Unsigned Gems

The once and former heir apparent
Joba Joba Joba

(Damon Oppenheimer pic via NoMaas’ PhotoBucket album)

Yankee fans disagree about a lot of things: Melky Cabrera‘s potential, the Johan Santana non-trade, Joe Torre’s dismissal, Brian Cashman‘s body of work, and Phil Hughes‘ fastball are just the tip of the iceberg. However, one thing we can all agree on is that Damon Oppenheimer has done a superb job since taking over as the Yanks’ Vice President of Scouting back in 2005. With the Yanks’ newfound philosophy of shunning overpriced, underachieving and over-the-hill free agents in favor of cheap, young players developed from within, Oppenheimer’s work has received more attention that any of his predecessors, and the man has delivered.

Baseball America recognized his potential way back in 2003 when they called him a “rising star in [the Yankees’] Tampa office,” and ESPN’s Keith Law recently said “[Oppenheimer] is freaking smart, doesn’t get enough credit … definitely among my top 10 GM candidates.” His drafts have already produced two big leaguers in Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, and he’s mixed high ceiling talent (Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson) with high probability talent (JB Cox, Zach McAllister, Colin Curtis) while adding depth (Justin Snyder, Alan Horne, Mitch Hilligoss). A whopping 17 players on my preseason Top 30 Prospects list were drafted during his tenure. It’s a rather impressive resume.

While we focus on players who are with the organization for obvious reasons, what often gets overlooked are the quality players that Oppenheimer has drafted, but was unable to sign. The Yanks are flexing their financial muscle in the draft more and more these days, but there’s plenty of signability guys that they’ve missed out on. Here’s the best of the unsigned, eight talented players that Oppenheimer & Co. have selected, but couldn’t add to the organization. The good stuff starts after the jump.

(2006 draft/34th round/1034th overall) Tyler Ladendorf, SS, Maise West HS (Illinois)
The Yanks grabbed Ladendorf in 2006 with the intention of following his progress during his first year at Howard JC (Texas) before attempting to sign him via the now defunct draft-and-follow process. Ladendorf had a monster freshman season, batting .425 with 32 RBI and a NJCAA leading 65 steals (in 65 attempts no less). The Yanks and Ladendorf were about $50,000 apart during negotiations, and he headed back to Howard for his sophomore year (the Giants drafted Ladendorf in the 34th round last year, but couldn’t sign him). In addition to his usual speedster routine, he also added power to his game as a sophomore this year, batting .542 with 29 doubles, 5 triples, 16 homers, 82 RBI and 31 SB in 53 games. Having exhausted his JuCo eligibility, Ladendorf has committed to Oklahoma for 2009, but will likely sign this because his stock can’t get much higher than it is right now. He could go as high as the sandwich round this year.

(2006/43/1302) Eric Erickson, LHP, Sarasota HS (Fl.)
A short (6’0″) command and control lefty, Erickson stayed true to his commitment to Miami and joined the Hurricanes after the Yanks tried to convince him to go to a JuCo so they can hold onto his rights as a draft-and-follow. Erickson quickly established himself as one of Miami’s top starters, going 10-4 with a 2.50 ERA as a freshman and being named a Freshman All-American in the process. Erickson missed a good chunk of his sophomore year after a bout with soreness in his forearm, but he’s basically picked up where he left off, going 7-1, 4.31 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 4.67 K/BB. A classic example of a guy who wouldn’t be considered anything special if he threw righthanded, Erickson should be a solid top four rounds option in the 2009 draft.

(2007/18/574) Chris Carpenter, RHP, Kent State
Carpenter was rated rather highly heading into the 2007 draft (2nd-3rd round range), but durability questions (TJ and a separate elbow surgery to clean out scar tissue) and spotty control (57-50 K/BB in 91.1 IP during his first 2 years at school) caused him to slip all the way down to the 18th round. He left the Cape Cod League early after experiencing pain and inflammation in his throwing arm, and the Yanks never seriously pursued him as a draft-eligible sophomore after that. Carpenter has been the ace of the Golden Flashes’ staff this year, putting up a 75.2 IP, 55 H, 36 R, 32 ER, 33 BB, 88 K line, but more importantly, he’s been completely healthy and has improved his curve and change to complement his mid-90s heat. His stock has never been higher, and he’s a good bet to go in the first three rounds on Thursday.

