• Murti: Cash Is King

    Posted by on November 12th, 2009 · Comments (14)

    Via Sweeny Murti

    Random Thoughts the week after World Series win #27:

    Did any of us really see this coming two years ago? Remember when Hank Steinbrenner was running amok, Joe Girardi was replacing Joe Torre, A-Rod was opting out and back in, and Johan Santana was on his way to Flushing instead of the Bronx?

    Brian Cashman sat in front of the media last October and had what I called his “You can’t handle the truth” moment, telling us all that he was going to re-write the story. None of us knew that he would be proven right only a year later.

    While all the chaos was going on, Cashman was the constant. Even ownership was in turmoil, from the admission that George really wasn’t in charge anymore to Hank creating headlines to Hal pushing Hank into the background and creating a more stable environment.

    Cashman went on a mission last winter and hauled in the biggest and most influential free agent crop in team history. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira all could have been very rich men elsewhere. But they all came to the new Yankee Stadium, and Cashman made good on his promise.

    Gene Michael and even Bob Watson got the credit for the great Yankee teams of the last dynasty. If the Yankees build a new one (and remember, Yankee championships usually come in bunches), then Cashman will be the one who gets the credit. And he will deserve it.

    Here’s somebody else that deserves some credit: Bill Livesey, the 69-year old lifelong baseball man who just won his first World Series ring. Livesey, the man who oversaw the drafting and development of core Yankees like Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and Rivera among others, was fired after the 1995 season. Livesey’s fingerprints were all over the dynasty Yankees of the late 90′s, but he never got a ring. He was brought back last year as a special assistant in the scouting department. Livesey should savor this World Series win because the core Yankees that he nurtured were still a big reason why they won.

    …If the Yankees build a new one (and remember, Yankee championships usually come in bunches), then Cashman will be the one who gets the credit. And he will deserve it…

    I agree with this statement. But, what if the Yankees don’t win another ring over the next four or five years? Does that offset the work and net results of 2009?

    Personally, I believe that 2009 is in the books and you cannot discount it at a later date – no matter what happens…sans some disclosure that the entire team was on HGH or something like that…

    But, in terms of a full body of work, if the Yankees don’t win another ring between now and the end of Cashman’s days with the team, I would think that the non-ring years under Cashman’s “full control” years would somewhat offset the magic of 2009, as it stands on his Yankees resume, no? What do you think?

    Comments on Murti: Cash Is King

    1. Raf
      November 12th, 2009 | 12:38 pm

      Nothing offsets anything. That they won this year doesn’t offset something like them having the AL’s best record in 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2006. It doesn’t offset the playoff run that they’ve had since 1995. It took a slew of injuries that no team could’ve recovered from for them to miss the playoffs in 2008.

      Winning the WS is a big accomplishment. Winning the AL pennant is a big accomplishment. Winning the AL East is a big accomplishment.

      Remember, a short series doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best team will win. it isn’t designed to be that way.

    2. MJ
      November 12th, 2009 | 12:38 pm

      ..sans some disclosure that the entire team was on HGH or something like that…
      ————–
      Such a disclosure wouldn’t discount the 2009 season anyway. Until you could prove that the other 29 MLB teams weren’t using PED’s — thus making the Yanks the only team using and thus subject to a performance-enhancing advantage — then such a revelation would be of the same ho-hum variety that other PED revelations have been in recent years.

      That’s the last I’m going to talk about/debate the PED issue. It’s totally subjective and while I am not personally offended by PED use, I understand that many others find it odious. To me, I don’t give a shit. But no sense arguing about it.

    3. Pat F
      November 12th, 2009 | 4:31 pm

      i don’t really care what cashman’s legacy is. i just know that the yankees are good every single year (they haven’t won less than 87 games since 1995), the general manager is one of many parts of that, and i try to appreciate that as a fan and not complain all the time. because we don’t have much to complain about. fans of most teams would laugh at us. the yankees are probably the best team to root for in the world in terms of always being good and never having to deal with really being down. but we’re nitpicking over whether or not the general manager is any good. the point is the team is good. if that’s a problem, i bet every other team would like to have it.

      more importantly, we just won the world series! i don’t care how he built it, or why he built it that way, i’m just glad cashman built it. and i’m going to enjoy it.

