From Jon Heyman -
One of Cashman’s best decisions — way before the Joba Rules — was to give Tampa-based Damon Oppenheimer complete autonomy over the amateur draft, which resulted in an ’06 bonanza, as Chamberlain came 20 picks after USC product Kennedy arrived. Kennedy (12-3, with a 1.87 at three minor-league levels) has risen quickly through the minors and gets Saturday’s start vs. Tampa instead of used-up vet Mike Mussina, who’s always been seen as a template for Kennedy, a smallish right-hander with an average (88-93 mph) fastball, excellent breaking ball and wonderful poise and smarts. “And just like Mussina did at Stanford, he had a subpar junior year,” Cashman said, explaining why he fell to the Yankees at pick No. 21 of the first round.
Oppenheimer focused on Kennedy’s whole career, not just the so-so junior year. And when he dropped, Cashman said, “Damon was there waiting for him, no hesitation.”
The Chamberlain choice at No. 41 overall looks like an even bigger bargain, and Cashman recalls Oppenheimer counting down the picks in hope of landing the University of Nebraska phenom. After they tabbed Chamberlain, Yankees people read about their “high-risk, high-reward” selection but they only saw the “high-reward” part of the equation. When they noticed bloggers discussing his alleged “injury history,” they thought to themselves, “What injury history?” Chamberlain once suffered from knee pain, but Cashman called the injury rumors a “brushfire of inaccuracies.”
Oppenheimer…hmmm…makes me wonder what would have happened if Bob Nightengale was right and Oppenheimer got the G.M. job back at the end of 2005…
…in any event, it looks like it’s all still working out.