Monday, September 10, 2012

Yankeetorial: In another era, the Nats would be saving Stephen Strasburg's arm for us

The regular season has ended in Joba-like fashion for former future Yankee Stephen Strasburg, who pitches for the Washington Nats, the NL's version of the Tampa Rays. (By that, I mean their success stems from finishing last for a decade and always draftng first. Eventually, you score some players.)

Ten years ago, Yankee fans would watch each Strasburg pitch with a torrent of drool strong enough to douse a BP oil rig gas fire. We'd rejoice hearing that Washington is protecting our investment. In 2017, when Stasburg sheds his chains and becomes a free man, old George would snap him up like a pretzel - that is, if he hadn't already drained the system for him in a trade.

Now, though, meh. When Strasburg reaches his Scott Boras moment, he'll probably wind up in Texas, the new Yankees. Or the Dodgers, the future new Yankees. Hell, by then, who knows - the Redsocks might have gone full loop and aim to be the new Yankees redeaux.

What's happening? Why are other teams turning into the Yankees. I believe we're seeing baseball's version of the political super Pac. Today's new owners are so incredibly rich that spreadsheets no longer matter. We're seeing assholes with the resources of the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson or George Soros, people with practically infinite amounts of money. Remember when Ross Perot ran for President in 1992, and how so much was made about the fact that he was a billionaire? Good grief, the Kochs could buy and sell him 50 times over.

The Dodgers absorbed Boston's Big Three contracts without flinching, the same way Texas overwhelmed Yu Darvish with cash. Soon, every team will own its own TV network too. (One could argue that the Yankee dynasty of the late 1990s was a result of their advantage from YES money.)

Meanwhile, the Yankees look tired of big contracts, tired of injury-prone oldsters, weary from the bloat of superstars who play beyond their years. We are run by old money, third generation heirs. They laid down their money in 2008, when their dad was dying. Ever since, neither has wanted to spend like their father.

This is not to knock them. Remember: Old George sank us into some hellishly deep pits. From 1983 to 1994, the Yankees we were the worst team money could buy, poster child for American incompetence. The Steinboys surely remember those years. Spending big does not ensure winning.

But it's hard to imagine the Yankees doing it by the methods of Washington and Tampa. (Keep in mind, though, that we stank so badly in 1990 and 1991 that we selected the first high schooler in the draft; his name was Derek Jeter.) The key is our farm system. And this was not a good year for it.

Our top-rated prospects fizzled. Even though some others rose - hell, that's the natural churn within a system. Baltimore has two of the three best prospects in baseball, according to MLB. All the teams we must beat have more highly regarded prospects than we do. This year will be remembered as the season the Yankees received absolutely no injection of youth, (beyond David Phelps.) He isn't enough. Check the roster at Scranton, and we might get zilch next year, too. (Hello, Adam Warren.) 

So Strasburg is saving his arm for someone. Not us.

Then again, Bryce Harper grew up a diehard blotto Yankee fan. He's signed through 2015. Will we be ready? Will we be willing?


bennyboy said...

"(One could argue that the Yankee dynasty of the late 1990s was a result of their advantage from YES money.)"

YES's first year was in 2002. Pardon my use of facts, but didn't 2002 come after the "late 1990s"?

Joe De Pastry said...

I agree with most of this, but regarding injury-prone oldsters, the Yankees still love to sign them to one-year contracts, see e.g., Andruw, Ibanez, Chavez, Saint Andy, instead of going after guys like Cespedes and Darvish.