• Are The Yankees Going Backwards?

    Posted by on June 3rd, 2014 · Comments (0)

    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?

    Cashman: McCann Is A Potential Hall Of Famer

    Posted by on May 28th, 2014 · Comments (1)

    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.

    Cashman’s Latest Spending Spree A Bust So Far

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2014 · Comments (20)

    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?

    Hal: Yanks Will Spend To Cover Mistakes & Flaws

    Posted by on May 16th, 2014 · Comments (4)

    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.

    Get The Injury Excuse Bandwagon Rolling

    Posted by on May 13th, 2014 · Comments (18)

    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.

    Cashman Worships Billy Beane

    Posted by on May 9th, 2014 · Comments (5)

    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?

    Cashman Excuse Machine In Mid-Season Form Already

    Posted by on April 12th, 2014 · Comments (54)

    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!


    Posted by on April 11th, 2014 · Comments (5)

    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.

    Brian Cashman’s Opening Day All-Stars

    Posted by on March 31st, 2014 · Comments (2)

    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.

    Good times.

    Another Reason Why Cashman Should Be Fired

    Posted by on March 24th, 2014 · Comments (11)

    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.

    Cashman: I Am Not Able To Address Yanks Problems On The Horizon

    Posted by on March 14th, 2014 · Comments (6)

    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?

    Another Reason Why The Yankees Should Be Embarrassed

    Posted by on February 26th, 2014 · Comments (19)

    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?

    Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Brian Ca$hman’s Inability To Build A Team

    Posted by on February 5th, 2014 · Comments (23)

    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?

    ESPNNewYork.com’s State Of Yankees Farm System

    Posted by on February 4th, 2014 · Comments (1)

    Here is Part One:

    Have the Bombers gone barren? The Yankees have shown remarkable weakness in drafting and developing talent.

    Good stuff. But, when will heads start to roll for this stuff?

    But…They Have The Best GM, Ever!

    Posted by on January 28th, 2014 · Comments (7)

    Cashman Needs To Keep Winning

    Posted by on January 19th, 2014 · Comments (1)

    The bigger question is why he’s not on the hot seat yet.

    Yanks Try To Cover Mistakes With Spending

    Posted by on December 28th, 2013 · Comments (5)

    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?

    Again, Cashman’s Yanks Shoot Themselves In The Foot

    Posted by on December 11th, 2013 · Comments (17)

    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.

    The Sad State Of The Yankees (Reality) Pipeline

    Posted by on December 10th, 2013 · Comments (5)

    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?

    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


    Does Cash Know Pitching?

    Posted by on December 8th, 2013 · Comments (15)

    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?

    It’s November 20th, 2013 In Yankeeland

    Posted by on November 20th, 2013 · Comments (6)

    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?

    Brian Cashman Throws Mark Newman & Damon Oppenheimer Under The Bus

    Posted by on October 2nd, 2013 · Comments (18)

    When Yankees GM Brian Cashman was asked “How would you evaluate your organization’s drafting and player development lately? Do you expect any organizational changes in those departments?” this was his answer (via Andy McCullough):

    “In terms of changes, I mean, we’re always looking at that type of stuff. So if we have changes to make, we’ll make them and then deal with them. We have struggled out of the draft here in the last number of years. Some of it’s signability, whether it’s Gerrit Cole. Some of it’s injuries, like last year’s No. 1 pick Ty Hensley having double hip surgery. So he hasn’t been available to us.

    “Some of its picks that haven’t panned out. I think this past year we did really well. But in fairness, we feel that when you make those selections. So we’re evaluating that as well. I think we’re obviously starting a top-to-bottom, we typically do it every three years, and this past year we started, maybe two months ago, going through the process of evaluating the decision-making process. And the expected value from where you pick in the draft, and comparisons to other organizations.

    “You try to determine what is accurate and true, and what is actually not as accurate, and more perception. First and foremost, we’re going through that process. But, yeah, we haven’t had as fruitful results from the draft recently as we’d hoped and anticipated.

    “In terms of development, we’d have guys that I think three years ago we were ranked in the top seven farm systems in the game. In the last three years, our players have either gotten injured, that have taken them out. Manny Banuelos, for example, who we missed all this year because of Tommy John.

