Monthly Archives: December 2012
Do you miss Yankees baseball? Do you miss the crack of the bat where HR’s ended up in the seats? Well on Youtube (and River Avenue Blues) they put together all 252 HR’s from the 2012 season. Let there be many more to come in 2013 (but we all know it’s not going to be as much). Watch the clip, enjoy and have a happy and healthy New Year.
When the 2012 offseason began, many Yankees fans were hoping that the Yankees would snag the big names off the free agent boards. Scenarios like possibly putting Josh Hamilton in pinstripes or maybe even re-signing Russell Martin were flying all across Twitter and Facebook. Of course, since the season ended in mid-October, all the Yankees have done were twiddle their fingers as the big names came off the board. Russell Martin? Signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates (and joined former Yankee A.J Burnett). Josh Hamilton? Signed a mega deal with the LA Angels and left the Texas Rangers hanging. Nick Swisher? Took his talents to Cleveland for the next four years. Raul Ibanez? He’s going back to Seattle to play for the Mariners. Eric Chavez? Taking his talents to Arizona to help the Diamondbacks get back into another postseason race. Even names like Mike Napoli and A.J Pierzynski came off the board although it made no sense as to why the Yankees didn’t offer either of them a contract with basically no catcher slotted for the 2013 season.
The only new signing the Yankees made so far was Kevin Youkillis who will play third base on Opening Day due to Alex Rodriguez needing hip surgery. The Yankees have made re-signings with some of their players such as Hiroki Kuroda, Brett Gardner, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Ichiro Suzuki, all whose contracts were rather small and for the most part one-year deals (minus Ichiro).
Many would believe that the reason the Steinbrenner’s aren’t spending as much money is due to keeping the payroll at $189 Million in 2014 in order to avoid a luxury tax, but this is something that Yankees fans aren’t used to. Yankees fans are used to spending money on players; giving lucrative contracts for players who can bring their talents to the Bronx and help the Yankees bring home another World Series Championship. However, with an aging Ichiro playing right field, no catcher, no DH and a very light bench, it seems that the Yankees could be heading towards the dreaded “R” word that we all know and hate: rebuilding.
According to an article in the New York Times last March, Hal Steinbrenner was quoted by saying, “Budgets matter, and balance sheets matter. I just feel that if you do well on the player-development side and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220 million payroll. You don’t. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent.”
Yes, certain teams in baseball have had success with using young talent from the farm system in order to save on payroll. The Oakland Athletics, the Tampa Bay Rays are to name a few. However with the Yankees, this method won’t work. The Yankees farm system is bleak and some of their top prospects aren’t going to be ready to play for the big leagues in the near future. Their best prospect Jesus Montero was traded last offseason to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda who hasn’t pitched an official inning for the Yankees. (Although, he has made headlines throughout the year). Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances were both plagued with injuries last season, setting back their chances of making it to the Major League ball club in the near future as well.
In all honesty, pitching wise the best breakout Yankee prospect that we’ve seen in the last couple of years was David Phelps who has proven that he could play at a Major League level (and was a big help to the Yankees 2012 season after the injuries to Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia). Austin Romine could be a possibility for the catchers’ role, but he has been plagued with back injuries and concussions in his playing career.
The Yankees could stay competitive in 2013 with the likes of Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson in their lineup but what’s to happen in 2014 when Cano and Granderson become free agents? Will the Yankees offer a contract to Cano and let Granderson go? Will the Yankees sign the both of them to return? Will the Yankees let both of them go in order to try to rebuild a farm system that doesn’t look promising for the next couple of years? We’ve heard the dreaded “R” word surround other teams, but as for the Yankees (gulp) rebuilding, it seems like the end of the spending era and the beginning of an era where the Yankees just sit and wait until they win a Championship.
Good evening everyone. Since I was on vacation for the past week, instead of doing an offseason note article, this article is the week in review. In other words, it’s all the stuff I didn’t report that happened during the week that I am reporting now. Let’s get to it.
