Banuelos surgery threatens best laid budget plans

And while the injury is bad enough in and of itself, taken in conjunction with the way the 2012 season went for the organization’s top pitching prospects as a whole it’s a total disaster. Dellin Betances was obviously a total disaster who had to be sent back down to Double-A, but there’s a fairly good chance that Betances just isn’t a good enough pitcher to ever make it past that level. It’s the injuries to Banuelos and Jose Campos that are particularly worrisome. Campos, you’ll recall, injured his elbow early in the season and went on to miss the rest of the season from that point on, even though the injury was said to be non-structural. The last update we got on his status was that he was still feeling soreness in his elbow and was not on a full throwing program just yet. As for Banuelos, it would appear that whatever caused the need for surgery is a recent development meaning that, in shades reminiscent of Michael Pineda‘s torn labrum, Manny made the injury worse while rehabbing.

In general, I think the Yankees’ supposed inability to develop players, especially pitchers, is somewhat overblown. After all, guys like David Phelps, Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Hughes didn’t just pop up out of nowhere, to say nothing of Jesus Montero, Austin Jackson, and Robinson Cano. That said, the handling of Banuelos has been confusing to me for over a year, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they really rushed him through Double-A before he was ready for a promotion. Did that contribute to his injury? It’s impossible to say, but it can’t necessarily be ruled out either.

There will certainly be calls for heads to roll over this, and maybe they should. I don’t think the Yankees are so good in the area of amateur scouting or player development that anyone’s job should be safe this winter, and it’s possible that Billy Connors has already served as the fall guy for this, but injuries and rehab is far too murky an area to pass that sort of judgment on from where I sit. What I do know is that this thins out the Yankees’ farm system quite a bit, especially in terms of starting pitching, and that if we leave Betances out of the question, the closest impact arm that’s not injured the Yankees have at the moment is 2012 first rounder Ty Hensley, and he has some sort of “shoulder abnormality.” Most of the time, it wouldn’t be all that hard for the Yankees to use their financial might to paper over the problem with free agent acquisitions like Hiroki Kuroda, but that’s going to be awfully hard to do once 2014 rolls around under the current mandate.

It was always going to be a tough proposition to field a quality team then with the $189 million cap, and the Yankees needed a lot of things to break in their favor with respect to their young players, and so far only Phelps has come up a positive for them. The Banuelos news is the worst yet, however, and may come the closest to forcing the Yankees’ front office to consider long and hard how willing they are to sacrifice winning for compliance with Bud Selig’s “soft” cap.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

8 thoughts on “Banuelos surgery threatens best laid budget plans

  1. jay_robertson

    Dang shame we already have so many long term "deals" on the books. Every other team in the playoffs this year is already under the $189 mil limit. Just sayin – but realistically, weren't we all crossing our fingers (and legs and toes) in a plan that kept a handful of guys making most of the money, yet expecting a starting rotation consisting of CC and four kids (together) getting paid less than CC?

    Gotta have some kinda balance. I don't go on stage with a $200k guitar and a $19 WalMart amp.

    If Cash can pull off another playoff season in 14 AND stay under the cap, he'll deserve an award. Or two.

  2. George

    Jose Campos is pitching in winter ball last i herd.

  3. Andy Kosco

    So the Yankees "developed" Ian Kennedy did they? Riiight. Nova has regressed and so the book remains open. Phelps is in year 1 and while he has done reasonably well, he's not exactly anyone's idea of a #1. Against a backdrop of TJ surgery of Betances, Banduelos, Joba – and drafted TJ candidates like Andrew Brackman, and anyone able to look at this objectively would have to conclude the Yanks development of young pitchers has been nothing short of a massive failure.

    • Well Kennedy pitched to a 3.80 ERA and 4.33 FIP in 2010 without spending a day in the Arizona farm system, so unless you’re saying that they did something revolutionary with him in the span of Spring Training, it seems pretty fair to credit the team whose farm system he came up through with at least a hefty chunk of his development, yes.

      As for Tommy John surgery itself, I don’t think merely having it really tells you anything. Pitchers do get hurt, after all, and at varying times in their careers. I mean, Joba had hit during his fourth full MLB season, so if you’re just going to take it in that prism, my guess is that just about every team looks inept.

    • michael

      Yes the Yankees likely mishandled Banuelos' injury, among others'. This isn't uncommon. There's probably a dozen or more mlb pitchers this year alone that missed time due to major elbow/shoulder injuries and resultant surgery. Scores more in the minor leagues we don't commonly hear about.

      The hits keep coming http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/story/_/id/845

      The notion that you can fill out a rotation with young drafted arms rarely happens, and mostly needs years of drafting with top 5 picks. Either way, pitching is hell.

  4. Ben

    Brien, how does a pitcher injure himself by being promoted to a different level in the organization? That was the one part of this whole piece I didn't exactly understand.

    Aside from that, these past two years for Banuelos and Betances have been pathetic. It's just frustrating to watch guys like Cobb, Moore, Hellickson, Shields, Price, come up for the Rays and they don't miss a beat on the big league level, while the Yankee pitchers struggle in mediocrity if not worse. The obvious reason is where the Yankees pick, but it also has to do with conditioning and scouting.

    • Lets his mechanics get away from him because he’s not ready for the level of competition, isn’t getting outs, etc.

  5. Frank S.

    It's really hard to develop top flight pitching when you draft 28-30 every year.

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