Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tight. Not Tight.

The trouble with the Yankees is this: they're already unraveling.

It happens to all teams.  Eventually.  But well-constructed teams are always tight.

What does "tight" mean?  Everybody is there for a purpose.  They may not always work out (see Sveum, Dale), but they are part of a plan.  And on smart, well-run teams, when they don't work out, they're quickly replaced by someone who does (see Bush, Homer).

Sure, things can go wrong.  Injuries.  Drug addiction.  That thing with David Price where he was playing too many video games.  But there's always a plan.

The Yanks right now don't have a plan.

Instead of right and tight, they are fishin' and wishin'.

Take a look at, say, the 1978 Yankees.  Everybody was there for a purpose, right down to guys like Gary Thomasson (good defensive replacement, respectable hitter) and Jim Spencer (left-handed pinch-hit bat, good glove.)

I remember wondering why the hell Spencer was on that 1978 team.  After all, we already had a good-hitting, good-fielding, left-handed first baseman.  Then I saw Spencer win a game for Guidry with a grand-slam against the White Sox.

Tight teams have built-in redundancy, because they know something will go wrong.  They specialize in guys who can contribute in different ways.

You knew that great, 1970s team was starting to fray at the edges when, all of sudden, in 1979 they had guys like George Scott (although he somehow hit .318 as a Yankee), or Roy Staiger, or Ray Burris.

The Yankees didn't really think Boomer was about to bounce back after two years in marked decline. They didn't sign him because a series of injuries made them suddenly desperate at a key moment in a pennant race.

They were just fishin' and wishin'.

Same with this team, as currently constructed.

They're just hoping against hope (and any good sense) that people like Gardy and CC will bounce back.  They are praying that Paxton can actually pitch over 160 innings and be effective, and that LeMahieu will be better than Neil Walker, and that somehow, in some way, Troy will be able to hit again and give them a modicum of mobility at shortstop.

These are all just wishes, while all of the team's real problems went unaddressed.

Can this work?  Sure it can. If the 1988 Dodgers could win a world championship, so can almost anybody—particularly now that 1/3 of the teams make the playoffs.

But that wish-and-a-prayer is not how tight teams are built.  Tight teams maximize their chances by getting everybody for a purpose.  On the Yanks right now are a whole bunch of guys who are there because of a combination of low salaries, bad judgement, and desperate hopes.

And sure, every team starts to fray eventually.  Thing is, that 1970s team didn't start to get "not tight" until after three pennants and two ring—and after 1979, they rebounded to take a division title and another pennant.

The 1990s dynasty produced the greatest team ever, not to mention five pennants, four rings, two wild cars, and one "best-in-AL" (strike-shortened 1994) year before people like Raul Mondesi and Jeohn Vander Wal began to pop up like the start of a bad rash.

This current Yankees tea went from aspiring, to fraying in record time, from about midway through 2018 to now.  It is a reflection on how disengaged our management is.

As a ballteam, we are the equivalent of a divorced father of five who is $100,000 in the hole, on a bus to Atlantic City with his weekly paycheck of $640 burning a hole in his pocket, hoping one hot streak will make all his troubles disappear.

Good luck.


Rich said...

Talking about 78,man that brings back memories. It seemed like we were try to corner the market on left hitting, corner OF/1B/DH types that year. There was some grumbling about that, but you know who never complained, and he came from a starting gig? Jay Johnstone. He never bitched, and the poor guy NEVER played. 😁

13bit said...

Perfectly said, Hoss. I’d like to bookmark this post.

John M said...

I didn't think anyone saw me getting on that bus to Atlantic City, but just for the record, I have no children. At least that I know of.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Thanks, guys. And John .—put it all on number 13, and let her roll!

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yeah, that team suffered massive injuries, not to mention Billy Martin's meltdown.

Still, there was no panic on the part of the front office, and they just kept bringing in interesting parts. THIS Yankees team, by contrast will be out of players by about May.

Anonymous said...

You know what team was tight? Last year's Red Sox.

Doug K.

Alphonso said...

John might be surprised if you do that DNA ancestry thing. got it so right.