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.
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