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Albert Pujols’ New Contract Could Open Door to Uncontrollable MLB Salaries

Albert Pujols is arguably the best baseball player this generation has seen. He is viewed as a model for what a baseball player should be amid the cloud of performance-enhancers that dominated baseball from the late ’90s to early 2000s. His year-to-year performances speak for themselves, and he has become an icon not only in the city of St. Louis, but for all baseball fans around the world.

Capturing his performance and status in the community, Pujols’ impending free agency is something that can possibly cripple the St. Louis Cardinals franchise for years. Unless his demands come down, there is little chance the Cardinals will be willing to give him what he is seeking. However, if the Cardinals relent and give him the $30 million per year he seeks, it may cripple them financially. This is baseball’s ultimate catch-22.

When one evaluates the landscape for Pujols’ services, they will find a diminished field of major players. Teams such as the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, that would normally be in the conversation, already have first base locked up for the foreseeable future. That leaves only a handful of teams that would be in a position to make a run at signing him. The most logical team would be the Chicago Cubs, who may be willing to meet the asking price. If that occurs, the impact in St. Louis would be even greater than just losing Pujols.

The most significant impact has to deal with how it will affect Major League Baseball.

Much has been made about the rising salaries for players in MLB. The contract that Alex Rodriguez signed is now viewed by many as the worst contract ever given. To judge Pujols’ worth by that standard, at face value, would be to say he is the better player and deserves to solidify his status as such.

If only it were that simple.

The ramifications of such a deal would immediately increase the average salary base of the players. In the last 5 years, salaries have increased 25.27% from $2,632,655 in 2005 to $3,297,828 in 2010*. A major reason for that increase is the  $275 million given to Alex Rodriguez in 2007 that contributed to an increase of 7.1% from 2007 to 2008*. 

Already this year, we have seen Jayson Werth, Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and Troy Tulowitski get deals in excess of $100 million with a potential extension worth that much in the works for Adrian Gonzalez. The effect on the average salary this year will be enormous. Add in a $300 million contract for Pujols, and the players’ salaries are bordering on uncontrollable.

At the time of Rodriguez’s contract, he was viewed by many as Pujols’ equal in terms of performance. Now, Pujols has surpassed him, which begs the question, what happens when Pujols is not worth his contract and a player like Joey Votto surpasses him? Does he become the first $33 million dollar player? 

Every major increase has a ripple down effect on the entire landscape of players. At this rate, the world may bear witness to the first $40 million dollar player within the next ten years.

* Source:

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Other Articles:

The NY Yankees Patience Series:

Part 1: Hector Noesi

Part 2: David Phelps

Part 3: Brandon Laird

Part 4: Adam Warren

Part 5: Eduardo Nunez

Part 6: Gary Sanchez (coming soon)

Related NY Yankee Articles:

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

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New York Yankees: Patience Part 5 (of 6): Eduardo Nunez

With all of 50 at bats at the major league level, this prospect from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is already infamous in Yankees history. 

He will forever be known as the player that did not land Cliff Lee.

Born on June 15, 1987, Eduardo Michelle Nunez is a right handed batter standing at 6’0″, weighing in at 155 pounds. Tall and lanky, he has an infielder’s body type and has been deemed by Brian Cashman as Derek Jeter’s successor at shortstop.

Cashman balked at including him in the 2010 deal that would have landed Cliff Lee when option one, David Adams, came up injured at trade time.

Eduardo was signed as a non-drafted free agent on February 25, 2004. He made an immediate impact when he was sent to Class A Staten Island in 2005. He hit .313 with 88 hits in 281 at-bats getting on base at a .365 clip. He stole six bases in nine attempts, showing his speed. Six of his hits were triples and had 11 doubles. 

When he was moved to Class A Charleston and high A Tampa, Eduardo regressed over the 2006 season. He hit a combined .214 with a .261 on-base percentage. What gave the Yankees some hope was the 22 stolen bases he tallied. 

In 2007, Eduardo started the year at Class A Charleston hitting a pedestrian .238 in 328 at-bats. He did, however, continue to display his speed by swiping 20 bags. 

