Yesterday, Fangraphs completed its always interesting and often controversial organizational rankings list. It is not a list of how well these teams will do in the coming season, but rather, an examination of overall organizational strength. This year, the ranking methodology was tweaked slightly, with future talent, present talent, financial resources, and baseball operations ranked on a 0-100 scale by the Fangraphs staff. After being ranked #3 in 2009 and #1 in 2010, the Yankees surprised many by also being ranked #1 in 2011, despite a rough (by their standards) offseason and a spending spree on the part of their main rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees were ranked #1 in present talent (a score of 94), which was somewhat of a surprise, as everyone including the Fangraphs staff had picked the Red Sox to win the AL Pennant over the Yankees. I would be very curious to see the cause of this discrepancy; whether it was a few people who happened to rank the Yankees much higher than the Red Sox in present talent, or the realization that despite all the hype Boston has been getting this offseason, the Yankee roster is still pretty damn good.
The Yankees were tied for 3rd in future talent with a score of 90, which likely corresponds to a farm system ranking around 5-6. This is consistent with where the Yankee system has been ranked this offseason by a variety of sources, and with valuable commodities such as Montero, Banuelos, Betances, et al in the system, it is understandable that the Yankee system got some respect.
The Yankees’ #1 ranking in financial resources was completely unsurprising. The Yankees for years have had the highest payroll in the game, with the ability to outbid competitors for marquee free agents as necessary. The revenue stream generated by the YES network and the new stadium will allow the Yankees to maintain their financial advantage for years to come.
I was also surprised to see the Yankee baseball operations ranked 3rd (behind the Rays and the Red Sox). Given the lack of respect that Brian Cashman usually receives for being GM of a team with the largest payroll in the league and the fact that he is not Theo Epstein, it was surprising to see them ranked this highly. This was especially true with the bizzarre situation surrounding the signing of Rafael Soriano (and Randy Levine’s meddling), the non-signing of Cliff Lee, and the presence of Freddy Garcia in the 5th spot in the Yankee rotation. Despite these black eyes, however, the Fangraphs staff do appear to be giving Cashman credit for building a strong roster, maintaining a deep farm system, and dealing with the madness that is New York and the Steinbrenner family.
Do these rankings mean that the Yankees will win the World Series this season? Certainly not. But in an offseason where everyone is picking the Red Sox to win the division (including something like 25/25 ESPN writers, and 9/10 writers on this site), I’ll take this ranking as a sign that the Yankees are moving in the right direction, both today and in the future.
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