• Yanks Have 6th Best Farm In Baseball?

    Posted by on January 10th, 2011 · Comments (34)

    Have you seen John Sickels Farm System Rankings?

    It has the Yankees with the 6th best system in the game.    That’s the good news.  The bad news is that most of the Yankees prospects, according to the data, are in the “B- to C+” range and not real “blue chippers.”  That’s like saying you have the 6th best used car lot on the strip – because you have a lot of Hondas to deal.   Meanwhile, the 14th best use car lot on the strip has six mint condition Lexus Sedans that are worth more than half of the cars combined on your lot.

    Comments on Yanks Have 6th Best Farm In Baseball?

    1. Corey Italiano
      January 10th, 2011 | 12:56 pm

      Eh, they’ve got more A prospects than 2 of the 5 teams ahead of them..

    2. January 10th, 2011 | 1:15 pm

      In Sickels’ rankings, B- to C+ isn’t a legitimate grouping. He has a sharp division between B and C prospects. The gap between B and B- is much smaller than between B- and C+. Anything better than C+ tends to be considered a legitimate prospect, and the Yankees have plenty of guys in that category. You can minimize it all you want, but this will be ranked a top 6-8 system by most evaluators because it has good talent at the top AND has depth. You don’t get ranked that high without it.

    3. Raf
      January 10th, 2011 | 1:33 pm

      The similie doesn’t work; what does it say about dealer #14 that they have a product that’s worth more than dealer #6′s fleet that they STILL finish 8 spots behind them?

      Of course it should be noted that there are probably more Hondas than Lexuses on the road at any given time.

    4. MJ Recanati
      January 10th, 2011 | 1:35 pm

      I’ll begin by assuming that your term “blue chip” equates to an A or A- graded player. Of the five teams ranked higher than the Yanks on this list (KC, TB, CLE, ATL, TOR), there are a total of 9 A or A- rated prospects among those teams under the following breakdown:

      KC – 3 A, 0 A-
      TB – 2 A, 0 A-
      CLE – 0 A, 0 A-
      ATL – 2 A, 1 A-
      TOR – 0 A, 1 A-

      The Yankees have 1 A and 0 A-.

      Sickels’s list identifies a total of 22 A/A- graded players, 10 of whom reside on the teams that make up the top 6 on the list. Thus, nearly half of the “blue chip” prospects reside in the top 6.

      Considering that 15 teams (CLE, MIN, COL, TEX, LAD, CHC, SDP, AZ, PIT, BOS, OAK, NYM, FLA, MIL and HOU) have no A or A- rated players, one can state that 22 blue chippers play for half of the league’s teams. Thus, simply by having one of these blue chip players, the Yankees are already ahead of the curve.

      I understand that one of your habits is to minimize the Yankee farm system but I really don’t see the basis of your argument here.

    5. January 10th, 2011 | 1:42 pm

      Four years ago, people were saying the Yankees had one of the best farm systems in baseball. See:

      http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove06/columns/story?columnist=law_keith&id=2742549

      And, yet, today, they have two huge holes in their starting rotation, no in-house solution for a RH 4th OF, and no clear set-up man who is battle tested. Plus, they had to go out and buy a catcher, two years after going out to buy a 1B and two SP.

      Lets see what happens with this current great Yankees farm system four years now too.

    6. January 10th, 2011 | 1:54 pm

      “Lets see what happens with this current great Yankees farm system four years now too.”

      Of course, the target is moving again. It is possible that the system does not pan out. But that isn’t the point as we stand here today, evaluating the system as an asset to the Yankees. The system is high quality and is therefore a strong asset should the team choose to make trades or fill-in from within. If it stagnates, that will be a different issue and discussion.

    7. MJ Recanati
      January 10th, 2011 | 2:20 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Four years ago, people were saying the Yankees had one of the best farm systems in baseball. And, yet, today, they have two huge holes in their starting rotation, no in-house solution for a RH 4th OF, and no clear set-up man who is battle tested.

      That’s true, today, January 10th, the Yankees have two holes in the back end of their rotation. The Yankees have made their fans accustomed to All-Star or near All-Star caliber names at nearly all spots around the diamond. As such, the names “Sergio Mitre” and “Ivan Nova” represent holes relative to the standards and expectations set as precedent. Are they really holes? In my opinion, yes, they probably are. But, that being said, as I’ve said dozens of times this winter, what the rotation looks like today is irrelevant. The relevant detail is what the rotation looks like tomorrow (in the metaphorical sense).

