Tom Verducci has an excellent feature up today at SI.com on how the Yankees and Red Sox have been using the draft lately to their benefit. Click here to read it. Some highlights:
The Yankees’ future, meanwhile, looked even more dire in 2005. After New York blew a three-games-to-none lead to Boston in the 2004 ALCS, G.M. Brian Cashman tried to fortify his pitching by acquiring Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright. None would be as good as advertised. “We had a chance to really go into an abyss,” Cashman said earlier this year.
Cashman, who often clashed with owner George Steinbrenner’s Tampa-based brain trust, persuaded the Boss to give him more control of baseball operations, a change he would get in writing in his new contract after the season. He promoted prospects Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano to the majors in May and gave responsibility for the draft to scouting director Damon Oppenheimer.
“[Cashman] knew my passion was on the amateur side,” Oppenheimer says. “He gave us a little more specific thinking on the draft, and we started looking for high-impact talent, premier players at premier positions.”
Since 2005 the Yankees and the Red Sox have continued to sink more money into scouting and the draft. Says one rival AL G.M., “They’ve become what the U.S. and Russia were during the cold war: There is them, and there’s everybody else. My goodness, the Yankees took a guy in the first round [Andrew Brackman in 2007] who needed Tommy John surgery, and they gave him a four-year major league contract. Nobody else can do that.”
In terms of the Yankees – and Cashman giving Oppenheimer “more specific thinking on the draft” – well, better late than never, right?