Lane Meyer of NoMaas recently interviewed Yankees draft guru Damon Oppenheimer, and there were a few interesting nuggets I wanted to bring up.
On Gerrit Cole:
I’m really trying to move forward out of the Gerrit Cole situation. I’m not quite sure how much longer we’re going to have to beat this one into the ground. Gerrit Cole decided he was going to go to college, that that was in his best interest. At the time we took him, he and his family led us to believe that he wanted to sign and he wanted to be a New York Yankee. He didn’t lead us down the road that he wanted to be a Milwaukee Brewer, or be with somebody else – he led us down the road that he wanted to be a New York Yankee. And, between the time we took him and the time the signing deadline came, they had a change of heart, they changed their mind, and they were basing it, I think, on the maturity level. They had that option, and that’s the decision that they made. As much as I tried to talk to him and convince him that we thought the best spot for him was the Yankees, that’s not what they decided, and in the long run the player has the leverage.
This should put an end to the Gerrit Cole saga. The Yankees picked him with the understanding that he wanted to be a Yankee, and he changed his mind. They made the right pick, and hopefully they get a chance at a similar talent with the compensation pick in this year’s draft. Oppenheimer does say later in the article that this year’s draft looks strong.
Lane Meyer: So the money spent on Burnett, CC, and Tex doesn’t affect the budget you get?
Damon Oppenheimer: Not to this point, no.
That is good to hear, and brings home a point that many in the media have missed. The Yankees have not abandoned the youth movement, they just supplemented it by giving their younger players more of a cushion. Phil Hughes can focus on developing his pitches rather than winning ballgames. The Yankees remain committed to building their farm system, and the events of this offseason have done nothing to alter that stance.
On drafting injured players:
I think we’re looking for any way to gain an advantage and if that’s one of the things we see when we’re out there scouring to find talent, then we do it. What we try to do is, as we say, increase the applicant pool towards the draft, and that’s opening yourself up to different avenues to try and find talent. We’re going to be as efficient as we can be on the players everyone knows about, but then we’re going to try and find some other way to beat people, and whether it’s the injury guy, whether it’s the dual sport guy, whether it’s a conversion, you’re always trying to find that avenue.
Management’s job over the last few seasons has shifted to a role of discovering market inefficiencies and exploiting them. It is good to see the Yankees use their financial advantages to take risks that could have huge rewards. Joba Chamberlain and Andrew Brackman are two players that represent the fruits that this labor can bear.