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I have a couple of pieces up on SI.com today. The first is my Rookie of the Year Awards Watch. It was a frustrating column to write this week because of the glut of strong rookies in the National League and lack thereof in the American League, though I squeezed in a lot of NL honorable mentions in the introduction. [Update: I initially had an old column linked. The link is now fixed to this week's Awards Watch.]

The second is my look at the top waiver-trade pickups of the Wild Card era. No Yankees make my top 5, though the botched Pat Listach trade in 1996 yielded Graeme Lloyd, who after struggling mightily down the stretch, got some huge outs in the postseason as the Yankees won their first championship under Joe Torre. Other notable Yankee waiver trades were the returns of Mike Stanley in 1997 and Luis Sojo in 2000, and the dumping of Mariano Duncan and addition of Rey Sanchez as a second-base solution in ’97. Meanwhile, Sterling Hitchcock went 5-1 with a 3.78 ERA for the Cardinals after the Yankees traded him to St. Louis in August 2003.

Elsewhere, the latest edition of Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock at Baseball Prospectus kicks off with good words on a pair of red-hot Yankee prospects:

Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees(High-A Tampa): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K

Of Betances 11 starts this year, eight of them could arguably be described as dominant, with none more so than last night’s when Betances retired the last 14 batters he faced, nine via the strikeout.  With a fastball that is all the way back (94-98 mph) and control that we’ve never seen before, the 22-year-old has whiffed 68 over 57 innings while allowing just 31 hits and walking 15.  Only an ugly ttrack record when it comes to staying healthy prevents him from being labeled with an elite tag.

Brandon Laird, 3B, Yankees(Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre): 4-for-4, 2 HR (2), 3 R, 2 RBI

It’s been a darn good year overall for the Yankee farm system, and one of the brightest points of light has been Laird, who entered the year as a nice little hitter with some upside, and is now considered one of the better offensive prospects in the system.  After batting .291/.355/.523 in the Eastern League, you couldn’t have asked for a better Triple-A debut, but much like Jesus Montero, it’s hard to figure out where his big league future lies if he remains a Yankee.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Minor Leagues

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21 comments

1 ny2ca2dc   ~  Aug 3, 2010 2:25 pm

Laird could wind up as very necessary and very nice depth behind ARod in the coming years.

2 Paul   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:00 pm

Yeah, the Yanks have been searching for a righty 1B/3B to fill in for sometime. With Laird they just may have it. Hard to see how he'll ever get more than 250 ABs/year but he's nice insurance to have.

Betances is really exciting. The problem is where does any Yankee farmhand crack that rotation. They seem so intent on spending money there (yes, Cliff Lee is worth it) multiple prospects fighting over one rotation slot is wasted depth. As it is, former Yankee farmhands are league average pitchers around the game. For all his stuff, Burnett ain't even that.

Worse, anyone notice that Jose Tabata is quietly putting up a 100 OPS+ at age 21. And in the last month he's at: .356/.402/.456. Yup, somehow the Yanks gave up two players who could be starting in their OF right now and with speed too.

That's my biggest frustration as a huge YF. There's so little effort to actually develop players at the big league level, they give up on some players way too soon because they have no other choice. We all shrugged when A-Jax and Tabata were traded. That's sad for me.

3 standuptriple   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:00 pm

Cliff, I can't see how you've managed to leave out Buster Posey. The dude is a stud and is current;y doing the bulk of the catching for a playoff contending squad...while hitting .350

4 Paul   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:16 pm

[3] He's fantastic, but not enough playing time. It will be interesting if he plays the rest of the way and continues this pace. He'll wind up close to 350 ABs and his counting stats could be around 15 HRs and 60 RBIs. The problem is Heyward could top those totals and the pitchers are very strong.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:25 pm

[3] Ha! Because I linked the wrong column!

Here's the correct one, with Posey:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/cliff_corcoran/08/02/rookies.year/index.html

Fixed above.

Jeez, been up an hour and a half the wrong way.

6 monkeypants   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:28 pm

[1],[2] Laird has played a bunch of games at 1B, though not as many since 2008. Still, if his bat can play in the bigs at all, he should be able to find a niche even on the ankees backing up both corner IF positions.

I wonder if they have thought at all about trying him in corner OF. Hm.

7 monkeypants   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:29 pm

[2] I understand why they gave up on Tabata and I didn't have much of a problem with the move. But I was certainly very skeptical about trading AJax for Grandy.

8 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:32 pm

[7] I liked the Granderson move more than the Nady/Marte move, which I panned at the time, though not because of Tabata. I really don't think Tabata or Jackson will be major impact players long term. They'll be nice pieces, but Brett Gardner is better than either of them right now, even if he's a bit older.

