With the news that the Rockies would consider moving Ubaldo Jimenez and that their opening asking price for the Yankees were the team’s top three prospects — Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, along with young starter Ivan Nova — I’ve had many a discussion with fellow Yankee fans about what they’d be willing to give up for a player of Ubaldo’s caliber, but more importantly, it got me thinking about some of my own long-held beliefs about trading prospects.
For as long as I’ve been an ardent follower of Yankee blogs — beginning sometime either in late 2003 or 2004 — I’ve more often than not found myself stridently opposed to the idea of the Yankees trading any of their top prospects for, well, just about anyone. With the rise of information available on the web, it became easier than ever to read about and subsequently get caught up in the hype of the team’s prospects, and nowhere was this more evident than with Phil Hughes, who immediately became the most important name in all of Yankeeland shortly after being drafted in 2004. When Hughes’ name began popping up as the centerpiece of a hypothetical Johan Santana deal after the 2007 season, I was so opposed to this idea that I created a blog devoted to saving the young hurler.
However, in the ensuing years the team hasn’t exactly had the smoothest go of it in determining the best way to deploy Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and to a lesser extent, Ian Kennedy, and between a variety of injuries and constant shuffling back-and-forth between the bullpen and rotation, today the team has managed to establish just one of these pitchers as a starter. Now, there are a litany of reasons behind what caused these three players to wind up in the roles they are in today, and this isn’t meant to impugn the Yankee organization, as I’m sure the team did whatever it could to try to successfully integrate all three players into the rotation (and I’m certainly not interested in revisiting the “Joba needs to start” drum that I banged all offseason until my arms fell off, as the Yankees have made it clear that’s a dead issue), but the fact remains that only one of these pitchers has made it as a starting pitcher on the big league club, and the jury is still out to an extent as to whether Hughes can be counted on to be an effective member of the rotation long-term.
Now, whether the Yankees’ were at fault or not with regards to the aforementioned “Big Three,” it’s not as if the organization is completely clueless when it comes to developing and promoting its own players. Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner have emerged as two of the best players in baseball at their respective positions, while David Robertson has been a valuable piece of the bullpen and is currently in the midst of a season for the ages. The Yankees have continued to utilize the farm system rather effectively in the creation of the bullpen these last several seasons, and even appear to be on their way to developing a reliable 4th/5th-starter in the person of Ivan Nova.
I also think that the Yankees have displayed a knack for knowing who of their prospects to trade and when to trade them. Going all the way back to the early ’90s, I can recall reading stories of potential trades involving seemingly every member of the “Core Four” save Derek Jeter. As impossible as it is to comprehend today, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada were nearly traded for David Wells. Andy Pettitte‘s name routinely came up in trade talk. Maybe the Yankees got lucky in these instances, but I’m willing to give the organization credit for these non-trades.
And in that vein, it’s difficult to come up with too many players from the Yankees’ system that they did trade over the last decade or so that the team would have been better off keeping. While I’ve made the case for the team’s shortsightedness in both trading and later on not re-signing Ted Lilly, at the time it seemed like the right thing to do, and I’m not sure moving Lilly ever came back to seriously hurt the Yankees. Similarly, if Cashman could take a mulligan on the Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez trade I’m sure he would, but again, the Yankees were in desperate need of pitching at the time and Vazquez on paper looked like a perfect fit. Perhaps that Javy for Melky Cabrera and Arodys Vizacaino deal is even less defensible, but even with Vazquez’s two putrid stints as a Yankee, I don’t know that anyone can reasonably say that the Yankees missed out on greatness by parting with Nick the Stick (much as I do love him), Rivera and the Melk Man.
In reality, Cashman’s never traded away a prospect that turned around to not only become the ace of another team but also really came back to haunt the Yanks. I know Kennedy has had a couple of nice seasons out in the desert since departing in the Curtis Granderson trade, but to this day I remain unconvinced that he’d maintain this level of success in the AL East. I don’t know anyone who misses Jeff Karstens considering he doesn’t strike anyone out and also plays in perhaps the weakest division in baseball. Tyler Clippard‘s become one of the better relievers in the National League, but once again, it’s not the AL East. Brandon Claussen? Jeff Marquez (who’s of course now back in the organization)? Any of the guys involved in the Chuck Knoblauch or David Justice deals? Most of these guys have never been heard from again. Sure Eric Milton and Jake Westbrook have some quality seasons under their belts, but they’ve never been indispensable.
I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is, I trust that Brian Cashman will make the right move. If he decides that he wants to move prospects A, B and C in a deal for Ubaldo, then I trust that the Yankees have evaluated the situation thoroughly and determined that the immediate return of an established, #1/#1A-type pitcher was too good to pass up for the potential promise of the future. On the flip side, if he decided he didn’t want to make a move, then I also trust that to be the right decision.
Much as it might hurt to see, say, Jesus Montero or Dellin Betances thrive while wearing the uniform of an opponent — and I certainly can’t deny the level of satisfaction gleaned from seeing a member of the Yankees’ farm system come to the Majors and be successful — the Yankees have never been known to be all that patient with their youngsters, and maybe it’s not such a bad thing for a Yankee prospect to endure their growing pains while under the auspices of another team’s watchful eye. Maybe the Yankees trade Montero and then decide to give Prince Fielder gobs of money to be their designated hitter. That statement probably sounds ludicrous, but if you think about it, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. As special as Montero’s bat is expected to be, if the Yankees were able to turn Jesus into a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, it’s not as if they’d never be able to replace his hypothetical production. To become a hitter of Fielder’s caliber — a career slash line of .281/.390/.540 since becoming a full-time player in 2006 — is probably a best-case-scenario for Montero, and we already know Fielder can hack it as a Major League hitter. And anyway, if Montero or any Yankee prospect did wind up succeeding and becoming a superstar elsewhere, the Yankees could always just buy them back as a free agent six years down the line, after they’ve battled and conquered the struggles that the majority of young players have to endure.
As great (and unexpectedly) as the 2011 Yankee rotation has performed, I can’t imagine too many people would view the team’s current group of starters as championship-caliber, although stranger things have certainly happened. The Yankees are always in win-now mode, and a hypothetical trade for Ubaldo significantly enhances the team’s likelihood of making that much deeper a run in the playoffs. I’m not saying I think the Yankees have to trade for Ubaldo, or really for anyone, but I’ll understand why if they do.
Just as long as it doesn’t come at the cost of Banuelos.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
- related web site on The Great Subway Race
- get your lover back on Contact Us
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees