03-28-2007, 07:14 AM
Here's a link to a long article in today's Washington Post regarding the return in baseball to developing players via clubs' farm systems - and the change (particularly with the Yankees, but also with others) of not trading away their top prospects for big name stars now. Interesting read and, to me, it highlights the sea change that baseball has undertaken just as we've moved into a new regime.
03-28-2007, 08:20 AM
I was in a rush when I posted this, but here are some salient excerpts:
In the offseason, almost imperceptibly, the very foundation of baseball's talent-flow system -- the means by which rich and poor teams amass players and move them among each other -- was jolted by a tectonic shift. When the New York Yankees not only held onto their best pitching prospect, right-hander Philip Hughes, but also traded away two potential Hall of Fame veterans, Randy Johnson and Gary Sheffield, for six prospects, it may have marked the end of an era -- one that we shall call what?
"We're not going to be anybody's sugar daddy anymore," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said this spring, when asked about this shift.
Even as smaller market teams such as Oakland and Minnesota began to figure out that the key to sustained success was through a healthy farm system -- which, if properly maintained, could continually replenish the major league roster with new, fresh talent wherever it was needed -- the Yankees remained willing to plunder their own farm system for the sake of the quick fix.
"If you don't grow your own talent, you have to allocate a lot of resources -- either players or money -- to get it," said Larry Beinfest, general manager of the Florida Marlins. "And it's very expensive. Young pitching, especially, is so coveted in today's game. We draft heavy on pitching and put a lot of premium on it because we think that's how you win."
Here is how the market works now: One of the teams the Nationals spoke with extensively last summer regarding Soriano was the Minnesota Twins, according to industry sources. In return for Soriano, the Nationals asked for a package headed by one of the Twins' top pitching prospects, either left-hander Glen Perkins or right-hander Matt Garza -- rated the Twins' fourth- and seventh-best prospects in 2006 -- but the Twins' best offer was for right-hander Kevin Slowey, a control specialist who was not among the team's top 10 prospects in 2006.
The Nationals passed. Slowey, however, after an impressive 2006 season, has climbed to the Twins' third-best prospect in the 2007 Baseball America rankings and received consideration in the Twins' camp this spring for promotion to the majors.
Of the 35 trades made last July, only seven involved a player ranked among an organization's top 10 prospects, and only two of those prospects were ranked in the top five.
This winter, a few more top prospects, including pitchers, changed hands. Most prominently, the Houston Astros sent No. 1 prospect Jason Hirsh in a package of players to Colorado for veteran pitcher Jason Jennings -- but that deal was widely criticized in Houston and elsewhere.
And in another notable trade last November, the Detroit Tigers shipped three pitching prospects, including two top 10s -- Humberto Sanchez (rated No. 6) and Kevin Whelan (No. 10) -- to acquire Sheffield from . . .
The New York Yankees.
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