Thursday, May 7, 2015

In Toronto, the Yankees were reunited with Russell Martin, aka Hal Steinbrenner's original sin

In the winter of 2012, Hal Steinbrenner - aka "Penny Dreadful" - unveiled a strict plan for Yankee austerity. The owner was determined to cut the payroll to $187 million and escape MLB's heavy luxury taxes. That meant signing no free agents for more than one year.

Specifically, it meant watching our catcher, Russell Martin, go to Pittsburgh for a measly $6.5 million per year, over two.

Let's forget that a) Hal quickly scrapped his 2-year moratorium to sign the wispy ghost of Ichiro Suzuki, and b) In quest of a Wild Card slot, Hal scrapped his $187 million plan altogether. (Remember Alfonso Soriano, Mark Reynolds, Brendan Ryan, et al.?)

The team floundered at catcher throughout 2013 - (Remember Chris Stewart?). The following winter Hal bestowed $95 million on Brian McCann over five years. The Yankees expect McCann's knees to hold up through age 34. He earns $17 million a year.

Save a dime, waste a dollar:...

Of course, it's all OK today, right? Because for now - May 7 - we're in first place, right? Nothing else matters, right? Fingers crossed.

But last night, Russell Martin continued his personal campaign to show Owner Hal what he could have had. Over three games in Toronto, he hit two home runs, and it was Martin's single that turned game one. He is a great defensive catcher. He was credited with settling the Pirates pitching staff, and Toronto this winter inked him to a five year, $82 million deal.

In another Yankee universe - a smarter one than this - Hal signs Russell Martin three years ago for what basically constitutes peanuts. Instead of Chris Stewart, Frankie Cervelli and Austin Romine, the Yankees had Martin behind the plate. It might have been enough of a bump to make the final Wild Card slot. Mariano Rivera might have gotten a final post-season. Who knows? Then in 2014, the Yankees didn't sign Brian McCann and spent their money elsewhere - maybe a pitcher? Who knows?

Nothing against McCann. He's a grinder. But last year, Martin hit .290, and last night, he hit his 6th home run. McCann - facing over-shifts that threaten to permanently limit his production - hit a woeful .232 last year. He has 2 HRs this year.

Ahh, fukkit. It does not good to think about what could've been. The question is, did Hal learn anything? He's still talking about austerity. But he wouldn't spend $6 million on Martin, so they lavished $95 million on McCann. Recently, they let the Redsocks sign Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada, because they wouldn't go an extra $6 million. Will they spend the next decade lavishing contracts on the Brian Roberts and Stephen Drews? Who knows?


Anonymous said...

Except the fact that ....Russell Martin didn't perform that great when he played for the Yankees! Batting .237 and .211 I think McCann has done marginally better than that

jdrny said...

McCann has to change his entire approach to hitting in order to be valuable. You can't win divisions with a fifth batter who hits .240 range. It may be too hard for him to change his batting style?