Thursday, October 27, 2022

"Dear Mr. Steinbrenner": What Aaron Judge Should Negotiate For.

"Dear Hal (if I may—that's the sort of things we polite kids from the Heartland who were raised right, say when we talk to our elders):

So here we are again, ready to talk contract. What a difference a year makes!

I know a lot has been said and about how I "gambled on myself" this season, and won. That's overblown. Every professional athlete, every major-league ballplayer, gambles on himself all the time. So, for that matter, does every single mother, working two jobs and going back to school at night.

I decided not to sign, I had a fairly good season, and it worked out. Good for me.

But if I gambled on myself this year, now I'm back to gamble on myself—and the New York Yankees.

Here's my offer: whatever final numbers we arrive at, you take $100 million off the top, and invest it in trying to make the Yankees a real winner again, not just a contender.

I know, I know: easier said than done.

I know you've spent plenty of money on this Yankees team already. I know you've spent plenty of money on me, already, and for that I will always be profoundly grateful.

I'm not asking you to guarantee results. If you take that $100 million you were going to give me—and, yes, some more of your own money—and somehow it doesn't work out...well, hey, that's just the way the ball bounces. I know, I play in the same town as the New York Mets.

If building a winner again—a REAL winner—doesn't work out during my remaining time in the game, I will understand. I promise: I will continue to be the goodhearted, cheerful, clean-cut face of the New York Yankees and major-league baseball that I have always tried to be.

So what are we talking about with this money? Oh, maybe a free agent here or there, if that gets us over the top. 

But most of all, I'm talking about making a clean sweep of management, top to bottom.

That's right: I'm talking first and foremost about replacing Brian Cashman.

I know that's hard for you to hear. I realize that you and Brian probably have a brother thing going, that you bonded dodging the wrath of Old George in his ruin. I'm not asking you to toss out your brother, or humiliate him. Bump him upstairs, put him in charge of some other part of the empire, if you like. Make it seem like a promotion. You know how to do that corporate stuff. Me, I'm not corporate. I'm just the greatest athlete in the biggest market in the country.

But Brian has got to go.

So does most of his subordinates, who have proven themselves so woefully bad at identifying talent, drafting it, developing it, nurturing it. No more motivational coaches, showing us movies about the Red Sox. No more trainers who stand by and watch half the team get hurt, every year. No more admonitions to "Hit strikes hard." 

Did you see me hit any strikes soft this year?

No more algorithmic wizards, who don't understand the game of baseball and never will. Hell, who don't even understand the algorithms, and never will. (Sorry for my language there, sir. Sometimes I get a little overwrought when I'm talking about the game.)

And no more Brian. That's one big reason why I'm writing you, in private. I don't want him in here on these negotiations.

I don't want him going on about my poor postseasons. Hey, I've had some bad playoffs. I admit it. I won't always.

I don't want him leaking everything to his pals in the press, and distorting it all to make himself look like a genius. I don't want him trying to go all Troy Tulowitzki on me, the way he did with Derek Jeter.

How's that Troy Tulowitzki workin' out for you, sir? Was that a good use of your money? How can you stand to see it thrown away, year after year, on guys everybody else knows won't work out?

Trust me—you'll be fine. There's tons of front office talent out there, in Tampa Bay, and Oakland, and St. Louis, and Seattle. All those towns where they stay competitive with us, and even eat our lunch, year after year after year.

Don't you think there are plenty of guys who would love a chance to play the big town? Who would come to New York, work like hell—and NOT spend part of every afternoon telling reporters what geniuses they are? Who would produce terrific, well-balanced teams, year after year?

Don't you want to be a champion? 

I realize, with the hole we're in now, that I may never get to see the promised land. But I won't kick, as long as we're on the way. If you want, you can lay the whole new direction of the New York Yankees on my shoulders. They're big shoulders. I think things would probably work out best if you made out that all of this was done at your initiative, but if you don't want to, I'm happy to stand up and take the heat. 

