To: Hal Steinbrenner
cc: Brian Cashman
Re: Signing Manny Machado
Don’t do it!
I want to preface all of this by saying Manny Machado is tremendously talented. Here’s is why signing Machado or Bryce Harper (or any other big-ticket free agent that’s not a pitcher) makes absolutely NO SENSE!
Let’s start with a relatively short stroll down memory lane, back to the glory years of the mid to late 90’s/ early 2000’s. We won a lot of games between 96 and 2001 – 582 to be exact (an average of 97 per season). While some might say, “This is a new era” or “The game has changed” I’d argue that you had the blueprint for success back then. Whether you know it or not the concept came from Aristotle who said it best sometime around 340 BC –“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts”. It works whenever anyone is trying to build a winning team.
In those wildly successful years you built around a nucleus of farm hands (The Core Four, you remember those guys… Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Petitte) They shared so many positive attributes. The most important was their will to win. They exemplified the Yankees culture. One might refer to them as blue-collar. They came to work, did their job and did it consistently over 162 games for multiple years. They became superstars because of their grit and determination. They performed at a high level on the game’s biggest stage.
The Core Four became household names but think about the players that surrounded them:
Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, Chad Curtis, Ricky Ledee. Not to mention Luis Soho, Jim Leyritz, Clay Bellinger, Joe Girardi, Jose Visciano and Shane Spencer. (just to name a few)
Although they are in my Hall of Fame, I can’t see any of these players being enshrined in Cooperstown any time soon. O’Neill’s career BA is .288, Tino’s .271, Brosius batted .257. Even Bernie didn’t crack the .300 lifetime mark when he hung up his cleats.
You remember there was no such thing as a “slash line” back then, no cybermetrics, no laptops in the dugout. Batting average was the most important measurable. For you, it was just part of the equation. You brought in guys that had the intangibles that complemented The Core Four – Good guys who played hard and expected to win. Players who hustled down the line, pitchers who wouldn’t give in, who could have a bad inning then gut it out to keep us in the game. Guys like Cone, El Duque and David Wells.
Think about it this way. Other than Jeter, is there anybody you’d rather have at bat with the game on the line than Paul O’Neill. You look up “tough out” in the dictionary and there’s a picture of Paul. Or what about Scott Brosius? Clearly his career numbers are pedestrian; 3 rings and a World Series MVP are not. He got it done when we needed it most. Those are the type of guys I want on my team. I’m sure you agree.
In recent years, I’m happy to say, you’ve gone back to this philosophy. You started on the farm with a nucleus of high character guys who have the right attitude. You’ve surrounded them with like-minded players and allowed them to gel. Take note. I’m talking about Judge, Torres, Montgomery and Sanchez. You are surrounding them with youngsters who are still developing and bringing in role players like Neil Walker and Luke Voit who have proven their ability to come up big in pressure situations.
Now, hopefully, you are expanding this same philosophy to the pitching staff. While CC’s best years are behind him he’s still a grinder. Father time has taken away a sizzling fastball but CC’s the prototype. He never gives in. He never wants to come out. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. He shows up and gets you a big win when you need it.
It appears you are on the right track, signing Happ and The Big Maple. You are allowing Seve to continue to grow and develop. You’ve got a couple of arms down on the farm that are going to help you in the long-term. You say you are 1 arm away from taking Boston down. I agree but remember ERA and a mid-nineties fastballs are not the only things. Before you pull the trigger on the guy who will round out your rotation think about the hearts and guts of Pettite, Wells, Cone and El Duque. Make sure whomever you choose is a gamer – A guy who wants the ball in Game 7 with everything on the line.
I look back on those teams of the late 90’s with fondness, as I’m sure you do. However the past is not all unicorns and rainbows. There’s one last important piece of history.
I know it wasn’t your fault – The Boss made you do it. On February 15th 2004 Alex Rodriguez became a Yankee. I have the advantage of hindsight but I swear I didn’t like that deal at the time. A-Rod seemed like a prima donna. He’d put up gaudy numbers but my gut was telling me he wasn’t a fit. This was before any of us had a clue he was getting a shot in the ass every other week to help him post those numbers. I contend that deal screwed up the chemistry. It was uncomfortable at first. Then we all got used to it. He had one good post-season. He did help us win a World Series, I’ll give him that, but 1 in 10 years? George had to be rolling over in his grave. Not a great return on $125 million dollar investment.
Fast forward to Jan 1, 2019. Let’s just say Machado says yes. Before you say yes to Machado keep the A-Rod deal in mind. By no means am I saying Manny is the same as Alex. What I am saying is BEWARE! The culture that has developed with this young group of Yankees is precious, similar to that of The Core Four. It’s too early to tell if they’ll earn a similar nickname, however they seem to be headed in that direction.
We averaged 5.22 runs per game last year, second only to the Red Sox. We were far and away the best homerun hitting team in the majors with 267 bombs. We all know that we were a pitcher or two away from making a serious run at a our 28th World Series Championship.
Hal, Brian – I hope you enjoy the holidays. Put your feet up, relax and enjoy your families. Before you reconvene with Mr. Machado ask yourselves:
“What Aristotle would do?”
#pinstripesforever #babybombers #Aristotleisstillright #cultureiseverything