Originally, Ty Hensley was going to miss 2-3 months following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. Given that he was 19 years old, the missed time wasn’t a big deal. He was likely ticketed for EST anyway. But bad news broke today: Hensley won’t pitch until Spring Training 2014. Its way too early to label him a bust, but its not too early to place him into a larger pattern of terrible Yankee minor league pitching prospect management.
The Yankees need to stop sucking at keeping their minor league pitchers healthy. You can’t blame them for any individual case, but a strong pattern is emerging for the team: they just aren’t good at developing minor league pitching. Their success rate at taking promising young arms and turning them into big league 25-man roster players is almost zero. Over the past five years, you balance the successes of David Robertson, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova (kinda-sorta), and David Phelps against the brutal, injury/trade/terribleness graveyard of their top prospects.
When the team gave Zach McAllister away as a player to be named later a few years ago, I don’t think they expected him to become much. At that point, they were suffering through their second consecutive year of McAllister being ineffective at Triple-A, and were ready to give up. He had always shown a lot of talent, but got consistently clobbered against more advanced hitters. After the trade, a funny thing happened: the Indians fixed McAllister, and all of the sudden he became a good MLB pitcher.
Ditto for Christian Garcia. Garcia was always the most talented thrower in the Yankee system, but got stuck in a cycle of permanent unhealthiness from 2006-2009. The Nationals picked him up, fixed him, and he became an effective reliever for them. Granted, he’s injured right now, but he has been an electric presence in their bullpen since being called up.
The Yankees made the road trip to Cleveland, but only played one game due to rain. Outside of their division, this means that the Yankees are going to have a headache double header to play at some point in the future, most likely in September. Axisa at River Ave Blues is a little bit worried:
Now here’s where things get really messy: it’s supposed to rain all day in New York tomorrow. The heaviest stuff is expected in the morning, but the forecast right now says the showers will continue through the night. Three consecutive rain outs (in two different cities) would be pretty crummy. Not only would the bombers have three postponed games to make up just two weeks into the new season, but you also have to worry about the hitters losing their rhythm and what not. The Yankees’ bats did some major damage on Monday and Tuesday and I really would like that to continue.
I’m with him on the hitters out of rhythm part, but I’m still very happy about these rain outs. I’m not sure about 3 in a row, but I’d love to lose another 2 games this April due to rain.
Why? The Yankees are as weak right now as they are going to be all season. Starting in May, reinforcements start to arrive off the disabled list. I’d much rather play fewer games with Jayson Nix, Lyle Overbay, Ivan Nova, and Ichiro Suzuki in the lineup and more games featuring Michael Pineda, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. I’ll trade an off day in April for a doubleheader game in September any day of the week.
The big news today: Cito Culver hit 2 home runs for Charleston. Culver has been mashing the ball this year. Last year, he hit just 2 bombs in each of 2011 and 2012. He’s driving the ball so far this year – adds 2 doubles and 1 triple to that total in a week. If he hits for even a below-average amount of power, look out. If he hit .300/.360/.420 this year, I’ll rate him up there with the best.
Charleston beats West Virginia, 10-7
Tampa beats Dunedin, 4-2
Trenton beats New Hampshire, 5-1
JR Murphy, C 3-5
Slade Heathcott, CF, 1 for 4
Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, OF, 0 for
Caleb Cotham, 5 innings 1 IR, 5K, 1BB – Sleeper pick to be a decent MLB reliever
Jeremy Bleich, 3 IP, no runs – I’ve got Bleich fatigue at this point
Scranton loses to Rochester 2-1
Almost under our noses, the economics of baseball profoundly changed. The most overt changes came during the 2011 CBA negotiations, where two big developments happened: draconian amateur spending caps were implemented, and a $189 million salary + other stuff soft cap was implemented. But more importantly, the success of MLB Network, MLBAM, and other negotiated TV deals brought scores of millions of dollars of equally-divided revenue to major league teams.
The result is something that looks like a fairly level playing field. Roughly half of MLB teams now have payrolls over $100 million, and several others have the capacity to spend more if need be. Teams are taking that extra payroll room and spending on big extensions for home-grown players. You know who these players are, but some recent monster extensions include Justin Verlander, Joey Votto, Elvis Andrus, etc.
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Warning: Because so damn many of you are reading, we’ll be performing some site maintenance tonight, and switching to a new server. The site will go down roughly around 7:30 pm tonight, and could remain out for a few hours. This page won’t be available while we are down, so look for updates via Twitter.
Also: it’s awesome that so many of you are reading. Keep that up!
