Friday, May 21, 2021

In the White Sox tonight, the Yankees confront Hal Steinbrenner's greatest sin

In February of 2015, as spring camps opened nationwide, most of baseball accepted one inevitability:  

The Yankees would outbid everyone for 19-year-old Yoan Moncada, the best Cuban prospect in years, who had emigrated to Florida and won free-agency. 

It seemed a done deal, if only because of the sense it made. The Yankees' farm system was depleted, they'd finished another dismal year in second place, they desperately needed an emerging star, and Moncada came with no strings attached, aside from the money, in which the Yankee ownership regularly bathed.

Then - out from under Hal Steinbrenner's sunscreen-buttered nose - Boston signed him.

They paid a signing bonus of $31.5 million, with another $31.5 million in luxury taxes - an outlay that the Yankee brain trust decried as excessive. How dare Boston fritter away such money! The Yankees had held private workouts with Moncada and were considered frontrunners in the bidding. They capped their offer at $25 million and refused to budge - similar to what they did two years earlier with Robinson Cano, before he left for Seattle. 

That's when we began calling Hal Steinbrenner "Food Stamps" and "Haligator Arms." Hal had his signature strategy: Talk up the bidding, assure Yankee fans he was willing to spend, then drop out at the last minute and whine about the ridiculous price tag. (Later, the Yankees would suggest that Jessica Steinbrenner's ex-husband, Felix Lopez, somehow botched the Moncada negotiations. Nobody wanted the blame.)

Today, we can look at Cano and congratulate ourselves on not being saddled with  his contract. (Instead, we have Giancarlo's!)  But it's worth noting that in 2014, the year after Robbie walked - or jogged - our second-baseman became Brian Roberts, who hit 5 HRs and batted .237. A lineup with Cano might have won a world series, but I guess we'll never know, eh? "Food Stamps" was earning his nickname.

Moncada immediately became Boston's top prospect and a hot commodity - he was  main plank in the 2016 deal that brought future Cy Young winner Chris Sale - and a 2018 world series ring - to the Redsocks. 

Even now, Redsock fans believe Sale will return in September and pitch Boston to a championship. We'll see about that. But Sale - a bona fide Yankee killer - led Boston to its fourth world championship in this millennium, and we have nothing to show since 2009... aside from Hal's pulled-out pants pockets when he poormouths about luxury taxes. 

Tonight, the Yankees face Moncada - one of baseball's best 3B - who is hitting .285 with 5 HR and 25 RBIs. (Aaron Judge, the Yankee team leader, also has 25.) 

Close your eyes, and you can see the last six crapola years hinging on Food Stamps' refusal to match and beat the Redsocks' bid. How much money have the Yankees squandered on bad deals - Hicks, Stanton, Ellsbury, et al - since they refused to go the extra mile?

Boston has a ring. Yankee fans? We can celebrate the Haligator's frugality. What a thrill. 


Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...

Teams have choices. You can sign a player you think is very good to a long-term contract (Aaron Hicks). You can trade for a seeming superstar and take on his enormous salary (Giancarlo). You can try to develop youngsters and suffer as they fall waaaaay short of what you thought was the potential upside (ICS).

You can sign free agents, too. The signing of General LeMay and the addition of Cole rank as counter-trend positives, don't they?

But for the most part, the NYYs have put their chips on the wrong spots. What's happening to The Red Menace? I don't know, but does it matter? What happened to Miggy? My favorite player, but it's tough to keep rooting for him when he's not on the field. You want to like Mike Ford, but -- cheese and crackers! OK, there was a good financial deal to pick up Odor . . . but I really don't care about the financial part of the game. Whether Hal grosses X billion or Y billion in a given 5-year period does not concern me (unless he spends it, which we know won't happen). Odor's flash-in-the-pan success, it seems to me, is a memory by late June.

Then you look at the AAA team and you despair -- just a bit -- about the future.

