Weekly Mailbag: More About Sign Stealing, Future Yankee Hall of Famers, and Domingo German!
OK, I’ve got cabin fever now. I’m ready for baseball. Just a few weeks left. I don’t even care that it’ll just be pitchers and catchers – I just want to see someone in a Yankee uniform on a baseball field, throwing a baseball. That will help me get through Winter just a bit easier.
This week, we’ve got more about sign stealing, future Yankee Hall of Famers, and Domingo German. Let’s get at it:
Gregory says: I know that this may be beating a dead horse, but I have my own take on why MLB didn’t suspend any players, even though Manfred said that the scheme was “player driven and player executed”. The CBA is up for renewal after next season (right?), so Manfred didn’t want to have wholesale grievances with the MLBPA and screw up the CBA negotiations. It was a payoff in advance and he made a deal that could endanger the integrity of the game, IMHO.
Gregory brings up a good point that I really didn’t cover in my public posts on the sign stealing scandal. Multiple people have opined that the MLB hasn’t suspended any players as a way of throwing a bone to the MLBPA prior to what is gearing up to be a contentious CBA negotiation. I’m perfectly cynical enough to make the same leaps that Gregory has made here.
However, I think there is a little more to it than just giving the MLBPA a gift prior to beginning CBA negotiations. Remember, this investigation started from the bottom-up. What I mean by that is that everyday people and a whistleblower brought the Astros’ sign stealing operation to light in very public fashion. Jomboy released viral videos of garbage cans banging in multiple situations when the Astros’ hitters were about to face an off-speed pitch from the opposing pitcher. Mike Fiers very bravely broke the standard teammate code to alert fans, fellow players, and the league that the Astros were, in fact, systematically stealing signs. The calls for an investigation came swiftly, creating a groundswell that MLB needed to take seriously and act very quickly.
In order to do that, MLB made the decision not to take the time to coordinate with the MLBPA on the investigation. I’m not necessarily saying that it was the correct choice, but I think that MLB made the expedient choice to ensure that their investigation was wrapped up well in advance of Spring Training. Had MLB suspended players as part of the punishments they handed out following the investigation, the league would have received monumental pushback from the MLBPA because no agreements about the investigation’s scope, potential punishments, etc. had been discussed or coordinated between the two sides.
I think that had MLB taken the time to at least engage the MLBPA, they may have come to some form of agreement so that some players could have been punished in some way, shape, or form. Because that didn’t happen, MLB was right to make the decision to abstain from penalizing players.
Now, was the decision to exclude negotiations with the MLBPA around sign stealing just for expediency’s sake? Or was it to throw MLBPA a bone prior to the CBA negotiations that should begin soon? The cynic in me tells me that both of these rationales were factors in MLB’s decision regarding process, but I think that the necessity to expedite the investigation due to populist upswell is a bigger factor than many have given credit to.
Mark asks: Would you say the 2020 Yankees will have no future Hall of Fame member?
OK, I let the cynic in me out to play in my last response, so I’d rather be optimistic and hopeful with this response: no! I look at the talent that is going to play on the 2020 roster, and I see no reason why multiple guys on the projected 2020 Yankees can’t produce Hall-of-Fame quality careers.
As much as the media has portrayed the Yankees as a team that has gone back to their old, evil ways by using Free Agency to supplement their team this year, the Yankees as a whole have a wonderful balance of young and veteran talent. Most importantly, the Yankees already have a player who is halfway to a Hall-of-Fame career, even if Yankee fans have taken to brushing off the possibility lately: Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton is about to play his age-30 season, so based on traditional aging curves, he could easily still produce 2-4 prime-quality seasons. For a guy like Stanton, a prime season could mean anywhere from 6.5-8.5 bWAR. He already has accumulated 39.9 bWAR, an MVP, 4 All-Star selections, and 308 HR. If he stays healthy, there is no reason why Stanton couldn’t finish his career with 60 bWAR, more All-Star selections, and 500+ HR. Numbers like that would make it pretty easy to call Stanton’s name for the Hall. Of course, he needs to stay healthy, which is the big question mark. It sounded like his injuries this past season were pretty fluky, so I have hope that he can come back strong in 2020, and continue his march towards the Hall-of-Fame.
I also mentioned the young guys on the roster. Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Gleyber Torres are all players who are about to play in their age-28 season or less (much less in Torres’ case) and have oodles of talent. Sanchez is about to play his age-27 season, thus entering his prime, and has as much talent as anyone on the roster. With some health, 5-6 All-Star caliber seasons, Sanchez could easily begin to make a case for himself. Judge, when healthy, is a perennial MVP candidate entering his age-28 season. We have no idea how a player Judge’s size will age, but if traditional aging curves are observed, it is certainly possible that Judge is worth 30+ bWAR over the next 5 years or so, which would make a compelling case. Torres has arrived as one of the best players in the league, and he should play an entire season at the toughest position on the diamond at 23 years old. Even based on conservative estimates of his projected performance over the next 5+ seasons, Glyeber could be one of the best middle infielders in the history of the Yankees when it’s all said and done…let’s just say, I believe!
On the pitcher side, it’s tougher to project just because pitcher is a Greek word that means “breaks often.” Personally, I think that Cole and Severino have the talent to put together some Cy Young caliber seasons over the next few years, which would put them in the conversation for enshrinement by the end of their careers.
I’m an optimist about projecting the current crop of Yankees, and I’m a pessimist about Hall of Fame voting in general, so I could be waaaaay off – but as I said, I believe.
Mark also asks: Do you think the Yankees allow Domingo German to wear pinstripes again? Or trade him to not have the backlash of a woman beater? Can you trade a suspended player?
First off, I haven’t found any current rules against trading a player who is currently suspended. The only comp for this scenario I could find was Hector Olivera, who was traded in what amounted to a salary swap between the Padres and Braves for Matt Kemp. As soon as Olivera’s suspension was over, the Padres released Olivera, and he never played in the big leagues again.
Domestic violence is an absolutely abhorrent crime, and I have my own opinions about how teams and MLB handle these incidents. Truthfully, the Yankees’ record on domestic violence really stinks. I have written numerous times just how slimy I think it is that the Yankees used Chapman’s pending suspension for domestic violence as a way to acquire him at a steep discount in the off-season of 2016, so I’m not sure the Yankees care much about the backlash from employing someone who has been punished for domestic violence beyond lip service. That’s especially true when the player is talented, like Chapman or in this case, Domingo German.
I’m not saying that German can’t find some way to redeem himself, but I’m not sure it really matters to the Yankees if he does. I hope that through treatment German can become a better person.
Most importantly, I hope his victim is safe and receives whatever support she needs. If the Yankees really care about domestic violence, that’s how they can prove it.
That’s all for this week! Great questions, as always. We’ll be back next week, so hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you guys around the blog over the weekend!