(2007/24/754) Greg Peavey, RHP, Hudson’s Bay High (Wash.)
Peavey’s been a guy for so long that scouts had nothing left to do but nitpick his game during his senior year of high school. He struggled that year and reportedly floated some big bonus demands, and he dropped all the way to the 24th round despite being a solid top three rounds talent. The Yanks pursued Peavey aggressively, but the negotiations were difficult and eventually called off all together after the Yanks shelled out big bucks to some other draftees. Peavey took his 92-94 mph fastball and hard slider to Oregon State, the two-time defending national champs. Filling the typical freshman role (mid-week starter/long reliever), he’s had a respectable first year for the Beavers, going 2-2, 5.51 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 1.71 K/BB. Peavey will move into the weekend rotation for good next year, and he’s got a chance to be a premium prospect for the 2010 draft, especially if he fills out his 6’2″, 190 lb frame a bit more.

(2007/34/1050) Drew Storen, RHP, Brownsburg High (Ind.)
Yet another player that dropped because of signability, Storen’s whole shtick is his polish and command of low-90’s sinker, slider and advanced changeup. He also employs a funky, twisting delivery that scared away some teams. Players just don’t skip out on commitments to Stanford, so the two parties never really got close during negotiations and Storen headed to Mike Mussina’s alma mater. He quickly established himself as coach Mark Marquess’s bullpen ace and ‘moment of truth’ reliever, and found himself on the mound in every big, late-game situation for a team consistently ranked in the Top 25. Despite putting up gaudy numbers in his current relief role (43.2 IP, 39 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 12 BB, 41 K), Storen should move seamlessly into the weekend rotation next year. Checking in at only 6’1″, 175 lbs, he stands to add some velocity as he fills out. With all due respect to the other players listed here, Storen is the best prospect the Yanks have missed out on during the Oppenheimer reign. He’s an absolute stud.

(2007/39/1191) Eric Thames, OF, Pepperdine
No relation to Marcus, the Yanks took a late round flier on Thames as a draft-eligible sophomore, but he felt he was worth more than his stats suggested (.320-.381-.415 with no homers in 2007) and he headed back to school for his junior year. He’s improved his stock considerably this year, being named WCC Player of the Year and hitting .407-.513-.769 with 11 doubles, 8 triples, 13 HR and 59 RBI in 49 games as the Waves’ 3-hole hitter. Considered a cinch top three rounds prospect for the ’08 draft, Thames recently sustained a quad injury and missed the remainder of the season. Injuries have a tendency to drop players in the draft, but Thames tacked several hundred thousand dollars onto his signing bonus with his stellar year, regardless. It’s also worth noting that he lists Killswitch Engage as his favorite band, and that’s pretty badass. (Hopefully he means before they got that crappy new singer, I mean really, WTF is that?!?)

(2007/45/1345) Pat Venditte, RHP/LHP, Creighton
Ah, the awesomeness that is Pat Venditte. Here, watch this before reading any more. How sweet is that? Of course, the Yankees would get murdered by the MSM if they ever actually trotted out a pitcher like that, but teams like Boston or the Cubs would be praised for their evaluation skills and willingness to try something so different. Anywho, Venditte made it pretty clear from the get-go that he intended to return to school for his senior year, and that’s exactly what he did. This season has been more of the same for Venditte, he was the team’s MVP and led the staff in wins (9), games pitched (37), innings pitched (86.1), strikeouts (101) and batting average against (.207). I want to emphasize that Venditte is not just a gimmick; there have been other switch pitchers in college baseball’s recent past, but he’s far and away the best of the lot. He’s also got the makeup and the personality to deal with the inevitable circus that will surround his debut if he ever reaches the bigs. Venditte could go as high as the 5th or 6th round this year.

(2007/48/1411) Scott Biddle, RHP, Mississippi
After a rather unspectacular career as a starter at Northeast Texas CC, Biddle transferred to Ole Miss his junior year and served a long reliever/swingman/part-time closer for the Rebels in 2007. The Yanks selected him late after posting a 2.79 ERA with a 59-17 K/BB ratio in 42 IP, but he chose not to sign and headed back to school for his senior year. Biddle has emerged as one of the most dominant relievers in the country this year, going 66.1 IP, 32 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 27 BB, 118 K, and leading the SEC (aka the toughest conference in the college baseball) in strikeouts as a reliever. He operates primarily off of a bane high-80s cutter that he throws 80-85% of the time, but he also mixes in a decent changeup. The cutter and his bulldog mentality have him close to ML ready, and a team not willing to drop its first rounder on one of the top college closers could snatch Biddle up in the 3rd or 4th round and have him in the bigs just as fast.

