TAMPA — Let’s start by dispelling one misperception: Goose Gossage does not spend spring training chasing kids off his lawn.
The Hall of Fame closer, a Yankees guest instructor, smiles and jokes his way through his time George M. Steinbrenner Field. He befriends anyone and everyone whose path he crosses. That he sounds like a troglodyte in interviews has no bearing on his actual behavior.
Now let’s blow up one misperception championed by Goose himself: Baseball is not, as he put it recently to NJ.com, “being run by a computer.”
Actually, in accordance with the dramatic evolution of statistical analysis, mastery of a player’s intangible and unquantifiable qualities may be more important than ever. Old-school detective work and, really, guesswork remain prominent as front offices try to determine not only a player’s value on the field, but also his assets and liabilities in the clubhouse.
“I do believe that — especially if you’re in a large market and you bring aboard someone that is a massive problem, that has a lot of issues — those issues become everybody’s issues, and they do drain on you,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “They drain on the collective over the course of spring training and the 162-game regular season. Your teammates’ problems become your problems, which becomes an issue, a distraction and a fatigue factor that’s going to come with it.
“I do think that prevents you from being the best you overall can…