• Why Cashman Wouldn’t Include Nova Or Nunez In A Deal For Cliff Lee

    Posted by on October 26th, 2010 · Comments (13)

    Following up on M.J.’s excellent post “Cliff Lee To Yankees: The Deal That Wasn’t,” note why Brian Cashman would not include Eduardo Nunez or Ivan Nova in a revised deal for Cliff Lee – via John Harper of the Daily News -

    This is what Brian Cashman feared back in July. This is why he was willing to give up the Yankees’ best hitting prospect, Jesus Montero, because he saw the possibility of Cliff Lee standing between his team and another World Series.

    At the time he didn’t know it would be the Rangers. It could have been the Twins or the Rays who made a deal for Lee, and chances he would have had a similar impact for them.

    “I knew that anybody who was going to make a play for him was playing for October,” Cashman said before the Rangers eliminated the Yankees from the postseason with a 6-1 victory in Game 6 of the ALCS. “I wouldn’t have made the type of offer that I put on the table if I didn’t think this could happen.”

    In the end, Cashman says he ultimately turned down the deal when the Mariners came back to him wanting another of his top prospects, either shortstop Eduardo Nunez or pitcher Ivan Nova, in addition to Montero.

    “It was too much for a rental,” Cashman said.

    So now that it’s right in his face, you have to wonder if Cashman would make the same decision, knowing what he knows now.

    On the field before Game 6 last night, he said yes. Well, sort of.

    “You can’t go back,” he said. “I believed what I did was the right thing to do, but I also knew they had a right to move him anywhere they wanted. If it was a contender, you deal with it.”

    Yet he decided having Lee for this season was worth Montero and the other player the Mariners first asked for, Triple-A second baseman David Adams – who was on the disabled list at the time with an ankle injury.

    “He’d been on the DL for two months,” said Cashman, “and (the Mariners) were bugging me about him for a week. I finally said yes and it turned out they didn’t know he was hurt. They came back and asked for either Nunez or Nova.”

    It is still not clear if the Mariners used the Montero offer to get the Rangers to give up Justin Smoak, the switch-hitting first baseman they coveted, but Cashman wouldn’t up the ante.

    “We see Nunez as a starting shortstop in the big leagues,” he said, “and Nova as a starting pitcher with great potential. I couldn’t do that for a three-month rental. There was no guarantee what would happen going forward. It was too much to give up for three months.”

    …We see Nunez as a starting shortstop in the big leagues and Nova as a starting pitcher with great potential…

    Hey, I’m not saying that Cashman is wrong or right here…as…who knows…now? Time will tell on this one. We’ll have to wait and see.

    Comments on Why Cashman Wouldn’t Include Nova Or Nunez In A Deal For Cliff Lee

    1. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 1:42 pm

      Thanks for the shout-out, Steve.

      My quarrel with Cashman here is that even if Ivan Nova is a starter with great potential, he’s still an overall redundancy in the farm system. Brackman and Betances (as RHP) and Banuelos (as LHP) have to be considered ahead of Nova as prospects, even if the latter is already in the big leagues and the former are all at Double-A. With Graham Stoneburner and Adam Warren both making positive impacts in their rookie seasons with the organization, it can certainly be said that the Yankees have enough young arms on the horizon that Ivan Nova shouldn’t have been the piece to stand in the way of acquiring Cliff Lee.

      There is obviously always the possibility that Ivan Nova turns into a far better pitcher than I’m giving him credit for. If he does, it’ll be a feather in Cashman’s cap for resisting the urge to trade him for Cliff Lee. But I haven’t heard any scouts speak as highly of Nova as they have of other prospects in the Yankee system (or even as highly of Nova as they’ve spoken of David Adams) so I really have to call Cashman out on this one.

    2. #15
      October 26th, 2010 | 3:15 pm

      I’ve rung this bell before, but my opinion is that when you have nearly all the pieces in place and you just need that one more bat, that one more starter, etc… to really give you a strong chance at a ring, you push the button and make the trade of “has potential” for “could get us a ring”. Both have their uncertainites, but I’ll always take a chance at a ring today in exchange for a chance at a ring in the future. Too many things can happen over time, not even directly involving the kid you want to keep, that don’t give his “potential” the opportunity to help you win a ring. Let’s try it this way… would you trade Nunez for a chance to be playing on Wed.? I would.

      One last thought… If the Phillies don’t trade Lee to Seattle (and then Seattle ships him to Texas), are the Yankees and the Phillies teeing it up with Lee vs. CC in Philly tomorrow? Who would have thought that Philly making a stupid trade to Seattle might keep both the Phillies and the Yankees out of the WS.

    3. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 3:35 pm

      @ #15:
      I agree in general that a chance to win is an important motivating factor to making a trade. I even agree — and have said as much several times — that Montero is a slightly more attractive trade chip than he is a prospect for the Yankees.

      Having said that, if the prospect was as MLB-ready as Montero and as close to a sure thing as he appears to be but was someone with a more clearly defined role, I probably would be against trading that prospect.

      #15 wrote:

      One last thought… If the Phillies don’t trade Lee to Seattle (and then Seattle ships him to Texas), are the Yankees and the Phillies teeing it up with Lee vs. CC in Philly tomorrow? Who would have thought that Philly making a stupid trade to Seattle might keep both the Phillies and the Yankees out of the WS.

      I don’t see what the Phillies trading Lee has to do with the Yankees making or not making the World Series. First, the Phillies replaced Lee with Oswalt and won their division so they experienced no drop-off in performance from 2009 to 2010. Second, the Yankees only faced Cliff Lee once in the ALCS so Lee wasn’t the deciding factor in our not making the World Series this year. The Yankees didn’t make the World Series because they didn’t get any hits off hittable pitchers Colby Lewis or Tommy Hunter. Just one win in the three games started by these two would’ve changed the series dramatically.

