The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:
 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WSJ: For Yankees, Buying a Contender Means Selling the Farm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.—By now, you’ve probably heard a little bit about the Yankees’ attempt to get their payroll under $189 million. They’ve been talking about it for two years, trying to structure their roster in a way that enables them to avoid the luxury tax in 2014. But the Quest for 189 wasn’t just about money.

Behind it was also an idea, a notion that the Yankees shouldn’t have to rely quite so heavily on high-priced free agents to win. If Hal Steinbrenner had his way, by now the Yankees would have evolved into a more balanced blend of young, cheap, rising stars and older, pricier, established veterans.

“I just feel that if you do well on the player-development side, and you have a good farm system, you don’t need a $220 million payroll,” Steinbrenner said early in spring training 2012.

But in 2013, that ideal has become increasingly elusive. And this winter, whatever visions Steinbrenner had of turning the Yankees into a different kind of winning team have been just about shattered.

Because the Yankees had no top prospects on the horizon, the only way they could reinvigorate their roster to the necessary degree was to turn, once again, to the high end of the free-agent market. And because they have done so, they are making it more difficult to improve the weakness that left them in such a position to begin with.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran may help the Yankees return to the playoffs in 2014. But under the free-agent compensation rules in the collective-bargaining agreement, they will also cost the Yankees their first three draft picks next June.

The Yankees will forfeit their first-round pick along with the two compensation picks they would otherwise receive for losing Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. As a result, their first pick figures to be somewhere in the mid-50s overall.

That’s significant because the probability of drafting a quality major-league regular falls dramatically after the first round. In July, Baseball America published a study of every draft between 1988 and 2008. It found that 39.1% of players taken in the first round (excluding those who didn’t sign) played at least three years in the majors. But in the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds), that rate fell to 15.8%. And from the sixth round on, the rate is just 3.1%.

A cynic might say that the Yankees probability of taking a player in the first round who played for at least three years is only 3.1% anyway, so what’s the big deal?

--Posted at 8:15 am by SG / 27 Comments | - (0)

Comments

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This really makes the Steinbrenners seem clueless. They started a long term plan 2-3 years ago and are confused as to why it hasn’t worked yet. And because it hasn’t worked yet they basically gave up and spent ~300MM this off season.

fucking idiots.

Quite the attitude you have SG.
Maybe you should shitcan this blog and join Steve at WasWatching?
Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years.

Jeez… and some people think Yankee fans are entitled.

Apparently the Yankees are trying to trade Gardner for Masterson. I’m not sure what to think. When Masterson is right, he’s really effective. But he’s been way to inconsistent for me to feel comfortable with that move.

Just read a tweet that the Yanks want to swap Gardner for Masterson in a 3 way deal. I think that’s a fair trade, still rather have Gardner than the former townie.

It’s not that losing a draft pick hurts, it’s losing bunches of draft picks (and then spending any remaining ones on high risk gambles and going bust).  It just puts holes in the development pipeline.  Prospects are pretty much a lottery anyway, but it doesn’t take many hits to turn a team’s (like the Yankees) fortunes around.  If a team can develop a few 3-5 WAR players over a short span (and keep them together) they can put together a sustained championship team. 

Lots of people were willing to trade Cano this past season, but instead the Yankees chased the 2nd wildcard and lost their best player and received nothing in return.  Zero.  They even lost an additional draft pick because they had to sign two FAs to make up for the loss of Cano’s WAR.

I’d trade Gardner if it got us Masterson, definitely.

In the past 3 years Masterson has been worth 4.1 rWAR, 0.3 and 3.4 for a total of 7.8

Gardner: 3.9, 0.2 and 4.2 for a total of 8.3.

So that’s a pretty reasonable swap and a groundball machine, Masterson is actually a pretty nice fit for DNYS. Also Masterson is a year younger, but he is more expensive.

A 3 way trade scares me though, because a 1 for 1 swap actually matches up nicely, 3 way means the Yankees are probably giving up more.

[5] They didn’t get nothing in return… they still have their 2nd round draft pick!

[5] The article is pretty poor as well, as it talks a lot about Mike Trout, but neglects to mention that the Yankees signed 3 type A free agents that year and the Angels alerady had a pick before the Yankees. I think they chose Trout with their second pick for a little more negotiating leverage with the slotting ‘suggestion’ system - but they likely would have picked Trout with that firsts pick anyone.

