• Brian Cashman’s History Of Putting Together A Starting Rotation

    Posted by on December 31st, 2010 · Comments (37)

    Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998.

    So, how many times, each season since 1998, have the Yankees had a starting pitcher on their team who made at least 25 starts and had an ERA+ of 100 or better? Here’s the answer:

    Rk Year 5 Lg Tm #Matching  
    1 1998 AL New York Yankees 4 David Cone / Hideki Irabu / Andy Pettitte / David Wells
    2 1999 AL New York Yankees 4 Roger Clemens / David Cone / Orlando Hernandez / Andy Pettitte
    3 2000 AL New York Yankees 3 Roger Clemens / Orlando Hernandez / Andy Pettitte
    4 2001 AL New York Yankees 3 Roger Clemens / Mike Mussina / Andy Pettitte
    5 2002 AL New York Yankees 3 Roger Clemens / Mike Mussina / David Wells
    6 2003 AL New York Yankees 4 Roger Clemens / Mike Mussina / Andy Pettitte / David Wells
    7 2004 AL New York Yankees 1 Jon Lieber
    8 2005 AL New York Yankees 1 Randy Johnson
    9 2006 AL New York Yankees 3 Mike Mussina / Chien-Ming Wang / Jaret Wright
    10 2007 AL New York Yankees 2 Andy Pettitte / Chien-Ming Wang
    11 2008 AL New York Yankees 1 Mike Mussina
    12 2009 AL New York Yankees 3 A.J. Burnett / Andy Pettitte / CC Sabathia
    13 2010 AL New York Yankees 2 Phil Hughes / CC Sabathia
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/31/2010.


    As you can see, above, from 1998 through 2003, the Yankees always had a deep and solid starting rotation. However, since 2003, it’s been rare that Brian Cashman has built a starting rotation that was deep and solid. In fact, over the last seven years, it’s been extremely common for the Yankees to have only two starting pitchers, or less, who could be considered as reliable and not below league average.

    That post-2003/pre-2004 line here is interesting. Why does it exist? The answer is simple. Before 2004, those Yankees starting staffs were all about Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina and David Wells. And, when those four were together in 2003 for New York, it was the last time the Yankees had a starting rotation that was deep and solid.

    It’s sad that, for the last seven years, Cashman has not be able to consistently duplicate the Yankees starting pitching success that they had from 1998 through 2003. And, it’s even more sad that 2011 appears to be another year added to this run – making it eight years since Cashman had a rotation that was four-deep in terms of being durable and productive. There’s been a lot of money spent on pitching, by Cashman, since 2004. However, on the whole, it’s been good money wasted.

    Happy New Year!

    Posted by on December 31st, 2010 · Comments (4)

    I would like to wish all the readers of WasWatching.com a very happy and healthy new year. And, may all your resolutions for 2011 come true!

    Yankees Have An Interest In Bartolo Colon

    Posted by on December 30th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    Hey, looks like Brian Cashman has found his new Sidney Ponson! Via mlb.com

    Former American League Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon has not pitched in the Major Leagues since July 24, 2009, but he is still planning a comeback and said there are three teams interested in him.

    Colon told El Dia, a newspaper in the Dominican Republic, that the Rangers, Yankees and Indians have all expressed some degree of interest in him.

    “I’ll go with the one that signs me,” said Colon, who would most likely have to settle for a non-roster contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

    Yankees Fan Wish List

    Posted by on December 30th, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Know what I would really like to see? I’d love to have a nice group photo of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, circa 1998-2000.

    Or, maybe a nice group photo of Graig Nettles, Thurman Munson, Willie Randolph, Sparky Lyle and Ron Guidry, circa 1977-1979.

    If you could pick your group of Yankees teammates to have in one photo, what group and from what time period, would you choose?

    Jim Callis Likes Yankees Farm System

    Posted by on December 30th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    It was just a little Tweet last night from Baseball America’s Jim Callis but it still resonates with me.  In Callis’s opinion, the Yankees have the 6th best farm system in baseball.

    Not too shabby.

    With No Pettitte, Yankees Risking 2011 On Burnett Comeback

    Posted by on December 29th, 2010 · Comments (34)

    Pettitte looks like he’s done. Via Peter Botte

    Andy Pettitte is vacationing with his family in Hawaii, leaving the Yankees little choice but to continue waiting some more while the veteran lefty does his annual retirement hula dance this winter.

