What Went Right: The Farm System


As we get closer to the end of our annual What Went Right/What Went Wrong season review, let’s shift our focus away from the big league team for just a bit.

The life blood of just about any team, in any sport really, is its ability to develop players from within. Homegrown players are substantially cheaper and in almost all cases are younger and closer to their primes than free agents, but the Yankees got away from that for a while. From about 2002 through 2007 the team started to rely on big name free agents to fill holes on the major league roster, sacrificing present depth by trading away prospects and future depth by forfeiting draft picks as free agent compensation. As a result, the Yankees were often left scrambling to find stop gap solutions for the inevitable injury or poor performance.

Brian Cashman started to change that way of thinking once he signing his new contract and got autonomy before the 2008 system, focusing more on the team’s farm system and their ability to produce quality players all by themselves. That didn’t mean they were going to stop signing free agents, but they weren’t going to rely on them as much. He and the team took a hit in 2008, missing the postseason for the first time in more than a decade, but the reward was a World Championship the very next season. Now three years into Cashman’s build from within plan, the farm system is starting to bear some seriously good fruit.

Jesus is coming. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

For much of the year it appeared as though top prospect Jesus Montero had finally met his match in Triple-A. Older pitchers refused to challenge him with fastballs until he proved he could hit offspeed stuff, and as a result he started off very slowly, with a modest .312 wOBA through the season’s first three month. He was even benched for failing to run out a ground ball in May. There were legitimate reasons to be concerned about the 20-year-old”s development, but Montero answered those questions and then some in the second half.

Nearly traded to Seattle in a potential Cliff Lee deal, Montero put up a monster .433 wOBA from July 1st on, hitting 15 homers in just 223 plate appearances. That nearly matched his 2009 total of 17 homers, which took 379 plate appearances. Despite the slow start, the still just 20-year-old catcher set career highs in triples (three), homers (21), and unintentional walks (44), though he did set a new career high in strikeouts as well. As disappointing as the first half was, in the end it’s a good thing. Montero had never faced any kind of adversity in his career, and this season he showed that he could deal with the struggles, make adjustments, and thrive. That’s exactly what you want to see out of your top prospects, the overall numbers are just gravy.

On the pitching side of things, two of the organization’s most promising arms returned from injury and didn’t miss a beat, dominating really in a way that even they hadn’t yet. Left-hander Manny Banuelos had an appendectomy in Spring Training and didn’t debut until June 21st, but he finished the season with Double-A Trenton as a 19-year-old, pitching to a 2.38 FIP in 64.2 regular season innings before going to the Arizona Fall League and drawing rave reviews. Righty Dellin Betances returned from elbow surgery on June 10th and pitched to a 2.19 FIP the rest of the way. His 85.1 innings were the second most of his career, and they featured a stout 108-22 K/BB ratio.

(Photo Credit: Mike Ashmore)

Andrew Brackman, the third member of The Killer B’s, followed up his disastrous 2009 campaign with a breakout 2010. The 2007 first rounder finally found his control two years out from Tommy John surgery and reached Double-A, pitching to a 3.23 FIP in a career high 140.2 innings. His walk rate dropped from one every 6.6 batters faces to one every 15.5 batters faced while his strikeout rate remained an impressive 8.1 per nine innings. Brackman’s put himself in position for a 2011 call up to the big leagues.

On the offensive side of the ball, third baseman Brandon Laird led the way in terms of breakouts. He took home Double-A Eastern League MVP honors with a .371 wOBA, then moved up to Triple-A late in the year as a reward. Second baseman David Adams was right behind Laird in the breakout department, though his season ended prematurely due to a broke ankle. He was wOBA’ing .392 through 173 plate appearances before suffering the injury trying to break up a double play. Gary Sanchez made his pro debut and put up a .364 wOBA as a 17-year-old, leading the rookie level Gulf Coast League in basically every significant offensive category despite being promoted with three weeks left in the season. Austin Romine wore down during his first full season as an everyday catcher, but he still set career highs with 31 doubles and 36 unintentional walks.

While those are the headliners, what shouldn’t be forgotten is the amount of depth the Yanks have accumulated, especially on the mound. Adam Warren reached Double-A a year after being drafted and put up a 2.66 FIP in 135.1 total innings. David Phelps had a 2.65 FIP in 158.2 IP and reached Triple-A. Ivan Nova put together a 3.54 FIP in Triple-A before coming to the big leagues. Lance Pendleton (3.93 FIP), Shaeffer Hall (2.96), and Graham Stoneburner (2.73) all deserve to be mentioned as well.  Oh yeah, and then there’s Hector Noesi, who climbed from High-A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton, posting a 2.80 FIP in a system leading 160.1 IP. All he did was represent the organization at the Future’s Game.

Generally unsung players like righty Craig Heyer (2.27 FIP in 92 IP), first/third baseman Rob Lyerly (.351 wOBA), and jack-of-all-trades Kevin Mahoney (.402 wOBA at four different levels) put themselves on the map with big years. Toolsy outfielder Melky Mesa finally started to turn those tools into production, winning High-A Florida State League MVP honors thanks to a .378 wOBA. That performance earned him a spot on the 40-man roster after the season. Bradley Suttle recovered from a year-long hiatus due to a pair of shoulder surgeries to post a .348 wOBA. Slade Heathcott (.331 wOBA) and J.R. Murphy (.320 wOBA) held their own as teenagers making their full season debut. It’s easy to forget about Corban Joseph (.367 wOBA in the FSL before moving up to Double-A at age 21) and Brett Marshall (2.70 FIP in 84 IP after coming back from Tommy John surgery), two of the system’s highest upside players.

