With Thursday's win, the Yankees crept closer to the .500 mark. If the team continues to flounder, a silver lining for the deep-pocketed club will emerge. Their current position in the 2008 First Year Player Draft, #14, would keep them from losing their first round pick if (when?) they sign a big name free agent. This will allow them to sign the aforementioned big name free agent (Torii Hunter?) and also continue to rebuild their farm system with a high round pick. This is the same thing that allowed the Cubs to fork over $136MM to Alphonso Soriano ans retain their first round pick to choose 3B Josh Vitters.
As a matter of fact, the presence of the Yankees within that "Protected 15" will likely mean one of the highest-rated players, like this past draft's Rick Porcello, will be available when the Yankees pick. The Yanks mere presence that close to the top of the draft will guarantee the bonus demands by all the eligible draftees will be potentially record-setting and virtually guarantee a drop to the Yankees.
If Scott Boras thought the Rangers and Tom Hicks was enough to get Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez a bonus like that, the Yankees presence a few picks later puts it in stone. With the Yankees in need of players at both corner postions, South Carolina 1B Justin Smoak is in an even more heated race with fellow Boras client Alvarez for that coveted record bonus.
From Scout, Inc's Keith Law, there is this assessment of both players:
Either player will have the attendant media coverage to help Yankees' fans lick their wounds in this so-far disastrous season. With a likely first round pick and a supplemental one from losing Alex Rodriguez this off-season, the Yankees are in a position to complete the rebuilding of their farm system with next year's draft. I doubt this is enough consolation for the 2007 season, but it is an acceptable consolation for most teams.