• Yanks Cashman: In Data We Trust!

    Posted by on January 2nd, 2013 · Comments (45)

    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?

    Comments on Yanks Cashman: In Data We Trust!

    1. Ricketson
      January 2nd, 2013 | 2:38 pm

      “[In 2005] Cashman… started to depend on computer statistics, sabermetrics and trying to emulate [Boston's] approach to winning… ‘People used to think it was okay to smoke, or okay to drink during pregnancy,’ Cashman said. ‘We learn as we go forward.’”

    2. Evan3457
      January 2nd, 2013 | 5:36 pm

      The numbers said that Vazquez, Pavano and Burnett were worthy of being acquired, which is why other teams were trying to trade for Vazquez as well, and why other teams pursued Pavano and Burnett when they were free agents, with at least one other team offering Pavano more, and the Yanks barely outbidding the Braves for Burnett.

    3. Ricketson
      January 2nd, 2013 | 11:15 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The numbers said that Vazquez, Pavano and Burnett were worthy of being acquired

      Any pitcher is worthy of being acquired.
      Evan3457 wrote:

      The numbers said that Vazquez, Pavano and Burnett were worthy of being acquired, which is why other teams were trying to trade for Vazquez as well, and why other teams pursued Pavano and Burnett when they were free agents, with at least one other team offering Pavano more, and the Yanks barely outbidding the Braves for Burnett.

      Because at least one other team attempts to acquire a player, or offers a contract of comparable terms to a player, the judgment of a g.m. in a given transaction can not be questionable? And what was the rationale behind spending $46 mil. on Igawa, a backend starter from Japan with an average fastball (“He hasn’t lived up to what our scouting assessments were. Maybe that’s not his fault.”)?

    4. Raf
      January 3rd, 2013 | 12:07 am

      Ricketson wrote:

      And what was the rationale behind spending $46 mil. on Igawa, a backend starter from Japan with an average fastball (“He hasn’t lived up to what our scouting assessments were. Maybe that’s not his fault.”)?

      http://prospectinsider.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/scouting-report-kei-igawa-lhp/

    5. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 12:28 am

      Raf wrote:

      [T]he idea of a guy coming here to America with a 88-90 mph fastball scares me.

    6. Raf
      January 3rd, 2013 | 12:42 am

      @ Ricketson:
      Igawa wasn’t the first MLB pitcher with an 88-90 mph fastball, he probably won’t be the last.

    7. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 12:53 am

      Raf wrote:

      Igawa wasn’t the first MLB pitcher with an 88-90 mph fastball, he probably won’t be the last.

      No. But he was the first MLB pitcher to be paid $23,000,097.00 per win (2), and he assuredly will be the last.

    8. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 12:59 am

      Raf wrote:

      [T]he idea of a guy coming here to America with a 88-90 mph fastball scares me.

      Raf wrote:

      Igawa wasn’t the first MLB pitcher with an 88-90 mph fastball, he probably won’t be the last.

      Arguing against one’s self…

    9. Raf
      January 3rd, 2013 | 8:01 am

      Ricketson wrote:

      Raf wrote:
      [T]he idea of a guy coming here to America with a 88-90 mph fastball scares me.
      Raf wrote:
      Igawa wasn’t the first MLB pitcher with an 88-90 mph fastball, he probably won’t be the last.
      Arguing against one’s self…

      No one’s arguing against themselves, you need to do a better job at reading what people wrote. ;)

    10. MJ Recanati
      January 3rd, 2013 | 11:18 am

      Ricketson wrote:

      Because at least one other team attempts to acquire a player, or offers a contract of comparable terms to a player, the judgment of a g.m. in a given transaction can not be questionable?

      For the first time ever, I agree with Ricketson. The Pavano signing was flawed at the time, irrespective of how many other teams might’ve been in on the bidding.

    11. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 11:58 am

      Raf wrote:

      No one’s arguing against themselves, you need to do a better job at reading what people wrote.

      You were right the first time…

    12. Raf
      January 3rd, 2013 | 3:46 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Raf wrote:
      No one’s arguing against themselves, you need to do a better job at reading what people wrote.
      You were right the first time…

      And you were wrong attributing baileywalk’s words to me.

