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Do the Astros or Yankees have a brighter future? A debate between fans

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Noted Astros process apologist CRPerry13 debates infamous Yankees Twitter troll @realMaxFairplay to settle the question that has been gnawing at the entire world for at least the last few minutes

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Seven Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Today, I am joined by infamous Yankees superfan @realMaxFairplay, who has become one of #AstrosTwitter’s favorite punching bags. Turns out, despite being a graduate-level troll, Max is a cool dude, if completely delusional about his Yankees.

The topic at hand? Who has a brighter near-term future, the Yankees or the Astros? Both teams are young and feature superstar-quality players.

Follow Max (or Chris) on Twitter for some amusing banter. Also, vote in his polls. If you are an Astros fan.

@realMaxFairplay
Sunday, 12 November 2017

Hey there, Fairplay here. You may know me from the infamous twitter account I run, @realMaxFairplay, where I educate baseball fans about how many championships, HOFers, retired numbers, etc. the Yankees have.

Recently I've run this Twitter poll about which team has a brighter future; the options are either the 27 time champion New York Yankees or the trash ass Astros.

Everything was going fine with the voting until biased Astros fans got involved and started retweeting it, which of course lead to skewing the results of the poll. I ran the poll again hoping that these idiots had their fun and would move on, but of course Astros fans have nothing better to do and the same thing just ended up happening again.

I ran the poll for a third time with the stipulations that you cannot vote in the poll or retweet the poll unless you follow me. Since I have way more Yankee fans than Astros fans who follow me, I thought for sure that this poll would would turn out better than the last two, but one glaring oversight on my part was of course Astros fans have absolutely no honor or class and have violated the rules of the poll.

At this point my strategy is to attempt to use reason with this psychotic fan base that seems to think that the laws of baseball have broken and the Yankees will stop producing dynasties while the Astros enjoy a 3peat or some such nonsense.

This is what is actually going to happen: The Yankees will enjoy an outfield consisting of Clint Frazier, Bryce Harper, and Aaron Judge and an infield that contains Manny Machado, Didi Gregorious, Greg Bird, and number one prospect Gleyber Torres, with Sanchez behind the plate. This is your Yankees for the next ten years.

We have seen this happen plenty of times before. We can see the script unfolding before our very eyes if we just simply pay attention. This is the New York Yankees we are talking about here.

No other team has a track record of consistently putting together a dynasty and winning championships. If the Astros got pushed to a game 7 with a Yankee dynasty that is in its infancy (I'd even argue it’s still in the womb), how the hell are they going to deal with what's coming?

The Astros aren't going to have to find a way to get better, they're going to have to find a way to get A LOT better. Somebody is going to have to explain to me how that happens and how they plan on keeping that kind of team together for ten years.

Let's assess the situation honestly and just accept that the Yankees are likely to add 5 more championships before 2030 while the Astros at some point in that time span go back to being the laughing stock of baseball.

Divisional Round - Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

@CRPerry13
Sunday, 12 November 2017

I had a nice outline in my head for how I would present my case that the Astros have a brighter future than the Yankees, but then I read your email. Your rambling nonsense has left me with a dilemma - do I present my rational argument for the Astros? Or do I merely ridicule your delusional vision of the Yankees?

Being a fair man, I am opting for both.

The Astros, who had the 18th-highest payroll to open 2017, have stated that once competitive, they expect to move into MLB's top five payrolls. That gives them plenty of room to sign two of the top ten hitters in baseball to long contracts: Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Around a core of those two MVP-quality players and established stars George Springer, Dallas Keuchel, Alex Bregman, Lance McCullers, and let's not forget future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, have the Astros positioned to be the AL favorite through 2019, and beyond. All it will take is some investment in the bullpen, which doubtless will happen this off-season.

My new friend, the possibility that has not entered your darkest nightmares is that your poll results are accurate. Beyond just the young major league talent that I named, there is this: "According to Neifi, a player evaluation and projection system that’s licensed to major league teams, the combined value of the Astros’ players under team control, at both the major- and minor-league levels, dwarfs that of any other team, exceeding the second-place Indians’ total by $244 million."

Read that sentence again: the organization that licenses valuation data to Major League Baseball says that the Astros' player value far exceeds any other club. Names like Tucker, Whitley, Bukauskus are household names. But there are already guys ready to contribute who profile as above-average major leaguers. Fisher. Reed. Moran. White. Martes. Musgrove. Armenteros. Paulino. With another wave of high-floor prospects just behind.

Case closed? Not quite. Allow me to destroy your fantasies. Because it pleases me.

First of all, your imaginary future Yankees are dependent on a couple of things: 1) All of the young players not sucking, and 2) signing all of the biggest upcoming free agents to monster contracts.

