• Does Cashman’s Shtick Work When Yanks Face Tough Teams?

    Posted by on July 13th, 2009 · Comments (68)

    There was some good debate here earlier today regarding “Brian Cashman’s Yankees” ability to play well against the “big boys” in baseball. Seeing that, I decided to take this study a tad deeper.

    First, as mentioned here in the past:

    Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. However, from 1998 through 2005, George Steinbrenner’s troops in his Tampa office (including but not limited to Bill Emslie, Billy Connors, Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer) had so much input on personnel moves that it was somewhat difficult to know what exactly what were Cashman’s decisions or not.

    This all changed in October 2005 when Brian Cashman was given full autonomy on running the Yankees. As Cashman said at that time: “I’m the general manager, and everybody within the baseball operations department reports to me. That’s not how it has operated recently.”

    So, without question, we can look at the state of the New York Yankees over the last four seasons (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 to date) and know that what you see in Yankeeland is “All-Cashman.” And, it’s these seasons that we will use in this study.

    Next, we need a “benchmark” as to what teams in baseball were “big boys” in those seasons. To this end, I decided to look at the fourth best winning percentage in the American League for each year in question – and use that mark as our “big boy” line (meaning any teams in baseball who met that mark or did better were the “big boys” in the game that season). Here’s what I found:

    Season – 4th Best Winning Percentage In American League

    2006 – .574 (Oakland)
    2007 – .580 (Los Angeles, tied with New York)
    2008 – .549 (New York*)
    2009 – .570 (Los Angeles**)

    *Chicago was 5th in the league in 2008 with a .546 mark
    ** Through Games of July 12, 2009

    Lastly, via Baseball-Reference.com’s Situational Records tool, here’s how American League teams have done, each season since 2006, when playing someone with a winning percentage at or above the “big boy” line (for that year):

    baseballreportbreak

    In 2006 and Greater Than or Equal to a .574 Opponent’s Season W-L%:

    	Tm	G	W	L	W-L%	RS	RA	pythW-L%
    1	LAA	43	26	17	.605	192	176	.540
    2	CHW	50	26	24	.520	236	230	.512
    3	DET	35	18	17	.514	182	152	.582
    4	NYY	28	14	14	.500	148	116	.610
    5	OAK	28	14	14	.500	115	134	.430
    6	MIN	35	17	18	.486	138	176	.391
    7	TOR	44	21	23	.477	216	234	.463
    8	TEX	48	22	26	.458	240	244	.492
    9	BOS	44	18	26	.409	215	244	.442
    10	BAL	43	17	26	.395	195	244	.399
    11	CLE	54	20	34	.370	252	246	.511
    12	KCR	55	17	38	.309	228	362	.300
    13	TBD	42	12	30	.286	152	229	.321
    14	SEA	42	11	31	.262	141	225	.298
    

    Here we see that “Cashman’s Crew” in 2006 just played .500 ball against the “big boys” whereas a team like the Angels played much better than that in these situations.

    baseballreportbreak

    In 2007 and Greater Than or Equal to a .580 Opponent’s Season W-L%:

    	Tm	G	W	L	W-L%	RS	RA	pythW-L%
    1	NYY	33	19	14	.576	202	171	.576
    2	BOS	35	19	16	.543	197	160	.594
    3	LAA	29	15	14	.517	137	160	.429
    4	OAK	43	22	21	.512	192	171	.553
    5	TOR	49	23	26	.469	213	236	.453
    6	SEA	45	19	26	.422	191	256	.369
    7	DET	41	17	24	.415	224	226	.496
    8	BAL	53	21	32	.396	254	307	.414
    9	KCR	41	16	25	.390	158	208	.377
    10	TEX	44	17	27	.386	198	228	.436
    11	CHW	45	17	28	.378	177	278	.304
    12	TBD	54	17	37	.315	230	339	.330
    13	CLE	23	7	16	.304	78	123	.303
    14	MIN	41	12	29	.293	121	221	.249
    

    Here we see that “Cashman’s Crew” in 2007 did a great job when facing the “big boys.”