Heathcott during Spring Training. (Photo Credit: Andy in Sunny Daytona)

A few of the players that did stumble a bit were quickly moved in trades before their stock fell any further. Mark Melancon‘s usually strong control had deserted him, and he was sporting a 4.11 FIP in Triple-A (after years of being in the 2.00′s) when he was sent to Houston in the Lance Berkman trade. Zach McAllister‘s inability to miss bats (5.98 K/9)and sudden case of homeritis (1.29 HR/9) earned him a trip to Cleveland as the player to be named in the Austin Kearns deal. His FIP at the time of the trade sat at 4.73, and his previous career worst was 3.26, set two seasons ago. Jeremy Bleich was awful (4.82 FIP) before undergoing season ending shoulder surgery and Chris Garcia’s season lasted one start before he needed a second Tommy John surgery. That’s pretty much the extent of the major negatives from the 2010 season.

I hope everyone understands just how much of a success this year was for the Yankees’ farm system. The number of players that stepped up and improved far exceeded the number of those that took a step back or got hurt. It’s the closest thing to a best case scenario that I can remember, and as a result the Yanks now legitimately have a top ten farm system after being ranked in the 20′s last offseason. There’s depth in all forms; impact players both on the mound and in the field, useful role players and relievers, and plenty of trade fodder. It was a great year on the farm, one that will unquestionably help the Yanks going forward, one way or another.

Categories : Minors


  1. bexarama says:

    But I just got told in the Joba thread that all these prospects are inevitably gonna get ruined!!

    (No, seriously, it’s fantastic to see. Sanchez and Montero make me all tingly. Though probably not as much as the other Rebecca. ;P)

    • Rob says:

      Yeah, where are they going to pitch? Whatever has shown you in the Cashman Era that young pitchers will get their chance in anything other than a bullpen role? The dude traded for Vazquez just so he didn’t have to give a youngster a chance. You know, cause 2008 was all the fault of The Non-big Three.

      Pitchers get hurt. But pitchers needs a shot. And I’ve seen nothing to suggest that the Yankees know how to integrate minor league pitching into the major league club. I’d love it if they prove me wrong. But with likely only one rotation slot open through 2013, you tell me how they’re going to figure out the best prospect for the slot without the herky-jerky dance. Worse, what do they do when that pitcher struggles?

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        There’s possibly two spots open. If the Killer B’s show potential in sticking in the big leagues then I’m all for shoving Burnett as a bullpen guy.

        But Hughes has shown me that Cash is trying to get at least one cost controlled pitcher on the rotation.

        • Rob says:

          Two slots only if they don’t sign Lee. But that assumes they won’t make a Vazquez-type deal to “prevent” 2008 all over again. I’ll believe it when I see it.

          Yeah, sure, the same guy who wouldn’t give up on Pavano is going to give up on Burnett. Right.

          Hughes is the Yankees slamming the same round peg into a square hole. It hardly gives me confidence. If they showed the same determination with Joba then they might have one decent pitcher at the end of three years. Instead, they bring in utter slop for the same innings….

          • Chris says:

            Sabathia could opt out after 2011. Hughes will be a FA for the first time after 2013 (unless they sign him to a long term deal), and Burnett is gone after 2013 as well.

            So, even though there may only be one slot available in 2013 (2 if CC opts out), there’s also possibly 4 slots open the next year – with only Lee being a guarantee if they sign him.

            • Rob says:

              You do realize that 2014 is four seasons from now. Given the rate at which the Yankees developing pitching, that might just be when all of the pitcher’s in this year’s farm become league average. But that’s a long-time to wait…

      • If anything, the lack of slots in the rotation going forward will force them to be slower and more deliberate with the progress of their young hurlers. Phil, Joba, and IPK were all probably in the big league rotation way earlier than they should have been in the first place.

        Perhaps Brackman/Betances/Banuelos/Warren/Stoneburner/etc. will get more AAA seasoning, and maybe break in in the bullpen for a year or two (without being yo-yoed back and forth like Hughes/Joba were) and they’ll be better, more confident, more polished starters when they finally do get a legit shot at winning a rotation spot.

        There’s that.

        I agree with you that the team has made big mistakes with it’s long term development plans, but I always hold out hope that they can and will learn from past mistakes. That’s what smart people do, and Cashman and Girardi have shown on numerous occasions that they’re both generally smart people.

        • bexarama says:

          All of this, really. And I don’t think Hughes was yo-yo’d. Joba, yes, definitely.

        • Rob says:

          No, they did exactly what young pitchers should be expected to do…struggle. IPK is showing he learned. Joba could have. Hughes has actually struggled the most and I’d argue, regressed.

          What makes you believe the Yankees know how to transition a pitcher into the bullpen than into the rotation? The Joba Rules? It’s laughable that that’s the best example of a guiding philosophy.

          You’re free to hold out hope. I do too. But just don’t mistake hope for faith. I lost that long ago. On this front, can you point to one example where Cashman has learned? I thought 2008 was that and he promptly took two steps back. Girardi and his handling of Joba is a similar knock against him.

          • Chris says:

            What makes you believe the Yankees know how to transition a pitcher into the bullpen than into the rotation?

            They did this with Hughes and it worked out fine.

            Girardi and his handling of Joba is a similar knock against him.

            What did Girardi do wrong? He left Joba in a defined role even when he was struggling. After months of Joba failing to deliver, he was dropped in the pecking order. You’re saying that Girardi should have stuck with a struggling Joba even longer?

            • Rob says:

              Worked out fine is a pitcher with 42 HRs in 315 innings as a starter. Awesome!

              Moreover, it took them four years, and a bunch of injuries, to “develop” Hughes in that way. Sweet!

              Can’t wait for more of THAT!

              You’re saying that Girardi should have stuck with a struggling Joba even longer?

              Ummm, let’s see…he left him too long in one role then didn’t revert when the evidence began to accumulate in the other direction. That Joba’s 2010 is considered a failure is exactly a knock against a manager who is supposed to know how to manage relievers.

              • Chris says:

                So they should cut bait on Hughes because he’s not very good, and instead focus on developing their young homegrown starters? You’re not making much sense….

              • Moreover, it took them four years, and a bunch of injuries, to “develop” Hughes in that way. Sweet!