    4. #15
      October 26th, 2010 | 4:18 pm

      MJ,
      The Rangers might not have beaten the Rays without Lee (2 lights out performances in a 5 game series – of course the Yankees beating the Rays was no sure thing), and the Rangers might have had a tougher go with the Yankees without their front line starter. Now, I’ll agree that the Rangers out played us in just about every facet of the game and we didn’t hit well at all, but one ace start in a 6 game stretch not only gave the Rangers a win against the Yankees, it also kept their pen fresh and helped limit the looks the Yankees got at the Rangers relievers. If Lee had beaten the Yankees in game 7, the case would have been even stronger. Try it this way, who pitches Lee’s game in the ALCS if Lee is still in Philly? As for Roy O, after watching him in Houston all these years I wouldn’t have expected any less, but right now, if you ask me who I want on the bump for my team in the playoffs, the edge would have to go to Lee. If he’d stayed in Philly, the Rangers aren’t as strong and the Phillies are also marginally stronger.

    5. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 4:39 pm

      @ #15:
      I’m not following your logic. Cliff Lee pitched once against the Yankees and what he might or might not have done in a Game 7 is irrelevant. Cliff Lee, despite pitching well in Game 3, is not the reason the Yankees didn’t advance to the World Series this year. The point about Texas’s bullpen being fresher due to Lee’s 8 innings in Game 3 misses the mark because CJ Wilson pitched into the 8th inning in Game 1 and then their bullpen was overtaxed the rest of the series (primarily in Game 1, Game 2, Game 4 and Game 5). I’m just not sure what you’re driving at.

      Further, I still don’t see the Philly connection here. Had Lee not been traded to Seattle, Philly still may not have made the World Series because they, like us, didn’t hit a lick in the NLCS.

    6. Corey Italiano
      October 26th, 2010 | 5:41 pm

      “He’d been on the DL for two months,” said Cashman, “and (the Mariners) were bugging me about him for a week. I finally said yes and it turned out they didn’t know he was hurt.
      ————-
      All the hate goes on Cashman and the Yanks, but this quote is proof that the fault could very well have been on the M’s. They come off as fools especially in spots like this paragraph. Who knows what was going on in their head at that time.

    7. Corey Italiano
      October 26th, 2010 | 5:51 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I’m not a scout, but I really, really liked what I saw out of Nova. If he works on situational pitching with runners on over the break I don’t see why he couldn’t be a very good MLB starter. Heck, for all we know he got nervous with RISP during his first MLB season at the young age of 23. I know I would be if I were in his situation.

      But, regardless, I see Nova as trade bait. And I see Montero and Nova as two separate prospects that can be the center of a trade package. Which is why you try not to trade both in the same deal. Perhaps Cashman sees it that way too.

    8. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 6:27 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      All the hate goes on Cashman and the Yanks, but this quote is proof that the fault could very well have been on the M’s. They come off as fools especially in spots like this paragraph. Who knows what was going on in their head at that time.

      I think that’s what Dave Cameron’s blog (and Geoff Baker’s posts) were all about. That the M’s are either stupid or they’re liars. One way or another, it reflects poorly on them.

    9. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 6:34 pm

      @ Corey Italiano:
      I’m not saying Nova’s bad, I’m merely saying I don’t see him as true #1/#2 material. There are obviously things to like about him — easy motion, good velocity, decent strikeout ability — and there is obviously room for improvement. But there’s also a reason why most scouts didn’t have him on their radars: his minor league numbers are underwhelming and he’s far too hittable.

      I think what we saw in the big leagues is a microcosm of who he was in the minors, namely, a pitcher that has some ability but still can’t avoid big innings and allows too many baserunners.

      I’d like Nova more as a late inning guy but, at that point, relievers are fungibe commodities.

      Perhaps you’re right that Cashman held Nova out because he sees him as a trade chip in a separate deal. But that doesn’t justify (in my mind) not making a deal for Cliff Lee. Nova should never be the reason why you don’t get the best pitcher in the American League. Never.

    10. Evan3457
      October 26th, 2010 | 7:12 pm

      I would not underrate the potential value to the Yankees franchise of Nunez and Nova.

      Nova throws 95, has a curve ball and a change. He could refine into a #3 starter, or wind up a valuable piece of the bullpen. He’ll be on the major league squad (if not traded someplace else) in 2011.

      If Jeter declines rapidly, then Nunez becomes the in-house replacement at shortstop. He’s not going to be Jeter (Jeters come along once every 20 years or so) but his AAA season indicates the potential to be a useful starting shortstop until something better comes along.

    11. MJ Recanati
      October 26th, 2010 | 9:44 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      I hear you on Nunez. The Yankees currently have no in-house replacements for Jeter so Nunez’s value — talents notwithstanding — increases as a result.

      I don’t agree with you on Nova. I think he tops out as a #4 starter and, as I said above, if he’s a bullpen arm, then he’s eminently tradeable since bullpen arms are the most replaceable pieces on a team.

    12. JeremyM
      October 26th, 2010 | 10:06 pm

      Well, the Rays beat the Rangers if they don’t have Lee, so the Yanks would’ve never even seen the Rangers.

      At the time, I wasn’t in favor of trading for Lee, but had a sneaking suspicion I would feel differently in October. When I watch the Giants-Rangers play tomorrow, I will probably have that feeling….

    13. RobertGKramer@AOL.Com
      October 27th, 2010 | 5:11 pm

      I think the days of the Yankees overpaying in prospects or cash for anything are over, at least to the extent they did before Cashman’s new contract. And I believe Cashman said as much shortly after he was rehired!

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