    13. MJ Recanati
      January 3rd, 2013 | 4:54 pm

      Raf wrote:

      baileywalk

      Holy shit, I remember that guy! Good commenter back in the day…

    14. Ricketson
      January 3rd, 2013 | 5:15 pm

      Raf wrote:

      And you were wrong attributing baileywalk’s words to me.

      Correction: Baileywalk was right.

    15. Evan3457
      January 3rd, 2013 | 8:24 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      The numbers said that Vazquez, Pavano and Burnett were worthy of being acquired, which is why other teams were trying to trade for Vazquez as well, and why other teams pursued Pavano and Burnett when they were free agents, with at least one other team offering Pavano more, and the Yanks barely outbidding the Braves for Burnett.

      Because at least one other team attempts to acquire a player, or offers a contract of comparable terms to a player, the judgment of a g.m. in a given transaction can not be questionable?

      Yeah, pretty much. Especially when the GMs in question are Dombrowski and Epstein. Well, questionable? Certainly. But not criticized to this extent. No, that’s pretty much unfair and slightly irrational.

      No, seriously…if other credible GM’s are chasing the same player, and offer as much, or more, or even a little bit less, then that tells where the talent evaluators in question think the market for that player should be.

      Unless you’re going to adopt the position that, only for the players that Cashman acquired who eventually bombed, the other GM’s were in the bidding only to bluff Cashman and artificially raise the price. Which is shaky reasoning. Extremely shaky reasoning.

      So the fact that both Dombrowski and Epstein were seriously in on Pavano tells you that the Yanks’ bid that won him was right around market value. The fact that the Braves were just under the Yankee bid for Burnett in both annual salary and years tells you the Yanks went as far as they had to, in the market established for Burnett, to get him.

      Epstein tried to trade for Vazquez in the 2002-3 offseason. I guess he didn’t know that Vazquez would flop in a big market/high pressure environment. He just got lucky the Expos didn’t accept what he was offering.

      And what was the rationale behind spending $46 mil. on Igawa, a backend starter from Japan with an average fastball (“He hasn’t lived up to what our scouting assessments were. Maybe that’s not his fault.”)?

      The alternative to Igawa was Ted Lilly. Lilly, of course, would’ve been vastly superior. But the money would’ve been more, and would’ve gone to the Yankees’ competitors in MLB, not mostly to a team in NPB.

      Lilly signed a $40 million/4-year deal with the Cubs…AAV: $10 million, but with the Yanks salary cap/luxury tax hit, it would’ve been $60 million total. Of Igawa’s $46 million, $26 million was untaxable posting bid money. Total cost of Igawa’s contract was $56 million, of which Igawa got $4 million a year.

      Igawa was intended to be a 5th starter stopgap to fill in for a year or two while the Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy trio moved up the chain. It was a disaster, and it caused the Yanks to call all three up ahead of schedule. (Well, in Joba’s case, it was mostly due to needing a live arm in the bullpen.) The Yanks tried something cute, and it caved in on them.

      So rail away on Igawa, if you want. That one’s a pure talent evaluation blunder. But the other three…nah. If you want to, you can make the case that Pavano’s injury history made signing him too risky, and I wouldn’t disagree, but again, Dombrowski and Epstein were willing to take that risk. So either they’re just as stupid as Cashman, or he’s just as smart as they are.

    16. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 9:30 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I wouldn’t disagree, but again, Dombrowski and Epstein were willing to take that risk. So either they’re just as stupid as Cashman, or he’s just as smart as they are.

      Nonsense. What is Cashman’s record in transactions with Dombrowski?

    17. MJ Recanati
      January 4th, 2013 | 9:35 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      If you want to, you can make the case that Pavano’s injury history made signing him too risky, and I wouldn’t disagree, but again, Dombrowski and Epstein were willing to take that risk. So either they’re just as stupid as Cashman, or he’s just as smart as they are.

      That’s precisely the point. Pavano had a low probability of working out because of the injury risk and, beyond that, because he hadn’t been anything more than league average in the NL with the lone exception of his walk year in 2004.

