Friday, June 28, 2019

You thought the Ellsbury contract was bad? Meet the new Chernobyl: Giancarlo Stanton

This just in: Giancarlo Stanton recently emerged from his burrow for seven nights, saw his shadow, tweaked a gonad, and scurried back underground for another six weeks. 

Comrades, it's time to fear the worst.

We've seen this movie many times: The star slugger on a Hall of Fame career trajectory - (think Ryan Howard, Chris Davis, Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, David Wright, John Mayberry, Steve Kemp, Jose Tartabull, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitsky, Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, et al) - suddenly tanks. It might be injuries. It might be DNA. It's might be a flaw in his swing. Doesn't matter. He goes from slugger to Sluggo. He's never the same.

The latest version looks like Stanton - an 8-year, $265 million, chicken-boned DH with sinews of congealed butter - with an extra twist of lemon: He might just be the biggest boondoggle in baseball history.  

Be afraid. Be very afraid. Stanton could be the worst thing that happens to the Yankees in our lifetimes. 

This year - his last season in his 20s - is now an official washout, one that Derek Jeter deftly avoided by dealing the injury-prone giant for what seemed like a handful of magic beans. If Stanton returns in August-September and gets hot - that is, he avoids the rusty slump that greets most returnees - he might finish 2019 with 10-12 HRs. Wow. In fact, if he returns, he'll probably swing the bat too hard and pull his cabbage basket. The guy snaps like a Hershey bar. He always did. It's not his fault. It's as if his body is too large to control, and something is always out of place. He might have one or two decent seasons left, but he will always be one pitch, one swing, one stretch away from the Injury List. That's the reality of Giancarlo, the human rain of sprain.

When the deal came down in the winter of 2018, one question was whether Stanton might choose to opt-out of his contract in 2020. That concern is now a punchline. The Yankees shall be lashed to this lead-humped whale through 2028, when they can finally pay the ransom buy their freedom for $25 mill. Imagine how bad he'll be in LF at age 35. That year, he'll earn $32 million. 

Moreover, he will function as Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner's walking, gold-plated excuse to never again sign a high-priced free agent. This will allow the owner to bank team profits and buy politicians instead of players. Whenever a star eyes New York, Hal will simply point to Stanton and say, look, look, LOOK... and the YES courtiers and Gammonites will nod agreement.

Stanton's latest injury may have achieved the impossible: Tipped the scales on judgement over the deal that sent him to Gotham. It's hard to think Miami could have won the trade, especially with Starlin Castro, the big name we gave up in return, now batting a measly .232. But Castro's bloated contract ends this season, freeing the Marlins to move on. The Yankees will be just getting started. 

(So, what about the ancillary prospects that they Yankees dealt away? Jose Devers - younger brother of Rafael - now 19, is hitting .325 in high Single A for the Marlins. That's pretty good. And the pitcher, Jorge Guzman, 23, is in Double A, with an ERA of 3.87.)

The china doll syndrome has plagued Stanton throughout his career. Jeter foresaw it. To ditch the Stanton contract, Miami will pay the Yankees $30 million, if he doesn't opt out after 2020. That's a pittance, of course. But it stands to remind us of everybody knew: The Yankees were absorbing the worst contract in professional sports.

Okay, I've been hard here on Stanton, maybe too hard. I'm angry and lashing out. (This shouldn't get personal. But for me, the Yankees are always personal.) No player desires to be hurt. I'm sure that Stanton and Jacoby Ellsbury have endured deep depressions over what has happened to derail their careers. As I said earlier, it's not their fault. The Yankees gave Ellsbury a seven year deal, and they assumed Stanton's pact. They knew what they were doing. As fans, we didn't. 

As fans, we thought we were going to see a great slugger in the prime of his life. Instead, we must steel ourselves for the worst. And it might just be worse than anything we've ever seen. Contractually, this could be our Chernobyl. We're trying to salvage a lost Yankee decade. Are we already fated for another one?


Mediasavvy said...

Maybe a tad harsh. Ellsbury was never worth the contract he got. However insane Stanton's looks, he is capable of a 50 home run season if he stays on the field. I can his understand Miami throwing big bucks at the closest thing they ever got to a HoF candidate. He's 29 with 300+ home runs and reasonable Ave/OBP.

But I must note that both Ellsbury and Stanton came to the Yankees, despite having their doppelgangers already on the team, in Gardner and Judge. It's clear that Gardner was the better player and investment. Here's hoping Judge plays out that way too.

