Even Big Market Fans Have A Right To Kvetch, Too

I wonder sometimes if I am still living in the baseball city in which I was born.

At almost any point from my teen years to several months ago, the New York newspapers would by now have been calling for the dismissal of Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, and the public shaming and court-martialing of the Wilpon family.

Instead I am reading a lot about how the Yankees will be “better balanced” without Cliff Lee; that they can get the bullpen depth they need instead, and a righty bat off the bench. Yes, having Sergio Mitre as your third starter and thus sinking to a record around .500 is about as balanced as you can get.

When the city isn’t making excuses for the Yanks’ impenetrable player acquisition strategy, it is commending new Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson as a great baseball man. So’s John McGraw, and what’s more, McGraw’s made just as many big moves this winter as Alderson has.

Seriously, I’m a baseball fan who happens to be a Yankee customer, and I did not have an irrational rooting interest in whether or not Lee ended up in the Bronx. But between the Yanks’ two failures to get him, and the sudden signing of Russell Martin, I’m very dubious about the chain of logic in the front office – if any.

As I recall, the trade with Seattle for Lee fell through last summer because Brian Cashman refused to part with both catching prospect Jesus Montero and shortstop prospect Eduardo Nunez. Nunez, of course, later came up to New York and showed he might survive as a utilityman but right now doesn’t come close to being even a reliable .250 hitter. I have heard two completely conflicting sets of information about Montero: the first that he is the Super Prospect: an influential catcher in all aspects of the job, and a potent bat. The second is that he has not grown either as a defender, handler of pitchers, or check on baserunners, and that his swing has more than one hole.

In 25 years of carefully watching scouting reports, when they conflict this much, I’ve never seen the positive ones prove correct. More over, it is clear that the real catching prospect in the Yankee system is young Gary Sanchez, who cut across rookie ball and at Staten Island like lightning this summer.

And now mix Russell Martin into the recipe. And the re-signed Derek Jeter, with the loose plan that he’ll play shortstop for another two years, by which time Jorge Posada will have presumably retired and Jeter can slide over to become a 39-year old DH without any measurable power.

So Montero has no role in 2010 and Nunez won’t be thought of for a job (one he probably can’t handle anyway) until 2012? And they are in New York and Cliff Lee is not? And even assuming the statistics, the history, the precedent, and the hands of time are wrong about Jeter and Cashman is right – nobody is yelling at Yankee management? Even though there are no prominent pitchers to trade for (and don’t say “Felix Hernandez” – he has a no-trade deal and the Yankees are reportedly on the no-way list)?

And the Mets of this winter make the Yankees of this winter look like the Red Sox of this winter. When you are operating in the nation’s largest community, and your team is without a single nearly-ready position prospect, and you still haven’t bitten the bullet on Luis Castillo and Ollie Perez, and you insist there are no economic restrictions on your personnel budget, and your top free agent signees are two guys dropped by the Pirates, surely some member of the Enraged Fourth Estate that has made this city the cuss-filled territory it is today should be demanding that the team either get on the stick or let the fans in for free.

It would be nice to dismiss this as the ranting of a big market fan with a sense of entitlement and a terrible fear he is finally facing his comeuppance. But face it, in the smaller markets, when the ownership misleads you and puts an inferior product on the field, they do not have the further gall to charge you $100 a ticket in the upper deck. 

20 Comments

At some point during the 2011 season, the Yankees will have a 36-year-old 3rd baseman, 37-year-old shortstop, 39-year-old catcher and a 41-year-old closer. Plus, New York will be paying the four around $78M for the season. Barring a hard to imagine blockbuster deal before the trading deadline on August 31,2011, it is hard to imagine the Yankees winning the world series next season.

Keith,

You are right and I’m loving every minute of it. The Yankees will not be a contender next year, at least not by September. Maybe some of those seats will be empty next year, and that will certainly spark ownership to make changes, but now they are committed to salaries of old, once great players.

Sorry, but the next few years you’ll have to find another team????

Keith,

You are right and as a big money team hater, I’m loving every minute of it. The Yankees will not be a contender next year, at least not by September. Maybe some of those seats will be empty next year, and that will certainly spark ownership to make changes, but now they are committed to salaries of old, once great players.

Sorry, but the next few years you’ll have to find another team????

Hold up a sec… King Felix has the Yanks on a no-trade list? Lee (who recently played with Hernandez) didn’t want to go there either? Almost sounds like they were talkin’…. or maybe there’s a growing feelin’ among star players that one can’t go to the Bronx to win a championship anymore? I’d be interested to know more about that Keith…

While I’m not a Cashman apologist here’s something you missed, Keith: in 2011 the Yankees will be essentially fielding the same team that won 95 games and missed the World Series by two. Yes, their prospects aren’t as grand as I’d like them to be but it’s not like they’re about to battle the Jays and Orioles for the AL East basement. A little perspective is in order.
As for small market teams, they may not charge $100 for upper deck seats–although I actually paid $38 for said seats at YS–but instead, a few of them choose to cry poverty and sell their fans false hope as they pocket their revenue sharing take and turn a profit. So there’s that.

I agree with mantlewasarockstar. Boston is no lock, and Tampa will probably take a step back. Rivera is still the best closer I’ve seen, and if he loses a little bit, okay he’ll be amongst the top 5. And I got bleachers for less than $20 — you got ripped Keith. Try a little accuracy. And aren’t you a Mets fan anyway? Why don’t you support your team instead of being obsessed with the Yanks?

