The Great Debate: Henry vs. Hansen

In the days following the 2005 draft, many reports have criticized the fact that the Yankees' passed on local product and St. John's closer, Craig Hansen, in favor of Oklahoma high school shortstop, C.J. Henry, in the 1st round. But, in the best interest of the system, Henry was certainly just what the Yankees needed.

The New York media, in the days after the draft, has let loose on the Yankees' scouting department for passing on local star, college closer, Craig Hansen. However, most of the basis of the complaints are simply going by the needs of the big league club. But, for what the Yankees need the most, Hansen was not their ideal pick, for good reason. He was quite high on the Yankee draft board, but essentially did not fit their draft plan. What are the Yankees lacking the most? True, blue chip, oozing with talent, and high potential types of players. It would be nice, but not a necessity to have a big league ready closer. In the scheme of things though, it is the Yankees' long term future that is in question, not just their mind boggling swoon early on here in 2005.

Perhaps it is simply because Craig Hansen is a local product and C.J. Henry was a little known commodity entering 2005. No matter what the reason, the criticisms of new scouting director, Damon Oppenheimer, hold little credence. Brought aboard to right the sinking ship that was the Yankee farm system, Oppenheimer did just about everything he could, landing quality player after quality player, including two five tool high school talents, one being Henry, the other Austin Jackson. While Hansen was tempting as a reliever that could pitch in the MLB this year, the organization's best interest was to inject some exciting athleticism into the low levels of the farm system. The solution to that was C.J. Henry, who sat atop the Yankee draft board on June 7th. Prior to the 2003, the Yankees were constantly scrutinized for obviously conservative drafts. But, like their 2003 and 2004 drafts, 2005 brought them a high upside high school player in the first round. Being that they left Hansen on the board may serve as a sign that they had a game plan that they were not going to stray from. After landing Henry, they went hard for college players for most of the draft.

The Boston Red Sox now have the best closer prospect of the 2005 draft. Nothing can take the sting out of that. Disregarding that though, the Yankees have finally laid out a game plan for us to see. They aren't running this farm system as carelessly as people have accused them of doing. The selection of Henry highlights that fact even more. Just look at the players from the 2004 draft that the Yankees selected. Going by the success of the low A Charleston RiverDogs, a team that contains several of the Yankees' 2004 selections, that game plan is becoming increasingly apparent and successful. If they can stick to the philosophy of building from the bottom and letting many of these players build towards the top, success for, at least some of these prospects, can almost be guaranteed.

For those who wanted Craig Hansen to be the 17th overall pick, don't forget that even the Yankees have a budget. Yes, they most certainly could have afforded him, but would they have been able to shell out almost $1 million to their 8th round pick, Austin Jackson? Signs point to no. And, you can guarantee, no matter which drafting philosophy you believe in, that a system that has a Jackson and Henry, two of the best five tools players in the country, is better than one with a relief pitcher that may only be in your farm system for months rather than years. As much as people may disagree considering the Yankees' recent slump, the big league team is not the problem, but it will be in the future if the player development and scouting departments don't keep at these toolsy potential stars.

No one can deny that the Yankees have had their fair share of draft duds. So, that may be another reason for the Craig Hansen outcry. There is no doubt that he was the safer pick, but the Yankees should be able to afford to take risks and fail if necessary. They have the means in which to keep the team competitive while these young players develop. So, why not take advantage? No, they won't all work out. Just ask Brien Taylor. There is one real bottom line here. No matter how bad things may seem right now, the Yankee team is not what needs help, it is the Yankees' future. Homegrown stars aren't coming through the system as frequently as they used to. And, the only way to reverse that trend is not going for a quick fix pick, but to put your faith into a young man who could be a fix for the Yankee lineup for years to come.

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