The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NYDN: Yankees can pay most for Shohei Otani, with one exception

MLB rules prohibit the Yankees from blowing away the competition when it comes to paying Shohei Otani.

But they’ll still have advantage over 28 other teams when it comes to how much they can offer the 23-year-old, two-way star from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball League, assuming he’s eligible to come to the majors in 2018.

The Bombers can offer Otani a $3.25 million signing bonus, according to a report from the Associated Press. Only the Rangers, at $3.535 million, can offer more. The Twins are next, at $3.245 million.

Other big market clubs can offer the following: Red Sox ($462,000), Cubs ($300,000), Dodgers ($300,000).

It must be noted, however, that Otani isn’t coming over strictly for the money. If that were the case, he’d wait until he turns 25, when there is no limit on how much teams can offer.

I’d like to think this is an advantage, but Otani doesn’t seem to be the type who cares about money as the last sentence notes.

I’m fairly certain the Yankees will pursue Otani heavily, and they should.  But so should every single team in baseball.  I would think AL teams will have an advantage as he’s pretty much strictly a DH when he’s not pitching now (has not seen the OF since six games in 2014).

The question we obviously must ask is how good will Otani be?  We can look at what he’s done so far in Japan, courtesy of Baseball Reference  First, here are his offensive numbers.  As noted,  although he played some OF his first two years, he’s been strictly a DH for the last three.

 Year  Age  Tm  Lg  Lev  G  PA  AB  R  H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB  SO  BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
 2013  18  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 77  204   189  14  45  15  1  3   20  4  1  12  64  .238   .284  .376  .660 
 2014  19  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 87  234   212  32  58  17  1  10   31  1  0  21  48  .274   .338  .505  .842 
 2015  20  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 70  119   109  15  22  4  0  5   17  1  0  8  43  .202   .252  .376  .628 
 2016  21  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 104   382  323  65  104  18  1   22  67  7  2  54  98   .322  .416  .588  1.004 
 2017  22  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 65  231   202  24  67  16  1  8   31  0  1  24  63  .332   .403  .540  .942 
 Total      403  1170  1035  150   296  70  4  48  166  13   4  119  316  .286  .358   .500  .859 

That 2016 line really grabs your attention.  He has fought some injuries in 2017 but his production is still pretty solid, albeit with a bit less power.

Here’s are his lines on the mound.

 Year  Age Tm  Lg Lev  W L  ERA RAvg  G GS  IP H  R ER  HR BB  IBB SO
 2013  18  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 3  0   4.23  4.38  13  11  61.2   57  30  29  4  33  0   46 
 2014  19  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 11  4   2.61  2.9  24  24  155.1   125  50  45  7  57  0   179 
 2015  20  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 15  5   2.24  2.24  22  22  160.2   100  40  40  7  46  0   196 
 2016  21  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 10  4   1.86  2.12  21  20  140   89  33  29  4  45  0   174 
 2017  22  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 3  2   3.2  3.2  5  5  25.1  13   9  9  2  19  0  29 
 Total      42  15  2.52  2.69  85   82  543  384  162  152   24  200  0  624 

Injuries have kept Otani off the mound for a lot of 2017.  For what it’s worth, here’s how a couple of other recent Japanese pitchers that came over to MLB did through age 22.

 Tanaka  Age Tm  Lg Lev  W L  ERA RAvg  G GS  IP H  R ER  HR BB  IBB SO
 2007  18  Rakuten  JPPL Fgn 11  7   3.82  4.01  28  28  186.3   183  83  79  17  68  2   196 
 2008  19  Rakuten  JPPL Fgn 9  7   3.49  3.7  25  24  172.7   171  71  67  9  54  3   159 
 2009  20  Rakuten  JPPL Fgn 15  6   2.33  2.42  25  24  189.7   170  51  49  13  43  0   171 
 2010  21  Rakuten  JPPL Fgn 11  6   2.5  2.73  20  20  155   159  47  43  9  32  1   119 
 2011  22  Rakuten  JPPL Fgn 19  5   1.27  1.39  27  27  226.3   171  35  32  8  27  0   241 
 Total      65  31  2.61  2.78  125   123  930  854  287  270   56  224  6  886 
 Darvish  Age Tm  Lg Lev  W L  ERA RAvg  G GS  IP H  R ER  HR BB  IBB SO
 2005  18  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 5  5   3.53  3.53  14  14  94.33   97  37  37  7  48  1   52 
 2006  19  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 12  5   2.89  3.31  25  24  149.7   128  55  48  12  64  0   115 
 2007  20  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 15  5   1.82  2.08  26  26  207.7   123  48  42  9  49  1   210 
 2008  21  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 16  4   1.88  1.97  25  24  200.7   136  44  42  11  44  0   208 
 2009  22  Nippon Ham  JPPL Fgn 15  5   1.73  1.78  23  23  182   118  36  35  9  45  0   167 
 Total      63  24  2.2  2.37  113   111  834.3  602  220  204   48  250  2  752 

