Getty Images

Yankees ‘kicking the tires’ on Stanton, but don’t hold your breath Yankees fans

19 Comments

In the wake of last night’s report that Giancarlo Stanton is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause for the Cardinals and Giants, but would do so for the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Astros, a new round of trade speculation and rumors has begun. First up, assessing the intent of the Yankees, who newly find themselves in the Stanton conversation.

From the Daily News:

According to a report, the Marlins slugger named the Yankees among three other teams he’d be willing to accept a trade. The 2017 NL home run king reportedly went so far as to even say he is “inclined” to accept a move to the Bronx.

Despite having an exorbitant price tag, the Yankees are apparently “kicking the tires” on Stanton, whom Marlins owner Derek Jeter has been actively shopping since taking over the strapped franchise.

Eh, color me super skeptical.

For as cool as it would be for the Yankees to have two near-60 homer dudes in the middle of the lineup, it doesn’t strike me as a move they need to make or a move that is in keeping with what we know about their current organizational philosophy.

Whether you agree it’s a smart move or a necessary move or not, the Yankees have, for a many years now, made it clear that they seek to get below the luxury tax threshold. They haven’t yet been able to do it, but the goal is within sight. If they get below it for just one year, they basically reset the luxury tax penalty clock, going from the current 50% tax they pay for every dollar above the threshold they land to only 20% the next time they cross it. At the moment the tax cutoff is a payroll of $197 million. It’s hard to see how they could keep below that while taking on the massive salary the Marlins would likely expect the Yankees to take on in a Stanton deal.

Setting luxury tax considerations aside, you have to look at what you’re sacrificing if you’re the Yankees. A Stanton deal will not only require the Yankees to take on some salary they don’t want to take on, but will require them to part with at least a couple of good prospects form their stacked system. If the Yankees are going to deal prospects — and given that they’re in a win-now posture, they will inevitably do so at some point — why not hold on to them for a deal that makes more sense for them? No, there aren’t many more players better than Stanton, but there may be players who better fill the Yankees’ needs than Stanton does. New York already hits more homers than anyone. Maybe dealing some of that prospect talent for a pitcher or a third baseman makes more sense?

Finally, there’s the possibility that, if you commit close to $30 million to Stanton a year for the next 2-10 years, depending on whether he exercises his opt-out, you can’t pursue other high-profile players who hit free agency. Next year Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be free agents. If Brian Cashman commits to Stanton, it’s hard to see how Hal Steinbrenner opens the wallet for one of those guys. Guys who, however expensive they are, will not cost prospects in addition to dollars.

Stanton would look pretty darn good in pinstripes. He and Aaron Judge hitting back to back would scare the living daylights out of opposing pitchers. Trading for him would ensure that the Yankees added a blue chip player to their already potent attack while holding off for next year’s loaded free agent class guarantees them noting. And hey, it ain’t our money.

But I just don’t see how a trade for Stanton fits given what we know about how Yankees brass thinks. They’ve signaled, over and over again, that they’re eager to build a World Series contender mostly from within and within payroll parameters that look like those of most of the rest of the league, not as the financial alpha dog they were in the past. They came within one game of reaching the World Series just this past season with young players and less reliance on super high priced hired hands than they have in the past. I suspect they’ll continue on that course, at least for one more season.

It will take more than a cursory apology for Josh Hader to put this behind him

Getty Images
102 Comments

If you missed it, Brewers All-Star reliever Josh Hader landed in hot water the minute he stepped off the mound in Washington last night when multiple tweets he made in 2011-12* were uncovered containing some seriously gross, racist, misogynistic and homophobic language.

Almost as soon as it broke, Hader made a quick apology for the tweets, saying that he’s not the same person now than he was when he was 17 years-old. Major League Baseball is investigating the matter and Hader acknowledged that he must and that he will talk to his teammates about this, so the story is not over.