Point is that the money is a crutch. They’ve been using it as a crutch rather than as part of a strategy. If they figured out how to balance acquiring and developing young talent and blowing teams out of the free agent market with their financial might, they’d be unstoppable.

[7] How so? I think it just means that the value is an even swap, but the Indians don’t need a CF/lead off hitter (they have Bourn.) 3 way swaps are ways to match needs with haves.

Or follow some other stupid team that has made the PS 15 of the last 17 years.

I guess I missed the part where what they did in the past under a different system means I should laud the way they are doing things now when I don’t think they have a particularly sound plan in place?

I apologize for my attitude and will wave my pom-poms going forward.  The Yankees are beyond reproach because they were really good over the past 20 years.

I think if the Yankees are going to trade Gardner, they should try to get a player who is young and under team control for more than just a year (read: inexpensive). For instance, maybe they can pry Nick Franklin from Seattle for Gardner, who would be a significant upgrade for the Seattle outfield. We could throw in a mid-level prospect, if that makes it more palatable. Heck, throw in Ichiro! (“he really should retire as a Mariner, no?”) and fork over half of his salary. We need to add players into the mix that have a chance to be significant, and cost-effective, contributors in 3-4 years.

[11] I don’t recognize the commenters name. Any chance this one is a candidate for the all time quotes on the left?

(12) Masterson likely gets a QO, don’t forget.

OldYanksFan has been around for a while but doesn’t post much.  But it is a nice post to add the raves about the site.

[10] I’m using Yankee FO logic, not real logic. They’ll be giving up more.

If they figured out how to balance acquiring and developing young talent and blowing teams out of the free agent market with their financial might, they’d be unstoppable.

Yeah, unfortunately the ownership/FO seems to be too impatient to allow themselves to get to a point where they can do that.

The Yankees now have 5 players on their roster making over 20MM AAV (fortunately they are only paying 4). That number will drop to 4 next year, but they’ll still be paying all 4.

That’s crazy, that would destroy most teams (especially given the level of performance out of those contracts). The Yankees are fortunate enough that it only hurts them. However, most of these were avoidable. ARod didn’t need to be tendered a contract after he opted-out, and it certainly didn’t need to be as exorbitant as it was. CC didn’t need to be extended when he threatened to opt-out. Tex’s decline sucks, sometimes that just happens and Ellsbury was just an overpay, even if he did have better offers.

I don’t think the Yankees should avoid big, long contracts, that’s one of the ways they can dominate the FA market, they just need to be smarter about them. There are signs of improvement: letting Cano walk for 10/240. But if the Yankees really want to change the way they operate, they need to be more patient than they have shown, develop a plan and stick to it.

What do we think Cano’s reaction to 5/150 would have been ? What about ours ?

I’d be surprised if Cano would have signed for less than $200M.

Works out to around $7.3M per win, I don’t think I would have loved that contract but it would still have been a better deal than Ellsbury.

[11] SG… I’m not crazy about the way they are doing things now, only because they should have shitcanned last year, shitcanned this year and get under $189m, and kept the 3 picks. I don’t know how many fans would agree with this.

I read this blog almost every day, and have for many years. Between last year and this winter, your comments make Steve at WW sound like a homer. It upsets me when a Yankees blog and it commenters sound like a Red Sox blog.

“I apologize for my attitude and will wave my pom-poms going forward.  The Yankees are beyond reproach because they were really good over the past 20 years.”

They are certainly not beyond reproach, and pom-poms are not necessary. However, I do accept your apology.

[11] I like Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream.  If they raised the price and started putting real goldfish in there and I complained, I don’t think them telling me to suck it up and that I was just a spoiled fan would make me love the ice cream again.

[16] Having five $20m+ players all sucking is place the Yankees should really have avoided.  I don’t mind a losing season or two.  It’s the price a team has to pay in this economic system.  Letting Cano walk was fine and dandy, but without getting anything in return was a huge misstep (and then compounded the problem by signing Ellsbury to a massive deal). 

Take the losing season, adjust expectations, and put themselves in a position to take on the once-a-decade FAs.  I was for trading Cano, Robertson, and Gardner this season down the stretch.  No what are they doing, let Cano go for no return, trading Gardner, and middling about with Robertson.  Building a team out of FAs in a restricted economic environment is just a recipe for continued disappointment. 

