This weekend, the Redsocks traded the ever-crumbling Jake Peavy for two solid pitching prospects, and there’s not a Boston frat-boy in beer pong captivity who doesn’t expect his team to rise next year and crush the AL East. Why wouldn’t they think such crap? Their farm system produces, and they supplement it by holding garage sales. It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s a simple formula: Trade old for young, and build your system. Every successful team does it.
Only one franchise does it in reverse. The Yankees begin with massive, bloated free agent contracts – and then try to build around them. That’s why we have a Beltran, an Ichiro, and a Cecil B. DeMille cast of .220 hitters. This is Trade Deadline Week – the most terrifying part of the Yankee season – when we traditionally add a few new, giant boulders to our already sinking ship.
Listen: I don’t pretend to know what prospects are worth keeping. I think 90 percent of the Yankee bloggers – with their top 10 lists and trade suggestions – have never even seen the players they claim to rate. I’ll go with the scouts, thank you. But here’s one bit of wisdom worth remembering: If you lash yourself to a great white whale, you better be ready to hold your breath when it goes under.
I’m sick of watching the Vernon Wellses and Andruw Joneses come and go – with past-tense resumes and the inability to turn on a fastball. They are cemeteries in the commercial district of our order, and they kill entire seasons. This year, it was the walking dead known as Alfonso Soriano – last July’s brilliant Brian Cashman pick up – who – by the way – has yet to be signed by anybody, because the world has seen what the Yankees refused to notice, until half the 2014 season had been destroyed. (Oh, and while we’re on the subject, the prospect we traded, Corey Black, has overcome a terrible start at Double A and now has an ERA of 2.98; we might see him in Cubs box scores next year, a gift from the Yankees that keeps on giving.)
This is Hopeless Week, when Cashman is supposed to save the floundering team by getting something for nothing. We’ve seen this movie before. He will trade a name that most fans have never heard – and thus won’t miss – for a 2008 all star whose contract would explode a third world economy. Quickly, the deal will be hailed by the YES team, by John and Suzyn, and by the Gammonites who like to have phone calls returned. For maybe two weeks, we will have a new bat, or a new starter, and as soon as we win one game, the trade will be inscribed into Yankee lore as another sign of our front office dominance.
And then – slowly, drip by drip – we will be strangled by the Burmese python that this deal turns out to be. We will watch this big lump of lard sit in the middle of our lineup like an overturned milk truck, and we will have no recourse but to play the bum until fans literally cannot stand the sight of him. By then, it won’t matter. Another winter will loom, and we will be thirsting for more free agents to erase the memories of this underachieving eam.
This is it, folks. This is the moment when the heroin addict either checks into rehab, or he abandons his kid and goes out to Needle Park, in search of another fix. The Yankees claim to value their young prospects from April to June – stressing the critical aspects of a farm system – but now is when it matters. We hear how the Yankees are scouting other teams. Make no mistake: They are scouting us. We won’t get something for nothing. Redsock fans are already looking forward to next year. And in the meantime, it’s not as if they won’t have anything to amuse themselves.
Nope. They have the Yankees. They can watch us and laugh.