The once and former heir apparent
Joba Joba Joba
  • CB


    Great piece. I was just thinking about Peavey, Carpenter and thames this week, given last years draft.

    Carpenter’s performance shows once again how its easy to put too much into injuries – he shouldn’t have fallen that much last year.

    I thought Peavey had a mediocre to bad year but I can see what your saying about him transitioning roles.

    Do you see the yankees drafting any of these guys again? I got the feeling that they really did like Thames and he might be a good value a couple of rounds back.

    Can’t wait until thursday – though I am concerned that all the top guys who could be projected to fall to them might be off the board by 28.

    Cole, Melville, Gillaspie, Oridizzi. Don’t know if they’ll be there. Won’t be happy if the D’Backs take Cole at 26.

    I hope the yanks don’t take a so-so left hander at 28.

  • Phil McCracken

    The sooner Oppenheimer is promoted to GM and Cashman is shipped off to the Royals or Phillies the better.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      That’s just stupid. I didn’t realize that Brian Cashman opted to have Kyle Farnsworth pitch the 8th last night which is what I’m sure you were referring to.

      • Phil McCracken

        No but he opted to sign Kei Igawa for 46M, when we needed pitchers in our major league rotation, not the Scranton rotation.

        He decided to sign Latroy Hawkins, a known AL failure when we already had a shaky bullpen.

        He opted to enter this season with a rotation of Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Kennedy, and Mussina. How’s that working out? Two of the three aren’t even in the rotation, and when they were it was ugly.

        Rebuilding is fine. Cutting corners while you’re doing it to reduce payroll and make yourself look better, isn’t fine.

        • Glen L

          Ripping moves without proposing at least viable alternatives is worthless

          What would you have preferred him to do?

          We essentially traded Vizcaino for Hawkins and a pick … He’s relegated to mop-up duty (for the most part) now anyway

          And who do you want in the rotation that was available (other than santana)?

          • mike


            If I were saving money , I would take the pick + Britton + 3. 75 million + 40man roster spot opening in my pocket, rather than the pick + Latroy…

            Also, other than Santana is the “other than the shooting Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play??”

            Mr. Colon (whom he should have signed the first time in 2005) was not a bad choice so far either…

            And, its also the GM’s jobs to make things happen with info which we do not have – otherwise we would read the papers and serve as GM’s on this blog. He gets criticized for the moves he made, those which he did not, and for not making things happen where we have a need. such is the territory

            • Joey

              It’s always so much easier to say shit in retrospect. I can do it. You can do it. Hell, Brian Cashman can do it. Anyone can. It doesn’t help your argument, he took chances, some paid off, others (Igawa, Pavano, etc…) didn’t. Let it go, he’s done a pretty damn good job and we should be thanking him for it

              • Bo

                I’m starting to agree. Cashman has had a good run but it is about to end. The best thing he did was giving the draft over to Oppenheimer.

                • mike

                  why are we saying he is doing a good job? did he take over the 1962 Mets?

                  I believe he is drinking the kool-aid of “lower payroll means Im great at my job”, and I believe he has made a ton of stupid, questionable deals – and left some on the table – for which he needs to be held to account.

                  Im not saying I could do better, but I am not paid over a million dollars a year to make these decisions, and I do not work at it 24hrs a day for a billion dollar company with resources to dream about

          • Phil McCracken

            Ted Lilly instead of Igawa would have pretty much guaranteed a division title last year instead of all those garbage spot starters.

            Kerry Wood would have costed no draft picks and is close to being the same dollars and cents as Hawkins. Both were risks, Wood with injury risks, Hawkins was a complete failure his whole career in the AL.

            There was no backup plan for the failure of two inexperienced players in our rotation. Don’t say Rasner, he was a non roster invitee in Spring Training. There was no backup plan. We didn’t even look at throwing a minor league deal to a vet like Colon.

            Sure i wanted Santana, but we didn’t need Santana. We needed a proven ML veteran who could pitch in a backup situation. I blame this downward spiral on the Igawa signing two years ago.