Nick Swisher becomes a Cleveland Indian
Yep, Nick Swisher traded in his pinstripes in New York for a cream colored uniform in Cleveland, Ohio. According to MLB Network, Swisher signed a 4 year, $56 Million deal to play RF for the Cleveland Indians next season. We all knew it was coming since the Yankees weren’t going to re-sign him and the Indians front office showed their interest by having breakfast and lunch meetings with him. Looks like all those meetings paid off, because while they have a right fielder–we have Ichiro.
Raul Ibanez going to Seattle
Raul Ibanez who was our hero in the postseason has decided to also trade in his pinstripes…this time to head to Seattle where he played earlier in his career. According to Bleacher Report, the Yankees reportedly never made an offer to Ibanez which probably added into his decision to take a contract with the Seattle Mariners. Looks like the Yankees are going to have to look for a new DH…along with a catcher…and maybe a new bench…oh boy.
Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal
The Yankees made a deal the day after Christmas with Matt Diaz, whose season was cut short in 2012 due to a thumb injury. Diaz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he makes the team, he’ll get a guarenteed $1.2 Million deal. Yankees mainly signed him because he can do something that the Yankees struggle with–hitting against left handed pitchers.
Former Yankee Andruw Jones arrested
Congratulations to Andruw Jones. He’s joined the exclusive “Former/Current Yankees Players to get arrested” club. All jokes aside, Jones was arrested yesterday morning (on Christmas) after an altercation with his wife. We all know Jones decided to join a Japanese team for the 2013 season–an indication that he knows that it’s going downhill from here career wise. No word if the arrest effects his current contract.
– Raul Ibanez has signed with Seattle for $2.75 Million guaranteed and another $1.25 Million possible in performance bonuses. Ibanez 2012 contract with the Yanks was only for $1.1M guaranteed but he got so much playing time he earned another $2.05 Million in “performance bonuses” for reaching 425 Plate Appearances.
The team had interest in bringing Ibanez back but are more focused on acquiring a RH hitting OF right now and rightfully so – pardon the pun. With 3 LH hitting OFs who all struggle against LHP, the team will need to carry 1 and maybe 2 RH hitting OFs. Scott Hairston is the leading name on the FA Market since he hit .286/.317/.550/.867 vs LHP last year with the Mets. He’s holding out for a 2-yr deal and he may eventually get one considering the Red Sox gave a 2 yr deal to a similar player in Johnny Gomes.
– Noted Minor League and Prospect writer John Sickels posted his preliminary Top 20 Yankees Prospect List at minorleagueball.com He ranks Gary Sanchez as the team’s #1 prospect followed by OFs Tyler Austin, Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott. He said all 3 OFs have All-Star potential. Check it out and discuss below.
On Wednesday, the Yankees officially announced the signing of Ichiro Suzuki for two years and $13 million. The Yankees have been reluctant to hand out contracts of more than one year all offseason and Ichiro was the first player that got a multiyear contract from the Yankees. It was widely reported that Ichiro was receiving two-year offers from other teams, which compelled the Yankees to go to two years. It is a move that unfortunately makes little sense.
Ichiro hit .322/.340/.454/.794 during his stint with the Yankees last season. Clearly getting out of Seattle and into a pennant race gave him extra energy that helped him perform very well. However, expecting that energy to carry over into a full season with the Yankees may be wishful thinking.
Why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro is beyond me. He certainly was not the only right field option out there and I don’t think he was the best one. I was hoping right field was the spot that the Yankees would pull off a big trade, but even without doing that Ichiro was not the only option. The Yankees now have three lefty outfielders and you could argue that all of them could use a platoon. Scott Hairston would be the best option to platoon with Ichiro, but it seems like he wants to go back to the Mets for some reason.