One reason all of the dumping on Hal and Brain -- here at IIH -- makes sense to me is that seemingly 75% of their decisions are awful. Not just bad results, but horrible ones. And with the inability to develop talent, we as NYY fans face the real possibility that the future of this team is going to be rooted in MORE decisions by these guys.

And, of course, failing to pursue Moncada fits right in there.

This seems to let Lorna Boone off the hook. I don't think he's very good as a field manager. But if they give him Hicks/Gardner/Frazier/Ryan Lamarre and E Florial as his outfielders.....well, it's hard to give him a decent share of the blame, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

This is NOT to defend that particular example of parsimonious stupidity or any of Hal and Brain's horrific decision making but, as it turned out, not signing Juan "Slowly I turn..." Moncada led to AnDUjar (and one of the greatest rookie seasons I've ever seen- and may he find a return to being Miggy-Two-Bags soon) and Urshala (Who, base running aside, is OK with me)

That said, yes if he could have been traded for Sale and a subsequent WS title I would have signed up.

That said, Brain probably would have traded him for a big name past his prime pitcher and we'd be right here anyway because, as Joe FOB rightly points out... Brain puts his chips on the wrong spots.

Doug K.

13bit said...

and, in other news, the March to Mediocrity continues:

"Greg Allen and Socrates Brito are available at Triple-A, but the Yankees could prefer a bit of remaining upside in the 28-year-old DeShields. While DeShields has hit only .246/.326/.340 over 2056 career PA in the majors, he does offer plus baserunning and a solid outfield glove capable of above-average defense in center field."

notice the superlatives..."a bit of" and "has hit only" along with "plus" and "above average"

We had a nice couple of days. The last thing we want is another year of celebrating that we made the playoffs, only to crap out in the first round.

Fuck you, Hal, Brian and Booney

Anonymous said...

So does that mean we'll never hear, "It's a sock from Socrates! Brito crosses the Plate-O"

Doug K.

ranger_lp said...

A Socratic Blast?

JM said...

"Socra-tees off! And [NAME OF OPPOSING TEAM] gets the hemlock!"

I remember I used to think, well, the Yankees are stupid as all hell, but they spend so much money they can make up for it. Now, of course, they don't spend the money. Haven't in some time. And when they do, the decisions are more often Tartabullian or Winfieldish than not.

So now we're stupid and cheap, considering what we could spend.

To paraphrase Dean Wormer, rich, cheap and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

ranger_lp said...

Can someone explain this to me?

Yankees signed RHP Sal Romano to a minor league contract.

Romano elected free agency after the Reds removed him from their 40-man roster and has now found a new home. The 27-year-old holds a career 5.15 ERA over parts of five big league seasons.


This puts us over the top?

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

The Yankees under Hal are classic "Corporate Baseball Team.".... it's all about the bottom line every once in awhile Yankees throw the fans a bone but never spend for that final piece to put the team over the top ... its been how many years?

HoraceClarke66 said...

"It's the Socratic Method!"


Rufus T. Firefly said...

HAL's greatest sin is letting Hank die first.

Kevin said...

JM: Signing Dave Winfield was a bad move? And why mix The Dog Tartabull in with Winfield?

Kevin said...

Fellow Yankeephiles, we were damned lucky without fully appreciating having Crazy George for nearly forty years. This wailing over Cheap Bastard Hal is like that of spoiled brats, and you can count me in. Baseball has always been about rich men squeezing tears out of a gold coin. Go back and read about those Great Guys who owned the team before George. Every single owner of every single team through the beginning of pro baseball was owned/ run by tight bastards. Hell, Mickey Mantle had to take a pay cut because he didn't repeat his Triple Crown. What made George so successful is that he had to wrest New York back from the Fucking Mets. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he spent big early in free agency, put asses in the seats, and learned from it. I know that this is old news to most of you. Like most of you I resent having sad smoke being blown up my ass, it's insulting among other things. But gooood gawwwwwwwd, ok, money spent is discretionary, but spend it like you want to win, Hal.

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