2010 ALCS: New York Yankees Need To Follow Texas Rangers' Homegrown Strategy
The 2010 ALCS taught us a very important lesson: Homegrown talent wins championships. The Texas Rangers are finally seeing the maximum performance expected by many of their young players when they were drafted.
Homegrown players do not even need to play for your team for a long time to have a lasting impact on your franchise's success. General managers can trade top homegrown talent for superstars at the trade deadline; that can make the difference in the post season.
Justin Smoak, a Rangers top prospect, was the centerpiece in the Cliff Lee trade, which has turned out to be one of the best midseason acquisitions ever.
The Yankees know how to win with homegrown talent. Their dynasty of the late 1990's and early 2000's was built on great homegrown talent like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees need to revert back to that format, because the best way to build a perennial winner is to build it yourself, and not reach out to outside sources, such as free agency.
Now we will look at several reasons why the Yankees need to copy their strategy from the early 1990's if they want to build another Yankee dynasty.
Lack of Homegrown Talent
The 2010 Yankees are now feeling the effects of having little homegrown talent. Several of their superstar players, such as Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and many more, were not drafted by the Yankees.
Only Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner are the only homegrown offensive players who have done well for the Yankees the last few years.
Cano is an MVP candidate, but he is the only elite homegrown offensive force the pinstripes have had for a long time.
Pitcher Phil Hughes, who was too good to give up for Johan Santana in 2008, has developed nicely. But his high ERA is a major concern, and he also receives a lot of run support as well.
It is hard to build a great pitching staff when it changes constantly because there is no continuity or familiarity.
The 1990's Yankees Blueprint
In the early 1990's, the Yankees realized spending lavish amount of money was not the solution to winning the World Series. So they made a strong, committed effort to develop young talent.
The outcome? Yankee legends like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte grew as one of the best trios of homegrown talent ever, all of them future hall of famers. You could even argue Rivera and Jeter are among the best players ever at their position.
The 1996, 1998-00 World Series winning Yankees teams were built with a perfect mix of great young players with solid veterans.
Paul O'Neil, Tino Martinez and David Wells were among the many veterans who blended in perfectly with young stars Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
Every Yankees fan loves Tino Martinez; unfortunately, there's no veteran leader on the Yankees in 2010 like him.
Justin Smoak Made the Rangers 2010 AL Champs
The most important aspect of having great homegrown talent is they are coveted in trades for superstars.
Each trade deadline and offseason, every major trade involves several prospects. Rarely in baseball do we see blockbuster trades involving multiple superstars.
This season, the Rangers traded one of baseballs top prospects, Justin Smoak, to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee. There were other players involved in the Lee trade, but Smoak was the centerpiece, a potential franchise player.
Cliff Lee has been the pitching ace the Rangers have lacked for many, many years. Lee had a great regular season and hasn't lost in the 2010 playoffs.
Lee struck out 13 Yankee batters in game three of the ALCS and is the likely choice to start game one of the World Series.
Texas was able to put themselves above many AL teams with their acquisition of Cliff Lee, and their deep minor league talent made it all possible.
Mark Teixeira Helped Create the 2010 Rangers
First baseman Mark Teixeira enjoyed several wonderful seasons with the Texas Rangers, posting incredible offensive numbers.
But as a young player due for a pay day that Texas could not provide him, general manager Jon Daniels sent Teixeira to Atlanta for Elvis Andrus, a speedy lead-off hitter, and Neftali Feliz, one of the best young closers in the game today.
Feliz has established himself as closer who does not crumble under the pressure, in the regular season against the top teams, and so far in the 2010 MLB playoffs.
Neftali Feliz was breezing 100mph fastballs past Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez on Friday night, and the Yankees still owe their 35-year-old star tens of millions of dollars.
This trade was the catalyst to the Rangers current success and the first of many shrewd trades that have made the Rangers a top contender.
The Benefits of a Strong Minor League System
Baseball America ranked the Texas Rangers minor league system as the best in baseball during 2008 and 2009.
Several players from the minors have made huge impacts this season for Texas, and there are more who have yet to have their chance to shine.
Players who have made important contributions this season fresh from the minors are second baseman Ian Kinsler, outfielder Julio Borbon and pitchers Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson.
While Kinsler has been in the majors a few seasons, he is an example of the quality young talent the Rangers farm system has developed.
The Yankees farm system has been weak for the last decade, and with every type-A free agent they sign, they lose draft picks which would have helped them rebuild their minor league system.
With little young talent, the Yankees have only been able to acquire veteran players who are usually past their prime. Bobby Abreu, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Xavier Nady were not key contributors to the Yankees, and none of them won the World Series in New York.
The Yankees must develop homegrown talent, to ensure they can attract top players who still have many years of success ahead of them. There's no point in giving up young talent for a cheap veteran fix when you are the Yankees.
2010 Offseason Very Important for the Yankees
This offseason will be very difficult for the Yankees. Derek Jeter is a free agent, but even though it's hard to imagine him leaving, how much is general manager Brian Cashman willing to pay his captain?
Jeter's performance declined in 2010, and he is in his 30s.
The starting rotation also needs a lot of work, as Sabathia is the only consistent ace on the staff. AJ Burnett, who was signed before last season for five years at around $80 million, has not been a success.
The bullpen also needs to be retooled. Mariano Rivera cannot pitch at a high level forever, and right now, the Yankees have no one capable of replacing him.
The Yankees need to get younger and faster. If they begin to develop homegrown talent, they will rebuild the Yankee dynasty of the 1990's.
The veteran players are there; now New York needs to inject their organization with some youth and build for the future.
Five Questions To Ponder
Here are five burning questions for readers to discuss/ponder:
1.) Will New York attempt to sign Cliff Lee, and can they afford the draft picks Texas will receive if New York gets Lee?
2.) Is Derek Jeter worth $10m per season for the next four to five years?
3.) How quickly can the Yankees find Mariano Rivera's successor?
4.) Are the Rangers ready to dominate baseball for the next decade?
5.) How likely is Cliff Lee to re-sign with Texas?