Ken Rosenthal, Come On Down!

Somehow, Ken Rosenthal has remained out of our crosshairs since the blog’s inception. This is primarily because – to me, at least – he has never seemed overly idiotic, lazy, or unreasonable. I’ve just sort of known him as the mousey little guy who does “sideline” reporting for FOX baseball.

But then he wrote this:

These are the Yankees we’re talking about, not some low-revenue club that counts every nickel. The Red Sox have done a far better job developing and retaining homegrown players — closer Jonathan Papelbon, left-hander Jon Lester, first baseman Kevin Youkilis and now second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Um…I object to this statement. I object to this on the grounds that, at the very least, the Yankees and Red Sox have developed and retained homegrown players with equal success. And that’s being generous. A more aggressive (and also truer) stance would be that the Yankees have done a better job than the Red Sox.

I’m not sure what the fairest and most objective way to compare the Yankees’ and Red Sox’ homegrown talent is. So, I’m going to list all homegrown players from each team since the year 2000. Also, since homegrown player retention is a part of the equation, I am only going to list players that have played either their entire careers or the vast majority of their careers (Trot Nixon, for example) with that team. All players must be drafted by the Yankees or Red Sox. Finally, I will include that player’s career ERA+ or OPS+, and how much they played. Let’s take a look:


  • Trot Nixon, OF, 115 OPS+ (1037 G)
  • Paxton Crawford, RP, 114 ERA+ (65 IP)
  • Wilton Veras, 3B, 60 OPS+ (85 G)
  • John Valentin, IF, 109 OPS+ (1105 G)
  • Kevin Youkilis, IF, 114 OPS+ (328 G)
  • Jonathan Papelbon, RP, 290 ERA+ (126 IP)
  • Manny Delcarmen, RP, 100 ERA+ (65 IP)
  • Craig Hansen, RP, 70 ERA+ (41 IP)
  • Jon Lester, SP, 97 ERA+ (81 IP)
  • Kason Gabbard, P, 130 ERA+ (3o IP)
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B, 98 OPS+ (87 G)
  • Nomar Garciaparra, SS, 128 OPS+ (1260 G)


  • Jorge Posada, C, 123 OPS+ (1351 G)
  • Derek Jeter, SS, 123 OPS+ (1745 G)
  • Bernie Williams, CF, 125 OPS+ (2076 G)
  • Shane Spencer, OF, 96 OPS+ (538 G)
  • Andy Pettitte, SP, 120 ERA+ (2404 IP)
  • Mariano Rivera, RP, 195 ERA+ (907 IP)
  • Erick Almonte, IF, 86 OPS+ (39 G)
  • Andy Phillips, 1B, 77 OPS+ (142 G)
  • Robinson Cano, 2B, 112 OPS+ (320 G)
  • Melky Cabrera, OF, 90 OPS+ (193 G)
  • Chien-Ming Wang, SP, 119 ERA+ (412 IP)
  • Sean Henn, P, 67 ERA+ (40 IP)
  • Jeff Karstens, SP, 91 ERA+ (47 IP)
  • Tyler Clippard, SP, 67 ERA+ (27 IP)
  • Philip Hughes, SP, 126 ERA+ (11 IP)

A couple notes. I initially left Garciaparra off this list, since he played 8.5 of his 12 seasons with the Red Sox. While this was certainly the majority of his career, 70% is not, in my opinion, the vast majority. After consulting Keesup, I decided to put him on the list. In exchange, I granted myself the right to include Hughes for the Yankees, despite his 11 IP.

I’m not going to analyze these lists too much, because that would take forever and I’m tired. But here are some important things to remember:

  1. You can pretty much throw away each team’s marginal players (Veras, Almonte, Phillips, etc.)
  2. The Red Sox have a group of young but largely unproven pitchers (with the exception of Papelbon). Furthermore, Hansen and Delcarmen have struggled as they’ve ascended, while Gabbard has very limited work at the major league level and is not considered a real prospect.
  3. The Yankees have more marginal players than the Red Sox, but they also have produced more homegrown players than the Red Sox (15 to 12). I’m not sure what this tells us. Probably nothing.
  4. Philip Hughes and Tyler Clippard are projected to be a #1 and a #4 starter, respectively. Hughes has done nothing so far to change that assessment, while Clippard’s future has become murky.

Now, for the final analysis. The Red Sox’ best players (combination of performance and projection) are Trot Nixon, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, and Nomar Garciaparra. The Yankees’ best players are Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, and Philip Hughes.

By any measure, Rosenthal is wrong. Even if we go player-for-player, Rosenthal (at best) breaks even. Papelbon? Hughes. Lester? Wang. Pedroia? Cano. Youkilis? Melky (iffy response, but somewhat allowable because Wang has been better than Lester and Cano has been better than Pedroia). If we throw all of those players out, the Yankees still have the clear advantage with guys like Rivera, Jeter, Posada, Bernie, and Pettitte against the Red Sox’ Nixon, Garciaparra, and Valentin.

I guess my point is: no, Ken Rosenthal, you are wrong.


2 Responses to Ken Rosenthal, Come On Down!

  1. firedannyainge says:

    Obviously you know NOTHING about our farm system.

  2. Kevin says:

    Let’s debate then. Educate me.

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