• Why Bringing Cashman Back Was A Mistake

    Posted by on October 1st, 2008 · Comments (86)

    As we learned yesterday, Brian Cashman and the Yankees have agreed on a three-year deal that will keep him with the team through the 2011 season as their General Manager.

    Now, Brian Cashman has some great qualities. As I wrote back on August 29, 2008:

    Brian Cashman has value. He understands New York. He can navigate through the Yankees organization. He’s polished. He can take a punch. There’s nothing wrong with having Brian Cashman as the face of the front office – and being the person on point between the owners, the team, the media and the fans.

    Still, Brian Cashman’s career resume in Yankeeland is also full of bad results as well.

    “What a minute!,” some are probably thinking here…”Cashman has three World Series rings on his report card. How are those results bad?”

    The answer to that is simple.

    Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. And, yes, the Yankees did win rings in 1998, 1999 and 2000. However, when Cashman took over as the head man in charge, the following players were already on the team: Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mike Stanton, David Cone, Ramiro Mendoza, David Wells, Joe Girardi, Jeff Nelson, Chad Curtis and Darryl Strawberry.

    This group of Yankees was added to the team by Stick Michael and Bob Watson. It was they, and not Cashman, who built a powerhouse entity (via this cadre of players) who went on to win three rings from 1998 through 2000 – and which benefited Brian Cashman when he took over for Watson in 1998.

    After 2001, when that the force that Michael and Watson created was nearly tapped out, is when the Yankees sincerely became “Brian Cashman’s team.” And, sure, from 2002 through 2008, under Cashman, the Yankees were marvelous in terms of their win totals and revenue. But, if not for Boston collapses in the 2003 ALCS and the regular seasons of 2005 and 2006, this seven-year period would not look as pretty for New York as it does on the average fan’s ledger.

    On the whole, Brian Cashman took a team that was a three-peat World Champion and turned them into a team that would finish first and then lose in the LDS…and then into a team that would no longer finish first but would win a Wildcard (and lose in the LDS)…and then into a team that would not make the post-season at all. Notice the trend here?

    In addition, there’s a long list of moves made by Brian Cashman that suggest he’s clueless when it comes to evaluating talent. For example:

    On February 1, 1999, he traded Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Mark J. Johnson, Ed Yarnall, and Todd Noel.

    At that time, it was claimed that Cashman was stocking the Yankees system with up-and-coming young pitching talent – like Yarnall, Ben Ford, Ryan Bradley, and Craig Dingman – much like his recent “plan” with Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. (The plan didn’t work back then and it sure didn’t work this season.)

    On July 5, 2002, as part of a three-team trade, Cashman traded Ted Lilly, John-Ford Griffin, and Jason Arnold to the Oakland Athletics and received Jeff Weaver from the Detroit Tigers. For the Yankees, Weaver was a complete bust – while Lilly has been a solid major league starter since leaving New York.

    Looking to later dump Jeff Weaver, on December 13, 2003, Cashman traded Jeff Weaver, Yhency Brazoban, Brandon Weeden and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Kevin Brown. Like Weaver, Brown was a bust in New York.

    Three days later, on December 16, 2003, Cashman traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, and Randy Choate to the Montreal Expos for Javier Vazquez – who had as much fun in New York as Kevin Brown.

    The next year, on December 20, 2004, Cashman signed free agent Carl Pavano to a four-year deal worth nearly $40 million. Pavano would go on to become the modern day poster-child for a terrible free agent signing.

    Then, about two years later, in November of 2006, Cashman spent $26 million to earn the right to sign Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa – and then spent another $20 million on a contract for Igawa. When last seen, Igawa was coaching first base for the Yankees Triple-A farm team.

    Granted, it’s not been all bad under Cashman’s watch. As many would be quick to point out, players like Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano have come to the Yankees under his leadership. Yet, Cashman reportedly also offered Wang and Cano to the Arizona Diamondbacks back in January 2005, in an attempt to acquire Randy Johnson, and they only remained with the Yankees because Arizona instead wanted Brad Halsey and Dioner Navarro. So, was Cashman smart with Cano and Wang, or, just lucky?

    Here’s another way to look at the job Brian Cashman has done – in terms of building the Yankees pitching (which is the element of the game that separates the men from the boys). Start with ERA+ (which is the ratio of the league’s ERA, adjusted to the pitcher’s ballpark, to that of the pitcher). An ERA+ greater than 100 is above average and an ERA+ less than 100 is below average.