    baseballreportbreak

    In 2008 and Greater Than or Equal to a .549 Opponent’s Season W-L%:

    	Tm	G	W	L	W-L%	RS	RA	pythW-L%
    1	LAA	34	22	12	.647	189	145	.619
    2	TBR	48	26	22	.542	200	202	.495
    3	CLE	29	14	15	.483	131	126	.518
    4	NYY	52	25	27	.481	244	272	.450
    5	MIN	37	17	20	.459	166	192	.434
    6	BOS	51	23	28	.451	248	249	.498
    7	TOR	72	31	41	.431	305	283	.534
    8	CHW	40	17	23	.425	156	178	.440
    9	DET	29	12	17	.414	131	155	.424
    10	OAK	47	19	28	.404	187	172	.538
    11	KCR	30	11	19	.367	106	155	.333
    12	TEX	51	18	33	.353	260	326	.398
    13	BAL	69	22	47	.319	307	406	.375
    14	SEA	47	15	32	.319	184	241	.379
    

    Here we see that “Cashman’s Crew” in 2008 played less than .500 ball against the “big boys” – which is disappointing since the “benchmark” in this season for “big boys” was just a winning percentage of .549 or better. And, as was the case in 2006, note how well the Angels did when playing “big boys” in 2008.

    baseballreportbreak

    In 2009 (through July 12, 2009) and Greater Than or Equal to a .570 Opponent’s Season W-L%:

    	Tm	G	W	L	W-L%	RS	RA	pythW-L%
    1	BOS	14	10	4	.714	79	62	.609
    2	CHW	6	4	2	.667	40	25	.703
    3	LAA	18	11	7	.611	110	91	.586
    4	TEX	21	12	9	.571	103	109	.474
    5	TBR	21	12	9	.571	134	92	.666
    6	SEA	25	14	11	.560	112	116	.484
    7	CLE	13	5	8	.385	80	73	.542
    8	OAK	16	6	10	.375	66	72	.460
    9	TOR	18	6	12	.333	75	92	.408
    10	DET	12	4	8	.333	51	75	.331
    11	MIN	16	5	11	.313	67	83	.403
    12	BAL	22	5	17	.227	98	151	.312
    13	KCR	10	2	8	.200	29	51	.262
    14	NYY	14	2	12	.143	70	105	.323
    

    Yikes!

    Here we see that “Cashman’s Crew” in 2009 (to date this season) has gone 2-12 when facing the “big boys” in baseball. Yes, two and twelve – the worst mark in the league. That’s just flat…out…terrible.

    baseballreportbreak

    So, what do we have here? When facing the “big boys,” in 2006, “Cashman’s Crew” just broke even. However, in 2007, they did very well. Then, in 2008, New York was just about break even again in these spots – being two games under .500. And, this season, to date, “Cashman’s Crew” has been obscenely bad when facing the “big boys” in baseball.

    Perhaps another way to look at it is to compare the Yankees against the Angels, since 2006, when facing the “big boys” in baseball?

    Here, the Angels have gone 74-50 overall since 2006 (to date) when facing the “big boys” (which is a winning percentage of .597) whereas the Yankees have gone 60-67 overall since 2006 (to date) when facing the “big boys” (which is a winning percentage of .472). And, clearly, this tells us that “Brian Cashman’s Yankees” – overall – have not been a team who has been able to beat the “big boys” (when facing them) with the frequency that a team like the Angels has been able to beat them.

    Now, is that good, or bad? I suppose it depends on how you like your tea…er, I mean, Yankees…

    If you’re fine with the Yankees playing .472 baseball when facing tough teams, then this is all good news for you. However, if you expect the Yankees to play well – say, at a clip of .530, at the least, or better – when facing the tough teams, then this is not something that will make you happy.

    In any event, these stats show us that Brian Cashman has been unable, to date, to build a Yankees team who can consistently beat the “big boys” in the game – more than they don’t beat them. When you see that .472 winning percentage for New York over their last 127 games against the “big boys,” overall, it cannot be ignored.

    Hopefully, soon, the Yankees will start to play better when facing tough teams – especially this season…where there’s no where to go, but up.

