The Eric Duncan Deathwatch

Starts now.  This list of the top 65 prospects in baseball spots just one for the fearsome Bombers, the titular Duncan (nice job with that farm system, Cash).  Our Sox check in with a meager 2 of the top 65, but at least that’s a percentage almost line with the number of teams in baseball (though agreeably weak).  Over/under on the number of articles planted by Yankees’ management in the tabs about "fearsome blue chip" prospect Eric Duncan between now and the August trading deadline?  I say 4. 

On the list? A Prince (Fielder, Cecil’s son, Milwaukee), a Duke (Zack, Pittsburgh), and an Angel (Guzman, Chicago NL).  Meanwhile, Billy Beane racks up 6 of the top 65, with "Team Boras" holding down the 13 spot, begging the question – who does Team Boras play on opening day?

20 comments… add one
  • Does that mean that if the Big Unit trade hadn’t happened, the Yanks would have had 3 in the top 65?

    Nick February 25, 2005, 10:15 am
  • Yes, you are right. These lists are actually kind of silly, to be truthful, since they identify many players who have already ascended to the Majors, and ignore the guys who just cracked rookie ball, which is actually a pretty reasonable exclusion. For example, the Sox have several of the top 50 picks in this coming draft, and even if they do a good job with these picks none of these players would show up on a list like this until they are in the upper minors, for good reason. Scouting is just such an inexact science.
    In any case, Duncan will be one of the main focii of the Yankees propaganda machine in the next five months, which is my main point in this post.

    SF February 25, 2005, 10:59 am
  • The puzzling thing to me is why the Yanks system is so weak right now. I know they trade away a few minor league prospects each year, but what do they ever amount to? It’s not as if they’re losing decent talent in these trades in the end. And the fact that the Yanks focus on big name signings doesn’t necessarily preclude them from building a decent farm. They might lose 1st round draft picks, but how important are first round draft picks in baseball really? It’s not like the Yanks don’t have the money. Are they taking money from player development to sign big free agents?

    Nick February 25, 2005, 11:10 am
  • It’s clear that player development is frighteningly hard. Think about how many GMs you can name who have a great reputation for locating and developing incredible young talent: 2. John Schuerholz and Billy Beane. The deified Brian Cashman hasn’t proven any ability to build a team from the ground up. First of all, he doesn’t have to do this, what with the Yankees finances, and second of all, since Stick Michael left it’s clearly not part of the organizational ethos to rebuild from the rookie leagues up. The young Beaneiacs like Ricciardi, Epstein, and DePodesta haven’t had enough time to show their ability to grow a full system yet. In the Sox’ case, it’s now a company line to rebuild starting at the bottom, to build a system like the Braves’. But this will take 5 years and could easily fail.
    Is it just finances? Is it in the overall team budget for scouting and player development, as you allude to? Do teams like the Brewers and Pirates just have less money for everything, from payroll to scouting? Or is it just because it’s hard? I think it’s yes to all.

    SF February 25, 2005, 11:40 am
  • Is Cashman the right person to be looking at here? He’s not the guy who does the drafting and he’s not the guy who runs the talent-evaluation system.

    YF February 25, 2005, 11:46 am
  • Pass that buck, YF. Pass it hard.
    It’s a reasonable question to ask who is responsible, in any case. With the Yankees it’s clearly an organizational mentality, and it’s increasingly clear that Cashman is a cog in this organization. Don’t get all defensive – he seems to do a good job executing Steinbrenner’s plans, so that’s worth something – every domineering boss needs a good foot soldier, right? More seriously, he is the GM, regardless, and it’s on him to be involved in personnel decisions. If you are going to dismiss these decisions as part of the scouting department than that’s just lame, and also a pretty significant indictment of Cashman’s lack of the diverse skillset that good GMs have.
    Why are Beane and Schuerholz so good drafting talent but the Yankees seemingly not? They all have access to a wide talent pool, and the Yankees have many scouts and probably more money in their player development program than these guys. There’s a great deal of blame to be spread around, for sure, but there is also a great deal of legitimacy in holding a GM (from any team, for that matter, not just Cashman) responsible for their squad’s growth and development.
    P.S. Why are you immunizing Cashman? Your question, in itself, weakens any case you might make for him as a top tier GM.

    SF February 25, 2005, 12:08 pm
  • The fact that he’s not involved in drafting is not an indictment of his “skillset.” It’s an indictment of the Solomonic organizational practice of dividing responsibility for personnel decisions between various camps who all answer to one irrational boss.

    YF February 25, 2005, 12:50 pm
  • Sure it is. Try again. Stick Michael and Bob Watson could do it. Why can’t Cash? I think we all know the answer to that one, you just don’t like what it is.