    4. Pat F
      November 12th, 2009 | 4:39 pm

      and i don’t mean any of that as if you were complaining with this post, steve. i’m just speaking in generalities. we just won one and that’s a pretty big deal. it’s very, very hard to win the world series as raf pointed out above, and should not be what determines a general manger’s success or lack thereof. if we were going to talk about cashman’s legacy regular season success is a big part of that. but again, the 2009 world series is more important to me than anybody’s personal contributions to the team. i’d rather the team just continue to be really good – regardless of who is or isn’t responsible – as they have been for 15 straight years.

    5. Jeb
      November 12th, 2009 | 9:45 pm

      Steve — I love your work and I like to keep up with the contrarian viewpoint, but Cash did a good job signing or re-signing the right people (CC, Teix and Pettitte), making the right trades (Nick and Marte) and not trading the right people (Joba, Hughes, Robertson, Cano) when he could have. This is pretty clearly his title. How about letting him enjoy his moment?

      What if the Yanks win 3 World Series in a row thanks to his roster moves? Will you give him some slack then? 4? 5? What do you want the man to do?

    6. 77yankees
      November 12th, 2009 | 10:12 pm

      Typical Cashman….all the credit when the Yanks win, no accountability when they don’t.

      Cashman’s a lot like former New York Ranger GM Neil Smith, who always back slapped the media and was always available to give them a quote. And because of that the media rolled over for him for years.

      You don’t think the NY media operates that way? Look at how the relationship between Omar Minaya and the media crumbled this past summer.

    7. Jeb
      November 12th, 2009 | 10:54 pm

      @ 77yankees: All the credit when they win? Cash didn’t even take the field and get credit from the fans during the trophy presentation!

    8. Scout
      November 13th, 2009 | 8:15 am

      As I read Steve’s post, it is one of the most positive ones he’s written about Cashman. And I agree that the GM deserves credit for having done a fine job last off-season and during 2009. Not a brilliant one, because he did have more resources to use than any other GM (probably in the history of the game), but still very good. He deserves particular credit for the Swisher deal, which wasn’t about the money. By most reports, too, he persuaded Hal to open the vault for Teixera, and that was an extremely important move.

      Cashman has also held onto all of the best prospects in the organization, choosing to use money rather than talent to strengthen the team. Now he’ll need to decide whether to continue this approach by adding free agents or to exchange talent for players he may want (e.g., Halladay or Granderson). The fact that he has resisted dealing top prospects makes it pretty clear he is eager to build a foundation for long-term success. To keep contending while safeguarding the future is a formidable challenge that he will be expected to meet.

      I regard league pennants as the key benchmark of success. Going forward, if the Yankees appear in several more World Series in the next seven years or so, I think that will reflect very well on Cashman’s tenure. Too many quirks happen in a short series to make winning the title the sole measure of success. I don’t think it dimmed the luster of the Yankee teams of the early 1960s that they lost the World Series in 1960, 1963, and 1964.

    9. Evan3457
      November 13th, 2009 | 12:33 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Typical Cashman….all the credit when the Yanks win, no accountability when they don’t.
      Cashman’s a lot like former New York Ranger GM Neil Smith, who always back slapped the media and was always available to give them a quote. And because of that the media rolled over for him for years.
      You don’t think the NY media operates that way? Look at how the relationship between Omar Minaya and the media crumbled this past summer.

      I don’t mean to be rude here, but what a load of hooey.

      Taking the comparison at face value, the number of New York Ranger Stanley Cup winning GM’s in the last 69 years (it’ll be 70 at the end of this year) is exactly 1 (ONE): Neil Smith.