Ichiro’s success with the Yankees does not make me throw out his awful 2010 season and his awful first half last season with Seattle. There was a clear decline there, as Ichiro hit .272/.310/.335/645 in 2010 and .261/.288/.353/.642 with Seattle last season. His w/OBA was a brutal.281 in 2011. Those are just not starting outfielder caliber numbers. You can say that he was getting tired of Seattle, but you can also say he was approaching 40 and declining.
I cannot figure out why the Yankees felt compelled to give Ichiro a two-year deal and not Russell Martin. Martin is only 29 and his defense and relationship with the pitching staff was very important. Also, he was a great leader and was one of the few Yankees to come up with huge hits last season. They now do not have a legitimate major league catcher on the roster when they could have had Martin on a very reasonable deal. A theory that is out there for giving Ichiro a two-year deal is that he may get to 3,00 hits in year two of the deal. That would bring in a lot of money for the Yankees and seeing how much they care about their bank account lately that would be appealing for them. I really hope that is not why they did this.
On Wednesday, Andrew Marchand was tweeting about how Ichiro is not an upgrade over Nick Swisher. That is obviously true, yet his mentions were filled with hate about that opinion from Yankees fans. Say what you want about Swisher, but Ichiro is not going to replace his regular season production. Swisher blows Ichiro away in any offensive metric you look at over the last two years. I’m not saying Swisher should have been re-signed, but all things being equal Swisher is by far the better player at this point in their careers.
With the Yankees trying to save every penny to get under the $189 million plateau for 2014 it makes no sense giving Ichiro a deal that will cut into that. Now if Ichiro repeats his production with the Yankees last season it will certainly will be a good signing, but I just don’t see that happening. It is hard to understand why the Yankees felt that they had to have Ichiro back in the fold.
It has been reported that the Texas Rangers have agreed to terms with Free Agent Catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Yankees were said to have looked into the 35-yr old as an option to replace Russell Martin but ultimately backed off because he supposedley wasn’t strong enough defensively. To me, I thought AJ would be an excellent match for the Yankees but I thought he was out of the picture because he would receive a 2-yr deal from someone. I wanted to see the Yanks offer a Kevin Youkilis type deal – high money for just 1 yr for AJ. In fact I thought they should have offered the same $12M deal to AJ that Youk signed for. Well, I was crushed to see that Pierzynski signed with Texas for a mere $7.5 Million for 1 year. Where was the Yankee offer?
Based on the wreckage that is the current state of Yankees catching and the club’s ridiculous insistence on 1-yr contracts – there really couldn’t have been a better match. I don’t expect AJ to hit 27 HRs and win a Silver Slugger again like he did in 2012, but he seemed to be a good fit and would have improved the team immensely over the Catchers they have now. AJ is a high average , contact hitter who is one of the toughest to strike out in the league. He crushes RHP which would be ideal to match with any of the Yankees RH hitting backups in Stewart, Cervelli or Romine. AJ feasted on RHP in 2012, hitting .287/.338/.536/.874 with 24 HRs in 399 PAs. It would have been ideal to have him start the roughly 110 games this year vs RHP and one of the RH backups to start vs LHP.
Pierzynski is an all-out player with a fiery personality who gets under the skin of opponents. He’s one of the more disliked players in MLB but he’s known to be a good teammate and leader. His demeanor and effort would be a welcome addition to the team. Apparently, the Yankees had concerns that he was only an “average” defensive catcher. This is rather laughable considering the Catchers currently on the team. At this point in their careers AJ is better defensively then Cervelli and Romine. And while Stewart is a solid defender he is like having a Pitcher in the batting order. Pairing AJ with Romine may have been a good move so the young catcher could learn on the job from a seasoned veteran the way a young Posada learned from the veteran starter Girardi.