      The “battle tested” set-up man is a new criticism from you. Going into 2010, the Yankees had Joba Chamberlain as their set-up man. Did you criticize the Yankees for not going into last season with a “battle tested” 8th inning reliever? Presumably Chamberlain was less “battle tested” last year than he would be this year. That’s not to say that I trust Chamberlain in any role whatsoever, merely to point out that your criticisms are inconsistent.

      As to the point about the “RH 4th OF”, the Yankees have very rarely, if ever, built their main bench components from within. It’s therefore something of a straw-man to denigrate the farm system for not addressing an area of the team that has not historically been addressed from within.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Plus, they had to go out and buy a catcher, two years after going out to buy a 1B and two SP.

      I hardly see the similarity between a 1Y/$4M contract for Russell Martin and the signings of Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett. Martin was signed to provide an everyday bridge between Posada and Montero. The move addresses Posada’s (and Montero’s (and Cervelli’s)) defensive shortcomings and makes a low-risk bet on the potential that Martin rediscovers the talent (and health) that made him one of the game’s best catchers just a few seasons ago. Since I know you know the difference between the signings of 2008 and 2010 and the rationale behind Martin’s joining the team this year, I’ll chalk this comment up to part Lupica-like enjoyment of agitating and part blind criticism for criticsm’s sake.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Lets see what happens with this current great Yankees farm system four years now too.

      As Yagottagotomo correctly pointed out, moving targets are your specialty. That a previous group of prospects did or didn’t pan out has nothing to do with a current group of prospects.

    8. Raf
      January 10th, 2011 | 2:39 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      And, yet, today, they have two huge holes in their starting rotation, no in-house solution for a RH 4th OF, and no clear set-up man who is battle tested. Plus, they had to go out and buy a catcher, two years after going out to buy a 1B and two SP.

      Nova and Mitre will be starting with Hughes, Burnett and Sabathia. The Yankees aren’t going to go with a 3 man rotation.

      An in-house solution exists for a RH 4th OF. Golson, Huffman and others are still in the organization, aren’t they?

      No clear set up man? Probably because they can’t decide between Robertson and Chamberlain. But options are present.

      They bought a catcher. Offers depth. They already had 3 on the 25 man roster (Posada, Cervelli, Montero) before they added Martin.

      They had a 1b in Nick Swisher when they added Teix. They had 2 SP’s in the system when they signed Burnett and Sabathia; Kennedy and Hughes, along with trying to figure out what to do with Joba.

    9. Evan3457
      January 10th, 2011 | 3:20 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      It has the Yankees with the 6th best system in the game. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of the Yankees prospects, according to the data, are in the “B- to C+” range and not real “blue chippers.” That’s like saying you have the 6th best used car lot on the strip – because you have a lot of Hondas to deal. Meanwhile, the 14th best use car lot on the strip has six mint condition Lexus Sedans that are worth more than half of the cars combined on your lot.

      No, it’s not at all like that. This analogy is badly flawed, primarily because there is NO 14th-best used car lot that has 6 Lexus Sadans. The Yanks have 2 A’s, 2 B+’s, and 2 B’s. Not one of the 24 farm systems ranked below them has that many “high-ceiling” prospectss. Most of the teams ranked below them have 1 or 2 such prospects; many have none.

      ==============================
      In Sickels’ system, A+ is a super-blue chipper, perennial All-Star candidate prospect. A is a blue-chipper, not quite as good as A+, usually an A+ with one minor flaw in his profile, or an A+ level talent who hasn’t accumulated enough professional game play to be very certain he’ll reach his ceiling. An A- is a potential blue-chipper with one significant flaw in his game, or two minor questions.

      A B+ is a solid prospect, one that Sickels expects to contribute solidly on the major league level; a rotation starter or a lineup players for a 3 to 5 year period, at the least. A B is a prospect with obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses, who might become a very good player, but there are serious questions. A B- is a B with more questions, or one large weakness, such as: he’s too old for the levels he’s performed well at, or he doesn’t command the strike zone.

      A C+ is a prospect with one great strength who has major flaws holding him back, or a player of great tools who has yet to develop any of them. A C is a player that Sickels forsees could develop into something useful someday, but doesn’t regard it as very likely. A C- is a prospect who has some tool or talent that makes worthy of following on the off-chance he might turn into something as opposed to bulk prospects rated below C-.

      That’s my interpretation of Sickels’ rating system. I bought his annual book for about 5-6 years running, but I was somewhat disappointed in that many players that he gave extra weight on the basis of their rate
      counting stats vs. their tools tended to underperform more frequenty; many guys he rated as B or B+ simply failed to make the grade against the highest competition.