Continuing to believe in his ability, the Yankees decided to move him by sending him to high A Tampa of the Florida State League. In 123 at-bats, he began to show why the Yankees had faith in him by turning the average around. He hit .285 with an on-base percentage of .336 while swiping nine more bases for a total of 29 on the year.

Nunez spent the entire 2008 season with Tampa and had some moderate success. He hit .271 in 373 at-bats, scoring 45 runs. He stole only 14 bases and was caught 10 times.  He was beginning to look like a fifth infielder at best, if not for some suspect defense. 

Things were about to change for him.

2009 saw Eduardo start to fulfill the promise that intrigued the Yankees and their hope for him in the future. He was promoted to Class AA Trenton and simply hit. In 497 at-bats, he hit .322, scored 70 runs, 26 doubles, nine home runs and a slugging percentage of .433 with an on-base percentage of .349. He stole 19 bases, but his decision-making still needed work, getting caught seven times.

This was the breakout that he and the Yankees were waiting for.

Scranton-Wilkes Barre was his first stop in 2010 and Eduardo kept rolling. In 464 at-bats, he hit .289 with 25 doubles, three triples, four home runs and a .340 on base percentage. He became a more disciplined base stealer, bagging 23 bases and getting caught only five times. 

Eduardo’s showing at Scranton convinced the Yankees that he deserved a call to the majors. In 50 at-bats with the big club, he hit a respectable .280 with 12 runs scored and five stolen bases. 

The biggest knock on Nunez has been his defense. He has a very strong arm, sometimes a little too strong for his own good. From 2005 through 2007, he made between 23 and 33 errors with a fielding percentage between .913 and .938. In 2008, he was 19 and .952, showing some development on defense, before regressing back to 33 and .932 with Trenton in 2009. 

In 2010, however, he may have started to put it together. In 101 games at SS, he made only 10 errors and had a fielding percentage of .976. Not stellar numbers by any stretch, but maybe a sign of where his development has come from where it started. 

Eduardo has a bat that appears to be major league ready, as evidenced in his 2010 showing at the major league level. If he can continue the development on defense, he could turn into a good all-around player. It is more likely he becomes a weapon off the bench with his speed, but even there he needs some work. The last few years he has begun to improve in the problem areas, so hope is definitely there.

Expecting this kid to be the heir apparent to Derek Jeter is a lofty goal for a player that still has a lot to prove. Still only 23 years old, he has developed well over the last few years and that could be a sign of things to come. 2011 could be a very telling year for him and his development as the next Yankees shortstop.


Brought to you by Pinstripes and Pasta

The Patience Series:

Patience Part 1: Hector Noesi

Patience Part 2: David Phelps

Patience Part 3: Brandon Laird

Patience Part 4: Adam Warren

Patience Part 5: Eduardo Nunez (Above)

Patience Part 6: Gary Sanchez


Related Articles:

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

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New York Yankees: Patience Part 4 (of 6): Adam Warren

What is the going rate for a cerebral college pitcher with a continually developing arsenal, increasing strikeout rate, and a perennial winner?  How about a fourth round draft pick in the 2009 amateur draft by the New York Yankees.

Adam P. Warren is a 6’1″, 200lb right hand pitcher from New Bern, NC.  He played his high school ball at New Bern High, where he earned the New Bern Journal’s “Baseball Player of the Year” award.  An honor roll student, he graduated fifth in his class.

Warren went on to pitch for the University of North Carolina in 2006 and helped turn around what was not a highly regarded baseball program.  “We had not been to the College World Series since something like 1989, I think” says Warren in 2009. “And now I have been there four times.”  This was not a coincidence.

It was his sophomore season of 2007 when Warren really started to shine.  He went 12-0, sporting a minuscule 2.17 ERA in 70 2/3 innings.  His 12-0 record ranks as the most victories without a loss in school history.  Warren also earned two wins in the College World Series, allowing a total of two runs on six hits in 10 2/3 innings.

Warren’s junior season at UNC, in 2008, saw an incredible feat come to an end.  He suffered his first loss as a collegiate player after a run of 19 straight victories spanning his first three seasons.  It was the longest streak by a UNC Tarheel since Scott Bankston ran off 20 straight during the 1983-1984 seasons.

