Tuesday, November 24, 2015
THE GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER: PART 2
I recently wrote an article titled THE GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER regarding the Yankees’ - as well as some of their fans - habit of looking at what other teams have as being better. My argument was that we have some in-house proven talent that can fit the holes we are looking to shore up if just given the chance.
Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Rob Refsnyder, and Slade Heathcott were examples of that last season. To some extent, so was the recently departed (traded) John Ryan Murphy. All came up through our organization and all were successful not only in the spring, but when given their opportunities in the Bronx; either via injury or just plain necessity.
It could be argued that only Severino was a planned introduction to the big leagues.
Those who do read my articles know my opinion of GM Brian Cashman’s idea on how to build a winning team. He employs a strategy similar to that of the 1980’s George Steinbrenner; acquire once-proven veterans either via free agency or through trade – using the minor league system stars as bartering chips.
(In Photo: Jack Clark)
As I watch Cashman every off-season exercise a worn business model that yields 85 – 87 wins per season and only teases us with memories of players never to again see their peak, I can’t help but remember names like Jack Clark (signed in 1988 at age 32, hit .242 and was traded to Padres at end of season), Rick Rhoden (acquired in trade from Pittsburgh in 1987 at age 35 – for 24 year old Doug Drabek who would go on to win a Cy Young in 1990.
(In Photo: Doug Drabek)
Rhoden would go 28 – 22 with a 4.09 ERA and allow 42 HR in 2 seasons with Yankees), or Rafael Santana (30 year old shortstop acquired in trade from Mets, hit .240 in 1988 and then released the next season). While only a small representative sample, they characterized Yankee clubs that averaged a little more than 82 wins per season and never finished above 4th place in the A.L. East.
(In Photo: Derek Jeter, 1996)
It wasn’t until young, home-grown players like Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams came onto the scene – to be followed by Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte – that the Bombers emerged from that “dark period” of their history.
Cashman’s line of thinking has only worked once over the past 15 seasons – in 2009 – and the club has played just one playoff game (last season’s loss to the Astros in the Wild card game) over the past three. At what point does the recent success of the Royals and Giants - teams laden with young, home-grown stars given their chance on an everyday basis – finally sink in?
Lately, there have persistent rumblings about opportunities to fill second base (yet again) with either a position-transplant from another team (Castro of the Cubs – bumped from his starting spot at shortstop by Addison Russell, or a 30-something veteran (Kinsler from the Tigers). These rumors persist seemingly oblivious to what the Yankees had in the Ackley / Refsnyder combo over the final crucial weeks of 2015.
As I wrote in my first THE GRASS ISN'T ALWAYS GREENER article:
“Only, what they seem to overlook is that once Drew was out of the picture, the team’s forced reliance upon Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder created a productive combo at second. From September 16th (when Drew stopped playing on regular basis) until the end of the season, the two “replacements” for WHSBIYH (Worst Hitting Second Baseman In Yankees History) hit a combined .303 with 4 HR, 11 RBI and 6 runs scored.”
The Yankees went from ranking dead last at second base to top 5 at the position simply by going with what they had on hand to replace Drew.
My point of all of this is that, sure Kinsler might be an upgrade at second base, but not a significant one and he is an older player with a much larger contract to eat. Castro is young, but he isn’t a natural second baseman (Refsnyder, long criticized regarding his fielding, actually had a higher fielding percentage at the position and had no errors down the stretch when the Yankees needed him the most), and he has a large contract to boot (8 year contract through 2019, $60 million). We have more pressing issues at other positions (starting pitching in particular) than to worry about second base (now that the stiff Drew is gone).
My esteemed colleague, and BYB Founder, Robert Casey wrote articles about both Castro and Kinsler that are well worth their read (you can get them Here and Here). Along with what I’ve said above, he makes the point that – in the words of Lloyd Dobler from the iconic movie “Say Anything” - “You…Must…Chill! “. Look at what we already have and relax.
Stephen Drew can’t burn us anymore (unless “Dimwit” brings him back again, which I am certain he doesn’t want to bring that upon himself for another season) and we have capable hands already under contract to adequately represent the position. Let’s let Ackley and Refsnyder grow at second base. They’ve given us a pretty nice glimpse into what they are capable of providing. After all, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side – or in this case – with the other options.
--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
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