    After already whiffing on Cliff Lee in free agency, the Yanks are aware there are few other big-name options available to slot in behind CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes in their starting rotation.

    “Every day I hope Andy comes back,” Yankees president Randy Levine said at a Times Square press conference Tuesday to kick off festivities for Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl between Syracuse and Kansas State at the Stadium.

    “Andy’s a great Yankee and a great person and I know he’ll give it thought and follow his heart and we’ll respect his decision. But we’re out there, all of us, hoping every day that he comes back,” Levine added. “I think he knows we need him. I think he knows how much we respect him and what a great leader he is.”

    Mark Teixeira, a self-proclaimed “huge college football fan,” also was present and called Pettitte “one of my closest friends on the team.” Still, despite trading text messages often with the lefty throughout the offseason, Teixeira also isn’t sure if Pettitte will be back for his 17th big league season, and 14th in pinstripes.

    “If he’s leaning one way, he’s probably leaning towards retirement,” Teixeira said. “I think that’s what he’s publicly said, and that’s no secret right now. But in a month and a half, a lot can happen.”

    Let’s face it. Banking on CC Sabathia is as safe as banking on any starting pitcher in the game. No one would fault anyone for expecting him to make 30 starts and give you 200 quality innings in 2011.

    But, with no Andy Pettitte in 2011, and with Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova in the back end of your rotation, or someone else just as “iffy” in those slots, Brian Cashman and the Yankees are really rolling the dice that Phil Hughes can repeat or better his 2010 season and that A.J. Burnett can come back from his disaster showing last season.

    How comfortable do you feel in making that bet?

    I ran some stats on the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to find pitchers since 1973 who were most like Phil Hughes in 2010. Here’s the numbers:

    Pitcher                       YEAR    RSAA     RSAA      GS       IP
    T1   Nino Espinosa            1977        7        7       29    200
    T1   Pedro Astacio            1993        7        7       31    186.1
    T1   Ian Kennedy              2010        7        7       32    194
    T1   Bill Greif               1973        7        7       31    199
    T1   Glendon Rusch            2000        7        7       30    190.2
    T1   Chad Billingsley         2010        7        7       31    191.2
    T1   Bruce Kison              1975        7        7       29    192
    T8   Rick Honeycutt           1979        6        6       28    194
    T8   Phil Hughes              2010        6        6       29    176.1
    T8   Sidney Ponson            2002        6        6       28    176
    T11  Greg Mathews             1987        5        5       32    197.2
    T11  Floyd Bannister          1979        5        5       30    182.1
    T11  Bill Laskey              1982        5        5       31    189.1
    T11  Yovani Gallardo          2009        5        5       30    185.2
    T15  Wilson Alvarez           1995        4        4       29    175
    T15  Scott Elarton            2000        4        4       30    192.2
    T15  Esteban Loaiza           1997        4        4       32    196.1
    T15  Yovani Gallardo          2010        4        4       31    185
    T19  James Baldwin            1996        3        3       28    169
    T19  Mike Krukow              1977        3        3       33    172
    T19  Rich Dotson              1982        3        3       31    196.2
    T19  Kyle Lohse               2002        3        3       31    180.2
    T19  Horacio Ramirez          2003        3        3       29    182.1
    Filter: 1973-2010, AGE BETWEEN 23 AND 25, RSAA BETWEEN 3 AND 7,GAMES STARTED >= 28, INNINGS PITCHED <= 200

    Not everyone on this list went on to become a star starting pitcher. So, how can we assume that Hughes will? This makes it even more important for Burnett to be solid in 2011. But, given his issues with command, and the fact that he’s just a 110-100 (W-L) pitcher over his 11 full seasons in the big leagues, what makes anyone – besides Brian Cashman – think that Burnett will be someone who you can count on in the front end of your rotation?

    Think the 2008 Yankees had starting pitcher issues? What we see in 2011 from the Yankees may just mirror that…no matter what Cashman says about that:

    In the meantime, the Yankees appear willing to go forward with a rotation that some have already compared to the 2008 season, when the club missed the playoffs.

