• Passan: Yanks Fail Badly At Developing Pitchers

    Posted by on February 19th, 2013 · Comments (25)

    Great stuff from Jeff Passan today -

    Over the last half-decade, the Yankees have developed pitching depth almost as poorly as any team in the major leagues.

    For this study, we tallied the pitchers who debuted between 2008 and 2012 and tied them to the team with which they arrived. Then we compiled their Wins Above Replacement, via Baseball-Reference, with that first team only. By this measure, actually, the Yankees actually are one of the better teams in baseball, with 16.4 WAR, more than three-quarters of which come from reliever David Robertson, since-jettisoned Alfredo Aceves and Nova, who will compete for the fifth-starter job with Phelps.

    Beyond that is mostly a pitching wasteland, and that is where the last five years get so damning. Robertson, Aceves and Nova are the only pitchers who debuted with the Yankees to throw more than 100 innings for them. Just as bad, Phelps (99 2/3 innings) and the departed Phil Coke (74 2/3) and Hector Noesi (56 1/3) are the only others with 25 or more innings. Only one other team has fewer than six homegrown pitchers with 25 or more innings: the Boston Red Sox, with five.

    Don’t view this data in a vacuum. Coke was part of a trade that landed Curtis Granderson. Noesi went to Seattle for Pineda. The innings cutoffs are arbitrary, too. And considering the Yankees lock up a roster spot every time they spend big money in free agency, it is ostensibly tougher to crack their roster than most.

    Still, it puts in perspective the Yankees’ stated philosophy – develop pitching, especially starters – and the inability to do so that prompted them to pursue Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte for the last two seasons in free agency. The average starts from homegrown pitchers over the last five years among the 30 major league teams is 197.9. The Yankees have 82.

    This study is neither predictive in nature nor damning for the next five years. Phelps or Nova or Brett Marshall or maybe all three could thrive. Even just a year makes a difference. Go back to 2007, in fact, and the Yankees universe looked entirely different.

    Following the 2007 season, Cashman felt vindicated. For years he had philosophized the New York Yankees would lard themselves against the rising cost of free-agent pitching with homegrown starters, and it seemed as though they had found three dandies: Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy.

    Then came 2008, an all-around disaster in which the Yankees so babied Chamberlain’s arm it needed a pacifier to sleep at night, and Hughes and Kennedy combined to go 0-8 with a 7.45 ERA. Cashman’s system wasn’t dead. Just on hold for the winter, when he spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and was rewarded with a championship ring a year later.

    Still, pervading the organization was Cashman’s ideal that guaranteeing so much money to aging players was not just too risky but inefficient compared to a player coming at 1/50th the price of Sabathia if only the organization could rear such talent. Cashman forged ahead. The Yankees’ future, even if Hughes was a mid-level starter, Chamberlain an oft-injured reliever and Kennedy, now an Arizona Diamondback, would be with pitchers developed in the organization. The Yankees’ future would be with pitchers developed in the organization.

    It’s been five full years since that Hughes-Chamberlain-Kennedy group ascended the minor leagues. And the Yankees have done far better at getting rid of talent than nurturing it.

    Kennedy, dealt in the Granderson trade, has 9.5 WAR for the Diamondbacks, while Coke has grown into a lockdown left-handed reliever for Detroit. Tyler Clippard, who also debuted in that ’07 rookie class, was sent to Washington for Jonathan Albaladejo in one of the worst trades of Cashman’s career. He has 6.5 WAR for the Nats.

    Amen.

    Comments on Passan: Yanks Fail Badly At Developing Pitchers

    1. Evan3457
      February 19th, 2013 | 8:45 am

      The article is self-contradictory.

    2. February 19th, 2013 | 8:50 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The article is self-contradictory.

      How so?

    3. MJ Recanati
      February 19th, 2013 | 11:29 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The article is self-contradictory.

      Steve L. wrote:

      How so?

      If (1) Kennedy, Clippard, Aceves, and Coke are cited as examples of former Yankee prospects that are producing elsewhere and (2) the writer concedes that Nova, Phelps, and others have provided value to the Yankees then the team can’t be failing badly at developing pitchers. To fail at development is, by definition, to be unable to produce pitchers that provide value. If value is being provided — whether to the Yankees or otherwise — then, by definition, the Yankees are not failing.

      The writer’s best point is:

      [T]he Yankees have done far better at getting rid of talent than nurturing it.

      While open to debate, that’s the only point in the article that isn’t logically flawed.

