There is no question the New York Yankees are entering the 2013 season with a ton of questions and issues. The lack of talent being infused into the team from their farm system has only exacerbated this problem. The injuries that have besieged the Yankees this spring has only exposed the lack of upper-level depth in the Yankees system but things will change in the next year or two.
The 1995 Yankees saw the debuts of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. Those four helped usher in an era of winning that most Yankee fans have become accustomed to. Since then, the Yankees have only developed one position player that has truly helped the Yankees at the Major League level and that is Robinson Cano who debuted in 2005. The Yankees winning ways have forced them to draft towards the bottom of the draft every year and the Yankees have not been able to capitalize.
A quick look at the names the Yankees have taken in the first round since 1996 is depressing if you are a Yankees fan. Names like David Walling, Tyrell Goodwin, Andy Brown, Eric Duncan, David Parrish, John-Ford Griffin, Bronson Sardinha, Jon Skaggs, C.J. Henry and Andrew Brackman serve as reminders that the Yankees have had a lot of trouble finding talent to infuse a roster that could have used an injection of youth. The jury is still out on Cito Culver and Dante Bichette, Jr. who were drafted in 2010 and 2011 but both must overcome questions surrounding their future.
The Yankees have also drained their farm system in recent years in trades. A quick look at the team’s number one prospects over the years since 1996 serves as further evidence that the Yankees farm system hasn’t infused the talent that is expected and more often than not has served as trade fodder. Ruben Rivera, Eric Milton, Nick Johnson, Drew Henson, Dioner Navarro, Eric Duncan, Phil Highes, Joba Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero have all spent time at the top of the Yankees’ prospects. They either never made a major impact in the Major Leagues or did so on another team. Only Hughes and Chamberlain have had any impact on the Yankees and their times might be coming to a close after this season as free agency approaches and the Yankees’ desire to get under the $189 million luxury tax might force them to look for other options.
All is not doom and gloom, however. The Yankees do have some real talent in the Minor Leagues. Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez, Manny Banuelos, Mason Williams, Mark Montgomery and Slade Heathcott all could be playing major roles on the Yankees beginning as early as next season. Montgomery could make his appearance in the Bronx as early as this year. The Yankees, thanks to letting a few free agents walk will have three picks in the first 32 of the 2013 MLB Draft. The Yankees must find players who will sign and who can make an impact as quickly as possible, no small task but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
The Yankees might be down for a year or two but reinforcements are on the way and the Yankees could soon be fielding a mostly home-grown team soon. The Yankees shift in philosophy to get under the luxury tax threshold might be the best thing that happened to the Yankees since the 1996 World Series win. It has forced the Yankees to look to develop their own talent to keep costs down, to keep the Yankees infused with young talent, and to depend less on declining years of free agents in the open market.
Right now the average age of the Yankees 40-man roster is just over 28. In two years it could be two or three years younger and the Yankees could be much more dynamic and athletic than they are right now. So while there might be some storm clouds over Yankee Stadium right now there is certainly some sunlight right behind the clouds.