One Tin Soldier Rides Away
The baseball amateur draft is approaching (next week). While not the hyped-up spectacle that the circus of the NFL draft has become, it is a significant event in the baseball world. Set up in the 1960s as a means of providing the lower-tiered teams with an avenue to succeed (Rick Monday, I believe, was the first player ever taken), the draft is the primary way that teams fill their pipeline with young talent.
Unless you're the New York Yankees.
I wrote a couple of comments here and here about the way that the Yankees - and to a lesser degree the Boston Red Sox - have become locked in a battle of high priced Hessians to fight for the American League pennant year in and year out. This summer seems to be shaping up to be no different, despite a poor start by both.
Over at ESPN.com today, their baseball blogger David Schoenfeld has written a quite interesting piece about the all-time best "rosters" of players taken by each AL East franchise. It's curious to look at the Yankees, and just how, to be kind, mediocre their takings have been. Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly are obviously tremendous players, the former headed to the HoF on a first ballot. Andy Pettite is a borderline case for the Hall, and Ron Guidry was an excellent pitcher until arm problems hurt him.
Beyond that, the Yanks have not been spectacular, and could reasonably be said to be the poorest performer in the division in this regard. The writer points out that in the nearly 50 years of the draft, the Yankees have not drafter a single outfielder who has become an All Star for the Yankees. Not one.
Between the lines, it seems obvious HOW the Yankees have built and maintained their dynasties, by signing veteran players or trading away - in many cases trades forced by economics on the small market teams - for established stars.
Schoenfeld writes the obvious question - what would become of the Yankees if other teams simply stopped trading with them? I am not sure the answer, and the question itself is an exercise in rhetoric, since such an embargo will not happen. Ever. For one thing, the finances of the game force teams in many cases to trade their top talent (my team - the Toronto Blue Jays - three years ago were forced to deal the best pitcher they've ever had, Roy Halladay, for a grab bag of nuts and bolts), and reality dictates that if the Yankees are kept out of this market, that has an impact on the quality that teams can command.