Warren’s senior season in 2009 saw him go 10-2 with a 3.31 ERA. The most impressive part about his development as a college player was his ever increasing strikeout rate.  He went from a K/9 rate of 5.6 as a freshman, to a 6.3 rate as a sophomore, 7.9 rate as a junior and finishing with a 9.5 rate as a senior.  This development, and his playoff success—six earned runs in 22 1/3 innings, 23 strikeouts and two walks—made it difficult not to notice him.

Warren was drafted in the 36th round in 2008 by the Cleveland Indians.  He went back to school for his senior season, and it payed off because the Yankees took him with the 135th pick of the 2009 first-year player draft.

Warren was sent to short season Staten Island in 2009 and simply dominated.  In 56.2 innings, he sported a 1.43 ERA with only 49 hits, 10 walks and an awesome 50 strikeouts.  Hitters were baffled against him with a .236 batting average against.

In 2010, Warren began the year with class A Tampa and went 7-5 with a 2.22 ERA, 72 hits, 67 strikeouts and 17 walks in 81 innings.  He was promoted to class AA Trenton where it was more of the same. He finished the year with a 2.59 ERA with 121 hits, 126 strikeouts and only 33 walks in 135.1 innings.

The increasing strikeout rate continued as a professional.  In 2009, it was a 7.9 K/9 pitching for Staten Island.  He improved to 8.3 in 2010 with Tampa and Trenton.  His strikeout rate was actually the best at Trenton—9.7 K/9—where the competition is at a higher level than his two previous stops.

In an interview with Lane Meyer, Warren describes his arsenal as “a four-seam fastball between 90-94” (reports are it touched 96 in the minors) and a two-seamer that “don’t lose much velocity” but “does get a little sink”.  He also has a change up “that sinks a little bit” and a 12 to 6 curveball that is still developing.

Finally he throws “what has started off as a cutter but has now developed into more of a slider that runs anywhere from 80-85 miles an hour”.

Warren has excellent control—his WHIP in the minors is 1.10—and a good feel for his pitches.  He mixes his pitches very well, as evidenced by his large arsenal, and does a great job changing speeds.  He can throw anything from a 74 MPH curveball to a 96 MPH fastball, so it plays a huge role in what he does on the mound.

It looks as if Warren will start the year at either class AA Trenton or AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.  It is conceivable that he will battle for a rotation spot in spring training.  He has the talent to be a solid middle of the order starter.  If he keeps improving on his strikeout rate, who knows where it may lead.

It is very clear that Adam Warren is a winner and has been his entire career.  This would make his transition to the rotation in the Bronx smoother.  The pressure is on, and Warren, seemingly, can handle whatever is thrown at him.


Brought to you by Pinstripes and Pasta

The Patience Series:

Patience Part 1: Hector Noesi

Patience Part 2: David Phelps

Patience Part 3: Brandon Laird

Patience Part 4: Adam Warren (Above)

Patience Part 5: Eduardo Nunez

Patience Part 6: Gary Sanchez


Related Articles:

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Read more MLB news on

New York Yankees: Patience Part 3 (of 6): Brandon Laird

Are you in the market for a 27th round draft pick with a good baseball eye and a propensity to hit home runs?  The Yankees decided the answer was yes with the 884th pick of the 2007 MLB amateur draft.

Brandon Laird, a 6’1″, 215 pound right-handed hitter and the brother of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird, was a star at La Quinta High School in Westminster, CA.  As a varsity shortstop in 2004 and 2005, he hit .545 with eight home runs in 124 at bats (one home run every 15.5 ABs).  As a bonus, Laird pitched to a 1.91 ERA, 12 wins, six complete games, and 124 strikeouts in only 88 innings pitched.  He was named First-Team All-League, First-Team All-CIF, Second-Team All-American, and League MVP in his high school career.

Laird was drafted out of high school in the 27th round in 2005 by the Cleveland Indians. He decided not to sign and took his bat to Cypress College.  Since Cypress was a two year school, he would be eligible for the draft again in 2007 as opposed to 2009 had he chosen a four year college.  

All Laird did at Cypress was hit balls, and hit them hard.  In 2006, he led the team with 74 hits, including a ten game hitting streak to start the season.  In 54 games, he hit .341 with six home runs, and slugged .484.  Laird’s sophomore season in 2007 saw him get even better, hitting an amazing .392 with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .672.  

