[image title="Yankeesannual" size="full" id="1207" align="left" alt="Really, its great" ]For the second straight year, I have had the pleasure of writing for Yankees Annual 2009, a yearly magazine packed with lots of high quality Yankee analysis. It is published by Maple Street Press, who also used to handle Baseball Prospectus. Other authors include Peter Abraham and Dan Graziano.
My 6-page article (I think that I might have the longest one in the magazine) is titled: “Yankee Innovation: Secrets of the Yankee Farm Team Development”, and I am quite proud of the final product. I don’t actually get any more money if we sell a lot of magazines, but it can’t hurt for next year! Yankees Annual 2009 will be on new stands and in grocery stores in the tri-state area starting tomorrow. You can also order them online.
Evaluating, selecting, and training a young kid to be a Major League Baseball player has been described as both an art and a science. The divide between art and science – qualitative and quantitative analysis – has created an intellectual debate within the baseball community about how best to handle a farm system. Some teams – like the Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox – have taken a decidedly scientific approach to their handling of amateur and minor league players. Others, like the Atlanta Braves and more recently the Tampa Bay Rays, have mastered the art of scouting and coaching prospects on an individual level.
Brian Cashman’s Yankee organization has blended the two concepts to create one of the best farm systems in baseball. Before the 2005 season, Cashman made the strategic decision, as part of his hard-won autonomy from George Steinbrenner as the Yankee’s General Manager, to shift from a free-agent centered strategy, where prospects were primarily used as trading chips to acquire veterans, to a strategy that also incorporated home-grown players. He realized that the Yankee model of signing expensive free agents whenever there was a need at a position would not enable them to vault back to dynasty-caliber baseball.
Cashman’s Yankee administration has been characterized by four traits: aggressiveness, innovation, patience, and discipline. He has given his staff a full mandate to be bold, and the necessary bank account to do so. The Yankee farm system was among the most ineffective and barren systems in the game when he began the revamp in 2005, and today they are a veritable powerhouse. They’re doing something right.
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