    “I think that’s stupid,” said Cashman, who called the comparison unfair. “We have one of the premier starting pitchers in all of baseball in CC Sabathia, we have an 18-game winner in Phil Hughes.”

    The Yankees also have more choices of pitching prospects, such as Nova, to help fill the holes. And then there’s Burnett, who in 2010 who suffered through one of the worst pitching seasons in the history of the franchise.

    “I just believe he will be alright,” Cashman said. “Clearly, we need him to be.”

    When Would I Have Fired Brian Cashman?

    Posted by on December 28th, 2010 · Comments (35)

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a raving fan of Brian Cashman’s work as GM of the Yankees. (Please, be clear, I have no issues with Cashman as a person. I would bet that he’s a nice guy. And, this is solely tied to his history of putting together pitching staffs and his overall record as a talent evaluator.)

    Related, this morning, I thought to myself – “How long ago should this guy have been fired?” To answer that question, I think you need to look at his career as Yankees GM. And, in doing that, I believe that there are three distinct sub-eras in the “Cashman as Yankees GM” timeline to consider. These are:

    The Stick/Watson Beneficiary Era (1998-2001)

    As I wrote back in October 1, 2008:

    Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. And, yes, the Yankees did win rings in 1998, 1999 and 2000. However, when Cashman took over as the head man in charge, the following players were already on the team: Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Paul O’Neill, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mike Stanton, David Cone, Ramiro Mendoza, David Wells, Joe Girardi, Jeff Nelson, Chad Curtis and Darryl Strawberry.

    This group of Yankees was added to the team by Stick Michael and Bob Watson. It was they, and not Cashman, who built a powerhouse entity (via this cadre of players) who went on to win three rings from 1998 through 2000 – and which benefited Brian Cashman when he took over for Watson in 1998.

    Hey, I do give Cashman credit for not screwing up Stick and Watson’s work and allowing the Yankees to reach the World Series four years in a row here. So, clearly, there’s nothing during this period to warrant him being fired.

    The Straw Man GM Era (2002-2005)

    This is a tricky time to assess. Clearly, once Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte left for Houston following 2003, the Yankees pitching went south and Cashman was not up to the task of putting the pieces back together again. But, on the flip side, there were too many cooks in the Yankees kitchen during this time and Cashman was saddled with players like Raul Mondesi, Tony Womack and Jaret Wright that were nothing of his doing. So, here, yes, it was time to be concerned about Cashman’s ability to build a championship team. But, to blame all the Yankees issues on him at this time is not fair.

    The Full Autonomy Era (2006-2010)

    For the skinny here, I refer back to what I wrote on December 27, 2008:

    Brian Cashman became Yankees G.M. on February 28, 1998. However, from 1998 through 2005, George Steinbrenner’s troops in his Tampa office (including but not limited to Bill Emslie, Billy Connors, Mark Newman and Damon Oppenheimer) had so much input on personnel moves that it was somewhat difficult to know what exactly what were Cashman’s decisions or not.

    This all changed in October 2005 when Brian Cashman was given full autonomy on running the Yankees. As Cashman said at that time: “I’m the general manager, and everybody within the baseball operations department reports to me. That’s not how it has operated recently.”

    Yup, this is where the Cashman clock starts (for me). And, sans the ring in 2009, it was not a great time for Brian, in my humble opinion – and, I’ll get back to the ring thing in a second too.

    First, what happened from 2006 to 2008 in Yankeeland? Well, in 2006 that Yankees were a team who got body slammed in the first round of the playoffs. And, in 2007, that became a team who didn’t finish first and who got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. And, that became a team in 2008 who didn’t even make the post-season. Clearly, this is not an impressive section of the Cashman resume. The trend line here is all downhill.

    But, what about the World Championship in 2009! Ah, yes, that.

    To me, that ring comes down to the perfect storm of Steinbrenner dollars off-setting prior roster decision mistakes, a very favorable post-season schedule that allowed the Yankees to ride Sabathia and Pettitte, and an inhuman post-season performance from Alex Rodriguez. And, none of those things have anything to do with Brian Cashman being an astute GM of a baseball team.

    Lastly, we all know about the struggles the Yankees had in 2010 with their starting pitching. Also, Cashman as gone on record saying that his roster decisions coming into that season were flawed.