When the Yankees picked him in the 27th round, he decided to sign rather than move on to a four year college.

Laird’s first professional season was in 2007 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees

He picked up right where he left off.  

In 168 ABs he averaged .339 while slugging .577 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.

The Yankees rewarded Laird in 2008 and moved him up to class A Charleston and it is here that he started to show his power.  In 454 At bats, he hit .273, slugged .498, and smacked 23 home runs with 86 RBIs.  

With that level of production, Laird was beginning to look like a late-round steal for the Yankees.

 He was promoted to high A Tampa in 2009 but his season did not match up to his 2008 campaign.  Laird’s stats fell in almost every category with a .266 average and he slugged only .415 in 451 ABs with just 13 home runs.  Where Laird did improve, however, is in strikeouts. He was wrung up only 75 times (compared to 86 in 2008), showing an improved discipline at the plate.

However, the Yankees felt Laird’s 2009 showing was enough for a promotion to Double A Trenton in 2010. Armed with a fresh start, Laird smashed 23 home runs in only 409 ABs (one home run every 17.8 ABs), slugging .523 with 90 RBIs, 84 strikeouts, and an OBP of .355.  He was promoted to Scranton Wilkes-Barre where his numbers dipped but he finished 2010 with a .281 average, 25 home runs, and 102 RBIs in 531 ABs.

Laird has a keen baseball eye and knows how to work a count.  However, if he could cut down on his strikeouts, his value would improve dramatically.  His OBP has sat in the .329 to .336 range, which is good for a slugger.  

The video shows Laird’s plate discipline.  He is able to work out a walk after being down 0-2 in the count and does not chase many pitches out of the zone.  His swing is long and smooth, and if he can shorten it he’ll likely make more consistent contact and improve on his strikeouts and OBP.

Laird would be the perfect fit as the fourth outfielder that the Yankees are looking for, if not for his suspect defense.  His bat is Major League ready and he should start the season at Scranton Wilkes-Barre where he can build on his hitting and improve defensively.  He has good power to all fields and can project to be a perennial 25-30 home run hitter.

Brandon Laird is just another example of the great scouting that Brian Cashman and the Yankees have found in the late rounds.  Just one more powerful reason the future looks bright in the Bronx.


The Patience Series:

Patience Part 1: Hector Noesi

Patience Part 2: David Phelps

Patience Part 3: Brandon Laird (Above)

Patience Part 4: Adam Warren

Patience Part 5: Eduardo Nunez

Patience Part 6: Gary Sanchez


Related Articles:

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Read more MLB news on

New York Yankees: Patience Part 2 (of 6): David Phelps

What would you pay for a 6’3″, 190 lb pitcher with a mid 90s fastball, who was ranked as the 5th best prospect in Indiana by Baseball America?  The Yankees decided that the price was the 440th pick in the 2008 amateur draft.

Born on October 9, 1986 and raised in Hazelwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, David Phelps played both basketball and baseball for Hazelwood High School.  A National Honor Society student, he set the school record with a 30-inning scoreless streak and compiled a high school stat-line for the Wildcats consisting of a 2.96 ERA and 172 strikeouts in only 109.2 innings.  Those stats helped him get named to the All-Conference team and All-Metro performer while serving as a captain his junior and senior year.

He committed to Notre Dame in 2005 while being ranked the sixth best prospect in Missouri.  As a starter in his sophomore year, Phelps didn’t disappoint by posting a stellar 1.88 ERA, five complete games and 102 strikeouts in 110 innings.  The result of such a phenomenal season?  He was named to the All-Conference First Team. 

What may turn out to be a lucky break for the Yankees, he did not match his success as a junior by posting a 4.65 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 93 innings.  Expected to be drafted in the first eight rounds, he fell in the Yankees’ laps in the 14th round of the 2008 amateur draft.

Once signed, he moved through the Yankees farm system at a rapid pace.  With the A ball Staten Island Yankees in 2008; he made 15 starts in a short season.  Phelps showed what he was made of with an 8-2 record, 52 strikeouts, 18 walks, and a meager 67 hits in 72.2 innings.  His ERA was a whopping 2.72 and batters hated facing him by posting a .245 BAA.

