Cashman built pitching depth by learning from past
Brian Cashman has been GM of the Yankees since 1998 and we have seen him grow and evolve in the job over the years. Like all GMs, he has made his share of terrible moves along with a lot of great ones. Not many GMs stick with an organization over 14 seasons the way Cash has and I think his ability to adapt and learn from past mistakes has turned him into the solid executive he now is and enabled him to keep the position. Through trial and error, he definitely has developed the proper strategy to develop a winning pitching staff.
He has tried to import established veteran pitching through Free Agency and trades in the past only to see the majority of those moves fail and usually cost the team millions. His 2 best pitching acquisitions were big-money FA deals for established aces Mike Mussina & CC Sabathia but even a team with the resources of the Yankees can’t afford to keep building its staff through Free Agency. Not only are there less and less quality starters hitting the market, but the high volatility and fragility of pitchers makes the massive cost for these starters in years and money extremely risky.
Cashman has learned the best way to have good pitching is to develop it yourself. And more importantly, due to the high volatility and injuries, he has focused on compiling as much depth as possible. He has had his lieutenants Damon Oppenheimer (Director of Amateur Scouting) and Billy Eppler (Director of Pro Scouting & Assistant GM) on the lookout for low-cost, quality arms to stock the system creating a pipeline to supply the Bronx with fresh arms. In interviews he’s said the club made a decision at the end of 2005 to go back to building the farm system. That led to the highly productive 2006 draft which netted 8 Major Lg pitchers and the team has been developing better ever since.
In addition to all of their current pitching depth, they have also used several young pitchers in trades to improve the team. Ian Kennedy, Zach McAlister, Mark Melancon, Arodys Vizcaino, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutcheon & Hector Noesi have all been dealt in recent yrs to improve the team in other areas. I would say it’s likely some of the depth they have now will also be used in trades. Cashman has found that quality young arms are excellent currency either to help the team or to use in trades.
The team has roughly 24 quality pitchers capable of pitching at the MLB level right now – almost enough to stock 2 teams with pitching. Amazingly, 19 of those 24 are Homegrown pitchers or have been acquired in trades using homegrown talent. This has set the team up for the present and the future and Cashman deserves a lot of credit for adapting his strategy. This may have been his belief all along since this plan really started to take form around the time that Cash wrestled full control of the team from the Tampa contingent. Except for the Soriano signing, he hasn’t had much meddling since. Let’s take a look at the stable of arms to see where they came from.
Veteran Free Agents (5)
Cash paid big money to get C.C. locked up to be the horse of the rotation thru 2016 and with good reason. Having the big fella guaranteed for 230 quality IP and 19 wins every yr gives Cashman the cushion to take some chances with younger pitchers in the rotation. Kuroda & Garcia are on 1 year deals at reasonable salaries for their production and Aardsma was a nice low risk/high reward signing. The Soriano deal was a terrible contract that Cashman was overruled on. I don’t expect the team to sign many FA pitchers in coming yrs unless they are of the 1 yr variety as the team doesn’t need to overpay for questionable starters anymore.
Acquired in Trades (3)
Both Pineda & Logan were acquired using young players developed thru the system. Pineda is key to future pitching decisions because the team expects him to develop into a legitimate #2 starter in the coming years. If he can’t fulfill that prophecy and no one else steps up, the team may be forced to venture into the expensive trade or FA market for CC’s partner at the top of the rotation.
Logan was acquired with Javy Vazquez for Melky Cabrera & Arodys Vizcaino. The trade route will continue to be an avenue used to bring in pitching as the current depth could be used to bring in younger pitchers like Jorge Campos in the Pineda deal.
Homegrown Veterans (2)
These guys are consistent veteran warriors that will be sorely missed when they are gone. Mo was an Int’l FA signed from Panama as a 16-yr old and is still one of the best closers in MLB at 42. Pettitte was a draft and follow signed in 1991. Any has the most Wins in post-season history and Mo has the most Saves in regular & post-season history. They are tremendous leaders & competitors and the team will never be the same when they are gone.
Homegrown – Drafted out of H.S. (2)
Phil Hughes (1st-2004), Dellin Betances (8th-2006)
It’s a little surprising to see only 2 of the 24 pitchers were drafted out of High School. However, Oppenheimer has been drafting quality H.S. arms in the last few yrs and the lower levels of the system has many promising arms. Brett Marshall will start the season in AA and may be the next impact HS arm behind Betances.
Homegrown – Drafted out of College (6)
This is the one area where Oppenheimer has done a tremendous job of finding useful starters and relievers, especially in later rounds. Only Joba was a high pick here and there are even more college arms in the pipeline that will help in the coming years. the team has found that drafting solid college pitchers is an inexpensive way to find lower risk/lower reward depth that can be back-end starters or useful relievers. They are also available to contribute much quicker than HS picks or Int’l FAs.
Homegrown – International FA (2)
Nova was a pleasant surprise as a rookie last yr. Although he was a top 10 prospect after his big 2010 in AAA, not many people thought he’d be more than a back-end starter. His successful 2011 raised expectations and he’s now looked at as a solid #3/4 type starter. I thought there would be more International signees on the team but the Yanks have also traded 2 of their top Int’l pitchers in Vizcaino & Noesi. Of course Mariano was also signed out of Panama. Jose Campos from the Mariners trade is a young Venezuelan who may be the Yanks top pitching prospect after Banuelos.
Minor Lg Free Agent/ Rule 5 (4)
These pickups are a testament to the pro scouting department headed by Eppler. Last yr they found several low-risk useful arms in Bartolo Colon, Wade, Brian Gordon, Luis Vizcaino & Garcia. This yr one of the lefties will make the team in addition to Wade.