Looking at the state of catching in MLB, Pierzynski was an excellent option and a no-brainer at the contract he got. Although its been just 114 PAs over the last decade, he’s shown that he won’t wilt in the post-season with a .300 BA, 5 HRs and a .892 OPS. AJ’s LH power also could have made it easier to trade Curtis Granderson for young talent without inhibiting their offense in 2013. There seems to be a multitude of good reasons to have signed Pierzynski to be the Yankees catcher in 2013 yet they had very little interest. I have been perplexed with a number of the team’s decisions this Winter (and the last 2-3 Winters actually) but I totally don’t understand this one. Currently, it looks like the Yanks have perhaps the worst starting Catcher in the A.L. which doesn’t add up with their apparent strategy. All of their moves this offseason make it seem that they are going with a lot of veterans to take one last shot while guys like Pettitte, Mariano and Jeter are still around. They have made no effort to get younger or to make any significant additions for the team’s future beyond 2013. Pierzynski was the perfect fit to go after it in 2013 without adding any further commitment/burden to the 2014 payroll. I want to believe the team has a plan but with each subsequent move and non-move it makes it harder to understand it.
Are relief pitchers the new market efficiency? As new minds and fresh ideas invade traditional, or better put, current baseball sensibility, old customs are tossed aside in favor of statistic driven approaches that are these days less and less taboo. Once oft used batting average has fallen to the wayside in favor of stats that encompass more aspects of offensive production than just “hits”, fielding percentage has been all but forgotten and catchers have been scrutinized recently for their ability (or failure) to create strikes on the fringe of the zone.
This brings us to today’s look at relievers, and a possible trend that could have teams digging through the farm teams, rule 5 draft and even the scrap heap for viable late inning arms. Tampa Bay, who is considered one of the top teams in evaluating and developing pitchers is a great example of executing a low cost revolving door of relievers. We all know Kyle Farnsworth, who fell out of favor in NY only to land down south and give the Rays some quality innings. One of the very best relievers of 2012, 35 year old Fernando Rodney, was by some accounts found in a dumpster somewhere in southern California looking for a job when the Rays pulled him from the abyss and resurrected, nay, created a career for him as a closer. The reigning champion San Francisco Giants lost their 9th inning man to Tommy John surgery, but instead of hitting the panic button they reached from within and rode Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo’s arms all the way to a title.
On to the Yankees, who by every evaluation has had the benefit of having the absolute best closer of all time shutting the door for the last decade and a half. That has, however come at a cost, topping out at 15M per season the last several years. Now I’m not going to make the case that Mariano hasn’t been worth his weight in gold… no one has ever put up the kind of numbers he has over such a period of time, and none of us are likely to see it again. Paying for past performance is not uncommon in MLB, and for quite some time Mo was locking down games for a penance, so coughing up the cash these last few years for both present and past accomplishments is not by any stretch a raw deal. Mo will make at least one last run at a title after taking a small pay cut but still a sizeable amount. Moving forward however, and with a budget minded front office at the helm the team will need to look within to help hit that self imposed mark. Gone will be the days of having 25 million or more tied up in a pair of relievers; when Mo retires, so shall shelling out starter money for one inning thrills. Don’t get me wrong…I’d pay to have another Mariano, but that isn’t going to happen lest Mo Jr. can channel his old man’s greatness. Relievers are the most volatile in the business, and you have to ride the hot hand and know when to fold. With the future of the bullpen in mind let’s take a quick look at who could be sewing up the latter innings over the next few years.