    4. February 19th, 2013 | 11:35 am

      [T]he Yankees have done far better at getting rid of talent than nurturing it.

      Isn’t this a problem? What’s the root cause of it? And, why isn’t ownership addressing it?

    5. MJ Recanati
      February 19th, 2013 | 11:47 am

      Steve L. wrote:

      Isn’t this a problem?

      If you believe that this is a true statement then, yes, it would be a problem. I think it’s somewhat overstated given the lack of context in Passan’s article.

      Steve L. wrote:

      What’s the root cause of it?

      Assuming it is a problem, it’s an issue with the farm system director and the team scouts.

      Steve L. wrote:

      [W]hy isn’t ownership addressing it?

      Perhaps because no one thinks it’s a problem? Or because ownership, genearlly speaking, isn’t equipped to handle these types of problems since they’re of an operational nature. I don’t know too many owners in any sport that understand the minutiae of the sport they’re invested in.

    6. February 19th, 2013 | 12:39 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Assuming it is a problem, it’s an issue with the farm system director and the team scouts.

      Really, and not the GM?

    7. MJ Recanati
      February 19th, 2013 | 12:48 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Really, and not the GM?

      If a team is misevaluating its own talent, I would assume that the problem begins with the people whose day to day job is to develop, assess and evaluate the team’s farm system. I’m not saying the GM has no role here but it’s these people that are watching the players 24/7/365.

    8. hallofamer2000
      February 19th, 2013 | 3:34 pm

      I just want to argue with the fact he had “Phil Coke” and “lockdown reliever” in the same article.

    9. MJ Recanati
      February 19th, 2013 | 4:11 pm

      hallofamer2000 wrote:

      I just want to argue with the fact he had “Phil Coke” and “lockdown reliever” in the same article.

      LOL. Not only that but, really, Boone Logan (2.3 bWAR on Yankees) has been better than Coke (0.6 bWAR on Tigers) as the primary lefty out of the bullpen. Coke was fungible and has been more than adequately replaced.

    10. Evan3457
      February 19th, 2013 | 6:12 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      The article is self-contradictory.
      Steve L. wrote:
      How so?
      If (1) Kennedy, Clippard, Aceves, and Coke are cited as examples of former Yankee prospects that are producing elsewhere and (2) the writer concedes that Nova, Phelps, and others have provided value to the Yankees then the team can’t be failing badly at developing pitchers. To fail at development is, by definition, to be unable to produce pitchers that provide value. If value is being provided — whether to the Yankees or otherwise — then, by definition, the Yankees are not failing.

      Bingo.

      I didn’t have the time this morning to write all that.

    11. Raf
      February 19th, 2013 | 6:15 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Isn’t this a problem? What’s the root cause of it? And, why isn’t ownership addressing it?

      Ownership isn’t addressing it, because it hasn’t been a problem. Veterans vs rookies isn’t limited to the Yankees either.

    12. 77yankees
      February 19th, 2013 | 7:02 pm

      I think the more logical point is that during the Steinbrenner 40 year era, the Yankees have developed basically 3 pitchers who made a long term contribution as Yankees: Guidry, Pettitte & Rivera. You can technically throw Righetti in there too, though he arrived via trade.

    13. Raf
      February 19th, 2013 | 7:22 pm

      @ 77yankees:
      But even then, they were still developing pitchers; Jose Rijo, Al Leiter, Doug Draebek (though traded from the White Sox), Bob Tewksbury, Jim DeShaies, etc came through the system.

      They may not have been long term contributors, but they still were developed by the Yankees.

    14. 77yankees
      February 19th, 2013 | 8:02 pm

      @ Raf:

      Right, Lamaar Hoyt & Tim Belcher come to mind as well.

      And as the story goes, in 1977 the Yankees had a deal to send Ron Guidry to the expansion Blue Jays, and Toronto backed out of the deal, and all he did was become a Yankee legend.

      So while they’ve been good at developing them, the Yankees haven’t been very prudent in holding onto them.

    15. McMillan
      February 19th, 2013 | 9:13 pm

      “Cashman’s system wasn’t dead. Just on hold for the winter, when he spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and was rewarded with a championship ring a year later… And the Yankees have done far better at getting rid of talent than nurturing it.”
      “Bingo.”
      77yankees wrote:

      Right, Lamaar Hoyt & Tim Belcher come to mind as well.

      Belcher was not developed by the Yankees. He was selected in the supplemental draft, left unprotected, and picked up by Oakland practically within hours.

