Was it worth it? $206 million for four good years.
In a “full season,” the answer is: 1989-1992. (Actually, that was a five year run from 1988-1992. And, that 1989-1991 team was one of the worst in Yankees history.)
Of course, with 87 wins or less in 2016, the new answer would be 2013-2016.
If that happens, let’s please be sure to get that on Cashman’s Monument Park plaque.
Yankees pitchers to have 30+ games started in the last 3 years:
|1||Hiroki Kuroda||2||2013||2014||38-39||Ind. Seasons|
|2||CC Sabathia||1||2013||2013||32-32||Ind. Seasons|
|3||Andy Pettitte||1||2013||2013||41-41||Ind. Seasons|
That’s it. And, for the record, the Yankees used 19 different starting pitchers in the last 3 years.
Then again, what else can you expect from the G.M. who brought you Kei Igawa, Sidney Ponson, Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez and Sergio Mitre?
This season, Brian McCann has a chance to become only the second Yankees player in franchise history to have 3 years in a row where he qualified for the batting title while batting less than .235:
|1||Tom Tresh||3||1966||1968||27-29||Ind. Seasons|
|2||Frankie Crosetti||3||1937||1940||26-29||Ind. Seasons|
|3||Roger Peckinpaugh||3||1914||1918||23-27||Ind. Seasons|
|4||Brian McCann||2||2014||2015||30-31||Ind. Seasons|
|5||Clete Boyer||2||1961||1964||24-27||Ind. Seasons|
|6||Luke Boone||2||1914||1915||24-25||Ind. Seasons|
|7||Jimmy Austin||2||1909||1910||29-30||Ind. Seasons|
|8||Red Kleinow||2||1906||1908||28-30||Ind. Seasons|
Another high character guy…not.
The only baseball G.M. who has been in his current job longer than Brian Cashman is Brian Sabean. (And, Sabean’s team has actually won some World Series lately.)
There are 9 current baseball G.M. who were hired some time in 2015. And, there’s another 5 who were hired into their position in 2014. That’s almost half of the current baseball G.M.’s being hired in the last 2 years.
And, the Marlins and Blue Jays are still looking for a G.M.
So, in reality, it’s 53% of big league teams out there now with really fresh blood as their G.M.
Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 3, 1998. Of all the current G.M.’s, outside of Sabean, who is the one with the hire date next closest to Cashman? That would be Jon Daniels who was hired by Texas on October 4, 2005.
Yes, that’s a difference of EIGHT YEARS.
Since Cashman has become the Yankees G.M., you’ve seen several of his peers get promoted from their G.M. position to something higher. See Billy Beane, Andrew Friedman and, of course, Theo Epstein. (Peter principle, anyone?)
Oh, and, by the way, in the last 3 years, the Yankees have won 85-84-and-87 games. In fact, in the last 9 seasons, the Yankees have finished in first a grand total of 3 times.
Isn’t it time for a change in the Yankees G.M. position? Haven’t we had enough of the same old, same old?
|1||2015||New York Yankees||9||.461||45||49|
|2||2014||New York Yankees||162||.478||633||664|
|3||2013||New York Yankees||162||.485||650||671|
Only the magic of Joe Girardi has transformed this mess into something slightly over a .500 ballclub.
Of course, the idiocracy of the mediocrity is not holding those responsible for roster construction accountable.
The 2015 Yankees are counting on CC Sabathia’s knee to hold up. And, they are counting on Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow not exploding. But, there’s more!
The are also counting on Michael Pineda’s maturity, Ivan Nova’s recovery, and, some sort of Eliza Doolittle miracle with Nathan Eovaldi.
Basically, their entire starting rotation is counting on something that’s not favorable.
This may just be the season where Chris Capuano makes 25 starts for the Yankees and leads the team in that category for the season.
Count on that.
Just look at how the team is trending, in terms of results, over the last six years:
2009: Won the World Series
2010: Lost the ALCS.
2011: Lost the ALDS.
2012: Lost the ALCS, very badly – after just barely getting through the ALDS.
2013: Won 85 and missed the playoffs completely.
2014: On pace to only win 84 games.
The trend line here is going downward, no? See:
- In 2009, they were a powerhouse team who won 100+ games and a World Series ring.