    “Or we’ve had guys go backwards, like a Dellin Betances, for instance. Was considered a potential high-end starter, and has now been converted to the bullpen. Because of a failure there finishing it off at Triple A. So he’ll be competing for a bullpen spot next year, because he’s out of options. So those are examples of injuries, performance going backwards or unexpected return.”

    And, yet, for a million years, Cashman let Lin Garrett keep his job when he stunk – and, Cashman let Bill Livesey walk away from the Yankees last year. But, I guess that’s to be forgotten, right?

    Cashman’s State Of The 2013 Yankees Press Conference

    Posted by on October 1st, 2013 · Comments (1)

    Cashman Live On Yes Today At Noon

    Posted by on October 1st, 2013 · Comments (7)

    New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will meet the media to discuss the team’s season today at noon. The YES Network will have live coverage.

    I really hope the MSM doesn’t take this one as an end-of-the-year free lunch fest and gives Cashman softballs.

    Please, please, please…somebody (Joel? Klap? Wally?) ask him some really hard hitting questions that he cannot dance around…

    Once Again, Cashman Dodges Blame Bullet

    Posted by on September 30th, 2013 · Comments (6)

    Via Joel Sherman

    At the highest levels of the organization, there has been frustration and anger about the lack of young talent available this season as injuries mounted. The Yankees used a team-record 56 players, none you can call a high-end prospect — and there appears to be none on the horizon.

    Within the industry there is a sense there will be a scapegoat or two for that, and that it will not be Girardi or GM Brian Cashman, who has a year left on his pact. Instead, two longtime organizational employees are perceived as most in peril: Damon Oppenheimer, who is in charge of the draft, and Mark Newman, who is in charge of development.

    The Yankees, for all the caricatures of George Steinbrenner’s firing squad, have been mainly an insular group. Will the lack of young talent motivate them to try to reach into an organization that drafts and develops well — such as the Cardinals — to make a significant hire or two to restructure how this business is done?

    Damon Oppenheimer is a waste. But, shouldn’t the guy who makes the final call on these things also be held accountable too?

    The Thin-Skinned GM Strikes Again

    Posted by on August 28th, 2013 · Comments (18)

    How many other baseball GMs really give a bleep about what some beat writer says in a blog?

    Two Signs That Suggest Cashman’s Days As Yanks GM Are Numbered

    Posted by on August 24th, 2013 · Comments (13)

    First, we have this item that was in the Daily News this past week:

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s alleged stalker – who claims she was privy to juicy pillow talk about steroids during their supposed romance – is demanding A-Rod’s big shot attorney be removed because she also uses an attorney from the firm.

    Louise Meanwell says in court documents filed Monday that lawyer Joe Tacopina should be forbidden from representing the embattled slugger because one of his partners is repping her in a case related to her stalking and extortion charges.

    Meanwell says she spilled details about her bedroom chatter with Cashman to the partner, Stephen Turano, that she could be called to testify on in Alex Rodriguez’ appeal of a 211-game suspension for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

    Cashman told her he “knew of Yankee clubhouse steroid use by various Yankee players by name” and “was ambivalent to the use of performance enhancement drugs so long as nothing came back to the Yankee organization,” papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court claim.

    Cashman allegedly also shared that “he intentionally misled federal investigators” looking into former Yankees hurler Roger Clemens’ alleged use of steroids.

    Meanwell – who also goes by the last name Neathway – says she has paid Turano $10,000 to defend her against charges she violated her probation for an unrelated trespassing conviction in New Jersey when she was arrested in the Cashman case.

    “Many trade secrets come out through the intimacy of pillow talk,” said Peter Gleason. “To me, it’s clearly a conflict of interest given the fact that Louise Meanwell could be called as a witness in the A-Rod saga.”

    Finally, we have a case where Cashman’s wandering one-eyed willy has comeback to haunt the Yankees. And, if Meanwell’s testimony somehow leads or lends towards the Yankees getting stuck on what they are trying to do with A-Rod, or worse, not even the teflon G.M. will get off the hook for that one.

    Next, we have this item that was recently in the Post:

    Hal Steinbrenner summoned his baseball people to a Tampa meeting yesterday to discuss something other than the Alex Rodriguez saga.

