The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pinch hitting: Looking For The Future

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jan 17, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

January is usually a slow month for baseball news. So we’ve lined up a series of guest bloggers to entertain you. Next up is Pablo from Looking For The Future.

Pablo, from Queens, has been blogging since July. Inspired by the rise of Joba Chamberlain and Austin Jackson, he blogs mostly on prospects. Here is his post:

It’s November 4, 2001 – Game 7 of the World Series. The bases are loaded, one out, and Arizona Diamondbacks slugger Luis Gonzales is at the plate. The infield was in. Gonzalez hit a pop-up to short left, but neither Derek Jeter nor Chuck Knoblauch could get there. Jay Bell scored, and the D-backs won a heartbreaker (and the series), 4-3.

Since then, more than ever, the Yankees made it a point to sign big-name free agents, trade away top prospects for veterans who were declining or simply did not produce, and emphasize offense over pitching and defense. The 2002 Yankees were actually a balanced team, winning 103 games in the regular season, but falling to the eventual champion Angels in 4. The 2003 Yankees got to the World Series but couldn’t score against the young and effective Florida Marlins pitchers. The 2004 Yankees had a sub-par 89-73 pythag record in a low point for Yankee pitching in recent years, and then lost an ALCS in which they were leading 3-0. The 2005 Yankees started out 11-19, and lost to the Angels in the playoffs.

It was at this point, after the team had acquired busts like Carl Pavano, Jeff Weaver, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Drew Henson, and Robin Ventura that Brian Cashman changed team philosophy. He wanted to get the pieces to build the team from within with prospects from trades, drafting, and international signings. It took a while for Cashman to have the power to change the team’s ways. The team’s payroll was $200M and escalating. There were no long-term solutions in the minors to replace aging players like Johnson, Tom Gordon, Gary Sheffield, and Jason Giambi. So Cashman “hit the books” and started using the huge Yankee income to build from within.

Thus, in came Phil Hughes from the 2004 draft. Austin Jackson, Alan Horne, J.B. Cox, and Brett Gardner in the 2005 draft. Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Dellin Betances, and Mark Melancon in the 2006 draft; and Andrew Brackman, Carmen Angelini, and Bradley Suttle in the 2007 draft. Cashman used the largely unrestricted international free agent market to attract Yankee prospects.

Players such as Jose Tabata, Jesus Montero, Juan Miranda and Jairo Heredia were signed from Latin America. Lastly, trades of aging veterans Sheffield and Johnson reaped (most prominently) Humberto Sanchez, Kevin Whelan, and Ross Ohlendorf.

These aren’t just a bunch of names. While all prospects don’t pan out as planned – not many do, really – there is so much depth and talent in this system that the cornerstone of the franchise is set for at least some ten years. These young players will bring a new energy and aura to the clubhouse that the early-2000s teams could just never have.

Results similar to those of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies will be seen. As the contracts of aging Yankees start to expire, these young, energetic players come up and play their best to bring this franchise back to its former glory.

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