Chase Whitley is probably the closest to landing a job in the Bronx bullpen, as he’s got some significant innings at SWB in 2012 and some solid numbers to go along with it. He started off in Trenton but only hung around for a handful of innings, and then moved on to the traveling circus that was our AAA team. He ended the season with a 3.09 ERA, striking out 66 on the year while walking 25. He held batters to a .207 average as a solid piece to their pen all year. He’s not the flashiest guy in the pen but he’s consistent and can chew up a fair amount of innings. A fairly fast riser, Branden Pinder, skipped Charleston and went right to Tampa in 2012, finishing the year throwing a few innings for Trenton. He threw 69 innings with a 67/29 K/BB, a 2.74 ERA and a .260 average against. Pinder combined with Jose Ramirez for a no hitter earlier this year, and will be looking to push his way to AAA in 2013. He’s another guy that could soak up some middle relief innings if he stays on pace and could be a part of the 2014 bullpen that will no doubt be on a tight budget. Another right handed pitcher that finished his year in Trenton is Tommy Kahnle, who has been reported to light the radar up to triple digits and can rack up the K’s about as well as anyone in the system. He had a bit of a rough go in 2011; while he struck out 112 batters, he walked 49 and got touched up to the tune of a 4.22 ERA. He harnessed a bit more control in 2012 pitching to a 2,37 ERA over 57 innings, walking 24 hitters while striking out 74 and holding them to a .162 average against. Kahnle will be in his age 23 season in 2013 and could well get himself a callup in September and a shot at the ML pen in ’14.
With Boone Logan in his last year of arbitration, now might be the time to sell on him. With a career high in appearances and innings in 2012 and a mix of lefties to choose from for 2013 I’d be looking to include him in any packages that might come up in the coming weeks. Cesar Cabral, impressed in ST earlier this year but ended up on the DL. If he can return to his spring form he might get himself a look. Another option is Juan Cedeno, who has played all over baseball for a number of parent clubs the last ten years put in 64 innings of work and pitched to a 2.81 ERA with a 57/21 K/BB, and a .273 BAA. He got touched up a little during fall/winter leagues dropping to a 3.49 ERA, but to his credit he pitched a lot of innings during the stretch of the year. Last but certainly not least is right hander Mark Montgomery, who has drawn numerous comps to David Robertson. Not only are their K rates both in 14/9 range, but his release point is similar to D-Robs in that his stride brings him closer to the mound, making his low 90’s FB play up a bit in the eyes of the batters. He features a slider that he can change the grip on slightly depending on the handedness of the batter, making it dive away from right handers and sink more like a curveball against lefties. He’s been a fast mover and I know a lot of people are really looking forward to seeing him as soon as possible, but I think he’ll stay stashed away for at least part of 2013. I have Whitley as one of the early callups in case of injury or ineffectiveness, but Montgomery could be soon to follow. This is just a handful of the arms that look to be part of the future NY Yankees bullpen; some will fade and other stars will rise, but the horizon looks pretty good for having the late innings protected, and at a fraction of what we are used to paying.
For a baseball fan, this MLB offseason has been far from dull. Players have been picked up faster than you can say “2013 World Series”, teams are beginning to look good (on paper) and some of the biggest trades have stunned the baseball nation. However, there are still players that are on the market looking for a team to play for in 2013. A name that has been popping up a lot? No, not Nick Swisher. Michael Bourn. Since Josh Hamilton signed with the LA Angels last week, Michael Bourn has quickly become the top free agent, which means many teams are pining for him according to MLB Trade Rumors. I mean, why wouldn’t a team want Michael Bourn? He is a great defensive outfielder; he has a good bat, an outstanding glove, fast blazing speed. Wait a minute, it sounds like I am describing a player the Yankees already have and he is under team control until 2015: the young, talented and underrated Brett Gardner.
The Yankees may have “quiet” interest in Bourn but Gardner practically is almost similar to the free agent outfielder–even the numbers speak for themselves. Let us compare the free agent to the Yankees LF (who could be the CF on Opening Day since the Yankees reportedly plan to switch him and Curtis Granderson) and see who is the better option for the Yankees.
