We’ve got quite the lengthy discussion going on in the comments to my post on Joba Chamberlain, but one in particular deserves some recognition. Written by Tommy, the Phillies fan who serves as one of the co-authors of RAB’s offshoot at Breaking Balls (which you should all read), the comment talks about player development and spending with the Yanks’ seemingly unlimited budget:
I think the key question here is how the Yankees ought to leverage their clear superiority in the “ability to spend” category. There are more or less two ways to acquire talent that cost nothing but cold, hard cash up front:
1. Free agency
2. Scouting and player development
Because of the way the rights to young players are distributed (especially under the new CBA), the Yankees enjoy a massive advantage in scouting and player development. They can dole out huge bonuses to foreign players, whether they pan out or not. Smaller market teams regularly fail to sign top international free agents because the ownership is unwilling to spend a few million dollars on a prospect who may never reach the majors. But, in terms of average expected value, these types of deals tend to be favorable.
But the Yankees comparative advantage widens even further when you consider the Rule 4 draft. There, the unrealistic slotting system is supposed to dictate the bonuses received by players taken at each spot in the draft, thus leveling the economic playing field. In reality, players with signability concerns drop to the second half of the first round, where teams like the Tigers and Yankees scoop them up. Phil Hughes at 23rd overall, when he was the best high school pitcher in the draft? Exactly.
And by signing free agents or trading away these youngsters, the Yankees either forfeit the draft picks or forfeit the potentially high upside of scouting/player development types.
The danger of evaluating prospects is that occasionally it’s a good idea to trade a few, because individually they don’t have a ton of average expected value. But if you make a habit of it, as the Yankees did consistently after the 2001 season, you will significantly worsen your team while spending steadily more money.
By getting away from that trend, they have completely turned around their entire farm system.
Tommy basically nails the issue. The Yankees need to strike the right balance among player development through above-slot signings (as they’ve done), free agency pick-ups to fill in the holes and trades at the right time. The Yankees shouldn’t trade their top prospects for low impact pieces that they can find within their own farm system.
Of course, another piece to this puzzle is knowing when to trade which prospects. Here at RAB, we’ve advocated against trading Phil Hughes because his potential is sky high. At the same time, that makes him valuable as a trading chip, but just imagine if the Yankees had traded another sky-high prospect 15 years ago named Andy Pettitte when other teams came knocking? At some point, the Yanks will have to trade prospects we all like, but I’m sure they’ll get the right pieces in exchange.
For now, though, the Yanks have the luxury of money and depth on their side, and that should be a lethal combination for years to come.
If Bruce Sutter can do it, Goose can do it better. The former Yanks reliever was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame today. He was on 466 of 543 ballots, or 85.8 percent. Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and Bert Blyleven were the next three. Rice came very close at 72.2 percent, just 14 votes shy.
Pete Mackanin, the man who ended 2007 as the Reds’ interim manager, will join the Yankees as a scout. Mackanin has scouted with the Reds, Pirates and Expos in his career. That family tree of baseball hardly screams success, but Mackanin is well-regarded as a talent evaluator among his colleagues. · (5) ·
Sounding a lot like Joe Torre did last week, Hank Steinbrenner issued his own half-hearted views on Roger Clemens. “I thought the media commentary after the press conference was over was a little harsh,” Steinbrenner said on Monday night. “Too much rush to judgment in this country. As far as whether he’s telling the truth or not, I have no clue. But I’m not going to say, well, he’s lying, like everybody on TV did after he was done.” Steinbrenner also noted that PED use in baseball went far beyond the limited New York-centric scope of Mitchell Report. No big surprises here.
As is always the case these days with Joba, there’s a lot on the Internet about him. All of it is contradictory, and as an added bonus, none of it involves Hank Steinbrenner, Joe Girardi of Brian Cashman talking about Joba’s place in the rotation or bullpen next year. Instead, it comes from the Joba-Worshipping Yankee Universe.
In one corner, we have Joba the Starter. By way of Baseball Think Factory, we have Wax Heaven, a baseball card blog, taking a look at Joba Chamberlain. Mario Alejandro, the site’s author, runs a whole bunch of comps and finds that, yes, Joba Chamberlain should be a pretty damn good starter in 2008 and forever more. The conclusion:
Though Chamberlain’s GB% wasn’t very high, his K/9 ratio was so high that he effectively pitched better than every pitcher we have looked at thus far. I am fully aware that Chamberlain’s numbers are based off of a small sample size and his ERA will not stay at 0.38, but his K/9 ratio is very consistent with his minor league stats and his GB% is actually much lower than his minor league average. I expect that his K/9 ratio will remain above 10 and his GB% will likely reach 50% next year, meaning that he could easily outperform 95% of American League pitchers, including Johan Santana.
So how do Yankee fans respond to this glowing praise from an unbiased fan who doesn’t purport to have a mancrush on Joba like we do here at RAB? By turning to the other corner and mentioning Joba the Reliever of course. By way of My Baseball Bias comes this poll on YesNetwork.com. The poll asks, “Who should be Mariano Rivera‘s primary set-up man?” While none of the choices are Ross Ohlendorf, visitors can opt for Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins or Joba Chamberlain. With 2646 votes counted, Joba has received 53 percent of them, Hawkins 31 percent and Farnsworth at 16.
Talk about bad third-place finishes.
This is, of course, no surprise. Everyone loved watching Joba come out of the pen last year and do his best Mariano Rivera circa 1996 impression. And the numbers are pretty damn impressive: 24 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 34 K. It’s hard to argue with that. But it’s harder to sacrifice Joba’s place in the rotation and the potential to be the next Roger Clemens, sans Vitamin B12 shots, or Johan Santana.