- In 2010, they are a near 100-win team who pushed the ALCS to six games.
- In 2011, it was like 2010 – except that couldn’t get back to the ALCS.
- In 2012, they won a lot during the regular season. But, in the playoffs, they were one of the worst teams in the A.L. group.
- In 2013, they only won 85 games and deserved to win less.
- And, we know about this year…
Baseball is a results driven business, right? At some point, SOMEONE in the Yankees ownership team has to see this trend-line and make a change…or, is that never going to happen?
Well, that’s what he said about 6 months ago. Via the Post, back in December of last year:
The Yankees dropped $85 million across five years on catcher Brian McCann and didn’t waste a second letting everyone know what they expect.
At a Yankee Stadium press conference Thursday to introduce McCann, manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman weren’t shy about what they purchased.
“We are hoping he clearly continues the type of production on the offensive and defensive side he provided in Atlanta. If he continues to do that, we are talking about a potential Hall of Famer,’’ Cashman said. “We are buying someone with that type of reputation. We have a lot of needs, and this fills one of them.’’
McCann’s BA/OBA/SLG line this morning is .218/.275/.370 (in 178 PA).
But, if Cashman had been paying attention, he should have seen this coming.
Via Ken Davidoff -
Consider the Yankees, now 24-21, have scored 193 runs and allowed 204, an underwhelming run differential. The 16-28 Cubs? They have scored 174 and allowed 174. They are woefully underperforming their own mathematical expectations.
And if you wonder why that is, all you had to do was endure this contest, when Cubs ace — and likely Yankees trade target — Jeff Samardzija dominated the Yankees’ lineup for seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to a major-league-leading 1.46, only to see his closer Hector Rondon blow a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning thanks in part to a throwing error by Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Samardzija has zero wins in 10 starts, which tells you all you need to know about the useless measure of pitchers’ wins.
These Yankees aren’t the scrappy bunch that we witnessed in their immediate predecessors, when a bunch of replacement-level players accompanied Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner (and late-season reinforcement Alfonso Soriano) on an unlikely ride to late-season contention.
The Steinbrenners spent nearly $300 million to re-energize their team’s offense, even while allowing Cano to go to the Mariners, and so far, that reboot hasn’t paid many dividends. The Yankees rank eighth in the American League in runs scored.
Most responsible for that mediocrity are the three highly compensated newcomers in the lineup. Carlos Beltran (.234/.286/.430) resides on the disabled list with a right elbow injury, Jacoby Ellsbury (.272/.346/.389) cooled down after a blazing start, and Brian McCann (.224/.274/.367) has just been awful. The Yankees’ three best offensive players have been the resurgent Mark Teixeira (.264/.372/.527), unheralded rookie Yangervis Solarte (.317/.394/.493) and blossoming pillar Brett Gardner (.304/.379/.424).
But, hey, if the free agents don’t work out, it’s alright…after all, we have Cito Culver, Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Dante Bichette Jr., and Ty Hensley down on the farm, right?
Via Ken Davidoff -
With the Yankees’ pitching staff in tatters, a midseason import seems increasingly likely. Hal Steinbrenner strongly intimated Thursday he’d be willing to pay the import fees.
“[We’re] always willing to look at options come July. Come the trade deadline,” Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, said as he departed the quarterly owners’ meetings at Major League Baseball’s Manhattan headquarters. “And I think we’ve shown that. Some years we’ve done stuff, like last year with [Alfonso] Soriano. Some years we haven’t. But we’re not going to ever lay down and die. We’re going to do what we need to do to stay in.”
The Yankees have seen three of the five members of their original 2014 starting rotation — Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery), Michael Pineda (right shoulder blade) and CC Sabathia (right knee) go on the disabled list.
“That’s been a big concern,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got to get Pineda back. We’ve got to get CC back. We’ve had some bright spots in the bullpen. We’ve got some concerns in the bullpen.”
The Yankees’ older players have proven especially vulnerable this season; on Thursday, the team placed 37-year-old Carlos Beltran on the disabled list with a right elbow injury that ultimately could sideline him for three months.
