An Embarrassment Of Riches

Nearly everyone realizes that the Yankees' near trade for Cliff Lee to a starting pitching staff that already had 46 wins entering Friday night's contest with the Mariners is just an embarrassment of riches. What most don't realize, however, is that even losing three good to superb prospects wouldn't have hurt their farm system depth too much and that is the part that is just obscene.

The rich were about to get richer when the Yankees almost landed Cliff Lee from the Mariners, and the cost - three really good major league ready prospects - was certainly more than most teams should be expected to pay for what could have ultimately equated to a three month rental.

But had the deal been done, the Yankees farm system wouldn't have felt too much of an effect from the trade and that perhaps is the point the rest of baseball should be paying attention to for the foreseeable future.

Yes, there's no denying that Jesus Montero is one of the better offensive players in all of minor league baseball. He not only ranks as the top offensive catcher in the Yankees farm system, he ranks as their top offensive prospect overall.

But when putting defensive abilities into the catching equation, a strong argument could be made that Montero doesn't even rank among the top four catching prospects in their farm system overall.

By most baseball observers' standpoints, catcher should be a defensive-first position and that's where Montero's game clearly lags behind his offensive potential.

The Yankees already have Austin Romine in Double-A, a minor league level below Jesus Montero at the current time. But with as strong an arm, better flexibility, far superior receiving abilities, and better rapport with pitchers, Romine is by far the better defensive option in comparison.

He's also hitting .281 for the Trenton Thunder [entering Friday night's game] and has more doubles [21] and as many home runs [six] as Montero in 2010, and therefore easily the more complete package behind the plate.

There's little disputing the fact that Montero possesses more offensive potential, but unless the Yankees are willing to slate him into the designated hitter's role for the next few years with aging position players already at the big league level, Romine was already considered the heir apparent to Jorge Posada anyway.

That's not even considering the fact that J.R. Murphy and Kyle Higashioka, two better defensive options behind the plate whose statistics this year belie their true offensive talent and potential, and last year's top International signing, Gary Sanchez, whose offensive talent could match Montero's potential someday and who possesses Francisco Cervelli-like defensive prowess, are already in place down on the farm.

David Adams, an offensive-minded second baseman who definitely has above average offensive big league potential, is also quite adept at turning the double-play. But not only is he unlikely to supplant Robinson Cano at second base for the Yankees anytime soon, the Yankees arguably have a better offensive second base prospect one level below Adams in the form of Corban Joseph.

Joseph, who admittedly has some work to do to match Adams' ability at turning double-plays, is hitting .315 for the Tampa Yankees at the High-A level and he leads the Florida State League with 24 doubles.

And while Joseph was there to help relieve the potential loss of Adams in their organizational depth at second base, there's also Jimmy Paredes, a switch-hitting second baseman who has 31 steals already for the Charleston RiverDogs at a level below Joseph.

And finally, Zach McAllister, the final prospect proposed in the Cliff Lee trade, is a quality pitching prospect. He led the Double-A Eastern League in ERA last year as one of the youngest pitchers in the league, but his raw stuff pales in comparison to some of the other pitching prospects that could have been included in the deal: David Phelps [7-1, 2.07 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A this year] and Hector Noesi [11-3, 2.21 ERA between Double-A and High-A this year]. Both throw harder and both have much better secondary pitches.

Were the Yankees about to overpay for the services of Cliff Lee before the Mariners found another suitor? Absolutely. But the point is the Yankees can overpay in terms of prospects dealt away and the true sign that the deal overall would have been an embarrassment of riches is that it wouldn't have hurt the depth of the Yankees farm system all that much.

The pundits of the Yankees farm system and rest of baseball overall better wise up and realize what Brian Cashman and company have been able to build up down on the farm in recent years.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nThe rich were about to get richer when the Yankees almost landed Cliff Lee from the Mariners, and the cost - three really good major league ready prospects - was certainly more than most teams should be expected to pay for what could have ultimately equated to a three month rental.
\r\n
\r\nBut had the deal been done, the Yankees farm system wouldn't have felt too much of an effect from the trade and that perhaps is the point the rest of baseball should be paying attention to for the foreseeable future.
\r\n
\r\nYes, there's no denying that Jesus Montero is one of the better offensive players in all of minor league baseball. He not only ranks as the top offensive catcher in the Yankees farm system, he ranks as their top offensive prospect overall.
\r\n
\r\nBut when putting defensive abilities into the catching equation, a strong argument could be made that Montero doesn't even rank among the top four catching prospects in their farm system overall.
\r\n
\r\nBy most baseball observers' standpoints, catcher should be a defensive-first position and that's where Montero's game clearly lags behind his offensive potential.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees already have Austin Romine in Double-A, a minor league level below Jesus Montero at the current time. But with as strong an arm, better flexibility, far superior receiving abilities, and better rapport with pitchers, Romine is by far the better defensive option in comparison.
\r\n
\r\nHe's also hitting .281 for the Trenton Thunder [entering Friday night's game] and has more doubles [21] and as many home runs [six] as Montero in 2010, and therefore easily the more complete package behind the plate.
\r\n
\r\nThere's little disputing the fact that Montero possesses more offensive potential, but unless the Yankees are willing to slate him into the designated hitter's role for the next few years with aging position players already at the big league level, Romine was already considered the heir apparent to Jorge Posada anyway.
\r\n
\r\nThat's not even considering the fact that J.R. Murphy and Kyle Higashioka, two better defensive options behind the plate whose statistics this year belie their true offensive talent and potential, and last year's top International signing, Gary Sanchez, whose offensive talent could match Montero's potential someday and who possesses Francisco Cervelli-like defensive prowess, are already in place down on the farm.
\r\n
\r\nDavid Adams, an offensive-minded second baseman who definitely has above average offensive big league potential, is also quite adept at turning the double-play. But not only is he unlikely to supplant Robinson Cano at second base for the Yankees anytime soon, the Yankees arguably have a better offensive second base prospect one level below Adams in the form of Corban Joseph.
\r\n
\r\nJoseph, who admittedly has some work to do to match Adams' ability at turning double-plays, is hitting .315 for the Tampa Yankees at the High-A level and he leads the Florida State League with 24 doubles.
\r\n
\r\nAnd while Joseph was there to help relieve the potential loss of Adams in their organizational depth at second base, there's also Jimmy Paredes, a switch-hitting second baseman who has 31 steals already for the Charleston RiverDogs at a level below Joseph.
\r\n
\r\nAnd finally, Zach McAllister, the final prospect proposed in the Cliff Lee trade, is a quality pitching prospect. He led the Double-A Eastern League in ERA last year as one of the youngest pitchers in the league, but his raw stuff pales in comparison to some of the other pitching prospects that could have been included in the deal: David Phelps [7-1, 2.07 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A this year] and Hector Noesi [11-3, 2.21 ERA between Double-A and High-A this year]. Both throw harder and both have much better secondary pitches.
\r\n
\r\nWere the Yankees about to overpay for the services of Cliff Lee before the Mariners found another suitor? Absolutely. But the point is the Yankees can overpay in terms of prospects dealt away and the true sign that the deal overall would have been an embarrassment of riches is that it wouldn't have hurt the depth of the Yankees farm system all that much.
\r\n
\r\nThe pundits of the Yankees farm system and rest of baseball overall better wise up and realize what Brian Cashman and company have been able to build up down on the farm in recent years.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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