• It’s Cashman’s Time To Prove Something

    Posted by on December 15th, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Steve Politi’s latest column is a homerun in my book. Here’s some snips:

    For much of his time as Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman has used a two-step approach for building a pitching rotation:

    1. Drop a giant bag of money at the feet of the best available free-agent pitchers on the market.

    2. Wait impatiently.

    It was successful with CC Sabathia. It was significantly less successful with Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kei Igawa, A.J. Burnett and a few others that Cashman would love to forget.

    But, boon or bust, the strategy almost always produced results. It did not this time. Cliff Lee said “thanks but no thanks” to that giant bag of money to sign for less with Philadelphia, and now we get to see if Cashman can be successful as a different kind of GM.

    Now we get to see if he finds another way to fill the Lincoln Tunnel-sized hole in his rotation. Cashman insisted Tuesday “Plan B is patience” for the Yankees, but it will have to include plenty of creativity, too.

    Can he find a low-cost solution from an unexpected source who comes to the Bronx and overachieves (for a change)?

    Can he do what general managers all over baseball have done for years now — and win with less?

    We’ll soon find out. It was Cashman who wasn’t willing to gut his farm system for Lee in the summer, when Seattle wanted a prince’s ransom for a rental. It was Cashman who gambled — and lost — that the Yankees’ resources would win out again in the offseason with Lee.

    And it is Cashman who, for years, has insisted that the Yankees are more than just a pinstriped checkbook.

    Cashman must have been sipping the eggnog early Tuesday when he said, “I think A.J. Burnett is going to turn it around for us.” He can’t really believe the rotation, as it stands now, is good enough. Cashman has to find a way to fix the problem without simply throwing money at it.

    This will be a good test for Cashman and the Yankees hierarchy, because if this crazy offseason proved anything, it’s that they are not the only franchise willing to open the checkbook.

    Recession? Not here. Four players signed deals in excess of $100 million — Troy Tulowitzki with the Rockies and Jayson Werth with the Nationals join Lee and Crawford on that list. The Rangers, meanwhile, were willing to spend that much to sign Lee but were also spurned.

    Money is still an advantage, but it isn’t an infallible trump card. Cashman, who long ago grew tired of the criticism that all the Yankees did was buy players, now has the perfect opportunity to show his organization is more than a fat wallet.

    I don’t know why anyone would have any confidence in Cashman’s ability to trade for a starting pitcher? Remember Javy Vazquez – both times? How about Jeff Weaver? Kevin Brown? Denny Neagle? Esteban Loaiza? Randy Johnson? Cory Lidle? How did all those work out? It’s not just in the free agent market where Cashman has made some huge whiffs on starting pitching. Just about every starting pitcher that he’s ever traded for has been less than expected – or a total bust – for the Yankees.

    Comments on It’s Cashman’s Time To Prove Something

    1. mwach1
      December 15th, 2010 | 12:58 pm

      “It’s not just in the free agent market where Cashman has made some huge whiffs on starting pitching. Just about every starting pitcher that he’s ever traded for has been less than expected – or a total bust – for the Yankees.”

      Steve, you’re so damn negative it’s hard to (enjoyably) read your posts. It makes it that much more difficult when you actually make a very valid point.

      Fact is I totally agree with you. If they re-sign Pettitte, however, they figure to be at least as good on paper as last year.

      If Pettitte comes back, do you think they even need to trade for a starter to be a playoff-caliber team?

    2. MJ Recanati
      December 15th, 2010 | 1:00 pm

      mwach1 wrote:

      If Pettitte comes back, do you think they even need to trade for a starter to be a playoff-caliber team?

      No, probably not.

    3. Corey Italiano
      December 15th, 2010 | 1:40 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      If Pettitte comes back, do you think they even need to trade for a starter to be a playoff-caliber team?

      They were a playoff calibur team last year (hense making the playoffs) and Andy was out for half the year

    4. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 1:56 pm

      Here we go again…

      You don’t get BOTH Weaver and Brown, because Weaver had already busted before the Yanks traded him for Brown. In other words, what kind of pitcher do you expect to get for a player with little value of his own.

      Same thing with Esteban Loaiza, who the Yanks KNEW was injured when they traded for him. That trade was made because the Yanks (read George demanded that he never look at Jose Contreras again, after Contreras bombed out against the Red Sox one time too many).

      Cashman traded for Clemens. That one was OK. The man the traded for Jeff Weaver, Ted Lilly, was himself traded for; in fact the Yanks got Lilly AND Jake Westbrook for Hideki Irabu. The trade for Shawn Chacon worked out pretty well, at least in 2006.

