Saturday, May 22, 2021

While the Yankees trade to fill short term holes, Tampa trades for long term success

Yesterday, the Tampa Rays once again did what the Yankees seem incapable of: They traded a player at the height of his value, so a younger, cheaper version can replace him.

Specifically, they dealt starting SS Willy Adames, 25, and reliever Trevor Richards, 28, to Milwaukee for two stud relievers - Drew Rasmussen, 25, and J.P. Feyerisen, 27, a former Yankee farmhand. The two should markedly boost Tampa's bullpen. Feyerisen, whom the Yankees received in the famous Clint Frazier/Justus Sheffield-for-Andrew Miller deal, has been lights-out this year.

Tampa then promoted Taylor Walls, a 24-year-old switch-hitting SS who was batting .327 in Triple A. (The Rays use Triple A to develop prospects, as opposed to the Yankees, who use Scranton as a place to stash aging lug nuts.) 

Every year, Tampa trades players at the crest of their talent curves, rather than wait until they're descending, and then trying to dump their salaries. 

Soon, they will promote Wander Franco, a 20-year-old wunderkind SS, reputed to be baseball's best prospect. Franco is hitting .281 at Triple A. (Comparatively, the Yankees top prospect, 18-year-old Jasson Dominiquez, has yet to see a professional pitch.) When Franco arrives in Tampa - possibly this summer - they'll likely trade Walls for more pitching. 

For the last 20 years, Tampa has been developing and trading young talent, and challenging for the AL East, while paying fraction of the costs incurred by the Yankees. 

My guess is that whenever Hal "Food Stamps" Steinbrenner screams at his employees, raging about the $210 million Yankee payroll, and orders Cooperstown Cashman to limit the payroll, he is staring at Tampa's roster and wondering why the Yankees cannot do the same?

Good question. 

Of course, the Yankees play a different strategy, based on how much money a player is being paid.  They absorb big contracts with the assumption that if you pay enough money, the player will perform well. 

Last month, they didn't really need a second-baseman. But with Texas offering to pay the entire salary of Rougned Odor, the Yankees signed on. It was a financial consideration. Thus, they traded young prospects for Odor. (By the way, they're running out of young prospects to trade.) And while he's rather plucky - great turn on the triple-play last night! - Odor has yet to crack .200. From an offensive standpoint, he represents a career in decline.

The Yankees almost never deal players at the height of their trade value. Cashman fears a star blossoming elsewhere, which would make him a pinata for the NY press. So... we keep Gary Sanchez. 

Right now, the Yankees have no emerging star in Scranton, a player who might force his way into the Yankee lineup. (I suppose you could say OF Estevan Florial, who was just promoted, but he doesn't look ready and - besides - we'll probably trade Florial for a CF band-aid. That's the kind of trade the Yankees make.) 

It's not that complicated. Every year, Tampa simply trades players at their peak value and replaces them with younger, cheaper versions. Yeesh, you'd think it was the Manhattan Project. So Tampa keeps chugging, Cashman fills another hole, and Food Stamps Hal, tucked away on his yacht, will continue to wonder why his team is always chasing the Rays?

(Note: You might ask why I'm not celebrating the winning streak. I am practicing reverse juju. As long as we are winning, nothing good can come from speaking hopefully. ) 


JM said...

Our team management has to be the worst in the league. Worse than the guys who pocket revenue sharing and put a AAA team on a major league field.

Oh, wait. That last little bit kinda works for Tampa.

Yeah, well, we're still the worst.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Brain is asking about that superstar Delino DeShields. He's 52 but a wizened veteran.

Carl J. Weitz said...

Absolutely to the point, Duque. While the Yankees feature a Bloated Front Office, teams like Tampa are lean and smart. I use the American defense budget as an analogy. While our military hardware planning consists of buying 10 weapon systems (jets, tanks, missiles, etc.) and hoping one or two work, other countries can't afford or wont spend outrageous sums so they thoroughly plan wisely and vet systems before they purchase. So while teams like Tampa hire intelligent front office personnel and shrewdly use their financial resources and roster to maximize their ability to compete, the Yankees have a bloated, aging, slow-witted and overpaid group of sycophants who search for aging erstwhile decent players to fill roster spots instead of properly training and promoting their prospects.

ranger_lp said...

@Rufus...that's Jr. they are interested in not Dad...

