• Cashman’s Drafting & Player Development Role & Report Card

    Posted by on April 17th, 2011 · Comments (15)

    John Nalbone wrote this today:

    The contributions of homegrown players Derek Jeter, catcher Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Bernie Williams helped the Yankees win five World Series championships from 1996 to 2009.

    This season, with Brett Gardner off to a dreadful (.150) start and Eduardo Nunez on the bench as a utility infielder, All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano is the only everyday position player developed by the Yankees’ farm system.

    Years of neglect in the draft and far too many resources directed toward high-priced free agents in the waning years of George Steinbrenner’s stewardship of the franchise were to blame for the dearth of major league-ready talent in the minor-league system.

    From 1997 to 2005 the Yankees drafting and player development was among the worst in baseball, with only 10 position players produced and those players combining for less than 900 major league at-bats.

    Cano became a full-time player in 2005, but he was an undrafted amateur free agent from San Pedro de Marcoris in the Dominican Republic.

    In 2006, general manager Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system and things began to change, albeit slowly.

    “It is an area that has lagged somewhat,’’ senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman said of the lack of top-tier position players at the higher levels of Yankees system. “But Nunez is there now and Gardner is one of the better young outfielders in the game. The young catchers we have are some of the best in the business, and we’ve got some quality young guys lower in our system right now.’’

    I totally agree about the Yankees bad drafting from 1997 through 2005. But, the line about “In 2006, general manager Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system and things began to change, albeit slowly” is a farce. It makes it sound as if Cashman is calling the shots for the Yankees player development system. Meanwhile, just last summer, Yankees Senior VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman said that:

    The nature of amateur scouting in the US is such that our guys do this all year. All in, it’s probably close to a twelve-month a year operation. They’ve got showcases in the fall, home visits in the winter — high school and college games in the spring leading up the draft. And then post-draft, there are summer leagues like the Cape, high school showcases, national team tryouts — there’s all kinds of things that our guys are involved in. Damon [Oppenheimer] runs that department very well, and he has the authority to draft the players the Yankees need. Neither [Brian Cashman] or I tell him who to pick and who not to pick. We’re there to support, and evaluate his production, just like everyone else in the organization is evaluated.

    That sure sounds like Damon Oppenheimer is the point man for amateur scouting – which the pipeline for your player development system.

    However, on the other hand, Cashman did get rid of Lin Garrett – and that had to help with the Yankees amateur scouting efforts. He gets a gold star for that one. But, then again, one could also say, here, “Brian, what took you so long to make that call?”

    Also, the book on the Yankees farm system since “Brian Cashman began overseeing the player development system” five years ago still needs to be written. As, so far, what have we seen from that?

    Comments on Cashman’s Drafting & Player Development Role & Report Card

    1. LMJ229
      April 17th, 2011 | 9:24 pm

      Clearly, the Yankees have not been very good at player devlopment in recent years. Not sure, exactly, whose fault it is – Newman’s, Oppenheimer’s, Cashman’s, it doesn’t matter – something needs to be done to improve our dreadful track record over the past 15 years.

    2. Raf
      April 17th, 2011 | 10:37 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Cashman’s, it doesn’t matter – something needs to be done to improve our dreadful track record over the past 15 years.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      So: a starting leftfielder, a starting pitcher, and two key relievers from the farm in the typical 4-6 year window, plus a guy who went in the trade for Randy Johnson, another in the trade for Marte and Nady, two others in the trade for Curtis Granderson, another in the trade for Lance Berkman, and one in the trade for Javier Vazquez.

      And this doesn’t count the guys who got traded without ever reaching the majors for players who contributed to the Yanks, like the 4 guys who got traded for Bobby Abreu. (Actually, Matt Smith, drafted by the Yanks in 2000, and who made the majors for a cup of coffee for the Yanks in 2006 before they traded him to the Phils, was one of the four.)

      b>Raf wrote:

      And, if anyone wants to wonder why the Yankees have a $200 million payroll, perhaps Lin Garrett is the reason why – as the lack of young and cheap talent to retool the Yankees
      ————————–
      Don’t think that has necessarily been the case; about those $200m payrolls…
      top 10 salaries 2007
      Jason Giambi $ 23,428,571
      Alex Rodriguez $ 22,708,525
      Derek Jeter $ 21,600,000
      Andy Pettitte $ 16,000,000
      Bobby Abreu $ 15,000,000
      Johnny Damon $ 13,000,000
      Hideki Matsui $ 13,000,000
      Jorge Posada $ 12,000,000
      Mike Mussina $ 11,070,423
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000