    Comments on Does Cashman’s Shtick Work When Yanks Face Tough Teams?

    1. Evan3457
      July 14th, 2009 | 3:18 pm

      It says you’re at 95 wins, and are likely in the playoffs.
      =========================================
      The Tigers were a tough team in 2006, and the Yanks beat them in the season’s series, 5-2. Did that matter in the ALDS?

      The Indians were a tough team in 2007, and the Yanks swept them in the season’s series, 6-0. Did that matter in the ALDS?
      =========================================
      The Yanks beat the Sox 10-8 in 2003, and lost to them 8-11 in 2004. Well and good, but they also beat them 10-8 in 2007, and tied them last season at 9-9.
      ========================================
      Up until this season’s 0-8, people kept pointing out how close the two teams were in head-to-head play over the last number of seasons.

      Have the Sox become so much better than the Yankees that 8-0 is the true indication of their dominance?

      Absurd; if they were truly that much better than the Yanks, they should be at .800 for the season. Now, maybe the Sox will roll all the way through the 2nd half, and wind up at 105-57, or something like that.
      ===================================
      And finally, you keep shoving that .470 number forward as if it’s the be all and end all in evaluating the Yankees’ these last 3 1/2 years.

      It’s not; it’s been skewed by their play against two teams, this season only. The split over the first 3 seasons is not .620/470, as you formulate, it’s .595/513, which is a rather ordinary gap in comparing record vs bad teams to record vs. good teams.
      ===================================
      Again: this study does not show something about the whole “Cashman in control” era. It shows the Yanks have done lousy this season against the Sox and Angels.

    2. July 14th, 2009 | 3:28 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Again: this study does not show something about the whole “Cashman in control” era. It shows the Yanks have done lousy this season against the Sox and Angels.

      And, it shows that, from 2006 though 2008, overall, the Yankees lose as much as they win when playing a team with a W-L% good enough to make the post-season most seasons.

      Again, for some, this may be acceptable and mean nothing. But, to me, it says that the Yankees, built by Cashman, are not a team who is among the best of the best, when it comes to going head-to-head with the best (like the Angels have done over this time period).

    3. AndrewYF
      July 14th, 2009 | 3:33 pm

      This is also part of Steve’s strategy re: points he wants to make. He only does the studies when the statistics up to that point in time support his point.

      Wonder why he hasn’t updated us on Swisher’s WPA? Why, it’s because it’s only at -0.06 now, not nearly bad enough to state that he’s been a huge detriment to the team.

      I think we all know Steve well enough to not really take him seriously when it comes to baseball analysis, at least when he’s attempting to use statistics. I thought he just misunderstood on this one, but alas, he’s just being plain old Steve.

    4. July 14th, 2009 | 3:35 pm

      AndrewYF wrote:

      It wouldn’t be an issue, Steve, but you are arbitrarily drawing a line.

      Looking at the fourth best winning percentage in the American League for each year in question – and use that mark as our “big boy” benchmark is “arbitrarily drawing a line”? Really? Don’t the top four winning percentage teams in the league make the post-season, 99% of the time, in a season?

      That’s why I am using those marks in this study. It’s not like I just picked a number because my online friends thought it would be a funny thing to do and got off on it being used.

    5. Evan3457
      July 14th, 2009 | 3:44 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The dynasty teams got old, and the players declined. The Red Sox traded for or signed or drafted better top players than the Yankees have, and have won 2 titles.

      Just a sidebar question – if what you say above is true, is it not the “work of a [Yankees] GM” to prevent that from happening and/or make moves to offset the downside of it?

      If a team gets the best players in the short run, there is no way to offset that. They win, and the other teams lose. What ways could the GMs of 1996-2000 have offset the fact that the Yanks had a great group of players, the best in baseball in that time?

      In the long run, the way to offset that is to draft, trade for, and sign the best players in succeeding years, and move to pass them in the long run, when their top players enter their decline phase. Waiting for that might mean having to wait until Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Mariano are gone from the Yanks.
      ================================
      The old dynasty Yankees (1921-1964) were able to quickly rebuild from within, or trade their prospects for good players from outside the organization for two main reasons.

