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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.