                So you’re complaining that it took 4+ years (with some minor injury setbacks) to develop an 18 year old pitcher into a legit MLB frontline starter.

                That’s your complaint now. That we haven’t invented a fucking time machine to speed up the development process.

                Hey Rob, why don’t you stop talking for a while, maybe sit the next few plays out.

                • Rob says:

                  Except if you want to be accurate it was 6 years. The four years were the MLB version. And he ain’t no front line starter. Not. Even. Close.

                  Home Run Hughes.

                  • Dirty Pena says:

                    42 HR in his first career 315 innings isn’t even that bad.

                    • Rob says:

                      That’s not his career. That’s him as a starter. And yes, that’s pretty bad. It’s certainly not frontline material. His second half K rate portends an even worse future.

                  • Rob NY says:

                    For a guy who has so much to say, you don’t have much to say. You want more young starters in the rotation except you want a good young starter removed from the rotation? Man crush on Joba aside, he had a mediocre year in 09 and a decent year in 10. The Yankees are hardly holding down the second coming of Bob Gibson or something.

                    I’ll second TSJC’s sentiment.

                  • joe lefko says:

                    I know this pitcher who a lot of Yankee fans want to see offered a bunch of money this off season so that he will come pitch for them. And he allowed 1.38 HR/9 in his first 241 innings as a starter. You’re cherry picking.

              • Steve H says:

                You know where Roy Halladay was when he was Hughes’ age? He started the season in Single A. How did his development turn out, I’ve been out of the loop. You do realize that Hughes is still very young right, younger than many of the other young guns in the AL East.

                • Rob says:

                  Hah! You know where Steve Carlton was at age 24? Putting up a 164 ERA+.

                  So lame. Hughes is an average pitcher. There’s value in that. But let’s not suck each other off just yet, not especially after his second half.

                  • Are you trying to make a valid comparison between Phil Hughes and a Hall of Fame lefty? This is ridiculous. You have impossibly high standards. I too am sorry the Yanks can’t magically turn ever half-decent prospect you’ve heard of into the next Whitey Ford.

                    • Rob says:

                      No, pointing out the absurdity of comparing a average pitching to an Ace. Hughes is no where in that ballpark.

                  • bexarama says:

                    Are you seriously killing Phil Hughes for not being Steve Carlton?

                  • Shaun says:

                    Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Cliff Lee, Andy Pettitte, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Matt Cain, Clay Bucholz, Zack Greinke….the list goes on and on

                    Do you know what all these guys had in common?

                    Every single one of them posted and ERA over 4 in there first full season of starts

                • Rob says:

                  Or you know where Jon Lester was at age 24? Putting up a 144 ERA+ in 210 innings.

                  • Jorge says:

                    Do you know where Rob is after this post? At the, um, troll store.

                    I’ll wait until the ripe old age of 24 for my pitchers to develop just fine.

                    • Rob says:

                      Into league average starters….Awesome!

                      Wow, so much Hughes love here. The Big Three dies a loud and painful death.

                  • pete says:

                    Phil Hughes is not Steve Carlton, will never be Steve Carlton, and could never have been fairly asked to become Steve Carlton. He also isn’t Jon Lester, will (probably) never be Jon Lester, and could never have been fairly asked to become what Jon Lester is now. None of that is Cashman’s fault.

                    You’re acting as though Phil Hughes was a Strasburg-type prospect once. He wasn’t. Ever. He was a kid with good command of a strong fastball and curveball who put up good numbers in the minors. That doesn’t mean that he should become a Hall-of-Famer or “even” a top-10 pitcher in the league. That’s a ridiculous expectation to put on a prospect, especially one who wasn’t even a top-20 (let alone consensus #1) pick.

                    Philip Hughes just put up a full season of slightly above average pitching at age 23-24, in the AL East, pitching in a homer-prone ballpark. That is already a tremendous success for Philip Hughes, and a tremendous success for the Yankees. You are aware that they’ve got a cost-controlled pitcher who they can rely on to be (at least) a #3 starter for the next ten years if they want, right? That he’s still a couple years from free agency, and several more from being at significant risk for decline? That’s HUGE.

                    • Rob says:

                      You had me until you started calling him a #3. He ain’t that. Plus, he declined noticeably in the second half, so I’d be careful about predicting his future.

                      Moreover, the Sox are fair game because they’ve managed to do something twice in the last few years that the Cashman Yankees have never done…develop legit frontline starters. And they’re hardly in a pitcher’s park.

                    • Mike Axisa says:

                      You won, Rob. We all give up. Hughes sucks, Yanks suck at developing pitchers, Red Sox rule.

                      We give up. Go argue somewhere else now.

                    • Rob says:

                      I called Hughes league average. The Yankees do suck at developing pitchers. The Sox don’t “rule” but they do know how to developing pitching.

                      I wouldn’t be having such difficulty here on the first two points, if the rest of the community was being honest with itself. Hughes is neither frontline nor had a particularly good season. It needn’t take this much effort to call that kettle black.

                    • Mike Axisa says:

                      Fine, whatever. You win.

                    • Rob says:

                      I don’t want to “win”. I want honest assessments. That’s why this is the best Yankee blog. But on the matter of Phil Hughes v. Reality, this community is very biased. He’s fine for a league average starter, but even that involves a lot of squinting…

                    • Mike Axisa says:

                      Sure, whatever. You proved your point. Now move along.

                    • Jimmy McNulty says:

                      He was the top pitching prospect in baseball, and was held out in a deal for Johan Santana. Maybe not Strasburg, but definitely had a much higher prospect status than Jon Lester.

                    • Rob says:

                      Move along? To where? Work? Hah!

                      Have you guys decided yet whether Hughes went right or wrong in 2010?

                      Knowing the blog, you can’t call it wrong. But if you’re being honest, you can’t call it right. So I bet you’ll call it a qualified success based on his number of innings without an injury. You and I both know that’s a cop out, because his second half was really bad, but it will get the job done.