On a rate basis, Otani’s been just about as good as Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish were through the same age, although they both were able to log significantly more innings.  Darvish pitched for the same team as Otani but Tanaka also pitched in the Pacific League, which uses the DH.

Anyway, what he’s done so far in a different league may give us some inkling of his talent but it doesn’t necessarily tell us what he would do in MLB.  I’ve finished up my first set of CAIRO 2018 and although it may change, here’s the first crack at projecting Otani as a DH.

 Percentile  PA AB  R H  2B 3B  HR RBI  BB SO  SB CS  avg obp  slg ops  oWAR
 80%  385  346  61   104  24  3  18  57  39   76  8  0  .301  .387   .546  .933  2.5 
 65%  368  330  54   94  20  2  16  51  35   77  6  1  .286  .363   .504  .867  1.6 
 Baseline 350  315   48  85  17  2  13  45   30  78  5  2  .271  .340   .461  .801  0.7 
 35%  280  252  36   65  12  1  9  33  22   66  3  2  .256  .316   .419  .734  0.0 
 20%  210  189  25   46  8  0  6  23  15   52  2  2  .242  .292   .376  .668  -0.5 

The average slash line for DHs in the AL last year was .243/.317/.418.  Given Otani’s youth and the fact that he bats left-handed, it’s not crazy to think he could give you that 65% forecast out of DH if he were a Yankee.

Otani isn’t really being looked at for his offense though.  While there’s some potential to get some offense out of him, teams want him for his arm.

Percentile W  L IP  H R  ER HR  BB SO  RA ERA  FIP WAR
 80%  16  5  187   132  66  60  12  48  175   3.18  2.90  2.98  6.7 
 65%  13  6  168   129  66  60  13  49  157   3.54  3.23  3.28  5.3 
 Baseline 10  7   150  126  65  60  14  49   140  3.93  3.60  3.60  4.1 
 35%  7  6  115   105  56  51  12  42  107   4.35  3.99  3.96  2.6 
 20%  4  5  83   82  44  41  10  34  77   4.81  4.42  4.38  1.4 

The standard caveats about projections apply, but in Otani’s case doubly so.  That being said, you can sign Otani and imagine getting 10 WAR out of him at the plate and on the mound.  But even if he just hits that 35% forecast as a pitcher and as a hitter, he’s still going to a valuable player to have.  And you can dream on his tools and the potential to market him as a true two-way player, the likes of which the game hasn’t seen Brooks Kieschnick or Micah Owings.

On the mound, Ohtani has as good a fastball as anyone in baseball. He’s been up to 102 mph and touches triple digits with some regularity. Ohtani throws a nasty splitter and a slider that’s just as good, and it all comes from a loose, athletic, 6-foot-5 frame and delivery.

“He’s every bit of a top-end-of-the-rotation starter,” said another international scouting director who saw Ohtani pitch recently. “He threw well the other day, even if his command was a little off. The stuff is there. He has all the pitches he needs. He’s 23 and everything works. He’s shown he can put it together in the Japan League. For me, he would go straight to the big leagues and figure it out there.”

That report alone—three plus pitches, with a tall and athletic frame to go along with easily repeatable mechanics—would be more than enough to have teams line up to try and sign Ohtani. But even those who feel the arm is ahead of the bat agree there are some impressive offensive tools to consider.

“He’s a big, strong guy,” the second scouting director said. “At 6-foot-5, he’s a long-lever guy. He has shortened up his swing a little and has the chance to hit for some power. When you have a top-end-of-rotation guy, he’s more of a pitcher for me. But he has the chance to be a good hitter. He’s a very, very good athlete.”

