• Cashman: The Red Sox Are My Role Model

    Posted by on September 22nd, 2011 · Comments (11)

    Great stuff from Evan Brunell today -

    Hidden in a fantastic piece about the impact of Moneyball on baseball by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, with reverberations felt today, is an admission by Yankees GM Brian Cashman that he tried to emulate what the Red Sox had done to turn them into one of baseball’s powerhouses on the backing of unexpected contributions and strong pitching. And yet, while Cashman has largely succeeded, it would appear that Epstein has regressed.

    “[The Red Sox] were having a great deal of success with players of lesser ability,” Cashman said. “I studied what they were doing to some degree, adjusted accordingly, brought the Yankees up to speed, brought us into the 21st century.”

    The Red Sox’s transformation began when John Henry bought the club in December 2001 and encouraged increased emphasis on objective analysis. That coincided with the wooing of Moneyball darling Billy Beane, the A’s GM, who was at one point on track to become Boston’s new general manager before abruptly puling out, clearing the way for Theo Epstein to take over.

    “When I got to the Red Sox, our roster at the time had plenty of star power, but the second half of our roster was not strong,” Epstein said. So, he set out looking for undervalued assets using a process he cut his teeth on in San Diego. The Padres were and are a small-market team, which added emphasis to seeking out low-cost players who could return their value and more.

    “I spent the vast majority of time focused on players who were undervalued for some reason or another, trying to build value through small acquisitions, through looking at players through a slightly different lens than the marketplace,” Epstein said.

    That led to a host of players entering Boston that became instrumental in its 2004 World Series victory. Most notably, first baseman Kevin Millar, third baseman Bill Mueller and designated hitter David Ortiz were brought in. Millar would provide a steady presence at first, Mueller won the batting title in 2003 and Ortiz went on to be a Boston legend.

    It’s no wonder then, that Cashman sat up and paid attention after years of the Yankees throwing gobs of money at free agents to come to town and fail. He hasn’t stopped extending major dollars, but has also found success acquiring undervalued players such as Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Boone Logan and more.

    But Cashman wasn’t done trying to figure out what made the Red Sox so great. He hired former Red Sox pitching coach (and interim manager in 2001) Joe Kerrigan to peer into how the Red Sox approached their pitching. Kerrigan was let go when Henry came aboard, but still had a deep knowledge of the organization.

    “How they approached their pitching program was of interest to me,” Cashman says. “I was throwing out much more (pitching) talent than the Red Sox had and they were having more success. It goes to execution, game plans, stuff like that.”

    What’s interesting is that while Cashman has put together a strong team, founded partly on principles gleaned from Boston, Epstein has regressed.

    No longer is Epstein finding undervalued commodities in the trade or free-agent market. Instead, he’s opted for higher-priced veterans that have fallen flat on their face. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Daisuke Matuszaka, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria (and some would count J.D. Drew)… the list goes on. And many of Epstein’s holes have been glossed over by a trade he had nothing to do with, sending top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez to Florida for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. (Epstein would later extend Mike Lowell in a contract that also ended up a net loss.)

    How come we never hear any other G.M.’s saying that they want to be just like Cashman, in the way he runs his team?

    Comments on Cashman: The Red Sox Are My Role Model

    1. lardin
      September 22nd, 2011 | 11:11 am

      “I know that I am intelligent because I know nothing” -Socrates-

      Give him credit, he realized some of the things the Yankee were doing were not working. He found an approach that worked and changed it. So he copied the Red Sox so what? In the last three years or so, Cashman has vastly outperformed Theo Epstein. In the last three years, The Yankees farm system has produced Gardner, Nunez, Roberston, Joba, Hughes, Noesi, and Cervelli. The farm system has allowed the Yankees to trade for Swisher and Granderson. He signed CC and Tex. Granted he also signed AJ Burntett. But Theo Epstein signed Lackey. Believe or not Burnett has actually outperformed Lackey. In the last three years, Bucholtz, Bard, and Lowrie have come out of the farm system and they used the farm to trade for Agon. At the same time Theo has developed a team with zero depth. Why does it seems that every player the yankees plug in for an injured star performs well? Look at Nunez and Chavez when Arod and Jeter got hurt. Look at Nova and Colon when Hughes got hurt. Look at Robertson when Joba got hurt.

      But to answer you question why no one copies Cashman, its because they Cant. Because in addition to developing a solid farm system, which includes one of the three best prospects in baseball, Cashman has payroll of 200 million dollars. So, in addition to bringing up young players who contribute, Cashman can spend money of the stars of the game or take on salary in a salary dump.

    2. Jim TreshFan
      September 22nd, 2011 | 11:35 am

      Sort of like the Ulysses S. Grant vs. Robert E. Lee arguments.
      Who was the better general?
      Who won the war?

    3. lardin
      September 22nd, 2011 | 11:41 am

      @ Jim TreshFan:
      Its more like the Miracle on Ice team, Take what the other team does, learn how to do it and then throw it back in the face..

    4. Raf
      September 22nd, 2011 | 12:18 pm

      [quote]He hasn’t stopped extending major dollars, but has also found success acquiring undervalued players such as Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Boone Logan and more.[/quote]

      Aaron Small? Shawn Chacon? Jon Lieber? Octavio Dotel? Flipping Robin Ventura for Proctor and Crosby?

      This isn’t some recent phenomenon. Cashman has been playing all angles for as long as I can remember. Willie Banks, Wilson Betemit, Richie Sexon, etc, etc, etc. Cashman isn’t afraid to take gambles; going with Kennedy & Hughes in 2008. His philosophy for back end rotation starters is nothing new either.

