Recently a lot has been made of the Yankees enormous spending this off-season, dishing out millions upon millions of dollars to A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia, and most recently their $180 million dollar investment in first basemen Mark Teixeira. The prominent question has been: Is this good for baseball?
The responses you’ll garner on that is wide-spread, but it seems to me that the better question is this: Is this theory and way of doing business good for an organization? To me… absolutely not.
The path to building a perennial championship contender must be done through the farm system. The Yankees exemplified this in their run of dominance in the mid-90’s and have since forgotten about it (See Posada, Jeter, Rivera, Bernie Williams, Pettitte). The Yankees have struggled to develop players that can provide solid production on the ML level over the last several years.
The Mets are not going to go out and dish out this kind of cash on free agents, or at least to this extreme, but they continue to place heavy emphasis on developing their own. The popular opinion is the Mets system is middle of the road, but Omar Minaya has placed a concentrated effort on improving it and not abdonining it.
We watched David Wright and Jose Reyes grow up within the organization’s lower levels and flourish on New York’s grandest stage. Fans undoubtedly have a special connect with such homegrown talent. Nick Evans, Daniel Murphy, Mike Pelfrey, and Joe Smith also made large contributions in 2008.
The Florida Marlins (Beckett, Willis, Cabrera), Boston Red Sox (Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester), Tampa Bay Rays (too many to name), Colorado Rockies (Francis, Tulowitzki, Holliday, Hawpe) and Detroit Tigers (Verlander, Zumaya, Granderson) have all relied on their farm system to reach the World Series over the last several seasons. Also [sigh] Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and the Phillies.
Another advantage of building and promoting talent within is the financial benefits and the amount it saves the organization. Omar Minaya and the Mets have done a very good job over the last several seasons of blending their own talent with free agents and acquisitions through trades.
Whether or not you believe the Yankees spending spree this off-season is good for baseball, the better question whether it’s actually a smart way of building a championship team. Based upon what we have seen recently, the answer seems to be no.