• The Sad State Of The Yankees (Reality) Pipeline

    Posted by on December 10th, 2013 · Comments (5)

    Josh Norris in Baseball America, nails it when reporting on the Yankees (meaning Cashman’s) draft, farm system, prospects, and business model:

    The Yankees’ fall from grace of 2013 truly began a year prior, when Derek Jeter’s ankle crumbled beneath him. The team’s longstanding captain wasn’t ready for spring training, and wouldn’t debut until July.

    His return, while a welcome bit of joy for a fan base all but resigned to its team’s fate, was brief. His body gave out on him twice more before the year was over, the final time a strained calf muscle that ended his season.

    Besides Jeter, injuries to Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez placed a huge strain on the team’s chances at repeating as American League East champions. Moreover, the team’s bench once again proved inadequate, both due to injuries and lack of talent. The Yankees went 85-77, with a .525 winning percentage worse than any finish since their last losing season in 1992.

    When New York missed the playoffs in 2008, it spent $423 million on free agents A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in the offseason and won the 2009 World Series.

    General manager Brian Cashman used the same checkbook, er, playbook this offseason, losing free agents Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson but re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and adding free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to remake the lineup. All for a bill of $294 million.

    All of this highlighted the major deficiencies at the upper levels of the Yankees system, evident even though Double-A Trenton won the Eastern League title. If there were viable internal options, acquisitions such as past-prime vets Vernon Wells or Mark Reynolds wouldn’t have been necessary.

    That simply wasn’t the case, however. The Yankees haven’t produced an everyday player since the 2005 draft, which yielded Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson, and the players who got a shot in 2013, such as outfielder Zoilo Almonte, third baseman David Adams and catcher Austin Romine, proved inadequate. The Yankees’ recent success with pitching prospects didn’t extend to righthander Dellin Betances, relegated to the bullpen, and lefty Manny Banuelos, whose Tommy John surgery put him on the sidelines with injured Mariners acquisition Michael Pineda.

    As if that weren’t maddening enough, nearly all of the Yankees’ potential impact prospects took a step back. Outfielder Mason Williams struggled with weight gain and poor performance. Outfielder Slade Heathcott was just getting going before knee tendinitis ended his season. Outfielder Tyler Austin missed significant time at Double-A with a wrist injury.

    Righthander Jose Campos, already on a strict innings limit after missing most of 2012 with a fractured elbow, plodded along at low Class A. Second baseman Angelo Gumbs was demoted from high Class A Tampa to low Class A Charleston. Righty Ty Hensley, the team’s first-rounder in 2012, missed the entire season with surgeries to both hips.

    In addition to prospect injuries and stagnation, the Yankees were hit as hard as any organization with lengthy suspensions for players tied to Biogenesis. In addition to the scandal’s poster-boy Alex Rodriguez, other Yankees players received 50-game suspensions, including catcher Francisco Cervelli and Triple-A outfielder Fernando Martinez. Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, a three-time Yankees No. 1 prospect, also incurred the commissioner’s wrath.

    The Yankees restocked with three first-round picks in the 2013 draft—Eric Jagielo, Ian Clarkin, Aaron Judge—but even they missed time with injuries. Still, that trio and offensive second baseman Gosuke Katoh give the system a jolt of potential impact talent, and there were other bright spots, most notably catcher Gary Sanchez reaching Double-A while improving defensively.

    All in all, the bad far outweighed the good, and the front office made changes apart from just signing free agents. It also installed several procedural changes to the team’s internal scouting system, added former Cubs manager Mike Quade as a roving outfield coordinator and hired former Yankees minor league manager Trey Hillman as a special assistant for player development and pro scouting.

    It’s hard to argue with any of this! That said, here is what BBA says are the Yankees top prospects (below). Not too exciting, is it?

    1. Gary Sanchez, c
    2. Slade Heathcott, of
    3. Mason Williams, of
    4. J.R. Murphy, c
    5. Eric Jagielo, 3b
    6. Aaron Judge, of
    7. Ian Clarkin, lhp
    8. Greg Bird, 1b
    9. Luis Severino, rhp
    10. Gosuke Katoh, 2b


    Comments on The Sad State Of The Yankees (Reality) Pipeline

    1. December 10th, 2013 | 10:16 am

      If Slade Heathcott is the #2 prospect in the Yankees system, then there is zero hope for the future.

    2. December 10th, 2013 | 11:39 am

      Great comments on this over at BBTF. He’s a snip collection of some of them:

      Cashman has used his draft position as an excuse but other teams get more utility from picks in that same vicinity. Whether it’s drafting or development something is terribly wrong here.