In my book, the most enduring myth in baseball is that the introduction of the amateur draft in 1990 destroyed Puerto Rico as an incubator of MLB talent. People use it as an example why the international draft the MLB and MLBPA are negotiating right now is a bad idea. I’ll let you decide. Can you spot the draft-related decline in Puerto Rican MLB players after 1990?
Can you spot it? I include Dominican players (the red line) to show what people are really talking about: the decline of Puerto Rico as a hotbed of baseball talent in relation to the newest non-US powerhouse: the Dominican Republic. While levels of Puerto Rican MLB players remained fairly constant, even growing a little bit, through the early aughts, Dominican baseball exploded. This does not mean that baseball on the island declined, just that it didn’t explode as much as baseball on the other island.
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The Yankees have a lot of strong prospects in their minor league system since about 2005, when they began to turn around one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Some of these top prospects include: Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata, Christian Garcia, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon, Eric Duncan, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Alan Horne, Jesus Montero, Jeff Marquez, David Robertson, Zach McAllister, Hector Noesi, Eduardo Nunez, plus the current crop.
I list out those names for a couple of reasons. The first is a little bit of nostalgia. I loved following these players as they climbed the minor league ladder. But the second is more important: it seems like Yankeee pitchers have on the whole disappointed a lot more, while quite a few Yankee hitters have significantly exceeded expectations.
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I’m a prospect guy. I’ve always been most passionate about baseball when I’m reading about or watching some guy in High-A who might make the major leagues some day. Last week, I advocated trading four young Yankee players, including top outfield prospects Mason Williams or Slade Heathcott, in a package for Padres star Chase Headley.
Reacting to my post, several readers dug in their heels against the idea of trading prospects in general. Their reaction is probably best summarized by OldYankeeFan’s comment:
I would NOT give up any prime meat for a 2 year rental.
You never know who is going to make it large.
We dangled Mo, Cano and others in the past. Fortunately, they weren’t taken. AJax was!
Remember. THE DYNASTY WAS BUILD ON THE BACKS OF FIVE HOMEGROWN PLAYERS!!!
That will NEVER happen again if we keep trading our better/best prospect for ONE shiney object.
I share some of this instinct, but I think it is misguided. Obviously, if any given talented group of prospects were going to turn out to produce all of (or really, any single one of) Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte, you would handcuff them to the team and throw away the key. But we know that’s not the reality. All four of those players have an argument for the Hall of Fame, and two are arguably the best players ever at their position. Prospects turning into these four players are rare events.
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The Padres are considering trading Chase Headley, and there isn’t a team more desperate to add a position player right now than the New York Yankees. While it would be nice to pull off a Swisher-like trade for Headley, sending Dellin Betances, and an autographed Derek Jeter game-used bat to San Diego in return for last year’s 5th place NL MVP pick, it is unlikely. So, I have a simple question: What is your best offer?
Headley has been worth an average of 4.0 bWAR over the past 3 seasons, capped by an impressive 6 WAR performance last year. He’s entering his age 29 season with two years of team control left on his contract. Headley plays a very good third base, and has hitting talent that was masked by his home ballpark for most of his career, before an impressive breakout last season. He is a career .302/.372/.464 hitter away from PETCO, including .300/.395/.541 in 2012.
For all intents and purposes, Headley is fairly comparable to Ryan Zimmerman or Evan Longoria. A lot of teams are going to want him in their uniform, although the Yankees are perhaps in better shape than if they were bidding for him during the meat of the hot stove season, when teams had not yet set a plan for their lineups or budget.
So, what’s your best offer for Chase Headley? Here’s mine: David Phelps, Mark Montgomery, Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams, and Corban Joseph.
The Padres receive a starting pitcher who might be better than any player in their 2012 rotation and is under control for 5 more years (2 pre arbitration), a top relief prospect, a risky but high upside center fielder to roam their huge outfield, and an underrated 2nd base prospect that can allow Logan Forsythe to play at another position, or exercise his utility superpowers.
I don’t want to give up more than this. Two years of Chase Headley is great, but the Yankees can’t afford to give up too many future wins for present wins. They are already positioned with a poorly-constructed roster for 2015-2018, and will need a healthy supply of young. cheap WAR to weather the storm without welcoming in the suck years for an extended period of time. And while Headley is a fantastic player, the Yankees do have Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez under long term contract, meaning that Headley would force Alex Rodriguez to full time DH. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but Arod can still play third reasonable well, so there is a trade off there if he is able to play again. It would decrease roster flexibility to have a full time DH for years to come as well.
But maybe I am wrong. I’m curious what everyone else’s best offer is for Headley. What would you give up? Would you throw in another top prospect to the package like Tyler Austin? Would you start talking about Gary Sanchez? Ivan Nova?