Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yanks shouldn't go overboard for Cuban lefty

News that the Yankees and Red Sox are battling it out to sign Cuban lefthander Aroldis Chapman is not the least bit surprising, given the long-standing rivalry between the teams both on and off the field . The young pitcher has reportedly been clocked with a fastball over 100 mph, which has several teams drooling. But, of course, NY and Boston have the money and resources to outbid everyone else so it will likely come down to these two teams.

But if I were in the Yankee front office, I'd be leery about signing him. The last time the Yanks won a bidding war with the Saux for a stud Cuban pitcher, it didn't work out well for them. They gave Jose Contreras a 4-year, $32 million contract after he defected from Cuba. Contreras ended up being a major disappointment. He had flashes of brilliance with the Yanks and later the Chicago White Sox, but was inconsistent and never lived up to the hype.

The Yanks did hit gold when they signed Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Hernandez was a key member of the Yanks rotation during the title winning-runs in 1998-2000. He saved the Yanks historic 1998 season when they were down 2-1 to Cleveland in the American League Championship Series and was the MVP of the ALCS the following year.

But Hernandez was a known commodity, helping Cuba win a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics while Chapman had a mixed record in the World Baseball Classic this year. And even the Hernandez signing was risky, as it later became obvious that Hernandez was much older than the Yankees thought.

Bottom line, given the Yanks mixed success with Cuban pitchers, they shouldn't break the bank for Chapman, even if that means letting him go to Boston.

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