Phelps first full professional season in 2009 was even better.  Starting the year with A ball Charleston and finishing with Tampa, he continued his rapid ascent through the system.  Starting to show his stamina, he logged 151 innings while annihilating the competition with a 2.32 ERA, 122 strikeouts with a minute 31 walks, and a .263 BAA.

Another fantastic season led to another promotion and Phelps started 2010 in AA Trenton.  He proceeded to go 6-0 in 4 starts posting a 2.04 ERA.  He allowed 63 hits and 23 walks (good for a 0.98 WHIP) striking out 84 hitters in 88.1 innings.  The cream of the crop in MLB prospects hit a meager .199 against him.  The sky was the limit for David Phelps.

Midway through the 2010 season, the Yankees promoted Phelps to AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.  In 70.1 innings, his ERA was 3.07 while striking out 57 batters, issuing a microscopic 13 walks, and allowing 76 hits to the tune of a .274 BAA.  Phelps continued to carve out his workhorse mentality with a combined 158.2 innings for the 2010 season.

The numbers say that Phelps is a ground ball pitcher, evidenced by a GO/AO between 1.12 and 1.56 throughout his minor league career.  He does a good job of commanding the bottom of the strike zone and as a result does not allow a lot of home runs (20 HRs in 382.1 MiLB innings).

Sean S., from the Yankees Daily, reports “Phelps’ fastball has been clocked between 89 and 95 but will sit in the low 90s.  He has a good sinking two-seam fastball along with a plus slider.”  Phelps also features a change-up and 1-7 curveball that Sean says “if he gets to an 0-2 count, he’ll throw the breaking ball to strike them out.”

His 2.0 BB/9 average in the minors shows Phelps’ control.  If he can develop one of his offspeed pitches to become a plus pitch, it can put him at another level.  He is a legit prospect that appears to have the chops as a third or fourth type starter that can eat innings.  

Phelps has shown remarkable control with a WHIP of 1.16 through three minor league levels.  Chances are he will never be an ace type but his potential to be a third or even second type starter is there with the right development.

As of right now he will probably be given a shot to earn the fifth starter job in spring training.  If he does not, then he will start the year with Scranton Wilkes-Barre and probably be one of the first pitchers called up if the Yankees need him.  Phelps is just another example of the remarkable scouting that Cashman’s team has done to turn this once moribund farm system into one of the best in MLB.



The Patience Series:

Patience Part 1: Hector Noesi

Patience Part 2: David Phelps (above)

Patience Part 3: Brandon Laird

Patience Part 4: Adam Warren

Patience Part 5: Eduardo Nunez

Patience Part 6: Gary Sanchez

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New York Yankees: Patience Part 1 (of 6): Hector Noesi

There is a lot of talk about how Brian Cashman failed this offseason.  When he failed to land “the big fish,” which is Cliff Lee, the entire 2011 season became a bust.  He is preaching “patience;” a very taboo word in this city, with this team.  

The question on peoples’ minds is this: what are we being patient for?  What moves does Cashman have lined up that the Yankee Universe is unaware of?  The answer is down on the farm.

Not since the days of Gene “Stick” Michael have the Yankees enjoyed riches in the minor leagues like they have today.  Cashman has been able to build a farm system that has the potential to be something special in 2011 and years to come.  

Those who follow the Yankees and baseball are aware of blue chip prospects Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.  What they may not be aware of are some of the less-heralded prospects that the Yankees have drafted or signed in recent years that are just now starting to show their potential.  

Last year the world was introduced to Ivan Nova.  Let’s meet another of the pitching prospects that are poised to make an impact potentially in 2011 and the reason for “patience.”

Hector Noesi, a 6’2″, 175 lb right-hander hailing from Esperanza (which translates to “hope” in English), Dominican Republic, was signed by the Yankees on December 3rd, 2004.  Born on January 26, 1987, he is only 23 years old and finished the 2010 season with the Yankees AAA affiliate in Scranton Wilkes-Barre.  The last two years, he has started to open eyes throughout the baseball community.

After undergoing successful Tommy John surgery, the 2009 season is when he started to shine.  He posted a 2.92 ERA over 26 appearances (20 starts).  In 117 innings pitched, he surrendered 96 hits, 15 walks, 118 strikeouts, and six HRs allowed with a minuscule .220 average against over two stops in A ball.  