“Ohtani is already hitting really well at [Japan’s] highest level,” a third director said. “But you don’t see the pitching there that you see here.”

The first scouting director said he’d put Ohtani’s raw power among the best of any player at any level currently and also had recorded home-to-first times at 3.9 seconds, which is well above average and a part of his game not often discussed. All agreed that if Ohtani wanted to just hit, teams would be very interested in his services.

I’ve read that Otani idolizes Darvish and whomever signs Darvish will have an edge in signing Otani as well.  Combined with the fact that they have the most to offer him and are probably interested in bringing back Darvish, I’d say the Rangers are probably the favorites to wind up with Otani.  But it would awesome if the Yankees somehow managed to snag him.

--Posted at 9:46 am by SG / 112 Comments | - (0)


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So Tanaka opting in hurts the Yankees chances because they can’t get Darvish and Otani?  I’m not sure I’m buying that.  I think the Yankees have as good a chance as anyone.

If it isn’t the money, it has to be about the big stage, right?  If that’s the case Ohtani has to be looking at the good young teams who will be in the playoffs in the next few years—Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Cubs, Indians, maybe Diamondbacks.  Possibly St. Louis.  Maybe even the Angels as pitching is a huge need for them, they have the best player ever, and are a big market team.

Was he a DH in Japan or did he field in games he didn’t pitch?

How effective would it be for NY to roll out former Japanese players to sell the Yankees? Matsui, Ichiro, Kuroda. All big Japanese legends who loved it here.

He was a DH in Japan, at least the last few seasons.

By the way, Darvish is his PITCHING idol, but his HITTING idol was Matsui, so who the heck knows what the importance of his idols are to where he goes next year.

[3] I could’ve sworn I mentioned that in the article…

[5] - Well if Matsui is his porn guru then we actually have something.  That probably plays better in NYC than Texas.

[3] He used to play OF some, but has been DH pretty much exclusively over the past 2 years.

His ability to hit would seem to be a great hedge against a potential failure to succeed as a pitcher.

The money may not be a deciding factor, but it’s nice that the Yankees have eliminated that as an issue for them.  Also, an extra two or three million dollars is nothing to sneeze at if you haven’t had a big payday yet. Every year guys are fighting over that kind of money in arbitration.

[7]  You don’t even wanna know the weird shit they get into down in Texas.  Three words:  Kitchen drawer organizers.

Speaking of Texas, I finally watched Tower, a devastating doc about the 1966 UT mass killing.

Also watched Mindhunter.  It grew on me but the last episode was a letdown.

Finally watched the last episode of Luke Cage; I kind of lost interest after the death of that one character (trying not to spoil too much).  But the last episode drew me back in.  MORE!

Also, is it just me or does the Luke Cage timeline not square at all with the Luke Cage in Jessica Jones timeline?

The Yankees should try and trade some of their 40 man roster excess for a few more $$$ in international signing pool money.  Might help them in their bid for Otani.

[6] You did. My mistake.

I liked Mindhunter a lot, some of the episodes were better than others but the show did not play it safe.  I really liked Jonathan Groff’s take on the lead. Wanted also on Netflix is a fun escapist Aussie show, not great but eminently watchable.  Ozark was mostly great.  Give me more crime fiction please. I wasn’t a fan of the first season of Better Things but season 2 is terrific.

[11] I liked Mindhunter by and large, but the writing was shockingly bad at times and the last episode was not great.

Luke Cage had some of the highest highs of the Netflix-Marvel shows, but it really scuffled in parts. Overall it’s probably my favorite, due to a strong sense of place and community.

[12] That’s a great idea even if it doesn’t help to land Otani. They have good prospects that will be taken in the Rule 5

I really want this guy, I’ve always wanted to see a true two-way player

[12] There’s a limit to how much extra money they can get. I know they’ve already made a few trades to bolster those funds, they may be pretty close to the cap.

If he succeeds will that start a mini trend? If he is significantly better one way and the team wants him to concentrate exclusively that way will there be friction?

[18] Is there a limit on how much you can have at one point, or how much you can acquire?  They traded for a lot but used a fair amount of it to sign some Latin American players already.

ETA:  Trying to answer my own question.