    16. LMJ229
      February 19th, 2013 | 10:48 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Assuming it is a problem, it’s an issue with the farm system director and the team scouts.

      Really, and not the GM?

      Steve, haven’t you learned by now it is NEVER the GM’s fault?! It’s the scouts fault, or the owner’s fault, or Randy Levine’s fault, but NEVER, EVER is it the GM’s fault! Heck, sometimes it’s even the player’s fault because those players who were traded have alot of nerve going to another team and playing well! We all know they wouldn’t have made it in NY anyway! ;)

    17. Evan3457
      February 19th, 2013 | 11:54 pm

      McMillan wrote:

      “Cashman’s system wasn’t dead. Just on hold for the winter, when he spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and was rewarded with a championship ring a year later… it.”

      The Yankees had over $60 million in expiring contracts coming off the books. They had just missed the playoffs for the 1st time in 14 seasons. George Steinbrenner was still there; Hank and Hal were just caretaking and following his old policies. The new Basic Agreement with the stiffer luxury tax penalties were nowhere in sight.

      Of course they were going to spend that money.

    18. MJ Recanati
      February 20th, 2013 | 11:23 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Steve, haven’t you learned by now it is NEVER the GM’s fault?! It’s the scouts fault, or the owner’s fault, or Randy Levine’s fault, but NEVER, EVER is it the GM’s fault! Heck, sometimes it’s even the player’s fault because those players who were traded have alot of nerve going to another team and playing well! We all know they wouldn’t have made it in NY anyway!

      I can’t think of a single time where I’ve argued anything of the sort you refer to in your hyperbolic comment. If you want to ignore context then, yes, your argument can work on some level. Otherwise, not so much.

      If this site presented a properly nuanced look at Brian Cashman then I’m sure some of the comments that appear slanted in his favor would be decidedly less so. But if every post about Cashman takes the same approach — that he’s terrible, that all of his moves fail, that he deserves no credit for the team’s success, that every season which ends without a championship can be attributed to something that Cashman specifically did or didn’t do — then it’s hard to see why you’d ever get what you’re looking for; namely, a similarly nuanced argument which points out that Cashman is not infallible and has never been deemed as such by me.

    19. McMillan
      February 23rd, 2013 | 10:18 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The Yankees had over $60 million in expiring contracts coming off the books. They had just missed the playoffs for the 1st time in 14 seasons. George Steinbrenner was still there; Hank and Hal were just caretaking and following his old policies. The new Basic Agreement with the stiffer luxury tax penalties were nowhere in sight.
      Of course they were going to spend that money.

      The team had over $60 million in expiring contracts coming off the books – more than the total payrolls of seven other M.L.B. teams at the time, and because it missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons despite having had the highest payroll in M.L.B. in each of those seasons, it was “going to spend that money?”
      Once again, this G.M. has been associated with this organization for many years. And in 2008-09, it found itself having to acquire pitching in the free agent market to compete for a World Championship because the farm system had not produced such talent. It just happened to have $161 million to offer Sabathia, and $82 million to offer Burnett (and $180 million to offer Teixeira), and it also just happened to win a World Series.
      Brian Cashman is good G.M. because he chose to use some of the $60 mil. coming off the books to sign a Sabathia? No – “a Steinbrenner” simply provided him with permission to do so.
      The new Basic Agreement and its stiffer luxury tax penalties are not the issues they were with a payroll less than $223 mil. in 2012. And the payroll is not $223 mil. if the Yankees have done “far better at nurturing talent than getting rid of it.”

    20. Ricketson
      February 23rd, 2013 | 10:29 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Steve, haven’t you learned by now it is NEVER the GM’s fault?! It’s the scouts fault, or the owner’s fault, or Randy Levine’s fault, but NEVER, EVER is it the GM’s fault! Heck, sometimes it’s even the player’s fault because those players who were traded have alot of nerve going to another team and playing well! We all know they wouldn’t have made it in NY anyway!

      Or the media’s fault in its biased or unfair criticism of the GM (e.g. sometimes, such as in the case of Madden, where only with the existence of some type of personal animosity can such criticism be explained).

    21. Ricketson
      February 23rd, 2013 | 10:48 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      But if every post about Cashman takes the same approach — that he’s terrible, that all of his moves fail, that he deserves no credit for the team’s success, that every season which ends without a championship can be attributed to something that Cashman specifically did or didn’t do

      The 1998-2000 seasons were not campaigns that ended with World Series titles because Brian Cashman held the official title of “Sr. Vice President And General Manager” at the time, and he deserves little credit for the team’s success in this period. And not all of his moves fail; just too many, if not most, of them.
      Further, only 1 season has ended with a World Series championship since 2000 (2009), and of course such a record can be attributed to what Cashman specifically did or didn’t do – he’s been the “Sr. Vice President and General Manager” of the team, earning $3 million per year and the highest salary of all general managers in Major League Baseball.