      =========================================

      The complete list of starting pitchers traded for by Theo Epstein in his time in Boston: Curt Schilling, Paul Byrd. (If you want credit for Beckett, then Cashman gets credit for Chuck Knoblauch.)

      Free Agent starting pitchers signed by Theo: Wade Miller, Matt Clement, Julian Tavarz, Dice-K Matsuzaka, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, John Lackey. Taveraz was a reliever, but wound up in the rotation by default, due to multiple injuries.

    5. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 1:59 pm

      Again; it is nearly impossible to trade for someone who is a) low-cost, and b) proven, because those people are NOT AVAILABLE.

      If it’s low-cost it’ll be an injury risk or an unproven pitcher. If it’s proven, it’ll be high salary/high prospect talent or both.

      Especially NOW, because they’d be dealing from a position of weakness.

      ==================================
      And the notion that AJ Burnett is going to turn it around is hardly outlandish; almost no player’s performance is a straight line up, or down.

    6. December 15th, 2010 | 2:02 pm

      @ Evan3457:

      Nice deflection attempt. But, this is about Cashman, not Epstein.

      Is Epstein overrated and has he made mistakes? Maybe? But, two wrongs don’t make a right. If it’s true that Epstein sucks, that no excuse that it’s OK for Cashman to suck too.

    7. mwach1
      December 15th, 2010 | 2:28 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:

      Right on. However, you responded to Evan’s irrelevant arguments without responding to his relevant ones…

    8. Ryan81
      December 15th, 2010 | 4:51 pm

      I’m by no means a Cashman fan, and I think this offseason, and last offseason too for that matter, will finally cost him his precious job security. There’s no way the Yankees get a quality starter (which they need desperately) without having to sacrifice valuable pieces like Gardner and Montero. The Sox and Phillies made their team better and will give up nothing that will hurt their lineups. Heck, you could say the Phillies sacrificed a couple of prospects and 1 year of Cliff Lee to get Roy Halladay, which is a straight up filthy move by Ruben Amaro.

      And after watching the should I retire?/should I keep playing? fiascoes that were Roger Clemens and Brett Favre, is it really a sure thing that Pettitte comes back and makes a positive contribution? I mean Favre had an almost MVP type year last season, and well, I think right now he probably wishes he were in Mississippi. If Pettitte doesn’t want to come back, it might hurt the Yankees just as much to have him mope around with lackluster performances. Not saying Pettitte’s a diva like the other two, but he is human. And do we want a miserable and underachieving Andy Pettitte in the rotation?

      A Boston/Philadelphia World Series the same year your contract’s up? That has to do it for Cashman. How can you keep saying Cashman is the best man available for this job when he is being outmaneuvered by Amaro and Epstein? There has to be somebody else out there qualified for this position that is capable of putting together a team with our budget and without so many obvious holes because the baseball side of the operation is getting to look pathetic now.

    9. Raf
      December 15th, 2010 | 5:14 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      @ Evan3457:
      Nice deflection attempt. But, this is about Cashman, not Epstein.
      Is Epstein overrated and has he made mistakes? Maybe? But, two wrongs don’t make a right. If it’s true that Epstein sucks, that no excuse that it’s OK for Cashman to suck too.

      The point is, every GM makes pitching mistakes. It’s not deflection, it’s adding context to an argument.

      Cashman can’t assess pitching? BFD; since 1998, the Yankees have won 4 world series, and have made the playoffs every year save one.

    10. MJ Recanati
      December 15th, 2010 | 5:21 pm

      Raf wrote:

      The point is, every GM makes pitching mistakes. It’s not deflection, it’s adding context to an argument.Cashman can’t assess pitching? BFD; since 1998, the Yankees have won 4 world series, and have made the playoffs every year save one.

      100% that.

    11. Raf
      December 15th, 2010 | 5:22 pm

      mwach1 wrote:

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Right on. However, you responded to Evan’s irrelevant arguments without responding to his relevant ones…

      Because there’s no answer/defense to his relevant arguments ;)

    12. Raf
      December 15th, 2010 | 5:31 pm

      The Yankees have been buying pitching since Catfish Hunter, so I don’t know why Cashman spending money on pitching is supposed to be some new revelation.

      Cashman bought pitching, Bob Watson bought pitching, Gene Michael bought pitching, Pete Peterson bought pitching. Bob Quinn bought pitching… See a trend here?