    With questions about the lack of talent in the minor league system ready to help at the big league level, Steinbrenner gathered his department heads.

    General manager Brian Cashman attended and the group more than likely included Tampa based minor league head Mark Newman, Damon Oppenheimer, who is in charge of the amateur draft, and Donny Rowland, the director of international scouting.

    When injuries hit in spring training the Yankees were forced to trade for Vernon Wells, whom they are paying $11.5 million this year and sign Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch off the street.

    During the season they took in 4-A players such as Reid Brignac, Luis Cruz, Thomas Neal, Alberto Gonzalez, Travis Ishikawa, Brent Lillibridge and Chris Nelson. All were found wanting by other clubs and none distinguished themselves as Yankees.

    Toward the end of July the need for a right-handed bat led to a trade with the Cubs for Alfonso Soriano, who cost the Yankees about $6.8 million. The latest signing was Mark Reynolds, who was released by the Indians.

    From the minor league system the Yankees elevated David Adams, Corban Joseph and Melky Mesa. Only Zoilo Almonte played well before spraining an ankle July 19 and hasn’t been seen since.

    With Vidal Nuno, Michael Pineda and Manuel Banuelos hurt the Yankees are very thin in the starting pitching depth at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

    While some may see this as only bad news – and it is bad news that the Yankees farm system is somewhat useless – it’s good news that the Yankees ownership is finally starting to, well, to borrow a phrase from their GM, Brian Cashman, smoke the objective pipe on what’s going on with the Yankees player acquisition and development situation.

    When you combine these two news items, one thing is for sure: It looks like Brian Cashman may be getting getting a little skinnier soon. And, that’s a good thing. The dude was sitting like a fat cat for too long now.

    No Hope, Now, Or Later, For Yankees

    Posted by on August 7th, 2013 · Comments (24)

    Now that the Yankees season is basically done, I thought “Maybe now it’s time for a plan…to see what you have?”

    Out of the chute, I figured “Release Joba Chamberlain. He’s gone, no matter what, in two months. You don’t want him back. And, he’s not going to help you any from here out. And, even if he did, so what? It’s not like you have a shot for October?”

    And, then, once that roster spot is open, call up J.R. Murphy and then have him and Austin Romine split catching duties for the rest of the season and see if maybe you have an in-house catching option for 2014.

    Next, look at the starting rotation. Is there any reason to keep giving Phil Hughes a regular turn? There’s nothing to see there – you know what he is and will always be. Plus, odds are, you’re not keeping him beyond this season. Why not move him to the pen, to take Joba’s spot, and then call up some kid from Triple-A, or maybe even push someone at the Double-A level, and let him get some big league experience for the next six or seven weeks?

    Ah, and, there, I hit the skids.

    There is no one in the Yankees farm system at the Triple-A or Double-A level who warrants a call-up at this time. Zach Nuding has been hit pretty good in the minors.Brett Marshall has been hammered. Ditto Caleb Cotham. Who does that leave, Jose Ramirez? Is he even healthy? I don’t know. And, don’t even get me started about Michael Pineda.

    And, it’s the same elsewhere. Worried about who is going to take Granderson’s spot? Not thrilled with the notion of flanking Gardner with Soriano, Wells and Ichiro in 2014? Well, there’s no Yankees outfield propsects in Triple-A or Double-A that are ready. Ramon Flores would get the bat knocked out of his hands in the majors. Slade Heathcott went backwards this season. Tyler Austin is not ready yet. Mason Williams is still stuck in A-Ball. And, we’ve already seen Melky Mesa and Zolio Almonte. Face it, the Yankees have no impact outfield prospects near being ready to help in the majors.

    How about Cano? In case he leaves – and I hope that he does – should the Yankees be looking at someone now, in the system, to see if he’s ready? Who would that be, Jose Pirela? Seriously?

    I won’t even talk about short and third. We’ve already seen, this season, there’s no one to help at those spots.

    Yes, the Yankees stink this year. But, just wait until next season. It’s going to be worse.

    Was Brian Cashman Right Back In Spring Training When He Said The 2013 Yankees Starting Rotation This Season Was A Strength?