You understandably and realistically love your young players, particularly Judge, Frazier, Bird, and Torres. You should, because there is talent to dream on.

However, Astros fans can tell you, through their own pain during the last few seasons, that the cold hard reality of baseball can really sting when you realize how often toolsy top prospects and young players struggle against the best competition. Just ask us about Jon Singleton, Brett Wallace, Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Villar, Mike Foltynewicz, and Matt Dominguez. Ask us about J.R. Towles and Jordan Lyles. All of these were at one point Top 50-ish national prospects. And all were busts. Ask us about Mark Appel.

The problem with your named players is that their plate discipline blows.

Judge is a legit star, who ended up batting .228 during the 2nd half of the season, due to his huge strikeout rate and major league pitching adjusting to him. The playoffs underscored the risks of Judge-like players: When facing the best of the best, guys like Judge set strikeout records.

That brings me to Frazier, who has been a scout's darling for years, but who profiles as a low-average, low-OBP, average-power guy...whose minor league strikeout rate was nearly 30%. Yikes! And Torres? Another high-strikeout, low-power, defensive-first player who will probably struggle at the major league level. If high-walk, low-K former Top 2 prospect J.P. Crawford has struggled mightily, how will Torres, with amazing tools but questionable ability, translate to the majors? And am I supposed to be impressed by Bird, who batted .190/.288/.422 in his second major league season? He's a 1B with meh power who, like his friends, strikes out way too much.

For poor plate discipline players, the risk of complete bust is far far higher than the odds of stardom. The Yankees are heavily invested in toolsy prospects with questionable actual baseball skills, particularly at the plate. That's a boom-or-bust strategy that leans heavily towards bust. Sure, they might get one star player out of that whole bunch (my money is on Judge, whose power overcomes his deficiencies), but it mostly won't work out. The Astros had the fewest strikeouts in the league this season...300 fewer than the Yankees. And the Yankees' young crop looks to make the issue worse, not better.

And then there's the spend-like-crazy strategy. At this rate, Harper could net $35 million per season or more. Machado could be close to that as well. Your scenario of the Yankees landing BOTH of those guys, on top of (presumably) retaining Judge, Severino, Gregorius, and Sanchez on long contracts, is extremely far-fetched. Machado and Harper alone would represent one third of the Yankees' 2017 salaries. Gregorius has established himself as probably a $15M player after this season.

The modern Yankees have put their flag in the sand: they are NOT George Steinbrenner's "outspend everybody" Yankees anymore. Sure, they will probably always carry a Top 3 payroll. But in recent years, they have been unwilling to challenge the luxury tax threshold. So you can forget multiple signings of the best of the best young free agents. That's an imaginary pipe dream. Maybe they wind up with Harper. But both? Meh. And let's not forget - there are 29 other clubs that sign free agents. It only takes one to convince Harper that their $45 million per season is more attractive than the $40 the Yankees might be offering.

As I see it, the Yankees are a very talented, but very risk-laded team who have gone all-in on strikeout-prone batters combined with a strong bullpen. That's a recipe for erratic play, as the playoffs proved. And this Yankees club does not seem willing to make multiple splashy Free Agent signings

Nope. Give me the best run franchise in sports, their young controlled baseball stars, their deepest farm system in baseball, and their additional payroll room. They've already won the World Series, with a mid-pack payroll and with their most gifted player being only 22 years old. They're only going up from here.

P.S. Don't give me nonsense about 27 rings. The last time the Yankees won a World Series, Gleyber Torres was 12 years old. The Astros' winning tradition over the last three seasons is more relevant the Yankees' success in the 1990's when Steinbrenner was outspending everybody. And what the clubs did when our great-grandparents were young is irrelevant to the future.

World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Seven Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

@realMaxFairplay
Monday, 13 November 2017

Oh my Jeter, you've actually responded. It's not often that a man in a suit decides to play in the mud with your common twitter troll.

I'm really surprised that you took the route of attacking Judge and Sanchez. Why don't we take a look at their 2017 stats.

  • Judge: 155 G, 0.284 BA, 52 HR, 114 RBI, 127 BB, 1.049 OPS
  • Sanchez: 122 G, 0.278 BA, 33 HR, 90 RBI, 40 BB, 0.876 OPS

Let me be very clear, if there were two players on the Astros who put up those kinds of numbers in their first full seasons, you wouldn't be telling me about their plate discipline. But since you brought it up, how do you figure that a player with 127 walks has poor plate discipline? We all know Judge broke the all time rookie home run record, but he also broke the all time rookie walk record. Now that is pretty damn impressive.

