Buckley: Yankees’ future looks pretty good after trading deadline
We all did our part Monday to help turn the Major League Baseball trade deadline into the off-field equivalent of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
We saw glitzy television promos showing Yoenis Cespedes, Troy Tulowitzki and Johnny Cueto struttin’ their 2015 postseason stuff, accompanied by a reminder that all three of these studs had been acquired at the trade deadline.
The baseball writers whittled their index fingers to the bone as they banged out non-stop cell calls to their favorite scouts, agents and front-office suits.
We got blow-by-blow coverage on Twitter. The talk-show hosts analyzed and dissected every rumor. And every conversation in every corner of Boston began with: “Think the Sox’ll do anything?”
And they did, acquiring lefty reliever Fernando Abad from the Minnesota Twins for minor-league pitcher Pat Light.
Many Red Sox fans are unhappy, what with all the buzz that boss of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski might swing a deal for Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale, who, when he’s not slicing up throwback uniforms, is one of the game’s top pitchers. There was talk the Sox were in on hard-hitting Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Or that, Heaven forbid, Dombrowski might look to the Evil Empire and collect slugging Carlos Beltran from the closed-for-the-season Yankees.
But no. Minor-leaguer phenoms Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi remain safely tucked away at Double-A Portland. Instead of being stars of tomorrow for the White Sox, they remain stars of tomorrow for your Boston Red Sox.
Which brings us right back to the New York Yankees and to (depending on your outlook on life) some really, really good news. In calling it quits for this season by dealing Beltran and relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, we may be only a year or two away from a Red Sox-Yankees series with some oldtimey snack, crackle and pop.
If you’re the type who enjoys nothing better than seeing the Yankees flirting with last place, have a ball. But there’s a tenseness in the air when the Yankees and Red Sox are talented and swaggering at the same time, and that’s what’s been missing around here for several years.
The Yankees were starting to look like one of those old Bob Hope Christmas specials from the 1990s, when Hope and George Burns would limp out to the stage and do old vaudeville sketches from the 1920s. They were great . . . once . . . but had lost it. That’s the 2016 Yankees, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Vaudevillians in pinstripes.
It’s a sort of present-tense Oldtimers Day whenever A-Rod and Tex are in the lineup. But now, with the Yankees having acquired a truckload of can’t-miss, top-tier, Baseball America-approved prospects for Beltran, Chapman and Miller, the tense is being changed to the future, right before our eyes.
A-Rod, 41, and Tex, 36, are all about yesterday. They’re like Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense” — they’re ghosts but don’t know it. While I have a grudging fondness for A-Rod — Lordy, the man has been hugely entertaining over the years — he’s too old to carry a team. He’s had his Bronx run.
But turn the dial to the Yankees’ future, and that’s when the likes of righthander Dillon Tate, left-hander Justus Sheffield (Gary’s nephew), outfielder Clint Frazier, 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres and several other newly-acquired kids come into focus.
Frazier and Sheffield were acquired from the Indians for Miller. Tate is the big prize from the Texas Rangers in the Beltran deal. Torres arrived courtesy of the Chicago Cubs, whose president, Brookline’s Theo Epstein, goes directly to Cooperstown if he can do with that tortured franchise what he did with the 2004 Red Sox.
Now I can devote the next five paragraphs to telling you all about Frazier and Sheffield, Tate and Torres — where they were selected in the draft, and when, and their rankings in the various Top Prospects pools, and what they’ve done so far with the various Lynchburg Hillcats and Hickory Crawdads of the world. But let’s save some time: Everyone says they’re really, really good, and, for now, that’s all that really, really matters.
And that should have you very excited, Red Sox fans. Who knows? Maybe we’re just a year away from a bench-clearing brawl when Dillon Tate reacts to a Mookie Betts home run by drilling Yoan Moncada. Maybe Clint Frazier will take David Price out of the yard. Maybe he’ll style a little. Maybe Price won’t like that very much. Maybe. We can hope.
Disclaimer: I wanted Sale in Boston. He’d have put the Red Sox over the top. Now, as before, I see the Blue Jays winning the AL East and the Sox clamoring for a wild-card ticket. And I’m wondering who’ll get the ball in that one-game showdown against the Tigers, the Astros . . . whatever.
But it now looks like Moncada and Benintendi will eventually be playing with Betts, Xander Bogaerts and (thank heavens) Jackie Bradley Jr., with Dustin Pedroia as the fiery veteran who keeps ’em all in line.
And just as important, it looks like the Yankees might be back in business.
You might not like it.
Except that you will.