Teams can also trade pool space once the signing period opens on July 2. They can acquire up to 75 percent of their original pool allocation in 2017-18 and 2018-19, then after that they can trade for up to 60 percent of their original pool. Teams are allowed to trade away as much of their pool as they want. So a team that starts with a $4.75 million pool could trade up to around $8.3 million, while a team with $5.75 million could trade up to get a little more than $10 million. One difference in the new CBA is that teams will now be allowed to trade for additional pool space even if they have already spent their full pool allotment. Under the previous system, a team’s bonus pool consisted of four individual slot values, and trading pool space required trading those slot values. The new system is just a straight bonus pool with no individual slot values, so that should make things simpler with regards to trades.

The Yankees had $4.75M originally.  I am not sure how much they acquired but if it’s less than $3.5625M they may still be able to get a bit more.  They got $1.5M from Oakland in the Sonny Gray trade and got some undisclosed amounts in trades with Baltimore for Yefry Ramirez and Matt Wotherspoon.

They may be able to get another $1M or so?

[20] I think it’s a limit to total use, which is essentially a limit on how much you can acquire.

[19] Brendan McKay was drafted as a 2-way player this year.

He hit .323/.49/.376 in 149 PA in A- and pitched to a 1.8 ERA with a 4.2 K/BB ratio in 20 innings at the same level.

The Red Sox had a 2-way prospect not too long ago who was a top 100 prospect that fizzled out.

[22] Frankie Rodriguez?  Not too long ago is like 25 years ago now.

[22] Casey Kelly. But he wasn’t a true 2-way guy IIRC. He had ability on both sides of the ball but only focused on one at a time. He started off as a SS, but abandoned after a year or so and moved to the mound.

Romine for Brandon McKay, do it.

21 BA 232

I was more of a fan of Pat Venditte personally.

Rick Ankiel was a two-way guy. Technically.


But is he wrong? When someone does something stupid, when did it become unacceptable to point that out just because his stupidity killed him?

Wonderful Willie Smith was a two way player in the 60’s.

But is he wrong? When someone does something stupid, when did it become unacceptable to point that out just because his stupidity killed him?

Dude said “he got what he deserved.” That’s way beyond the pale.

It a harsh way of putting it and I certainly didn’t put it that way but

“He got what he should have expected” sounds better but doesn’t really change the meaning.

[26] Yes, I mistyped. But, that’s not a terrible line for a guy right out of college already in full season. My guess is that the experiment won’t last, but it has some legs.

that middle slash was .349

Brandon Pinder lifetime OPS 3.000, OPS+ 694

[29] Do we know that Halladay was doing something stupid though?  Maybe he wasn’t flying recklessly and there was a problem with the plane?

If the investigation shows that it was Halladay’s fault, then Felger can say whatever the hell he wants.  He wouldn’t be wrong.  He’d still be an asshole, but that’s his right.

[35] From what I’ve gleaned of the stories, he may have had a penchant for flying low to the water. Which is inherently dangerous and reckless, as you have no altitude to work with for a safe crash landing in the event of a malfunction and even with no mechanical issue, everything happens very quickly. Kinda like going 70 mph through parking lots.

I’m sorry Roy Halladay is dead, but I’m not sorrier he’d dead than I am about many other people who are also dead.  If I was a particular fan of his of his teams I’d feel differently of course, but I wasn’t, and I don’t think one ought to be obligated to mourn him especially.

I kind of think there’s overreaction on both sides.  Felger’s a dick.  But Dave Cameron maundering on about Halladay is also excessive.  It’s not even a blow to the game of baseball like Munson or Fernandez as Halladay was retired. 

It’s terribly sad for his family, but you know, he was engaging in a dangerous activity by choice.

But like, who gives a shit if it was his fault? We’re sad he died. No one fucking cares what your (whoever) evaluation of that is. If the best you can contribute is that, then fuck off.

Yu Darvish is a playoff choker.  Why would you want to sign a pitcher who idolizes a failure?

[35] I posted a tweet the day it happened, between Halladay and his son about Roy flying low over the water. No margin for error if you get too low. Make an adjustment, say by tipping one wing a little to far, it hits the water, you’re done.

[37] Ding, Ding, Ding !

Yeah, it’s a shame, but not particularly moreso than anyone else who dies young, other than at someone else’s hand.

