Ranking the farm systems

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Baseball America’s annual ranking of the farm systems is out. The top five: Rangers, Rays, Giants, Phillies and Indians.  The bottom five: Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Astros.

The Giants at number 3 seems like an empty ranking to me.  While they still technically count, the two blue chippers they name — Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner — aren’t going to be minor leaguers for long, and another named prospect — Angel Villalona — may never be allowed in the United States, what with the murder rap and all. Mostly, though, I just refuse to believe that Brian Sabean has built a solid farm system, because if that happened I’d have to stop criticizing him about everything, and it’s hard to let go of the things that you love.

The Indians should be on there twice. Once for having a good system of their own, and once for allowing Philadelphia to rank so high by virtue of not driving a hard bargain in the Cliff Lee deal.

At the bottom, the Nats have Strasburg and Storen, but everything else was put together by Jim Bowden so it’s understandably a mess. I think the most telling tidbit, however, comes in the Astros comment: no Houston farm team has had a winning record since 2007.  That’s sixteen team seasons. That’s top-to-bottom consistency, my friends.  Awful consistency, but consistency all the same.

Anyway, the B.A. list is always fun, if for no other reason than it puts to lie the “our team should trade some prospects for so-and-so” arguments you hear on talk radio all the time. Fact is, for a good number of you, there are no prospects. 

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.