“Age is always a concern,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got some bright spots that we’ve seen. [Adam] Warren, [Dellin] Betances, [John Ryan] Murphy. Going out and getting younger players like [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Brian] McCann. …I’ve always believed in that balance between young guys and veterans. Because the veterans lead, teach. “
His endorsement of the team’s minor-league development speaks volumes, as Steinbrenner has repeatedly expressed his unhappiness with the way the farm system didn’t deliver in 2013.
“Clearly, in the offseason, we recognized we had some positions to improve. Catching was one of them. So we went out and got the guy we wanted,” Steinbrenner said. “He [McCann] is going to be great for us. He is great for us.
“… Our minor leagues didn’t provide the players that we needed, so when that’s the case, obviously you’ve got to go out on the free agent market and make your improvements there. And we did.”
“Tough times. We’ve been through them before,” Steinbrenner said. “We’ve got a veteran club. They’re going to keep grinding away.”
…Tough times. We’ve been through them before…
And, they will continue, as long as Brian Cashman is G.M. of this team, Steinbrenner Family Checkbook to bail him out, or not.
Beltran may land on DL. Ichiro’s back is stiff. Teixeira is running like he’s injured. Add that to Nova, Cervelli, Pineda, etc.
And, soon, certain Yankees fans will start to say “It’s a curse. Just like last year!”
But, the reality of it is, to be candid, this is what you get when you have a roster full of older players. Younger guys just to break down as often.
It’s the planning to blame, not the players…and their injuries.
Via ESPN -
“I don’t think there’s any doubt [Cashman] has always worshipped Billy Beane,” one former Cashman employee said, referring to the A’s general manager who was the star of Moneyball. “He’s so enthralled with Billy Beane, it’s unbelievable.”
But, Beane never really did Meanwell.
Seriously, does anyone else see this as a baseball version of a John Hughes movie where the school nerd wants to be like the quarterback prom king?
Via Bryan Hoch -
With first baseman Mark Teixeira and closer David Robertson on the 15-day disabled list, manager Joe Girardi has been using Kelly Johnson as the regular first baseman while leaning mostly upon Shawn Kelley to close out games in the ninth inning.
Cashman said that after the Yankees spent hundreds of millions on free-agent imports like Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, there was just not enough budgetary room to prepare for every possible scenario.
“I think we were very open about our intentions,” Cashman said. “We wanted to fix as much as we could, but acknowledged that we couldn’t fix everything that needed to be addressed. That’s with the money we were in position to spend as well as the available talent. The better talent was really heavily in favor of the outfield rather than the infield.
“I don’t have any regrets. We pulled down the players that we targeted and we were open with the infield and the bullpen would be unanswered questions that everyone would need to stay tuned with as a developing story. It’s the same verbiage I used in the winter time.”
…we couldn’t fix everything that needed to be addressed…
And, who hasn’t done their job correctly for years now, bringing cause for things needed to be fixed? ¡Ay, caramba!
Brian MacPherson nails it -
Years of coming up empty in the June draft — either by forfeiting picks to sign free agents or by misfiring on picks made — are starting to catch up. Since the departed Robinson Cano broke in with the Yankees in 2005, Brett Gardner and the erratic Ivan Nova are the only impact homegrown players the franchise has produced.
The result is a roster advancing in age with little prospect of an infusion of youth.
The only under-30 New York position player with at least 20 plate appearances this season is Yangervis Solarte, a former minor-league utilityman. Kelly Johnson is 32. Brian Roberts is 32. Sabathia is 33. Teixeira is 34. Carlos Beltran is 37. Alfonso Soriano is 38. Hiroki Kuroda is 39. Derek Jeter is 40.
There was a time when that might have been OK. That time came to an abrupt end when baseball tightened its rules on amphetamines as well as steroids, greatly diminishing the ability of players to be productive beyond the age of 32 or so. Baseball is a young man’s game once again.
Ten years ago, 49 hitters who were at least 32 years old slugged over .400 in at least 400 plate appearances — an all-time high. Not once in the last three seasons have even 30 players age 32 or older met those same criteria — a drop-off of almost 50 percent in a decade.
The best way to acquire young players always has been through the June amateur draft. That’s how the Yankees landed Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada so long ago — three of the Core Four. But an entire generation’s worth of drafts has resulted mostly in whiffs for the Yankees.
