Upon further review, the Yankees' future prospects don't look so exciting
Yesterday, some happy news skipped merrily across the Yankiverse:
The Death Barge ranks 13th - top half! - among MLB farm systems, according to Baseball America, the sport's Wall Street Journal of Mel Kipers, in a Dateline Hollywood sort of way.
Thirteenth... our lucky number.
Immediately, this news called for the prideful popping of corks and buttons. Despite trading 10 prospects last July for Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Heaney, Clay Holmes and Joey Gallo - the Bore Four - the Yankees still scored an above average farm system. This came about due to some breakout seasons - (Anthony Volpe, mostly) - and some old-fashioned, machine-tooled hype. (Jasson "the Martian" Dominguez.)
And don't get me wrong: It's okay to publicize prospects. Everybody does. It's fun. Now and then, I still visit that fantastical, alt-Yankiverse where Brien Taylor will enter Cooperstown this summer. R.I.P., Bri... if not for that bar brawl...
So... thirteenth! Congrats to Brian Cashman and his crackerjack front office team of grizzled, 0.28-BAC scouts and Halo-obsessed weenie wonks. The Yankees even topped their crosstown rivals, who rank 16th.
But but BUT... a few small-print amendments should be added to President Biden's congratulatory resolution. Consider that:
1. The Tampa Rays rank 2nd, behind Seattle - this, after unveiling Wander Franco, and fielding a team so fundamentally superior to ours that, were this the NFL, they'd be flagged for taunting. How does Tampa do it? Year after year, instead of clinging to their Garys, their Lukes and their Gleybers, they peddle them for younger versions, and then they eat our lunches right out of the bag. You were traumatized by last year's infusion of young talent? It's going to keep coming. The AL East in 2022 looks like a battle for second place.
2. Baltimore ranks 4th. I cannot stress this more heartedly: The Orioles cannot finish last forever. It goes against Newton's First Law of Thermodynamics and whatever time-travel theories Alex Jones will someday concoct.
In recent years, the Yankees have come to rely on Baltimore to lift us from the doldrums. They generally tortured the O's the way Trump does Lindsey Graham. Gleyber Torres made a career out of it. One of these days, those three-game sweeps will reverse themselves, and we will flounder like one of Gerrit Cole's gopher balls. Imagine a world where Baltimore cuffs us around. It can happen here.
3. The Redsocks rank 11th. This stems, in part, from their willingness to tank during the wretched Covid season of 2020. Supposedly, their top draft pick last June - Marcelo Mayer, the 4th chosen and the first high-schooler -is to the 2021 draft what Derek Jeter was to 1992 (Jeet was 6th) It's probably just hype, right? Yeahp, I'm going with hype. Not real. Hype, okay?
4. Alas, we did top one team in the AL East: Toronto, which ranks 19th. And while I'm happy to celebrate this grand victory, one reason for the relatively sobering Blue Jays' rating is the age of their lineup. Last year, they moved their best prospects to the Ukraine front lines.
This year, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will turn 23 - younger than Gleyber. Bo Bichette and Alek Manoah (9-2, 3.22 ERA) will turn 24, younger than Clarke Schmidt.
And every trade rumor currently rattling around the Yankiverse has Cooperstown Cashman dealing prospects - trading more of our future for some other team's past. Hal is not going to spring for Freddie Freeman. We'll be lucky if he does right by Aaron Judge.
In weak moments, I actually wonder: Should we root for the lockout? Because once it's over, our problems begin.