There’s been some post-world-series features recently highlighting the work of Damon Oppenheimer. First from Tom Krasovic -
Some of the best scouts in baseball have worked for the Padres. One of them, Damon Oppenheimer, now has more World Series rings than he does fingers on one hand — one for the thumb coming on Wednesday when the Yankees thumped the Phillies.
Number five was especially cool for Oppenheimer, New York’s vice-president of scouting since 2004, because players he drafted such as Joba Chamberlain , Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and David Robertson assisted the pinstriped run to World Series title No. 27.
“Seeing so many of our kids come up and contribute to this team — that would be the most gratifying thing,” Oppenheimer said today.
Maybe you hate the Yankees because their payroll is more than $200 million. Maybe you’d rather they not win another title in this century. Can’t say that I blame you.
I refer to the Yankees as the Death Star — cold and ruthless.
The rival Red Sox are The Matrix, equally ruthless and nearly as laden with resources.
I told the Smartest Man in Baseball [Theo Epstein] last month that America should thank the Angels for sparing us a Yankees-Red Sox American League Championship Series and all of the East Coast ego and hype that comes with it. He laughed from his CEO’s office at Yawkey Way, then protested the comparison. “The Yankees spend $40 million, $50 million more than we do on ballplayers,” he said, and he’s right, but that’s warm beer to the rest of the baseball world.
Next, from Bob Elliot -
Damon Oppenheimer goes to scouting showcase events, college and high school games across North America.
As scouting director of the New York Yankees, he gets one of two greetings: Either “Hi Damon” or “Ohhh, here come the Yankees with their $200-million payroll.”
“We get that all the time,” Oppenheimer said yesterday awaiting his return flight to Tampa.
“You know what, I held that World Series trophy and looked at all the teams listed over the years. Nowhere, not once, does it list team payroll. Same for a World Series ring — I’ve never seen a payroll on a ring.”
You have heard about the four core homegrown players — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada — who each picked up their fifth World Series ring Wednesday night.
In all, the Yankees had 10 homegrowns help them win No. 27.
Besides the Fab Core Four:
* Scouts Gordon Blakely and Mark Newman signed free agents Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera from Latin America.
* Former scouting director Lynn Garrett signed right-hander Phil Hughes when Oppenheimer was a scout. Hughes, a first-round high schooler from Fonthill, Calif., was the set-up man for most of this season.
* Oppenheimer drafted centre fielder Brett Gardner, and relievers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson.
Gardner was drafted as a senior from College of Charleston (third round, 2005), and was the first homegrown Yankee to start on Opening Day since Posada broke into the lineup.
Chamberlain, from the University of Nebraska (a first-rounder in 2006) took on a life of his own becoming a New York icon. Robertson was drafted from the University of Alabama (17th, 2006), but “showed his stomach pitching on Cape Cod.”
“I work for a guy who wants to win, to go the extra mile and does not line his pockets with all the revenue, he puts it back into the team,” Oppenheimer said. “That’s what Mr. Steinbrenner does.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we are developing kids, spending money in Latin America, and it’s reaping some rewards.”
As the Yanks eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies on scouting reports prepared by the likes of Tim Naehring, Steve Boros and Scott Lovekamp, Oppenheimer watched the first five innings from the clubhouse and then headed to general manager Brian Cashman’s suite.
“After the final out, Cashman popped open a bottle, poured a glass for everyone and toasted the suite, saying: ‘You guys had a big part, you’re all real important.’ He saluted everyone. Rather than running down and jumping into the fray, he took the time to talk to us. That’s kind of what this whole things is about.”
Speaking of World Series rings, anyone else wondering if Angel Berroa will offer to sell his 2009 Yankees World Championship ring? Maybe Kei Igawa will want to buy it?