—already—and is headed into the years of his natural decline as a player—particularly as a player who depends in good part on his legs (Jacoby Ellsbury, anybody?).  He is three years older than Harper, and even a 7-year deal will mean we can likely expect only a mediocre last half of that contract from him—if he can stay on the field at all.

At his very best, Hicks is not Curtis Granderson at HIS very best.  He's also not Bryce Harper at far from his best.

So why do this?

It has every indication of being another Cashman Grand Theory:  sign up all the "young core"...AND, by so doing, also save money for Hal.

Hence another highly dubious contract for Severino and the suggestion in the paper today that Judge and Sancho Panza may also be getting big, long contracts.  

Cashman gets all the credit for being smart, Hal will get all the big dollar savings!  Greed AND stupidity!

For while no one, it now appears clear, was paying attention, the Yankees' youth movement went over the side last season.  There are very serious, unanswered questions about all these guys—including Aaron Judge, he of the boyish, gap-toothed grin we love so much.

Rather than take the extra year or two we have to resolve them, Cashman is diving right in, doubling down on his genius.

Obviously, Coops thinks he is the equivalent of Gene Michael, c. 1995, inking Derek, Bernie, Jorge, The Great One, and Pettitte for the long term.

But since Coops is NOT Gene Michael and can't usually tell a good player from a bad one, what if he's signing up the core of Russ Davis, Sterling Hitchcock, Ruben Rivera, Shane Spencer, and Adrian Hernandez for the long haul?

Beyond that, what Cashie seems to be trying to do here is to put a relative value on most of these guys.  

"Ha-ha!" you can almost here him exulting, "I signed Hicks for just a THIRD of what Harper and Manny will get every year—and for fewer years!"

That's all well and good, and in the Sabremetricious world we all live in now, he will no doubt get serious props from various sportswriters and stats freaks. 

But it's really meaningless.  

Say Coops is right, and Hicks is really HALF as good as Harper, not a THIRD as good, as his contract will say.  So what?  

 If he can't bring home a ring—if none of the Young Yankees are really all that good (something, I'm sorry to say, that appears to be increasingly the case)—it doesn't matter if Coops gets a "relatively" good bargain on them.  

All it means is that we are now saddled with mediocre and declining players for a long time.  Nobody's going to watch Bryce Harper hit the winning homer in the World Series and yell, "Ha!  He ain't no three times better than Hicks!  Suckers!!!"

Except, possibly, Hal.


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

I didn't make a very good member of the Roman Catholic faith. I really did not (and do not) like "mysteries."

To relate that to baseball: There are a boatload of mysteries around these days. Including:

1. OK, the Yankees do not want Harper. I believe that's a mistake. But....the other 29 teams?

2. Brilliant move to give the Young Sevi a 4-year contract? But.....what if his problem in 2018's second half WAS NOT tipping pitches? What if he just lost it, and can't get it back? Mysterious, doncha think? Was the idea to get him at a "bargain" price? Lots of time the money you save in chasing bargains ends up giving you agita, don't it?

3. CC Sabathia? What if he never again makes it thru the 4th inning? It seems possible, don't it? You know, players on the other team might....bunt....on him. And reach base just about every time. Grounders wide of first might be successfully fielded by Bird or Voit -- but CC won't make it over to the bag to cover. Those are singles, too. Why sign him, then? If it's not mysterious, it's at least irrational.

4. I am a Yankees' fan, and therefore a Brett Gardner fan. But.....it's not clear what there is for him to DO (given his deterioration) in 2019. I know enough to think that if he's good in May, he's gonna really suck in August. It's mysterious to think that Cashmoney and his brain trust have missed this fairly obvious factolito. Why not just sign him to the same deal they just gave Andy P? I can't suss this one out.

5. They can't trade Tulo; it's in his deal. They got him to play (or back up players). But they also got Curtis Lemay to do that. This is mysterious, no?

6. Is the plan in facing RHP really just .....Gardy sometimes.....Hicks.....Bird-maybe.....? That's the whole shebang?

7. Let's assume Sevi WAS tipping pitches. What, exactly, does Larry R have to do to get himself fired as pitching coach?

8. Finally: I was flipping around the other day, and saw a spring training game in which Toe got a solid base hit. I don't know if he'll do that when it counts. But I'm still thinking it's mysterious that the NYYs got rid of him (for a player to be named). TOE went to the Cubs, promptly became a free agent, and signed with the Twins. I'm not sure what the Cubs "owe" for that kind of deal.

NOT ONLY THAT, but the commentators on the game (I don't know who there were) expressed their disbelief that the Yankees would get rid of such a useful utility guy. Would I rather have Tulo (age 34) than Toe (age 26)? NO!!!

ranger_lp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ranger_lp said...

It's understated that the Times wrote a Yankee article about this...

JM said...

Joe is not only correct in every instance, he's laid out the facts brilliantly.

Our front office is terrible.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Amen, Joe FOB!

We'll be lucky if CC makes it through April.

Sevi having the worst ERA of any starter for the whole second half doesn't say pitch-tipping, it screams bum arm. His showing up late for his biggest game of the year screams drug problem.

Gardy will be terrific...IF he can really just be a sub, and conserve himself. Not likely.

And didn't you get the memo? There's just no sense in having any left-handers because...shifts! Cashie says so!