Major League ballclubs have always invested heavily in their farm systems as a means of developing new talent. Not so much for the Mets and Yankees though. With big money to spend, they have traditionally used their their “bonus babies” as a lure to trade for or sign marquee players in the free agent market. This strategy has often saddled them with long term contracts that leaves talent in the minors with nowhere to go because positions on the roster – let alone starting lineups – are not available. Case in point…….consider this….the New York Mets are still paying Bobby Bonilla (the poster child of bad signings in New York) 1.2 million dollars a year…..and they will continue to do so for several years more…….until 2035! When was the last time he had an at bat for the Mets? ( I looked it up…..14 years ago) .
In The early stages of July, New York media were screaming for both teams to “do something” before the trade deadline. The Yankees just had to have David Price or Cole Hamels…..or what the hell…...why not both. The Mets needed a couple of run producers in their sluggish lineup. Like old times, it was time to sell the farm. Instead, they did virtually nothing in the trade markets (although Cespedes was a nice grab by the Mets) while promoting promising rookies like Greg Bird (left) and Michael Conforto (right) who are making significant contributions to both teams.
For the Yankees, this is a relatively new strategy in team building since they hit the jackpot with the Core Four who leveraged The Run in the late Nineties. In addition to Bird who is already proving to be a run producing machine, others like Luis Severino (left) and Rob Resnyder (right), and Gary Sanchez (a catcher rounding his skills at AAA) have scouts and Yankees coaches salivating. In the case of Severino, he too has already made the step up and is fast becoming a vital part of the starting rotation while Refsnyder only needs to improve his defensive skills at second base.
For the Mets, they have been in a rebuilding mode for some time now. Their strategy of stockpiling starting pitchers is now paying off. So much so that the biggest problem they face right now is who gets dropped from the rotation and goes to the bullpen for the playoffs. Jacob DeGrom (left) is proving that he is the real thing following his Rookie Of The Year season last year while Steven Matz (right) has looked brilliant and unflappable in his starts to date.
New York teams are not the only ones adopting this approach to team building. In fact, it can be said that they are relatively late coming to the dance. Both the Royals and Cardinals model this strategy and look where they sit today. For this writer though, it’s refreshing and energizing to see my New York teams make the leap while teams like the Blue Jays (David Price) and Texas (Cole Hamels) continue down the road we used to travel. As the Yankees have proven in the past, both strategies can and do work. It’s just more fun to watch these kids play a boys game with a future ahead of them – instead of behind them.