Thursday, July 20, 2017


Hope you're happy, Yankee fans.

Rooting for the kids  and toughing out this roller coaster rebuilding year required just a bit more patience than your winning DNA could handle -- and apparently, you had an ally in the owner's suite at the Stadium.

You wanted the team to make some moves? You got 'em. The questions of the hour though are: Were they moves that could transform this team  from the worst in baseball over the last six weeks to one that can rocket past the Rays and Red Sox into the playoffs with a real chance to win it all?

Or is that just the impression they give off to  wishful Yankee fans still sporting their spring "best in baseball" goggles who are so frustrated by relentless trips to the DL  and regression to the mean that any moves at all now resemble a yellow brick road to the Emerald City?

Let's take a quick look-see which is closer to the truth.  Remember, Brian had said they'd be "careful buyers" at the deadline and his focus would be "putting out the best effort possible, but not at the expense of what we feel can lead us to more championships, plural."

In the new paradigm, that mean's reducing payroll (aka hitting the tax threshold to eliminate the burdensome penalty the team pays now so they can start spending big anew down the road) and maintaining a fresh stock of young farmhands to keep the big club supplied with talented bodies so they don't have to keep dipping into the free market for beefcake whenever a starter goes bad.

So, boiling down the deal to its essence,  for the price of a pair of the team's top 20 prospects, an unranked throw-in farmhand, a certain inconsistent veteran reliever whose name rhymes with flippered who was in danger of being kidnapped from the player's parking lot by angry  mobs and fed to the Pizza Rat, and an additional $15 million added to the payroll,  Joe got in return:
  • A pair of top-notch bullpen arms for his binder -- one that will be with the team through next season making top-notch dollars, and one who'll be under team control through the next three that's pre-arbitration eligible.
  • A third baseman in his third consecutive year of decline but with some pop remaining in his bat and  only the remainder of this season to pay.

Clearly, Todd Frazier -- the 31-year-old infielder with a dozen more dingers at the mid-season break than Headley -- and a big-time closer-caliber arm like ex-Yankee setup man David "Sweet Home Alabama" Robertson" on short-term deals are more than enough to satisfy Brian's "putting out the best effort possible" advocates. 

And 24-year-old Tommy Kahnle, the big prize in the deal, certainly fulfills both "best effort" and "What we feel can lead us to more championships, plural" pledges.

And while the three prospects the team let go -- pitcher Ian Clarkin, centerfielder Blake Rutherford (both former first-round picks) and outfielder Tito Polo (the PTBNL in the Ivan Nova trade with the Pirates) -- all probably have futures in the Bigs ahead of them, with the Yankees all were stuck in lines behind more talented players  that likely meant years before they might see the Bronx and no protection in a Rule 5 draft.

Photo of: Blake Rutherford
So it was a very good deal for the Yankees. You can make a strong case it's great for the rebuild, and it's certainly better for the moment as it immediately makes their toasted grilled cheese bullpen firmer and deeper  and (hopefully) lessens the need to Joba-cize promising young starters into binder fodder so they can properly finish honing their craft on the farm as both they and the farm were intended  (a.k.a learning third and fourth pitches and mastering how to get through batting orders three times etc.).

And, of course, another big hairy bat in the lineup is always a welcome addition in Yankee Universe where anyone standing at home plate with lumber in hands is considered a runner in scoring position.

But here's the thing... The reason the bullpen was melting like Velveeta over charred Wonder bread in the first place was because the rotation was the weak link by not consistently providing length or staying out of trouble early. Remember?

And the infield position that was woefully under-producing was first base, not third base. Remember?

I mean, sure Frazier may provide a handful of dingers more than Chase in the second half. But he's also just one step ahead of tripping over the Mendoza line.

And moving Chase to first base where he's only played 14 games in his professional life and giving him a "crash course" so he can platoon with newly acquired rookie Garrett Cooper who's played  all of six MLB games there himself  sounds like rubbing two bad experiments together hoping one good one will come of it.  That's no upgrade, it's a wash at best. Frazier doesn't fill a hole. He just moves one.

No, my friends, if this team was truly "going for it" this season, you'd see the team going all in on at least one front-end type starting pitcher and at least one above-replacement level corner infielder -- preferably a first baseman that, you know,  actually has extensive experience  playing and hitting like a major league first baseman, no assembly or platoon required.  (Eating the last year of Chase's deal and snagging a certain young nifty third baseman wouldn't be a bad idea either if the O's go all garage-sale crazy and put Manny on the block like some have posited might be in their interest.)

Starting pitching and first base. Those were the two burning dumpster fires on this team before the trade and so they remain --  and calling it a blockbuster in big block letters doesn't change that fact.

So until I see Brian bring home someone legit to extinguish either one, rest assured he's sticking to the blueprint and -- absent any other moves to follow -- this trade tips toward future rewards far more than the present, which is just fine by me.

Like Bill Parcells once said when asked if his team was a winner or a loser, you are what your record says you are. And like ESPN's Andrew Marchand wrote, the Yankees are "losers of 22 of their past 32 games. That's a .313 win percentage, which wouldn't win you the batting title, let alone a division."

That's a helluva deep dark place to expect a couple of relievers and a meh infield bat to dig you out.

If over the next 11 days Brian  somehow manages to pull another whiz-banger of a deal out of his tailpipe that protects the rebuilding blueprint but provides those two precious missing ingredients handicapping this team's chances for a meaningful run at a ring this season, nobody will be more thrilled than yours truly.

In the meantime, please pardon me if I  continue rooting for the kids, demanding that performance and not paycheck size  decide playing time, looking forward to the Hot Stove and savoring what's left of this wild roller coaster ride.

I know a championship race when I see one and I'm enjoying every frustrating, exhilarating minute of the one we're in  -- for 2018.

--Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

Be Read. Get Known. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on Bleeding Yankee Blue.