Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pitching: The Key to the Draft

Through eighteen rounds and sixteen picks, the Yankees draft is as follows:

  1. Slade Heathcott, CF
  2. John Murphy, C
  3. Adam Warren, RHP
  4. Caleb Cotham, RHP
  5. Robert Lyerly, 3B
  6. Sean Black, RHP
  7. Samuel Elam, LHP
  8. Gavin Brooks, LHP
  9. Tyler Lyons, LHP
  10. Neil Medchill, LF
  11. Brett Gerritse, RHP
  12. Deangelo Mack, LF
  13. Graham Stoneburner, RHP
  14. Shane Green, RHP
  15. Bryan Mitchell, RHP
  16. Chad Thompson, RHP

In short, I believe that the direction the Yankees have chosen for the draft is fantastic. Great pitching is much harder to come by than great hitting - particularly on the market. The demand for pitching is much higher than the demand for hitting, and the cost of pitching is greater than the cost of hitting. At the core of this is the fact that the attrition rate of pitching is much greater than that of hitters. Most of the well-known busts of the last dozen years or so have been pitchers, and most of the successful teams over that time have developed most of their pitching.

The Yankees began that route in 2006 (with a remarkable draft that included Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Zach McAllister, George Kontos, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, and David Robertson), and have continued it with this draft, with eleven pitchers drafted thus far. While the Sabathia and Burnett signings run counter to this strategy, let's not forget that Wang and Chamberlain are in the rotation, Hughes is set to take over for Pettitte, and the bullpen is mostly homegrown. By the time Sabathia and Burnett are done in pinstripes (for whatever reason), the Yankees should have the depth to make up for their losses.