    10. Evan3457
      January 10th, 2011 | 3:32 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Four years ago, people were saying the Yankees had one of the best farm systems in baseball. See:http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove06/columns/story?columnist=law_keith&id=2742549And, yet, today, they have two huge holes in their starting rotation, no in-house solution for a RH 4th OF, and no clear set-up man who is battle tested. Plus, they had to go out and buy a catcher, two years after going out to buy a 1B and two SP.Lets see what happens with this current great Yankees farm system four years now too.

      We’ve been through this.

      The system was one of the top systems 4 years ago.
      That system produced one rotation starter that the Yanks kept (Hughes), another they offered in trade (Kennedy), two set-up men (Robertson and Chamberlain), three others they traded away (Melancon, Dunn and Coke), two outfielder that start for other teams because they traded them away (Jackson and Tabata), a 3rd outfielder that started for another team last year for most of the year (Cabrera), a backup catcher (Cervelli), two backup infielders (Pena and Nunez), and a starting leftfielder (Gardner).

      That seems like a fairly impressive array of talent to me. It’s true that the farm system hasn’t spit out two Hall of Famers and two near Hall of Famers as it did in the period between 1995 and 1997, but that level of productivity is extremely rare, and usually forms the basis of a dynasty when it happens.

      In the same period of time, the Yankees, having signed free agents to long-term deals, had many key players declining at the same time. The farm system has not quite kept up, but in spite of that, if Pettitte retires, the Yanks will have turned over 5/8ths of their starting lineup and 100% of their rotation, almost their entire set-up corps, and their entire bench, all in the last 3 years.

      That’s a boatload of talent to replace. The farm has produced one starter so far, maybe another (Nova), 2 of the 4 setup guys, the entire bench, and the entire outfield. The fact that the farm could only replace (or be used to trade for players to replace) about half of it is a credit to it, not a mark against it.

    11. RobertGKramer@AOL.Com
      January 10th, 2011 | 3:43 pm

      @ Raf:
      The Indians signed Huffman leaving Golson and Gorecki as right-handed outfield bats in SWB. Also Christian is again a minor-league free agent and had a monster Winter season in Mexico.

    12. Raf
      January 10th, 2011 | 4:28 pm

      @ RobertGKramer@AOL.Com:
      Thanks. Overall, I suppose the point still stands that RH OF’ers (or 4th OF’ers in general) aren’t that hard to find & replace.

    13. MJ Recanati
      January 10th, 2011 | 4:33 pm

      Raf wrote:

      I suppose the point still stands that RH OF’ers (or 4th OF’ers in general) aren’t that hard to find & replace.

      Agreed. Which is why I think the Yanks asked Brandon Laird to play OF during the Arizona Fall League. If he can mash at AAA the way he did last year at AA, he could be the internal RHB 4th OF to replace a veteran placeholder at midseason. It’s something of a longshot but not out of the realm of possibility.

    14. Corey Italiano
      January 10th, 2011 | 7:14 pm

      Gorecki will never wear pinstripes. I demand it.

    15. MJ Recanati
      January 10th, 2011 | 7:41 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      Gorecki will never wear pinstripes. I demand it.

      What if his uncle apologizes?!

    16. Corey Italiano
      January 10th, 2011 | 7:59 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      There’s a better shot of that happening than Gorecki cracking the major league roster, IMO.

    17. MJ Recanati
      January 10th, 2011 | 8:38 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      There’s a better shot of that happening than Gorecki cracking the major league roster, IMO.

      LOL! Agreed :-D

    18. KPOcala
      January 10th, 2011 | 11:09 pm

      Um, beggin’ the Colonels’ pardon, but I got to thinkin’ ’bout the “good ole days, and all that. Specifically, the 1977 World Champion New York Yankees. And sure enough, as I remembered, there were exactly 3 players on that team (a few other guys, as you’ll see don’t really count)that were “home grown”. The very under-rated Roy White, Ron Guidry, and Thurman Munson. So much for this notion of team building, promoting players through the ranks ad nauseum. Players on the farm were/are trading chips when the GM knows what he’s doing (and is lucky). Check it out: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/1977.shtml

    19. Raf
      January 11th, 2011 | 12:01 am

      KPOcala wrote:

      So much for this notion of team building, promoting players through the ranks ad nauseum. Players on the farm were/are trading chips when the GM knows what he’s doing (and is lucky). Check it out: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/1977.shtml

      Yeah, it’s a load of hooey, but it’s something the papers picked up on and they’re beating it into the ground ad nauseum.

      Never let facts get in the way of a good narrative.