Meanwhile, the YES Network poll highlights a topic Joe is planning on covering before Spring Training: the precarious state of the Yankee bullpen. With Hawkins and Farnsworth the designated heirs to the 8th inning right now, I’m stocking up on Pepto Bismal and calling my (non-existent) heart doctor. As I said, I’d like to see Ross Ohlendorf given that spot if he shows up and has a good spring training. He was willing to throw strikes in limited September duty, and his stuff is better than Hawkins’.
With Spring Training a few weeks away, we’ll be hearing a lot about Joba. But for now, it’s the same old, same old. Everyone thinks he should start except Yankee fans who were so seduced by his bullpen presence last year. Stick him in the rotation, I say. There’s your ace.
This one’s for you, steve. As we all know, Roger Clemens held a press conference this afternoon to discuss the Mitchell Report and his response to it. To put it bluntly, the press conference was a circus through and through. For the most part, Clemens and his lawyer rightly lashed out at the media for the piss poor coverage of Clemens’ response and their unreasonable demands for an immediate response from the Rocket. The conference ended with Rocket basically storming away from the dais.
Meanwhile, the other part — a replaying of the recorded phone conversation from Friday between Clemens and Brian McNamee — was fairly anticlimactic. While Clemens’ lawyer claims the ambiguous phone call in which McNamee never says he or Clemens is lying about their stances on Clemens’ injections — steroids or B12, respectively — the phone call wasn’t exactly a smoking gun that alleviated all doubt of guilt from the shoulders of Clemens.
Tellingly enough, Clemens did not really answer the question when someone asked him why he let McNamee inject him, and he said that McNamee provided his injections. So basically, we can see the defense he’s carving out for himself: He thought B12 just meant B12 while McNamee, taking a cue from accepted baseball insider lingo, thought that B12 meant steroids. So there you go. We’re right back where we started, and this pissing contest is just getting started.
When last we saw Rudy Giuliani’s attempting to mix baseball and politics, he had managed to alienate Yankee fans by declaring his support for the Red Sox in the World Series. With the importance of New Hampshire in the presidential nomination cycle, Rudy needed to appeal to those New England voters any way he could.
Now, on the eve of the primary election in New Hampshire and with Rudy’s New Hampshire support all but gone (See Page 4 of that PDF), Rudy’s campaign is again suffering from baseball blunders. According to a story in the New York Post, Rudy’s campaign supporters in New Hampshire are wearing Yankee gear while trying to get Red Sox fans to vote for their candidate. Oops.
Kenneth Lovett of the Post had a great anonymous quote from someone in New Hampshire. “Some people really don’t think,” the source said. “You’re in the middle of Red Sox Nation wearing stuff from their enemy. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Can you image if people were running around The Bronx in Red Sox hats?”
While I have to take this anonymous Post story with a large grain of salt, I love this stuff. While some residents of New Hampshire and some residents of New York may both want Rudy in the White House, once baseball enters the picture, all bets are off.
Hat tip to Nick-YF at Yanksfan vs Soxfan.
While Mike gave us the Baseball America top ten list of Yankees prospects two weeks ago, BA finally got around to posting it online. Most of the content – including scouting reports for all of the prospects – is behind the BA subscription wall, but you can check out the team’s best tools (Edwar’s change-up, Kennedy’s control, and Joba’s everything) and the idealized 2011 lineup of internal options and current Yankees. If Derek Jeter is still the Yanks’ starting short stop in 2011, something is wrong. · (19) ·
While most Yankees and even most Red Sox fans would agree that Phil Hughes has a higher ceiling than Jacoby Ellsbury, the Twins haven’t been too quick to pull the trigger on any Johan Santana deals with Hughes as the centerpiece. In an excellent post, Twins blogger extraordinaire Aaron Gleeman analyzes why the Twins may prefer the Ellsbury package:
Ellsbury can’t compete with Hughes’ upside, but his downside might be more palatable and it’s probably safer to assume that he’ll at least have a good, long career.
Factor in the Twins’ outstanding organization-wide pitching depth and their gaping hole in center field, and it’s not difficult to see why they might value Hughes less and Ellsbury more than most other teams.
In the long run, Gleeman notes that Hughes is a much better trophy than Ellsbury, but the risk may be too much for the seemingly risk-averse Twins.
Hughes’ ceiling is that of a true ace who could literally replace Santana at the top of the rotation in time, but he’d add to what’s already an area of strength for the Twins and there’s more risk that he’ll flop completely whether because of injuries or performance…
They’d be smart to go after the one player who clearly gives them the best chance to come away from the Santana deal with a superstar. In other words, Phil Hughes.
Basically, Gleeman, an impartial observer to the Yanks’ and Red Sox’s shenanigans, would rather see Hughes in Minnesota, but he understands why the Twins seem drawn to an offer that we all believe is inferior to the one put forward by the Yanks. And that is just one of the many reasons why we would rather see Hughes stay in New York.
When the Yankees and City officials negotiated the new stadium deal, part of the agreement focused around a community benefits program. Under this deal, the Yankees were supposed to give $1.2 million a year for thirty years to a variety of community groups upon the start of construction. Well, 17 months later, and, as Timothy Williams writes in The Times today, the Yanks haven’t given out any money. Furthermore, the Yanks have yet to form the organization tasked with administration with the donations. The Yanks say the money is in eschrow and will be given out. I see no reason not to believe them. But the secrecy and delays as detailed in Williams’ article do not reflect well on the organization. · (5) ·