Perspectives: Now They're Talking!
by Paul Semendinger
October 18, 2023
There is somewhat of a nice feeling when I read accounts of the Yankees and the "big time" sports writers start saying the same things that I have been saying for years.
In Monday's New York Post, Joel Sherman wrote:
"How did the Yankees reach the belief that Montgomery was expendable because he was not good enough to start a postseason game for them when he has started two series openers this postseason and delivered 13 ¹/₃ shutout innings against the Rays and Astros."
Since the moment that trade went down, the exact moment, I started saying on this site and on podcasts that the trade made no sense. It makes no sense for the Yankees to trade a quality left-handed starter. That's what Jordan Montgomery was. He wasn't an ace. But he was a very good pitcher. It made even less sense to trade him for Harrison Bader, a player who was on the injured list and wouldn't return for weeks and weeks and weeks. The Yankees' excuse, that Montgomery couldn't or wouldn't pitch in the post season was farcical. No team knows in August which pitchers will be healthy and ready in October.
I am still amazed that so many fans and reporters bought that excuse. At times I think the Yankees could offer fans the Brooklyn Bridge and people would think that it was actually for sale and they'd send them tons of money. It's actually come to the point where we can't believe much of what the Yankees say. Their reasoning, their excuses, their untruths, have destroyed (for many, at least) their words. And that's one of the biggest problems there is with the Yankees as a franchise - as an entity. The organization has lost a lot of its credibility. The statements they make are not believable, and often times, it seems (if nothing else) not truthful. This is a huge reason that so many fans, according to the feedback I receive, are frustrated with the team, its leadership, and its owner. It's not just that they have become a mediocre team on the field. It's not just that they make terrible decisions. It is because they seem to even have difficulty telling the truth.
I am so glad that Jordan Montgomery is pitching so well. I am glad he is proving the Yankees wrong. I believe the only way significant change is going to happen for the Yankees is if it becomes so abundantly obvious to Hal Steinbrenner that his current decision making team has done a very bad job. (This has been clear to so many people for a long time, and I am amazed that he hasn't seen this yet.) It seems that for big change to happen, the bottom has to fall out completely. But, even more, I am glad for the player himself. The team that drafted him lost faith in him - and now he's proving them wrong. Good for him. I wish Jordan Montgomery a lifetime of 20-win seasons and a host of World Series rings. He is showing the Yankees, if nothing else, that they were very wrong about him or, at best, that their team of experts, the manager, the coaches, and the scouts, didn't know how to get the best out of him. Either way it's a bad look for the Yankees. One of many...
It's also ironic that I keep seeing that there is talk that the Yankees wish to bring Jordan Montgomery back for 2024 by signing him as a free agent. Really? Again, if that's true, it's complete mismanagement, if not incompetence. You trade away a player for an injured guy and then you want to sign the player you traded away all in less than two years? He went from a bad player to have to one the team wishes to give untold millions of dollars to?
Monty wouldn't of course be the only ex-Yankees pitcher to figure out how to pitch after leaving New York. Joel Sherman also writes of Nathan Eovaldi in his critique of the Yankees:
"Every success by Eovaldi and Montgomery, every homer by Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper — the Yankee fan who could not get the Yankees interested in him in free agency — feels like a continuation of a disappointing pinstriped season, a continuation of questions about the processes that have the Yankees in their current situation."
Remember, after last season's debacle, it was Brian Cashman who stated that the Yankees don't look at results (a comment, again, that showed he is disconnected) but instead look to "the process." I noted the absurdity of that comment at the time, and many times since, and it is nice to see Mr. Sherman of the Post also pointing to the word "process" in his critique of the Yankees.
Not to be outdone, Jon Heyman wrote in that same issue:
"(Bryce) Harper’s left-handedness made him a fit for the Yankees, but his lust for the limelight made him a natural for New York."
He also wrote:
"Harper was built for major markets, pressure situations and big games,” Boras said. “He has an innate will and drive, a fearlessness of the opposition and the rare skill to provide confidence that overcomes temporary fear of failure. Yet when I told teams this they viewed it as hyperbole..."
Again, it is nice to see a writer noting how perfect a fit Harper would have been for the Yankees. I said at the time that Bryce Harper was poised to be the next Reggie Jackson - a player built for the big lights and the big moments of the big city. But the Yankees felt they knew better. That was also a "process" decision. (How many bad decisions does a leadership group get before it becomes clear that their process isn't working? Remember when the Yankees also passed on Justin Verlander the first time he was available? That was also a process decision. We were told that the Tigers asked for too much (an excuse Brian Cashman gives almost every single time the Yankees fail to acquire a player. I have to ask, is that excuse even still believable? And, who were those players? And how did they turn out? Might not getting Justin Verlander, and not letting him go to the Astros have brought the Yankees a World Championship? Was it the players, or was it the fact that the Yankees didn't want to have to pay Verlander? What is the truth? But, again, if it was the players, wasn't that bad process? Which of the future stars in 2017 that might have been demanded by the Tigers actually became an impact player? The examples of bad process by this leadership team have become legion and they've been happening for a very long time.)
I also read, from time to time, this ridiculous idea that the Yankees shouldn't deal with agent Scott Boros for one reason or another. It basically comes down to the fact that Boros gets his players tons of money and that he's a tough negotiator. (Don't the Yankees pay other players tons of money - even those not represented by Boros? Are the Yankees' biggest salaried players even Boros clients?) Imagine that, there is a player agent that is tough and gets his players lots of money. Isn't that what he is supposed to do? Does it benefit a team to shy away from an agent because he's good at his job? Seriously. Think about it. Isn't that bad process?
In what world, anywhere, does it make sense to pass on superstar, difference-making, players because of who their agent is? I have never understood that line of thinking.
"We showed him, we didn't get the best player!"
Would a team not get Babe Ruth if his agent was Scott Boros? "We'd like to get Ruth and that Gehrig kid, but we don't like their agent."
In that scenario, who loses? Not the agent. He'll get the player signed with another team. Not the player. He gets his money. No, the team that gets hurt is the one that doesn't get the star player. The Yankees are home this October. Some star players are proving what absolute stars they are. Scott Boros did his job.
This is a line of thinking that is, again, so ridiculous and out of touch that it makes absolutely no sense. A team is going to have to pay big for superstars. That's how it works. A team isn't better because it doesn't want to work with an agent. The opposite is actually true, not dealing with an agent makes a team worse.
In sum, I am glad to see that points I have argued are, a year later, or years later, being written about by the "big time" writers.
It's nice to be ahead of the curve. It's a good place to be.
A note to other baseball writers, podcasters, talkers, and the like - if you borrow or use any of these ideas, do the right thing and give credit where credit is due - to the author and to this site.