      As far as I’m concerned, Neil Smith gets a lifetime pass until someone proves they can do better with this dysfunctional ownership, and the little emperor with no clothes running it.

      The 1994 Rangers wear a short-term thing, a pact with the Devil, as it were. They were never intended to be “built to last”; they were intended to be good enough and tough enough to end The Curse, and they did. The sign “Now I can die in peace” summed up the feeling of most Ranger fans.

      Would we like the Rangers to contend for the Cup every season. Of course, we would. But until they hire someone who can actually accomplish this, the Neil Smith regime remains the best we’ve seen since the 1940 team.
      ==========================================
      No accountability for Cashman? Are you serious? He was knocked throughout the late season and fall after they fell out of the playoffs. Mike Francessa was all over him earlier this year, stating outright that the Red Sox had passed by the Yanks; the Yanks were no longer in their class, and the young pitching was the difference (remember the famous Michael Bowden/Hunter Jones rant?) Matt Taibbi wrote a piece for Men’s Journal that criticized Cashman in terms so vicious and harsh, that when read now, after this championship season, it calls into question just about everything Taibbi has ever written, now matter how well founded.

      No accountability for Cashman? Look where you’re posting that notion..

    10. November 13th, 2009 | 5:41 pm

      My issue is with Murti’s lead: “Did any of us really see this coming two years ago? Remember when Hank Steinbrenner was running amok, Joe Girardi was replacing Joe Torre, A-Rod was opting out and back in, and Johan Santana was on his way to Flushing instead of the Bronx?”

      What’s with the “us”? The problem is that too many in the media were so blinded by Joe Torre, that they couldn’t imagine that somebody else, let alone Joe Girardi, could do a better job with this team. Too bad for their failure of imagination.

    11. 77yankees
      November 13th, 2009 | 9:18 pm

      @ Evan3457:

      Funny how the only coach Neil Smith could work trades to suit him was the one who practically drove him to drink in Mike Keenan. And the only job Neil could get since then was working for the owner more dysfunctional than the Rangers current owners, and that lasted about five minutes before he got the boot.

      Anyway, I did read Taibbi’s article and it was quite refreshing to see someone speak up. But notice he’s not one of the Cashman lap dogs disguised as Yankee beat writers/reporters.

      I tuned Francesa out ten years ago. If I want to hear screaming for five hours I’ll watch Sam Kinison stand up bits over and over, and actually be entertained.

      But that’s hysterical that Mikey is still spouting his “The earth is flat” type declarations only to discover the planet is still round. Patrick Ewing and Jimmy Rollins must even be laughing at his predictions.

      Tell me, did he have Cashman on last week and tell him, “I knew you were on the right track all along”?

      What I’m saying about Cashman is he didn’t become GM in 2009, or even in 2006. If he’s going to take credit for CC, AJ & Tex, then he has to absorb the blame for Jaret Wright, Tony Womack, Carl Pavano & Kei Igawa.

      If he’s a sudden genius for trading for Swish, then how does he answer for Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver, Nick Johnson & Juan Rivera for Javy Vazquez, and even going further back, Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnall & Todd Noel?

      I’m not saying he’s responsible for every bad trade/FA signing the last 11 years. Certainly there’s the Steinbrenner element that has to be taken into equation, especially considering acquisitions like Randy Johnson, etc. Nor is he responsible for every good trade either.

      But hearing some of these bouquet throwing tributes makes me think of John Madden talking about Brett Favre.

    12. MJ
      November 14th, 2009 | 9:39 am

      77yankees wrote:

      If he’s a sudden genius for trading for Swish, then how does he answer for Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver, Nick Johnson & Juan Rivera for Javy Vazquez, and even going further back, Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnall & Todd Noel?

      You’re new to the site and it’s still early on a Saturday but just know that the Lilly/Weaver and Johnson/Vazquez trades were perfectly justifiable. Process counts and results can’t be the only things we go by. But, if we must talk about results…Vazquez is still a top pitcher in baseball while Nick Johnson hasn’t played a full season, ever.