    Getting back to the original question here, in October 2005, the Yankees signed Brian Cashman to a three-year extension to be GM of the Yankees. And, it was after that deal, that I would have let him walk – all things considered, as stated above. After the Yankees finished third in 2008, it would have been the perfect time for a change. But, instead, at the end of September 2008, the Yankees gave Cashman another three year extension.

    Maybe this season will be Brian Cashman’s last year as Yankees GM? If it is, it’s three-years overdue in happening, according to my scorecard.

    Yankeeland Blizzard Memories

    Posted by on December 26th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    So, we’re having another blizzard today, huh? Contrary to what some other bloggers and twitter-mongers would like you to believe, I’m not old enough to remember the Blizzards of 1888 and/or 1947. But, I do remember these notable storms:

    The Storm of the Century, aka, the Great Blizzard of 1993 (March 12–13, 1993)
    Storm of February 1994 (February 8-9 & 11, 1994)
    Blizzard of 1996 (January 7-8, 1996)
    President’s Day Storm 2003 (February 17, 2003)
    Storm of February 2006 (February 11-12, 2006)
    Storm of February 2010 (February 25-26, 2010)

    The first two here elicit strong memories. In 1993, I had to walk a mile in the blizzard to go to a pharmacy, as my wife was sick and needed a prescription. And, then I had to walk a mile in it, again, to get back home. And, the storm in 1994 caused drifts so high that I couldn’t use the front door at my (then) house for a while. The President’s Day Storm 2003 is one I’ll always remember too. After they plowed the streets on that one, the snow on my sidewalk was over three feet high. I remember being out there, looking up and down the street, and seeing that all my neighbors were not shoveling their walks – and only doing their driveways. So, I thought “Screw it, I’m not doing mine either.” And, the next day, the county came by and gave me a summons for not clearing my sidewalk. Lesson, learned.

    How about you? Any major storms/blizzards in the New York City area stand out to you, more than some others?

    Yankeeland Snow Day

    Posted by on December 26th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Related, all, please be safe if you’ve been hit, will be, or expect to be hit, by snow now. Don’t drive if you don’t have to, watch your back shoveling, etc. – all that stuff. And, if you’re smartly hunkered down, and want to chat about some baseball – albeit Yankees related or not – please feel free to use the comments section of this entry.

    The Life Big Stein Lived

    Posted by on December 25th, 2010 · Comments (1)

    If you haven’t seen it, check out Jonathan Mahler’s An oral history of George Steinbrenner.  Good stuff.

    h/t: Rich Eisen.

    A-Rod: Yanks “Didn’t Play To Our Potential” In 2010

    Posted by on December 25th, 2010 · Comments (3)

    Or, in other words, “Merry Christmas Derek!”

    Via the Daily News

    Yankees fans weren’t the only ones upset to learn that Cliff Lee had opted for the Phillies over the Bombers this month. Alex Rodriguez was looking forward to seeing the lefty ace suiting up in pinstripes.

    “Everyone in the organization was disappointed to some extent,” he said in a telephone interview from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. “We were all looking forward to playing alongside him. It was unexpected, but when it comes to free agency, you sometimes have to expect the unexpected.”

    Fans, he suggested, should feel the same way about the potential in the Yankees farm system.

    “There’s a lot of talent there and people are always stepping up,” he said. “Look at what Phil Hughes did for us – he basically competed for the Cy Young. He’s going to be someone we can count on. And (Ivan) Nova has a good arm too. I expect a lot from him.

    “But the one reason I don’t worry is I know the organization and I know the Steinbrenners. We already have a very good team. Last year we didn’t play to our potential and we were still just a couple wins short of the World Series. If there’s something they feel we need, they’re going to go out and get it.”

    Holiday Dreams

    Posted by on December 24th, 2010 · Comments (4)

    I had an interesting/strange dream last night. The Yankees were playing the A’s in the ALDS and were down, two games to none. It was the top of the 9th inning in Game 3, at Oakland, where the A’s were leading the Yanks, 2-1, with two outs and no one on base.

    Yup. We’re talking post-season death’s door here. New York down to its last out of the year.

    However, Derek Jeter was up and he singled to reach base.