                    • I don’t want to “win”. I want honest assessments.

                      Me: May I sub-respond before you finish?
                      Rob: Sure.
                      Me: Do you?

                    • Rob says:

                      Who here has called out Hughes’ second half in the interest of accuracy? A lot of folks though want to defend his “fine” year. Yeah, “fine” relative to the suck that was Burnett and Vazquez, OTOH not so much.

                    • bexarama says:

                      Knowing the blog, you can’t call it wrong. But if you’re being honest, you can’t call it right. So I bet you’ll call it a qualified success based on his number of innings without an injury. You and I both know that’s a cop out, because his second half was really bad, but it will get the job done.

                      Nuance is so awful

      • Steve H says:

        Whatever has shown you in the Cashman Era that young pitchers will get their chance in anything other than a bullpen role?

        Phil Hughes, 2010?

        • But Phil Hughes doesn’t count, remember, because Rob has decreed that since Phil gave up a bunch of homers this year, he doesn’t count.

          So Rob has written, so it shall be done.


          • Steve H says:

            Even if Hughes hadn’t pitched well this year (as Rob may believe), he still got a chance, right? So Hughes could have put up an ERA of 10.00 this year and still disproven Rob in that he did in fact get a chance.

            • Rob says:

              He got a chance after three years of fumbling and injuries, and only then because they spent 60 million on the other four slots.

              But, sure, I can’t wait until the Killer B’s get their chance in 2015.

              P.s. Hughes didn’t pitch well in 2010, unless you want to ignore the second half.

          • Rob says:

            No, I’m just not going to hang my hat, and the future of all Yankee pitching prospects, on a decidedly league average pitcher who gives up homeruns in bunches. That he’s the only pitcher the Cashman Yankees can even begin to claim to have developed in 13 years is a bigger knock against them.

            In short, Phil Hughes 2010, had a tasty second half, didn’t he?

            • Mike Axisa says:

              Just O:S this nonsense already. Dude’s just trollin’.

              • Rob says:

                I wish I were. Hughes gave up 14 HRs in 75 innings in the second half. To think he’s turned a corner is a HUGE mistake.

                • Mike Axisa says:

                  Whatever dude. You win, Phil Hughes sucks, the Yankees sucks for not being able to develop pitching, everyone in the farm system will eventually suck as well.

                  Congrats, you win. Go complain about something else somewhere. You’ve suck the joy out the post.

                • hello9 says:

                  The fact that Hughes had a tough second half doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the potential to be a frontline starter. Considering his age, his stuff, and the fact this was his first full season as a starter his overall performance is certainly encouraging and it should be expected that he can build on it.

                  Some of your arguments are littered with holes with respect to your attempt to claim he’s always going to be some type of back end #5 guy. First, your claim that he was ‘figured out’ by the league is only one of several plausible explanations for why his hr/9 and xfip jumped in the second half. An alternative equally as viable explanation is fatigue as his max ip in any previous year was only about 140.

                  Additionally, even the idea that he may have been figured out in *gasp* his first full season as a starter doesn’t necessarily portend doom. Pitchers, and especially young pitchers, have to adjust throughout their career. If he is being figured out then it’s likely that the pitching staff will work with him on his secondary offerings and his approach. With even a marginal improvement due to such things he could be a sub 4 xfip pitcher by next year. There were only 16 sub 4 xfip pitchers in the AL this year. Even with his trouble in the second half Hughes had a xfip that was in a guy like Buchholz’ ballpark and had a better k/9 and bb/9, suggesting that if you’re optimistic about Clay, that any potential improvement in Phil w/respect to hr’s should make you downright bullish on him.

                  Finally, its not like Hughes’ numbers worsened monotonically. He alternated a decent and shitty month towards the end with June and July being his really bad era months. Whether he can improve on his numbers from this year are debatable but the great volume of past history suggests that with his age and stuff he will – and any improvement from the previous season will make him a good pither.

            • Shaun says:

              After the ASB he had 4 terrible starts where he gave up 5 or more runs, 1 start where he gave up 4 runs, and 10 Starts where he gave up 3 or less runs.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      I wouldn’t say ruined but more like not used to their full potential. Even if Joba doesn’t reach his ceiling if he’s given a chance he’ll be valuable to another team. Look at IPK. He missed the entire 2009 season save for one ‘terrific’ inning.

      But he helped get us Granderson. It’s actually a better argument about the treatment the Yankees showed to their farm. It’s better than it being another sarcastic mock sentence IMO.

  2. Reggie C. says:

    At this time last year I seriously believed that the farm held only one prospect who could be said to be in the top 50. Now, even if Montero has played his last minor league game, I think there are FOUR top-prospects emerging.

    Banuelos, Betances, Brackman, and GARY SANCHEZ. Sick!

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Brackman isn’t cracking top 50 based on the general consensus of scouts. Banuelos is definitely in. Perhaps top 30. Betances barely makes it. Sanchez jumps a lot where I’ve seen him but he’s not higher than 50 so that’s good for him.

      • Avi says:

        John Manuel of BA in his chat on the Yanks top ten said he sees Sanchez in the 20′s actually. As much as I love the B’s the are grade A prospects like Montero and Sanchez are. At least not yet..

  3. Nearly traded to Seattle in a potential Cliff Lee deal, Montero put up a monster .433 wOBA from July 1st on, hitting 15 homers in just 223 plate appearances.

    That’s 14.86 PA per homer. Bondsian. Ruthian, even.

  4. Rob says:

    There’s depth in all forms

    Except shortstop…

  5. JobaWockeeZ says:

    So any chance Noesi gets a shot for the rotation when someone inevitable gets hurt next year? I’d rather have him than Nova.

  6. Am I the only one who looks at Andrew Brackman and sees Philip Rivers?

    Hopefully our prized pitching prospect doesn’t reek of smarmy douchbaggery like San Diego’s pigskin hurler.