The thing that gets me is people act as if it’s almost more of a tragedy because he was a great pitcher.

37/41 Yep.

I saw a headline that we’re considering Aarong fucking Boone as manager?  I hope that’s just agent talk.

[35] There may be a problem with the aircraft too. There are ~20 of them that have been made and sold since 2014 and 3 have crashed.

That seems… very high.

[38] Thank you. Those who minimize the dude’s death are as bad if not worse than those who deify him. He was a great pitcher and apparently a good guy. It’s entirely reasonable for people to be bummed about him going at a young age regardless of the circumstances. Can’t we leave it there?

[38]  Are you responding to my [37] or something else?

Way OT but I just came here to predict that the next NYC manager
Will be David Cone.

35 SG, TMZ has video of him flying just prior to the crash, it looked pretty aggressive.

The punishment for doing something stupid isn’t the death penalty.  He didn’t “get what he deserved.” Even if he was flying recklessly.

(42)  I agree.  I doubt he would be getting the same treatment if he was a baker in Syria and not a HOF-worthy pitcher.

50 Or even a league average MLB veteran.

I have consistently told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up on Ohtani, but it happened anyway.  My hopes are up.  I hope they don’t come crashing down. 

I remember seeing Yu pitching in Japan in 2008, following his career, and hoping the Yankees would sign him when he came over.  I was crushed.  I don’t want that to happen again.

Athletes are just people. I don’t put them on a pedestal, I don’t think they are above mistakes, I don’t grieve for them more than anyone else I don’t know. Yeah, shock jock shock jocked but he’s not above being criticized for really reckless behavior just because he was great at baseball.

The issue is not whether a guy could be criticized for making a poor decision that possibly led to his death, but that the radio host said that “he got what he deserved,” which is a horrible thing to say. Had he not said that, then this would not be a story. You can criticize Halladay for engaging in risky behavior that led to his death, just don’t say horrible things like “he got what he deserved.”

Just in case it was missed, Ohtani will definitely be posted - the Nippon-Ham Fighters have announced that they will post him. Start the wooing!

Can we as a culture really not come together and decide how to spell this guy’s name?

As for Halladay I believe “He knew what he signed up for” is the appropriate popular current phrase you guys are looking for here.

[50] No need to doubt, you can be sure. We directly kill 2-3 civilians a day on average in our proxy war with Russia in Syria.

Also, the Yankees announced that they will be testing out earlier start times next spring. 7 weekday games in April will start at 635 instead of 710. Seems like a good idea to me.

[54] He’s a shock jock. He’s going to be outrageous.  However, to be fair to him, I just listened to the clip, he said it about himself. He was talking about when he went heli-skiing once and how stupid it was and how he will never do it again. He said if he dies heli-skiing people should say about him “He got what he deserved.”

[56] Maybe we should just use Shohei, there seems to be agreement on how to spell that.

I’m pretty sure it’s Otani.

[60] That’s what I’ve generally used, but I copied and pasted this AM and didn’t realize it was the ‘h’ spelling.

If he can hit and becomes a Yankee, he’ll be Ohtano.

I think you are forgetting Girardo is gone.

Wouldn’t it have been Ohtaney?

I’ve seen it written as both Otani and Ohtani.  I prefer to save the bandwidth and use the shorter version.

[64] No, Shoheiey.

If he borrows something, he gives you a Shoheiey IOU.

By the way, the analysis in the OP is awesome.  It’s great to see some projections on this guy on both sides of the ball. Well done.

(68) Ditto!

Just for some additional context, Halladay’s plane was designed and sold for amphibious, recreational flying - including flying at dangerously low altitudes over water, and the kind of stunt flying he was seen doing. I don’t know if that makes what he was doing any less ill-advised for a guy with a family, but he was doing something risky that he loved with what was at least nominally appropriate equipment, so one has to ask what degree of risk-taking is appropriate for a given person’s life situation. If I were Halladay’s friend, and he asked me for my advice, I would have told him to get a less dangerous hobby. But I’m a very risk averse person. I’d tell him not to ride a motorcycle, or jump out of airplanes, or a whole bunch of other things.

My uncle was a jet mechanic. Regarding the way these things get reported and officially classified, he always said “Everything is pilot error, even when it isn’t.”