    Lance Berkman was the next batter. (Yeah, don’t ask me why. I know he’s not on the team now. But, dreams cannot be controlled, right?) Berkman hit a sharp worm-killing grounder right at the A’s first baseman. It should have been an easy three-unassisted out at first, to close the game and give the A’s a sweep in the ALDS. However, the ball hit the first baseman squarely on his right spike – he was a left-handed thrower, for what it’s worth – and then it violently ricocheted towards the shortstop position, scooting past the Oakland shortstop, to his left, and into left field.

    Jeter was running on the play and made it to third, easily. And, Berkman, somehow, sneaked into second, by a whisper, giving New York the tying run on third and the potential winning run on second, also in scoring position, albeit with two outs.

    Mark Teixeira was up next and promptly banged the first pitch for a hit. It was a liner over the third baseman’s head. Jeter scored easily and Berkman also came around to score, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

    I don’t remember how the Yankees inning ended, if I even dreamt that part at all. But, the next thing I remember was Mariano Rivera closing out the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Yankees the win.

    As non-Angelina Jolie dreams go, I have to say, it was pretty damn exciting. (Don’t ask me how the ALDS ended, I didn’t dream that part.) The whole thing had a 2001 ALDS Game 3 feel to it, for sure.

    In any event, what better segue to say: May all your holiday dreams come true this season! Have a great one.

    Help A Fellow Baseball Fan & Get A Laugh Too

    Posted by on December 23rd, 2010 · Comments (0)

    One of my buddies – who’s a really good guy and a big baseball fan – has a daughter (Allison Raskin) who is competing in an American Idol like stand-up comedy competition run by the Laugh Factory in LA.

    Click here to check her out. And, please consider voting for her. Oh, and, by the way, the rules allow for one vote a day – so, you can hit this up on other days too.

    Sabathia To Food: I’ll Pass

    Posted by on December 23rd, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Buried in this story about CC Sabathia’s charity work in his hometown is a little tidbit that should please all Yankee fans:

    Sabathia has lost 15 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame through a tough offseason training program of cardiovascular workouts and weight training. His knee recovered in just less than a month after the procedure, so he is well into his full exercise program and playing light catch.

    He hopes to lose an additional 15 pounds before the season starts.”I’m turning 30 this year, getting a little older,” he said, chuckling.

    “Hopefully it will take some pressure off my knee and extend my career.”

    As much as Sabathia’s hefty waistline hasn’t impacted his ability to be an absolutely dominating pitcher, it’s still not a bad thing to see him taking his fitness level a little more seriously.  And, certainly, the idea that as he ages, less weight on his body will tax his knees and back less is a sound one.  Considering the Yankees are committed to Sabathia for another five seasons (assuming he doesn’t opt out after this season), I’m happy to hear that Sabathia is doing whatever he can to make sure he’s in peak shape for the future.

    Now, if only someone could convince Sucky McWhale Joba Chamberlain of the same thing…

    Happy Holidays!

    Posted by on December 23rd, 2010 · Comments (12)

    Barring any breaking and hot Yankees-related news, I do not expect to be posting many entries to WasWatching.com over the next few days. Therefore, I wanted to take this time now to wish all the readers of this blog a safe and happy holiday season. It’s been 68 months now that WasWatching.com has been up and running, and, I’ve truly enjoyed all the feedback to this site and its content that you have provided through the years. Thanks for that wonderful present! I hope you all have as much fun (as I’ve had here so far) during your holiday observance.

    Look for more stuff after Christmas!

    Also, I want to make a special “shout-out” to the following frequent “comment-makers” that we have at WasWatching.com:

    Evan3457, Scout, mondoas, UNC Tarheel, Ryan81, MJ, Raf, Corey, jrk, ken, lisaswan, G.I. Joey, EHawk, The Sandman, bfriley76, Jim TreshFan, JeremyM, butchie22, Brent, mwach1, Rich M, bags, clintfsu813, nettles, 77yankees, KPOcala, YankCrank, GDH, #15, BOHAN, sean mcnally, K-V-C, Pete, antone, OldYanksFan, Joseph Maloney and redbug

    My sincere thanks to those mentioned above for all their comments, etc., this year. You’ve added a lot to this site and it’s appreciated!

    Come Home Again Johnny?