  7. Monteroisdinero says:

    I’m tellin’ you guys and gals, the 1st inning homer he hit against Pawtucket at Scranton the Friday night of Labor Day weekend was just crushed. When he circled the bases, fans were just awed by how hard and far he hit it. I was and I have seen alot of baseball.

  8. Steve H says:

    Adam Warren got just a blurb above (understandable) but his 7 inning 15k performance was one of the highlighs dotf for me this year. Considering his profile when he was drafted, it’s amazing to see where he is now.

  9. dan says:

    i expect chris cabrera and bryan mitchell to have big years next year
    in 2011!

    • pete says:

      also, McAllister will be better than Hughes, right?

      /just playin’d

      (I could see Mitchell having a nice year; not sold on Cabrera though)

  10. theyankeewarrior says:

    I saw about 15 of Montero’s at-bat’s last season at Frontier Field in Rochester. Four different times, I saw him hit a routine fly ball that carried to the warning track.

    I also remember Mike noting on several DotF’s that Jesus hit a ball to the track. That speaks a ton about his power – effortlessly hitting the ball 375-400 feet at the age of 21.

    I also shook his hand the day before he went on his mid/late season tear. But I won’t take credit for it.


  11. pete says:

    This is exactly why I love baseball. The Yanks can lose in the ALCS and it can still have been a friggin badass year.

  12. tags says:

    As a partial season ticket holder I’m looking forward to seeing the pitching at Trenton next year. Brackman may be gone but the other killer B’s, plus Warren and maybe Stoneburner, could be a killer rotation!

    • Chris in Maine says:

      I agree, Living up here in Maine I chedck out Trenton every time they play the seadogs. Even up here, the rivalry lives in minor league ball.

  13. I wonder if Brackman will get a ML start this coming season. Hopefully he will when the Yankees have the division wrapped up in September.

    • I think Nova and Noesi will be the biggest obstacles to that happening. They’ll probably have incumbency over him for the 6th and 7th starter roles. I bet all of Brackman’s 2011 big league appearances are in relief.

      • Fair Weather Freddy says:

        I just hope they don’t do to Brackman what they did to Joba, shuffling him between the pen and starting, potentially ruining him.

        • Not Tank the Frank says:

          BA has him listed as our closer in 2014.

          Not that it means a damn thing. They had Melancon as our closer before that and look how that turned out. I just find it interesting that they feel Brackman is most likely to end up in the pen. I would think Betances would fit that role with his injury history and the lack of innings he’s been able to pitch so far.

  14. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Yeah, they had a good year down the farm. I recall reading an article suggesting that they’d keep Nunez and Laird as bench players, not trade bait. I hope they do the same with Nova too…Romine seems like he’s going to be the player that gets traded, sadly.

    • I doubt we even trade Romine. He’s on track to take over for Cervelli by 2012 or 2013 at the latest and be Montero’s backup/caddy. I think the org still likes Romine a lot and envisions a real role for him on this team.

      Romine probably only gets traded if/when one of Murphy or Sanchez hits their ceiling, makes it to the show and beats him out for playing time.

      • Jimmy McNulty says:

        I am concerned how he took a step backwards. If a team still thinks he’s a starting catcher and values him as such I think they should pull the trigger.

        • rbizzler says:

          Are you saying that you don’t think that Romine profiles as a starting catcher? Or that he will not be an elite enough performer to be the Yankees starter?

          Despite his second half struggles and given the dearth of legit catchers in MLB, I think that Romine still has a bright future (even if that future is not quite as bright as it was 6 months ago).

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            I’m not saying anything yet, I’m asking questions, like Glenn Beck. I don’t think a slump in a pitcher’s park means much of anything, however with prospects usually a step back means something. He looks like he has a solid swing, hopefully he just got tired.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I find it interesting that commenters here generally acknowledge the lack of C talent out there, but any time I suggest SS is a weak position league-wide and Nunez is actually a solid SS prospect several people tell me I’m an idiot… Commenters even acknowledge that Jeter is more valuable because of lack of SS talent out there… Still, Nunez is universally seen on RAB as a guy who has no shot at starting at SS in the majors…

            • Avi says:

              Furthermore if Culver was a valid first round pick based on the belief he’ll stay at SS than Nunez is the finished product with more speed.
              It’s pretty contradictory to like Culver and not Nunez.

        • I am concerned how he took a step backwards.

          HE’S A BUST FOREVER!!!!!!!


        • Ted Nelson says:

          His 2010 #s are pretty similar to 2009… So I don’t know that I agree with the consensus that he “took a step back” in 2010.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I do agree that if another team places more value on him as a prospect than the Yankees do, the Yankees should pull the trigger. He’s hardly untradable… As much as I like developing prospects, I don’t want to do that at the expense of turning down good trades. That said, if the Yankees feel 2010 was a bad season for Romine and he’s a better prospect than he showed… no use in selling low.

      • vin says:

        Just the fact that Cashman has mentioned Romine as possibly competing for the big league catching job, even if it is just lip service, is tremendous. Seems like they have pretty high hopes for him in the next couple years.

  15. Ted Nelson says:

    Definitely a good year for the farm.

    A. I find it hard to call this the 3rd year of the farm-system approach… Montero, Joba, IPK, McAllister, Melancon, Robertson, Betances.. all entered the org in 2006. Hughes since 2004. Gardner since 2005 (which is also when Austin Jackson came in). Brackman and Romine in 2007. So, really, most impact players came into the system before 2008.

    B. Maybe it’s coming, but in a sense farm system is also “what went wrong.” If the Yankees had a few more arms in the high minors they might never have even needed to trade for Javy. They could have had a better rotation and more depth on their bench too if a few more solid prospects had been acquired a few years ago…

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      I don’t think that we can really consider not having MLB ready pitching prospects in the minors something that went wrong. They really didn’t expect to call up any AAA SPs last year. The top prospects just happen to be young and at the lower levels of the minors at this point. The only one that we really thought had a chance to pitch in the bigs in ’10 was Nova and he did.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I’m not saying it was some tragedy. I’m saying that the flip side to having a ton of depth in the low minors was having very little ML ready talent this season. The Yankees had needs on the pitching staff and bench that the farm system failed to address adequately.

