A swing and a miss, another miss, yet another miss…
This morning, I saw a post on the MLB Trade Rumors website (http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com) that asked the poll question of which MLB team had the best draft in 2002? Of all the examples shown, no Yankees were anywhere to be found. For a draft that started with Bryan Bullington and B.J. Upton, there was some great talent uncovered in the 2002 draft. Jon Lester, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, Joey Votto and a guy who would eventually find his way to the Bronx, Brian McCann, were among the great choices by their respective teams. But sadly, not a single Yankee selection stuck that year.
Number 26 selection Phil Coke is a major leaguer but with the Detroit Tigers. He had his moments in the Bronx but was never anything special and was sent to the Tigers as part of the Curtis Granderson-Austin Jackson trade.
But removing Coke, there are 50 rounds of names that Yankee Stadium never heard from. I really do not recognize any of the names outside of the first round selection and that’s only because he was later the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns (Brandon Weeden).
I know that there are many sad tales among the 2002 draft picks, like 2nd round pick Alan Bomer, a pitcher, who reinjured his shoulder after a previous injury several years earlier, bringing an end to his major league hopes.
But it’s also a testament to the drafting ability of major league teams and 2002 was clearly not a good vintage for the Yankees. I know the team’s re-focus on the minor league system didn’t occur until a few years later but hopefully barren draft years like 2002 are a thing of the past. But looking ahead a few years, it’s not too pretty.
2003 really wasn’t much better with top pick third baseman Eric Duncan long gone from baseball. The only name that stands out to me from that draft is Washington Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard.
2004 was the year the Yankees selected pitcher Phil Hughes and can only wonder what could have been. Time will tell if he can fulfill his promise in the Twin Cities or if he was simply one of the most overhyped young players of our time.
For the Yankees, solid draft picks do not appear until 2005 which Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson were chosen. Interestingly enough, the Yankees also chose pitcher Doug Fister that year but he opted to return to college for his final year, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the next year. Granted, Fister is currently on the Nationals’ DL, but he’d certainly look good in the Yankees rotation about now.
In 2006, the Yankees made some good choices, but it’s rather humorous that the first round pick went to Joba Chamberlain, a journeyman reliever for the Detroit Tigers, while current Yankees closer, David Robertson was selected in the 17th round. Ian Kennedy and Zach McAllister were both chosen after Chamberlain, and they are solid starting pitchers for the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians, respectively. Dellin Betances was also taken that year and after years of hype, he’s finally contributing as a force in the Yankees bullpen. Mark Melancon, currently the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates due to Jason Grilli’s injury, was also a draft selection.
Of the decisions the Yankees made regarding trades, the one I didn’t like was dumping McAllister. He went to Cleveland in 2010 for Austin Kearns who only stayed in the Bronx for the remainder of the season. That trade felt like the foolish ones that we had grown accustomed to in the 1970’s and 80’s. McAllister is having a very solid year for the Indians and is another guy who would have looked great in the Yankees rotation.
I will never find fault with the decision to trade Ian Kennedy even though he almost won the Cy Young after leaving the Yankees. I just never found him to be a good fit in New York.
2007 was another disappointing draft year as the Yankees really only have catcher Austin Romine, currently at AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre, to show for it. Top pick Andrew Brackman was coming off a major injury at the time of the selection and was never able to find his way back.
As I advance to 2008, it’s disappointing to see how poor, outside of 2006, the draft has been for the Yankees. Atop the list in ’08 is a pitcher the Yankees were unable to sign and who is now entrenched in the starting rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Gerrit Cole. Talk about another guy who would have been a brilliant option for the Yankees rotation. What could have been…
This really shows how incredibly difficult it is to determine those who will be able to achieve results and success at the Major League level. It also shows how many people fail to find their way for whatever reasons.
It’s a small wonder that the Yankees have had to spend so much in the free agent market to ensure the team remains competitive. In a statement of the obvious, the Yankees would be smart to improve the quality of their scouting and development to ensure that the older players are replaced by younger, cheaper talent with high ceilings.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are solid teams because of their drafting ability. For the Yankees, they are successful despite it. I get why owner Hal Steinbrenner believes in the power of the farm system. This is not rocket science. Sustainability will only be maintained through youth and controlling costs.