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2010 · Comments (8)

    Via Ken Davidoff

    While the Yankees’ primary focus remains pitching, they have been communicating with free agent Johnny Damon about a possible return to the Yankees for 2011, Newsday has learned.

    Four sources said that Damon and the Yankees were talking about a role in which Damon, 37, would get occasional at-bats as a designated hitter and fill in at leftfield, allowing starting leftfielder Brett Gardner to either rest or shift to fill in for centerfielder Curtis Granderson or rightfielder Nick Swisher.

    Damon would prefer a job with more guaranteed playing time, two of the sources said, so a deal is not close and far from guaranteed. But there have been multiple conversations between the two sides.

    Who knew Brian Cashman could sing?

    Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home
    Uploaded by jpdc11. – See the latest featured music videos.

    Yanks Prez Levine Parrots Patience Line

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Via Andrew Marchand:

    [Randy] Levine said even though the Yankees haven’t won the Hot Stove League, having failed to sign top target Cliff Lee, it doesn’t mean that October won’t work out for them.

    “Cliff Lee is one of the best pitchers there is in Major League Baseball,” Levine said. “He made a decision for himself and his family that he wanted to be in Philadelphia, and that is what free agency is all about and we respect it.

    “That is a lot of money we saved by not signing Cliff Lee. We have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. At this point in time, we are getting a lot of calls from a lot of people, agents and other teams and we are going to be patient about it. We have until spring training, until the end of March when the season opens to do the right thing, be careful and weigh our options. I’ve been around a long time, we have sometimes won the Hot Stove League in December and November and we haven’t done too well in October. So hopefully, October is the main time that you have to perform and I’m confident we will have a championship team.”

    You know what you get when you mix Hank Steinbrenner with Brian Cashman? You get Randy Levine.

    Jeff Francis

    Posted by on December 22nd, 2010 · Comments (13)

    Via Craig Calcaterra

    Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees have shown interest in Jeff Francis, who most recently pitched for the Rockies. Some of those other teams have been mentioned before, but this is the first time anyone has reported the Yankees’ interest.

    As Drew noted over the weekend, Francis was rusty at times last year, but he improved in the second half and his velocity was up. He could be a good candidate for sharp improvement in 2011. There aren’t a lot of teams who he couldn’t help in some capacity, even if it’s just as a fourth or fifth starter.

    Jeff Francis? Didn’t he star in Forbidden Planet? Oh, well, I guess this means that Sidney Ponson is not available…

    Bean Counter Hal More Interested In QuickBook Tally Than Winning?

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (24)

    Via Andrew Marchand:

    Before the Derek Jeter saga unfolded, an agent told ESPNNewYork.com that we would learn a lot about how Hal Steinbrenner’s Yankees will be run, about how Hal will be different from his old man.

    The typically shy Hal immediately went to the airwaves to say that the Jeter negotiations could become “messy” — which was just like King George — but his reason was very un-Boss-like.

    “I’m running a business,” Steinbrenner said on 1050 ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show.

    Further evidence of how Hal’s business will be run came in the form of Tuesday’s AP report that the Yankees’ luxury tax is $18 million, which is the lowest for the team in seven years.

    Yankees’ salaries were dropped to a still major-league high $215 million in 2010 from $226 million in 2009 and an upbeat GM Brian Cashman said Tuesday they are currently in the $170 million range.

    From Hal’s reluctance to speak in public to his reliance on spreadsheets, he is unlike his father in many ways, except for one — the way he will be judged by his team’s fans.

    He must win and win big or his budgets and business-like approach will be as unpopular as his father’s bombastic style was during the mid-’80s.

    You can run a business, play “messy” with the Captain and even lower the luxury tax, but, if you do it, at these Stadium prices, you better win.

    Hal has not let us know him like George did, but, from what we do know, it is hard to imagine that Hal took the loss to the Rangers in the ALCS as hard as his father would have. It is difficult to think that it has driven him as much as a defeat would have eaten at the Boss’ soul. With Hal, we are still learning what it all means to him, if he burns to win as much as the fans and his father always did.

    After the Jeter press conference to announce the Captain was coming back, Hal, when talking about Lee, made a point to emphasize that he likes his budgets. This might play well in a board room, but it is doubtful it will be as popular in the bleachers; especially if it becomes evident that the Yankees’ failure to go all the way with Lee cost them a title.