Off the top of my head, I don’t think there’s a FA signing that the Yankees have made in the last decade who out-performed their previous years.

[7] “Gardner: 3.9, 0.2 and 4.2 for a total of 8.3.”
Yeah, and the year before that, he was good for over 7 War.
The 0.2 was a year he was injured and had only 37 AB. Carried out over a full year, that would have been around 4 War.

Between last year and this winter, your comments make Steve at WW sound like a homer.

So I was critical about how they went about building a 79 win Pythagorean win team last season and am critical about what appears to be a haphazard plan to put together a quasi-contender while mortgaging their future this winter and that is a problem for you?

If it is, I don’t know what to tell you.

[22] You mean the 85 Win team…
that unexpectedly had Jeter out the entire season,
that unexpectedly had Teix out the entire season,
that unexpectedly had Grandy out the majority of the season,
that unexpectedly had Cervelli out the majority of the season,
that (maybe expectedly) had Youk out the majority of the season,
that had ARod out 2/3rds of the season,
setting the MLB record for player DL Days (and certainly the record for DL/dollars)...
and also had their $23m Ace unexpectedly and totally shit the bed?

Did you see how the Red Sox did the year they were hit with massive injuries?
Just what did you expect?
Was this REALLY anyone’s fault??? (Aside from ARod’s?)

The one thing that seems slightly unfair here is that they have had a series of MiL prospects that have had us enthusiastic, but there’s risk there and they seem to have been either unusually unlucky in terms of their development and injury history - or they have a problem with development, which is a different issue.

Any strategy that involves signing SOME top-level free agents will lose some picks. That does NOT mean that it’s dumb to go for it or that it can’t be done, right?

Any strategy that involves signing SOME top-level free agents will lose some picks. That does NOT mean that it’s dumb to go for it or that it can’t be done, right?

A lot of it has to do with who you are signing, right?  (In theory anyway) Ellsbury and McCann are not only short-term fixes, but part of the long-term future.  McCann can mean that one or more of their catchers (likely Murphy and maybe O’Brien if he reaches AA this year) are expendable, and also gives coverage for 1B when Teix is up.  Ellsbury (IMHO) is likely to age well, and provides a CF or LF for many years.  These aren’t “go for it” guys, they are players who help now, and for the next several years, and are probably - even with the large contracts - still worth more than the draft picks. 

Beltran is another matter.  He won’t help the team beyond 3 years, when the draft pick (may) start to have value.  He’s also unlikely to create enough value in the next few years.  So - to me - from a, “now in exchange for the future” standpoint, Ellsbury and McCann work to both help now and in the future.  Beltran only helps for now.  Even in addition to the other players they’ve gotten, I’m not sure if he’s worth it, b/c IDK if going from 82-84 wins is worth that pick.  If in the grand scheme they end up projecting as an 89 win team (not impossible, though unlikely), perhaps you can view Beltran as the final piece to go from solid contender (87 wins) to serious division contender (89) wins, and then maybe he’s worth it.

[23] Unexpectedly is the wrong terminology to use.  Look at BRef and look at how many players fall of cliffs after ~30.  Any team can expect guys beyond 30 to suffer DL days.  It happens.  And if a team has more risky players, then more risk is expected, right?. How the injuries happen is irrelevant (hell, I’m only 39 and in decent shape and there are days where I’ve sprained something just working in the yard).  CC has more miles on that left arm than any other pitcher in baseball and he’s been relatively injury free his entire career.  How often does that happen and what do you expect for the future (more of the abnormal same or something typical of a MLB pitcher with high use?).

The Yankees in 2013 banked on an awful lot of risky players and 9/10 they were burned.

[25] If a team has a lot of holes and projected future holes (like the Yankees), I’d want as many draft picks in the first three rounds as possible.  Not 1 versus 3.  I’d want them all for multiple years.  The Yankees project to have a lot of holes in the next 3 seasons.  The difference between having 12 picks in the first 3 rounds over 2-3 seasons and having 6 could very well be a 20+ WAR player from 2017-22.

The time to worry about 2015 was 2-4 years ago.  The Yankees punted draft picks and banked on signing FAs to build a team in 2014.  Now they’re punting draft picks and will likely be stuck signing FAs to build a team in 2018/19.

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