With the Yankees’ signing of Adam Ottavino, the obligatory “What do you think?”, “Is it a good move?” questions are getting bandied about. That may sound like a complaint, but it isn’t. All of us trying to convince each other that we can predict the future better than other people can is part of the allure of baseball, especially in the winter when there are no games being played about which we can rant.
But as is the case quite often in baseball, and in all areas of life I presume, the wrong question is being asked here.
With regards to player acquisition, the question should not be “Was it a good move?” but rather the question we need to ask is “Was it the best move?”
And most of us understand that no player acquisition decisions are black and white, zero-sum decisions – they’re mostly 60/40, 70/30 dice rolls and if you’re smart you just play the percentages. (Well OK – Stanton for Castro, was a black/white, 100/0, zero-sum decision.)
That being said, I get Ottavino’s slider. I get the 36% K rate. I get the Yankees bullpen.
But this was not the best move. Frankly, Brian Cashman has yet to make the best choice among any of his decisions this winter. I’m sure there are things happening behind the scenes to which we are not privy, but outwardly he’s sure acting like someone who’s OK with 2nd place in the AL East.
Ottavino only adds to what is an already formidable strength of the team. For some perspective, the Yankees had what was probably the best bullpen in the history of the sport last season and still couldn’t win their division, let alone a playoff series. Yes, David Robertson is a loss, but I would wager a good sum of money that if we asked the other 29 organizations if they’d trade their bullpens straight up for Chapman, Betances, Britton, and Green, they would.
And when you add to a strength, it only pulls your resources away from filling needs in other areas. (Yes, I know the idea that the Yankees have limited resources is silly, but they apparently believe that so we’re stuck having to entertain that ridiculous notion.) For example, to confuse us, Ken Davidoff in the NY Post suggested that the questionable health of C.C. Sabathia required additional bullpen depth.
Really? That sounds to me like you need starting pitching depth – am I missing something?
In addition to questions about the rotation’s health and therefore depth, you don’t have a sure thing at first base, your shortstop is out until mid-season and your third baseman just had one of the worst defensive seasons in the history of the sport. (I’ve covered this before, so you’re going to have to do your own research if you think I’m exaggerating about that – I’m not).
Ottavino isn’t going to help any of those situations.
But Manny Machado would have. Marwin Gonzalez would have. Patrick Corbin would have. Paul Goldschmidt would have and was available, as was Noah Syndergaard apparently. Why not go in one or more of those directions?
If you’re asking if signing Ottavino was a good move, you can certainly justify a yes answer based on the fact that the Yankees are better with him than they were without him and it cost zero players in return.
But they certainly aren’t 8 games better, which is how far back they finished behind Boston last season. And if you pick any two names from my list two paragraphs up, they probably would be 8 games better. (Adam Ottavino and DJ LeMahieu are not on that list if you didn’t notice.)
Mr. Cashman, by the power of Rollie Fingers’ mustache, I (we) hereby demand that you behave in a manner that suggests that 2nd place is in fact, not OK with you.
Disagree? Leave a comment below.
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