Stupid is as stupid does…
The fans of the Boston Red Sox took great delight when Michael Pineda was tossed from a Yankees-Red Sox game last week due to the blatant smear of pine tar on his neck. After the fiasco caused during his previous start against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium (“brown dirt”), he had to have known he would be under the magnifying glass. Yet, he risked detection by continuing the use of pine tar and ended up applying a more generous amount than he had intended to. So, Boston manager John Farrell had absolutely no choice but to call out Pineda. This is one instance where I felt the Red Sox were 100% correct in a controversial decision involving the Yankees. Pineda’s 10-game suspension hurts the Yankees, at a time when they’ve already lost starter Ivan Nova for the season due to an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery.
For a rotation that looked so strong and full of promise for a few starts, the Yankees now have to replace both Nova and Pineda, plus the top of the rotation has been questionable at times with CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. The only source of consistency has been Masahiro Tanaka, who faces an incredibly difficult challenge today against the Los Angeles Angels and the likes of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout.
Baseball is a team-first sport and Pineda made a “me-first” decision. I hope that he learns a valuable lesson during his suspension and comes back with choices that are for the good of the team.
For the record, I do believe that Major League Baseball should allow pine tar to some degree for gripping purposes only in colder temps. But until the rules are changed, it’s a violation and should be handled accordingly. Baseball has been tolerant of discreet behavior regarding its use, but to blatantly violate the policy warrants the appropriate punishment until such a time the rules are changed.
After a season of ‘will he’ or ‘won’t he’ opt-out, CC Sabathia accepted the Yankees offer and I couldn’t be more pleased. I am a bit concerned that CC’s weight will eventually prove to be a problem if he doesn’t get control of it, but clearly he is the Yankees best pitcher and the best hope for the next few years.
Since avoiding the opt-out only cost the Yankees $30 million (potentially $50 million if he is still at the top of his game at the end of the contract), it was clearly a bargain since they would have paid more to retain him had he hit the open market or perhaps they risked losing him altogether. I know that CC’s decision to stay was not solely on his love for the city and organization, but I am glad that he’s a permanent Yankee with no opt-out looming on the horizon.
I was driving home from work on Monday evening when I heard the news of the signing on MLB Radio. I had feared the worst so the news of his announcement on his website that he was staying was such an incredible relief. I have felt that the key to a successful off-season is getting both Sabathia and GM Brian Cashman locked up before the start of the free agency period. Mission accomplished. I am not sure there’s much on the free agent market that can help the Yanks, but hopefully, the team will be able to make a trade or two to improve the quality of the rotation.
As good as Cash…
Speaking of Cashman, his re-signing was essential for organizational continuity. I am not sure how long it takes a new GM to get acclimated to the job, but it would seem making your way in the Yankees Universe would take longer than usual. I am sure that the Yanks would have looked in-house for candidates (such as Billy Eppler or Damon Oppenheimer) but the man for the job continues to be Cashman. I am sure that he’s thought of what life would be with in a less stressful environment, but nobody is as suited for the Bronx as Cash is. I thought it was an interesting stat that he’s been the Yankees general manager longer than anyone since Ed Barrow (1920-45).
The start of a new era…
After standing pat for the most part with last year’s roster, it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do this year. I don’t expect them to go hog wild but they definitely need to get CC some help and they need a few clutch bats off the bench. At some point, the Yankees will have to say goodbye to Jorge Posada who few people expect to be on the 2012 roster. It is time for Jesus Montero to take up residence at Yankee Stadium and sadly that means there is no room for Jorge. He will go down as a great Yankee, and he’ll be heavily cheered at future Old Timer’s Days. My preference is for him to retire as a Yankee rather than to try and hang on for another year or so with another team.
Despite the Yankees decision to pick up his option, the odds of Nick Swisher still have to be mixed at best. If the Yankees can pick up a better player for right, I am sure that they’d do it. Swish’s personality would be missed but if he could be used, in part, to bring a frontline pitcher to New York, I’d be in favor of it.
Rafael Soriano decided against exercising his opt-out? Big surprise… L
You win some, you lose some…
I was disappointed to see the failure of Project Andrew Brackman. When Brackman was drafted, it was clear the Yankees had been able to get him at the spot they drafted because Brackman needed Tommy John surgery. I had really hoped that the pick would pay off and that Brackman would eventually be the top pitcher his potential screamed. Sadly, it was never meant to be…at least in New York…as the Yankees declined his option, making the 25-year-old a free agent.