      The first was that they have good men in charge of their organizations, notably Barrow and Weiss. The second was that they were one of the richest teams in baseball, and there was no Rule 4 high school and college draft. So they were able to hire more scouts, better scouts, and use their financial advantage to stockpile more and better prospects than most other teams could afford.

      It is not exactly coincidental that old dynasty collapsed 5 years after Weiss was let go, and the year the Rule 4 draft started.
      =========================================
      The Yankees built up the modern dynasty. While they dominated, agitation grew for a salary cap. The MLBPA wouldn’t agree to that, but they did agree to a luxury tax that basically hampers one team: the Yankees. It is the reason why the Yanks haven’t had many good veteran setup men or bench players, the last few seasons. Well that, combined with the fact that the farm produced little of note from about 1996 through 2004.

      The lack of solid young position players and starting pitchers from within the system required the Yanks to spend right up to the cap to fill out much of their starting lineup and the front of the rotation.

      Again: first 14 players on the 25-man for this season cost about $187 million. That leaves $13 million for the last 11 players. At least 7 of them are going to be minimum wage. Minimum wage players mean poor performance and/or streakiness.
      =======================================
      Let’s take Nick Green. Mediocre player for every team he played for, until the Red Sox this season. Is that superior talent evaluation by Theo? Is it great instruction and scouting by the Red Sox organization? Or is it just the current zeitgeist of the team?

      Nick Green was hot for a good long while, and contributed to the Sox beating the Yanks 8-0 with big hits and good defense in several of the games.

      Yet, now, Green has cooled off, and his seasonal numbers are slowly heading back to his career record. If he keeps playing poorly, he won’t be in there against the Yanks the last 10 games of the season’s series.

      (Jason Bay is a similar case. Great play against the Yanks, big cool down since the last head-to-head series.)

      But his positive play disproportionately helped the Sox, and hurt the Yanks earlier this year. Those wins can’t be taken off the board. Green: a sign of the Theo’s superiority? It’s hard to see how.

    6. Raf
      July 14th, 2009 | 3:44 pm

      Given the Angels’ record, it shows even more how the postseason is a crapshoot.

    7. July 14th, 2009 | 3:52 pm

      AndrewYF wrote:

      I think we all know Steve well enough to not really take him seriously when it comes to baseball analysis, at least when he’s attempting to use statistics. I thought he just misunderstood on this one, but alas, he’s just being plain old Steve.

      And I know that I know Andrew Leinung well enough to not really take him seriously. After all, this is a guy who starts threads about me at other fourms where the topic is “Steve Lombardi – Cranky Old Man” where he and his buddy from Taiwan post pictures of me in order to make fun of my appearance, attire, and family.

      Really, Andrew, I looked the other way on that stuff because I realized it was just children acting like children and I thought you had the potential to add to the conversation here, being a fellow Yankees fan and having some knowledge about the game. But, it’s now 100% clear to me that your only interest in posting here is to act like a punk.

    8. Corey
      July 14th, 2009 | 3:57 pm

      from Taiwan post pictures of me in order to make fun of my appearance, attire, and family.
      ====
      that was him? andrew, i lost all respect for ya. You should have outed him earlier, Steve, so that we could have all started ignoring him a while ago. Scary thing is, how’d you find out his last name O_o

    9. July 14th, 2009 | 4:09 pm

      Corey – I’m not going into details on this – it’s not important and takes away from this forum.

    10. Evan3457
      July 14th, 2009 | 4:19 pm

      In the last 5 years, non-Cashman, Yanks vs the other top 4 teams:

      1993: 13-12, .550
      1994: 16-12, .571
      1995: 23-27, .460
      1996: 22-13, .629
      1997: 23-24, .489
      Total: 97-88, .524

      What does that tells us? It tells us that when the Yanks had the best record, their record was superior against other good teams. And when they weren’t, it wasn’t. (Also, the result of the 1996 is probably a random fluctuation; they were 22-13 against the top teams, but only 28-32 against the other .500+ teams in the league. Matchups, anyone?)