    • rbizzler says:

      Are you related to Rob?

      In response to a post about how the system made great strides and had multiple prospects on every tier take steps forward, you are complaining that the system could have performed even better? Classic.

      And, can we close the book on the hindsight panning of the Javy trade? That horse is dead, has been thoroughly beaten and should have been buried by now.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Read my comment more carefully and don’t just be a dick because you haven’t taken the time to comprehend what I’ve written.

        “In response to a post about how the system made great strides and had multiple prospects on every tier take steps forward, you are complaining that the system could have performed even better? Classic.”

        No. I am not complaining about anything. I am saying that the flip side to having a lot of minor league depth was having no impact player step up from the minors this season. This series is one of “what went right” / “what went wrong.”

        In response to a critique of the Yankees and RAB a fanatical poster jumps to conclusions and tries to personally insult the commenter. Classic.

        “And, can we close the book on the hindsight panning of the Javy trade?”

        I did not pan the trade. Again, actually read my comment. Are you related to Rob? I said that if there were more ML ready depth in the system to start the season, the Yankees never would have dealt their top pitching prospect for Javy. They could have had better options to fill in when things went wrong than Gaudin, Moseley, Nova, and Pena. That, to me, is a “what went wrong.”

        • rbizzler says:

          Pardon me, but your comment sounded like the typical nit-picking that comes from the chicken-little segment of the fanbase. Despite the fact that the farm has provided cost-effective patches for the most fungible portion of the MLB roster (read: the bullpen) and has developed a solid SP, and legit cost-controlled OFer and a blossoming MVP candidate, you still wanted more.

          I found that amusing, and responded in kind. I also find it laughable that you referred to the ‘flip-side’ of the system’s depth, as its lack of talent at the higher levels. I think the flip-side of having tremendous depth, would be having depth that was lacking. Your comment falls more along the line of being pessimistic in that you are challenging the notion that the strides that the system made this year should be viewed as a positive development.

          I will agree that I was incorrect in that you weren’t panning the Javy trade. You were more lamenting the fact that Cash felt that it needed to happen. Which I find to be a perfectly rational and acceptable response. My apologies on that front, as I have grown tired of the constant harping on the failures of the Javy deal.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “Your comment falls more along the line of being pessimistic in that you are challenging the notion that the strides that the system made this year should be viewed as a positive development.”

            I am saying that not *everything* from the farm system was a positive. I am not taking anything away from the positive. At no point did I point out that Brackman is already middle-aged and many scouts view Betances as a reliever and Montero is an awful defensive C and Adams’ hot start was as likely to be a fluke as a break-out… that would be pessimistic. I never said any of that or criticized any actual Yankee prospect. Only the ones who never were… the opportunity cost of the ones that were and failed.

            Along with the positive, there were negatives… No impact players really came up in 2010 (Logan did well and Nova did pretty well). It went wrong. Just as drafting Brackman or Betances over some flop behind him is something we can look at as going right, drafting CJ Henry, for example, is something that we can look at as hurting the Yankees in 2010. Those are just two quick examples… I don’t mean I expect every pick to be a stud, just that one or two more hits on prospects that were misses (whether the guy acquired developed differently or someone else was acquired altogether) could have helped the Yankees. That’s why I don’t have a problem lumping it into 2010: it impacted them in 2010.

            It doesn’t have to be black-and-white. We can separate out and analyze both the good and the bad. That to me is what separated RAB from the “chicken littles” and what I understood as the point of a series looking to: “recap the season that was by looking at what went right as well as what went wrong for the 2010 Yankees.” The things that went right didn’t happen in a 2010 vacuum, and neither did the things that went wrong. I honestly thought lack of impact rookies was almost a no-brainer for “what went wrong.”

            “My apologies on that front, as I have grown tired of the constant harping on the failures of the Javy deal.”

            Agreed, and thank you.

            • rbizzler says:

              Oh, I agree. But, the fact the the system did not produce impact players for the 2010 season is really more of an indictment of the systems performance from previous years. Based on the strides made in 2010 the Yankees have a legitimate top tier system with a mix of upside and high probability guys. Entering 2010, the Yankees farm ranked in the bottom third of all systems. Now, they are looking at a top 10 ranking with a mix of high, medium and low impact guys slated to make their debuts and help the team in 2011. I call that ‘what went right.’

              Plus, lamenting about the wasted opportunity cost of failed prospects is not an exercise that I have the time or energy to engage in. Even the best of prospects bust or fail to reach their full potential and the Yankees are not immune to this reality. I do understand your point though, but disagree that it is lamentable.

              In regards to CJ Henry et al, you said yourself that the purpose of a farm system was two-fold with one being producing players for the MLB roster. I am assuming that you think that the other purpose is to provide fodder for trades. I think we can all agree that CJ Henry served his purpose in that regard. Just because that proverbial chip was cashed in years ago does not mean that it wasn’t useful and valuable.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                I agree that it’s a “what went right.” My point is that there can also be a related “what went wrong.”

                “Plus, lamenting about the wasted opportunity cost of failed prospects is not an exercise that I have the time or energy to engage in. Even the best of prospects bust or fail to reach their full potential and the Yankees are not immune to this reality. I do understand your point though, but disagree that it is lamentable.”

                My point isn’t that a few prospects or any one specific prospect busting is lamentable. My point is that not having a single impact rookie in 2010 outside of Ivan Nova’s 42 IP is lamentable. Not having anyone step up or anyone to step up is lamentable because with another solid starter or reliever perhaps the Yankees beat the Rangers. Maybe they have enough to easily make a Cliff Lee deal sans Jesus or at least pick up Haren. Not any one specific thing, but the fact that nothing positive came to the Bronx from the farm system this season outside Nova for a few games and sort of Logan… That hurt the Yankees, IMO.