Let us start with Gardner since he is already on the team. Now, Gardner had a disappointing 2012 season and it was not because he played horrible (because he did not). He was injured almost the whole season after landing awkwardly on his elbow during the Yankees/Twins game on April 18, 2012. Overall, his career numbers are decent: .266 BA/.355 OBP/.368 SLG. In 5 years, Gardner also swiped 137 bases, which is very impressive considering he wasn’t a full time player until the 2010 season. Now, let us look at my favorite defensive stat: WAR (Wins above Replacement). According to Baseball-Reference, throughout Gardner’s 5 years in service to baseball, his dWAR is 7.4. Not bad for a speedy left fielder with a great glove (who has yet to win a Gold Glove award, which I’m still mad about). Gardner’s numbers are what the Yankees are looking for (even though he doesn’t hit home runs), but let’s go to Michael Bourn and see what his numbers are.
Now before we continue, let us keep in mind that Michael Bourn played two more years than Gardner did and played double the games than Gardener did. All right, with that being said, here are Bourn’s career numbers: .272 BA/.339 OBP/.365 SLG. According to Baseball-Reference, throughout his 7 years in the Major Leagues, Bourn swiped 276 bases, which is also impressive. Looking at Bourn’s defensive stats now, throughout his 7 years in service to baseball, his dWAR is 8.6. Yep, Bourn’s speed helps him become one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.
So Who’s the Better Option
Looking at both Gardner and Bourn’s numbers, the offense is almost a carbon copy to one another. If not for the 2012 season, Gardner could have had approximately 20 steals shy to 200 SB and could have improved his dWAR significantly. However, although Bourn has better numbers in different departments, I would have to go with Gardner as the better option for the Yankees. I know you are asking, ‘Why Gardner? His numbers are a bit lower than Bourn’s. What’s the reason?’ The answer is simple: Gardner is cheap. Bourn is not. Gardner fits into the Yankees 2014 budget plans in which his contract could be about $3+ Million. Bourn made $6.8 Million last season and he probably won’t take a pay cut just to play for the Yankees. So the bottom line is, the Yankees have all they need in Brett Gardner without having to go out there and spending extra money on Michael Bourn. In Yankee Land these days, the less money you make, the better option you are (especially if you are trying to avoid a luxury tax in 2014).
For the 10th consecutive year, the Yankees will have to pay a luxury tax for once again overspending. The amount? $18.9 Million. The Yankees finished with $222.5 Million on their payroll according to the Associated Press. The numbers were calculated by including the average annual values of contracts on the 40-man rosters, the earned bonuses, adjustments for cash and trade and $10.8 Million per team in benefits. Over the last 10 years, the Yankees total for luxury tax has been $224.2 Million and the Yankees finished as the top spending team for the 14th year in a row. The LA Dodgers can take the top spot next year as they have already have $207.9 Million in signed contracts–for 21 players. Most of it has to do with the trade from the Boston Red Sox that happened in July that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to LA. The Yankees are only at $182 Million for 14 players (that includes Ichiro’s not yet completed deal).
Checks to the commissioner office must be sent in by January 21.
As of early this morning–Kevin Youkilis is officially a New York Yankee. The Yankees agreed to a one year contract for the former Boston Red Sox infielder, who said that family influenced his decision to come play in New York.
“The first thing was family.” Youkilis said during a conference call. “I wanted to make sure with all these options what was best for the family.” Youkilis’s family believed that being in New York City for a year would have been unbelievable and the fact that the Yankees could of had a chance to win the World Series in 2013.
During the conference call, Youkilis said that he had received a voice mail from Joba Chamberlain–the both of them have had a rough history together. Youkilis said that he hasn’t worked out on trying to reach out to Chamberlain as of yet due to multiple voice mails and calls to return. “For me personally, it’s a new teammate.” Youkilis said of Chamberlain. “We’re going to go out there and take the field together. He goes out there to pitch and hopefully I can play great defense behind him. And if he gets in a jam, we can stop it.”
Before you ask, no Youkilis will not play in the outfield as a Yankee. He will be used as a third baseman, a first baseman and a DH. When Alex Rodriguez returns from surgery, both Youkilis and A-Rod will be in the lineup somehow. Just don’t ask him to play shortstop. “If they put me at short, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble there.”