Since Jeter in 1992, the Yankees’ best first-round picks might be Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy. Even if Kennedy gets credit for being a trade chip that helped snag Curtis Granderson, those three only count for three All-Star appearances among them.
Too many opportunities have been missed. In the first round of the 2005 draft — the historically deep draft in which the Red Sox added Clay Buchholz, Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie — the Yankees selected C.J. Henry, a shortstop who never even reached Double-A. They wound up snagging Gardner in the third round of that draft, then Doug Fister in the sixth round and Austin Jackson in the eighth. They failed to sign Fister, and they traded Jackson away in the deal that brought back Granderson.
In the similarly deep 2011 draft, the Yankees didn’t have a pick until No. 51 because they’d forfeited their No. 31 pick to sign reliever Rafael Soriano. Among the players who still were on the board when that forfeited No. 31 pick came around were Henry Owens and Jackie Bradley Jr., whom the Red Sox took at No. 36 and No. 40, respectively.
What the Yankees have always leveraged in their favor has been their enormous financial advantage. But every revision of the rules that govern team-building in recent years has restricted the ability of deep-pocketed teams to acquire young players — from draft-pick compensation, to allotments for bonuses in the draft and on the international market, and steep penalties for those who exceed their allotments.
Even worse for the Yankees, with every high-profile young player who signs an extension with his current team — from the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw to the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter and the Pirates’ Starling Marte — the pool of players at whom the Steinbrenners can throw their money is depleted. Players who once might have reached free agency at the age of 28 or 29 now are postponing free agency until their early 30s.
Stars in their prime years, like Adam Jones and Justin Upton, might have been top targets for the Yankees last winter, just like Kershaw, Elvis Andrus, Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria might have been top targets this winter. All are great players still a year or two away from 30, still at least several years away from their inevitable downturn. All have signed lengthy extensions with their current teams that will keep them out of the Yankees’ reach until that downturn.
Success in baseball always is cyclical. Teams that play to win now usually lose later. The Yankees spent years breaking that cycle through sheer power of finance, but even their money can’t save them anymore.
And, this is why, for the next five years or so, the Yankees are going to struggle to win 90+ games in a season…maybe longer if they keep Cashman around.
The Yankees Opening Day D.H. in 2013 was Ben Francisco.
The Yankees Opening Day 3B in 2009 was Cody Ransom.
The Yankees Opening Day 1B in 2007 was Josh Phelps.
The Yankees Opening Day 2B in 2005 was Tony Womack.
The Yankees Opening Day 2B in 2004 was Enrique Wilson.
In current edition of Baseball America, they list the “Top Organizations With 25-And-Under Talent.”
And, of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, who ranks DEAD LAST at #30?
Why, it’s the New York Yankees.
And, next to their name, here’s “the skinny” (or reason why) provided by BBA: Yankees have no 25U established regular big leaguers and only one entrant on this year’s Top 100 Prospects.
Really? A team with resources such as the Yankees…and this is the best they can do?
Someone should be held accountable for this, no?
For the record, the Braves were #1, the Cardinals were #3, the Red Sox were #8, and, the Mets – yes, the Mets! – were #10 on the list.
If Big Stein were alive, think he would be happy with seeing Boston at eight and the Mets at ten…with his team dead last at thirty? No…
And, someone would have been held accountable for it…unlike today.
Well, that’s what I am hearing when I read this via Joel Sherman:
In the here and now, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts and Derek Jeter are red-flag injury risks and Kelly Johnson is a neophyte third baseman. There is arguably no greater risk-reward infield in the whole sport than the Yankees’. They can have a high-production unit or a high-wire disaster.
No matter the result, the Yankees are looking at a renovation for next season. Teixeira is signed through 2016, but Roberts and Johnson are on one-year contacts and Jeter already has announced this is his last season.
In theory, the Yankees could re-sign Roberts and/or Johnson for a second tour of duty. But they know they will be lucky if both perform this season as one-and-dones.
