May 27, 2007
This Year's Draft Is Not Going To Help Yanks
From the Daily News -
The annual June draft - i.e. "The Great Baseball Crapshoot" - will take place a week from Thursday, and while most fans greet this as a day of anticipation, intrigue and hope, Yankee legions have come to view it as a day of dread. For until last year, when GM Brian Cashman took over the supervision of the draft from the incompetents (read: since-fired scouting director Lin Garrett) in Tampa, the Yankees' record in this annual exercise was abysmal.
Although the jury remains out for at least a couple of years on the trio of blue-chip starting pitchers - Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Dellin Betances - Cashman & Co. took with their first, second and eighth picks last year (Kennedy and Chamberlain are off to good starts in the minors at Tampa, while Betances is set to open at Staten Island), the fact that the Yankees haven't produced a single impact position player out of the draft since taking Derek Jeter in the first round in 1992 speaks directly to the crisis they face now with an aging team and no saviors looming in the system. It's been said here before - with the exception of Phil Hughes (who certainly looks like the real deal) as their No. 1 pick 2004 - the Yankees have drafted more than 700 players since 1992 and for none of them to make it to the big club as starters, well, you can't try to be that bad.
As the Yankees have struggled this year, so much focus has been on the starting pitching and the short term, when the real problem lies in the long term where Bobby Abreu looks to be washed up in right field and Johnny Damon's and Jason Giambi's beaten-up bodies make them prohibitively productive - with hefty contracts - in center field and DH. Throw in the hardly scary first base platoon of Doug Mientkiewicz and Josh Phelps and the reality of Jorge Posada soon turning 36 in his walk year, and with the new stadium a year away, Cashman's challenge is obvious: Find younger, comparable-or-better replacements quickly. Unfortunately, according to scouts who have scutinized the Yankee farm system, there's little there in terms of "plus prospect" position players. The best is 19-year-old outfielder Jose Tabata, hitting .298 with one homer at Single-A Tampa as of Friday.
Here's a fun, well, actually, sad, fact: From 1991 to 2004, the Yankees drafted 113 LHP - and only 12 of them reached the majors. Of that group, only 5 pitched for the Yankees. The leading winner of that group of five? Randy Choate - who went 3-2 for New York. That's really sad.
But, here's the deal with this year's draft: The Yankees first three picks are (overall) #30, #95, and #125. Yes, in the first three rounds - which includes the supplemental round between the first and the second round - the Yankees have three picks...the last picks of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round.
There's little chance the Yankees are going to draft anyone this year who is going to be an impact player for them.
If the Yankees need help...in terms of getting young position players...they're going to have to trade for it.
If the Yanks do fall out of the race this year, they should think about having a fire sale in July. Abreu could probably be moved. Farnsworth, Villone, and Myers too. Get what you can, while you can...and try and pull a rabbit out of a hat with someone else's prospects.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at May 27, 2007 12:24 PM
Bill Madden is an old gasbag who's been griping about the damn draft and the system forever. He used to bash them about pitching, but now he can't do that anymore, so he'll focus on the position players. The Yankees have also fared well with international free agents -- Madden might take note that Cano, Melky and Wang (two impact players) came to the team that way.
I've had back-and-forth E-mail sessions with Madden about the Yankees' minor-league system and the bottom line is that he simply has an axe to grind. He loves to kill the Yankees on their mistakes, but won't admit to his own.
The Yankee fan should definitely not dread draft day -- Brian Cashman and Co. turned around the system in just a few years; they have a ton of exciting players in the system now, and considered the great draft they had last year, I expect them to do it again.
Madden, meanwhile, needs to go back and write more front-page headlines that aren't true.
I agree with bailey. The Yankees had a very good draft last year. The reason they had such a bad history of drafting is that Big Stein wanted to win at every level and concentrated on college seniors who could be signed cheap and help out the minor league teams.
As to the argument that nothing will be around at #30, that is rubbish. Baseball drafts are crapshoots any pick in the first 3 or so rounds has a good chance to be a good player. Also the yankees money enables them to sign guys with high bonus demands like Betances.
This is one case where everyone may be correct. The baseball draft, unlike that in other sports, never yields short-term benefits. The development curve is typically 3-4 years, and the Yankees are often slower than necessary. Last year's very promising draft is just that -- promising. We won't know for three years at least, unless the Yankees trade some of the 06 draft class for short-term help. (A bad idea, but GMs fighting for the jobs have been known to do it.) As to where a team drafts, there are plenty of good prospects outside the top 10-15. Again, note the difference with, say, basketball. Some of the pitchers the Yankees picked last year came in later rounds. This is where a good scouting staff earns its pay.
Bill Madden is a complete moron and I agree 100% with bailey: he has an axe to grind.
The Yanks drafted and developed Nick Johnson into one of the very best position player prospects in the game in late-90's early-2000's before trading him away. They also drafted and developed Marcus Thames before moving him.
Madden needs to get a grasp on how the Yanks have approached player development: draft pitchers, sign hitters off the international market. Robbie Cano, Alfonso Soriano, Juan Rivera, Dioner Navarro, Melky Cabrera...yeah, the Yanks haven't produced any impact hitters.
This is real good draft, and your statement Steve "There's little chance the Yankees are going to draft anyone this year who is going to be an impact player for them" is just as true for every team.
And only 12 of 113 LHPs reaching the majors works out 10.7%, well above what is considered a normal draft success rate.
Posted by: Mike A. at May 27, 2007 05:48 PM
Madden is, and it pains me to say this, partly correct. The Yankees have done poorly drafting everyday players, almost all the top position players they've developed the past fiteen years or so came not from drafting but from players not in the draft. Players from the DR, etc. So he's being right and being disingenuous at the same time.
The 2007 draft is very deep, the Yankees will get a top talent (if they don't revert to their old ways) at #30.