In Other News
— The Yankees will have to deal with one more familiar face joining another team. Ramiro Pena (or as known in New York as ‘El Nino’) has signed a major league contract with the Atlanta Braves. It’s not surprising that Pena is going to a different team since he barely had time to play for the Yankees, but the fact that’s surprising is that he signed a major league contract. Pena’s fielding is tremendous–but his hitting makes you want to cringe every time there’s an RBI situation and he’s up to bat. We’re going to miss you Pena.
Prospects are like a high school flame…the anticipation of seeing them is almost too much to bear. Some will move away to be coveted by another, once in a while they will turn out to be all that you hoped they would be, and in the end most of them will break your heart. Yankee fans are no stranger to this, having loved and lost a pair of highly touted young players in the last couple of years, watching some fail to reach their potential, and a few that are the object of our new found affection.
What we need to keep in mind is that this isn’t exclusive to the New York Yankees; not every season is going to be like 2010 where there were few injuries and the big names all seemed to take leaps forward. This doesn’t mean that our farm system is without its flaws, its merely a reminder to take a little perspective when viewing our next crop of young players. I recently had a discussion with someone that was unhappy about NY’s first round picks the last ten years or so, which at first thought seemed reasonable. That was, until I pulled up some other teams who by and large are looked at as having great success drafting and developing. What I came up with was a bunch of lists fairly similar to what we’ve seen in the Bronx; aside from the “can’t miss” players that get taken in the first five to ten picks it was a mish mash of reasonable success, outright failures and a whole lot of “what should have beens” that failed to live up to their hype. Again, when taking a look at the big picture and not using Yankee tunnel vision I didn’t see a stark difference between the Yanks’ 1st rounders and the rest of baseball. It’s great to see a players ceiling and start projecting their stat lines their rookie year and beyond, but a ceiling is in now way a guarantee, and in most cases is not likely to be realized.
One notion that seems to surface often when discussing the current state of our farm system is that it hasn’t produced like the one that fed the glorious dynasty years. There’s no doubt that the system headed by Gene Michael and company turned out some of the greatest Yankees of all time, namely Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera who will likely stroll into the Hall of Fame with much fanfare and little to no doubt that they belong there. Along with two first ballot players that system churned out some others that proved to be the backbone of those teams. Names like Williams, Posada and Pettitte may never see the likes of Cooperstown, but they have certainly made their mark in Yankee lore and cannot go unmentioned. You could argue that one of, if not all three have earned their ticket to the Hall, or maybe have their numbers retired, but that’s a discussion for another day. The point of all this is, while it was fantastic to grow up a Yankee fan watching all of these guys hit the scene and come together to march to victory so many times it has spoiled us a bit and heightened our expectations to unrealistic proportions.
It comes to no surprise that this next round of prospects, some of which who are climbing the ranks of Baseball America’s top prospect sheets, will be subject to the same lofty and in some cases obscene standards that were set back in the 90’s. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing better than witnessing the birth of so many illustrious careers, but a little levity needs to be exercised when projecting those same hopes and dreams on the upcoming group of players. With all that said, there are some similarities between the two groups. We have a power hitting offense-first catcher in Sanchez, a pair of lefties in Turley and Banuelos, the former of which has certain comps to Pettitte, a late inning closer with a devastating out pitch in Montgomery, some slick fielding outfielders in Williams and Heathcott and a bat first guy (Austin) that could end up manning a corner spot anywhere on the field. There’s even some serious potential a bit further back in Gumbs who has the potential to shore up another up the middle spot in Yankee Stadium.
Despite the lack of players chomping at the bit in Scranton the Yankee farm system has plenty of names to look forward to, but try to gauge your expectations and remember the one that broke your heart back in your grade school days, because it’s bound to happen again….and again, but will inevitably lead to another love affair. This is what makes following these players as they try and make their way to greatness so exciting, and what makes all the heartache worth it in the end.