    From 1998 through 2008, here’s a count of how many pitchers were on each Yankees team where they pitched in at least 10 games and had an ERA+ of 90 or less:

    Year	#
    2005	12
    2008	9
    2006	8
    2004	8
    2007	4
    2003	4
    2000	4
    2002	3
    2001	3
    1998	2
    

    [* Pitchers names appear at the close of this entry.]

    As you can see, from 1998 through 2003, the Yankees only had a few “dud” pitchers on their roster each year. However, in the last five seasons, the Yankees, on average, have had around eight “dud” pitchers on their roster each season. Those Yankees pitching staffs from 1998 through 2003 were manned by the Michael and Watson carry-overs. Since 2004, the Yankees pitching staff has been all-Cashman…and contained many “duds.”

    When you take this all in…the bad moves, especially when it comes to pitching, and bringing the team from the status of World Series contender down to first-round post-season road-kill and then down to non-contender…I just don’t see how you can reward Brian Cashman with another three years of being in charge of the New York Yankees.

    Obviously, the Yankees feel differently. And, if you ask me, that’s a mistake.

    As promised, here are those “dud” pitchers on the Yankees from 1998 through 2008:

    2005: 12 – Tanyon Sturtze / Felix Rodriguez / Scott Proctor / Mike Stanton / Buddy Groom / Alan Embree / Paul Quantrill / Carl Pavano / Al Leiter / Jaret Wright / Wayne Franklin / Kevin Brown

    2008: 9 – LaTroy Hawkins / David Robertson / Damaso Marte / Ross Ohlendorf / Darrell Rasner / Billy Traber / Sidney Ponson / Chris Britton / Ian Kennedy

    2006: 8 – Ron Villone / Randy Johnson / T.J. Beam / Tanyon Sturtze / Shawn Chacon / Octavio Dotel / Aaron Small / Cory Lidle

    2004: 8 – Felix Heredia / Tanyon Sturtze / Scott Proctor / Bret Prinz / Gabe White / C.J. Nitkowski / Jose Contreras / Esteban Loaiza

    2007: 4 – Sean Henn / Mike Mussina / Edwar Ramirez / Kei Igawa

    2003: 4 – Jeff Weaver / Sterling Hitchcock / Juan Acevedo / Jesse Orosco

    2000: 4 – David Cone / Allen Watson / Denny Neagle / Craig Dingman

    2002: 3 – Sterling Hitchcock / Randy Choate / Mike Thurman

    2001: 3 – Ted Lilly / Randy Keisler / Sterling Hitchcock

    1998: 2 – Mike Stanton / Mike Buddie

    1999: 0 – None

    Comments on Why Bringing Cashman Back Was A Mistake

    1. Raf
      October 1st, 2008 | 12:41 pm

      He did well because he was a good hitter.
      ——–
      Also, in that off year Steve refers to (2001), he posted a 98 OPS+. In Oakland, he bounced back nicely with a 111 OPS+

    2. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      October 1st, 2008 | 12:47 pm

      Sox unlucky? Teams loaded the bases against Dice-K 14 times this year and never scored in any of them…Don’t tell me the Sox are unlucky…

      ____________________________

      Far and away the best run differential, third best record.

      Red Sox’ record in games decided by one or two runs this season, 34-33. The Angels were 61-28 in such games.

      As for Dice-K, you might consider his extremely impressive batting average against numbers, which no one with his 160 innings comes close to. That certainly has an impact on how much “luck” is involved in his performance with the bases loaded.

    3. October 1st, 2008 | 12:53 pm

      OK – I’m back for a few minutes now…and will try to address some quick hits…and then get back to the others later, after MF does his opening on WFAN/YES…which I want to catch.

      Raf – BTW, thanks, but no gig news. I just had a call with SNY.tv this AM and then some personal stuff to take care of after that…

    4. October 1st, 2008 | 12:55 pm

      williamnyy –

      where you say Cashman was good, I say he was lucky. Where I say Cashman was bad, you say he was unlucky. Seems like we have to agree to disagree on Cashman…and I’m fine with that. I hope you can be as well…

    5. October 1st, 2008 | 12:56 pm

      ~~Far and away the best run differential, third best record. ~~

      What was the Sox run-diff against teams >=.500?