    13. MJ Recanati
      December 15th, 2010 | 5:38 pm

      @ Raf:
      When you’re right, you’re right.

    14. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:04 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      @ Evan3457:
      Nice deflection attempt. But, this is about Cashman, not Epstein.
      Is Epstein overrated and has he made mistakes? Maybe? But, two wrongs don’t make a right. If it’s true that Epstein sucks, that no excuse that it’s OK for Cashman to suck too.

      The point is, every GM makes pitching mistakes. It’s not deflection, it’s adding context to an argument.
      Cashman can’t assess pitching? BFD; since 1998, the Yankees have won 4 world series, and have made the playoffs every year save one.

      I was going to make a reply more or less like this, but you saved me the trouble.

      Epstein has a great reputation; however, he’s made many mistakes of the same type. In 2010, it might have cost the Sox the post-season. There are a lot of Sox fans who were very critical of Theo this past season, offering criticism in almost exactly the same terms you’ve state against Cashman.

      The overall point being: is Cashman unable to evaluate pitching correctly? Is Theo? Or is it inherent in the acquisition of pitching that a lot of these moves work out poorly? How does the Mets trade/contract for Santana look now? How does the Giants’ signing of Zito look? Sometimes, you get the breaks, and you trade for Chris Carpenter. Other times, you trade 4 good prospects/players for Erik Bedard.

    15. Scout
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:17 pm

      The original article is misleading on one point. The author asserts, “It was Cashman who wasn’t willing to gut his farm system for Lee in the summer, when Seattle wanted a prince’s ransom for a rental. It was Cashman who gambled — and lost — that the Yankees’ resources would win out again in the offseason with Lee.” Cashamn offered Jesus Montero and two other very good prospects to Seattle. In the end, the M’s preferred the Texas package, which is certainly their right. But at no point did Seattle say clearly, give us X, Y, and Z and you have a deal.

    16. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:27 pm

      In any event, both the Politi column and Steve’s reaction to it are an attempt to set up a false premise:

      Either Cashman proves he can trade for effective pitching, and not only effective pitching, but low-cost effective pitching, or he doesn’t…with the premise being that if he doesn’t he’s a failure and should be fired.

      Well, that’s not easy to do in the best of circumstances, but when your organizational mandate is to win every year, and you’re dealing from a position of weakness, and the organization shuns risk besides, it’s nearly impossible.

      =======================================================
      Three years ago, the Rays traded Delmon Young for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. The Rays made out like bandits, until this year when Bartlett became mediocre again, and Young improved significantly. (They’re still way ahead on the deal.)

      Now, did the Rays make that deal because Friedman is a genius? Maybe. But also you have to get the right circumstances, and you have to get a little lucky, as in:

      Being lousy enough to get the #1 pick and draft Delmon Young.
      Being lousy enough, year-after-year, so that the risk in trading the #1 pick in the draft is minimal.
      Finding a team with a talented young pitcher in an organization that believes it has a surplus of pitching to trade.
      Finding a team that needs an outfielder with great tools, even if he is a bit of a head case.
      Having the teams mentioned in the last two sentences be the same team.

      These types of trades don’t happen every day.
      I bet the Yanks could trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling, but I bet they can’t trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling who’s already established himself in the majors…someone like Clayton Kershaw.

      If you really want to roll the dice, you might be able to get Chad Billngsley for him, but then you have to consider Billingsley’s durability, the shift from NL to AL, the shift from Dodger Stadium to Yankee Stadium (especially because Billingsley is right-handed). The Dodgers do need a big-hitting 1st baseman, even if Montero can’t make it as a catcher.

      Hmmm…you might be able to get Billingsley for Montero and Nova.

      Is it worth it? Your move, ace.

    17. KPOcala
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:28 pm

      Steve, are you channeling Howard Cossell? I mean seriously, you “know” that a lot of the Kevin Brown/Randy Johnson thing was “George Pressure”. Vazquez was widely considered a great deal when it happened (first time). Let’s not forget that Cashman can’t play the long-term game in New York, hell, even The Genius in Boston was catching hell from the fans this year. The Yanks as you know have a high overhead and “must” put a juggernaut out year in and year out. If ownership gives him some slack Cash should be able to parlay the young catching and pitching into trades, and/or mid-season help for the The Team. I don’t see how (unless the Yanks catch lightning in a bottle) the Yanks can hope to compete for the WS w/o stripping the farm. Saying that I also don’t think that the Red Sox are a shoo-in either, they really only have two dominant pitchers on that staff and Papi could be cut by August. Another thing, I’ve noticed that Gammons has clammed-up (no pun) about The Genius and the Sox farm system. Let’s play!