    SF February 25, 2005, 1:06 pm
  • I’m not sure what role Bob Watson had in choosing minor leaguers, and Stick did his most important work while the Boss was on an enforced vacation.
    Theo Epstein may make a killer curried chicken salad sandwich, but until they start selling them at El Tiante’s sausage stand, we’ll never know. It’s not what he’s paid to do.

    YF February 25, 2005, 1:18 pm
  • How does the Boss get in the way of drafting talent? YF, I usually take your side in the great debates on this blog, but I think SF is right: You’re sounding like a Cashman apologist.
    Cashman’s career has been filled with ups and downs. Jeff Silver Chain Weaver came to the Yanks because cashman had a hard-on for him. We lost Lilly, a better and cheaper option. Cash also pulled off the brilliant A-Rod deal, which is a great deal, and which demonstrated a creativity that Theo lacked. That’s right. He humiliated Theo on that one. Still, I’m not sure that Cashman is the star you make him out to be, YF.

    Nick February 25, 2005, 1:36 pm
  • Dissemble, distract, throw out those cute, clever witticisms, but you’re still not confronting the issue. Epstein’s work is top down, bottom up as well, and it IS exactly what he’s paid to do, to make a killer curry chicken sandwich of a minor league system more efficient and talented. That might not be in Cashman’s job description, fine, but that might be because he’s got no ability to do it nor the trust of the owner to try. Either one of those situations speaks for itself.

    SF February 25, 2005, 1:39 pm
  • Nick: you get the A-Rod situation wrong, regarding Theo. There was a clear cost limit that the Sox would be willing to take on with A-Rod, and ownership nixed that deal from a financial perspective, not Theo from a talent standpoint. Read Gordon Edes’ story from last X-mas about the dealings (you probably could search this site for a reference to it, I linked to it when it appeared in the Globe) – it’s great stuff and will clear the situation up. Theo may not be perfect, but the A-Rod deal isn’t a good example of his humanity. Putting Manny on waivers might be a better one, and even though that was likely ownership’s decision as well I will hold Theo equally accountable, since he’s the talent evaluator.

    SF February 25, 2005, 1:43 pm
  • We’re hardly Cashman apologists. (If you don’t believe that, read our latest post). But this is about Cashman drafting for the minors, not his ML trades. That road is definitely checkered. That’s not what we’re talking about here, however. Let’s be clear: Cashman is not in charge of the Yankee minor league system. Blaming him for its status is simply not rational. Don’t shift the terms of the debate.

    YF February 25, 2005, 1:43 pm
  • To be clear: Cashman is certainly not solely responsible for the Yankees minor league system. But he’s the head personnel man for the team, so he’s ultimately responsible. Answer an earlier question, YF, and stop dissembling. If Billy Beane, John Schuerholz, and Walt Jocketty are good at building a minor league system (and I think it’s fair to say that you admire Billy Beane for these abilities) then why is Cashman not at all accountable? Why is it the scouting department’s fault? Why are you passing the buck so quickly?

    SF February 25, 2005, 1:48 pm
  • He’s unable to convince Steinbrenner to give up the reins? Steinbrenner doesn’t think he’s able? Well, yeah, but is that, in all seriousness, Cashman’s fault? Is there anyone who could do better? It happens to be a pretty good gig, so he puts up with the compromises.

    YF February 25, 2005, 1:52 pm
  • He’s accountable to the extent that he contributes to a flawed system, no doubt. But to compare him to Beane or Jockety is ridiculous.

    YF February 25, 2005, 1:55 pm
  • If Cashman is worth anything, he’s be able to impress upon Steinbrenner the importance of good player development policies; the reliance of statistical analysis in scouting young players; the cost-saving consequences of player development; the roster flexibility provided by good player development. He’s failed at that (given the poor state of the Yanks farm) and he should be held accountable for its failure.

    Nick February 25, 2005, 2:10 pm
  • Yeah. He should be accountable for Steinbrenner’s behavior. That’s realistic.

    YF February 25, 2005, 2:45 pm
  • Wait, why, exactly, is it ridiculous to compare them? As long as we articulate the differences in circumstance then we are safe. Even taking into account the domineering nature of Steinbrenner, Cashman has still underwhelmed in regards to talent management on the lower levels. I will continue to insist he (or ANY GM for that matter) is ultimately accountable (the Owner is too, of course) for the management of talent, from the minors to the majors. If you insist otherwise, then that’s your prerogative. But I think you are wrong.

    SF February 25, 2005, 2:57 pm
  • How do you measure Cashman’s performance as a GM if not by his influence on Steinbrenner? Admittedly, it’s a difficult task, but that is the job description.

    Nick February 25, 2005, 3:45 pm

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