    13. Evan3457
      November 14th, 2009 | 11:03 am

      77yankees wrote:

      @ Evan3457:

      Funny how the only coach Neil Smith could work trades to suit him was the one who practically drove him to drink in Mike Keenan. And the only job Neil could get since then was working for the owner more dysfunctional than the Rangers current owners, and that lasted about five minutes before he got the boot.

      …and all of that is irrelevant. Smith won the Cup. No other Ranger GM can say that, for a length of time nearly long enough to say “within living memory”. Jim Fassel has been turned down for every head coaching job he’s applied for since the Giants fired him. Doesn’t mean those owners and GMs are right.


      Anyway, I did read Taibbi’s article and it was quite refreshing to see someone speak up. But notice he’s not one of the Cashman lap dogs disguised as Yankee beat writers/reporters.

      It was an utter load of crap, and Taibbi looks like an arrogant horse’s ass for having written it.

      I tuned Francesa out ten years ago. If I want to hear screaming for five hours I’ll watch Sam Kinison stand up bits over and over, and actually be entertained.

      But that’s hysterical that Mikey is still spouting his “The earth is flat” type declarations only to discover the planet is still round. Patrick Ewing and Jimmy Rollins must even be laughing at his predictions.

      Tell me, did he have Cashman on last week and tell him, “I knew you were on the right track all along”?

      I don’t listen to Francessa every day. I was listening the day after the 3rd Red Sox series, when he made his declaration. Most of the screaming on the shows you heard was done by his ex-partner, who is no longer with him, having faded to obscurity on satellite radio. Francessa is more likely to drone you to sleep by repetition these days.

      What I’m saying about Cashman is he didn’t become GM in 2009, or even in 2006. If he’s going to take credit for CC, AJ & Tex, then he has to absorb the blame for Jaret Wright, Tony Womack, Carl Pavano & Kei Igawa.

      Yes, he should, if it can be shown that they were bad decisions at the time, and he’s solely responsible for them.

      Wright was an obvious mistake; no way that move works. Igawa turned out to be an enormous scouting error; Cashman can still be held responsible for that one.

      Pavano was not a mistake at the time it was made, or at least one that is unique to Cashman. The Yanks lost in 2004 because they ran out of starters at the wrong moment; Steinbrenner over-reacted by forcing the trade for Johnson (when they should’ve signed Beltran for the same money), and forcing the signings of two more pitchers, who turned out to be Pavano and Wright. It is also not a mistake unique to Cashman, because Dombrowski in Detroit and Cashman and Boston also wanted Pavano and made offers. Rumors persist that the Yankees’ offer was not the highest, and that Pavano chose the Yankees over other offers.

      Womack, I don’t know who to blame for. It might be Cashman or Tampa. I do know this; it was corrected by early May, with the promotion of Cano.

      If he’s a sudden genius for trading for Swish, then how does he answer for Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver, Nick Johnson & Juan Rivera for Javy Vazquez, and even going further back, Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnall & Todd Noel?

      Taking them one at a time…
      At the time the Yanks traded for Weaver, he was a young pitcher who threw hard, was durable, and was showing slow improvement. Lilly was a young lefty with a great curve, but who was having trouble going 6 innings. His last two starts for the Yanks were typical; a complete-game shutout, following by a 4-inning pounding and knockout. It’s true Lilly pitched decently for Toronto the next 4 years, and he has been terrific for the Cubs in the weaker league, but Weaver still has a ring, and Lilly doesn’t. In fact, Weaver pitched great for the Cards through the entire post-season of 2006, AFTER the Yanks gave up on him. Imagine that. Would he ever have made it in New York? Probably not.

