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.