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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WSJ: For Yankees, Buying a Contender Means Selling the Farm

Parch meant farm. Crack in the system!

And this winter, whatever visions Steinbrenner had of turning the Yankees into a different kind of winning team have been just about shattered.

Because the Yankees had no top prospects on the horizon, the only way they could reinvigorate their roster to the necessary degree was to turn, once again, to the high end of the free-agent market. And because they have done so, they are making it more difficult to improve the weakness that left them in such a position to begin with.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran may help the Yankees return to the playoffs in 2014. But under the free-agent compensation rules in the collective-bargaining agreement, they will also cost the Yankees their first three draft picks next June.

The Yankees will forfeit their first-round pick along with the two compensation picks they would otherwise receive for losing Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. As a result, their first pick figures to be somewhere in the mid-50s overall.

That’s significant because the probability of drafting a quality major-league regular falls dramatically after the first round. In July, Baseball America published a study of every draft between 1988 and 2008. It found that 39.1% of players taken in the first round (excluding those who didn’t sign) played at least three years in the majors. But in the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds), that rate fell to 15.8%. And from the sixth round on, the rate is just 3.1%.

“Listen, there’s still good players throughout the draft,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “You see that. There are examples all over the place. I’d like to have our draft picks, but it’s just not the way the system is set up. It is what it is.”

Repoz Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:11 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, yankees

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   1. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 11, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4616044)
If the Yankees had stuck to their austerity plan, they could have had the picks while resetting the luxury tax. But that's not the owners preference, not George and not the brothers. Being competitive is hugely important to them every year, and the revenues from the playoffs are substantial.

Since 2001, the Yankees have surrendered seven first-round draft picks in order to sign free agents ranging from Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi to Carl Pavano and Paul Quantrill. Three future All-Stars were taken either with those picks or within the next 10, making it reasonable to say the Yankees might have at least considered picking them: Matt Cain (2002), Gio Gonzalez (2004) and Mike Trout (2009).


Blaming Cashman for bad drafts is somewhat misplaced. He can't tell ownership to take a few years off from the FA market and let the team slide in order to rebuild the farm system, THEY set those priorities so he's constantly scraping for players out of pools that are ever thin with them.
   2. madvillain Posted: December 11, 2013 at 03:37 PM (#4616077)
Someone that knows more than me: what are Yankees doing with their money press down in Latin America? Seems like they'd have the resources to be head and shoulders above pretty much every other ORG wrt to acquiring young latin prospects, but to my knowledge they aren't doing squat down there.
   3. tfbg9 Posted: December 11, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4616126)
Seems like they'd have the resources to be head and shoulders above pretty much every other ORG wrt to acquiring young latin prospects, but to my knowledge they aren't doing squat down there.


Bud Selig. He monkeywrenched all their operations down there, black-ops style.

Seriously. They've not been good.
   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 05:00 PM (#4616172)
I know that there is an unwritten rule (or maybe an actually written rule) that clubs can't actually sell players, but it seems to me that there is no reason such an exchange needs to be uneven. What if the Yankees offered Oakland $200 million for Yoenis Cespedes? Yankees get a young, dynamic player, Beane gets a pile of money to sign players to long-termm contracts and/or play around in the free agent market. Surely there's a number at which Oakland isn't getting fleeced.
   5. Ron J2 Posted: December 11, 2013 at 05:55 PM (#4616220)
#4 Needs Bud's approval. We can ask YR what he thinks the odds of getting that approval are.
   6. dr. scott Posted: December 11, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4616280)
Surely there's a number at which Oakland isn't getting fleeced.


i dont think its about the Yankees fleecing another team. If this were allowed the Yankees would already have Giancarlo Stanton and Loria would have a lot of money in his pocket not going to the team.

Some, of course, would say that is exactly what happens with revenue sharing, but in that case the competetive balance is not hurt as much as the Yankees dont get anything in return for other owners lining their pockets.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4616300)
"Advantages" in Latin America don't much exist anymore with the new signing rules. That is where they should have been getting tons of prospects prior to 2010 or whatever though.

That’s significant because the probability of drafting a quality major-league regular falls dramatically after the first round.

Ugh. They fall significantly after the first pick and they take another big hit somewhere around 5-10. The difference between picking 28th-30th (where the Yanks have been for most of the last decade) and picking 50th are not massive.

At #28 ... the best ever was Lee Smith (30 WAR) followed by Charles Johnson (22 WAR). #10 all-time is Daniel Bard, interestingly enough a pick the Sox got from the Yanks. Ben Revere is already the 11th best #28 pick (4 WAR), Blake DeWitt is at #13 (2). The Yanks did draft Gerrit Cole at #28 but didn't sign him and he went #1 overall to the Pirates 3 years later.

The best 50th pick is Eck at 60, Leiter at 40 and Brian Roberts at 29. You do lose after that with Micah Owings coming in at #9 with 4 WAR. But this is not a big deal.