            We had a shaky rotation going into the 2007 season with Pavano and Igawa. Sure we couldnn’t predict Mussina was going to have a poor season, but Pavano and Igawa were big question marks. If we had put that 46M into Lilly we would have had only Hughes or Kennedy in the rotation.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

              Of course, we could just keep ignoring reality and say that the Yanks are 57-0 right now too.

              • Phil McCracken

                Thats been the whole problem with Brian Cashman. Ignoring reality.

                The reality of Hughes and Kennedy was that they were inexperienced pitchers. You can jump up and down with your “Big Three” T-Shirts and pom poms, but the bottom line is that for the past two years we’ve done absolutely nothing to make this rotation better.

                We were destroyed in the Detroit series due to poor starting pitching. We were destroyed in the Indians series due to poor starting pitching. What big moves have been done to fix this? Kei Igawa and Andy Pettitte.

                Just like everyone said we needed a new voice and it was time for Joe Torre to go, its time to see Brian Cashman go. If that means you and this blog following Brian Cashman to his new team, so be it.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

                  Yeah, Ted Lilly would have solved all our problems. You make it sound like there are just endless fields of quality starting pitchig to be had at any time.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Lilly would have solved all the problems last year. No Igawa would have meant no Chase Wright, Matt Desalvo, Tyler Clippard, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner.

                  This year it would have solved a problem with having 2 huge gaping holes in our rotation. He can pitch more than 3 innings.

                  There is starting pitching available. Problem is, Brian Cashman doesn’t know how to organize a trade to get any of it. I believe Cashman could have put together a trade for Santana with Kennedy as the centerpiece, but didn’t even pursue it. We know Josh Beckett was available. But Brian didn’t want to part with future Hall of Famer Eric Duncan.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  Ted Lilly, savior of the human race!

                • JR_CLT

                  Dude, if you do not like what the guys have to say, go somewhere else. It is their opinions! Don’t be a clown.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Ted Lilly- 15 wins last year, 5 wins this year. Would have been a perfect number 5 starter

                  Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, or should I say Tango and Cash of the “Big Three”…..zero.

                  Kei Igawa- zero

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

                  Ted Lilly wouldn’t have solved shit. He was below average starter in the AL before moving to the sissy NL Central and becoming decent. Here’s the stats:


                  Big fucking savior he would have been.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Sorry JR, I didn’t know that I had to drink Brian Cashman’s milkshake in order to post an opinion here.

                  My mistake in thinking this was a place where you could have a discussion.

                • JR_CLT

                  Has nothing to do with a discussion or liking or disliking Cashman. Points are made on the site all day. It has to do with A. your tone and B. your comment “If that means you and this blog following Brian Cashman to his new team, so be it.” – your disrespect in the time and effort the guys put forth in running this site.

                  There is no need for the animosity. We are all Yankee fans and should appreciate the effort that they put forth.

                • Phil McCracken

                  My tone?

                  You mean challenging to masterpiece of a team Cashman has assembled with 10 years to work with?

                  I’m not disrespecting anything. I’m saying if people are refusing to acknowledge the huge mistakes that Cashman has made.

                  There is no excuse to defend this man at this point.

                  You can’t blame George Steinbrenner who is drinking his Ensure through a straw.

                  You can’t blame financial resources

                  Cashman has been on the job since 1998 and has had total control since 2005. I have seen no improvement in fixing the starting pitching since 2001, and furthermore I haven’t seen any improvement in the starting pitching since 2005.

                • JR_CLT

                  This seems pretty shortsighted to me. Would you rather have $55M in Ted Lilly or take your chances with Joba and Hughes.

                  Personally, I’m tired of us shelling out boat loads of $ on old washed up veterans who are passed their prime. I’d rather cheer for Cano, Wang, Joba, Hughes, Kennedy and hopefully Gardmer and Jackson soon.

                  What made the late 90’s run fun was that those were OUR guys! Not guys plucked from else where. Sure there were complimentary parts and FA pitcher signings that worked out. But all the pieces fell into place!

                  How about giving Cashman credit for making the decision to empower Oppenheimer? He does have total control.

                  Do you know for a fact that Financial resources are not to blame? Do you have access to the Yankee Financials? Do you know that the 2 young Steinbrenners have not put restrictions on what he can or can not spend?

