Geography, taxes, octopus and other things that don’t matter in free agency

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A commenter this morning said that the Cleveland Indians make sense for Nick Swisher because he’s from Ohio. I love that stuff.

Swisher was born in Columbus and lived here as a kid and then moved to his father’s hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia where he went to high school. But he did come back and go to Ohio State, so let’s give him Ohio as his home for argument’s sake. Columbus is about 135 miles away from Cleveland. Or roughly as far as Springfield, Massachuesetts is from New York City. Yet, for some reason, I don’t see anyone talking about guys from there being good fits with the Yankees.*

The point isn’t to pick on that commenter, though, as a lot of people say things like that. The point is to note just how useless it is to cite such things as where someone grew up as having significant influence on multi-million dollar free agent decisions.

CC Sabathia is from California. Mark Teixeira is from Maryland. Cliff Lee is from Arkansas. Roy Oswalt has a farm in rural Illinois. All of these were supposed to be factors in where they signed or where they steered trades, but none of it mattered. Indeed, I can’t think of a a major free agent or a player with no-trade protection for whom such geographical concerns were dispositive in recent years.

Griffey to Cincinnati  maybe? Of course that was 12 years ago and probably had more to do with spring training homes than anything else. Javier Vazquez famously wanted to be east so he could fly to Puerto Rico easier. I recall Matt Williams needing to be in Arizona for family reasons at the end of his career.  But apart from that stuff, I’m drawing a blank.

Add geography to state income taxes, where the player’s wife likes to shop, Johnny Damon’s love of octopus and any other number of soft factors like that to the pile of things that are fun to talk about as we fill the time during the hot stove season, but which really don’t matter.

It’s the money and the winning, usually in that order, which make the difference. Everything else constitutes about a half of a percent of the determining factors.

 

*Spare me your “Massachusetts is culturally different than New York” stuff. I know it is. But Cleveland and Columbus are culturally different as well. Remarkably so, as are just about any two other places that are separated by that kind of distance east of the Mississippi river.

Aaron Judge exits game with left oblique injury

Aaron Judge
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Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was shaken up during Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Royals. The slugger appeared to tweak his left side after hitting a single off of Glenn Sparkman in the sixth inning, and was wincing in pain as team trainers attended to him. Per an official announcement from the club, he sustained a left oblique injury and will undergo an MRI at the New York Presbyterian Hospital this afternoon.

While it’s not yet clear how long Judge will be out of commission, it’s a worrying injury given his history. The 26-year-old outfielder was similarly sidelined in 2016 after a right oblique strain brought an abrupt end to his first MLB call-up, and missed significant time again in 2018 after fracturing his right wrist. It’s also a blow to the Yankees, who currently have a dozen players nursing injuries from bone spurs to rotator cuff issues on the injured list.

Prior to Saturday’s incident, Judge went 2-for-4 with a first-inning home run and a base hit, adding to a healthy .288/.404/.521 batting line and running total of five homers, 11 RBI, and a .925 OPS through his first 89 plate appearances of 2019. He was replaced by infielder/outfielder Tyler Wade, who stepped in to pinch-run in the sixth and returned at the top of the seventh to assume Judge’s post in right field.