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