      1998: 28-18: .609 (This team us the 1998 team was the best of all, in every category. But we already knew that anyway.)

      1999: 23-19: .548
      2000: 19-22: .463
      2001: 11-16 .407

      And at this point, it’s appropriate to stop, because that was the last year of the old dynasty, the last year of Paul, Tino and Brosius, the last year of Mystique and Aura. The last year that the team put together by Joe, Buck, Watson, and Stick was really all together. The success of this team from 1993-2001 is not usually credited to Cashman, especially here. Nor should it be, I suppose.

      Total: 150-145 .508

      Throw out 1993 and 1994, because they didn’t make the playoffs, and it’s 121-121, dead .500 over the 7 remaining years, years in which the Yanks made the playoffs 7 straight times, won 5 pennants, and 4 World Series.

      .500 over the 7 years against the top 4 teams. I fudged a little in 2001, because in 2001 there wasn’t really a 4th top team. The 5th best team was the Twins, a mediocre .525. If I had included them, the numbers would be worse, because the Yanks went 2-4 against the Twins that season. In 1996, I left out the White Sox and Red Sox, who were tied for 5th best at .525; the Yanks went 13-12 against them. If I had included these three teams, the Yanks would’ve been UNDER .500 from 1995-2001 against the top teams)

      So, there it is, the dynasty Yankees were essentially a .500 club against the other top teams in the league:

      1993-2001: 150-145 .508
      1995-2001: 121-121 .500

      This last is “self-selecting sample”, if they’re the best team, the record against the other top teams is going to be better than when they’re just one of the good teams:

      1996-2000 (the very cream of the dynasty) 103-93: .525, essentially 21-19, on average, each of the 5 seasons.

      2006-2008: 58-55, essentially, on average 19-18.
      ================================
      Steve’s study shows their record is lousy against the Sox and Angels this year, because they’ve lost a lot of games to the Sox and Angels this year.

    11. Evan3457
      July 14th, 2009 | 4:21 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Given the Angels’ record, it shows even more how the postseason is a crapshoot.

      Exactly, Raf. They’re 1-4 in playoff series since they won the title in 2002. The one win? Well, we all know what that one was, right?

    12. July 14th, 2009 | 5:21 pm

      Note to Andrew – Your attempt to re-register for this site using your Northeastern College of Computer Science email address isn’t going to work.

      Sorry for the disruption, all. Please go back to the discussion of this topic and ignore this other junk.

    13. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      July 14th, 2009 | 9:16 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The Yankees built up the modern dynasty. While they dominated, agitation grew for a salary cap. The MLBPA wouldn’t agree to that, but they did agree to a luxury tax that basically hampers one team: the Yankees.

      What?

      Agitation grew for a salary cap up to 1994, when the players struck and the World Series was canceled. This would be before the most recent Yankee dynasty and prior to any “domination”. No salary cap was ever seriously contemplated while the Yankees were on their run of championships.

      And that luxury tax hampers many teams: All of the ones whose total payroll is right up against its limit. They do not add salary because of the marginal cost of the luxury tax on top of the salary being contemplated for what might be an important addition.

      On the other hand, the luxury tax has not hampered the Yankees at all, as they continue to lead the majors in payroll and in 2007 the luxury tax did not exactly stop them from adding Clemens for 18 million dollars.

    14. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      July 14th, 2009 | 9:18 pm

      As for the question of what a core of home-grown players looks like, it looks like this:

      Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowrie, Ellsbury in the every-day lineup.

      Lester, Papelbon, Delcarmen and Bard on the pitching staff.

      That’s a home grown core.

    15. Evan3457
      July 15th, 2009 | 4:53 am

      OnceIWasAYankeeFan wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The Yankees built up the modern dynasty. While they dominated, agitation grew for a salary cap. The MLBPA wouldn’t agree to that, but they did agree to a luxury tax that basically hampers one team: the Yankees.

      What?

      Agitation grew for a salary cap up to 1994, when the players struck and the World Series was canceled. This would be before the most recent Yankee dynasty and prior to any “domination”. No salary cap was ever seriously contemplated while the Yankees were on their run of championships.

