Could Damon Oppenheimer and Mark Newman be on the hot seat?

Scott Halleran

Someone usually has to take the fall after a bad season. The farm may be the first place the Yankees look to shake things up.

After a disappointing season at the major and minor league levels, the Yankees front office could be looking to shake up personnel now that the nightmare season has come to a close. Someone will likely have to answer for the lack of production this season in the form of losing their job, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post speculates that Damon Oppenheimer and/or Mark Newman could take the fall.

The two employees are charged with drafting and developing the newest Yankees, who by all accounts did not have anything resembling a banner year. Oppenheimer, Director of Amateur Scouting, may have more security than Newman, vice president of baseball operations, because the talent seems to be there at the lower levels of the minors before slowly (or quickly) fading out as they progress toward the majors. The last real promising player that the Yankees produced plays for another team in the form of Austin Jackson. In a season where injuries meant that the Yankees needed to lean on their farm system more than they usually do, nothing worked out for them. David Adams and Zoilo Almonte started strong before falling off in a big way or succumbing to injury. Adam Warren had a fine season out of the bullpen as a long reliever, but he's unlikely to end up in the Yankees rotation going forward unless the team fails to pick up necessary pieces this offseason or an injury keeps one of the regulars out for some period of time.

Prospects are a fickle business and most of them are merely lottery tickets, particularly when drafting as low as the Yankees have been in recent years. It's difficult to point fingers over players not reaching their potential, but at some point, someone needs to answer for the fact that the farm is just not producing major league talent. Sherman speculates that the Yankees may look to an organization like the Cardinals, who have been amazing a developing minor leaguers, in hopes of hiring someone to come in and turn their own system around.

Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman are in no danger of losing their jobs over the front office's anger at the lack of farm production, according to Sherman. Girardi, of course, is not under contract for 2014 and Cashman's deal is up after next season. It sounds like the frustration over the state of the farm system comes from higher than that, likely meaning some combination of Randy Levine and the Steinbrenners. After missing the playoffs for the second time in six years, someone was inevitably going to take the fall.

Picking on the farm system, while not completely unfair, is sort of the low-hanging fruit. The system had very little upper level talent heading into this season and only players at the Triple-A level were given a shot to replace injured veterans. Success doesn't come right away and the prospects weren't exactly given a fair shot for playing time to work out all their issues. Adams and Almonte are not prospects who are likely to become stars, but pointing to their failure in order to indict the whole process may not be fair. Still, it's undeniable that prospects are flaming out and nothing is really making it from the minors to the majors on a regular basis. That is concerning and there needs to be a change, especially with Plan 189 looming. The Yankees cannot field a competitive team with albatross contracts already on the books without some help from the minors. The front office will have to decide if Oppenheimer or Newman are standing in the way of developing a system that can consistently churn out every day big league players on a regular basis.

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