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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Yank tank: was it worth missing the tournament by a couple of games?

The Yankees were 52-52 at the August 1 trading deadline and general manager Brian Cashman had already convinced dumb and lazy owner Hal Steinbrenner to tank the regular season with one third yet to play. Of course, adding veteran talent would have boosted the Yankees chances of qualifying for the pathetic second wild card spot, which has gone to multiple teams since 2012 with as few as 88 wins. The Yankees are currently 80-76 with six games remaining. Gee, if they win out, the Yankees would have 86 wins, just two short of a real possibility of making the tournament.

So, was it worth it? Cashman subtracted veteran players rather than adding. Cashman traded Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carols Beltran, all of whom will be playing in the tournament with their new teams. Cashman concluded his four year campaign to purge the bitter memory of Cashman signing that ridiculous new contract with Alex Rodriguez by releasing, at full pay through 2017, Rodriguez August 13 and replacing him with minor league players Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin. Cashman got immediate gratification when Judge and Austin became the first teammates to homer back-to-back in their first plate appearances (PA). Oh boy, they joined Gary Sanchez to form the Baby Bombers who would spark the Yankees as never before.

Sanchez continues his imitation of Johnny Bench but Judge is mercifully out for the season with a non career threatening injury that interrupts his 42 SO in 84 AB and Austin is on the bench. OPS+:
Sanchez 179
Austin 62
Judge 61.

Judge and Austin quickly became the functional equivalent of good hitting pitchers in the Yankee lineup that no longer had its best hitter until Aug. 1, Carlos Beltran. In return for the traded veterans the Yankees received ten minor league players, only one of whom, Ben Heller, was good enough to be added to the Yankees. Heller is a 24 year old relief pitcher: 6 innings, ERA 7.50, 3 HR.

Neither Judge nor Austin had enough PA to be reach the rookie limit, so both will still be rookies in 2017 when both will be 25. How many 25 year old rookies make good? How many become impact players? Mickey Mantle was in his sixth season at age 25 when he achieved the triple crown: 52 HR, 130 RBI, .353 BA. Lest we forget what an exciting young player really is.

Maybe Judge and/or Austin will surprise us. Maybe some, even one, of the minor league players received for Chapman, Miller and Beltran will become impact players. Can you even name a couple of them? I'll spot you OF Clint Frazier (.674 OPS in 108 PA with AAA RailRiders), not good enough to bring up even in September when rosters inexplicably expand.

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