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David Cone Trade: Lesson in Trading Prospects

By Mike Silva ~ July 1st, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

One of the biggest debates regarding Cliff Lee is teams giving up “top talent” to acquire a rental player. This holds true more for the Mets than the Yankees, who most believe are the favorites to land Lee as a free agent. It begs the question regarding prospects and how valuable they really are.

Both local teams have benefited from their homegrown talent this year as 22 of the current 50 active players came up through the system. With that said, holding on to prospects when the odds are against their success would be equally foolish. For every David Wright there is a Lastings Milledge. Despite the success of Phil Hughes there are no guarantees with pitchers as the Yanks have seen their share of arm injuries to top pitching prospects.

What does this mean with respect to Cliff Lee? When you have a chance to acquire an impact pitcher like him you do it. You don’t overpay, but to hold on to prospects too tightly is obviously foolish. Look at the story by Joel Sherman in yesterdays NY Post. Back in 1995 the Yankees minor league heads didn’t want Gene Michael to trade Marty Janzen (who?) to Toronto for David Cone. What if the Yanks decided to pass on Cone? The Yanks would make the playoffs on the last day of 95′ by just a single game. Cone went 9-2 down the stretch so you do the math. What happened to Janzen? He made 11 big league starts and posted a career 6.39 ERA for Toronto. He last pitched in 2005 for the now defunct Atlantic City Surf, then playing in the independent Atlantic League.

That is why trading Wilmer Flores, Jesus Montero, Jenrry Mejia, or Austin Romine shouldn’t be completely out of the question. Also remember that it’s easy for all of us to play armchair GM when in reality we only know a little about these players. The internet has opened up the information floodgate, but you can’t just use profiles, stats, or the grapevine to make every determination about a player. You have to trust that each organization has the ability to weigh the risk assessment of renting a pitcher like Cliff Lee.

The point is don’t fall in love with prospects who are “maybe’s.” The example of David Cone and Marty Janzen in 1995 reminds us of that fact.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to David Cone Trade: Lesson in Trading Prospects

  1. Viper

    You can’t compare the Cone deal back in ’95 to the Yankees now. Apples and oranges in every facet of the argument.

    They had a very long playoff drought back in ’95 and this was their chance to make a splash and get to the postseason.

    But the Yanks are now the defending champions and have been to the postseason in all but one season since 1993. They also have the best record in baseball and one of the best rotations in the league. And they’ve done all of this without Cliff Lee in their rotation.

    Cashman is NOT going to sacrifice top end catching prospects (the toughest players to develop in the major leagues) for a 3 month rental who is inevitably going to hit free agency and likely sign with them in the winter anyways.

    Never mind they’ll have to find a suitor for Javy Vazquez who has a NTC that prohibits the team from trading him to the west coast.

    All of this to fill a spot they don’t even need?

    Not gonna happen.

  2. TT

    its real easy. u have to put a value on ur prospects and decide if that guy is a future all star. if they r not u have to move them. if they think montero is a young miggy cabrera than it makes zero sense. but if they think hes just going to be solid they have to mvoe him while his value is high

  3. Viper

    I think valuing some kid as an All Star is an exaggeration.

    Nobody in the Yankee system thought Brett Gardner was capable of putting up All Star numbers, but they kept him because he had the tools to be a very useful player because of his speed and defense.

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