And the Yankees simply have no answers coming. Eduardo Nunez, Yangervis Solarte and Dean Anna are even viewed internally by the Yankees as backups. Recent first-round picks, shortstop Cito Culver (2010) and third baseman Dante Bichette Jr. (2011), have lost prospect status. The Yankees have big hopes for last year’s first pick, third baseman Eric Jagielo, but he is years away.
“I am very aware of [the coming crisis],” Brian Cashman said. “But being aware of it and being able to address it are very different.”
Isn’t it his job to address it? And, if he cannot, isn’t it time to get someone in his place who can?
Every season, Baseball America lists their “Top 100 Prospects” in the game. And, they do a pretty good job with it. I would estimate that 90% of those who make their list go on to play in the major leagues.
This season, the Boston Red Sox have 8 players in the Top 100. The New York Yankees have 2 players - and only the Angels, Giants and Rays have less than two players in the Top 100.
Further, one of the Yankees two is Masahiro Tanaka – who really shouldn’t be considered as a “prospect find” by the Yankees.
Why Brian Cashman still has a job is beyond me?
Look at the Yankees “main” players for 2014:
CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Thornton, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. What do they all have in common?
They were all brought in as free agents.
Yes, they all came to the Yankees because the team had a need at their position and there were no in-house options. Hence, the Steinbrenner Family Checkbook to the rescue!
Even other players like Alfonso Soriano have a “money” element to them as they were a salary dump deal (which brought them to the Yankees).
It’s well known that Brian Cashman received “full autonomy” in Yankees decision making after the 2005 season. So, what has he been doing for the last eight years?
The answer is: Not a hell of a lot if the team had to go out and spend a half-billion dollars on free agents after the 2008 season and then they had to do it again after the 2013 season.
The fact that this guy still has a job with the Yankees is a joke. It’s a very sad and ugly joke. His only skill is spending the owners money on free agents. Do we need any more evidence of that?
Here is Part One:
Good stuff. But, when will heads start to roll for this stuff?
John Manuel, in Baseball America, does a great job at looking at the Yankees recent front office failure:
The Yankees really had no choice.
They have their own television network. They play in a $1.5 billion ballpark and face more scrutiny than any other team. So when the major league team fails, as it did in 2008 and again in 2013, the front office has to act.
In the 2008 offseason—with the team shutting down Yankee Stadium II to move into Yankee Stadium III—that meant signing A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira to contracts worth more than $423 million. That trio helped the Yankees hoist their 27th World Series championship in 2009.
It remains to be seen if the 2013 free-agent class produces similar results, but the Yankees have used a similar approach this offseason. They let Robinson Cano walk, wisely choosing not to match the Mariners’ 10-year, $240 million contract. But they added punch to the lineup by signing catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and outfielder/DH Carlos Beltran for a combined $283 million.
The Yankees acted because they had to. As they found out in 2013, they didn’t have any prospects ready to help in the Bronx.
Those in charge of the farm system haven’t changed for nearly a decade: Mark Newman (senior vice president of baseball operations) and Damon Oppenheimer (VP of scouting) have run the player-development and scouting departments since 2005, and general manager Brian Cashman has run the organization since 1997. Media rumblings in New York in 2013 hinted at potential changes after the farm failures, but nothing significant has happened.
Nothing significant has happened for the Yankees’ player development system with regard to hitters either. The organization hasn’t drafted and developed an everyday player since the 2005 draft, when it took Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson. Cano, their last homegrown star, was signed in 2001. The only other hitters originally signed by the Yankees who got significant major league time in 2013 were Jose Tabata of the Pirates, whom the Yankees signed in ’04, and Jesus Montero of the Mariners, signed in ’06.
The Yankees have identified talent on the mound. They have missed much more with hitters, especially in the draft, starting with their ’07 class. It started with a needlessly lavish contract for righthander Andrew Brackman, whose $3.35 million bonus remains the largest in Yankees draft history, and continued with seven-figure bonuses for hitters such as Bradley Suttle and Carmen Angelini. The Yankees also look to have missed with top picks in the 2010 (Cito Culver) and 2011 (Dante Bichette Jr.) drafts.
The 2013 season was a rough one for the Yankees’ top hitting prospects. Outfielders Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin (injuries) and Mason Williams (poor performance) struggled, and the once-productive Latin American program has faltered as well, with top prospect Gary Sanchez the only current product in full-season ball who profiles as a regular.