9 monkeypants   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:33 pm

[0] From your piece on RoY candidates, regarding Carlos Santana:

Santana has cooled off since his blazing start...

And whatever hopes he had to win the award may have been dashed in last night's collision.

10 monkeypants   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:36 pm

[8] I really don’t think Tabata or Jackson will be major impact players long term...

I agree with you entirely. But I was not convinced that Grandy was going to contribute much, and he's unfortunately meeting that expectation. So I would rather they kept AJax until something better came along in the next year or three. Then again, maybe it was a better gamble to go after Granderson on the chance that he could recapture his earlier career magic, in which case his upside over the next few years looked to be much greater than AJax's.

11 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:36 pm

[9] Yes, I wrote that on Sunday night. Though early reports on Santana's knee are surprisingly positive, he was never really a contender having debuted so late.

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:40 pm

[10] Yeah, that was basically it, they gambled that Granderson + Kevin Long would get him out of his production nosedive and get him hitting lefties, but he's too far down the development curve, it seems. That trade is looking like a big bust right now, with Kennedy one of the few untouchables on the Diamondbacks and Jackson a ROY candidate for the Tigers. Seems they could have spent those chips better, but I don't think they would have found room for Kennedy in the rotation and I frankly don't want Jackson's disastrous K/BB ratio in the starting lineup.

I guess the one question is, would IPK have been a good solution in the bullpen? Having Kennedy and Coke as legitimate arms to help out in this year's pen might have been nice.

13 monkeypants   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:45 pm

[12] A team that has had Mitre, Moseley, Gaudin and Park in the bull pen AT THE SAME TIME surely could have found a way to make use of IPK, if not in relief then as the sixth starter they seem to need. The organization really seemed to sour on Kennedy, though.

14 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:54 pm

[13] Yes, I think there were a lot of issues with Kennedy's personality in 2008 that soured his relationship with the organization.

15 Paul   ~  Aug 3, 2010 3:59 pm

[8] I'm not sure on a "bit" older. At Tabata's age now, Gardner was putting up the same numbers in Staten Island. At Jackson's age now, Gardner was just finding himself in his second go at AA. Neither may develop much power, but if they do they become legitimate All-Star caliber CFs. That's worth quite a bit.

[12] With IPKs HR rate (1.5/9), I don't see how they would have ever trusted him with more than a few spot starts or mop up duty. Plus, they Yankees have plenty more where that came from (Phelps, McAllister, Nova, Warren, Stoneburner...)

I still hold out hope that Granderson can find his swing. But with the OF bats available this off-season, the Yankees should drop the cash with literally nothing in the system. Unless there's any chance they can turn the pitching and catching surplus in Matt Kemp.

16 Paul   ~  Aug 3, 2010 4:00 pm

[13] Again, that's the GM. There's no reason Melancon and Albie couldn't have kicked Gaudin and Park to the curb two months ago. How many long men do they need?

17 Raf   ~  Aug 3, 2010 5:21 pm

[2] We all shrugged because that's the reality of things. Personally, I'm thrilled that if they so desire the Yanks can go in 3 directions; buy whatever players they want, use whatever chips in their system to trade for a player they want, or promote from within. It says a lot when they can trade Tabata and Jackson and be in a position where they can trade for Lee, and still have little to no impact in day to day operations of the team

18 omarcoming   ~  Aug 3, 2010 6:36 pm

Arod is 35 and has a bad hip. Laird will be the next 3rd baseman while Alex DH's more in the coming years.
I saw Betances last wk. in Tampa. He is a big time "A" prospect.
I'm sure Cash knows that he must rebuild the team in the coming years. Without augmentation position players will to breakdown in their mid-thirties. Some pitchers have more shelf life. But young arms are the the big chips in the game.

Cash is smarter than me but I hope they put Montero in left field soon. The Yanks won World Series' with Elston Howard and Yogi in the outfield.

19 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 3, 2010 6:50 pm

[18] Don't hold your breath on Laird being the starting 3B.

20 Paul   ~  Aug 4, 2010 8:43 am

[19] If A-Rod goes down? I know I feel much better about Laird as his backup than I do Nunez, or even Almonte, for Jeter. He's not great, but I wonder what you would have said about Mike Lowell circa 1996. Laird was drafted higher, has bloodlines, and has found his power a year earlier.

21 Paul   ~  Aug 4, 2010 9:06 am

[20] I was mistaken in my memory. Laird was drafted in the 27th round. Lowell was drafted in the 20th round. They actually make an interesting comp from numbers alone - similar walk and power rates and with similar fielding stats. It would be interesting to compare scouting reports from Lowell then and Laird now.

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