Have The New York Yankees Bought All Their Talent?
It seems that the general impression among those who follow major league baseball is that the New York Yankees "spend like drunken sailors" to buy every player on their roster so they can roughshod over the rest of baseball.
I decided to do a little research on this issue. Every major league team has a 40-man roster. This includes the active 25 man roster who are eligible to play in the game on the day they are on that roster.
It also includes 15 additional players who are either on the fifteen day disabled list or the "expanded roster" from which players may be designated to play by assigning another player from the active roster.
The 40 man roster is also used after September 1 to allow teams to get a look at prospects and rest players at the end of a long season as the playoffs approach.
The players on the 40 man roster are also subject to the trade deadlines after July 31 when players may not be traded without first clearing waivers.
So, let's look at the 40 man roster of the New York Yankees and see if they have purchased all of their players in "drunken sailor spending."
Players who are drafted originally by a team and make their way through the team's minor league system are often referred to as "home grown" as opposed to those players that developed in some other team's system and were traded for or were signed as free agents.
The Yankees currently have 13 pitchers on their 40 man roster who have all been "home grown" products.
They are Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Brackman, Joba Chamberlain, Wilkin de la Rosa, Christian Garcia, Eric Hacker, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Andy Pettitte, Edwar Ramirez (originally drafter by another team but released and playing independent baseball when signed by the Yanks in 2006), Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Chien Ming Wang.
Of these pitchers nine of them saw action for the Yankees last year. It will be obvious to any Yankee fan that among this group are some of the pitchers who have been most important to the team in recent years.
The Yankees also have two home grown catchers on the list, starter, Jorge Posada and minor leaguer, Francisco Cervelli. Obviously Posada has been one of the most instrumental Yankees in many of the thirteen straight years they made the playoffs.
Among the infielders, All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter and All-Star second baseman, Robinson Cano are home grown Yankees.
Juan Miranda is a first baseman who appeared briefly at the end of last season and is a high prospect for the Yankees, although his role as a first baseman is questionable now that the Yanks have signed Mark Teixeira to an eight year contract.
In the outfield Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are home grown Yankees. Those two are expected to compete for the starting job in center field for New York. Cabrera has been the regular in center field for most of the last three seasons but was replaced by Gardner late last year.
Hideki Matsui also was signed by the Yankees in his first venture in American major league baseball. He had played many years in Japan before signing with the Yankees, where he was a stalwart in left field for several years before a broken wrist and later knee injuries have relegated him to the role as DH.
So of the current 40 man roster, more than half, 21 players are playing for the team that signed them.
As Spring Training is underway in Florida and Arizona, three of the five starting pitchers for the Yankees have never played for another team: Pettitte, Wang and Chamberlain.
The same is true for closer Mariano Rivera, who is generally considered the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball.
Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, Edwar Ramirez and David Robertson all saw action in New York last year and could be important parts of the 2009 picture. Of this group only Ramirez has ever played for another team and the Angels released him two years before he was picked up by the Yanks.
The starting catcher, half the infield, two of the five players competing for starting outfield positions and the designated hitter are also "home grown" Yankees.
So it is likely that five "home grown" Yankees will start for the big team this year and it is possible that a six will start as position players on a regular basis.
It is true that the Yankees have spent big money to sign free agent pitchers C. C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett as well as first baseman, Mark Teixeira.
Among the other position players who look to play key roles this year only Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Xavier Nady were acquired from other teams or signed as free agents.
This omits Nick Swisher who was acquired from the White Sox in the off season because it is hard to see him playing very much and he may be traded.
From this perspective it would appear misleading to think that the Yankees buy pennants or "spend like drunken sailors" to get the players they want.
In fact, the Yankees have also been adept at scouting talent and developing that talent to help them compete at the highest level.
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