Monday, October 5, 2015
The New Core
Just look at the NFL. The Bengals, my favorite NFL team, were a joke in the mid 2000s, with a new player getting arrested seemingly every week. Now, they rarely have any players with off-the-field issues. However, just watch the NFL Draft, and everytime someone with character concerns is in line to be drafted, they are connected to the Bengals because of their past draft choices.
For a long time, the Yankees traded away many of their top assets in order to help the Big League club. It left them with very few high-level prospects. Their farm system became a joke, and the butt of many jokes around baseball.
But that was a long time ago. They have not traded a top prospect since 2011, when Jesus Montero was sent to Seattle. However, he was sent for a young ace, Michael Pineda. He wasn't shipped off for some utility infielder at the trade deadline.
In fact, Brian Cashman has been very stingy about trading his upper-level prospects in recent years. Any deal involving a prospect now usually comes from a surplus. Yet, once the Yankees had some good prospects in AA and AAA this year, no one seemed to take it seriously because of the lack of help the Yankees had gotten from their farm in recent years.
Cashman held firm at the trade deadline, and the results are really starting to show.
The Yankees are playing in October this year in large part because of a young group of Yankees prospects who were thrust into a pennant race, and performed exceptionally well. In fact, they probably performed better than any deadline acquisition outside of Cespedes, Price, or Tulo.
Cashman said he would not trade Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Greg Bird, or Jorge Mateo. He actually was ready to include Mateo in a deal for Craig Kimbrel. Mateo was in A ball while the other three were in AAA. He could afford to lose a prospect that was a few years away from the Majors, but the Padres balked.
Right after the trade deadline (in which NY only acquired Dustin Ackley...again dealing from a surplus), Severino and Bird got their time to shine. Severino stepped right into the rotation and pitched 62 strong innings for the Yanks, finishing with a 2.89 ERA and 56 Ks. I'm not sure a a veteran pitcher would have done that for NY, yet here is a 21-year-old kid carrying the rotation down the stretch.
While Greg Bird was called up with Mark Teixeira still healthy, it didn't take long for him to be the everyday 1B after Teixeira got injured. The results? 11 HRs and 30 RBIs in 45 games. I'm not even sure Teixeira would have hit 11 more dingers for the rest of the season.
If the Yanks beat the Astros tomorrow night, there's a very real chance that Severino will get the ball in Game 1 or 2, while Greg Bird will undoubtedly be starting at first and hitting in the middle of the order.
But it doesn't stop there. John Ryan Murphy became one of the best backup catchers in baseball and is just 24. I'd have to imagine the Yanks might get some enticing offers from him in the off-season if they dangle him.
A slew of OFers and relievers also contributed all season long. As a prospect fan, it was gratifying to watch.
And to think, the Yankees most exciting prospect, Aaron Judge, is still waiting in the wings at AAA and should see ML time next season. Their top choice from this June's draft is a SP who should climb the ladder quickly next year as well.
It's an exciting time to be a Yankees fan. While a lot of the team gets older and their contracts come off the books, I'm really anticipating watching a new group of homegrown stars over the next few seasons.