      Keep in mind that I’m a Yanks fan when I write this, but the Yanks’ draft history pales in comparison to teams with comparable draft positions in the past decade or so, such as the Red Sox and the Cards.

      Since Cashman took over the draft for the Yankees in 2005, here’s what Boston has done:

      2005 – Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie
      2006 – Daniel Bard, Justin Masterson, Josh Reddick
      2007 – Will Middlebrooks, Anthony Rizzo
      2008 – Junichi Tazawa (“amateur” free agent)
      2009 – Xander Bogaerts, Jose Iglesias (both as amateur free agents)
      2010 – Brandon Workman
      2011 – Jackie Bradley Jr.

      There’s more, but I’m leaving out players whose MLB success was too limited despite ample opportunity (Craig Hansen) and a whole lot of prospects who haven’t proven themselves in MLB yet (Kelly, Ranaudo, Cecchini, Swihart, etc.).

      A lot of Boston’s success has simply been through (a) the draft pick compensation game and (b) amateur free agents. The Yankees have generally not been playing the former game, or they’ve been playing it poorly. The Red Sox?

      – They had 3 months of Orlando Cabrera, and got the Ellsbury and Lowrie compensation picks in return when the Angels signed him.

      – They got Clay Buchholz for Pedro Martinez signing with the Mets.

      – They got a few good years out of Daniel Bard, in return for the Yankees signing Johnny Damon.

      – They got Workman and Ranaudo in return for the Mets signing Jason Bay.

      – They got Bradley and Swihart when the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre.

      The Red Sox also had a period where they snapped up three very good amateur free agents.

      In all honesty, Boston was also using financial muscle in the above. Many of their picks were considered at higher slots on ability, but teams passed on them due to signability. Granted, this should not have been an issue for the Yankees, but it’s worth keeping in mind when comparing Boston’s draft record vs. other teams.

    3. December 10th, 2013 | 2:34 pm

      More on this from Joel Sherman today:

      Since late July, the Yankees have obtained a starting outfield — Alfonso Soriano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.

      That turned Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki into reserves. And it turned Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams into trade bait. But probably not overly attractive trade bait.

      A year ago the Yankees had hoped the trio could form a future outfield and/or help them land significant pieces in deals. But like all the catching prospects the Yankees not long ago bragged about or the Killer B pitchers, the outfielders took a U-turn away from promising prospects to something lesser.

      “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all it would take is for one interested team to value them well,” said an AL executive. “But we don’t have any of them as top-100 prospects and I think that is generally the industry view.”

      I asked executives from six teams and that was the repeated perception — none of those outfielders are projected as top players.

      An AL personnel man who was asked if the Yankees have prospects, said, “Impact?” Me: “Yes.” Him: “No.”

      What does that mean now? Well, for example, the Yankees like the very available Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Chicago, in particular, is looking for pitching prospects. But when speaking of the entire Yankees farm, one member of the Cubs organization said, “The Yankees have no upper-level talent.”

      This bodes poorly for the Yanks. There is fragility with Ellsbury, Beltran and Soriano based on past history and/or age. They would like to have some high-end youngsters better than Zoilo Almonte percolating below. Mainly, though, the Yankees are pushing up on Hal Steinbrenner’s offseason budget.

      Thus, they need low-cost options for holes at second, the rotation, late-inning relief and further left-side-of-the-infield insurance. And the trade market is a place to find that. Therefore, the need to have chips. Gardner has allure in the market — the Giants, for example, are intrigued, though feel the chances of a deal are not great. Gardner’s value is hurt because he is just a year from free agency plus some influential Yankees decision-makers are resistant to dealing him.

      link: http://nypost.com/2013/12/09/yankees-of-prospects-no-longer-valued-on-trade-market/

    4. Mr. October
      December 10th, 2013 | 7:58 pm

      … And following the Kuroda signing, Cashman continues to think outside the box: “… Jack Curry says that Brian Cashman recently reached out to Youkilis’ agent, but the 34-year-old expressed a desire to play near his home in California… Youkilis suffered a back injury this past season that limited him to just 28 games… He hit .219 (23-for-105) with two homers, eight RBIs and a .305 on-base percentage.”

    5. Mr. October
      December 10th, 2013 | 8:04 pm

      Mr. October wrote:

      … And following the Kuroda signing, Cashman continues to think outside the box…

      “Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that he has spoken with the agents for Boone Logan and Mark Reynolds. Cashman also said that he has received many calls about Brett Gardner, but that the Yankees are not shopping the speedy outfielder…”

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