    6. October 1st, 2008 | 12:57 pm

      ~~I wouldn’t call it luck that he did well for the Yankees that year. He did well because he was a good hitter.~~

      Regarding Justice in 2000, well, George Mitchell might just call it something else…

    7. October 1st, 2008 | 12:59 pm

      bfriley76 – FWIW, I can somewhat understand the Javy Vazquez deal…and maybe, just maybe, give a pass on it…if it stood alone. But, when you add Pavano, Weaver, Igawa, etc., to it…then it’s just another log in the fire.

    8. October 1st, 2008 | 1:01 pm

      ~~Also, 2003 and 2004 were very good staffs (check the ERA+). It was only after 2005 that the pitching staff went down hill…~~

      Did you check their RSAA totals?

    9. Justin
      October 1st, 2008 | 1:04 pm

      //Regarding Justice in 2000, well, George Mitchell might just call it something else…//

      That’s fine, but what’s that have to do with Cashman’s evaluation? Whether Justice was naturally or unnaturally good, he was still good.

      And, as a correction, Justice has a 123 OPS+ in 1999, not a 139. But I stand by my point.

    10. williamnyy
      October 1st, 2008 | 1:15 pm

      No…I am not suggesting Cashman was unlucky for making bad moves. I was using that argument as an example about why it is silly to discount one side of the equation. I can make a case for Cashman by accepting the failures, but highlighting the successes. You, however, seem to only count the misses, prefering to chalk up the hits to luck. That approach is intellectually dishonest and makes your argument less than credible.

    11. williamnyy
      October 1st, 2008 | 1:16 pm

      What on Earth does whether Justice took steroids or not have to do with whether it was a good move to trade from him? That’s might be the silliest argument yet.

    12. williamnyy
      October 1st, 2008 | 1:18 pm

      What’s more about Justice, the Mitchell Report alleges Justice was involved with Radomski AFTER he came to the Yankees.

    13. diony
      October 1st, 2008 | 1:18 pm

      fuck off retard

    14. October 1st, 2008 | 2:05 pm

      OK, I’m back for a bit.
      Good first hour of MF/WFAN…Torre for 20 minutes that then Cashman for 40 minutes.

      One thing of note from that: Cashman said that Girardi needs to do a better job at managing the media. Gee, I bet Joe loved hearing that…

      …Let me get to some of your comments, while I can, before I have to hit the road in about 30 minutes….

      Or, and, BTW, very mature….diony.

    15. October 1st, 2008 | 2:08 pm

      williamnyy – why don’t we take a different spin on this…

      why don’t YOU tell me what you think were the ten best moves that Brian Cashman has made for the Yankees…and what were his ten moves that back-fired?

    16. October 1st, 2008 | 2:19 pm

      ~~That’s fine, but what’s that have to do with Cashman’s evaluation? Whether Justice was naturally or unnaturally good, he was still good.~~

      The part of it being potentially unnatural ties into the fact that he was crap in 2001 – and killed the Yankees in the 2001 WS.

      To me, when a GM acquires a player, and it’s not just a rent-a-player thing for one season, he needs to look at that player and say…is he going to help me now…and will be not hurt me later. And, Cashman didn’t see 2001 coming with Justice, I guess…

      Take the PED question out of it. Sure, Justice was a great pick-up in 2000 – the stats back that up. But, then, he was crap in 2001. So, that somewhat, then, takes away from the good he added in 2000…and cannot, on my scorecard, be credited as a major/great move by the G.M.

      That said, I do give Cashman credit for turning Justice into Ventura…which, IMHO, may have been one of Cashman’s better moves…if that was his move?

      That’s part of it too with Cashman…you don’t know, sometimes, if it’s his move that pays off…or, it’s because some other GM called him up and suggested something…

      Didn’t the Indians suggest the Justice move first, BTW? IIRC, I remember Cashman saying that he was surprised when the Indians GM offered him…because he was not on his radar…

      …and, wasn’t that somewhat the case with Ventura too…that Ventura too…that the Mets were looking to dump his salary…to anybody for anything…and it just so happened that the Yanks were looking to dump Justice too?

    17. williamnyy
      October 1st, 2008 | 2:23 pm

      I think it’s easier to refer you the piece that ran here in December. Below is the conclusion. I think it is a pretty reasonable assessment of Cashman’s performance. Of course, if you are going to consider every good a product of luck and being at the right place at the right time, well, then there really is no reason to even have a discussion.

