Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yankees are pathetic

The Yankees just got swept by the Sox's, and now the Sox have won something like their 83 straight game. The Yankees are a pathetic, almost as pathetic as this dudes haircut that I spotted when I was watching the Sox in Anaheim earlier in the year.

Most Yankees fans have the same come back when they are told they how pathetic their team is, and that is to mumble something like we won 26 world championships. Bla! Most of those were won before we even had 50 states. The New York Yankees are baseball version of the Oakland Raiders, but gayier.
I am a better GM than Brian Cashman. And I have never been a GM, yet. So lets recap.

Starting yesterday the Yanks quietly released pitcher Humberto Sanchez yesterday. Sanchez, you will remember, was supposed to be the "steal" of the Gary Sheffield deal. Brian Cashman, that brilliant judge of pitching talent (my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek on that one), dealt Sheff for three young arms-- Sanchez, Anthony Claggett and Kevin Whelan. Sanchez's "career" with the Yanks encompassed two games and two innings (allowing one earned run) in 2008. Claggett had a "spectacular" Major League debut in the Yanks' 22-4 debacle at the hands of the Cleveland Indians last week, allowing nine hits (including two home runs) and eight earned runs in 1.2 innings for a lifetime ERA of 43.20 before being sent right back down to the minor the next day in true Yankee fashion. Whelan, meanwhile, has yet to make his ML debut. So we've still got that to look forward to.

He "outfoxed" the Red Sox to land the notoriously gutless Jose Contreras in 2003.
In 2004, Curt Schilling told the D-backs that he would accept a trade to only one of two teams-- the Philadelphia Phillies or the New York Yankees. But while the Yanks played it cool, Theo Epstein wined and dined Schilling and his wife and sold him on coming to Boston. That was also the year the Yanks became so enamored with signing Gary Sheffield-- like they needed another bat in that line-up!-- that they offended Andy Pettite to the point that Andy took his talented left arm (and a pal named Clemens) to Houston, where the duo drove the Astros to their first ever World Series appearance a year later. Cashman's response to these developments? He brought in an over-the-hill Kevin Brown and assembled a pitching staff devoid of a single left-handed starter, playing perfectly into the hands of the Red Sox, who responded by winning their first World Series championship since 1918. A year later, the Yanks filled their need for a lefthander by bringing in the over-the-hill Randy Johnson. Then in 2007, instead of overbidding for Dice-K Matzusaka-- as they had for Contreras and any number of other lesser pitchers in the past (Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Steve Kasay, LaTroy Hawkins, Kyle Farnsworth, etc)-- they allowed the Red Sox to sign him. Then, in a classic knee-jerk reaction to compensate for losing the bidding war to the Sox, Cashman signed the pathetically mediocre Kei Igawa (2-4 and a symbolically appropriate 6.66 ERA in two seasons in pinstripes) rather than sign free agent Ted Lilly, who was dying to return to the Yanks.

Ah, but it gets better. In 2008, the Minnesota Twins were faced with the decision to deal ace lefty Johann Santana or lose him to free agency. The Yanks were interested, but not, according to Cashman, at the expense of the team's top two pitching prospects-- Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy. So the Mets gladly stepped in and dealt for Santana, who proceeded to go 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA for the Mets, single-handedly keeping the Mets in the pennant race to the very last day of the season. And Hughes and Kennedy?? They combined to go 0-8 (they were both 0-4) with a putrid 7.45 ERA. They are both currently back in the minors and neither has received a call-up despite the fact that the team is carrying 13 pitchers and calling up the likes of Claggett and David Robertson in recent weeks.

In Tom Verducci's terrific book "The Yankee Years", he makes this observation on page 461:

"In the 13 drafts in between taking Andy Pettite in 1990 and Phil Hughes in 2004, the Yankees drafted 397 pitchers. Not one of them made a significant contribution to the Yankees' rotation. Not one. No sleeper pick came through. No top pick panned out. No middle-round pick developed that one pitch or made that key adjustment to be a good starting pitcher for the Yankees. The odds were staggering that the Yankees could not hit on somebody, even by dumb luck, but that's what happened. With more resources to plow into scouting and development than every other franchise, the Yankees went 0-for-397 over more than a decade of pitching bankruptcy."

And now it appears as though Cashman & Company have messed up the one truly great pitching prospect that they developed in nearly 20 years-- Joba Chamberlain-- by trying to turn him into a starter instead of letting him be baseball's best set-up man and their future closer. Imagine if the Red Sox had decided to go with their initial inclination to turn Papelbon into a starter instead of keeping him in the bullpen?

The New York press helped to run Joe Torre out of town, blaming him for the Yankees failures since 2001. But the real culprit still draws a paycheck from the Yanks: Cashman. How is it that he has escaped the "credit" that is due him for all of these bad decisions?

The only thing keeping the Yankees from being the worst team in baseball is money. They can afford to keep cutting bait. In the NFL teams can't do that because of the salary cap. So that is why the Raiders will continue to suck. Oh, and nice draft Raiders.

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