There are other teams besides the Yankees?…
I was shocked when I heard that the St. Louis Cardinals might have interest in Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon as a replacement for Tony LaRussa. There’s no doubt that he’d be a great fit, but I just cannot see Tampa allowing Maddon to leave. He has been great for the city and the team…much to my chagrin and to the dismay of my friends in Boston. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep if Maddon does manage to get out of Tampa to take the Cardinals job.
I would really hate to see the Boston Red Sox get Michael Cuddyer…
Can I say that I am quietly rooting against Bartolo
Colon? Sorry, but I just don’t want to
see the 5th spot in the starting rotation go to such a high
risk. I would never fool myself into
believing that a few good spring starts will lead to a replication of Colon’s
2005 Cy Young year with the Los Angeles Angels.
My personal preference is for the 4th and 5th
spots to go to Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, respectively. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility
that both Colon and Garcia head north with the Yankees when camp breaks, but I
hope that it means Garcia is in the rotation and Colon is bumping shoulders
with Sergio Mitre in long relief.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
I am not looking for Garcia to be a full season option. I’d really like to see one of the Killer B’s
(Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos) step up at some point in
the season and prove they belong in the majors now. My favorite among the group is Brackman if
for no other reason that his age (25) and the fact that he’d have the maturity
to handle New York. My absolute favorite
among the group is Banuelos but I don’t want to see the Yankees rush him too
NY Daily News
Although the Yankees rotation looks questionable at this
point, there is definitely the potential that the staff will be among the
league’s best as the season progresses.
Either the Yankees will reach out at the trading deadline or one of the
Killer B’s takes it to the next level, but the end result will be a much closer
gap between the Red Sox rotation and the Yankees.
I am very pleased that Eric Chavez has done well so far in
camp. I am very hopeful that he, along
with Eduardo Nunez, nail down the infield bench roles for the team. I like what Jorge Vazquez has done, but
unfortunately, there just doesn’t appear to the room on the roster (barring
injury). It will be interesting to see
what Brian Cashman does with the excess talent (notably Vazquez and catcher
Francisco Cervelli…once the latter recovers from the foot fracture). Both have proven they are major league ready,
but if Chavez and Jesus Montero make the team, there won’t be any room for
Cervelli or Vazquez.
Congratulations to former Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng for
her new role with Major League Baseball (Senior Vice President for Baseball
Operations). She’ll report to former
Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre. I’ve
read the news reports that Kim took the job with the hopes it will help propel
her to an eventual GM job. I have had
great respect for Kim since her days with the Yankees, and I am hopeful that
she does become the first woman GM in baseball.
Northwest Asian Weekly
I can’t help it but I am definitely pulling for the Los
Angeles Dodgers this year as my favorite NL team. Go Donnie Baseball!
Well, new year but same old battles. With the first Yankees-Red Sox match-up scheduled for Friday, it’s time to begin my annual grudge match with Julia of Julia’s Rants. For the latest wager, the loser of Friday’s spring training game has to post a blog about the opposing team’s manager. For me, if the Yankees lose, I have to write a post about Boston manager Terry Francona. Conversely, if the Red Sox lose, Julia will be writing about Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
I have to admit that I am embarrassed almost every time Hank
Steinbrenner opens his mouth. The latest
comments that seemingly were aimed at Derek Jeter although Hank denied it were
very inappropriate. 2010 was a
disappointing year with the way it ended, but it’s done. There is nothing more that can be learned or
derived from the loss to the Texas Rangers.
At this point, it doesn’t matter what happened leading up to that
series. There are a variety of reasons
for why the Yankees lost, but in the end, they were outplayed by a better
Hank justified his ‘mansions’ comment by indicating he was simply using
it as a euphemism. Personally, I think
Hal Steinbrenner is a euphemism for Hank but that’s another matter.
Back in the days of George Steinbrenner and particularly during the
losing years of the late 1980’s, the Boss used to infuriate fans with his
remarks. He seemed as though he was
always giving fodder to the press. As
mad as everyone used to get, I always found an honest truth in George’s
words. I could never condemn him even
when his popularity at Yankee Stadium was non-existent. However, I have trouble finding the honest
truth in Hank’s words. He comes across
as just an arrogant blow-hard. No
wonder that the family felt that the role of managing general partner was
better suited for the younger Hal.