      The fact that Epstein and Dombrowski were interested in him — something that may have been at least partially motivated by driving up the price on the Yankees (who were very clearly interested in him) — really doesn’t change much for me. Multiple talent evaluators can be duped or wrong-headed for any number of reasons.

    18. MJ Recanati
      January 4th, 2013 | 9:40 am

      Ricketson wrote:

      What is Cashman’s record in transactions with Dombrowski?

      Which transactions are you referring to? I can only think of two (the Jeff Weaver and Curtis Granderson acquisitions).

      In the first case, the Tigers gave up the best player in the deal (Weaver) and got back Carlos Pena from Oakland who did absolutely nothing for Detroit. In thge second case, the Tigers gave up Granderson and got back a package of players. In the case of the former, the trade was a bust for both New York and Detroit. In the case of the latter, both the Yankees and the Tigers (and Arizona, for that matter) all came out ahead.

    19. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 9:52 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The alternative to Igawa was Ted Lilly. Lilly, of course, would’ve been vastly superior. But the money would’ve been more, and would’ve gone to the Yankees’ competitors in MLB, not mostly to a team in NPB.

    20. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 10:07 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Of Igawa’s $46 million, $26 million was untaxable posting bid money. Total cost of Igawa’s contract was $56 million, of which Igawa got $4 million a year.

    21. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 10:20 am

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Igawa was intended to be a 5th starter stopgap to fill in for a year or two

    22. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:22 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      Igawa was intended to be a 5th starter stopgap to fill in for a year or two

      You quote me well.

    23. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:22 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      I wouldn’t disagree, but again, Dombrowski and Epstein were willing to take that risk. So either they’re just as stupid as Cashman, or he’s just as smart as they are.
      Nonsense. What is Cashman’s record in transactions with Dombrowski?

      Not nonsense in the slightest degree.

    24. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:29 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      If you want to, you can make the case that Pavano’s injury history made signing him too risky, and I wouldn’t disagree, but again, Dombrowski and Epstein were willing to take that risk. So either they’re just as stupid as Cashman, or he’s just as smart as they are.
      That’s precisely the point. Pavano had a low probability of working out because of the injury risk and, beyond that, because he hadn’t been anything more than league average in the NL with the lone exception of his walk year in 2004.
      The fact that Epstein and Dombrowski were interested in him — something that may have been at least partially motivated by driving up the price on the Yankees (who were very clearly interested in him) — really doesn’t change much for me. Multiple talent evaluators can be duped or wrong-headed for any number of reasons.

      In the specific case of Pavano, he had just finished two straight seasons with 200 or more innings, the 1st two of his career. Looking at his track record to that point, any evaluator would be justified in interpreting that as a pitcher who had finally come through the “young pitcher injury nexus” and was ready to assume regular work in a rotation for a period of years. He was, at that point, 29 years old.

      The additional factor is that Pavano pitched quite well against the Yanks in the 2003 World Series, and George always gave extra consideration to players who beat him and the Yankees, especially in the post-season. In retrospect, we now see that 2004 was a career year for Pavano, but it didn’t have to work out that way. In fact, he had to solid to good years before he got to the Yanks, and two more after he left the Yanks.

      I think it highly unlikely that Dombrowski and Epstein were in the bidding for him just to drive the Yankees’ price up. Possible, but unlikely.

    25. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:39 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      You quote me well.

      Your quotes speak for themselves…

    26. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:44 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      Ricketson wrote:

      What is Cashman’s record in transactions with Dombrowski?

    27. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 3:58 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I think it highly unlikely that Dombrowski and Epstein were in the bidding for [Pavano] “[as] something that may have been at least partially motivated by driving up the price on the Yankees.”

      Why is this scenario “highly unlikely?”

    28. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 4:05 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      In the first case, the Tigers gave up the best player in the deal (Weaver) and got back Carlos Pena from Oakland who did absolutely nothing for Detroit.

