Via Bryan Hoch -
Under general manager Brian Cashman’s direction, the Yankees’ roster has tilted toward older players this winter. Barring a major trade, the months of January and February will be important for the club to identify and pursue complementary talent.
“I think patience is a virtue, and it’s something we’ve learned can be used effectively,” Cashman said recently. “It’s a harder road to walk, but sometimes it’s not the worst road to walk. Sometimes you’ve got to wait for the right time and the right place to strike.”
Cashman has noted that he does not have unlimited funds to flash around the marketplace, but the Yankees are hoping that they can find an edge by shopping creatively.
The Yankees have increased the reach of their old-school scouting staff as well as high-tech statistical analysis over the last several seasons, and those advances have helped procure talent late in the Hot Stove game. They’re not afraid of chasing older players, some with injury histories, because they can represent good value.
“I think we’ve improved our pro scouting network, and I think we’ve improved our evaluation of statistical data streams,” Cashman said. “It puts us in a position to make informed decisions and much more comfortable knowing what is really available, and what you can expect from those players if you sign them and what you’d be comfortable paying them.”
That’s the risk of rolling the dice on players that others see as flawed, and certainly there have been late winter misses; Randy Winn and Nick Johnson were busts for the 2010 roster, and in ’11, the Yankees extended a deal to overworked reliever Pedro Feliciano, who didn’t give them a single inning due to injury. Freddy Garcia was valuable to the ’11 club; not so much in ’12.
“I don’t think we see things that others don’t,” Cashman said. “A lot of people have access to the same types of information and are organized the same way. I think we’re in position to make better and informed decisions. We have a circumstance where we have a city that’s a wonderful place to play, with huge fan support, with great players that we can surround ourselves with.”
Cashman said that he knows some players have shunned other offers for the opportunity to play in New York. Youkilis wasn’t enticed by the Indians, and Matt Diaz, who inked a Minor League deal last month and will hope to be New York’s answer for a right-handed outfield bat, said that it was his childhood dream to play for the Yankees.
“It’s worked to our advantage,” Cashman said. “A lot of teams see similar stuff that we see. We’ve been able to benefit because we are the Yankees and this an exceptional place to play.”
That’s our Cash – a numbers-cruncher who needed Joe Torre to remind him that players have a heartbeat. By the way, what did the numbers say about Javy Vazquez, Carl Pavano, Kei Igawa and A.J. Burnett?