      2006
      Alex Rodriguez $ 21,680,727
      Derek Jeter $ 20,600,000
      Jason Giambi $ 20,428,571
      Mike Mussina $ 19,000,000
      Randy Johnson $ 15,661,427
      Johnny Damon $ 13,000,000
      Hideki Matsui $ 13,000,000
      Jorge Posada $ 12,000,000
      Gary Sheffield $ 10,756,171
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000

      2005
      Alex Rodriguez $ 26,000,000
      Derek Jeter $ 19,600,000
      Mike Mussina $ 19,000,000
      Randy Johnson $ 16,000,000
      Kevin Brown $ 15,714,286
      Jason Giambi $ 13,428,571
      Gary Sheffield $ 13,000,000
      Bernie Williams $ 12,357,143
      Jorge Posada $ 11,000,000
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000

      2004
      Alex Rodriguez $ 22,000,000
      Derek Jeter $ 18,600,000
      Mike Mussina $ 16,000,000
      Kevin Brown $ 15,714,286
      Gary Sheffield $ 13,000,000
      Jason Giambi $ 12,428,571
      Bernie Williams $ 12,357,143
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,890,000
      Jorge Posada $ 9,000,000
      Javier Vazquez $ 9,000,000

      2003
      Derek Jeter $ 15,600,000
      Raul Mondesi $ 13,000,000
      Bernie Williams $ 12,357,143
      Mike Mussina $ 12,000,000
      Andy Pettitte $ 11,500,000
      Jason Giambi $ 11,428,571
      Mariano Rivera $ 10,500,000
      Roger Clemens $ 10,100,000
      Jorge Posada $ 8,000,000
      Sterling Hitchcock $ 6,000,000

      2002
      Derek Jeter $ 14,600,000
      Bernie Williams $ 12,357,143
      Raul Mondesi $ 11,000,000
      Mike Mussina $ 11,000,000
      Jason Giambi $ 10,428,571
      Roger Clemens $ 10,300,000
      Andy Pettitte $ 9,500,000
      Mariano Rivera $ 9,450,000
      Robin Ventura $ 8,500,000
      Jorge Posada $ 7,000,000

      They had young, cheap talent, they opted to trade it away for whatever reason; Mike Lowell, Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Wily Mo Pena, among others could have been ready to step in.

      The Yanks have let other teams set the market, and have paid their players accordingly. Having said that, they’ve assumed contracts of others, like Kevin Brown, Raul Mondesi and Bobby Abreu.

    3. Raf
      April 17th, 2011 | 10:50 pm

      John Nalbone wrote:

      Years of neglect in the draft and far too many resources directed toward high-priced free agents in the waning years of George Steinbrenner’s stewardship of the franchise were to blame for the dearth of major league-ready talent in the minor-league system.

      No, it wasn’t. This is an oft repeated meme, that doesn’t get any more valid the more it’s repeated. Someone should build a year by year pie-chart from 1973 on that show the percentage of players developed from within, and acquired from outside the organization. :-P

      :D

      I betcha had the league not colluded, the Yanks would’ve done better? I betcha had the Yanks not made a series of dumb trades, they would’ve done better?

      John Nalbone wrote:

      From 1997 to 2005 the Yankees drafting and player development was among the worst in baseball, with only 10 position players produced and those players combining for less than 900 major league at-bats.

      And yet,
      97: Wild Card
      98: World Champs
      99: World Champs
      00: World Champs
      01: AL Champs
      02: AL East Champs
      03: AL Champs
      04: AL East Champs
      05: AL East Champs

      2001 and 2004 are notable in that the ball was in the hand of the greatest closer ever, and he blew it. Hey, it happens, Mo isn’t perfect. BUT, the overall point is that all kinds of players, homegrown and outside of the organization, succeeded and failed. I didn’t feel any better that Pettitte got shelled in the desert, nor did I feel better that Mo blew a save, because they were “homegrown Yankees.” Nor did I feel worse that Matsui hit everything he saw in 2009 because he was an “outsider.”