                • Phil McCracken

                  I’d rather have Ted Lilly for 40M than Igawa for 46M.

                  I’d rather have Ted Lilly to ease the pressure on Hughes and Kennedy who have never pitched a full season.

                  I’d rather have a quality arm in the bullpen then Latroy Hawkins who everyone knew was a bust before the Yankees ever thought about signing him.

                  I saw we needed shutdown starters after we lost in the 2001 World Series. If anything I’ve been complaining about this rotation for 7 years. Nothing shortsighted.

                  There’s nothing wrong with infusing some young players into your team. But to expecet that Joba, Hughes, Kennedy, Gardner, Jackson, Tabata, Brackman etc are all going to be successful isn’t realistic. I like Chamberlain and Hughes. I think Kennedy was vastly overrated. Not only does he lack major league talent, he also has a tremendous attitude issue.

                  You need to know when to trade some of your prospects for proven players. There is a difference between a 40 year old Kevin Brown and a 42 year old Randy Johnson and a free agent in their prime.

            • TurnTwo

              how about considering whether or not Ted Lilly even wanted to pitch in the American League East again?

              very easy to spout crap about how Cashman missed the boat, shouldve signed guys like Lilly and Kerry Wood, but how about for a second consider that maybe, perhaps, these guys didnt actually want to play in NY?

              so you see that $46 million for Lilly? well maybe he told Cashman I’ll need $55 over 5 years to play in NY.

              do you really know this? nope.

              thats why its so easy to MMQB the GM, but we as fans dont really know much about anything.

              • Phil McCracken

                “how about considering whether or not Ted Lilly even wanted to pitch in the American League East again?”

                Ted Lilly offered a discount to come to NY before he took the Cubs deal. He even had his agent call the Yankees again before he signed the deal. Pretty good indicator he wanted to play for the Yankees.

                Do I really know this, yup. But its obvious you donj’t know much about anything.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  How about some facts?

                  Ted Lilly since signing with the Cubs: 272 IP, 251 H, 40 HR, 4.24 ERA.

                  Translating those stats from the NL Central to the AL East does not result in pretty numbers.

                • TurnTwo

                  i’m sure you do know this. anyone sitting in front of a keyboard is an expert when they want to be.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Funny how you attack someone TurnTwo and claim they don’t have knowledge about something. Then you’re wrong and continue to try and insult instead of saying you were wrong.

                  Say you’re wrong, it’ll only sting for a second.

                • Phil McCracken

                  How about this fact Ben.

                  181 innings
                  4.31 ERA
                  15 wins

                  with the Toronto Blue Jays, which last time I checked were an AL East team.

                  Kei Igawa last season-
                  6.25 ERA
                  2 wins
                  67 innings pitched.

                  I’ll take Lilly for 40M and give you the extra 6M to help pay for bandwidth here.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  You’re missing a very important point: No one is defending signing Kei Igawa. NO ONE.

                  Rather, we’re saying that Ted Lilly isn’t the be-all and end-all of pitching. His presence wouldn’t have made much of a different last year; that was Yankee ace Chien-Ming Wang who shit the bed in the playoffs against Cleveland. This year, Lilly’s 5.50 ERA is really All Star material too.

                  There are subtleties to this argument. You’re either not picking them up or willfully ignoring them.

                • TurnTwo

                  how am i wrong? you said you knew for a fact that Ted Lilly and his agent called the Yankees for a discount.

                  i could call your bluff and argue how you know that, but whats the point?

                  im not here to complain and argue with some random fan… ruins the fun of the discussion on the board.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Get this through your head. I’m not saying Ted Lilly is the ace starter this team needs. I suggested he would have solved the problems of 2007 with the 100 spot starters who blew game after game.

                  I suggested we wouldn’t be strained again this season with starting pitching with a veteran in the rotation to ease the pressure on Kennedy and Hughes.

                  And his comparison to Kei Igawa is very relevant to this discussion, since your savior Brian Cashman decided to pick a pitcher in Igawa that everyone said would barely be a #5 in the major league.

                • Phil McCracken

                  Obviously you are here to argue with some random fan TurnTwo.

                  Since out of the blue you attacked me for no reason, when you have no knowledge of the subject.

                  There is no bluff. Lilly wanted to play for the Yankees last year. He offered a discount. And he had his agent call the Yankees again before he signed with the Cubs.

