Hal Steinbrenner holds meeting to discuss poor state of Yankees minor league system

hal-steinbrennerBack in 2004, Brian Cashman asked George Steinbrenner and received greater authority in running the entire Yankees organization. One of the things that he said at the time was that there would be a greater importance placed on the team’s minor league system.

It’s been nearly 10 years since then and the only everyday players the Yankees have developed are Robinson Cano (who was a pre-2004 prospect), Chien-Ming Wang (see Cano’s note), Brett Gardner, Phil Hughes (who isn’t even that good), Austin Jackson, and a few relievers (most notably David Robertson).

On top of that the Yankees haven’t had a single decent first round draft pick since Hughes with a long list of busts including Jonathan Poterson, Joba Chamberlain, Andrew Brackman, Gerrit Cole (failed to sign), Jeremy Bleich, Slade Heathcott, Cito Culver, Dante Bichette Jr., and Ty Hensley (you may argue, but he’s already had two major injuries). You could easily include Jeffrey Marquez, C.J. Henry, and Ian Kennedy in that list, but at least they were traded before they flopped.

On top of that, some of the team’s top prospects that looked solid a year ago, including Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Manny BanuelosMark Montgomery and Brett Marshall, have all taken giant steps backwards (Banuelos still probably has time to turn it around, that is if the Yankees don’t Joba his future).

Those are pretty pathetic results, but in all that time the Yankees insist on hoarding prospects and have allowed the same people to run the system with no accountability.

But maybe, finally, after a season in which they certainly could have used as much help from the minors they could have gotten and only got Adam Warren and Preston Claiborne, maybe, just maybe, Hal Steinbrenner is finally going to hold someone accountable.

Per George King and Dan Martin of the NY Post, Steinbrenner recently held a meeting in Tampa with his front office with questions about the lack of talent in the system. Potentially in attendance were Brian Cashman, Mark Newman, head of the minor leagues, Damon Oppenheimer, head amateur scout, and Donny Rowland, director of international scouting.

This doesn’t mean that Steinbrenner actually is holding anybody accountable (and based on the way he has run the team since taking over, I don’t have faith that he will), but it means that he’s at least aware of the problem. If it continues for much longer (three first round picks this year should help) it’s going to get to a point where he no longer can ignore it.

Keep in mind that this is a much bigger deal than it used to be. Prospects are more valuable than ever before because the MLB isn’t the same as it was even five years ago. Teams can now afford to lock up their best players long-term because of revenue sharing. So guys like CC Sabathia, who was an ace in his prime when the Yankees signed him, just aren’t available anymore. His modern equivalent would have been King Felix Hernandez of the Mariners, but today King Felix was re-signed to an extension by a team that once could not retain Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr, or Randy Johnson.

Just look at the potential 2015 free agent class. There are literally no sure things and the big names that are out there are either likely to be extended before then (Chase Headley), have big question marks (Hanley Ramirez), or are the injury prone types (Brandon Morrow).

I’m pretty excited by the fact that Steinbrenner finally had this meeting, but it’s hard to expect change with a team that has been so happy with the status quo since the 2009 World Series. Hopefully I’m wrong though because the state of the Yankees farm system right now, and their track record running it for so long, has left me pretty disappointed about this team’s future.

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22 Responses to Hal Steinbrenner holds meeting to discuss poor state of Yankees minor league system

  1. John says:

    Not to defend the Yankees system, but Ivan Nova and David Phelps probably deserve mention. If Hal is really going to re-think the Yankees approach to player development, somebody should remind him that the Angels picked Mike Trout with the pick the Yankees surrendered to them for signing Mark (.250 is just fine) Teixeira.

    • You are right that Nova and Phelps will certainly contribute. I feel it's still too early to label either significant players though. Once, or if, either of them ever get through a full season in the rotation and throw 200 innings I will change my mind. Until then they are nice, but not big impact pieces.

