2011 Organizational Rankings: #1 – New York

The big dog of big dogs, the Yankees continue to show what an organization can do with access to massive amounts of cash and the understanding of how to use it. They’re not perfect, but they’re still the gold standard for clubs in Major League Baseball. The Yankee brand has never been stronger.

Present Talent: 94.00 (1st)

Yankees Season Preview

Future Talent: 90.00 (t-3rd)

Yankees Top 10 Prospects

Financial Resources: 93.18 (1st)
Baseball Operations: 87.00 (3rd)

Overall Rating: 91.40 (1st)

Let’s start with the surprising part of these rankings – the FanGraphs staff overwhelming gave the Yankees the best score for present talent, which I was pretty stunned by. The general consensus seems to be that the Red Sox are the best team in baseball right now, and it’s a sentiment that I happen agree with, but the Yankees won out easily among FanGraphs writers. Our guys are clearly not too concerned with the back of the rotation and don’t expect the older players to really show their age. Either that, or the Steinbrenners just bought their votes, which we can’t discount as a real possibility.

Regardless of whether you think they’re currently the best team in baseball or not, it’s tough to argue that they aren’t in the mix, at least. Even given some questions on the current roster, there’s also an overwhelming amount of talent at the positions that are set, and then there’s the inevitable reality that the Yankees will likely pursue premium players to fill any holes that arise in season. With the deepest of pockets, the Yankees can flex their financial muscle like no other franchise. Last year, they were able to essentially just buy Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman in July, as their ability to take on salary allowed them to upgrade the roster without surrendering real talent in return. If the back of the rotation does develop into a problem, you can bet that the Yankees will employ a similar strategy, and they’ll be able to target players that are out of budget range for most other organizations.

However, unlike in the 1980s and 1990s, the Yankees are no longer a retirement home for the overpaid superstar in decline. Sure, they still have some contracts on the books that are well above the market rate, but while Alex Rodriguez is overpaid, he’s also still quite productive. Brian Cashman has helped create a baseball operations staff that has learned how to say no, walking away from popular players such as Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, while also setting price limits for coveted free agents like Cliff Lee. They no longer just throw as much money as it takes to get whoever the public demands. They have a plan, and they stick to it, decreasing their likelihood of ending up with a roster of guys living off their reputation.

It’s a tough combination to beat, honestly. A well run baseball operations staff backed by revenue streams larger than several other organizations put together, in the largest market in the country, with a brand that is synonymous with baseball itself – the Yankees aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Every other team in baseball is still trying to catch the Yankees, and it looks like it will be that way for quite some time.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Brian
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Brian

They set a price limit on Cliff Lee? That’s why Cliff Lee isn’t a Yankee? Pssssttttt……

Rob
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Rob

He did get more from the Phillies than the Yankees were offering. You don’t think he’d be in the Bronx if they went 6/150M? Of course that would have meant giving Sabathia even more this off-season. Add-in Burnett and that’s almost 70 million on three pitchers through 2013 at least.

The Yankees have a budget.

DT
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DT

yep..the media seems to disregard the fact that Lee is getting 3-4 million more per year than what he would have gotten with the yankees..

Tom B
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Tom B

More per year over less years != more money

Patrick Kelley
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Patrick Kelley

the Yankees don’t have a budget

Arbitrageur
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Arbitrageur

Tom B

He took a 5/$120m contract (with a $15mil club option to make it 6/$135m) instead of the Yankees reported offer of 6/$132m. For argument’s sake and to make your side seem better, let’s call it even in terms of cost of place to live (higher NY tax rates and cost of living).

He gave up the guarantee of a 6th year from the Yankees for the Phillies team option, so its a slight loss of security there, but he “gambled” with only the last $12m of the deal. The 6th year option can be reached just by pitching 200 innings in 2015, but even if it doesn’t the Phillies are likely as of right now to exercise that option given salary inflation.

“But if the Phillies don’t exercise it and he doesn’t pitch 200 innings, he won’t get paid” — See: Harden, Rich. Sheets, Ben. Guys that are aces get paid money even if they are hurt, as they don’t grow on trees.

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