                • TurnTwo

                  hey, everyone, dont bother posting! Phil McCracken is the be-all, end-all of NY Yankees knowledge! allow him to show us the way.

                  Phil McCracken for GM in 2009!

                • Phil McCracken

                  Spoken like a guy who was completely wrong and tucked his tail between his legs.

                  When you don’t have knowledge, switch to the insults.

                • TurnTwo

                  if you want to talk about the fundamental reasons for having Ted Lilly in the rotation, taking into consideration contract, salary, past and expected performance, we just fundamentally disagree.

                  but you, sir, were the one to sling the personal insults first.

                  i just mocked your claim of some sort of source that feeds you information from negotiations inside the GM’s office.

                • Phil McCracken

                  “but you, sir, were the one to sling the personal insults first.”

                  Check your first post to me saying that I don’t know about Ted Lilly.

                  You’re wrong, just admit it. You attack people, say they don’t know about something, then won’t eat your words when you’re wrong.

                • TurnTwo

                  were you in the room when his agent made the call? so you were talking to Ted Lilly when he told you that he would accept less from the Yankees to play in NY again?

                  this is what i mean. things are reported, fans think they have some sort of inside info or scoop, and then MMQB the GM because he’s obviously an idiot.

                  there’s no wrong here. you think Ted Lilly would have been a good move, for the $/years/value, i think hindsight is 20/20, but i still feel fine that Lilly isnt in the Bronx.

                  we can argue until the cows come home, but in the end, why even bother? doesnt make a difference, and its not worth it. neither one of us is going to all of a sudden going to realize the other one is right… fundamental differences. so ill just agree to disagree.

                • Phil McCracken

                  No I wasn’t in the room when the agent made the call, but it was reported all over the place during the Winter Meetings. ESPN, Daily News, Post etc.

                  Its not hindsight. I said it during the meetings that it would have been a good signing. He had pitched in the AL East and was a lefty. I thought the Igawa signing was the most absurd signing. We missed out on Matsuzaka so we find another Japanese pitcher to overpay even though he was scouted as a mediocre pitcher.

                  Not one person thought highly of Igawa when it was reported that the Yankees had won the bid for him. Yet Brian Cashman threw 46M at this guy.

                  I will give Cashman credit where its due. He wanted Vlad over Sheffield. Thats the only wise thing I can think of in terms of intelligent evaluation.

                • mike

                  Ill go further – and it was no to Vlad over Sheff – which I could not really find fault with because of Vlad’s back problems ( especially in cold NY), his personality and the fact Shef is a monster and was a monster for the Yanks.

                  Beltran – the shrinking violet for the Mets – who is 10x the centerfileder Melky is, and could have been your # 2 or #5 hitter for the next 5 years with Gold-Glove defense and 30 stolen bases.

                  Bernie was his idol, he could have worked himself into the Yanks slowly with less pressure than across town.

                  I would take his 28 homers 90 rbi’s for the next 3-4 years, and I would have like to have him in the outfield instead of Bubba against the halos when he and Shef played Hot Potatoes in 2005

                • Phil McCracken

                  I think thats a fair analysis of Beltran. He would have probably been more successful with the Yankees where he could just blend in, instead of the pressure of having to be “the man” with the Mets.

                  Cashman didn’t want Beltran though. Even though Steinbrenner wanted Johnson that year which made a Beltran signing pretty impossible, it wasn’t ever a “this or that one” situation like Sheffield vs Guerrero situation

                  I guess I also have to credit Cashman for knowing when to pull the plug on Bernie Williams. I liked Bernie but his bat speed was gone. Only problem was that he dragged Bernie through the mud in a Q&A he did with Epstein which was completely unnecessary.

                • mike

                  But “why” is it impossible – it goes back to Cash’s ego of wanting to go to a cocktail party as a “winner without the highest payroll”.
                  Does anyone think George stopped him from signing Beltran after he had a monster playoff series, was a switch-hitter, speed and Gold Glove ( overrated but still good) centerfielder coming into his prime when he called and asked for a discount to play for the Yanks over the Mets? Especially when Bernie was washed up, and Beltran loved Bernie?

                  Instead, they are forced to sign Damon/ trade for and pay Abreu / rely on Giambi/ no right-handed pop / not trade Melky etc.