TheWinWarblist said...

Food Stamps never wonders why the Yankees are out of first place. He only wonders how to get more profit from the team. He sits in the penthouse on his yacht and never thinks about the won-loss. Only the bottom line.

ranger_lp said...

@Carl...Yanks and Dodgers are all in with the old school ways of building a roster. The Rays are now the new model based on Moneyball on steroids. The Red Sox are moving in that direction. All the teams will move in that direction eventually. The Yanks, as in breaking the color barrier, will be the last team to do that (Yanks were second to last...Elston Howard)...after Mike Stanton's contract is done.

Rufus T. Firefly said...


Even worse.

Anonymous said...

@TheWinWarblist 100% right

@ranger_lp That the Yankees weren't the first to break the color barrier is one thing that really irks me. They should've been the first. Being America's team and all that. The failure to be on the right side of history (until they finally got it through their thick skulls) will haunt them for the rest of American history.

The Hammer of God

DickAllen said...

Yeah, well. Complain all you want, guys. As for me, I’m still jetting on a high from that amazing (literally) turn of events in the game last night.

The first triple play in seven years? A walk-off by Gleyber? The pitching staff throwing like mid-sixties Orioles? 29 scoreless innings? As the saying goes: “I’m lovin it!”

That triple play snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Or something like that. I haven’t whooped like that in...I can’t remember when.

And while I’m on the subject, Fuck Hal, Fuck Brain and fuck Ma Boone (the manager with no clue)

DickAllen said...

Oh, and to your point Hammer - the only place in America where Jackie Robinson could have been successfully integrated into baseball was Brooklyn.

Being an Irish catholic white kid born and raised not too far from Ebbetts myself, I grew up alongside Italians, Jews (orthodox and reform), blacks (both African and Caribbean), Hispanic, Arabs, and the occasional Protestant. So, naturally, Jackie was just the right fit in an already layered environment. Even in those days, the Yankees were the WASP uptown crowd that was just as closed off as Boston and Philly. So, the Yankees, being the rich man’s team could be forgiven for being among the last. But not by much.

DickAllen said...

Oh, and Hammer: the Yankees were never America’s team. If anything, they were the most HATED team in America. I have a friend who grew up on the south side of Chicago and he only remembers always losing badly to theYankees and hating them for winning all the time - that was back in the fifties - and he still harbors a deep grudge to this day.

TheWinWarblist said...

Dick, you are 100% correct. We're lucky the Yankees ever integrated.

TheWinWarblist said...

I love that Chicagoans hate us.

TheWinWarblist said...

On a more depressing note, there are only 6 teams in the AL with a positive run differential. 4 of them are in the AL EAST. It will be a long hard fought season against the best teams in the league.

Alphonso said...

The key ingredient in the Yankee failure you describe is that Tampa always has an endless stream of " best prospect in baseball" to promote to the majors, whereas the yankees have none. And, given that Tampa now finishes higher than the Yankees ( as in...the world series ), they draft lower than the Yankees.

So tell me, sir, where's the rub?

The hidden fact is that the Yankees draft is awful. They draft players ready for TJ surgery, or the worst brother in the Bichette family. The guy who should have been the librarian.

They draft short stops from Rochester, NY named Cito./....who simply become house painters.

And no one is held accountable.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Technically, I believe that the Phillies, Tiger, and Red Sox all integrated after the Yankees—but I know, still pretty shameful.

In the case of the Yankees, integration was held up mostly because George Weiss was such a racist, and had convinced himself that white customers would not come to see Black players.

Incidentally, with a couple exceptions—Chicago, Cleveland—the AL was so racist in general that it hurt the Yankees less than it would have in the NL.

Ellie Howard, in 1963, became the first, Black, AL MVP (there had already been 10 in the NL), and Howard-Downing were only the third all-Black battery in World Series history, after Campy with Joe Black and Don Newcombe.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And weirdly, while widely hated, the Yankees were also a contender for "America's Team." They had a big following in Latin America from early on, and had fans all over the country.

Hey, this IS America: Frontrunners abound!

Really, the Dodgers were America's team, particularly after they started a nationwide radio network after WW II. But that faded when they moved to LA.

Everyone knew who the Yankees were, and many liked that. It was like what a certain young man from Cleveland once said after buying the team: The Yankees were like the circus coming to town.

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