It's also clear that having 2 players in the lineup, who play the same positions and profile as the same kinds of hitters, is a redundant idea that does not produce the projected results. And as Gardner showed us (and Judge so far, as well); the homegrown version is better than the import. Yankees need to stay away from doppelgangers and aim for a rounded attack, not a parade of guys with the same MO at the plate. (This is why LeMahieu is more valuable than Stanton).

As for injuries, when half the 40 man roster has seen the IL, I am not prepared to blame any player for their injuries. Not when most of them seem to be soft-tissue injuries that began in the weight room. This is the organizational black hole that needs to be addressed.

13bit said...

There is no grand plan on Casholo-The-Magnificent's part. While Stick and Bob, that wacky dance team, definitely must have sat down and spoken in that unspoken tongue that only baseball players speak, while they must have looked at the roster and said a few words, nodded to each other, and had a very same-page view of what they needed and would gp after, Casholo is a distracted dude. Wave a power arm or an over-the-hill slugger in front of him and he goes "oooooo!" It's almost like he's been diagnosed with ADD and they have not realized that the Adderall is not a good way to treat it.

Sadly, there is no cure for stupid. Yes, he did score a few points with year with The General and even a few other guys, but they are FAR outweighed by his bonehead moves. How many years do we have Hicks and Paxton for? Happ?I don't know. I don't care. I just want the idiocy to stop. And don't tell me about first place or winning streaks. This is a death march and it's still June and our pitching is one lug nut away from the wheel falling off.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

I'll remember that the Yankees need to pay for Mike when I purchase that thimble full of bourbon for $12 (not including tip, when they set the change down on an alcohol soaked rubber mat. How do they spill more than they put in my plastic cup?)

The Ghost of Yankees Past said...

Too bad we couldn’t have added Harper’s and Manny’s contract. Taking on Stanton’s contract was a dumb move. Not signing Manny and Harper showed some sense. Be thankful the Mets are paying Joggy big bucks to hit .240. Signing players to these long term mega contracts are baseball’s equivalent of thinking with your “little head” as opposed to your “big head”. You generally do a lot better signing two to three $10 to $15 million players than a $25 to $30 million one.

Carl J. Weitz said...

I think the reason Stanton, Ellsbury and others tend to be injury prone isn't because they're jacked up and therefore have more to tweak. Surely, there are some unlucky players that have more injuries (Clint Frazier)because they're either reckless or don't carry a four-leaf clover. But science has indicated steroid use other than short term (cortisone for example)has bad side effects including:

Increased appetite, weight gain
Sudden mood swings
Muscle weakness
Blurred vision
Increased growth of body hair
Easy bruising
Lower resistance to infection
Swollen, "puffy" face
Osteoporosis (bone weakening disease)
Worsening of diabetes
High blood pressure
Stomach irritation
Nervousness, restlessness
Having difficulty sleeping
Cataracts or glaucoma
Water retention, swelling

Remember A-rod's hips suddenly breaking down in his early 30's.There are many nore examples.

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

Modern baseball plays spend too much time in weight room and are just more injury prone imo. I have nothing to back this up other than the "Eye Test." Modern BB players are fragile for a reason. Too much lifting.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Mediasavvy, I have to disagree with you about getting "the same type" of player—look at Ruth and Gehrig; sometimes the RIGHT redundancy can be a crushing advantage—BUT I think you are spot on regarding the constant rash of injuries.

I'm not prepared to say that Stanton or anybody else is DEFINITELY juicing. But-but-but...whether juicing or not, weightlifting TO THIS EXTENT obviously has some real drawbacks as well as benefits.

Look at it with everything else. It's a good thing for players to take their laps, and build up their legs (and for pitchers, especially, to build their endurance).

It would be something else entirely if the Maple Sapling or Crapp came in and said, "Okay, skip, I just ran a competitive 10K! Ready to pitch tonight!"

The whole idea of modern preparation really needs to be re-thought. The Yankees in this—as in so many things—are looking at the wrong goals and the wrong statistics. I don't really care what the exit velo is when the ball sails over the fence...just that it sails over the fence!

HoraceClarke66 said...

13bit, you have a great point. During a recent medical thing, I encountered some nurses who were terrific in finding a vein, some who stunk at it. Everybody, in every profession, has certain skill sets and certain deficits.

Much as I really do despise Coops on a deep level—I think even a mediocre GM without his mishigas would've produced another 5-10 rings in his time—he has developed certain strengths, such as dumpster diving.