    These are Hal’s Yankees, where the GM clearly states that Plan B is patience. Again, touting a stronger farm system, this may turn out to be the right approach. Cashman has until July to match Boston’s big offseason.

    Cashman seems to be relishing the chance to show brains instead of just bucks, sounding almost as if he is bragging that the current payroll is lower than it’s been in years.

    This more measured, budget-conscience long-range approach may turn out to be lethal on the competition. It better be, because if the Yankees stop winning, the fans will be furious at the Boss’ son and the Bombers’ new-fangled frugality.

    …Cashman seems to be relishing the chance to show brains instead of just bucks…

    Be afraid Yankees fans. Be very, very, afraid.

    Oh, What A Night, Late December 1638…

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (1)

    Hey, you don’t see this everyday!

    Next one is in 2094? Hey, isn’t that also the last year of A-Rod’s contract?

    Cashman: We Expect Burnett To Be Front End Starter

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (5)

    Great stuff from Ken Davidoff – h/t to the Rockettes! –

    Today, however, I attended a Yankees event in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

    I’ll post the link later about the actual event, but Brian Cashman was there, and he discussed some Yankees issues:

    –New pitching coach Larry Rothschild will spend a week to 10 days with A.J. Burnett in January, at Burnett’s Maryland home.

    “We signed A.J. not to be not a back of the rotation starter, but to pitch toward the front of the rotation,” Cashman said. “That’s what his abilities are. That’s what he’s capable of doing. And that’s what we expect. I believe you’ll see that again.”

    Burnett has never been an elite starting pitcher but his 2010 did mark his worst regular season of his career, using ERA+ and WAR as measures. You’d think he’d bounce back some., but his 2010 was so erratic and disturbing – what kind of guy shows up at work with a black eye and refuses to discuss its cause? – that we’ll wait and see.

    –Cashman on why Joba Chamberlain won’t be considered for a switch back to the starting rotation: “His stuff plays so much significantly (better) out of the ‘pen. We had given him an opportunity to pitch in the rotation, and the velocity dropped. It’s just not the same stuff.”

    –Cashman said that Alex Rodriguez visited with hip specialist Marc Philippon in November and received a clean bill of health.

    Note: Most “Quality Starts” since 2005:

    Rk Player #Matching   W L W-L% ERA GS
    1 Dan Haren 138 Ind. Games 72 27 .727 2.09 138
    2 Roy Oswalt 134 Ind. Games 77 26 .748 1.91 134
    3 CC Sabathia 132 Ind. Games 97 13 .882 1.76 132
    4 Johan Santana 131 Ind. Games 76 22 .776 1.73 131
    5 Bronson Arroyo 127 Ind. Games 76 22 .776 1.95 127
    6 Roy Halladay 124 Ind. Games 86 19 .819 1.71 124
    7 Jon Garland 120 Ind. Games 70 21 .769 2.01 120
    8 Andy Pettitte 118 Ind. Games 71 21 .772 2.05 118
    9 Derek Lowe 118 Ind. Games 61 27 .693 2.03 118
    10 John Lackey 118 Ind. Games 71 17 .807 1.99 118
    11 Mark Buehrle 118 Ind. Games 73 15 .830 1.98 118
    12 Felix Hernandez 115 Ind. Games 60 18 .769 1.70 115
    13 Livan Hernandez 112 Ind. Games 59 18 .766 2.41 112
    14 Ted Lilly 111 Ind. Games 67 21 .761 2.12 111
    15 Barry Zito 109 Ind. Games 57 23 .713 1.95 109
    16 Carlos Zambrano 109 Ind. Games 68 10 .872 1.68 109
    17 Joe Blanton 109 Ind. Games 60 24 .714 2.20 109
    18 Jake Peavy 108 Ind. Games 59 24 .711 1.78 108
    19 Matt Cain 108 Ind. Games 49 20 .710 1.83 108
    20 A.J. Burnett 106 Ind. Games 57 19 .750 2.07 106
    21 Josh Beckett 105 Ind. Games 75 12 .862 2.11 105
    22 Javier Vazquez 103 Ind. Games 61 21 .744 2.07 103
    23 Tim Hudson 102 Ind. Games 63 14 .818 1.80 102
    24 Cliff Lee 101 Ind. Games 67 13 .838 1.69 101
    25 Kevin Millwood 99 Ind. Games 51 25 .671 2.23 99
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/21/2010.