This is all true. And, yet, no one is ever held accountable for this situation? So, why should it ever change in Yankeeland?
Great stuff from Brian Costa -
Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran may help the Yankees return to the playoffs in 2014. But under the free-agent compensation rules in the collective-bargaining agreement, they will also cost the Yankees their first three draft picks next June.
The Yankees will forfeit their first-round pick along with the two compensation picks they would otherwise receive for losing Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson to free agency. As a result, their first pick figures to be somewhere in the mid-50s overall.
That’s significant because the probability of drafting a quality major-league regular falls dramatically after the first round. In July, Baseball America published a study of every draft between 1988 and 2008. It found that 39.1% of players taken in the first round (excluding those who didn’t sign) played at least three years in the majors. But in the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds), that rate fell to 15.8%. And from the sixth round on, the rate is just 3.1%.
“Listen, there’s still good players throughout the draft,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “You see that. There are examples all over the place. I’d like to have our draft picks, but it’s just not the way the system is set up. It is what it is.”
For the Yankees, it is the way it has been—and probably will be for years to come. That doesn’t necessarily make the signings of Ellsbury, McCann and Beltran foolish. It just highlights the cycle the Yankees have been stuck in for more than a decade: The way the Yankees compensate for a mediocre farm system is to reduce the probability of improving their farm system.
Since 2001, the Yankees have surrendered seven first-round draft picks in order to sign free agents ranging from Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi to Carl Pavano and Paul Quantrill. Three future All-Stars were taken either with those picks or within the next 10, making it reasonable to say the Yankees might have at least considered picking them: Matt Cain (2002), Gio Gonzalez (2004) and Mike Trout (2009).
The Los Angeles Angels took Trout with the No. 25 pick they received from the Yankees as compensation for losing Teixeira. Four years later, Teixeira is in decline and earning $22.5 million a year, while Trout is the best all-around player in baseball and earning less than $1 million.
The Yankees have had enormous success in this cycle, winning more games than any other team since 2001. But to do so, they’ve also had to outspend every other team. At a time when the free-agent market is getting thinner and younger players are accounting for a greater portion of all production, it’s becoming harder for the Yankees to win without breaking the cycle at some point.
In theory, they could do that by going into rebuilding mode and landing a top-10 pick, but their business model would never allow it. And there are now spending limits in the international free-agent market, so the Yankees’ cash only gets them so far there.
That leaves only one way to break the cycle: outperform their draft order. They need to improve the way they choose and develop their young talent. That may already be happening: Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ 2013 draft haul the third-best in the game. But it takes years to fairly assess each draft class.
What we know now is this: The Yankees need to find a way to beat the very odds they have just diminished. Until they do, Steinbrenner’s vision of a cheaper, younger championship team will remain little more than a fantasy.
Until the Yankees get smarter, like Boston and St. Louis, this ugly cycle will never end. And, smarter means a new General Manager.
Josh Norris in Baseball America, nails it when reporting on the Yankees (meaning Cashman’s) draft, farm system, prospects, and business model:
The Yankees’ fall from grace of 2013 truly began a year prior, when Derek Jeter’s ankle crumbled beneath him. The team’s longstanding captain wasn’t ready for spring training, and wouldn’t debut until July.
His return, while a welcome bit of joy for a fan base all but resigned to its team’s fate, was brief. His body gave out on him twice more before the year was over, the final time a strained calf muscle that ended his season.
Besides Jeter, injuries to Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez placed a huge strain on the team’s chances at repeating as American League East champions. Moreover, the team’s bench once again proved inadequate, both due to injuries and lack of talent. The Yankees went 85-77, with a .525 winning percentage worse than any finish since their last losing season in 1992.
When New York missed the playoffs in 2008, it spent $423 million on free agents A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in the offseason and won the 2009 World Series.
General manager Brian Cashman used the same checkbook, er, playbook this offseason, losing free agents Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson but re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and adding free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to remake the lineup. All for a bill of $294 million.
All of this highlighted the major deficiencies at the upper levels of the Yankees system, evident even though Double-A Trenton won the Eastern League title. If there were viable internal options, acquisitions such as past-prime vets Vernon Wells or Mark Reynolds wouldn’t have been necessary.