      “How well the Yankees revitalized farm is at producing players will likely go a long way toward defining Cashman’s future legacy. Up to this point, however, I don’t think you can complain too much. Could he have compiled a stronger bench and bullpen in some years? Yes. Did he whiff on Pavano, Wright and Igawa? Sure. On balance, however, Cashman has seemed to make the right moves. From El Duque to Wang to Cano, he has tapped the international market with much success. With names like Proctor, Leiber, Small and Chacon, he has also had success scouring the scrap heap. By acquiring Arod and Randy Johnson, no one can doubt his ability to pull off a block buster. At midseason, the acquisitions of Justice and Abreu prove his ability to identify a void and fill it with the perfect solution. Finally, with his recent drafts, he has shown that he has been instrumental in changing the Yankees free agent first philosophy. As the Yankee team has changed, so too has Cashman. This flexibility, ultimately, is what makes Cashman the right man to serve as General Manager of the Yankees.”

    18. October 1st, 2008 | 2:25 pm

      ~~~What’s more about Justice, the Mitchell Report alleges Justice was involved with Radomski AFTER he came to the Yankees.~~~

      FWIW, for the record, the report alleges that Justice purchased two or three kits of HGH from Radomski by check after the Yankees’ 2000 World Series victory.

      So, yes, that purchase was after Justice joined the Yankees. But, if you believe the report, do you really think that purchase in the fall of 2000 was the first time ever that Justice purchased/used HGH? Seems like an odd time to start, no? Therefore, more than likely, he was already using…which means he was using prior to joining the Yankees – or just when he joined them…

    19. October 1st, 2008 | 2:29 pm

      williamnyy – that conclusion is a summary of your belief, etc. That’s not what I’m looking for…

      I want ten exact moves that Cashman has made that were good for the team and ten that he made that were bad for the team. Just a simple list on each side of the ledger…and not speculation that recent drafts were good moves…because no one knows that for sure…

    20. bfriley76
      October 1st, 2008 | 2:46 pm

      To me, when a GM acquires a player, and it’s not just a rent-a-player thing for one season, he needs to look at that player and say…is he going to help me now…and will be not hurt me later. And, Cashman didn’t see 2001 coming with Justice, I guess…

      Take the PED question out of it. Sure, Justice was a great pick-up in 2000 – the stats back that up. But, then, he was crap in 2001. So, that somewhat, then, takes away from the good he added in 2000…and cannot, on my scorecard, be credited as a major/great move by the G.M.
      ==========

      So a trading for a guy who basically carries a team to the playoffs and is an integral part of them getting to and winning the World Series isn’t a great move because the following season, he killed his team so much that they came within one out of winning the World Series again?

      Talk about high-standards.

      Steve…what about Justice’s past performance would lead Cashman to believe he would have the type of season he had in 2001. His OPS+ the previous four seasons were, starting with 1997 158, 114, 123, 139. I understand your point about talent evaluation and planning for the future, but could it be possible you’re holding Cashman to an impossible standard because you don’t like the moves he’s made and it makes it easier to make a case against him?

    21. yankee10
      October 1st, 2008 | 3:40 pm

      There is no bigger fucktard than Steve Lombardi. That’s all.

    22. October 1st, 2008 | 4:13 pm

      ~~what about Justice’s past performance would lead Cashman to believe he would have the type of season he had in 2001.~~

      His age and medical reports. IIRC, at the time of the trade, Justice was being held together with string, glue and tape.

    23. bfriley76
      October 1st, 2008 | 4:21 pm

      ~~what about Justice’s past performance would lead Cashman to believe he would have the type of season he had in 2001.~~

      His age and medical reports. IIRC, at the time of the trade, Justice was being held together with string, glue and tape.

      ===
      Wasn’t that his M.O. for a good part of his career though? Yet he was still able to put up the numbers he did. Again…I don’t see how you could predict such a sharp drop-off…nor do I see how his performance in 2001 diminishes what he helped the Yankees accomplish in 2000.

    24. Raf
      October 1st, 2008 | 4:22 pm

      The part of it being potentially unnatural ties into the fact that he was crap in 2001 – and killed the Yankees in the 2001 WS.
      ———
      Justice was far from the only player to kill the Yanks in the 01 WS; Brosuis, Jeter, Bernie, Pettitte among others come to mind.

    25. October 1st, 2008 | 4:28 pm

      yankee10 – Wow. You’re mature.

      ~~Justice was far from the only player to kill the Yanks in the 01 WS; Brosuis, Jeter, Bernie, Pettitte among others come to mind.~~

      Raf – Ummm…Brosius hit a pretty big HR in that Series IIRC. Justice? He came to bat 12 times and struckout 9 times.

