We spoke a few weeks ago about the farm. First, we discussed the persistent issues, and second, we discussed what had been good about the 2014 season. So here's a question that's worth asking: is the farm still a problem?
I really don't think so, unless it turns out the Denbo lacks a winning vision and if they hire the wrong guys for their remaining job openings. I'm sort of hoping Mario Garza or John Kremer gets the player development gig, but we'll have to see what happens.
Btw, per Denbo, it looks like he may be behind the firing of Butch Wynegar and the hold of on replacing any hitting coaches, yet. And if that's the case, I like his assertiveness and it would feel like he has a vision.
In fact, I am hoping that the search for executives and coaches is taking so long because there is a vision in place. We'll see.
What they have been able to do over the past few years is find better talent in the drafts, exploit inefficiencies with pitching picks and even found college seniors with upside on both the pitcher and position player sides of the draft. Also, more of their overslot preps have been popping.
What's more, what they are doing in IFA and their Dominican Academy could be historic. Obviously, they were good their when they were churning out Cano and Melky, but they've been better since Donny Rowland was sent over there and Pat McMahon started running development. To wit, the foreign kids are learning to take their walks in their career infancy. Cano didn't learn till his teammates and finally Coach Long worked with him. Soriano never learned.
Of course, they also found Luis Severino, who looks like he could be the next homegrown star. This year, they also finally blew out the budget on their IFA class, signing 6 "first rounders" and couple of dozen more high upside kids in the Avelino, Molina and Mateo mold. They won't all play up to their bonuses, but if some do, they pay for the whole experiment in franchise savings.
In all, I think they now have good scouts all over the place, and I think they have limited their risky bets on tools only guys.
Of course they could have been even farther ahead if they'd kept their 3 #1's and the draft pool they would have created. That said, Lindberg and a few others have hit the ground running and it could turn out to be a pretty significant draft.
So, the development side is really still in the fix stage, and we'll see what they do, but players were developing faster than they could promote them this past year, and that was after they had switched from Nardi to Gil Patterson, and switched a bunch of minor league coaches at the lowest levels.
So, as long as they don't blow the remaining hires, I think they're in good shape moving forward, even with their IFA punishment coming and their penchant to punt picks for old guys. They should really keep their picks this year. There's nothing out there worth punting for.