• Who’s To Blame?

    Posted by on April 22nd, 2008 · Comments (20)

    Who’s to blame when situations degenerate?
    Disgusting things you’d never anticipate?

    So, I’m shuttling around the kids today, listening to The Baseball Beat with Charlie Steiner on X-M Radio in the car and Kevin Kernan is the guest of the moment – talking about Hank, Joba, Cashman, Mussina, etc.

    And, Kernan offered something that went like this: ‘None of this would be going on now – Hank making quotes, Hughes and Kennedy being rushed and questioned, Mussina being depended on, the whole Joba debate – if Carl Pavano and Kei Igawa were actually doing what they were supposed to do and are getting paid well to do.’

    Interesting point, huh? I think this is obvious and yet it gets lost in the noise when Hank starts up, and when Cashman and the fans get defensive about facilitating the learning curve of Hughes and Kennedy, etc. Point blank, Brian Cashman – and there’s no question whatsoever that these two were Cashman’s moves – spent $86 million dollars to have Pavano and Igawa be members of the Yankees starting rotation and they bombed.

    So, as a Yankee fan, if you’re upset about Hank’s missives and/or the harsh big league spotlight on Hughes and Kennedy, remember what’s the true ground zero here – and who set this all in motion. This is Brian Cashman’s baby which has turned into a monster – as Kernan reminded us today. It’s an excellent point that should not be allowed to get pushed to the back of the Yankees stage.

    Comments on Who’s To Blame?

    1. Rich
      April 22nd, 2008 | 6:47 pm

      No offense, but I think it’s a short-sighted point.

      The primary reason that they needed to pursue Igawa and Pavano (who many of the so called top GMs wanted) was that since Andy Pettitte was promoted in 1995, they have only produced one starting pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang.

      As has been pointed out before, Cashman didn’t have control over the amateur draft prior to his current contract. Since that time, the Yankees have stockpiled high ceiling pitching prospects.

      So instead of myopically focusing on the effect of the problem, like Kernan, let’s look at the cause instead.

      Now that we finally have the young talent, we merely need to be patient. It’s really not that hard to do.

    2. Nick-YF
      April 22nd, 2008 | 6:58 pm

      Without the great ineptitude of Pavano, we might never have seen Wang, who I believe filled in for him when he went down. Pavano has been a force for good somehow!

    3. alvarof
      April 22nd, 2008 | 7:51 pm

      Why don’t you rename the blog to Fire Brian Cashman? Boy, you are obsessed.

    4. The Scout
      April 23rd, 2008 | 7:35 am

      Well, while we’re on the subject, isn’t Farnsworth another Cashman gem? If there were a competent set-up man for Rivera, Joba would have remained a starter. I see little evidence that Cashman can recognize pitching talent. Yes, the farm is being supplied (finally) with good arms, but it seems Oppenheimer has much to do with that. At least Cash seems able to identify who in the organization can actually identify pitching talent.

    5. gphunt
      April 23rd, 2008 | 7:42 am

      I don’t believe that the Pavano signing was that bad at the time. It’s easy to look back and criticize Cashman, but in reality Pavano took less money to play for the Yankees. Also, Cashman can’t predict that the guy is going to miss an entire season wtih a buttocks injury and then demand tommy john the next season.

      Bullshit. The guy dominated in the post season in 2003 and then won 18 games the following year.

    6. Rich
      April 23rd, 2008 | 8:12 am

      Cashman doesn’t claim to be a good judge of talent. His job is to formulate a plan and allow smart people to execute it.

      To that end, it was his decision to employ a draft strategy that focuses on procuring high ceiling talent with signability issues. That strategy has enabled the Yankees’ farm system to go from being one of the worst to one of the best, in less than two years, and it is now bearing fruit for the ML team.

      Contrary to the dysfunctional division of labor that existed before he was given more authority, Oppenheimer is now permitted to do his job unimpeded by the Emslies and the Connors.

      His plan has also included signing top Latin American talent, like Montero, Almonte, etc.