      “[T]he Yankees traded away Lilly, Arnold, and Griffin to Oakland… [T]he Athletics sent Bonderman, Pena, and German to Detroit. And, the Tigers sent Weaver to the Yankees… When people like to talk about the bad calls that Brian Cashman has made with respect to pitching moves, they often talk about acquiring Jeff Weaver, Javy Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa; but, they rarely talk about that one that got away and who was not brought back when they had the chance: Ted Lilly.” http://waswatching.com/2008/09/16/the-curse-of-ted-lilly/

    29. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 4:11 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Looking at his track record to that point, any evaluator would be justified in interpreting that as a pitcher who had finally come through the “young pitcher injury nexus” and was ready to assume regular work in a rotation for a period of years.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Actually, back in the day, I had a lot to say in terms of “Beware!” for those going after Pavano:

    30. MJ Recanati
      January 4th, 2013 | 4:13 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      he had to solid to good years before he got to the Yanks

      Apart from the 2004 high-water mark for him, he was league average in the weaker league. I agree that two consecutive 200+ IP seasons might’ve led one to assume that it was all smooth sailing the rest of the way but that is still ridiculous in my book. It’s not like he was barely missing 200 IP before that…

    31. MJ Recanati
      January 4th, 2013 | 4:15 pm

      @ Ricketson:
      As I said, the Weaver deal was a bust for both Cashman and Dombrowski. Unless there’s another trade we’ve missed, I’d say the Cashman/Dombrowski trade docket has a win-win (2010) and a lose-lose (2002) which makes it pretty even in my book.

    32. Ricketson
      January 4th, 2013 | 4:28 pm

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I’m thinking of at least two other deals…

    33. Raf
      January 4th, 2013 | 5:46 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      MJ Recanati wrote:
      In the first case, the Tigers gave up the best player in the deal (Weaver) and got back Carlos Pena from Oakland who did absolutely nothing for Detroit.
      “[T]he Yankees traded away Lilly, Arnold, and Griffin to Oakland… [T]he Athletics sent Bonderman, Pena, and German to Detroit. And, the Tigers sent Weaver to the Yankees… When people like to talk about the bad calls that Brian Cashman has made with respect to pitching moves, they often talk about acquiring Jeff Weaver, Javy Vazquez, Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, and Kei Igawa; but, they rarely talk about that one that got away and who was not brought back when they had the chance: Ted Lilly.” http://waswatching.com/2008/09/16/the-curse-of-ted-lilly/

      http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/news/020705weaver.html

      Two teams came out very well in this trade. The Yankees established themselves further as the solid favorite to win the American League East. The Red Sox are only two games back, but New York has made the gap seem wider after acquiring Weaver. While the Athletics could have used Weaver to help their playoff hopes, Oakland’s ownership wouldn’t pick up his contract. So the A’s settled for upgrading their rotation with Lilly and adding two quality prospects.

      The Tigers, by contrast, would have been better off saying no. No to the Yankees when New York came looking for Weaver, who was easily Detroit’s most attractive player and had a reasonable contract. And no to the idea of passing on the Yankees’ young players in exchange for the Athletics’ package.

      http://a.espncdn.com/mlb/news/2002/0705/1402651.html

      http://a.espncdn.com/mlb/s/2002/0706/1402738.html

      How good is Weaver? Ignore the 6-8 record; he’s very, very good. Heading into Saturday, he ranks ninth in the AL in ERA and fifth in innings pitched. He’s allowed just four home runs, is young (25), durable (never been on the disabled list), and signed through 2005 at a good price ($4.1 million this year, $6.25 million in 2004 and $9.25 million in 2005).

      What’s scary for the rest of the AL is that Weaver moves from one of the league’s worst defenses to one of it’s best. Using a stat called Defensive Efficiency Record, which tells the percentage of balls in play that are turned into outs (home runs not included), the Yankees have the third-best defense in the AL while the Tigers have the third-worst. Weaver has allowed a .243 opponents’ average this season; expect that to drop with an improved defense behind him.

      Is there a potential downside? Yes, last year Weaver threw the second-most pitches in the AL; this season, he’s fifth. So he has thrown a lot of pitches at a young age, although we’ve seen no signs of ill effects because of that.