    18. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:29 pm

      Oh, and some people question Billingsley as ‘soft’ after his hamstring problem wiped out his season in 2009, while the Dodgers were fighting it out for the post-season.

    19. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:33 pm

      Hmmm…wiped out his season in 2009 isn’t very accurate.

      More like: severely damaged his season.

      ERA on June 19th: 2.80′s.
      ERA after: 5.20′s.

    20. KPOcala
      December 15th, 2010 | 6:54 pm

      Hey check this out, Cashman should get some kudos, no? http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/12/15/time-ripe-for-yankees-to-serve-youth/#cntnt

    21. 77yankees
      December 15th, 2010 | 10:02 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I bet the Yanks could trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling, but I bet they can’t trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling who’s already established himself in the majors…someone like Clayton Kershaw.

      King Felix for Montero + …..otherwise hold on to him.

    22. Evan3457
      December 15th, 2010 | 10:55 pm

      77yankees wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      I bet the Yanks could trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling, but I bet they can’t trade Montero for a young pitcher with a high ceiling who’s already established himself in the majors…someone like Clayton Kershaw.
      King Felix for Montero + …..otherwise hold on to him.

      I tend to agree, but as Felix is not on the market, and is not likely to be on the market anytime in the next several yeas, that means you’re not trading Montero, which in turn means you can’t get an ace pitcher back.

    23. GDH
      December 16th, 2010 | 9:52 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      “It’s not just in the free agent market where Cashman has made some huge whiffs on starting pitching. Just about every starting pitcher that he’s ever traded for has been less than expected – or a total bust – for the Yankees.”

      Raf wrote:

      Cashman can’t assess pitching? BFD; since 1998, the Yankees have won 4 world series, and have made the playoffs every year save one.

      File this one under Department of Redundancy Department.

    24. KPOcala
      December 16th, 2010 | 8:14 pm

      Can anyone name a GM who, over a 10 year time frame has a high average for assessing pitching? GMs may as well use tarot cards ’cause it can’t be done.

    25. McMillan
      October 27th, 2013 | 9:42 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      And the notion that AJ Burnett is going to turn it around is hardly outlandish…

      @ Evan3457:
      Good point. Burnett turned it around alright: in 2012… pitching in a small-market where he belonged, and with Cashman sending Pittsburgh a check for 50% of Burnett’s salary (2012-13)…

    26. Kamieniecki
      November 14th, 2013 | 7:59 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      You don’t get BOTH Weaver and Brown, because Weaver had already busted before the Yanks traded him for Brown. In other words, what kind of pitcher do you expect to get for a player with little value of his own…

      One gets BOTH pitchers in two separate trades when, in each instance, the pitcher acquired is substantially outperformed by the pitcher traded in the short-term, and in the long-term.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Same thing with Esteban Loaiza, who the Yanks KNEW was injured when they traded for him.

      False.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      That trade was made because the Yanks (read George demanded that he never look at Jose Contreras again, after Contreras bombed out against the Red Sox one time too many)…

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I remember reading in the local papers articles that had Steinbrenner wanting Contreras gone after that last horrible start against the Red Sox just before they traded him, but I can’t find the articles on line.

      http://waswatching.com/2013/06/14/jose-contreras-2/

      False.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The man the traded for Jeff Weaver, Ted Lilly, was himself traded for…

      Irrelevant (e.g., the fact that Seattle did or did not trade Buhner within 2 years is irrelevant to any evaluation of the Buhner-for-Phelps trade; if Seattle had turned around and traded Buhner for Dave Bergman two years later in ’90 – that would have had nothing to do with New York sending Buhner to Seattle for Phelps).

      Evan3457 wrote:

      … in fact the Yanks got Lilly AND Jake Westbrook for Hideki Irabu.

      In fact, Cashman convinced Mr. Steinbrenner to NOT trade Irabu and Mike Lowell for Randy Johnson in ’98…

      three years before Johnson’s domination of Mr. Steinbrenner’s Yankees in the 2001 World Series (1.04 ERA; 0.692 WHIP; World Series MVP)…

      and six years before proposing a trade package for Johnson that included a prospect named Robinson Cano, and eventually acquiring him at the age of 41.

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The trade for Shawn Chacon worked out pretty well, at least in 2006.

      A pitcher who retired from Major League Baseball two years later in ’08 with a career 45-61 record and 5.00 ERA.

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