Does Judge have things to learn? Of course. Does he have poor plate discipline? Lol. No. He struck out a lot in 2017 and that is certainly something I have no doubt he will improve on. You're grasping at straws to try to convince people that Judge and Sanchez are going to somehow get worse and not better. Nobody in the baseball world is going to take that seriously unless they're partial to that trashy Houston Astros team that nobody ever cared about until this year.

As for Bird, the concern isn't his plate discipline, production, or defense, it is his ability to stay healthy. So you were wrong about that too. We have seen what he is capable of when he is good to go, and hopefully in 2018 we can finally see what a full season from Bird looks like. Bird is an incredible player that you would be foolish to underestimate.

These three players, Judge, Sanchez, and Bird, had a lot to do with why the Astros were on the brink of elimination after 5 games, so maybe they're a little bit better than you thought. Another thing you should consider is that the Yankees are a team that is not finished cooking yet. The Astros are fully cooked team, yet they still struggled against the Yankees, and let's be honest, if not for Verlander, Yankees would have their 41st pennant. So why is that the case? How is it that a rebuilding Yankee team was so close to eliminating the 101 win Astros? Not only that, the Astros were actually outscored by the Yankees too. If that's how it is NOW, I don't see this getting any better for you.

Let's talk free agents and salary. OK, I admit, the idea of the Yankees acquiring BOTH Harper and Machado is a little wacky, but you're rolling around in the mud with Fairplay here, what do you expect, I say wacky things sometimes.

But let me tell you this: if it does happen, I wouldn't be all that surprised. At the very least, the Yankees will snag one of them. The Astros are in no position to acquire a player like that.

What I think is more interesting however, is the recent news surrounding the Japanese Babe Ruth: Shohei Otani. This is quite an asset for the Yankees as they would have control over him for 6 whole years. I know, I know, the Yankees have not officially acquired him yet, but where else would he even go? He basically gets to choose whatever team he wants, so it only makes sense he'd choose the best one with the brightest future.

The Yankees are going to be under the luxury tax for the 2018 season, but this doesn't mean that this is their goal for the rest of their lives. The Yankees are clearly positioning themselves to add in 2019.

How are the Astros going to keep their team together? Are they prepared to exceed a $200 million payroll? You better believe the Yankees are. Don't let the trades in 2016 and being under the luxury tax in 2018 fool you; this is a rebuilding period, and the Yankees are set to make a lot of noise in the 18-19 off-season. To put it in simpler terms, baseball should be scared.

Now let's talk prospects for a second. Indeed you are correct that Frazier has a high strikeout rate, but what you fail to mention is a lot of the other prospects you touted also have high strikeout rates. Let's break down some of the bigger names and look at what their minor league strikeouts per at bats look like.

  • Gleyber Torres: 23% (312/1349)
  • Clint Frazier: 29% (538/1883)
  • Kyle Tucker: 19% (219/1128)
  • Derek Fisher: 27% (395/1471)
  • A.J. Reed: 26% (389/1509)

You may be impressed with Tucker, but the guy hasn't even reached AA yet, so do you think we can tone it down with him until he moves up a couple ranks? He is the same age as Torres and Torres is MLB ready. In fact, Torres would have had his first game in 2017 had he not had TJ surgery. It seems pretty silly to pick on this kid for "striking out a lot." Again, if this were your prospect, you'd be singing nothing but praise.

The bottom line is Frazier and Torres are highly regarded and have the potential to become big stars. All you have to say about them is "they might not pan out." Your argument isn't much more sophisticated than "I'll take my lower level prospects any day because your top prospects might not work out very well!!" it sounds dumb.

Your assertion that the Astros have the deepest farm in all of baseball is ludicrous. Their farm isn't even better than the Yankees who have 2 top 10 prospects and 3 to 4 more in the top 100. What's worse is when you said the Astros are the best run franchise in sports.

My refutation of that is this: LOL.

I'm sure even those biased Astros fans cringed a little when they read that. Next time, try not to say something so ridiculous.

The Yankees are the greatest team of all time and there's nothing you're going to be able to do to change that. No matter how hard you hope or how much you try to spin data, it isn't going to change what's coming.

In 15 years when Aaron Judge is playing his final game in Houston, the Astros will enjoy a spike in ticket sales during that series even though their team will be headed to yet another 90+ loss season. Just to see Aaron Judge one last time. We've all been through this before, and we will go through it again. This is what the Yankees do.

What you are going through is the same thing every other fan base goes through when their team is in the World Series. Five years ago it was the Giants and Tigers. This year they have the worst records in baseball. Five years from now, there's no doubt where Houston will end up. You're no different from all these other teams that come and go.