      We are lucky to have him. I just hope he stays.

    7. MJ
      April 23rd, 2008 | 8:31 am

      The primary reason that they needed to pursue Igawa and Pavano (who many of the so called top GMs wanted) was that since Andy Pettitte was promoted in 1995, they have only produced one starting pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang.
      =======================================
      That’s exactly right. Furthermore, you can’t blame Hank’s behavior on Cashman. If it weren’t for this, it would be something else. Hank doesn’t give me the impression that he’d ever hold his tongue even if the Yanks were 20-1. He’s a guy with a little dick and a big microphone. He’s desperate to be heard.

    8. Raf
      April 23rd, 2008 | 9:50 am

      I don’t believe that the Pavano signing was that bad at the time. It’s easy to look back and criticize Cashman, but in reality Pavano took less money to play for the Yankees.
      ———–
      It was a bad signing no matter the price. This is even without the benefit of hindsight.

    9. Joel
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:06 am

      How quickly we forget. Pavano was the most sought after pitcher in his free agent class. The guy was entering his prime and had come off a terrific year for the Marlins. All indications were that he was going to be a top end of the rotation guy for years to come. The Red Sox and Tigers were in hot pursuit of him as well.

      John Schuerholz–a guy who knows a thing a two about baseball–made a huge offer for Farnsworth. And the Yanks, with deeper pockets, just outbid him.

      Sometimes you just have bad luck. Can we stop all this sillyness about Cashman not being able to judge pitching talent?

    10. Raf
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:18 am

      All indications were that he was going to be a top end of the rotation guy for years to come.
      ———
      http://tinyurl.com/2v26or
      “Even assuming for a moment that he has gotten over the injury bug and will now be a healthy pitcher for the foreseeable future, what Pavano did in 2004 screams fluke. There is no denying that his 3.00 ERA this year was excellent, but when you look a little closer at some of his numbers you can see some problems.”

      http://tinyurl.com/ynpke7
      “a pitcher with a five-year history of arm injuries, just two healthy major league seasons, and just one above average season”

      As for Farnsworth, I believe he took less money to come here. I think Atlanta offered him the closer’s role as well.

      I do agree about the bad luck. As injury prone as Pavano was, I wasn’t expecting so few games from him. Wasn’t expecting Randy Johnson, Mussina & Kevin Brown to be as injured as they were. So on and so forth.

    11. mph2373
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:23 am

      Good point Joel. It seems that everyone forgets that Pavano had his “Carlpalooza” Tour, and had at least the Tigers, Mariners, Orioles, Red Sox, and Yanks after him. We were just the “lucky” ones who got him.

    12. Nick-YF
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:25 am

      If memory serves me right, I remember a number of people on blogs thinking the Pavano signing was bad at the time. His peripherals had been good for exactly one year before he came to the Yanks, and people thought he was overpaid. However, no one anticipated his crazy injury situation. It seems to me that if he pitched at the level anticipated by the critics of the deal (#3 or #4 innings eater), the contract actually would have been a decent one. The market has caught up to the Pavano contract–just look at what Silva is making. Regardless, it’s an awful contract in reality.

    13. MJ
      April 23rd, 2008 | 11:30 am

      How quickly we forget. Pavano was the most sought after pitcher in his free agent class.
      =========================================
      That hardly justifies the error. It only shows that several teams had the same lapse in judgement and that the Yanks got stuck with the mistake. It essentially speaks volumes about a) the appetite for pitching in the big leagues, to the point where teams ignore obvious red flags and b) that the masses are asses.

      This issue is really a no-brainer: here’s a guy that had exactly one great season and couldn’t fulfill his talent due to a very long list of injuries throughout his career. It was a bad move at the time. The results should surprise no one.

    14. Joel
      April 23rd, 2008 | 12:24 pm

      Pavano pitched over 200 innings in 2003 to a 1.26 WHIP and then 200+ innings again in 2004 to a 1.17 WHIP. So stop with this “fluke” and “no brainer” stuff. He was 28 and entering his prime. At $10 million per year for 4 years, it was a good signing.