    5. Evan3457
      September 22nd, 2011 | 12:32 pm

      Timeline:

      2001-2004: George is in charge. Yanks are wasteful, inefficient, and despite having uber-abundant resources, the Red Sox catch them and pass them by.

      What does the intelligent man do? Does he “stick with the program”, or does he learn, adapt, make changes. But first, he has to have the power to force the changes into happening.

      2005-7

      Cashman went to George and demanded more control and got it. He learned from his enemies; their tactics and strategies, and got better. But it takes a couple of years for the long-term strategies to pay off, and in the interim, the Sox take another title, and the Rays rise up from the ashes.

      2008-Now

      The Yanks bottom out in 2008, the aging team suffers injuries and declines all over the offense, the rookie pitchers flop. The Yanks miss the playoffs. But the wreckage gets cleared. Old and injury prone players costing $60 million a year are let go. A couple of new stars are grafted on. The team jells quicker than anyone thinks possible and wins the title.

      The Old Guard ages. Pettitte has an injury, Jeter and Posada decline. But players in their primes are brought in to bridge the gap. The team fades in 2010. Pettitte retires. They fail to get their man, the ace. Plan B is called “patience”, but it’s actually re-deploying the Lee money all over the roster, resulting in the best offensive depth the team has had since the Dynasty years, and the best bullpen. They’ve won the division as the team built by The Master™, “the greatest team of all time”, collapses, possibly right out of the post-season.

      So, praise? Of course not. Another swipe. The man learned from his smart enemy and improved. Praise for intelligence and adaptability? Of course not.

      You know what? George Weiss didn’t invent the modern farm system; that was Branch Rickey with the Cards. But he sure did copy it, and damn near perfected it. I don’t remember anyone ever saying they imitated Weiss, either.

    6. Baseball Guy
      September 22nd, 2011 | 5:13 pm

      Steve,
      Again, your commentary is boring and tired.
      The Yankees just clinched first place. You continually bash Brian Cashman, yet he constructed the team that was the best in the American League.
      At some point, you have to give credit where credit is due. The Yankees have been in the playoffs every year Cashman has been in charge except 2008.
      How much more can he do?
      Also, he learns from his mistakes, he continually reevaluates and makes changes as necessary. These are all traits I want from my GM.
      Here is a suggestion. Beginning today, you should list all the roster decisions you would make. Keep them posted on the site so all can see. Then over time we will be able to compare your decision making with Cashman’s.

      You are an excellent writer, but your continual bashing of Brian Cashman needs to take a rest. The man is an outstanding GM.

    7. LMJ229
      September 22nd, 2011 | 9:58 pm

      This Cashman lovefest is making me sick. Excuse me while I go puke.

    8. Raf
      September 22nd, 2011 | 10:33 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      This Cashman lovefest is making me sick. Excuse me while I go puke.

      It was a slam that got turned on its head.

      ZOMG they didn’t trade for Cliff Lee!!!! Cashman sucks!
      ZOMG they didn’t sign Cliff Lee!!!1 Cashman sucks!
      ZOMG Pettitte’s retiring!!1!! Cashman sucks!
      ZOMG they signed Bartolo Colon, he’s teh suck!!! Cashman sucks!
      ZOMG they signed Freddy Garcia, he’s t3h suck too!11!!1 Cashman sucks!
      ZOMG the rotation is CC-Burnett-Hughes-Colon-Garcia!!! No way the Yankees can contend with that rotation. Cashman sucks, he should be fired!

      Love Cashman or hate him, the Yankees wrapped up another AL East title when few people gave them the chance to. Not only that, the pitching exceeded everyone’s expectations. AND on top of that, they’re close to clinching the best record in the AL.

      Kudos all around.

    9. KPOcala
      September 22nd, 2011 | 11:12 pm

      @ Evan3457: Evan, you wrote “The Analysis” of the “Cashman Years”. Bravo!

    10. September 23rd, 2011 | 7:21 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      This Cashman lovefest is making me sick. Excuse me while I go puke.

      It’s OK. Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

      Me? I think this is like many other topics in Yankeeland. When Carl Crawford was supposed to become a Yankee, he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. But, now that he a member of the Red Sox, he’s a laughable bum. The difference? He’s not on the Yankees.

      Cashman can’t last forever. And, hopefully, when he goes, he goes to another team. We’ll see how many people love him then…

      Look at Buck Showalter. As a Yankees manager, Yankeeland loved him. As soon as he left, many turned on him. Ditto Joe Torre. Cashman will get his turn.

    11. Greg H.
      September 23rd, 2011 | 2:02 pm

      Cashman has an interesting approval picture in the fanbase, if this site is any indication. There are definitely a bunch of us that dislike him. There are a lot more, it seems, that although they don’t think he’s sensational, that he does a solid job. I’m in the latter camp.

      At the end of the day, our team plays October baseball every year, with one exception. Many say it’s because of the checkbook, and that’s partially true. But, teams with checkbooks also miss the playoffs, and underperform. But for the most part, not the Yankees. This year is an excellent case in point. Everyone was crowning the Red Sox and hurling dung at Cashman after the offseason. Result – Cashman’s team won the division and Theo’s collapsed. Now the media is all over how flawed Theo’s team is, and we may finish with the best record in the league. If you don’t like the way he parts what’s left of his hair, or his personality, that I could understand. But how anyone can rate his performance as no good, his results simply don’t bear that out.

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