                “I think we can all agree that CJ Henry served his purpose in that regard.”

                My point was never Henry specifically. Henry basically headlined the Abreu deal, but that was mostly a salary dump. I think you could have substituted someone else for Henry and the Yankees are probably still the front-runner with their financial muscle. Abreu was 32, very expense ($31 mill coming over 2 seasons), declining in the field, and experiencing a power-shortage when the Phils traded him. From what I remember there wasn’t much of a market.

                But… no, if they drafted Rasmus and he came in and posted an .876 OPS as an 18 year old when drafted and a .884 OPS in low A as a 19 year old before getting promoted… no I doubt he gets dumped in the Abreu give-away. If Garza’s in AA at the time of the Abreu trade with a sub-1.00 WHIP, yeah, I think some other chump with a low probability of success gets pawned on the Phils, not the stud starter rocketing his way through the system…

                Anyway, I also don’t want to debate the consequences of specific draft picks from the past. Just say that IMO not having any impact rookie in 2010 was a negative for the Yankees and their farm system. Our hope for impact rookies in 2011 and beyond from the farm system makes this point for me…

    • B. Maybe it’s coming, but in a sense farm system is also “what went wrong.” If the Yankees had a few more arms in the high minors they might never have even needed to trade for Javy. They could have had a better rotation and more depth on their bench too if a few more solid prospects had been acquired a few years ago…

      These posts are only “What Went Wrong” or “What Went Right” for 2010, though. The failures of the farm to produce more MLB-ready SP depth by the beginning of the 2009-2010 offseason that would have provided an alternative to trading for Javy Vazquez would be under the scope of a “What Went Wrong” article back in 2008 or 2007 or 2006 or something.

      The farm has failed to produce sufficient talent in years prior, but this season, the farm has been a resounding success.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        It went wrong at that time, but impacted the Yankees today. Just like all these players that “went right” were acquired in previous years… There was no mention of a 2010 draftee that I saw, these guys were acquired previously just like impact 2010 rookies were not.

        I see it as the flip side to the same coin: a bunch prospects previous acquired had successful minor league seasons / no prospects previously acquired stepped up from the minors in 2010 to make a serious impact.

        The idea of this series, as I understand it, is to chronicle what helped the 2010 Yankees and what could have helped them more. An impact rookie, even just one, better than Ivan Nova could definitely have helped the Yankees win more games in 2010 and maybe even get past the Rangers. So, I see it as a “what went wrong.” I’m not looking for a ROY, just a 5th starter, utility player, 4th OF…

        • You’re still reading the intent of this series of posts as something different than what the authors of the posts created them to be.

          The farm system went right this year. The benefits of that won’t be realized until the future (just like the past failures of the farm were realized this year), but for this year, the farm system was a success.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            You’re either disagreeing with or ignoring my points. That’s fine. Just because you disagree with or fail to understand my points, doesn’t mean I don’t still believe they are correct. Doesn’t mean your opinion is more right than mine. I have explained why I feel it does fit into the “what went wrong category.” I am not a moron and do understand the point of the series.

            “Over the next week or two or three, we’re going to recap the season that was by looking at what went right as well as what went wrong for the 2010 Yankees.”

            What went wrong: No impact rookies came up from the farm system outside a LOOGY and guy who made 7 averagish starts.

            If, say, a 5th starter or 4th OF or UT guy came up and helped the team, it would go under “what went right.” Since hardly any did, it’s a “what went wrong” to me.

            • All Praise Be To Mo says:

              Logan’s not even ours, he was part of the Javy deal. Before you start arguing points, at least research your position somewhat, it just makes your irrational posts sound even worse.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Thanks, I’m not an idiot. I have specifically said that the biggest impact guy that stepped up from the farm to fill a hole was acquired in a trade last offseason.

                Before calling my points ignorant and irrational, actually read my comments dipshit.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “for this year, the farm system was a success.”

            At least half the point of a farm system is to bring up ML players. It’s hard to simply ignore that part not going particularly right in 2010. Certainly we should acknowledge that the Yankees have a lot of good prospects with the *potential* to *maybe* be used *someday* in the Bronx or a trade. We should acknowledge that a lot of their impact players today came up through the farm system at some point in the past. At the same time we should acknowledge that there were holes on the major league roster IN 2010 that the Yankees farm system did not adequately fill THIS YEAR.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          Hopefully one year from today we’re saying that the farm stepping up is “what went right” on the way to #28… So, in that sense I think we have to say largely the opposite today.

          (2011 = good case scenario)
          2011: Jesus stepped up as primary starting C
          2010: Cervelli did not live up to even meager expectations (mostly talking defensive expectations). He could have been worse (mostly talking offensively), but he wasn’t good.

          2011: Nunez crushed Pena’s 2010 production as a UT guy…
          2010: Pena had an OPS+ of 36.

          2011: Nova/Noesi/Brackman/Betances/Phelps/etc. step up to plug bullpen and rotation holes.
          2010: Logan stepped up, Nova was solid, but largely big holes emerged and there weren’t internal options.

          2011: Laird steps up as an OF/3B/1B option.
          2010: Russo, Curtis, Golson… not much doing…

  16. Fair Weather Freddy says:


    Any idea if Yanks will try to resign Garcia to minor league deal as he continues his rehab? Would like to see him get one more chance to salvage his career.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Mark Newman said they’re keeping an eye on him, and he is rehabbing at their complex in Tampa. There’s no contract though, I don’t suspect there would be until he was 100% back.

  17. Johnny O says:

    This Post was like the fight in Anchorman. Boy, that escalated quickly… I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

    I think Rob killed a guy with a trident.

  18. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Wow, Rob…even I think this guy is a bit of a dick. Yeah, I agree Hughes is overrated and still has a ways to go, but he’s shown he can pitch well. Maybe not a frontline starter, but definitely better than league average, IMO.