  2. Tanned Tom says:

    Rob, typo alert "Teams can not afford to lock up their best players long-term." I think you mean that now they CAN afford to lock up their best players.
    What bothers me is that the organization knew of the 2014 luxury threshold for years and has not altered the way it did business. A more forward thinking/looking organization would have jumped at the chance to trade Sabathia and Teixeira to the Dodgers. I know there are no-trade clauses involved, but if the team was going through a rebuilding the players might have waived those clauses. Instead we're loaded with old, injury prone and expensive players. Whose fault is that? Well run clubs avoid this (see St. Louis), poorly run clubs not only can't avoid it, they embrace it (see Philly). The cure is a total about face.

  3. Tanned Tom says:

    A change in thinking is required. This off season they should:
    DFA Cervelli, Overbay, Youkilis, Chamberlain
    Sign and trade Phil Hughes, I'm not convinced making the qualifying offer is so wise.
    Allow Rivera and Pettitte to retire
    Make every effort to trade Soriano (his stock will never be higher), Teixeira, Sabathia, Wells, Suzuki. These guys are just not part of the solution moving forward.
    Re-sign Cano, but only at a reasonable price. More than 5 years and $20 mil per and you're overpaying for a guy who has hustle issues, is not a leader in the clubhouse, and turns 31 next year.
    Re-sign Kuroda.

    • Carlos Manon says:

      Dude…I nominate you for YANKEE GM..yanks should have tried sooner to get younger ……. owners and cashman don't really get it…I have been praying for years hal will make a change just to get a different voice in there….1 world series in 13 years is not a mark of success…It's like hal is happy with making the playoffs…..whoopee…..watching them get wipped from detroit every year is a rerun of the angels beating them up years ago……Oh and I like girardi as manager ……..And this thing about voicing in public he doesn't agree with some of the internal moves from the owners is not professional (both soriano moves)…..The real Steinbrenner would have fired his ass……Hal please do your father good by getting a real GM……

  4. Tanned Tom says:

    For 2014 they should commit to the kids, keeping Jeter for 1B, Kuroda, Robertson, Nova, Gardner.
    I know that most of these guys will not prove satisfactory, but this is the rebuilding process. You keep the ones that can play and you move the ones that can't. By trading Hughes, Soriano, Wells, Suzuki, Sabathia, Teixeira you free the club from payroll issues of any kind and add some younger players.
    The rule of thumb needs to be, except for Jeter and Kuroda, they should only have players on the 25 and 40 man rosters who have a chance to be around in 5 years.

  5. Mike Hickey says:

    We need Gene Michael again he was the hero of creating the farm system that built our dynasty years and rarely gets credit for it. There is a problem with our entire system, approach, process, people, accountability sure is needed but even more is a talented leader to fix the entire system. I am not sure Brian is the answer but can he hire someone who is?

  6. Michael R says:

    I agree with most of TT's suggestions except Suzuki whom I feel can be very productive for 2-3 more years. He doesn't look, play, or act like he's completely over-the-hill. I just love his way of playing the game. Maybe that skews my judgment.
    Joba is a head case. The Yankees screwed him up early on and that's a shame, because he should be a big contributor and in contention for Mo's job. Unfortunately, has'nt and won't happen. He's toast, should have been traded several years ago.

    • Just to point out that Ichiro is hitting .274/.307/.361 this season. Those are pretty terrible numbers and if it weren't for his defense and speed on the bases many of us would have an entirely different opinion of him.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        Weirdest thing is look at his splits, he crushes left handed pitching. If you can platoon him for next year with Almonte maybe, okay. But more years? No way. He's too old, always had a rep for me-first play, and he's a Scientologist (irrelevant, but deeply weird). With Wells and Soriano both cheaper and offering more power, I say trade Suzuki.

      • olie says:

        Sounds like you just described Gardner would you like to see him gone also.

  7. Michael R says:

    I would agree that scientology is weird, however I don't agree that he's too old to produce. He can still run, has a good arm, and can play defense. Maybe not an everyday player but certainly a contributor as he is now.