      And that luxury tax hampers many teams: All of the ones whose total payroll is right up against its limit. They do not add salary because of the marginal cost of the luxury tax on top of the salary being contemplated for what might be an important addition.

      On the other hand, the luxury tax has not hampered the Yankees at all, as they continue to lead the majors in payroll and in 2007 the luxury tax did not exactly stop them from adding Clemens for 18 million dollars.

      What what?

      The current luxury tax, or competitive balance tax, was put into place in 2002 collective bargaining agreement. The tax came about amid discussions among fans and sportswriters that there was a growing inequality problem. Sanderson and Siegfried (2003) attribute its creation more directly to “the reemergence of the New York Yankees as a dynasty in the post-strike period of the last decade.” The Yankees won four World Series between 1996 and 2000 and then played in the World Series again in 2001 and 2003. Some people attribute their continued success to the fact their payroll exceeded most of the league.

      (Sanderson and Sigfried 2003 refers to: Sanderson, Allen and John Siegfried. (2003) “Thinking About Competitive Balance.” Journal of Sports Economics, 4(4): 255–279)

      The above quote is from a research paper entitled “The Impact of the Luxury Tax on Competitive Balance in Major League Baseball” written by Olugbenga Ajilore and Joshua Hendrickson who are statisical researchers into the economics of sports, in the economics department at the University of Toledo, Ohio (I have no idea if they’re students, graduate students, or professors) They use a fairly sophisticated statistical model, and the money quote in the conclusion of the paper is as follows:

      The results show that there has been the intended effect on these teams’ spending though the results were being driven by the New York Yankees.

      ================================
      Finally, the fact that the Yankees continue to lead in payroll doesn’t mean the luxury tax hasn’t hampered. You are ignoring the reports that first the Boss and now, the sons Steinbrenner are tired of paying luxury tax to help their competition beat them, and, in fact, the growth in payroll of the Yankees was basically stopped in 2005, and the very real “hampering” can be seen in the deterioration of the Yankees’ bench and bullpen. They’re still paying a ton for their front line talent (lineup and rotation), but the last 11 players on this year’s roster consume only $14 million in payroll.

      1998: $63 million
      1999: $88 million
      2000: $93 million
      2001: $112 million
      2002: $126 million
      2003: $153 million
      2004: $184 million
      2005: $208 million
      2006: $195 million
      2007: $190 million
      2008: $209 million
      2009: $201 million (so far)

      That’s a growth rate of 19% per year from 1998 to 2005, and a decrease of slightly less than 1% per year from 2005 to 2009.

      It took about 3 years for the Yankees organization to change its strategic outlook with regards to payroll, but don’t kid yourself, the luxury tax has hampered the Yankees, and to the extent that it has increased competitive balance, the Yankees are driving force behind that increase in balance.

    16. OnceIWasAYankeeFan
      July 15th, 2009 | 9:32 am

      Obviously my bad on when the luxury tax came into being. Mea culpa.

      The fact remains that every team that is marginally over the limits (or right up against them) is constrained in how it operates. They’ve stated as much – we won’t go over the threshold and start paying the luxury tax – or you see their “best” offers to top free agents being easily exceeded.

      As for the Yankee “decline” – perhaps the reality is that the Yankees have instead reached a “natural” limit to their payroll given their revenues. I’ll be much more impressed that the Yankees give a rat’s ass about paying the luxury tax if their payroll doesn’t start rising again with the huge revenues generated by the new stadium.

    17. July 15th, 2009 | 10:12 pm

      Note to Yu Hsing Chen –

      Your attempt to re-register for this site using the handle ‘yuhsing’ isn’t going to work. Just as your account under the name ‘RollingWave’ has been blocked from this site, your new attempt is blocked as well.

      After you copied pictures me and my family off this blog in order to post them elsewhere to make fun of my appearance, attire, and family, you will never be allowed to register for this site.

      Sorry for the disruption, all. Please go back to the discussion of this topic and ignore this other junk.

    18. July 15th, 2009 | 11:37 pm

      […] Does Cashman’s Shtick Work When Yanks Face Tough Teams?  […]

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.