                  All things which I do not necessarily agree with, but without options he ties his own hands, and now we have a leadoff hitter who cant play center who has to displace our leftfielder, and a below-average hitter in center because he can track flyballs.

                  So, when we look at Cash -its the deals we did not make which annoy me more than those he did

        • A.D.

          Since when is allowing young/high ceiling starting pitching, and players under contract be your starting rotation considered cutting corners?

          I’ll give you Igawa, if you read his career in Japan there were warning signs on that one.

          • Phil McCracken

            Signing Hawkins was a clear sign of cutting corners and trying to reduce payroll by only bringing in someone for 1 year and not giving up a draft pick.

            The bottom line is that Cashman was more interested in not giving up a draft pick and bringing in a cheap 1 year deal than he was getting a quality arm in there.

            He would have signed YOU to a 1 year deal if it didn’t cost him a pick and multi years. Thats the problem. Everyone knew how bad Hawkins was. Everyone knew how shaky the bullpen was going into this season if Chamberlain was moved to the rotation as he was planned to since last August. To go into this season with a bullpen minus Chamberlain, minus Proctor, and adding just Hawkins is a complete and utter display of being incompetent.

            • TurnTwo

              btw, it was a blessing we went into the season w/o Proctor in the bullpen.

              ok, so instead of Hawkins, what quality arm should he have there instead?

              • mike

                Mind if I jump in? Perhaps if Cash traded for a useful player when dumping Shef instead of a guy with a (known) arm problem and conditioning problem, we would have someone in the pen instead of on the DL.

                Seriously, if the organization views Hawkins over Britton, Veras, Edwar – all of whom were in AAA on opening day – then whomever is making that call needs to be taken outside and hit with a stick.

                Whether Hawkins is better or not is not the question – but its Cash’s mindset of the team he wants to build and the team we can expect to root for after he assembles it.

                To continue to have these guys backed up at AAA for mediocre veterans is contrary to any logical position he could present – either let young guys learn on the job in non-stressful situations (like the 3-4 guy out of the pen) if they show a modium of ability, or sign veterans because we want to win now with an older squad and slide in some younger guys along the way. If the latter is the way, Cash should be fired now because hawkins has choked in big spots throughout his career, and if its the former why were those guys farmed out in place of Hawkins?

                which way is it?

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  This is re-writing history. Gary Sheffield has been gone from the Yanks for nearly a year and a half now, and he’s had three good months at the plate. The Yanks were lucky to shed his contract and get any sort of return on him.

                  Right now, Humberto Sanchez is an unknown. He was the number 3 prospect in a deep Tigers organization, and the Yanks knew he would be heading for surgery. Don’t write off that trade until you see what the Yanks have in Sanchez.

    • Old Ranger

      Oppenheimer is better in the roll he has right now then he would be as GM. Cash gives him all the credit for their drafts, in fact he says…Oppi runs it, I try to sign them, or words to that effect. They work very well together, and have done a good job. 27/08

    • Brandon

      Oppenheimer said himself he is more comfortable focusing on the draft, he has no plans to be a GM, even rejected the Cardinals offer last season when we could have lost him. If he plans to be a GM then sure Oppenheimer would be interesting but if he’s comfortable where he is and if it enhances his ability to excell then let him be where he is most comfortable at.

      • Bo

        What is he supposed to say? “I want Cashmans job???”

        Come on now

  • A.D.

    Key is Oppenheimer has gotten some great pitching, does he have the same eye for hitting. I’m sure the Yanks will get a good player with they’re first picks, but should it be Prep arms, or a guy like Gallispe who could move to 1B and contribute sooner, the scouting knows better than us, but you can only stockpile arms for so long

    • CB

      Talented arms are just much more likely to fall. Unless you decide to draft for need instead of best talent available, a team like the yanks drafting at the end of the rounds but willing to pay over slot, are going to wind up with a pitcher as the most talented player available.

      They key may be taking those arms and at some point using them to trade for position players.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      They could stockpile arms until the cows come home for all I care. Moving away from their strength just to fill a need elsewhere isn’t smart when it comes to the draft. You can always trade some of those arms later.

      • A.D.

        yeah I didn’t mean to overdraft or draft for need, but if you get to a virtual toss-up situation will they take the bat over the arm.

