• Sherman: Cashman’s Fate In Hughes’ Hands

    Posted by on January 31st, 2008 · Comments (13)

    From Joel Sherman today –

    Brian Cashman better be right. Phil Hughes better be special. Not good. Special.

    Because if Hughes is just another pitcher, dependable but not dominant, then he might find himself spending his time in New York hearing who he is not – namely, that he is not Johan Santana.
    And Cashman will soon be the ex-GM of the Yankees.

    Let’s put it this way: If Johan Santana is 10-2 in June and Hughes is on the DL again or back at Triple-A or explaining the growing pains that have led to his 4-6 record and 4.87 ERA, then you can expect few Yankee fans to still be on the bandwagon about entrusting young pitchers.

    And you can expect Hank Steinbrenner to be Bossy. You can expect Son of Slam to be channeling his father with a hailstorm of “I told you so.”

    Cashman won a power struggle that [2004] offseason and gained a three-year extension based on a plan to protect touted arms already in the organization, such as Hughes, and find more in the draft and internationally such as Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain.

    It was absolutely the right path. But it misses a fact about the arms the Yanks had chased recently. This has been a group that has been too old (Johnson, Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens last year) or full of too much guesswork/projection (Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Pavano). Santana is a prime-age ace. He is great. No guesswork. As an executive from another club said, “If I had to gamble on one pitcher to be great the next six years, I would bet on Santana.”

    Cashman did not want to make that bet, not at the cost of Hughes and a contract that would swell the payroll to about $230M, tie them to a starter for seven years.

    However, that three-year contract Cashman signed ends after this year. That ties his administration – his survival in the job – more to these young pitchers, Hughes in particular, than ever before. Hank Steinbrenner already is offering “make the playoffs or else” proclamations. Again, imagine Santana on a Cy Young track in Flushing, and Hughes on the Scranton shuttle from The Bronx.

    Man, that’s a lotta pressure to put on a 22-year old kid. But, Sherman has a point – if Santana has a Cy Young season in Queens this year and Hughes takes a step backwards, Cashman is going to hear it.

    Comments on Sherman: Cashman’s Fate In Hughes’ Hands

    1. grant
      January 31st, 2008 | 10:15 am

      I think this is absurd. To say that Cashman’s job is dependent on Hughes undermines the bounty of young pitching talent he has orchestrated acquiring. I would agree that if Santana has two or three Cy Young years in the next six, and none of the Yankees farm hands pan out to be great pitchers, then in retrospect it will have been a poor trade to pass on. But i certainly don’t think this trade, in terms of Cashmans job, can be determined by July or even the end of the season. Santana had a few years with the Twins before he took off. Lets let Hughes, Joba, IPK, etc have their time to develop before we hang Cashman out to dry.

    2. MJ
      January 31st, 2008 | 10:35 am

      This article is exactly why a) the mainstream media sucks and b) why Hank Steinbrenner needs to be tossed into the East River with lead boots.

      Anything that reinforces the stupid idea that the Yankees somehow lost here is ridiculous. Phil Hughes shouldn’t have to live with that kind of pressure. He’s not being asked to win a Cy Young or pitch Game 7 of the World Series. All he has to do is not be Kei Igawa, Javier Vazquez, Carl Pavano, etc. The New England Patriots always say “just do your job.” That’s what Hughes has to do. He has to do his job and not suck. Same for Kennedy. Same for the hitters in the lineup. If this team plays up to its potential (something they unfortunately haven’t done in recent post-seasons), there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t be a World Series team. Cashman didn’t say “Hughes is better than Santana” he simply said “we can’t afford Santana right now.”

      The big problem is that assholes in the mainstream media know that the four braincells not killed by toxic carbon monoxide emissions from HankenStein’s mouth will read this crap and think of it in exactly these terms.

      I swear to god, Yankee fans need to chill out. Why can’t we just look forward to Hughes’/IPK’s careers and not hyperventilate about winning WS titles and beating the Mets on the back pages and all that other shit. How many times do we have to prove that the Steinbrenner doctrine is unrealistic and counterproductive?

    3. TurnTwo
      January 31st, 2008 | 10:54 am

      i actually couldnt agree more with the article.

      in fact, the easy thing here was to make the deal, knowing he had Hank’s support… that way, if anything we to have happened down the road with Johan, Cash could look back and say “i did it at the request of the boss,” and he’d be covered.

      but Cashman knew what he was doing, whether it was on purpose or not, and i’m sure he fully understood the rammifications of his non-action here…

      but lets look at it from BC’s perspective, too… maybe he’s lookin at it from a win-win position; either Hughes and company pitch like all-stars, and the yankees make it thru the playoffs and win #27, and he’s lauded as a hero… or, he sticks to his guns knowing full well that if they fail, with his contract up after 2008, he’ll wont be retained by the Steinbrenners, but will be a hot commodity on the free agent GM market for next season.

      sucks for Phil to be put into the position, as no fault of his own, but its just the way its going to be.

      and i could care less about the newspaper back pages concerned the mets vs. the yankees… but i disagree with MJ here in the sense that, yes, the idea here is to end up as WS champion. i dont root for the yankees because i really want to see them develop minor league players and have a fun season. with the yankees resources and depth in the system, they can afford to do both; to develop minor leaguers to contribute or to trade for player who can contribute to the success of a WS champion ballclub.

