The Yankees' draft failure excuses don't wash

The Yankees’ Plans and Schemes, Part II – Fantasy Draft

11/17/13 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Jun 4, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) hits a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians during the third inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsTravel back in time one year. You’ll see fans and would-be analysts saying openly that the Yankees would somehow be better if they hit fewer home runs and relied on stolen bases and inside baseball tactics. It didn’t take long for those with the misplaced (and absurd) belief that fewer home runs would be better to realize how hard it is to score when a team like the Yankees isn’t hitting home runs and their opponents are. Presumably, they learned their lesson on the home run/no home run debate.
 
They haven’t extended this newfound knowledge to other aspects of their team. The excuses still live. That includes the implication that the Yankees haven’t developed any usable prospects because of their consistent presence at the top of the standings and penchant for signing free agents left them at the bottom of the first round of the MLB draft and below, thereby causing them to fail to acquire any top prospects to develop.
 
The foundation for this is that it’s not the players they drafted and how they tried to develop them that was the problem, but that there weren’t players available for  them to develop. It’s impossible to look at Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson and many others and say they aren’t talented. They found good players to draft. This lends credence to the idea that the problem doesn’t lie in the draft position but in their development of the talented players and mistakes in many players they picked.
 
Facts contradict the woulda, coulda, shoulda being offered now to explain away the absence of young talent. General manager Brian Cahsman has repeatedly said that the Yankees intended to draft Mike Trout if he was available when their turn to pick came in 2009. Whether or not that’s true is irrelevant. No one wants to hear about it when the player they picked with the next slot was Slade Heathcott. He’s a year older than Trout. Trout is part of a furious debate in which he’s believed by many to have been the American League MVP of the past two years and a once-in-a-generation player. Heathcott is struggling in Double A.
 
It’s one example, but not given without a point.
 
Is there a basis to say that because the team was drafting low that they’re not getting the opportunity for the highest of the high-end talent? Yes. Is it an excuse for the consistent failure to develop the talented players they did draft? No. No team is going to get the Bryce Harper-type player when they’re in the playoffs every year and relegated to waiting until the 25th to 30th pick, but there are always players available. The claim that it’s the draft position is ruined when you look at the 2000 draft when the Yankees took a catcher named Dave Parrish who topped out at Triple A and never made it to the Majors while the pick directly after Parrish was a right-handed pitcher named Adam Wainwright, selected by the Braves and now a Cardinals star.
 
Over the past decade, a significant portion of which fell under Cashman’s command, the following players were taken in the first round after the Yankees had made their first pick:
 
Carlos Quentin
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Adam Jones
Gio Gonzalez
Jacoby Ellsbury
Matt Garza
Colby Rasmus
Clay Buchholz
Jed Lowrie
Todd Frazier
Travis d’Arnaud
Josh Donaldson
Lance Lynn
Tyler Skaggs
Brad Boxberger
Garrett Richards
Noah Syndergaard
Taijuan Walker
Nick Castellanos
Mike Olt
Jackie Bradley, Jr.
 
In 2008, the Yankees drafted Gerrit Cole out of high school and he went to college instead of signing. In retrospect, considering the Yankees treatment of their young pitchers, it’s probably better for Cole that he did and ended up with the Pirates. The players besides Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy the Yankees have drafted in the first round since 2003 include: Eric Duncan, Jon Poterson, Jeff Marquez, C.J. Henry, Andrew Brackman, Jeremy Bleich, Heathcott, Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. All of whom have failed or stagnated. 
 
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