      Javy Vazquez was regarded as the top young starter in the NL at the time of the trade. No one foresaw the combination New York meltdown/minor arm injury that killed his 2nd half and made him unusable in the post-season. In fact, he made the All-Star team for the Yankees in 2004. People forget that. He’s been a durable, quality starter along the lines of Lilly or better ever since that year. Nobody questioned the Vazquez deal at the time. The Yanks tried to get Schilling instead, but the Diamondbacks, still furious at Steinbrenner for stealing David Wells from them at the last minute when they thought they had a verbal agreement to sign him, demanded Soriano, Rivera and Johnson from the Yankees, but accepted Lyon, Fossum and de la Rosa from the Red Sox. So the Yanks traded for Vazquez. It was a reasonable deal at the time; it just didn’t work. It didn’t really work for the Expos/Nationals either, by the way, as Rivera was dumped to the Angels for Jose Guillen, and Johnson kept getting hurt, managing one outstanding season and one good season in his nearly 6 years with the team, missing almost half the time with injuries.

      The Mike Lowell trade; well, let’s see the context at the time…They had Brosius though 2001, and had Tino for the same length of time, where was Lowell going to play, left field? When was he going to start playing for them, 2002? Yarnall was a highly regarded left-hand pitching prospect at the time. In fact, it’s an almost perfect matchup: Lowell was Baseball America’s #58 in their top 100 prospects in 1998; Yarnell was BA’s #55 prospect in 1999. Yarnell failed to develop, and Lowell became an MVP candidate. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

      …and Cashman also traded for Marte. Boy, that looked stupid, right through September. Now it looks like sheer genius. So when Ohlendorf makes it as a starter full-time for several good years, a la Lilly, and Tabata is playing a good left field for the Pirates in two years or so, a la Lowell, will that be a good trade, or a bad one?

      I’m not saying he’s responsible for every bad trade/FA signing the last 11 years. Certainly there’s the Steinbrenner element that has to be taken into equation, especially considering acquisitions like Randy Johnson, etc. Nor is he responsible for every good trade either.

      Well, this is true.

      But hearing some of these bouquet throwing tributes makes me think of John Madden talking about Brett Favre.

      I guess. I mean, Favre is an automatic Hall of Famer, after all. And if the Vikings win it all this year, I suppose Madden will look less foolish, just as those praising Cashman look less foolish after this season, whereas those calling him the worst GM in baseball (Taibbi, for instance) look like…well, horse’s rumps.

    14. 77yankees
      November 14th, 2009 | 3:08 pm

      MJ wrote:

      You’re new to the site and it’s still early on a Saturday but just know that the Lilly/Weaver and Johnson/Vazquez trades were perfectly justifiable. Process counts and results can’t be the only things we go by. But, if we must talk about results…Vazquez is still a top pitcher in baseball while Nick Johnson hasn’t played a full season, ever.

      For those misinformed, I’ve been visiting Steve’s blog since 2006, and my clock and calendar are in sync.

      So if we going on the “it was justifiable/a good idea at the time” theme. I guess you’ll say these trade proposals which were considered could have been justifiable too at the time:

      1992: Bernie Williams to Oakland for Harold Baines

      1994: Derek Jeter to Florida for Brian Harvey

      1996: Mariano Rivera to Seattle for Felix Fermin

      And you can go even further back than that, and Steve can verify these because they’ve been written in Marty Appel’s books, that these were trades the Yankees offered that were turned down by the other team:

      1977: Ron Guidry to Toronto for Bill Singer

      1974: Thurman Munson & Bobby Murcer to Kansas City for a package including John Mayberry & Fred Patek.

      So you have five Monument Park plaques and two first ballot HOF that were thisclose to never having any or little Yankee legacy…..because trading them seemed like a good idea at the time.

      As for Vazquez, he’s a good pitcher in the NL (as the White Sox found out there a couple years back) and in a smaller market.

      Nick Johnson’s has had injury problems for sure, but that collision he had with Austin Kearns that broke his femur was incidental. To fault him for that would be like saying it was Jeter’s fault for separating his shoulder on Opening Day in 2003 when Ken Huckaby threw his shin guards into him.

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