Minor League Baseball
I used to not care about Major League farm systems and all of the minor league affiliates. I cared about the New York Yankees now, not the New York Yankees of three or four years later. I didn’t care if Brian Cashman traded a handful of prospects for some veteran player beause I knew nothing about them.
But in recent years I’ve developed quite an interest in these matters. Now I pay attention not only to the Yankees Triple-A affiliate (recently relocated to Pennsylvania) but also their Double-A team right down to their short season Staten Island affiliate.
The Yankees have thoroughly retooled and restocked their farm system over the past few years, and while they have some decent starting prospects and position players, all the big name, can’t-miss prospects seem to be relief pitchers. A dominant bullpen is a huge advantage because it allows teams to effectively shorten games to six innings.
With the Yankees running guys like LaTroy Hawkins (6.03 ERA), Ross Ohlendorf (6.53) and Kyle Farnsworth (4.11) and with my newfound knowledge of the arms in the minors, I can’t help but wonder why these guys are still here.
This afternoon the Yankees took a step to satisfying my whims by promoting David Robertson. Robertson started the year in Trenton (New York’s AA team) but was promoted shortly after posting a 0.96 ERA in 19 innings while striking out 26. He continued dominating in Triple-A, striking out 48 in 33 innings on the way to posting a 1.64 ERA. Robertson has pitched 136 professional innings and has never allowed a home run. That’s incredible.
After Robertson, JB Cox shouldn’t be too far behind. Cox was the closer on a national champion University of Texas team a few years back and has rocketed through the Yankees system since being drafted. He has a 0.63 ERA since being promoted to AAA earlier this year and is said to have the system’s best slider. And remember that Joba Chamberlain has a slider that no Major League batter made contact with in 2007.
Possibly the best relief prospect is Mark Melancon (pronounced Muh-lan-son). The former closer of the University of Arizona dropped to the Yankees in the draft due to medical concerns, but those haven’t materialized. He’s got an overpowering fastball, a hammer curve and a “bulldog” demeanor.
Also overlooked is Scott Strickland but he’s no spring chicken. The Yankees’ bullpen has been decent and Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in baseball hands down, but it’s been carrying deadweight for far too long and help is finally on the way. I understand not wanting to rush a young player’s development, but the bullpen definitely needs a facelift. And it’s about to get one.
Also, with the DH trip for Hideki Matsui, the Yankees (apart from signing Barry Bonds) need to seriously consider sending Justin Christian down, call up Brett Gardner to play centerfield and bench Melky Cabrera for a week or two. Melky’s been downright horrible since the beginning of May and Gardner has been the best player in the IL for the past few months.
Come on Yankees, time for a handful of moves to fuel a move up the standings.