General Baseball

Crop Woes

This article by Tyler Kepner in today’s Times ties into the earlier thread regarding A-Rod and Soriano, if just a bit tenuously. YF, in comments, states that Soriano’s glaring failure in last year’s playoffs led to his departure this year. An accurate observation, YF should be able to make the connection between the organization’s impatience (Soriano has been around for a mere three years) and their dearth of high-quality prospects. The Yankees have been impatient with their few talented young players over the last 5 or 6 years, and look to have finally dealt themselves into a corner. In other words, if there is a need for an important filler piece, the Yankees are no longer a shoo-in to attain it. This is quite a change, and also an indictment of the front office and scouting department. One, they have been unable to attain young talent as attachments to trades. Two, they have drafted terribly.

So, the Bombers look to be out of trade options, beyond moving Dioner Navarro, their only legitimate intra-organizational replacement for an aging Posada. Either their cash will sway a partner, they trade their only remaining highly regarded prospect, or they will be left out in the cold.

The same may be said about the Red Sox – their system is being rebuilt by Theo, but currently their best prospects are Kelly Shoppach (who is the heir to Varitek, a free agent after the season) and Kevin Youkilis, who is now filling in for the hurt Bill Mueller. Hardly easily tradeable players, in the context of this year and next. Both teams may be looking at a blowback, a situation where they can’t outbid other contenders for the trading deadline flotsam and jetsam, simply because, at that time, cash doesn’t speak louder than prospects.

3 replies on “Crop Woes”

On the other side of the coin, the Yankees have won their division for, what, five consecutive years, and have been in the WS two of the past three. Their two top young organizational products were dealt this year for Javier Vazquez and A-Rod, who are both in their prime. So we might say that the capital, or at least some of it, was reasonably well spent. (No excuses here for the Claussen for Boone deal.)
This is not to whitewash the problems on the Yankee farm, but let’s understand the priorities of the organization and put some of the criticism in context.
Farm systems can replenish rapidly, and the Yankees have plenty of picks this year, and as importantly, a strong Latin American development program.
They may not have tremendous material at hand to deal now, but Cashman is a smart GM and he has a very big wallet. That goes a long way.

Right – they have gutted their farm system in order to feed the past several years’ successes. True enough. But this year they are in a different position (as are the Sox, to some extent). That’s my main point. It wouldn’t surprise me if either team made a big deal, but they will have to further compromise severely weakened minor league systems in order to do so. This year, neither team is positioned as the #1 buyer.
And farm systems do NOT replenish themselves quickly. That is simply false. Yes, the Yankees have four top picks, but even if they make 4 seemingly good picks, which is most unlikely based on the difficulty of the MLB draft, that won’t “replenish” the system. Having followed the minor leagues for many years, it takes significant time to truly restock a farm system, since the best measure of a healthy one is quality prospects at ALL levels. No single draft can do that. It takes two to three years of good drafts and trades to do it, at a minimum.

It takes time to fully replenish, true, but farm systems have a way of producing surpises. and with the infux of non-draft Latin and Asian talent, there’s more available for the plucking.

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