Isn’t this one of the biggest reasons Cliff Lee left 28 million Yankee dollars on the table? Yes the team can’t be counted out this year, but all signs point to a major collapse fairly soon. With lots of obstacles (Jeter’s ego and the awful economics of the new stadium among them) making the inevitable rebuilding process much more difficult.
I share Keith’s implicit view that the role of team management is the most important (and one of the most interesting) things for a fan to follow. But in that context the criticism of the Mets is much too understated, and it is unfair to Cashman to mention him in the same sentence with the Wilpons. Yes, the specific Cashman moves noted didn’t work well, but prospect evaluation (and weighing long-term prospect value vs short-term big star value) is one of the toughest management jobs in baseball, and Cashman’s overall success rate isn’t all that bad.

Isn’t this one of the biggest reasons Cliff Lee left 28 million Yankee dollars on the table? Yes the team can’t be counted out this year, but all signs point to a major collapse fairly soon. With lots of obstacles (Jeter’s ego and the awful economics of the new stadium among them) making the inevitable rebuilding process much more difficult.
I share Keith’s implicit view that the role of team management is the most important (and one of the most interesting) things for a fan to follow. But in that context the criticism of the Mets is much too understated, and it is unfair to Cashman to mention him in the same sentence with the Wilpons. Yes, the specific Cashman moves noted didn’t work well, but prospect evaluation (and weighing long-term prospect value vs short-term big star value) is one of the toughest management jobs in baseball, and Cashman’s overall success rate isn’t all that bad.

HoF2020, KO is a Yankee fan. But, like me, he’s the rare exception: the NY baseball fan who bares no crosstown ill will. Regardless, it shouldn’t keep him from ragging on either team.
hhoran1: In the long run, Lee may have given up $28m, but he opted for the contract that paid more per season, one that could actually make him as much as the Yankees offered, so let’s get that straight.

Guess that is why when year after year I can still say Im a Mets fan, it can get better. Of course I don’t wish ill will on the Yankees, as I save my ill will for the Philly’s. I will say though that I recently started reading your blogs, and I enjoy them just as much as your show and when you read there, we just switch places… Thank you for the entertainment and information in both forums, you are awesome!!

They could have offered a guy who hit below the Mendoza line in 144 games last year $10 million to play first base for a guy you traded for virtually naught and depend on Blake DeWitt at second…It could be worse.

Btw, somebody did take less money to be a Yankee:

Yankees/MLB.com- [Russell] Martin, who can make nearly $1.4 million more in incentives based on appearances behind the plate and won’t be a free agent until after the 2012 season, turned down $4.2 million plus similar incentives from the Dodgers because he “wanted to find out how much the team really wanted me.”

Not trading prospects for a player like Cliff Lee is beyond idiotic. How are the 4 clowns that the Twins got for Santana doing now? Washing cars, or reliving Bull Durham.

Baseball history is littered with trades where the star goes to the big market team, and the pile of prospects go to the small market team and are never heard from again.

Pittsburgh Pirates trade Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Chicago Cubs for Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and Bobby Hill.

Philadelphia Phillies trade Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla

Kansas City Royals trade Zack Geinke for Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and right-handed pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress

This face is especially true when you are the big market team, often these prospects will never get a shot at playing. At this point how do you NOT trade Montero? As 20 year old DH? Yeah that’s promising.

Make a move for Fausto Carmona or James Shields, even throw a bone at Brandon Webb.

Hearing a GM say “I had to draw the line when they wanted our 19 year old short stop in A ball who hit .245 but we feel could develop into yada yada yada.” Give me a break.
Wrap those kids up and ship them out.
Stay calm, and carry on.

Keith, I don’t tweet, but I have been following your photos this week of NYC. They’re quite beautiful, especially your latest one with the snow falling in Manhattan.

I hope someday, weather permitting, you photograh and send to us some photos of the Lower East Side. So rich in history. Brooklyn Bridge as well.

NYC – spectacular city.

http://www.mobypicture.com/user/KeithOlbermann/view/8343959

Look at the bright side, Keith: You aren’t dealing with the Dodgers, a big market team with a small-market owner who has (unbelievably) managed to surpass even Donald Sterling as the most hated sports figure in Southern California (now that Georgia Frontiere is rotating on a spit in the fourth ring of Hell.)

It is the unalienable (or inalienable) right of any baseball fan to kvetch. What would fandom be without a good kvetch?

The Yankees will be essentially the team that won 95 games and backed its way into the Playoffs. Its a team that is a year older and is stuck with Alex Rodriguez for seven more years and who will be 36 by the All Star game. This is a team that is more names then substance. Look at what it did in the month of September….winning only two series the entire month and if not for a two strike two out HR by AROD it would have lost everyone but one at the beginning of the month. They scored seven runs in 4 losses against the Texas Rangers. Thus will be the year that the Yankees freefall into the second division. They have a weak outfield…pitching is suspect and does anyone really think that Jorge Posada’s 99 strike outs in less then 400 at bats and .248 average and yes another year older will survive the boo birds in the Bronx. Stuck with a $200M payroll the fans are the ones who lose for management’s bad mistakes. Tampa Bay will survive because it still has decent pitching and they learned how to win. The orioles and Blue Jays have learned their lessons from over paying and trying to compete by overspending. At least they have not taken the game away from their fans. Well we all grow old. Robinson Cano will have another great year and Teixiera will continue to perform at his usual level. Should be an interesting season for the American League east. We will see if the yankees revert to their ways of 1988-1992 when they were at the bottom of the American league East.

In the Yankee universe, this current offseason may ultimately mirror the frozen ground that separated 1964 and 1965, with its fragile and declining Mickeys, Whiteys, Rogers…….

I agree with mantlewasarockstar. book reports
You are right.

I feel that may be an interesting point, it made me think a bit. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. Occasionally I get so much in a rut that I simply really feel like a record.2012prom

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