To Hank’s defense, I do always believe that ownership has the right to
say whatever they’d like. It’s their
money and their team. But when it has
the potential to create a distraction for the team, then I get concerned. That’s probably where I am right now with
Hank’s words. There is no question that
the Boston Red Sox have the best team on paper.
Hank doesn’t need to add to the adversity; he needs to help reduce or
eliminate the talent gap between the two teams.
From the sounds of it, Freddy Garcia is leading the pack for a spot in
the rotation. I’ve been concerned about Garcia’s
history of poor springs as I’ve felt he had the most to offer in terms of the
competition for the two rotation spots.
He won 12 games with the Chicago White Sox last year and if he can
duplicate the season again this year, I think the Yankees would be very
pleased. No offense to Bartolo Colon,
but I really don’t want to see the team break camp with him in the rotation or
the final roster for that matter. I was
always very pleased to hear that prospect Andrew Brackman has been turning
heads. He is a top flight talent that
slid in the 2007 draft to the Yankees because of his injury history. He may not be ready for the major leagues
straight out of spring training but odds are that he’ll experience his Yankees
debut at some point this season.
Finally, I was saddened to hear that the St. Louis Cardinals have lost
ace Adam Wainwright for the season due to an elbow injury that will require
Tommy John surgery. I’ve always had a
soft spot for the Cardinals since I saw my first major league baseball game at
the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis when I was a kid. They are a classy organization with quality
fans. Losing Wainwright severely
downgrades the Cards’ chances this season and that’s unfortunate. Hopefully, there is someone in the
organization that is ready to step up their game to help provide a solid bridge
until Wainwright can return in 2012.
I am ready for some baseball…
Unfortunately, Johnny Damon hasn’t forgotten how to beat the Yankees…
Gene J. Puskar/AP
In Damon’s first appearance against his ex-mates, he hit an RBI single and a solo home run to power the Tigers to victory, 6-2, in Lakeland, Florida. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a regular occurrence in Yankees-Tigers matchups. Two of the hopefuls for the fifth spot in the starting rotation were the victims of Damon’s abuse. Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre each gave up three earned runs in three and four innings of work, respectively. Austin Jackson even got in on the action with some great defensive plays.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
On the bright side, the Yankees also played the Baltimore Orioles in Tampa and won 5-3 behind the heroics of Jorge Posada. Javier Vazquez was the starter and winner, but Alfredo Aceves continued to impress. So, if Phil Hughes has competition for the starting rotation, I’d have to say that Aceves is the top contender at this point. I am convinced that Joba Chamberlain is headed to the pen, and either Mitre or Gaudin (or both) will find themselves pitching elsewhere.
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Kei Igawa, perhaps the Yankees most disappointing free-agent signing in recent memory outside of anyone named Carl, saw his latest attempt to make the Yankees flame out. He was one of nine players cut and re-assigned to minor league camp. The other notable name, but not unexpected, was pitcher Andrew Brackman. The odds have definitely been against Brackman but I hope he can persevere and pitch in the big leagues one day.
Nick Latham/Getty Images
As a Minnesota Vikings fan, this has been a disappointing off-season so far. Of course, there’s the inevitable ‘will he or won’t he’ retirement talk about Brett Favre. If Favre does retire, it’s hard to get excited about the team’s offense being helmed by either Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels. We’ve already seen a great running back depart when Chester Taylor signed with the rival Chicago Bears. The team wined and dined free agent LaDainian Tomlinson, but he left Minnesota for New York with no agreement. Nothing against Minneapolis, but it’s hard to compete with the city of New York. There’s no telling where LT will eventually land, but he would be a nice backup for Adrian Peterson. So far, the Vikings biggest acquisition has been the free agent signing of long kicker Rhys Lloyd. Hopefully, the Vikings will be able to make the necessary moves to ensure that their current championship quality window does not close without any hardware.
Peter Read Miller/SI
This has been an interesting year on American Idol. I have seen most of my early favorites depart, so I’ve had to find new ones to back. At this point, I am a fan of Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze. I am surprised at some of those who advanced to the Top 12 and some who didn’t, but the show should start heating up in the coming weeks.
I am headed down to Burbank to see The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week. The scheduled guests are Terry Bradshaw and Kara DioGuardi. The musical guest is Ziggy Marley. It should be a fun and energetic show to watch. I am looking forward to it. I was able to see The Late Show with David Letterman last year, so it will be fun to see how it compares to Leno. Of course, from my perspective, I can’t wait until Conan O’Brien is back on the air…