      The Yankees did give up a nice young lefty in Lilly and two good prospects in Griffin and Arnold, but give GM Brian Cashman kudos for this deal. Weaver provides depth for this year and, perhaps more importantly, an anchor for next when David Wells is gone and Roger Clemens a year older.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/06/sports/baseball-yanks-trade-lilly-and-acquire-tigers-weaver-in-3-team-deal.html

    34. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:24 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      You quote me well.
      Your quotes speak for themselves…

      As do yours.

    35. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:25 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      I think it highly unlikely that Dombrowski and Epstein were in the bidding for [Pavano] “[as] something that may have been at least partially motivated by driving up the price on the Yankees.”
      Why is this scenario “highly unlikely?”

      Why is it likely?

    36. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:25 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      @ Evan3457:
      Ricketson wrote:
      What is Cashman’s record in transactions with Dombrowski?

      Already answered by MJ Recanati.

    37. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:26 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      Looking at his track record to that point, any evaluator would be justified in interpreting that as a pitcher who had finally come through the “young pitcher injury nexus” and was ready to assume regular work in a rotation for a period of years.
      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      Actually, back in the day, I had a lot to say in terms of “Beware!” for those going after Pavano:

      And, neither Dombrowski nor Epstein agreed with Lombardi. Which was the point I was trying to make.

    38. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:29 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      @ MJ Recanati:
      I’m thinking of at least two other deals…

      I’m assuming Lowell-Yarnall & others is one of them. What’s the other one?

    39. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:31 pm

      Oh, by the way, regarding Lilly…Cashman gets demerits for trading him for Jeff Weaver (in effect), but why does he never get credit for trading Hideki Irabu for Jake Westbrook…and Ted Lilly?

    40. Evan3457
      January 4th, 2013 | 6:38 pm

      Sheffield for the 3 pitchers? Pfft. No great loss.

    41. Raf
      January 4th, 2013 | 7:58 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      I’m assuming Lowell-Yarnall & others is one of them. What’s the other one?

      Farmsworth for Pudge Rodriguez

    42. Evan3457
      January 5th, 2013 | 11:25 am

      Raf wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      I’m assuming Lowell-Yarnall & others is one of them. What’s the other one?
      Farmsworth for Pudge Rodriguez

      As he proved again with the Rays, Farnsworth is fine provided there’s no real pressure on him.

    43. Raf
      January 5th, 2013 | 2:48 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      As he proved again with the Rays, Farnsworth is fine provided there’s no real pressure on him.

      He wasn’t all that bad his time in NY.

    44. Evan3457
      January 6th, 2013 | 9:55 am

      Raf wrote:

      Evan3457 wrote:
      As he proved again with the Rays, Farnsworth is fine provided there’s no real pressure on him.
      He wasn’t all that bad his time in NY.

      He was mediocre in NY. Most games a roller coaster ride. Very rarely good in big spots against tough teams.

      I remember one time he was able to whiff David Ortiz on a hanging curve way up in the zone on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and 2 out in Boston. The pitch was so bad, Ortiz couldn’t adjust to it.

    45. Kamieniecki
      October 26th, 2013 | 10:03 pm

      Raf wrote:

      [The Pavano signing] was a bad signing no matter the price. This is even without the benefit of hindsight.

      MJ wrote:

      That hardly justifies the error [in signing Pavano]. It only shows that several teams had the same lapse in judgment and that the Yanks got stuck with the mistake. It essentially speaks volumes about a) the appetite for pitching in the big leagues, to the point where teams ignore obvious red flags and b) that the masses are asses.
      This issue is really a no-brainer: here’s a guy that had exactly one great season and couldn’t fulfill his talent due to a very long list of injuries throughout his career. It was a bad move at the time. The results should surprise no one.

      http://waswatching.com/2008/04/22/whos-to-blame/

      Evan3457 wrote:

      The numbers said that Vazquez, Pavano and Burnett were worthy of being acquired…

      @ Evan3457:
      I think I agree with M.J. and Raf on this one. Sorry. Their arguments kick yours to the curb.

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