I'm a stand-up guy, in case you haven't noticed.

And if you let me walk, I will hurt you. I don't mean that as a threat—just the truth. If you let me walk to San Francisco, or Boston, or especially to Flushing, you will see me drinking champagne and raising that World Series trophy. Just think about Dave Winfield, winning a Series in Toronto, once your dad cut him loose.

I don't think the fans would ever forgive you or the Yankees for that. 

But what do I know? I'm just a kid from the heartland. And by the heartland, I mean the heartland everywhere. The heartland of Northern California, but also New York City, and the Midwest, and the South, and the so-called Rust Belt, and even Red Sox territory, in this sadly divided nation of ours. The heartland, too, of the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, and even Japan.

I'm everyman, in case you haven't noticed. Pretty much all races and colors, grown to legend size. A great big kid with a gap in his teeth and a shy smile. With the kind of grace and laughter that makes old men look at me and want to fall in love with the game again.

That's what I have to offer. Plus that $100 million. Take it, use it, have fun with it. (Frankly, Hal, it never looks like you're having much fun.) Time to be great again. Great on your own terms, not your dad's. 

They'll all love you for it. Trust me.


Aaron Judge"



The Hammer of God said...

Amen, Hoss! Pure eloquence as always.

Unfortunately, I think there is a less than 50% chance that Judge stays. Some other team will offer a lot more, and HAL won't match or even come close. And it's one thing for Judge to give a hometown discount, but it would be quite another to turn down an extra quarter billion dollars. And if Judge wants to win a championship, we all know he's got an infinitely better chance elsewhere.

It's too bad because Judge has finally developed into that superstar player that we all thought he could be. And such a player deserves to have a chance to be a franchise player for the Yankees. How long has it been since we've had such a franchise player? Well, not since Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Rivera. All lifetime Yankees. (We had Pettite too, but he left at the tail end of his career.) If you think about why Judge hasn't been able to win a championship so far, there it is. Those former Yankees were all franchise type players on the same team at the same time. Judge didn't have any help. Too little help. Not enough talent on the rest of Judge's Yankees.

If he does leave, I'm with you, there won't be anything worth watching on this team next year.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Very true, Hammer!...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...And a good point. For all the complaints about how tough it is to play in New York, has any team had so many stars stay for so long?

Babe Ruth
Lou Gehrig
Lefty Gomez
Bill Dickey
Joe DiMaggio
Yogi Berra
Mickey Mantle
Whitey Ford
And the Core of Four plus Bernie, as you say, all come to mind.

Compared to being a Yankees, being a Jet (street gang member) is a freelance gig.

13bit said...

It’s all a pipe dream, and there is no hope. I have become a nihilist, even though I will be a Yankee fan forever. Hal does not care.

His money goes into his other sports stuff, but he actually hates baseball. Let that sink in. He hates it, but the Yankees or too valuable, so he just lets it roll along and doesn’t do what needs to be done, namely, getting rid of Cashman, who is one of the biggest baseball idiots of all time. We are doomed until they are both gone somehow. It could take lifetimes.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Okay. But we'll always have Soccer City.

Mildred Lopez said...

From the excellent Neil Keefe in today's Keefe To The City:

"Steinbrenner’s decision to give Boone a new contract last season was his own admission as well: an admission that winning doesn’t matter and losing is acceptable. That’s because winning doesn’t matter to Steinbrenner. The Yankees’ revenues are at an all-time high, and year after year the team’s payroll isn’t relative to revenue. Winning isn’t close to being a top priority for ownership, if it’s even a priority at all. George Steinbrenner planned on leaving the team to his son-in-law over his own children, and then when his daughter and son-in-law divorced, he had no choice other than to leave the team to his children, who had never wanted a part of running a baseball team. We’re likely seeing why George didn’t want Hal to run his team."

Here is the link:

The Hammer of God said...

@Mildred Lopez, Holy cow, so there is someone with the exact same idea as me! I'll check out that link, thanks!

