Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Future Free Agents Not So Bright

Since failing to sign Cliff Lee, the party line I've heard most from staunch Yankees fans has been to point out that the team known for spending smart and spending big now has a ton of extra cash to blow. This could only mean more/better players to surround an already potent core. Right?

Not so fast.

Take a look at the future class of free agents next offseason. Specifically, scroll down to the list of future available SPs.

Slim pickin's if you're the Yanks, no?

The best case scenario is that they sign somebody like CJ Wilson, who has proven himself to be a capable No. 2 starter, throws hard from the left side, and is, by his own admittance, a less talented Cliff Lee.

But he will be 31 next offseason, and the Yanks aren't getting any younger. Looking around the league at other top-of-the-rotation anchors worthy of long-term contracts and you'll see the trend -- all the good young arms came up in that team's system (for the most part). The list includes Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright, Tim Lincecum, David Price, John Lester, and Ubaldo Jimenez.

They all seem to have risen within their own organizations to prominence, which gives their teams a distinct financial advantage until they start to command more dollars after minor league contracts expire.

I'm not saying that the Yanks have no chance to land a solid young arm via trade, but I do believe it's time we start paying at least half as much attention to developing minor league talent that can one day elevate to the top of the rotation -- the next Phil Hughes or (gasp) Joba Chamberlain, if you will.

Otherwise, we risk the worst fate any team can suffer (and no, not losing) -- becoming a stale, aging, middle of the road team that reaches the playoffs but never wins.

This is a premature assumption, but given the A-Rod deal, Jeter, Mariano, Posada, and the rotation behind CC, it's a valid one as we enter a new decade.


  1. I'm sorry, but as the fan of a losing team I guaren-damn-tee its a lot better to have a middle of the road team like the White Sox than a losing one like my Birds. At least you get to enjoy a full baseball season.

  2. I think it's long been known that the Yankees need to spend more of their time developing their farm system -- they've got all the resources in the world, they can definitely do a better job. That said, the Yankees have had some players come up through the system. They just happen to be few and far between, when compared to, say, the Red Sox (who clearly are now both developing the farm system and signing free agents.) The Yankees are still a few years away from their players becoming very old, but it'll be interesting to see what the core of the next generation of Yankees turns out to be.

  3. To James: I agree that it's better to have some signs of success than to be a bottom dweller. But my point was that, when you plod along year after year in the middle of the pack, you're not good enough to win it all or bad enough to accrue high picks and trade your top talent for future prospects (you're too high in the standings, and you're too invested to trade talent and start losing).

    When you're tanking, at very least you hope for what the Rays did. This all hinges on good management and front office decisions, of course.

  4. To howigit: Given that prospects take a long time to develop and don't always pan out, I'd like to see us start to blend talent from the farm system with veterans so that we can hand over the reigns with our cracks become huge holes -- not there yet, I agree, but it could happen sooner than later.