Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Yankees May Be Old, But So What?

"Hurry up and get your uniform on, you're starting for the Yankees tonight!"

A lot of people, from both inside and outside the organization, have criticized the Yankees for being old. I can't say that's not true, but the only problems I see with having an old team would be if the team wasn't winning, or that multiple positions were filled for a while... thus blocking prospects from being called up to Major League Baseball.

Even though the Yankees haven't won the World Series in a few years, nobody can say that the team hasn't been successful. They've won a total of 287 games over the last three seasons, with two division championships, and two trips to the American League Championship Series thrown in. So even though the Yankee motto each year is "World Series title or bust", it's ridiculous to say the team has not been a success.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox feel like the guy in the white shirt, having missed the playoffs in each of the past 3 years.

So what about blocking prospects? We saw Jesus Montero traded during the last offseason, and a big reason it happened was because neither the catching or first base slot was open for him in 2012. The Yankees felt the need for a possible front-line starter that was still young and under team control for a while, so they pulled the trigger on the deal that sent Montero to Seattle for Michael Pineda (not to mention that Hector Noesi was also sent to the Mariners for Jose Campos). So the "prospects being blocked" thing is a problem for the Yankees, right?

Wrong.

Here are the top 10 Yankee prospects at the end of the 2012 season, according to Baseball America. The player's estimated time of arrive in MLB is listed next to their name.


Mason Williams, of - 2015

The Yankees current outfield consists of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and... who knows? Brett will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, while Granderson is going into the final year of his contract next year. So currently all three outfield spots could be open for Williams when he arrives in MLB in or around 2015.

Slade Heathcott, of - 2014

Although Heathcott is 21 years old, and therefore is as old as some guys when they make the jump to the Majors, he is likely to spend at least one more season in the minors due to having just finished the 2012 season in high-A ball. Depending on what happens with right field this offseason, two of the outfield positions could be available to Slade in 2014.

Gary Sanchez, c - 2015

Even if the Yankees were to sign Russell Martin to a three year deal, as has been rumored, that would mean the starting catcher spot would be open for Sanchez in the 2016 season. Some believe Gary could be MLB-ready by 2015, meaning he could spend a season as Martin's backup, which is a pretty good idea to me. Russ has a good rapport with the pitchers, and does a great job defensively, so having Sanchez learn from him for a season could be a really good thing.

Tyler Austin, of - 2014

Yet another outfielder in the Yankees top 10 prospects. Theoretically, since I pointed out that two of the three outfield spots could be available by 2014, both Heathcott and Austin could fill those holes. Although I highly doubt that, by 2015, the Yankee outfield would have a rookie (Williams) and two second-year players (Heathcott and Austin), so I fully expect at least one of them to be used in a trade.

Jose Campos, rhp, Brett Marshall, rhp, Manny Banuelos, lhp, Ty Hensley, rhp, Rafael De Paula, rhp - 2014

It's almost pointless for me to talk about the pitching situation in the future, as things can chance so much in just one season (see Ivan Nova, who went from sure-thing starter to somebody I'd like to see bumped from the rotation), but let me point out that CC Sabathia is the only Yankee starter under contract after 2013, while Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps are the only other current Yankees with true starting experience that will be under team control by 2014.

Angelo Gumbs, 2b - 2015

Gumbs is the only top 10 prospect that will likely be blocked from being able to move into a starter's role in MLB, as I fully expect the Yankees to eventually work out an extension with Robinson Cano. The idea crossed my mind that he could move to SS, as he has some experience playing there in the minors, but it turns out that it's only 7 games worth... and 6 of those were a couple years ago in rookie ball. Perhaps 3B would be a viable alternative, although I think being trade fodder is more likely for Angelo.

By the time 9 of those 10 players are MLB-ready, there could be starting spots waiting for them. Which tells me that the Yankees being "too old" right now is nothing to worry about.

Just like Hef, the Yankees may be old but they're still having plenty of fun.

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