Via Sweeny Murti today -
The funny thing is [Brian] Cashman just can’t win with the fans. When he gets the big ticket guy, he is accused of being no more than a check-writer who can’t put together a roster without the Yankees’ financial muscle. When he pulls off deals for lesser role players, Cashman is accused of making dumb moves and ignoring the gaping holes that star players should be filling.
Fans seem to think that the Yankees are sabotaging their chances to win because they are stuck on the upcoming $189 million tax threshold. Does anybody realize that it’s still more money than anybody else is spending? When you build your team around high-priced megastars like A-Rod and Jeter and Teixeira and Sabathia, you have to fill in the rest of your 25-man roster with a little more fiscal responsibility. And when veterans like Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez can be had relatively cheap, and they produce the way that they have this year, it seems the GM deserves a little credit there too.
If prospects need to be dealt, Cashman isn’t afraid to do it. But he isn’t of the mind to purge the system for a marginal short-term upgrade.
Bottom line here is this—the Yankees are always trying to win, but there are times to say no. It’s easy for the average fan to think of the team and each season with a fantasy mentality. In reality, decisions have to be made. You don’t always have to agree with them. But there is a rationale behind them. And there is still a desire to win, even if you don’t believe that to be the case.
I am a huge fan of Sweeny Murti. I think he’s one of the hardest working guys in his industry and he does a great job. He’s on WFAN, the MLB Network, and…the YES Network.
And, that last one if the rub here. Murti could be seen here as a hired Cashman Apologist since part of his paycheck is coming from the Yankees.
In any event, I think there is a major flaw in this defense of Cashman.
With Cashman, you need to look at the whole picture and do some root cause analysis on his moves as well. And, this is not a matter of the fans having to choose if they want Cashman to be a high spender or someone shops for bargain deals.
A huge part of the reason why Cashman had to spend like crazy was because his team had holes and he had no in-house answers (albeit people in the farm to promote or trade for replacements). As I wrote back in December 2008:
Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. However, from 1998 through 2005, George Steinbrenner’s troops in his Tampa office (including but not limited to Bill Emslie, Billy Connors, Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer) had so much input on personnel moves that it was somewhat difficult to know what exactly what were Cashman’s decisions or not.
This all changed in October 2005 when Brian Cashman was given full autonomy on running the Yankees. As Cashman said at that time: “I’m the general manager, and everybody within the baseball operations department reports to me. That’s not how it has operated recently.” So, without question, we can look at the state of the New York Yankees over the last three seasons (2006, 2007 and 2008) as well as this off-season (of 2008-2009) and know that what you see is “All-Cashman.”
And, this includes the recent Yankees spending spree of $423.5 million over the last few weeks to acquire free agents Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
Why did New York go after these three high-priced talents? Well, it made sense. Coming off last season, the Yankees two biggest needs were starting pitching and a bat for the middle of their line-up.
With the contract expiration and subsequent retirement of Mike Mussina coupled with the 2008 failure of Cashman’s pitching phenoms Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, it was clear that the Yankees 2009 projected starting rotation was full of holes and question marks. (You can add Andy Pettitte’s departure due to free agency to this root cause list if, indeed, he does not re-sign with the Yankees.)
Further, Cashman’s decision – which, by the way, I agree with 100% – not to bring back Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu for 2009 left the Yankees without some much needed fire-power in the middle of their line-up. Hence, the need for a replacement.
And, Brian Cashman’s solution to these problems was to give CC Sabathia $23 million a year, A.J. Burnett $16.5 million a year, and Mark Teixeira $22.5 million a year – thereabouts – all getting multi-year deals totaling $423.5 million (or “close to a half-billion dollars” for those who like to round and prefer not to use the number pad on their keyboard).
So, Cashman created the holes and Cashman had no answers other than to go out and spend like crazy to address his failures. And, now, because he has a roster full of guys making tremendous money and an overall payroll that is obscene, Cashman has to shop at the consignment shop to fill out the rest of his roster when he has needs to address. Again, say what you want about the effect, but, the cause here is Cashman himself.
Also, let’s not forget that the Yankees still have very few answers again in the minor league level to fill in for guys like Gardner, A-Rod, etc., and that’s why Cashman is forced to look outside the organization to address the issues on his team.
In summary, I think this is the major gripe that fans have with Cashman. When the Yankees have issues, the answer is either to overspend to address them or try and fill them with castoffs off the scrap heap. And, there’s never an in-house answer.
Think about it. The current Yankees developed Cano, Jeter and Gardner. And, Jeter was before Cashman’s time. On the pitching side, you have Hughes, Nova, Robertson, Pettitte and Phelps. And, Pettitte was way before Cashman’s time. Everyone else on the Yankees was either a high-priced free agent, a salary dump trade, or someone out of the bargain bin. So, how many players has Cashman developed who have played for the Yankees and done well here? Maybe a half-dozen in all his years?
There’s also one more thing – the money that Cashman has wasted. You know the names: Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa, Chan Ho Park, et al. And, there are the trades that backfired. Javy Vazquez or Michael Pineda, anyone? Those moves don’t make Cashman seem very astute and that’s another reason why the fans get on him.
O f course, no G.M. is perfect. They all make mistakes, yadda-yadda. But, Cashman has resources that few others in the game have at their disposal. And, yet, even with that perk, he’s still just like all the other G.M.’s who are making mistakes.
Think of it this way. It’s a car race. And, there are 30 cars in the race. Everyday it’s a new race. In terms of results, everyone wins some and everyone loses some. But, one guy in the race has a Lamborghini Reventón and the rest of the pack are driving Hondas and Toyotas. Is it not fair to expect the guy with the Lamborghini to win more races than the other guys?
And, if that’s fair, then why is it unfair to expect Brian Cashman to leave the other baseball G.M.’s in the dust?