DickAllen said...

Somebody (I'm looking at you Steve Cohen) will pay a record-breaking, ARod-sized contract for Judge's services just to stick it in Harold's ear.

I can't wait to hear The Intern publicly declare his " around, see what you can get..." routine and then "...we made him a competitive offer..."

And blah, blah, blah.

Hazel Motes said...
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Hazel Motes said...
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Hazel Motes said...

Hoss recycles third hand cliches about algorithms and other such bigoted flatulence because he has by his own admission never read a book on the subject of analytics and hence has no direct knowledge of it. In the past I have recommended two eminently readable classics on the subject --- The Hidden Game of Baseball and Baseball Between the Numbers--- but it's evidently so much more edifying to bruit about the same old tired canards than to learn something about the modalities of the most successful front offices in baseball. If he had the slightest clue, he would know that the bloated contracts and daft acquisitions typical of this regime-- think washed up mediocrities and aging "names" like Stanton, Cole, Donaldson, etc.--while squandering and demoralizing the team's shrinking pool of young talent--has nothing to do with analytics but is just conventional dumb-guy seat of the pants futility.

The Hammer of God said...

@EBD, When Hoss or anyone on this site writes about analytics used by the Yankees, we don't mean that analytics are useless. We mean that this Yankee management is doing a piss poor job of using analytics. Clearly, the analytics departments of many other teams are kicking Yankee analytic ass. Not knocking analytics, just the way the Yankees are doing it. Just like the coaches that he has hired, I have no doubt Cashman has hired the wrong analytics people. And they are screwing everything up.

For instance, I think there was even some speculation at some point that Yankee analytics department had Yankee hitters swinging at certain pitches based on wrong algorithms predicting pitches. It was a theory to try to explain why hitters looked like they had no idea what they were doing.

The Hammer of God said...

@Mildred Lopez, That article by Neil Keefe was absolutely hilarious. And there is another article on that site about ALCS Game 4. BaBoone clueless and inconsistent, especially with IKF decisions. Failure to play Peraza. It was all pure gold!

Hazel Motes said...

But Hoss derides algorithms and analytics in general. As I've noted before, the most sophisticated front offices don't sequester and confine analytics in a separate "department." On those teams the entire front office is the analytics department.

The Hammer of God said...

Well, he means the Yankee analytics department. Come on, give a guy a little artistic license!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, Keefe is consistently excellent. Here is another telling excerpt:

"A year ago, Boone became the first manager in Yankees history to be given a fifth year on the job without winning a championship in his first four years. Now, he has broken his own record, becoming the first manager in Yankees history to be given a sixth year on the job without winning a championship in his first five. That’s just a small part of the prestigious history he has helped create as Yankees manager.

In 2018, Boone oversaw the most lopsided home postseason loss in franchise history. In this year’s postseason, his Yankees became the first team in Major League Baseball postseason history to have a three-game span with 12 hits or fewer, 40-plus strikeouts and three losses. His Yankees set the MLB record for most consecutive games in postseason history with six hits or fewer at 10 straight games. After Game 3 of the ALDS, his Yankees recorded the lowest team batting average through eight postseason games in MLB history as well. And best of all, Boone’s bullpen management of Game 3 of ALDS became the first time the Yankees as an organization have blown a multi-run lead in the ninth inning of a postseason game, as they were 167-0 prior to Boone deeming Clay Holmes unavailable."

The Hammer of God said...

Boone and the hitting coach and pitching coach should be fired. He is consistently setting all time postseason records for futility, ignominy and incompetence. The hitters do not take professional at bats and the pitchers keep making the same mistakes to the same hitters (and to new hitters as well).

His managing in the final Game 4 against the ASS-stros was the epitome of poor judgment. He didn't take out an injured Nestor Cortes with diminished velocity, leading to a 3 run HR.

This guy is not fit to babysit the adult millionaires who play a kid's game. And yet, HAL makes no changes. There is no longer any doubt that HAL is not trying to win.