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Thursday Morning Rockpile: Everybody wants to be a Rox and Roll Star

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With three teams in the LCS with payrolls in the bottom third of MLB, every other small and middle market team thinks they have what it takes to be next season's Cinderella. Mostly, they don't. Even big market clubs, Washington and the Yankees seem to be on this "grow your own" bandwagon. What's with the Washington columnist claiming San Diego to be a mega-market anyway? That's kind of like a pot calling a loaf of bread black. And not a black loaf of bread, either.

No, despite one good draft by Washington this year and despite the Yankees continued superiority in drawing in the Caribbean and Latin American talent, the Nats and Yanks don't have what it takes in their systems to build a Cleveland/Colorado/Arizona type of team. The closest either comes to a similar wave is the Yankees' pitching that went from AA Trenton to the majors this past summer. That will be good to replace the aging Mussina/Pettitte/Clemens trifecta in the rotation, but there's not enough position talent to replace the production of aging and declining superstars. If only the poor Bombers had enough money to make up for this on the free agent market. Oh wait.., yeah I forgot who I was talking about for a second.

As for the Nationals, they should be careful to note that it took products of six drafts/international signing periods (2000-2005) to construct the current Rockies team. Arizona's a similar story, with Brandon Webb coming from that 2000 class and Justin Upton the 2005 group, with the rest mostly in between. I'm not as familiar with Cleveland, but I think it's probably a similar story.

The question of sustainability is important and it will be interesting to find out if the Rockies approach to this is clever or just misguided. You can see from recent drafts how they take players just a couple of skills away from being considered big time talents -yet because of these handicaps are overlooked by other teams and draft observers- and then stick them into the development pipeline to try and nurture that talent by their age 25 season, in some cases, Darren Clarke for instance, even later. The team has a much slower clock for its prospects than most, which allows them to get peak performance at a very low financial cost when they do succeed. In some cases, like Clint Barmes for instance, the shelf life can be pretty short for these guys once they get here.

If you're used to following how other teams develop prospects, this can be befuddling at times, but it seems to be working so far. Jim McClennan of the AZ SnakePit and I answered some questions on the NLCS for stickandballguy.com.