        Also what I’ve seen so far with the pitchers, is there is a lot of talent in the system, however it breaks down to big time talent such as Joba & Hughes, which the Yanks have thus far deemed untradable or high ceiling talent with question marks, which you won’t get full value on, which stalls a team’s desire to trade.

        That said I’m sure a bat for arms trade will come by this winter, should be a good one when it does, and I’m definitly looking forward to the draft results on Thurs

        • Bo

          Baseball isn’t like football. You don’t draft needs. You draft for best player on board. If thats all pitchers then so be it.

  • Brian

    Great post. Not to focus on the negative, but is it fair to say that Oppenheimer’s biggest blemish might be (so far) CJ Henry?

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      It’s definitely fair to say that. It looks better than it does because they dealt Henry for Abreu. But the thinking behind the pick, high ceiling athletic middle infielder, was smart (much better than say, a college reliever). It just didn’t work out.

    • CB

      CJ Henry didn’t work out. But the philosophy behind taking henry wasn’t that different from the philosophy behind taking Jackson in that same draft and giving him a supplemental round signing bonus after taking him in the 8th round.

      Both were high ceiling, very raw, athletic players with Division 1 basketball scholarships.

      In one case it worked out and in the other it didn’t. If you draft 2 guys like that in the same draft and one pans out to become a legit prospect you have to be happy.

      • A.D.

        On the Henry note are we going to see him in NYP or A- when they start up?

        • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          No idea. Wish I knew.

          • A.D.

            Maybe he’s going back to Hoops with his bro after all

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona Beach

            Didn’t he supposedly have bad vision. I thought that the Yanks help fix his eyesight. It will be interesting to see (no Pun intended) what kind of player he turns out to be.

            Also Tyler Landendorf sounds like a great athlete. I hope that they can land him.

  • Charlie

    Great article, Oppenheimer definitely has a bright future, hopefully it’s with the Yankees.

    I got excited about the Killswitch Engage mention – but, how can you not like Howard Jones?!? (the “crappy new singer”) He can rip the extreme vocals as well as melodic singing.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Oh man, Jesse was so much better with KsE. I don’t think it’s even close.

      • Joe

        Alive of just breathing is the shit, If I was him, I would use “Rise Inside”, the last track as my walking to the plate intro. Sorry to say it, but Howard Jones does suck. It’s like listening to a rock opera. All those Western Mass metal bands rip, check out Shadows Fall “The Art of Balance” you’ll see.

      • http://bullpenstatus.blogspot.com Stefan W.

        Mike, you clearly are not thinking straight. Who DOESN’T want a wannabe opera singer in their metal band? …….

        KsE should have gone with Phil LaBonte, IMO

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

          Life of Agony had Keith Caputo. He had an operatic tone…

  • Joe

    This may sound like a stupid question, but is there a distinct difference between identifying prospects and major league free agents (other, than the obvious, age, cost, giving up draft picks, fan base impact, etc.)? It seems like it would be significantly harder to identify prospects than it would be major leaguers. I would be curious to know what the rate of success of prospects are compared to the success of free agents. I don’t know if there is a way to qualify the two, but it would be an interesting study. Ultimately, it would be interesting to measure the use of 40 million dollars over the course of four years put into prospects, than say the impact of a free agent recieving 40 million over x number of years

    • A.D.

      I smell a guest column….it really wouldn’t be that hard to do, just some time & a little research of what the Yanks spend on picks & their return, would have to look a few years back where it’s expected that a player would be in the bigs yet

    • http://riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      It’s not rocket science. Even if you give each prospect a $2M bonus, then spending $40M on prospects will give you much greater return on your nvestment than $40M in today’s free agent market. Not even close.

      • Joe

        You really think it’s that simple? You also need to factor in the actual impact at the Highest level. Even if you Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlin all become sucessful starting pitchers, the Yankees would have benefited this year and next year from Johan Santana, bt probabaly not the following three to five years. It seems like it has a lot to do with timing everything correctly. Like the Rays, stink forever, get tons of good picks, bring them up together and kick ass

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          It is that simple, and I was referring to return on investment at the highest level. If you sign 20 prospects and 3 work out, you’ll get a better return.

          • A.D.

            Well, then you’d have to sign them to a new contract & such and with rising bonuses. But there is also the mid tier play, so Kyle Loshe at 3.45M (or whatever) vs a 2M signing bonus for a guy who may never play…. interesting thought

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