    20. MJ Recanati
      January 11th, 2011 | 6:27 am

      @ KPOcala:
      Which is why the whole idea that Brian Cashman is doing something different than his predecessors is pure bollocks. He’s following the pattern of every other Yankee GM since the advent of free agency.

      Having said that, there is certainly a value to producing your own players when you can and, as a result, there is value in identifying which parts of your team you can build internally (a bullpen, for instance) and which parts are easier to go out and buy on the market. As such, I think Cashman is doing a good job of incorporating this new dimension into his team-building.

    21. KPOcala
      January 11th, 2011 | 11:08 am

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I agree completely….

    22. Evan3457
      January 11th, 2011 | 4:04 pm

      Raf wrote:

      KPOcala wrote:
      Yeah, it’s a load of hooey, but it’s something the papers picked up on and they’re beating it into the ground ad nauseum.
      Never let facts get in the way of a good narrative.

      I still think it’s better than not to develop quality young pitching; saves the most money in the long run, and it’s more easily tradeable than just about anything else.

    23. KPOcala
      January 11th, 2011 | 5:30 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      I agree Evan, the situation that the Yanks are in, and going forward will show if Cashman really knows what he’s doing and if he can think out of the box. I think I already know what Steve thinks about the scenario ;)

    24. KPOcala
      January 11th, 2011 | 8:07 pm

      BTW, check out all the “home grown, doing it the right way” players on the ’96 squad. I was a little surprised that I’d forgotten this: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/1996.shtml

      Four home grown players of any consequence.

    25. Evan3457
      January 12th, 2011 | 7:45 am

      Found this reply by Preston on the thread about the same topic at River Ave. Blues:

      This is a really impressive feat for the Yankees system.

      All of the teams ranked ahead of us on this list other than the Braves have exclusively been sellers and not buyers in recent trades. The Royals have a prospect infusion from trades of Zach Grienke, David Dejesus and Mark Teahan. The Rays have traded Garza, Bartlett and Edwin Jackson. The Indians have traded Sabathia and Lee and the Jays traded Roy Halladay.

      Plus the Yankee’s system has lost pieces like Arodys Vizcaino, Mike Dunn, Jose Tabata, Zach Mcallister, Mark Melancon and maybe Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson would still be in the minors due to trades we made.

      Factor in the inherent disadvantage of drafting later and I’d say that since Brian Cashman made a commitment to growing the farm system we’ve been drafting, signing and developing players as well as anyone in the league.

      Wish’d I’da said it; I should’ve. I’m definitely slipping.

    26. Corey Italiano
      January 12th, 2011 | 10:08 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Wish’d I’da said it; I should’ve. I’m definitely slipping.

      I’d bet you’ve said something close at some point. We all have here.

    27. LMJ229
      January 12th, 2011 | 11:44 am

      Cashman has done a good job of building the farm system. He deserves credit for that. Can’t help but wonder, though, how our system would be rated without Montero, since he is our only true “blue chip” prospect. Cashman was willing to part with him for a half year of Cliff Lee. As they say, sometimes the best trades are the ones not made …

    28. LMJ229
      January 12th, 2011 | 11:50 am

      Speaking of Montero, I think the Yanks should seriously consider transitioning him to the outfield this year to replace Swisher next year, who only has one year left on his contract with a club option for 2012. Most scouts see him as an outfielder due to his defensive liabilities behind the plate. Plus, we have tremendous depth at the catching position. My guess, though, is that Cashman will trade him for a starting pitcher.

    29. Corey Italiano
      January 12th, 2011 | 11:57 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Can’t help but wonder, though, how our system would be rated without Montero,

      You’ll find out this time next year.

    30. MJ Recanati
      January 12th, 2011 | 12:19 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      You’ll find out this time next year.

      Not exactly, since other players will (or should) step up.

    31. Corey Italiano
      January 12th, 2011 | 2:46 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      You don’t think Montero will be in the bigs at the end of next year?

      That’s all I was saying there.

    32. MJ Recanati
      January 12th, 2011 | 3:36 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      You don’t think Montero will be in the bigs at the end of next year?

      I do. I think he’ll be on the team at least starting around the end of May (for arbitration/control purposes), if not earlier.

      I guess I misunderstood your point.

    33. LMJ229
      January 12th, 2011 | 5:45 pm

      I’m sure he will be in the bigs but probably not with the Yanks. I do think Cashman will trade him this year.

    34. MJ Recanati
      January 13th, 2011 | 2:50 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      I’m sure he will be in the bigs but probably not with the Yanks. I do think Cashman will trade him this year.

      Not happening.

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