Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Common Misconception

One of the topics that's talked about a lot these days in New York is how the Yankees have held onto their prospects recently and how it's paying dividends now with Wang, Cano, Cabrera, Hughues, and Chamberlain. They talk about how it's like 1995/96 when they held onto Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera, and Posada.

The one place there right is that it is a lot like 95/96 but not the way they mean. The only difference between those years and these compared to all the years in between is that the Yankees actually have prospects to hold onto.

Dating back to 1995, the following are the 20 biggest names the Yankees traded "prospects" for (so this does not include getting Clemens or ARod, or even Scott Brosius who they traded Kenny Rogers to get):

David Cone, David Justice, Cecil Fielder, Glenallen Hill, John Wetteland, Aaron Boone, Hideki Irabu, Chuck Knoblauch, Denny Neagle, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Javier Vazquez, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Shawn Chacon, Raul Mondesi, Mark WHolers, and Charlie Hayes.

Clearly, some of these people worked out very well for the Yankees, many did not.

Now, here are the prospects the Yankees gave up to get them:

Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon, Matt Drews, Rickey Ledee, Jake Westbrook, Zach Day, Fernando Seguirnol, Marcus Thames, Drew Henson, Jackson Melian, Ben Ford, Oswaldo Mariena, Ruben Rivera, Rafael Medina, Eric Milton, Christian Guzman, Brian Buchanan, Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning, Brian Reith, Ed Yarnall, CJ Henry, Matt Smith, John-Ford Griffin, Carlos Monostrios, Jesus Sanchez, Russ Davis, Sterling Hitchcock, Nick Johnson, Brad Halsey, Juan Rivera,, Dioner Navarro, Randy Choate, Yehncy Brezoban, Brandon Wheedon, Eduardo Sierra, Ramon Ramirez, Scott Wiggins, Ricardo Aramboles, Chris Singleton, and Alberto Castillo.

There are a few decent names there. But not Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte, Soriano, Wang, Cano, or Cabrera. Or guys like Hughes or Chamberlain who may be joining that group in performance. There was nobody in that group that you say now, wow, if only we didn't trade that guy, we'd be so much better off. This isn't trading Scott Kazmir or letting Johan Santana go in the Rule V draft, or having a position glut so you trade Travis Hafner for Einar Diaz. Nobody looks back to these trades with regret.

They only traded the Hensons and Ruben Riveras when they realized it wasn't going to happen for them, or Nick Johnson when he was evidently extremely injury-prone. The Yankee philosophy of trading prospects hasn't changed at all over the years since Gene Michael took over in the early 90s. The only difference between now and the last 10 years is that the Yankees have made finding the best prospects a priority again.

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