  19. John says:

    For all that talk about the Red Sox developing 2 front line starters in the last 5 years where exactly has that gotten them?

    Another note Rob keeps mentioning how Hughes second half was horrible but isn’t that to be excepted with most major league pitchers who are pitching more innings than they ever have in there lives?

    You keep mentioning the home run rate of Phil Hughes but he is pitching half his games in a hitters heaven. Look at his home road splits he allowed 20 homers this year in 106.1 innings at home and only 5 in 70 innings on the road.

    So yes maybe phil hughes is not a front line starter but because of a poor second half you cant say he sucks as a pitcher thats like using his first half to say hes the best pitcher in baseball.

    • vin says:

      “For all that talk about the Red Sox developing 2 front line starters in the last 5 years where exactly has that gotten them? ”

      Honestly, it’ll probably get them Adrian Gonzalez. Their 3 highest paid pitchers will occupy their #3, 4, and 5 spots in the rotation. Developing your own starters, front line or back end, is a huge cost-saver.

    • Jimmy McNulty says:

      In order

      A 2007 WS title, payroll flexibility.

      To an extent, it’s still concerning.

      Still a problem.

      Yeah, but the second half is more troubling than the first was encouraging.

      • John says:

        A 2007 WS title, payroll flexibility.

        Dont we have a title too? in the same time period as them?

        To an extent, it’s still concerning.

        Well lets see how his 2011 season plays out before we become too concerned

        Still a problem.

        Didn’t king felix have a problem with giving up homers in seattle? im just saying

        Yeah, but the second half is more troubling than the first was encouraging.

        Not really that’s a matter of opinion in some of the biggest games we needed to win phil hughes pitched really well. an example is the game against boston at the end of september and the start in minnesota. yes in texas he didn’t pitch well but neither did any of our starters aside from pettitte.

        • Jimmy McNulty says:

          Well yeah, they have a title too…but there’s worries that if they wish to contend for a title now they’d have to either raise the future pay roll to around 220 or 235 or something or either suck in the future. So the payroll flexibility is key.

          2011 is a big year, but if he’s still the same garden variety good ML pitcher he should be dealt while he still holds trade value.

          Ehhh…the biggest games Phil pitched really well…tell that to the Texas Rangers, I guess. All the starts matter, not just the big ones. A good start is a good start, and a bad one is a bad one.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “he should be dealt while he still holds trade value.”

            For what exactly? I’m not saying he shouldn’t be traded, but I wouldn’t just say as a rule “anytime you have a bit above average ML starter you should automatically trade him…” Are you necessarily going to bring back a better package if you deal him for prospects? And in that case how do you plug the rotation hole while you wait to see if the prospects pan out? If payroll flexibility is important to you can’t really use him for an expensive veteran… While he’s far from untradable, I think the previous piece on “who you/I would trade Phil Hughes for” bellied the point that there are only so many guys league wide to trade Hughes for… Only so many pitchers give you 30 starts and 175-200 innings at or above league average.

            “tell that to the Texas Rangers”

            By that same logic tell the Rangers that any Yankees pitcher is all that good… They creamed most of the staff. If that’s our criteria we should only keep a couple of guys going into next season.

  20. tbord says:

    For a guy who was primarily a reliever the year before, Hughes performance in 2010, factoring in age, etc, must be seen as a huge success. As the team sites right now, he is the best pitcher behind Sabathia. If he stays healthy he is sure to be a solid #2 behind the big guy. And if that’s his ceiling, no one has anything to complain about.

  21. dan says:

    chris cabrera , bryan mitchell, jose ramirez , gary sanchez, and manny banuelos are the yankees best prospects which i hope they don’t trade! These guys are the yankees future in 4 years if the yankees hold onto them.

  22. Chris in Maine says:

    1st full year in the majors
    exceeded previous high in innings by a significant margin
    24 years old

    Of course his second half was not going to be as good as the first…

    Remember, tell your kids not to be a “Rob.” Nobody likes a “Rob.”

  23. Frank says:

    So…who are we going to offer for J-Up?

    • Avi says:

      Would LOVE to see Upton in pinstripes (Justin). The thought has me salivating.
      If the D-backs are serious about moving him the Yanks certainly have the pieces to get him. I would hope they can build a prospect package around Garder to obtain him.
      Upton has true superstar ability. Him fulfilling that potential is of course not a sure thing but his immense talent combined with what he’s already accomplished at the major league level at his age, makes me a believer.

      • Ghost of Scott Brosius says:

        If it’s built around Gardner, then he better be in between two better prospects, because Gardner as a J-Up centerpiece won’t exactly have Arizona salivating to make a deal.

  24. Not Tank the Frank says:

    I think people that criticize Hughes are really viewing him in the wrong context. The reason people (myself included) are – or should be – so excited about Hughes is because he more than held his own on the toughest stage in baseball while he was still very much a work in progress at 24 years old.

    Anyone who has watched Hughes knows two things: 1. All his secondary pitches are average at best up to this point and yet he was still able to succeed because…. 2. Hughes has the ability to generate swings and misses with his fastball, at 91mph!, even in fastball counts. He can get his fastball up to 94-95mph and simply blow hitters away up in the zone, or he can locate it on the black when he’s on.

    That’s something you can’t teach. You either have it, or you don’t. Hughes has it. The ability to get swings and misses with your fastball is one of the most important aspects to pitching success – along with command which Hughes also possesses. It’s the one pitch he’ll throw most often in his career by far. If you allow for the assumption that his secondary pitches will continue to improve, he could become a very, very dangerous pitcher.

    That’s why people should be excited about Phil Hughes. He’s not a phenom, he’s not a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but he’s got certain tools that point to a great amount of success in the future.

  25. Avi says:

    “It was a great year on the farm, one that will unquestionably help the Yanks going forward, one way or another.”
    Absolutely! The solid progress that about fifteen guys made was probably the biggest thing that happened for the organization this year.
    The state of this farm system is truly something to celebrate.

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