    4. Scout
      April 18th, 2011 | 8:36 am

      Steve’s point, if I understand him correctly, is that it is too soon to praise the current organization management for a dramatic turnaround in the drafting and signing of amateur talent. I fully agree that the only appropriate grade is “Incomplete.” If you cannot really judge a draft for five years, we are only now at that point with Oppenheimer’s first cohort. About the most you can do is evaluate the team’s philosophy, its emphasis.

      I’ve liked some years and had real questions about others, such as the year in which they took Bleich in the second round and last summer when they started with Culver instead of Castelanos. I think we’ll need another couple of years to see whether the current approach pays off. But if we do not see the emphasis on high-upside arms turn into improved starting pitching (either home-grown or via trading some of this young talent for proven front-end arms), we’ll have reason to challenge the assumption that Cashman-Oppenheimer-Newman et al have restored order to the talent pipeline.

    5. Raf
      April 18th, 2011 | 9:16 am

      Scout wrote:

      About the most you can do is evaluate the team’s philosophy, its emphasis.

      Agreed.

      And the Yanks are covering all their bases; not only are they active in MLB free agency, they’re keeping tabs all over the world with IFA’s. It’s great as a Yankees fan, that we can be in on players in the Caribbean, in Latin America and Asia. It’s great to be able to take a chance on high ceiling talent, toolsy athletes and the like. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. It won’t make a difference to the organization.

      The Yanks are one of the few triple threats in baseball, in that they can sign players they want, they can develop players they want, and that they can retain players they want.

    6. April 18th, 2011 | 10:51 am

      Scout wrote:

      Steve’s point, if I understand him correctly, is that it is too soon to praise the current organization management for a dramatic turnaround in the drafting and signing of amateur talent.

      Exactly. We know that the Cashman/Garrett combo sucked. The data is there to support that. But, it’s jumping the gun to say that the Cashman/Oppenheimer duo is doing a better job. That book cannot be written until sometime around 2013 or 2014.

    7. #15
      April 18th, 2011 | 2:06 pm

      Nova, Hughes (DL), Mo, Joba, DJ, Gardy, Robbie, Nunez, Cisco (DL), Jorge, David Robertson, Lance Pendleton…. That’s 12 of the 25 man roster through the org. excluding short term injury situations (okay, +/-on Hughes).

      Bard, Buchholz, Lester, Papsmear, Varitek, Lowrie, Ellsbury, Wolf Boy, Eukelele… I count 9.

      Phillies, I count 7.

      Rangers… 14.

      Not sure what the league average would be, but I’m guessing it’s in the 50-60% range, and that number is distorted by the smaller market teams that can only build through the draft. Moreover, if you only include teams that have, say, 3 playoff appearences in the last 5 years, I suspect the Yankees are about average in terms of the percentage of players that never played for another big league club.

      Point is that for most teams not from Pittsburg, you build through a combination of drafting, free agency & trades. Teams with good to excellent fan support like the Yankees and Philles go out and spend money to bring in talented free agents or make trades for established players at the expense of prospects. Teams like the Rays have no choice, so they lean heavily on the draft. When they lose players to FA like Crawford or Soriano, it means they get to dig deeper into the next draft pool at the expense of the teams that got those guys.

      The current Yankee list includes 2 first ballot HOF and Jorge (and Andy)throwing pebbles at the window. Compare that to, say, the Mets or the Cubs, or the Dodgers, or the LAAAAAA, over the past 15-20 years.

      Has the Yankees MiL system been great? No. I’d certainly agree the Yankees have done a substandard job of finding and developing young pitchers. Even the guys they sent away in trades haven’t turned into superstars. That said, I think we’ve got the best crop of young pitchers we’ve had in a long, long time.

    8. LMJ229
      April 18th, 2011 | 9:05 pm

      #15 wrote:

      Nova, Hughes (DL), Mo, Joba, DJ, Gardy, Robbie, Nunez, Cisco (DL), Jorge, David Robertson, Lance Pendleton…. That’s 12 of the 25 man roster through the org. excluding short term injury situations (okay, +/-on Hughes).
      Bard, Buchholz, Lester, Papsmear, Varitek, Lowrie, Ellsbury, Wolf Boy, Eukelele… I count 9.
      Phillies, I count 7.

      First off, Mo, DJ and Jorge were not developed by Cashman, they were developed under previous GMs. Secondly, Cisco and Pendleton are not on the active roster. Finally, I don’t think Nova, Hughes, Joba, Gardy, Robbie, Nunez and Robertson adequately compare – talent wise – to Bard, Buchholz, Lester, Papelbon, Lowrie, Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Youkilis for the Red Sox. I’d have to say the Red Sox win that battle.

