Tuesday, June 4, 2019

With last night's sandwich pick, the Sonny Gray legacy trade is complete

Last night, with the 38th pick in the national meat review, the Death Star selected a 6'0" college LHP named TJ Sikkema - a 20-year-old junior from the University of Missouri. He led the SEC in ERA. Assuming he signs quickly - (he'd be nuts to return senior year, losing all bargaining clout next June) - he'll probably start this month at Staten Island. If, say, everything goes perfectly, he's three years away from the Bronx. 

So closes the book on Sonny Gray. For now, anyway.

Actually, it will take years to assess the Gray Legacy, but we now have a crude snapshot. Gray, of course, was the latest of the Holy Grail power arms that Brian "Cooperstown" Cashman has pursued throughout his GM career. For decades, Cash has regularly traded prospects for looming "aces," who soon need elbow surgery or a good shrink. It began around the time of Jeff Weaver, circled twice into the shade of Javier Vazquez, included Pine Tar Pineda and - aw, jeez - don't get me started.

Too late. He fucking traded Mike Lowell for four arms, Gary Sheffield for three. He gave up a circus for Kevin Brown. He signed an ancient Randy Johnson, a zombified Roger Clemens, the Kei Igawa, the Carl Pavano - I told you, don't get me started! - while Boston snagged Josh Becket and Chris Sale. 

And let's face it: Cooperstown will soon cut another deal. By Aug. 1, he'll trade a promising SS-3B, a solid-hitting but clownish defensive OF, and a top young pitcher for the latest veteran pitcher, who might quickly turn into a pumpkin. 

But... enough! let's get to Sonny Gray, now of Cincinnati. 

He's currently 2-5 with a respectable ERA of 3.54 (over 61 innings.) That would be third best on the Yankee staff, ahead of the dangerously slumping Domingo German, the farewell touring CC Sabathia, and the disappointing JA Happ. Of course, there's no guarantee that those numbers would exist in NYC. For reasons stemming from scouts or numbers wonks, Cashman had completely given up on Sonny. If he were never wrong, we wouldn't worry. Trouble is - well, there's AJ Burnett, Ian Kennedy, Mark Melancon, Tyler Clippard, Ivan Nova - ahh, don't get me started! Sometimes, we keep the bums, trade the plums. 

So... Sonny Gray? 

To get him, we sent to Oakland three of our then-top 10 prospects.

1. Former first-round pick James Kaprellian, who has now missed two years with arm troubles. He's working his way back at high Single A, having thrown 2 games.

2. Jorge Mateo, the Yankee 2018 spring training "It Girl." After bumbling around, he may be exploding in the Pacific Coast League. He is hitting .335 (10th in the league) with 8 HRs and playing SS. He has 13 stolen bases. He's 23.

3. The tough-luck OF Dustin Fowler, whose wrecked knee two years ago, from a metal protrusion in Chicago, brought tears to Joe Girardi on the field. Fowler has twice failed MLB shots. He's hitting .273 with 7 HRs in the PCL. He's 24. 

For now, no Drabek, no Buhner, no Scott McGregor... but if any of them becomes a star, the Sonny trade will start to pinch. 

Now, to get rid of Sonny last winter, this is what we did... and what we obtained:

We traded him to Cincy along with 23-year old RHP Reiver Sanmartin, who is currently at the Reds' High Single A team (2-3, 3.74). I have no sense of Sanmartin, other than the Yankees were touting their great depth of young power arms, and he was said to be expendable.  

We received a spark-plug 2B named Shed Long, 23, who supposedly can hit. But not for us. We quickly spun Shed off to Seattle, where he is now getting his chance in the majors. Over 12 games (not even 50 ABs), he's hitting .211. We traded Long for Josh Stowers, a 22-year-old CF and former 2nd round pick with Seattle. Stowers is now at Charleston, low Single A, and hitting .273 with 5 HRs. Supposedly, the Yankees targeted him in trade talks, (though, frankly, they always say such things.) 

And now we have Sikkema, last night's sandwich pick. It will be interesting to see how they all unfold. Basically, the Yankees gave up Kaprelian, Mateo, Fowler and Sanmartin for Stowers and Sikkema. Then there is Sonny, who the last place Reds might trade to a contender, maybe even one we would face in the postseason? This is why baseball drives us nuts. Who knows?


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

OFF-TOPIC: It's not your imagination....or mine -


Botched calls and high error rates are rampant. MLB home plate umpires make incorrect calls at least 20% of the time – one in every five calls. In the 2018 season, MLB umpires made 34,246 incorrect ball and strike calls for an average of 14 per game, or 1.6 per inning. Last season, 55 games – 2.2% of the total played – ended with an incorrect call.

When batters had two strikes, the error rate for all umpires increased – incorrect calls happen 29% of the time, almost double the error rate when the batter had one or no strikes.


Full piece -- "analysis of 4 million pitches" --


Rufus T. Firefly said...

How many of those were Joe West's?

el duque said...

A bunch of those calls went against Clint Frazier this weekend.

Not trying to make excuses, but they stood out.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Frazier definitely gets the "rookie" strike zone. He wasn't the only one this weekend though. Lots of bad ball and strike calls both ways for both teams.

Anonymous said...

Your trade analysis was excellent but left out some major considerations


1) We don't have to watch him pitch.
2) We don't have to hear his post game excuses.
3) More playoff money for the clubhouse guys.
4) Reduced alcohol consumption.
5) He is in the NL so we don't have to face him.


1) He is in the NL so we don't get to face him.
2) Very easy name to rhyme in parody songs.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

You're right, Doug K: I do miss the song parodies.

When he was with us, Sonny was a much better pitcher on the road: usually a sure-fire sign of a head case. He pitches better in places where he is LESS likely to get the close calls?

That said, much more could and should have been obtained for him. He was still considered a worthy arm, when Coops dealt him for Moist Towlettes.

JM said...

I'll never forget that scene when Sonny has the bridesmaid up against the wall, banging away so everyone could hear. Of course, it all ended badly when Cashman had him riddled by machine guns at the expressway toll booth.


Anonymous said...


Doug K.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I think the Sonny the Yankees got was actually the bridesmaid.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I'd love to see Sasha Grey pitch against in a Yankee Stadium playoff game, since it won't be with the Yankees.

HoraceClarke66 said...

"They shot Sonny on the Causeway!"

Great bit when the toll booth attendant dives down. He knows what's coming, even though Sonny doesn't.

el duque said...

You mean Sonny Drysdale?

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