    4. Raf
      January 31st, 2008 | 10:57 am

      if anything we to have happened down the road with Johan, Cash could look back and say “i did it at the request of the boss,” and he’d be covered.
      As if that would’ve mattered 🙂

    5. Pete
      January 31st, 2008 | 11:14 am

      >> Let’s put it this way: If Johan Santana is 10-2 in June and Hughes is on the DL again or back at Triple-A or explaining the growing pains that have led to his 4-6 record and 4.87 ERA, then you can expect few Yankee fans to still be on the bandwagon about entrusting young pitchers. >>

      And if we’re not, you can expect guys like Joel Sherman to be pushing us all off said bandwagon.

      I give Hughes at least 2 full seasons before pronouncing him a god or a goat – look how long the Cubs mucked around with Prior and Wood.

    6. j
      January 31st, 2008 | 11:14 am

      Do you remember the scene in the new Superman movie where the editor of the Daily Planet has two copies of a paper ready to go: “Superman lives” and “Superman dies”. Well, this is similar.

      If Cashman pulls the trigger, the article goes something like “Santana better not end up like the rest of the bums he signed, and Hughes better not become Justin Verlander or it’s Cashman’s ass!” The other way this goes is the way you read it.

      Sherman is not making a point here. He’s writing an article because it’s his job. We’ll know in 5 years whether or not Cashman made the right decision, not by the All Star break as some clowns like Joel Sherman would have you believe.

    7. antone
      January 31st, 2008 | 11:33 am

      I think it is UNREASONABLE to think that the choice to keep Hughes is something that can be decided as a good or bad thing after one season. This is not about the short term, it’s about the long term future of the club.

      HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean this will be the case and I’m sure some people won’t give Hughes much time before they are calling for his head and Cashman’s if Hughes etc. aren’t effective. Is it right ? No, but you can count on it happening if the team struggles.

      Also, I think Hughes has enough pressure on him already just being a young prospect pitching for the Yankees, so I don’t think the fact they kept him over acquiring Santana is going to put pressure on him.

      Plus, there were other players who were in the proposed trade that the Yankees kept as well and I would guess that Hughes thinks that the Yankees choice was based on a commitment to the future and not just him, so I don’t think there will be any self-inflicted pressure on his part.

    8. MJ
      January 31st, 2008 | 12:41 pm

      but i disagree with MJ here in the sense that, yes, the idea here is to end up as WS champion.
      I never said the Yanks shouldn’t have the goal of winning #27. I just meant…

      …oh forget it. We’ll devolve into an analysis of the Steinbrenner Doctrine which is utterly ridiculous.

      Suffice it to say that Joel Sherman and his ilk are schmucks and framing the Santana trade in such black-or-white/win-lose ways are as stupid as the Steinbrenner Doctrine.

      I’m done with this topic.

    9. SteveB
      January 31st, 2008 | 1:04 pm

      So let’s see here, spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million on Santana would probably net us 2 incremental wins in 2008. Diminishing returns after that would be probable.

      The alternative: 3 cost controlled players who as a group might project (depending on who you assume would have been traded) to add 1-2 incremental wins to the Yankees in 2008, and more than that in the future.

      Yep, Cashman is a total fucking bonehead.

    10. sju38621
      January 31st, 2008 | 1:43 pm

      Sadly this may be right and I’d hate to lose a GM who did so many good things because of an inconsistent second year from someone we all have high hopes for. But even if that happens I have no doubt Hughes will have better numbers than Santana down the road (and I mean during the same seasons, not during comprable aged years) and probably sooner than later. Even if Cash isn’t still around I won’t forget that chance he took if it all turns out well. And as they pointed out today on River Ave. Blues, we can still try to sign Sabathia next offseason so maybe we had planned this all along.

    11. baileywalk
      January 31st, 2008 | 1:57 pm

      One thing people haven’t considered: does Cashman even want to come back? Haven’t there been rumblings that Cash turned down an extension because he wanted to see what it would be like working under Hank and Hal? And after seeing Hank take their negotiations to the press, maybe Cashman wants out.

      Joel knows the rats in the NY media, and he’s right that if Satana is doing well and Hughes is not, the savage rabies-carrying lot of them will attack him. There’s no doubt about that — it’s what they do. But I would say it depends on what all three pitchers — Phil, Ian and Joba — are doing. Say Phil does struggle (not unreasonable). But Ian and Joba are doing well, and the team as a whole is not in bad shape. Then it won’t be so bad. But if Ian AND Phil are struggling — or God forbid all three are — then it will be a shitstorm.

      But I think Phil will be fine, and I would expect the vets on the team will shield these three from the crap they’ll be taking all year.

      And I just want to say that goddamnit, I cannot wait for actual baseball to return — I’m totally burned out talking about Cashman and who projects to do what and figuring out the rotation and innings limits… I just want to see some actual baseball, and get into the good stuff: like facing Santana in Shea, Phil and Joba starting in Fenway, watching Horne, Jackson, Tabata, et al., in the minors… It can’t come soon enough.

    12. baileywalk
      January 31st, 2008 | 2:38 pm

      By the way, Keith Law is having a chat today, and someone brought up the Twins’ farm system.

      Kyle (minneapolis): Considering the fact that the Twins don’t technically have Gomez or Guerra yet, they really don’t have any of the top 100 yet, is the rest of their system that sad?

      Keith Law: (1:28 PM ET ) It’s awful – one of the three worst, with the White Sox and Houston.

      It’s kind of funny for all the praise they get for their trades and developing players and blah, blah, blah, that they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. While the Sox and Yanks — who “buy” everything — are ranked fourth and fifth.

    13. Rich
      January 31st, 2008 | 3:42 pm

      Let’s review:

      It has been reported by Olney, Madden, and Klapisch that the Yankees could have traded for Santana without including Hughes, yet somehow in Sherman’s twisted mind, the pressure is on Hughes.

      Sherman is the one who should lose his job.

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