Earlier today, Larry contemplated the unlikely possibility of a third reunion between Nick Johnson and the Yankees. Now I’m fairly certain that my pal is going to take some flack for this, so I’ve thrown together a quick
piece rant imploring our readership to consider musings such as this objectively, before proceeding to tear my fellow writer a new one.
Anyway, the formula is simple:
Nick Johnson at a very discounted rate equates to inexpensive-quality OBP. Inexpensive-quality OBP outweighs both the potentiality of player frailty and feeble production of some of the current alternatives (i.e., Ramiro Pena).
Now, given our site’s emphasis on data-driven analytics, it’s easy to understand why we would endorse guys such as Johnson, or Javier Vazquez, or even, wait for it, Carl Pavano (part deux). If the numbers crunch and an organizational need is met, we typically buy in.
However, much of the New York fanbase is a tad more cynical (to put it kindly). Why bother with a guy like Johnson? He basically requires surgery every time he sneezes. Why bother with a guy like Vazquez, or Zack Greinke (even though he’s not a free agent)? They can’t handle the exorbitant pressure inherent with the Bronx. Why bother with a guy like Carl Pavano? He’s less valuable than a [insert noun here].
See where I’m going with this? There’s always a vague explanation composed of intangible points proving why someone will inevitably flounder. And dammit, Brian Cashman (the root of all bad decisions) always seems to ignore all our passion-derived-predictively-accurate-angst, instead choosing the path of not-so-crafty-but-definitely-nonsensical-BS-free-agent-signing. Right? Right.
Here’s the plight. While the masses would explode if Carl resurfaced in pinstripes, the truth is he makes sense as a rotation solution to some degree. He’s simply better than the current options, and better players tend to produce better results. As much as I hated Pavano’s excuses for not playing the last time around, when I look at his numbers the past two seasons with the Twins I understand why he earned that second year from Minnesota’s front office. Maybe they’re that stupid/naive/foolish, etc., or perhaps good pitching options are, in actuality, quite thin these days. In other words, his skill set holds definitive value on the market to the extent that he was probably the best pitcher not named Cliff Lee who was available. Attach a pretend name to Carl’s stats (such as Marl Savano) and he’s suddenly not so bad!
Consider Focus on the stats. Put aside “grit” or “heart” or “clubhouse presence” and just look at the results. Now weigh one set of results against another; by dehumanizing the game just a tiny bit, we can develop a much greater appreciation for Cashman’s approach and responsibility as general manager.
We all know that New York’s greatest asset is their cash. A cheap alternative such as Nick Johnson — who wouldn’t cost future draft picks or top prospects and is on a minor league incentive based deal — means almost nothing to the organization. If Eric Chavez or Mark Prior flops this spring, who cares? Seriously. They’re cut and the team moves on to the next
scrub one. If lightning in a bottle is to be found, the Yankees get a huge return on the investment — such was the case with Marcus Thames.
Anyway, if you completely disagree with me, feel free to leave your two cents. I look forward to verbally jousting.
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