However, there has never been a team quite like the New York Yankees. A team built by legends. A team that has stood the test of time. New stars emerge after every passing decade. In the entire history of baseball, only one team has stood above the rest. The New York Yankees.

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Six Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

@CRPerry13
Monday, 13 November 2017

I must apologize. I forgot that public schools are awful in New York or California or wherever you are that isn't Texas. Down here, they teach reading comprehension. It was my mistake to assume that you had mastered this complicated topic.

On re-read, I fail to see any place in which I criticized the bat of Gary Sanchez. But since you brought him up, let's talk about him. I sure hope the Yankees plan to play him at DH. Because he is one terrible catcher. You want to say the Astros only won the ALCS because of Justin Verlander? I can say that the Yankees only lost because of Sanchez' inept skills behind the plate. How many balls did he drop on plays at home? Thirty? Sixty? A Googolplex?

I do appreciate you agreeing that one premise of your argument is deeply flawed -- that is, the Yankees signing both Harper and Machado. But then you double down on it by bringing up Otani. The Yankees can't even spend the most for him, he might not even come to the majors, and New York is a much longer flight to Home Japan A major cornerstone of your entire case is built on free agents that the Yankees might spend on. Can you see what a house of cards that is? Whereas my case for the Astros is built on already in-house talent that doesn't need to be supplemented by a superstar signing.

I can't believe you're trying to compare Torres and Frazier to Tucker, Fisher, and Reed. Remember what I said about how Judge's power can overcome his strikeouts? You're missing a cornerstone point. It's the whole package of the players that matter, not only the strikeouts.

2017:

  • Torres: 7 HR, 7 SB (half season), major injury
  • Frazier: 16 HR, 10 SB, 5% walk rate in the majors, 30% K rate
  • Tucker: 25 HR, 21 SB
  • Fisher: 26 HR, 19 SB, 10% walk rate with his high K rate...note: better than Frazier at the same competition levels
  • Reed: 34 HR, 13% BB

And you're ignoring all the other guys I brought up that are MLB-ready in the Astros' system.

Yes, the Yankees' farm system is very good, with a few high-ceiling guys. But the Astros have the deepest farm system, and that matters.

Having established that the Yankees can't possibly (probably) sign more than one monster FA like Harper, let's take a look at the 2019 rosters, in comparison:

Yankees:

  • C Sanchez (hope he learns defense)
  • 1B Bird (I strongly disagree with you about Bird. He's basically Brett Wallace, or James Loney with a lower batting average.)
  • 2B Castro
  • 3B ????
  • SS Gregorius? (if he's extended; Torres probably won't be ready because of his injury)
  • RF Judge
  • CF Frazier?
  • LF ???
  • DH ???
  • SP, Severino, Tanaka, Gray, Montgomery, ???
  • Pen: You know. Studs.

Astros

  • C ???
  • 1B Gurriel
  • 2B Altuve
  • 3B Bregman
  • SS Correa
  • RF Tucker/Fisher
  • CF Springer
  • LF Reddick
  • DH Reed/White/Moran/Whoever
  • SP: Verlander, McCullers, McHugh? Peacock? Musgrove? Martes? Whitley? Bukauskas? Feliz? Armenteros? Keuchel extension?
  • RP: Giles & more??

Give me the Astros' roster 100 times out of 100. The Yankees in 2019 have two certainties in that lineup: Sanchez and Judge. Everybody else is either "just a guy", or has some sort of question surrounding them regarding their contract, whether or not the Yankees can or will sign a Harper or Machado-type free agent, and glaring lineup holes at DH (or Catcher) and 3B, and LF. Are you comfortable with that rotation after Tanaka's year? Or Gray's?

Don't get me wrong, it's a VERY good club. We're splitting hairs here between two of the top three or four clubs in the American League in 2019.

But I'll take the Astros. The World Series champion team will still be largely intact in 2019, with the addition of Tucker, a Free Agent catcher, and some free agent bullpen pieces, which will be a heck of a lot easier to sign than a Harper will, with tons of cash left over to sign a big free agent starting pitcher.

The Astros already have cemented superstars in their rotation and lineup, and will need to use their budget to supplement with complimentary pieces, like relievers and a catcher. The Yankees have a top-heavy major league club and a top-heavy minor league club. They lack depth, and that leads to enormous inherent risk in roster construction. They will have to buy their superstars to supplement a very small core of greatness, which might not leave them room to fill in the cracks. And it leaves very little room for under-performance or injury.

The Astros have a large core of greatness and just need the cracks filled in. The Yankees have a couple flashy guys who are hiding the fact that the club is a house of cards.

* * *

Thanks to “Max” for playing along!