This is from MLB Trade Rumors:

Astute readers will note that MLBTR has now adopted a new spelling. Previously, for a variety of reasons, we utilized the anglicization “Otani.” We have now confirmed, however, that the spelling “Ohtani” is the formal spelling likely to be utilized in his potential transition to the majors.


[72] Sounds confusing. He should just sign with a team that doesn’t put names on their jerseys.

[74]  Finally, someone making sense.

ESPN “Former Cleveland and Seattle manager Eric Wedge has become the second person to interview with the New York Yankees for their dugout opening. He was voted AL Manager of the Year in 2007, when the Indians won the AL Central, beat the Yankees in the Division Series and lost to Boston in a seven-game Championship Series. He was fired in 2009 after seven seasons with a 561-573 record.

Wedge was hired as Seattle’s manager before the 2011 season. The Mariners went 213-273 over three seasons before he turned down a one-year contract, leaving his overall record at 774-846.”

I don’t make an effort to closely follow every team in baseball because why would I, but for the life of me I cannot tell anyone on the Cubs apart or remember who they are.  Kris Schwarber?  Jose Baez?  Are they good or what positions do they play or what do they look like?  No idea.  In conclusion, Chicago is a cow town.

[76] I do not like the direction this search is going.

Wedge is pretty much the exact manager that I was thinking of the other day when I was complaining about how dumb Manager of the Year can be. Indians and Mariners fans haaaated that guy.

Just give a new guy a chance! Groom a good manager instead of giving a mediocre retread another chance.

Who’s the most mediocre manager available?  Terry Collins?  Ned Yost is still under contract, right?

I got it you guys…THE RETURN OF LARUSSA!  Not mediocre, of course, just bad (now).

Buddy Groom?

[80] Didn’t LaRussa just join the Red Sox?

Is Stump Merrill still alive?

I didn’t like the idea of moving on from a proven good manager, but I at least respected the idea that Cashman just wanted his own guy. I can deal with that. But Eric Wedge and Brad freaking Ausmus? Did Cashman even put any thought into this?  I thought we’d be seeing interesting young guys like Jay Bell and Bam Bam Muelens. Jerry Hairston sounded intriguing. Not mediocre guys roughly Girardi’s age who were not well regarded in their previous jobs.

I hope the Yankees are taking David Cone’s interest seriously. But I doubt it.

Why was Jerry Hairston interesting?  I’d prefer someone with some minor league managerial or major league coaching experience or a proven thinker like Coney.

[73] オオタニ

Hairston is a charming guy with great communication skills (he’s also fluent in Spanish) who is big into analytics. He’s pretty much the prototype for the type of manager Cashman was supposedly looking for.

The knock on him is no previous coaching experience, which is why I put Bell and Muelens ahead of him.

Hairston actually tried to argue the other day that he viewed himself as more of a coach than a player during his career, since he was always a backup and spending time with the younger players as a vet.

Bell, though, would probably be my personal pick.

88 Steroid accusations might be a hurdle.

I love the idea of Cone, but I still think he wouldn’t do it.  Too hard and I think he’d have a hard time dealing with Cashman and the Steins.

Who cares about the spelling. The Yankees don’t have names on their uniforms.

91 He’s interested.

If they offer it to Coney I will send a bottle of Scotch to the manager’s office every night just to see how the postgame pressers go.

I think they are hoping lightning will strike twice with the new hire. Get some retread who has never had success and turn him into a hall of famer backed by generational talent.

I’d love Cone. He’d probably hate it, but it’d be a hell of a ride while it lasted.

I think they are hoping lightning will strike twice with the new hire. Get some retread who has never had success and turn him into a hall of famer backed by generational talent.

Torre didn’t have a great resume, but he was still much better regarded than Ausmus and Wedge. His then-recent stint with the Cardinals got him a lot of acclaim.

But yes, Torre certainly wasn’t a high profile hire at the time. He sort of screamed “transitional hire.”

Torre was the kind of guy who could impress George, though.  “That’s a real baseball man right there,” I can almost hear him saying.  Then again, George also hired Stump Merrill.  Or was that when he was suspended?

Looking back at the Cardinals, I totally forgot how quickly they recovered from the 1995 fire sale. They had new owners who wanted to win, so they put money right into the club and they went right back to winning in 1996.

“Clueless Joe.”

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