    22. Evan3457
      February 24th, 2013 | 2:44 am

      McMillan wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      The Yankees had over $60 million in expiring contracts coming off the books. They had just missed the playoffs for the 1st time in 14 seasons. George Steinbrenner was still there; Hank and Hal were just caretaking and following his old policies. The new Basic Agreement with the stiffer luxury tax penalties were nowhere in sight.
      Of course they were going to spend that money.

      The team had over $60 million in expiring contracts coming off the books – more than the total payrolls of seven other M.L.B. teams at the time, and because it missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons despite having had the highest payroll in M.L.B. in each of those seasons, it was “going to spend that money?”

      Seriously?

      What did YOU think the Yankees would do with $60 million freed up? What had they always done under Steinbrenner and any other GM?

      Once again, this G.M. has been associated with this organization for many years. And in 2008-09, it found itself having to acquire pitching in the free agent market to compete for a World Championship because the farm system had not produced such talent.

      You mean like in 1993 when the Yanks signed Jimmy Key as a big bucks free agent? Or in 1995 when they acquired David Cone in a salary dump deal? Or when they signed Kenny Rogers as a free agent in 1995? Or when they traded for Jack McDowell in a salary dump deal in 1995? All while Gene Michael was GM, I might add. The first two worked out just fine; the last two, not so much.

      Brian Cashman is good G.M. because he chose to use some of the $60 mil. coming off the books to sign a Sabathia? No – “a Steinbrenner” simply provided him with permission to do so.

      As I recall the decision involved was not merely to sign Sabathia, but to trade several good prospects for the right to sign Santana to a similar deal, but the decision was made, most think by Cashman, that Sabathia was the safer bet. That decision would seem to have been proven out. Wouldn’t you agree?

      The new Basic Agreement and its stiffer luxury tax penalties are not the issues they were with a payroll less than $223 mil. in 2012. And the payroll is not $223 mil. if the Yankees have done “far better at nurturing talent than getting rid of it.”

      That’s true. But as has been pointed out, some talent has been nutured, and some of that $223 million is the Yanks paying for division titles and playoff spots (and yes, 1 championship) past.

    23. Evan3457
      February 24th, 2013 | 2:47 am

      Ricketson wrote:

      LMJ229 wrote:
      Steve, haven’t you learned by now it is NEVER the GM’s fault?! It’s the scouts fault, or the owner’s fault, or Randy Levine’s fault, but NEVER, EVER is it the GM’s fault! Heck, sometimes it’s even the player’s fault because those players who were traded have alot of nerve going to another team and playing well! We all know they wouldn’t have made it in NY anyway!
      Or the media’s fault in its biased or unfair criticism of the GM (e.g. sometimes, such as in the case of Madden, where only with the existence of some type of personal animosity can such criticism be explained).

      If such criticism is applied equally to all GMs, or at least to the GMs of the other team in town, then it can be fairly ascribed to journalism. But when it’s repeatedly applied to Cashman, and when the times Cashman is proven right are ignored or downplayed, then it’s fair to assume some sort of bias on the part of the writer in question.

    24. Raf
      February 24th, 2013 | 4:14 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      If this site presented a properly nuanced look at Brian Cashman then I’m sure some of the comments that appear slanted in his favor would be decidedly less so. But if every post about Cashman takes the same approach — that he’s terrible, that all of his moves fail, that he deserves no credit for the team’s success, that every season which ends without a championship can be attributed to something that Cashman specifically did or didn’t do — then it’s hard to see why you’d ever get what you’re looking for; namely, a similarly nuanced argument which points out that Cashman is not infallible and has never been deemed as such by me.

      Cashman took a team that was eliminated in the first round 2 of the 3 prior years, and not only did they win a World Series, they set the record for wins in a season… The Yankees should build a statue to him.

      Let the nuancing begin! ;) :p

    25. McMillan
      February 24th, 2013 | 8:36 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Cashman took a team that was eliminated in the first round 2 of the 3 prior years, and not only did they win a World Series, they set the record for wins in a season… The Yankees should build a statue to him.

      I agree that the organization should erect a monument to Cashman; it should be in the form of a phallus.

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