    • Tanned Tom says:

      The club's RFs have been 27th (out of 30) in runs scored and 28th in RBIs. That's not much production.

  8. Booey15 says:

    I agree whole heartedly that this is a welcome, but perhaps, late meeting. In 2004 I had real hope we were going to recommit to the draft. Unfortunately, we look back and see real dudes this leadership has produced. Cito Culver was supposed to replace Jeter as SS, right? He will be lucky to get past AA. Yes, the draft is a crap shoot, but help me understand how St Louis can win and still produce the type of players, position AND pitching.
    The CBA has made this leaderships style obsolete, and they do not seem to have the ability to adapt. Interesting side observation; no latin names in the meeting attendees. Perhaps another indication of the lapse in leadership style? Whats the percent of players that come from latin countries, 25%?
    We need to clean house.

    • A note on the Latin thing — the names of the attendees were actually just speculation and probably were not the extent of the people in that meeting. I'm not saying you are wrong, or haven't made a good point, but without knowing more about exactly what went on it's impossible to judge.

  9. BillyBalls says:

    I believe Rob is being a little overzealous with his Yankee Prospect Busts. I mean can we say that Slade Heathcott is a bust? Any if you can say he is why arent we able to say Ivan Nova has been a success in that he is up with the big club and is pitching like an ace at this point? Why not say we traded Mark Melancon to the Astros and also Tyler Clippard to the Nats? Are they busts right now. Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy had pretty solid years (last 2). We have had some crappy first round picks but lets be fair, there are only a handful of teams like St Louis, Tampa, the mets have some young stud pitchers (2 from trades), Dodgers and Giants developed few nice studs, Boston has developed a few young players, but than look around the league, not many teams have core players being homegrown.

    Rob, you should consider doing a study ranking top players in the game and what team they were drafted and developed by and what team they are on now. Start from 2000 draft and go forward and than rank the Yankees!

    • I was more just trying to make a point than to do a thorough study of the Yankees system. Obviously Melancon and Clippard have had success too, but they are both relievers and kind of fit my point.

      As far as Nova, I don't think it's fair to say he's a bust or not. He's obviously a major leaguer at this point, but we can't say for certain how good he'll be. Can he even throw 200 innings for a contending team?

      You make a good point about where the Yankees pick in the draft, which has certainly contributed to why their first rounders have sucked so much, but the Cardinals are a perfect example that it doesn't have to hamper you.

      For this team to only produce one top level talent (Cano) and one everyday player (Gardner) since Jorge Posada is a little inexcusable in my book. I think if you've followed me long enough, I have been generally fair in my assessment of the team's farm system. I feel like they took a giant step back this year and it's been too long since they've been called out on it. For Hal to wait this long to address the issue when he was basing a large portion of the 2014 team’s success on the farm system is too late.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        10 years with so little to show for it is proof enough. Some change in leadership when it comes to drafting is necessary, and some in player development as well.

        But also is front office structure. Too many people have decision making ability. Look at Randy Levine's role in the A-Roid re-signing, the Rafael Soriano signing, giving Suzuki a 2 year deal. etc. These were all bad moves. Give the GM real, final authority and then fire him if he can't deliver the goods.

        • pojack23 says:

          Not to many people thought the Soriano signing was bad last year though at first. The Yankee draft were actually worse from 2000 until about 2005, hardly anyone made the majors. Several of the Yankee prospect have been injured or had bad years, but they have some talent and depth. Sanchez, Greg Bird, Pete Obrien, Almonte, Jose Campos and Ramirez. Lot of people like their first round draft picks. Mark Montgomery has jumped to triple AAA pretty quickly had a back injury, Austin attempting to play through wrist injury and everyone knew Banuelos was going to miss the year. Kind of a jump on the bandwagon article.

      • hotdog says:

        maybe they need better scouting…i would think scouts are worth their weight in gold…