In 2010, Noesi started the year with class A Tampa and dominated over 43 innings.  He went 5-2 in eight starts compiling a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits, six walks, three HRs allowed and a staggering 53 strikeouts.  That performance earned him a call-up to Trenton where he continued to excel.  

His next stop in the 2010 season was AA Trenton.  There Noesi had a record of 8-4 over 98.2 innings, 90 hits and 86 strikeouts. He issued 18 walks and held opposing hitters to a .243 average.  The HR was not a major issue in 2010 as he allowed a mere 11 total in 160.1 innings (.62 HR/9 innings). 

Finally, Noesi finished 2010 at Scraton Wilkes-Barre and struggled a little in three starts (18.2 innings, 23 hits, 14 Ks, .311 BAA) but that could certainly be the result of “moving to the next level jitters.”  Way too small of a sample size to determine anything for a kid that has been successful at all levels before this.

A stat that jumps off the page are the three complete games Noesi pitched during the 2010 season (two with Trenton and one with Scranton Wilkes-Barre) that show his stamina.  Frank Piliere, a scout for the Texas Rangers in 2009, said, “Maybe most impressive of all was his stamina; his stuff would sometimes improve as his pitch count mounted.”

Frank Piliere goes on to cast Noesi as “having the stuff of a No. 3 big league pitcher.”  It was in this season (2009) that he developed a curveball that Piliere says has “good 12-6 action” and at times “flashes as being plus.”  Piliere also praised Noesi for a “well spotted 90-94 MPH fastball” that “with an occasional change up mixed in, showed tremendous growth in 2009 and became a complete pitcher.”  Noesi was invited to play in the Futures Game at All-Star weekend in 2010.

It looks as if Noesi will start the year in Scranton Wilkes-Barre this season.  If Andy Pettitte decides to retire he may compete for a spot in the 2011 rotation in spring training. All indications are that this is a prospect that could have a major impact in 2011 and beyond.  

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New York Yankees: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Not many people are aware of the deep history of the Atlanta Braves. This is a team whose roots go all the way back to 1869, in Cincinnati, where they were the first established baseball team in the history of the game, the Cincinnati Red Stockings. After trips to Boston—complete with a name change to the Braves in 1912—and Milwaukee in 1953, they moved to Atlanta in 1966 and settled into their new home where they would stay.

They have seen many of the greatest baseball players mankind has ever seen: Warren Spahn, Henry Aaron and even the greatest that ever played, George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

Fast forward to 1992. The Toronto Blue Jays were the dominant force in the American League that year and handily rolled through the Oakland Athletics four games to two and then the Atlanta Braves by the same tally. Those same Atlanta Braves were at the beginning of building one of the greatest playoff runs in the modern era, in the second year of a historic 14 straight division titles that finally ended after the 2005 season.

Under the tutelage of Bobby Cox, serving in his second stint as Braves manager, they had built what was one of the most formidable pitching staffs in baseball, with young hurlers Tom Glavine (22 wins and a Cy Young award in 1991), Steve Avery (18 wins) and a young fireballer by the name of John Smoltz (15 wins). These three pitchers had pitched the Braves to the World Series each of the past two years, but both were losses, and more work was needed to be done.

Greg Maddux had just completed a season in which he won the National League Cy Young award for the first time and would not relinquish that award for the next three seasons—winning it four years in a row from 1992 to 1995. He was one of the best pitchers in the game—if not the best—and was hitting the free-agent market with a fever pitch. Teams lined up for his services, including the most storied franchise in sports: the New York Yankees.

The Yankees had a run of bad luck; and for this particular franchise, it was a run of very bad luck. They had not been to the World Series since 1981 where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers and had not won a World Series since 1978, the year of the fabled Bronx Zoo. They had a young prospect by the name of Bernie Williams who was at the cusp of becoming a household name.

Donald Arthur Mattingly, a veteran player who was already a household name, was respected by many inside and outside the city of New York. The pieces were being laid out for a turnaround; all they needed was a man to lead a dismal rotation. The man that they targeted was Maddux.

