The Yankees are what they are. If they don’t like what they have, they go out and get it. And there but for fortune sits Chance Adams.
If Chance Adams played poker for a living, it’d be called the luck of the draw when the river card is revealed to dramatically end a hand. In baseball, though, it’s called the luck of the draft, which ironically comes first – not last for a ballplayer. Looming substantially, The Draft often determines the career path of the draftee, for better or worse. No one in the Yankees organization knows that more suitably than Chance Adams.
Since then, over the course of four minor league seasons that encompass A, Double-A, and Triple-A ball, all with the Yankees organization, Chance Adams has compiled a 2,98 ERA to support a 35-12 won-loss record, has given up 100 fewer hits than innings pitched, and has struck out 2.5 batters for everyone he has walked. (Source: Baseball Reference).
In all likelihood, those numbers in almost any other organization but the Yankees (throw in Houston, the Dodgers, Cubs, and maybe a few others), more than support at least the chance that Chance Adams would have a minimum of 30 starts in the big leagues by now. With the Yankees, Adams has only one start, albeit not a very impressive one last season.
Only 24, Adams still has the prospects of a long career in the major leagues, but it’s more likely that job can receive a jump start if and when the Yankees decide to release him from bondage in a trade to another team.
Bondage is a pretty strong word, I know. And I also get that baseball is a business, and the Yankees do what they do for the benefit of the organization, not individual players in their system. Short of a trade, in all likelihood, Chance Adams will be kept off the team’s 40-man roster, and subsequently lost to the Yankees, as a Rule 5 Draft pick by another team ass soon as next season.
So, it should not be out of bounds to ask if the Yankees have done their best for their organization and Chance Adams if that point of failure is ultimately reached?
No one can put their finger on it, but for some reason, Adams has never “caught the eye” of anyone associated with the Yankees. Unlike super-talented players, pedestrian players like Adams need these “Guardian Angels” to propel their career. Nevertheless, Chance Adams has to bear some of the responsibility for letting that happen on those occasions, mostly in Spring Training, when he was in the spotlight pitching with the “Big Club.”
Juxtapose the experience of Chance Adams against that of Jordan Montgomery. Fans will recall Joe Girardi during Spring Training in 2017 becoming enamored with Montgomery’s “presence” on the mound. One appearance led to another, and then another until Montgomery was named as the Yankees fifth starter in May, going on to compile a 9-7 record over 29 starts.
Tommy John surgery derailed Montgomery’s career last season, and it will be interesting to see if the Yankees under Aaron Boone afford him the same opportunities when he returns to action mid-July or August.
But clearly, circumstance and the luck of the draw closely follow every major league ballplayer. Cleveland’s rookie sensation, Herb Score, throws one pitch to Gil McDougald, a line drive off the bat hits Score square in the eye, and he’s never the same again. The same fate follows Tony Conigliaro when he is beaned by a pitched ball, effectively blinding him in one eye.
Others, like Ronald Torreyes, get tagged as a role player, never getting an opportunity to be a regular in the lineup, despite putting up credible numbers. And still others like Greg Bird get chance after chance despite failure after failure to prove themselves.
John F Kennedy once said, “Life is unfair.” Little did he know then how unfair life would ultimately turn out to be for him personally.
And maybe that’s why I don’t begrudge these players who make millions of dollars playing a boys game. Because the odds are stacked against every one of them to make it to The Show – and then – to stay there. Thirty teams, 25 on each team, and what do we have? Only 700 out of thousands who toil in the minors and in colleges still pursuing the dream.
If Chance Adams still has visions of that dream, and one can only hope he does, his time along with his opportunity may again be coming. His resume looks good, but it still comes down to finding a way to separate himself from the pack, whether it’s a last gasp with the Yankees, the Royals, San Diego, who knows where?
The years add up, and maybe if Adams had been drafted by the Royals instead of the Yankees, he would be in his second year as their fourth or fifth starter. Maybe. Only maybe.
The Yankees have been less than forthright about Chance Adams, at least publicly, only saying he needs to establish “more command” of his pitches. That’s all relevant, of course, because couldn’t the same be said about Luis Severino? Or Steven Matz, Gio Gonzalez, or a hundred others.
The luck of the draft. Chance Adams – a baseball story.