Some Gas Left in the Tank

Maybe a lot of people don't know that Boston never learned its lesson when they let the Yankees get Babe Ruth. Certainly, they thought the money was more important.

They thought they got even when, in May of 1930, they took another 50K plus part time player Cedric Durst for Red Ruffing, who was pitching with a lifetime win pct of .289 at the time. But Red Ruffing went on to become the all time Yankee winner at 231 (later surpassed by Whitey Ford) and had a winning pctge with the Yankees of .651, including four consecutive 20 win seasons in 36-39, the (then) record four consecutive WS victory seasons.

Even the fact that Boston decided NOT to trade Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio is small solace because they thought of it, at all. (Joe D. retired following the 51 season, while Ted dominated AL pitching (all-star in his final season of 1960) until he retired with the (then) most HRs in his final season (29) and he batted .316, and as Yogi would say, "Not too shabby."

Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater and a player to be named later (Mario Guerrero) still resonates with Beantown old timers Immediate dividends were paid by Lyle, and Cater was out of baseball by 1976.

But part of making the journey to the Yankees for cash and/or another player is the fact that you were not required to carry the team. The team had many great performers on hand. Take "Big Jawn" Johnny Mize, who was a great player with the Cardinals, who traded him to the Giants just before they (the Cards) won the pennant, in 1942. Then three years of WAR kept John busy elsewhere, but he came back and tied Ralph Kiner for two more consecutive HR titles, including 51 in 1947, even as he was getting old in the tooth, and still without a post season AB.

So when the Yankees needed bench strength, they bought John from the Giants in 1949. He finally got 2 ABs in the 1949 World Series (2 for 2) and the Yankees won the WS. As a matter of fact, in the five seasons that John played for the Yankees, they won the record five consecutive WS's; so John got late career bonus checks!.

Yet again, like Ruth, Ruffing, Lyle, and Mize, the pipeline to WS rings was exemplified when Boggs climbed that police horse in 1996, and Clemens climbed atop the Yankee dugout in 1999. Their demonstrations showed just how badly they wanted those rings!

Even in modern times, getting Hideki Matsui after all those seasons on artificial turf was a calculated gamble, but which paid dividends. Yes, they let him go one season too soon, but he EARNED his WS (MVP) ring in 2009, becoming the third Yankee to hit .600+ in WS play! And beside Matsui, formerly ringless A-Rod learned how valuable hitting to both left and right were when he also more than earned his 2009 ring.

Which leads us to the present.

While Youkilis got his WS rings in Boston, he is still young enough to redouble his efforts, knowing that third base is his through the All-star break. He's a good gamble, especially since he will have to conform and get rid of that ugly face hair, or reduce it to a clean cut "schnurrbart". And if he's too "psycho" in the clubhouse, well, then he won't last until the end of the year. I'm betting he chooses to play and play hard.

Lastly, I love the idea of signing Ichiro for two years. (It just became official on the 19th.) He is great "leadoff insurance" if the unthinkable happens to Derek. He takes the steam out of any BS bargaining by the post season useless Swisher or his agent. And with Grandy going overseas again this off season to play, he will have more time to worsen his bad habits and less time (with the clock running out on him) to respond to coaching and stop becoming another Kingman (as in -HR or whiff).

And despite the fact that the Angels have now become the pre-eminent hitting threat, we Yankee fans just got a taste of how useless regular season hitting can be if everyone swings for the big flies in October; and neither of these two signings are for "jack" men.

Good fill ups.


MATSUIFAN INC. 2007