      #15 wrote:

      Has the Yankees MiL system been great? No. I’d certainly agree the Yankees have done a substandard job of finding and developing young pitchers. Even the guys they sent away in trades haven’t turned into superstars. That said, I think we’ve got the best crop of young pitchers we’ve had in a long, long time.

      I hope so, we’ll see. How many times have we heard about “can’t miss” prospects only to be disappointed?

    9. Raf
      April 18th, 2011 | 9:40 pm

      #15 wrote:

      Even the guys they sent away in trades haven’t turned into superstars.

      Who would be the last person to fit this criteria? Doug Draebek (traded for Rick Rhoden in ’86)? Jose Rijo (traded for Rickey Henderson in ’84)? Fred McGriff (traded with Davey Collins)? Jay Buhner (traded for Ken Phelps in ’88)?

    10. MJ Recanati
      April 19th, 2011 | 7:58 am

      #15 wrote:

      Even the guys they sent away in trades haven’t turned into superstars.

      I don’t see why this would enter the discussion. It’s not often that teams trade away stars, right? The fact that ex-Yankee farmhands don’t end up being stars after they’re traded away doesn’t prove much about the quality of the system because I think if you looked around baseball, you’d find the same thing happening in other markets too.

      Which ex-Red Sox players have turned into stars after being traded? Which ex-Phillies players have turned into stars after being traded?

    11. #15
      April 19th, 2011 | 8:29 am

      @ LMJ229:
      I’m just observing that at any given point in time, ~ 1/2 the players on the 25 man roster, for many teams, will have come from outside the organization. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. The Yankees aren’t unique in that regard. They, like the other teams with good cash flow and fan support can afford to pick up top end FA when they are available. That means long term contracts and few paths out of the minors. I know Mo, DJ and Jorge were from a prior regime. With contracts in place, there wasn’t a lot of urgency to fill those roster spots from the minors until ~ 2010 or so. For example, if they had a high performing SS prospect in 2006 or 2007, the guy would have either grown mold in the minors or, better, been traded to fill other needs. Same thing with a third base prospect. If we had a stud 21 year-old 1st baseman right now, what are you going to do with him? You aren’t going to bring him up as anything other than a bench player. The next squad of catchers was probably one or two years late compared to when they were needed (though getting Russell Martin may change the plan some). Cisco would have been on the roster if not for the foot injury. All told, I’d probably give an edge to what the Sox have produced out of their system over the past 10 years, but Bard and Lowrie are hardly slam dunk success stories at this point and Elderberry hasn’t been able to stay healthy enough to impact the club’s fortunes.

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I’m suggesting that in terms of pitchers, until recently, they hadn’t found or developed much in a fairly long time. What they sent away in trades didn’t amount to much, and what they kept wasn’t special either. My conclusion is that they haven’t done a good job finding or developing pitchers even though there were clearly many times when they need pitching. Hopefully we’ll see that story change in a positive direction over the next 1-3 years as it looks like a few nice chuckers are on the horizon.

    12. Raf
      April 19th, 2011 | 10:38 am

      This had gotten me to wondering; what would’ve happened had Harding Peterson remained the GM? He was the guy behind Pettitte, Mo & Posada. To think, he got fired because he “bungled” the Witt-Winfield deal.

    13. MJ Recanati
      April 19th, 2011 | 10:59 am

      Raf wrote:

      what would’ve happened had Harding Peterson remained the GM?

      Impossible to know. It’s just as likely that he would’ve found no more diamonds in the rough as it is that he would’ve unearthed another handful of gems.

      That’s the thing with this stuff: a GM/scouting director can go on a good run and then have several years of nothing too.

    14. Raf
      April 19th, 2011 | 11:10 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      It’s just as likely that he would’ve found no more diamonds in the rough as it is that he would’ve unearthed another handful of gems.

      I know, just throwing it out there… ;)

      For all that’s made of Watson and Michael, and their baseball acumen, they’ve had some pretty lousy drafts.

    15. MJ Recanati
      April 19th, 2011 | 11:13 am

      Raf wrote:

      For all that’s made of Watson and Michael, and their baseball acumen, they’ve had some pretty lousy drafts.

      Of course. But it doesn’t fit with the narrative that they were geniuses and Cashman is merely living off their bountiful harvests.

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