Some commenters and correspondents of mine, however, have said they believe it should be over. Indeed, they said it almost as soon as the news came to light. While a small handful of those folks likely take no issue with the language Hader used — there’s a lot of ugliness out there, particularly noticeable in the anonymous online world — others have simply, and it would appear genuinely, said that we should cut Hader slack for some bad choices he made when he was 17.

I will gladly cut Hader more slack for six and seven-year-old tweets he made as 17 year-old that he apologizes for genuinely than I would if he tweeted that stuff yesterday, but let’s not rush to “aww, he was just a kid” land seven hours and a night’s sleep after it all came to light. Indeed, there are many reasons why this is not a case for instant and automatic forgiveness.

This was not some kid breaking out a neighbor’s window with a slingshot. This was not someone saying “that’s gay” instead of “that’s dumb” in the way a lot of us have in the past. This was not someone using a word or phrase that only recently came to be accepted by most people as unacceptable or said something that, while not containing any awful individual words was insensitive, to use the parlance of the day. It was some seriously ugly language (go read it if you’d like), used consistently, repeatedly and confidently. It’s not from some hazy time in the past like the 1970s. It’s from 2011 and 2012. It’s language that he and everyone else knew, at the time, to be profoundly offensive to a massive number of people and which was unacceptable to use in a public forum. Not just now, with the hindsight of age and time, but then, even at the age he was. The tweets are a window into a really gross and disturbed person’s mind.

Hader should — and he will — be given the chance to apologize and to make amends. No one is suggesting he be banished to an island and he certainly won’t be, so don’t even make a suggestion that he is or will be any sort of victim of P.C. culture or whatever the hell else people cite in order to excuse their awful behavior or the awful behavior of others. At the same time, however, let us not let him off the hook with a cursory apology and a conclusory “I’m not like that anymore” statement to a beat writer five minutes after the controversy came to light.

For one thing, no one else would be given such an easy pass like that. No politician or musician or artist or job applicant or anyone else, famous or non-famous, would simply be able to cite being 17 as a get-out-of-decency-free card. We routinely try criminal defendants that age as adults. We make 17 year-olds of color conform their behavior to the most unreasonably high standards, set by others, in order to avoid being discriminated against or worse. For his part, Hader was an elite high school athlete who knew damn well that what he said and did in public was scrutinized in a fundamentally different way than what others said and did and nonetheless tweeted that garbage anyway. He did it either because his level of empathy and respect for women, blacks and homosexuals was defective and abhorrent or because he knew better and simply didn’t care.

I am not suggesting Hader not be given a chance to apologize and make amends for all of that. I am not suggesting that he not be able to continue to pitch late innings for the Milwaukee Brewers, become rich and famous and live his life happily and freely. I am merely saying that it is not too much to expect him now, less than 12 hours after all of this has come to light, to have to do some actual work to explain and atone for it. To not just say that he’s “a different person” now but to tell us how — apart from getting caught being obnoxious — he became a different person and what that really means. To expect him to explain this and to apologize to his teammates, and not just the two who happened to be in Washington with him last night. To explain and to apologize to his fans, many of whom are women and minorities, and to ask for their forgiveness and understanding.

I am not, to use a phrase someone threw at me last night, “on my high horse” about this. I am not holding Hader to some unreasonable, liberal/P.C/social justice warrior standard in which poor, victimized Josh Hader can simply not win. I am simply saying that this is far more serious than finding out some 80-year-old man jumped a subway turnstile back in 1954 and that the acceptance of responsibility, the apology and the work Hader has to do in light of this is not to issue some quick and cursory one offered to a national beat writer as he towels off after a postgame shower.

I realize our standards and expectations of certain public figures in this country have become impossibly low, but my God, they are not that low, nor should they be.

*There were some putative Hader tweets floating around Twitter of a more recent vintage, particularly one about Trayvon Martin from 2016, but there is reason to suspect at least that one is a Photoshop. Hader has locked his account, however, and it cannot be confirmed. It’s not really important, though, given that Hader has admitted to making multiple ugly tweets, to make such a determination at this moment, so we’ll leave the analysis of each and every individual tweet for another time.