As the Yankees had done before (with varying degrees of success), they threw money at Maddux. They presented an offer worth $34 million to include a $9 million signing bonus. Since he was a Scott Boras client, one would think that deal could get the job done. Instead, Maddux took $28 million from the Atlanta Braves to join a rotation that was dominant before his arrival and became superhuman afterwards. $6 million is still a lot of money, especially when one considers his salary.

It was not until three years later, in 1995, that the Braves finally won their World Series beating the Cleveland Indians. That would be the only World Series win during that remarkable 15-year playoff run. Three Cy Young awards for Greg Maddux in an Atlanta Braves uniform; one World Series win!

What happened next is etched in baseball history forever. A series of well thought out signings, crafty trades and budding young stars put the Yankees back on the map. So, much so that in the strike-shortened season of 1994 they had the best record in the American League before the strike destroyed the season (70‐43, second to Montreal at 74‐40). The seeds of a turnaround were in place and they did not include Greg Maddux.

In 1996 the Yankees won their first World Series in 18 years against those very same Atlanta Braves. Against all odds, facing what was perceived as perhaps the greatest pitching staff of the modern era, the Bronx Bombers overcame a 0‐2 deficit in the series. Who was on the mound for Atlanta for the clincher in Game 6? Greg Maddux himself. Sweet redemption.

Then there was the magical season of 1998 when the Yankees posted 125 wins total in the regular season and postseason—a record that will be quite difficult to break. Then in 1999 they faced those very same Braves, featuring Greg Maddux, and demolished them four straight games. The Yankees two, Greg Maddux nothing.

There is a similar formula in the mix in these modern times. Already, fans are seeing the fruit of Brian Cashman’s labors coming up through the system to become impact players. Robinson Cano looks like a perennial MVP candidate and Gold Glove winner at second base. Brett Gardner emerged as a very capable left fielder in his first full season. Ivan Nova showed enough to make us believe he will be a serviceable back end starter, and Phil Hughes made his face known to the world and showed everyone why he was ranked as the best pitching prospect in baseball just a few short years ago.

Reminiscent of some players from those great Yankee teams post‐Maddux that featured up‐and‐coming‐players such as Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, and Derek Jeter. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

It does not end there either. There are potential stars in the making waiting to get their shot. Catcher Jesus Montero, regarded by some as the best catching prospect in baseball, will get a chance to taste the majors this year. Austin Romine, another hot catching prospect known for his defense, is not far behind. Manuel Banuelos is perceived to have top‐of‐the‐rotation stuff. Dellin Betances is in the same category.

Andrew Brackman started showing us the reason the Yankees drafted him and waited through his Tommy John rehab. Slade Heathcott, the 2009 No. 1 draft pick, may be a few short years away. These are just naming a few of the many rising potential players in the years to come.

Gamers like Nick Swisher take me back to the days of Paul O’Neill. Curtis Granderson showed at the end of the season, and all through the playoffs, that he is willing to learn and adjust and it paid dividends. Mark Teixeira does more for the Yankees than just slug homers. Just ask Derek Jeter and his polished Gold Glove.

Maybe this is merely a one‐year blip until the talent is here. These prospects could have an impact this year. The score is already Yankees 1, Cliff Lee 0. If the 10 years have taught us anything, it is there is more parity in baseball than people think. It’s still anybody’s game.

The Braves won one World Series, just one, for all that star pitching. The Phillies have won one World Series, although without Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Maybe they win in 2011, and Lee, Halladay and Oswalt finally get that elusive ring. So far Halladay has one Cy Young award in a Philly uniform, and no World Series wins.

All the pieces are there for the next great Yankee Dynasty. A rotation of homegrown talent, started with Hughes and now Nova, reminds me of the talent influx from the 1990s. True that the Yankees pitching isn’t any better off than it was at the end of last season, but it is not worse after. Is a rotation that features CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, AJ Burnett and perhaps Andy Pettitte any worse than the 1995 team that made the playoffs featuring Jimmy Key, David Cone, Jack McDowell and Andy Pettitte?

Look what happened to that team in 1996 against Greg Maddux. They have weathered much worse staffs than this to playoff contention, and that was when help was not in sight. The horses are in the stable, now let’s see when Cashman and Joe Girardi decide the time is right to trot them out.

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