      Scherholz offered Farnsworh $15 million for 3 years, we offered him $17 million. He was lights out for Atlanta in 2005, pitching to a 0.80 WHIP, a .161 BAA and 32K’s in 27IP.

    15. Raf
      April 23rd, 2008 | 12:51 pm

      Pavano pitched over 200 innings in 2003 to a 1.26 WHIP and then 200+ innings again in 2004 to a 1.17 WHIP. So stop with this “fluke” and “no brainer” stuff. He was 28 and entering his prime. At $10 million per year for 4 years, it was a good signing.
      ————–
      Did you even bother to read the links provided?

      Even assuming for a moment that he has gotten over the injury bug and will now be a healthy pitcher for the foreseeable future, what Pavano did in 2004 screams fluke. There is no denying that his 3.00 ERA this year was excellent, but when you look a little closer at some of his numbers you can see some problems. Take a look at Pavano’s pitching with the Marlins in 2002/2003, compared to this year.

      ERA SO% BB% HR% BIPH
      2002-03 4.18 15.6 5.7 2.1 .303
      2004 3.00 15.3 5.4 1.8 .282

      As you can see, his strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed occurred at nearly identical rates in both time periods. From 2002-03, Pavano got a strikeout against 15.6% of the batters he faced and he struck out 15.3% last year. He allowed a walk 5.7% of the time in 2002/03 and 5.4% of the time this season. He gave up a homer 2.1% of the time in 2002/03 and 1.8% of the time last season (a difference of about 3-4 homers over the course of a season). The one major difference in his performance (aside from ERA) is the fact that 30.3% of the balls put in play against Pavano in 2002/03 went for hits, while that number dropped to 28.2% in 2004.

      That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. If Pavano had duplicated hit ball-in-play numbers from 2002/03 this season, he would have allowed 15 more hits than he did, which would have inflated his batting average against from .253 to .271. If you choose to believe that Pavano learned how to better prevent hits on balls in play in 2004, then he is likely to repeat that feat in future seasons, but I choose to believe he benefited from some good defense and a little luck (particularly considering the Marlins as a whole allowed 30.0% of balls in play to fall for hits and the entire NL was at 30.5%).

    16. Joel
      April 23rd, 2008 | 1:08 pm

      What I choose to believe is what Brain Cashman, Theo Epstein, Dave Dombrowski Mike Flanagan and Bill Bavasi all believed; that Pavano was a promising young pitcher about to enter his prime.

    17. MJ
      April 23rd, 2008 | 1:14 pm

      What I choose to believe is what Brain Cashman, Theo Epstein, Dave Dombrowski Mike Flanagan and Bill Bavasi all believed; that Pavano was a promising young pitcher about to enter his prime.
      =============================================
      He WAS a promising young pitcher about to enter his prime. But he was ALSO a pitcher with a long history of injuries. For that reason alone — separate and apart from Raf’s points about 2004 possibly being a fluke — it was madness to chase Pavano.

      That others chased him as well doesn’t justify the error. It only shows how GM’s can sometimes be lemmings.

    18. Joel
      April 23rd, 2008 | 1:38 pm

      “Madness.”…”No-brainer.”…Results that “should surprise no one.”…Champion GM’s who are “lemmmings.”

      Be serious. This is revisionist history run amok.

    19. MJ
      April 23rd, 2008 | 1:49 pm

      Champion GM’s who are “lemmmings.”

      Be serious. This is revisionist history run amok.
      ============================================
      Even “champion GM’s” make mistakes. Theo’s made ‘em, Jocketty’s made ‘em, and in case you haven’t been reading this blog for the past year, Cashman’s made ‘em too.

      This isn’t revisionist history at all. This is one of the cases where many bloggers — and the commenters who love them — were ahead of the curve on the Pavano signing.

    20. Raf
      April 23rd, 2008 | 2:24 pm

      Be serious. This is revisionist history run amok.
      =========
      Given the dates that the entries were posted, I’d have to say ‘no it isn’t.’

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