That simply wasn’t the case, however. The Yankees haven’t produced an everyday player since the 2005 draft, which yielded Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson, and the players who got a shot in 2013, such as outfielder Zoilo Almonte, third baseman David Adams and catcher Austin Romine, proved inadequate. The Yankees’ recent success with pitching prospects didn’t extend to righthander Dellin Betances, relegated to the bullpen, and lefty Manny Banuelos, whose Tommy John surgery put him on the sidelines with injured Mariners acquisition Michael Pineda.
As if that weren’t maddening enough, nearly all of the Yankees’ potential impact prospects took a step back. Outfielder Mason Williams struggled with weight gain and poor performance. Outfielder Slade Heathcott was just getting going before knee tendinitis ended his season. Outfielder Tyler Austin missed significant time at Double-A with a wrist injury.
Righthander Jose Campos, already on a strict innings limit after missing most of 2012 with a fractured elbow, plodded along at low Class A. Second baseman Angelo Gumbs was demoted from high Class A Tampa to low Class A Charleston. Righty Ty Hensley, the team’s first-rounder in 2012, missed the entire season with surgeries to both hips.
In addition to prospect injuries and stagnation, the Yankees were hit as hard as any organization with lengthy suspensions for players tied to Biogenesis. In addition to the scandal’s poster-boy Alex Rodriguez, other Yankees players received 50-game suspensions, including catcher Francisco Cervelli and Triple-A outfielder Fernando Martinez. Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, a three-time Yankees No. 1 prospect, also incurred the commissioner’s wrath.
The Yankees restocked with three first-round picks in the 2013 draft—Eric Jagielo, Ian Clarkin, Aaron Judge—but even they missed time with injuries. Still, that trio and offensive second baseman Gosuke Katoh give the system a jolt of potential impact talent, and there were other bright spots, most notably catcher Gary Sanchez reaching Double-A while improving defensively.
All in all, the bad far outweighed the good, and the front office made changes apart from just signing free agents. It also installed several procedural changes to the team’s internal scouting system, added former Cubs manager Mike Quade as a roving outfield coordinator and hired former Yankees minor league manager Trey Hillman as a special assistant for player development and pro scouting.
It’s hard to argue with any of this! That said, here is what BBA says are the Yankees top prospects (below). Not too exciting, is it?
|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Gary Sanchez, c|
|2. Slade Heathcott, of|
|3. Mason Williams, of|
|4. J.R. Murphy, c|
|5. Eric Jagielo, 3b|
|6. Aaron Judge, of|
|7. Ian Clarkin, lhp|
|8. Greg Bird, 1b|
|9. Luis Severino, rhp|
|10. Gosuke Katoh, 2b|
This morning, by chance, I was looking back at something which I wrote about seven years ago. Here it is:
Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. The Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000 – because of their pitching. The good pitchers on those 1998-2000 teams were Mariano Rivera, Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemens, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, David Wells, Andy Pettitte, Graeme Lloyd and David Cone.
Of that strong pitching group, Cashman inherited most of them – I think his only moves were to pick up Clemens and El Duque.
What does this all say about Brian Cashman’s track record in terms of being able to build a very good pitching staff?
I know that many will be quick to say things here like “It seemed like the right move, at the time, to get Vazquez” and “The whole world was chasing Pavano – and he took less money to come here” and “Who could have predicted that Johnson would get old so fast?” and “The Red Sox wanted Contreras just as bad,” etc.
But, isn’t it Brian Cashman’s job to be smarter than the average bear when it comes to acquiring talent? Or, is it just O.K. for him to follow the path of conventional wisdom when it comes to acquiring pitching and then if it doesn’t work out it’s just a matter of shrugging your shoulders at the results and saying “It seemed like a good idea at the time”?
Regardless of whether or not you agreed with what I wrote back on January 6th, 2007 (quoted above), what do you think of Brian Cashman’s ability to put together a championship caliber pitching staff over the last seven years?
Today, are the Yankees any better, or worse, than the 85-win team they were in 2013?
Yes, it’s early. But, when does it become a timely question…and, when is it too late?