    26. October 1st, 2008 | 4:31 pm

      ~~nor do I see how his performance in 2001 diminishes what he helped the Yankees accomplish in 2000.~~

      Justice was the team MVP, IMHO, in 2000.

      In 2001, not so much…

      Does 2001 take away from his 2000? No.

      Does the “total David Justice experience” give the Yankees as much as the “2000 Justice”? No, not even close. And, that’s my point…

      ..if you want to give Cashman credit for getting Justice in 2000, then you have to give Cashman a discredit for letting Justice play 111 games in 2001 and bat .241

    27. October 1st, 2008 | 4:35 pm

      FYI, all, I’ve spent some good chunks of the last 16 hours addressing your comments, questions, etc., on this topic.

      I’m going to stop now…as it makes no sense to keep advancing my points.

      If you agree with me, fine. If not, that’s fine too. I respect your right to have an opinion on this – even if it’s different from mine.

      Please try and respect my right to have my opinions on this matter.

      Feel free to continue posting your comments on this topic. Just don’t expect some debate from me…as I’ve already given this as much time as I can at this moment.

      And, of course, thanks to all for all the great comments so far.

    28. Raf
      October 1st, 2008 | 4:55 pm

      Raf – Ummm…Brosius hit a pretty big HR in that Series IIRC
      ————-
      Doesn’t change the fact that he was horrible in that series. HR or not, a .167-.167-.375 line isn’t going to get it done.

      Heck, given some of the backhanded compliments you’ve written, it could be said that it wasn’t so much Brosius hitting the HR, as Kim being a choker 😉

    29. Raf
      October 1st, 2008 | 4:57 pm

      Please try and respect my right to have my opinions on this matter.
      ——-
      I will, no matter how wrong you are >:(

      seriously, cool discussion (with the exception of a couple of people…), and as always we can agree to disagree.

      I was kinda hoping we’d make 100 comments in this thread 🙂

    30. alvarof
      October 1st, 2008 | 6:32 pm

      Steve, as always, you just criticize and get rid of this or should’ve done that. What are the alternatives? OK, Pavano was a big mistake … weren’t other teams interested back then? Who should’ve he gotten instead? And how, free agency or trade? Easy being a Monday morning quarterback.

      Take a cue from an excellent blogger, quite the pessimistic but always puts everything in perspective and always points out to an alternative. From Steve Goldman, Pinstripe Bible or Pinstripe Blog (what a blog and Replacement Level too):
      “Cashman has many detractors, most of them focused on his mixed record in trades and the fact that the club has not won a championship since the decline of the 1996-2001 core. This is misguided. First, the club averaged 99 wins from 2002 through 2006 and made the postseason every year. If the team failed to capitalize in those situations, it wasn’t purely due to Cashman’s team design (Joe Torre certainly helped in 2003 and 2007-Jeff Weaver and bugs). He has consistently neglected things like team defense and bench strength, and, most of all, over and over again, the farm. Having said that, I do think the man has evolved over the years. He was literally raised in a Yankees organization that was one of the least progressive in baseball. To his credit, he has seen the old ways fail and learned from watching other organizations. Whether or not he can transcend both his upbringing and the structure of the organization remains to be seen, and he’ll need a lot of luck to boot. Still, it seems like his head is in the right place, on a measured approach rather than the scattershot, every which way but up approach of the Yankees through the 1980s. I don’t think that anyone else would do better, and a good many replacements could be worse.”

    31. Hitman
      October 3rd, 2008 | 8:50 pm

      Steve,

      If you’re going to bash Cashman at least include all the other horrible trades he’s been involved with. What about Damaso Marte for Enrique Wilson or D’Angelo Jimenez for Jay Witasick or Brandon Claussen for Aaron Boone? I don’t remember what we got for Ruben Rivera. I think it was a basket of apples. What about Contreras for Loaiza? It just goes on and on. His trading record is absolutely abysmal. Someone who plays fantasy baseball would have done infinately better.

    32. December 13th, 2008 | 1:35 pm

      […] The signing of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett this off-season are all on Brian Cashman. Just like the trade for Jeff Weaver. Just like the signing of Carl Pavano. Just like the posting for Kei Igawa. And, when this is all said and done, the results of these two moves (albeit good or bad) belong on Cashman’s resume. […]

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