Of course those are just two arbitrary picks. But #27 looks much like #28 (you get Vida Blue at the top but are back down in Revere territory by the time you get to #9 or so. At #29 you pick up Brett (woo hoo!) and Wainwright. But #11 is Kevin Orie and Jay Payton (#7 with 15 WAR) or Kevin Bass (#8 15 WAR) are excellent #29 picks. But at #49 you pick up Beltran and Lansford (40 WAR) and you have 11 guys at 4+ WAR (then nothing). At 51 you get Larkin then Frank Duffy (10 WAR) then it falls to nothing quite quickly.

Those are all within the top quartile of all-time picks in their slot. So sure, there's a substantial difference between grabbing a league-average CF (Payton) or not ... but that's very far from an expected outcome. Out of three late picks in the top 30-35, you're gonna average something like 1 guy who will produce maybe 4-5 WAR in his ML career and that's 4-5 years away. You don't let that risk stop you from signing an Ellsbury. And it's far from clear that you don't stand as good a chance at landing a genuine star at #50 than at #28.

Since 2001, the Yankees have surrendered seven first-round draft picks in order to sign free agents ranging from Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi to Carl Pavano and Paul Quantrill. Three future All-Stars were taken either with those picks or within the next 10, making it reasonable to say the Yankees might have at least considered picking them: Matt Cain (2002), Gio Gonzalez (2004) and Mike Trout (2009).

Yes, that is reasonable (much better approach than the typical 20/20 hindsight approach) ... but 7 picks surrendered and we're considering 70 (or 77?) picks and finding 3 all-stars. That's much better odds than the lottery but they aren't good ods. Moreover, in those years, they were often picking up first-round picks when teams signed their players, often higher picks than they would have had otherwise. In that 10 year frame, the only years the Yanks didn't have a first-round pick were 2002 and 2009 and they had a supp pick in 2009 along with 7 more supp picks in other years. The best were Kennedy (9 WAR), Joba (7) and Hughes (6).

And you're gonna point to those as not good but ...

Kennedy is the best #21 pick since 1996 and the only one even close is Pennington at 8 WAR (followed by Arencibia at 3). Joba was the best #41 pick sine 1980, the first to post positive WAR since 1991. Hughes was only the 3rd best #23 pick since 2001 -- #1 was Ellsbury and Frenchy is just ahead of Hughes.

From 2001 on, Yanks' 1/1s picks have racked up about 24 WAR (not all for the Yanks obviously). That's probably not good -- e.g. the Red Sox are at about 62. The Sox is largely Ellsbury and Buchholz and they've returned very little since 2005. The Rangers smoke them even worse but that's almost all Tex (#5 overall in 2001) and Danks (#9 overall in 2003, none of it for the Rangers). The Tigers have produced about 55 but 40 of that is Verlander (#2 overall in 2004).

Their draft production probably has been below par but (a) once you adjust for where those picks were, I bet it doesn't look bad and (b) it wasn't a lack of picks due to signing FAs. From 2001-13, the Yanks had 12 1st round picks and 8 supplemental picks. The old system was hugely in their favor -- they usually ended up with better/more picks than they started with.

They are hurt by the fact that the Red Sox have drafted/developed very well in this time getting some real gems from later rounds, etc.

Still, the key to a good draft has been obvious for a while -- draft as soon as possible after the A's. :-)

2007 -- James Simmons vs. Rick Porcello (next pick)
2005 -- Pennington vs Ellsbury (2 picks later)
2004 1s -- Putnam vs. Gio (2 picks later)
2003 -- Sullivan/Snyder vs. Barton/Quentin (2 picks later)
2002 -- Swisher vs. Hamels (next pick)
2002 -- Blanton vs. Cain (next pick)






   8. tfbg9 Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:19 PM (#4616371)
Helluva post Walt. Do you have a job? Where do you find the time to create all these epic posts? No snark. Genuine curiosity is all.
   9. ptodd Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4616385)
The draft is a lottery that does not pay off for 3 years or more, if you win. Yankees had immediate needs in 2014. If they wanted to keep all their picks they would have lost 150-300 million in revenues over the next 3 years never breaking 500 and they still would have no guarantee they would compete. How many years did it take the Pirates, and they still needed free agents. There is a world of difference between a top 10 pick and an 18th pick and supplementary picks in payoffs, which are not much better than a 2nd round pick (which the Yankees still have for now)

Yankees have some hope in Pineda (obtained for Montero) and Banuelos coming off TJ surgery in the rotation, and some bullpen arms. Their C prospects can be dealt for prospects to fill other holes, and home grown talent Gardner could land them a prospect. They really should have been in on some of the international talent the last few years, so not really sure what the FO is doing except counting pennies.

What they really need is a young Cano or Jeter in their system. Cano was an international amateur free agent and Jeter was a #6 pick. Have to lose a lot of games to get a #6 pick, and that would cost a lot of revenue to go missing.

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