But he has NEVER been able to master the starting pitcher thing. Which, even in today's game—maybe ESPECIALLY in today's game, with the extended playoffs—is the most important thing.

And worst of all, Coops has mastered the part of the job that brings in the results we don't care about: selling himself as a genius to HAL and to the media.

JM said...

As has been pointed out to me here, HGH is still nigh impossible to detect with testing. And I think that there are steroid substitutes now that also fool the lab. This is big money we're talking about. I don't think the chemists were going to walk away from baseball--and weightlifting, and football, and bicycling, and...--just because there was a hissy fit about juicing. And the athletes, some of them, anyway, weren't going to let a few lame regulations stop them for going after the $20 million-plus contracts that "enhancement" can bring.

The real downside of this is not the questionably broken records and lumbering behemoths, but the issue of injury and shortened productivity. It's like coffee: it can get you through a few late hours cranking on work, but after a while, you can't really function and all you have to show for it is massive jitters.

Guys like Stanton, and I know we hate to say it, but maybe even Judge, are the new Coffee Generation (without David Bowie doing a commercial for it: "It calms me down, while it picks me up."). Carl's list of side effects may be why Giambi used to shave his entire body. The increased body hair might have been too much of a tell. (As if all the ways he broke down wasn't going to be noticeable.)

Maybe it's just genetics. Maybe Stanton is an honest iron pumper whose frame is too fragile to support it. And like Mediasavvy said, it sure doesn't explain why so many Yankees have suffered from similar soft tissue injuries this year.

Or does it? We'll probably never know. In a way, that actually makes it worse.

HoraceClarke66 said...

JM, I suspect that Judge may just be too big for the game—but again, that might just be me liking Judge more than Stanton. Yes, he could be juicing. Or not, as you say. But juicing or not, the iron pumping is totally out of control, bringing diminishing returns.

Duque, you said the thing I usually think, too: "Well, you can't blame them, who wouldn't take the money?"

But you know, in a way, maybe we SHOULD blame them. A lot of these guys obviously juice, then stop juicing when they sign the big contract. Sure, good, the better to avoid the cancer with.

BUT what it means is that we fans are left holding the bag, paying the big bucks to see these guys who have essentially defrauded us.

Even if they DON'T stop juicing, thanks to the inevitable juicing side effects that Carl Weitz mentions, this is essentially fraud. And yes, I think we can blame the players for that, too.

The one excuse the players had was, "Everybody's doing it, and I have to be able to compete." But that's all the more reason why the players' union should have got out in front of this, in favor of rigorous testing and penalties, in order to keep themselves from having to pump poison in their bodies in order to make a living.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And Duque: loved rain of sprain!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Meanwhile, a little schadenfreude for your day: Mike Francesca goes ballistic about the other team in town.

Ken of Brooklyn said...

WOWOWOW Hoss, Francesca is on FIRE, LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for that, tremendous!

ranger_lp said...

Tnx @Hoss...that was classic Mike!

David in Cal said...

The most important part of 2019 may be the post-season. Stanton will be available. (I HOPE!)

Rufus T. Firefly said...

In honor of the international limited overs cricket matches between the Yanks and the Carmine Knickers, I had a wonderful "Winston Churchill" martini. I thought about the inventor of vermouth for 30 seconds while I mixed it with Bombay Sapphire gin. Two large Spanish olives (where are those pulchritudinous women?). Shaken, not stirred.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, because you don't want to"bruise" the gin. I love that concept!

HoraceClarke66 said...

David in Cal: Available for what?

Carl J. Weitz said...

Ruphus...that gin maker should get with the times and rename it to Mumbai Sapphire gin. It will taste better.

Unknown said...

This is bullshit. Lay off Stanton. He hit 38 hrs and drove in 100 while playing hurt most of the year. WTF do you want?

Unknown said...

I mean I don't get all the hate on Stanton sure he suffered a biceps strain at the beginning of the season when he was just ramping up. Not unreasonable...The biceps connects directly to the shoulder and the shoulder could have caused the bicep's strain originally by causing the bicep to overcompensate...

The calf injury was weird...flat out weird...

The knee injury was a weird freak injury of a player going for it and diving into third base

Stanton has had some bad injury luck in his career but they have been more freak injuries then regular injuries. He will be fine as long as his lower body and shoulders remain mostly healthy...If his hips/shoulders break down it could be an albatross...but you could literally say that about any player in the majors...

In regards to injuries Trout has been the greatest player, however it seems like Trout is hurt every year with some malady or another.

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