Organizational Rankings: Future Talent – Yankees

The New York Yankees club is clearly the No. 1 organization in baseball and it has remained a powerhouse for as long as it has because of its ability to sustain itself through in-house player development. The club has done this both by slotting home-grown talent into key roles and by trading prospects for proven veterans.

General manager Brian Cashman does not get the credit that he deserves, partially because he has been overshadowed by the Steinbrenners, and in part due to the fact that he has a large budget to work with. Make no mistake about it, though, he rarely makes a bad move.

Damon Oppenheimer enters his sixth season overseeing the amateur draft. The club has done a respectable job in recent years despite having one of the last selections in the first round. The club picked up some interesting talent in ’09, including outfielder Slade Heathcott, catcher J.R. Murphy, and pitcher Bryan Mitchell. The club’s ’08 effort was a little ugly when the club failed to sign top pick Gerrit Cole and second rounder Scott Bittle. It found some later-round diamonds-in-the-rough to help compensate (Brett Marshall, D.J. Mitchell).

The team also spends a lot of money on the international market. Recent signings include Gary Sanchez, Gian Carlos Arias, Ramon Flores, Jackson Valera, Yeicok Calderon, and Anderson Felix.

The organizaiton has perhaps the best catching depth in baseball, with the likes of Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez, and J.R. Murphy. A lot has been made about a possible move from behind the plate for Montero, but he has the bat (and massive power) to play anywhere, while Romine could develop into a Grade-A catching prospect to help fill the gap left behind.

The starting pitching depth in the system is down a bit but the club has spent a lot of money in the free agent market so that’s not a great concern, either. The club does have some talented arms that can help out in the bullpen, including David Robertson, Mark Melancon, and good ol’ Joba Chamberlain. Phil Hughes is a rare youngster that has been able to crack the veteran-laden starting rotation after cutting his teeth in the bullpen in ’09. And don’t forget that he’s still just 23 years old.

The starting lineup does not feature many young players, but left-fielder Brett Gardner is expected to play regularly for the club. He should much-needed speed on the base paths. New center-fielder Curtis Granderson was acquired this past off-season for young players Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, and Ian Kennedy. All three players have potential but they had greater value to the organization as trading chips. And Granderson could absolutely explode playing in Yankee stadium and with the lineup protection around him.

The main core of the Yankees big league club is getting older, but the team’s ability to compete is not going to disappear any time soon. It has the resources and know-how to ensure that the organization remains a powerhouse for years to come.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Yo Izzle
12 years ago

I’m a Yankee fan. I think Cashman is one of the best GM’s in baseball right now. But to say he has “rarely” made a mistake is inaccurate:

Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Randy Johnson trade, Jaret Wright, Kevin Brown, Sidney Ponson (twice), Irabu, Tony Womack

And more recently you have Marte’s 3-year contract, losing Bruney and Gaudin and Edwar while getting essentially nothing in return, Gerrit Cole fiasco, and giving ARod a 10-year contract into his early 40’s.

So yeah he’s awesome and all, and perhaps some of these listed mistakes are nitpicking (like Ponson who was inexpensive) but there are enough bad ones in there to render it inaccurate to say that he “rarely” makes a bad move.

Kevin S.
12 years ago
Reply to  Yo Izzle

Um, Bruney and Gaudin didn’t exactly have much value for the salaries they were making – what did you expect the Yankees to get for them? Irabu pre-dated Cashman, and Randy Johnson wasn’t necessarily a mistake.

12 years ago
Reply to  Kevin S.

Irabu wasn’t even a mistake, necessarily. He was a quality pitcher in 1998, and the Yankees were able to flip him to the Expos for Lilly and Westbrook (in turn traded for Justice).

12 years ago
Reply to  Kevin S.

What? You mean we couldn’t trade Bruney and Gaudin for Pujols?! Cashman is the worst GM!

12 years ago
Reply to  Yo Izzle

Carl Pavano was not Cashman’s fault. Let’s not forget that we outbid about 5 other teams for his services. Ditto for Brown. Ponson was never brought in to be more than a 5th starter.

Glaring mistakes are more like Toronto’s contract with Vernon Wells.

12 years ago
Reply to  Yo Izzle

Cashman didn’t have full control until after the 2005 season.

Tom Zig
12 years ago
Reply to  Yo Izzle

Kei Igawa- Cashman’s mistake

Carl Pavano – Turned out to be a mistake, but not a mistake at the time. Several other teams wanted him, and in fact the Red Sox offered more money than the Yankees. (Not confirmed if Cashman had full authority at the time)

Randy Johnson – Edict from King George. Not necessarily a mistake at the time either.

Jaret Wright – Risky move, but he was the 2nd best pitcher on the FA market at the time. Turned out to be a mistake, but not a crippling one. (Not confirmed if Cashman had full authority at the time)

Kevin Brown – Not a Cashman move

Sidney Ponson – Mistake. But in 2008 the Yanks were desperate for pitching, and he cost nothing.

Irabu – Not a cashman move.

Womack- Yeah so he sucked. (Not confirmed if Cashman had full authority at the time).

Marte – Awesome lefty reliever when healthy. Why not lock him up?

Bruney/Gaudin/Edwar – Nitpicking. None of the three are valuable pieces. zOMG HE LET GO OF EDWAR CASH IS TEH SUX0R

Gerrit Cole – Not Cashman’s fault. The Yanks offered him a considerable amount of money, he just wanted to go to college.

A-Rod – Hank Steinbrenner’s last move. Not Cashman’s doing.

12 years ago
Reply to  Tom Zig

“Kei Igawa- Cashman’s mistake”

You can argue it was a scouting mistake too