    Posted by on August 5th, 2013 · Comments (6)

    Back on March 21st of this year, when asked if the Yankees needed to add a starting pitcher, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said:

    “I don’t think it would make any sense whatsoever,” Cashman said. “We have all of our pitching intact. Our problem is not our pitching. Pitching is our strength.”

    The Yankees have six starters: Lefties CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte and righties Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Nova and Phelps. A seventh possibility, righty Michael Pineda, is recovering well from shoulder surgery, Cashman said.

    So, how good has the Yankees starting rotation been, to date, this season? Check out these stats:

    First, how about Quality Start percentage? Here, the Yankees are just league average:

    Tm GS QS QS% ▾
    DET 109 73 67%
    KCR 108 66 61%
    OAK 111 67 60%
    BOS 113 66 58%
    CHW 109 62 57%
    SEA 111 61 55%
    TBR 111 60 54%
    LAA 110 58 53%
    NYY 110 57 52%
    LgAvg 110 58 52%
    BAL 112 55 49%
    TEX 112 53 47%
    CLE 111 51 46%
    HOU 110 50 45%
    TOR 111 44 40%
    MIN 108 42 39%
    1656 865 52%
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 8/5/2013.

    Is 9th in the league considered a “strength”?

    Next, look at Average Game Score. Here, once again, the Yankees are just league average:

    Tm GS GmScA ▾ Best Wrst
    DET 109 56 94 -3
    TBR 111 54 89 13
    BOS 113 53 90 10
    CHW 109 53 92 16
    OAK 111 53 88 10
    CLE 111 52 85 12
    KCR 108 52 85 8
    NYY 110 52 83 2
    SEA 111 52 93 9
    TEX 112 52 96 7
    LgAvg 110 51 96 -3
    LAA 110 49 86 16
    BAL 112 48 82 14
    HOU 110 47 79 2
    TOR 111 47 90 10
    MIN 108 44 74 6
    1656 51 96 -3
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 8/5/2013.

    Is being 8th in the league to be considered a “strength”?

    Lastly, look at the ERA+ numbers for the seven pitchers to start games for the Yankees so far this season:

    CC Sabathia* 4.78 23 152.2 655 83
    Hiroki Kuroda 2.38 22 139.2 553 167
    Andy Pettitte* 4.28 19 117.2 506 93
    Phil Hughes 4.87 21 114.2 494 82
    David Phelps 5.01 12 82.2 359 80
    Ivan Nova 3.08 10 73.0 307 130
    Vidal Nuno* 2.25 3 20.0 82 180
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 8/5/2013.

    Throw out Nuno for sample size. And, you can see that only Kuroda and Nova this year have ERA totals that are above league average. So, how exactly, again, was starting pitching a “strength” for the Yankees this season?

    Com’on Cashman, and his apologists, get real here. Yes, Hiroki Kuroda has been AWESOME this season. And, Ivan Nova has been a shocking surprise. But, the rest of the Yankees rotation – Cashman’s strength of the team! – has been not very good, if you want to be honest. The numbers don’t lie.

    Yanks Brass Losing Faith In Cashman?

    Posted by on July 27th, 2013 · Comments (64)

    Via Joel Sherman

    Alfonso became the second straight Soriano that Brian Cashman advised Yankees ownership not to acquire — and was overruled on nevertheless.

    Just as with the signing of free agent Rafael Soriano, the general manager believed Yankees assets could be spent better than on Alfonso Soriano, two executives not affiliated with the Yankees told The Post.

    Cashman would not directly confirm what he advised Hal Steinbrenner, but told The Post: “I would say we are in a desperate time. Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm [Corey Black]. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. Did ownership want him? Absolutely, yes. Does he make us better? Absolutely, yes. This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.”

    In a press briefing yesterday to announce Soriano’s acquisition, Cashman never directly spoke of his vote against the trade. But when it came to future possible deals to help this year’s club, he said a few times he does not like to give up prospects and he “might need ownership’s help” to convince him to finalize such a trade.

    Cashman became GM in 1998, but took on greater authority in 2005 when an ailing George Steinbrenner agreed to draw a more structured flow chart of how baseball decisions would be made. Still, since then, there have been times when Cashman has been overruled.

    If Cashman had a spine and any belief that he could GM another club without the benefit of the Steinbrenner Family Checkbook, wouldn’t he quit at this point?

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