    Burnett should be a capable starting pitcher, if you trust him. Me? I don’t trust him. Good luck Larry.

    Yanks Now Underdogs?

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (26)

    Good stuff today via Bob Klapisch

    It’s no stretch to say this has been a sobering offseason for the Yankees, who were 0-for-December in their pursuit of free agents, went through a contentious negotiation just to get their own captain, Derek Jeter, back in pinstripes and, for now, have been surpassed by the Red Sox as the American League’s team to beat.

    Incredibly, the Yankees look like baseball’s most expensive underdogs with a $200 million payroll. GM Brian Cashman says “patience” is the new operative plan, but to a fan base that’s used to seeing the Bombers get their way, he might as well be speaking Mandarin.

    Talk about culture shock: Suddenly, it’s the Sox who’ve turned into the AL’s biggest spenders, able to snare not just Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, but even a significant bit piece for the bullpen, Bobby Jenks. The Yankees’ countermove was to sign Pedro Feliciano, which has everyone wondering what happened to the can-do ethos that netted CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett practically all at once in 2008?

    The Yankees believe [agent] Darek Braunecker misled them into thinking [Cliff] Lee was sufficiently interested in playing in the Bronx, enough for the Steinbrenner family to put up $148 million. The Yankees are convinced they were used, which might come back to haunt Braunecker and his other client, who just happens to be Burnett.

    “(Braunecker) is going to need us more than (we) need him,” one official cautioned. That might be true in 2013, when Burnett’s contract expires. In the meantime, however, the Yankees are desperate for Burnett to make a comeback, especially if Andy Pettitte chooses to retire.

    With Pettitte, the Yankees have a shot at the playoffs; they’re a 92-95 win team that figures to win the wild card. Without him, the Bombers appear to be cooked, unless Cashman can make a blockbuster deal for a starting pitcher before the July 31 trading deadline.

    That’s where the “patience” edict comes into play. Cashman is asking fans to hang tight while the Yankees hopefully stay close to the Red Sox. That means rebound seasons not just from Burnett, but Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as well. By most industry estimates, Boston is about to embark on a 100-win season, which means the Yankees’ best-case scenario is to cobble together a playoff-caliber rotation that’ll support the (still) formidable offense.

    You know, the Orioles played at a 96-win pace one Buck Showalter came on board. Granted, they can’t do that in 2011 over a full season. But, if they win 88 games next year, the Yankees may just have to worry more about the O’s biting on their rear than they do having to keep up with the Red Sox. The Yankees have to play the Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays and O’s around 76 times in 2011. With the Yankees current starting rotation, how many of those games can they hope to win?

    Bones, Back In The Day

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (2)

    A slice of Steve Balboni’s minor league stats when he was a youngster in the Yankees system:

    Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA R HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
    1980 23 Nashville SOUL AA 141 613 101 34 122 82 162 .301 .399 .553
    1981 24 Columbus IL AAA 125 498 68 33 98 55 146 .247 .337 .532
    1982 25 Columbus IL AAA 83 359 57 32 86 38 68 .284 .359 .652
    1983 26 Columbus IL AAA 84 378 72 27 81 48 91 .274 .373 .574
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 12/21/2010.


    The dude had serious minor league power back then, eh? Dare we say “Jesus Montero-like” power? Of course, the difference here is age. Montero just turned 21 last month and is already playing at AAA.

    Martin The New Matsui?

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Mark Simon thinks he has a chance.
    And, I hope he’s right. The Yankees missed Godzilla last year.

    Another Reason Why Pettitte Won’t Be Coming Back

    Posted by on December 21st, 2010 · Comments (15)

    Via Ken Davidoff

    Andy Pettitte has made retirement contemplation a way of life. This marks the fifth straight offseason in which he hasn’t held a firm commitment to pitch the subsequent year, and in each of those, he has considered retirement with various degrees of seriousness.

    The 38-year-old lefthander is taking his uncertainty deeper into this 2010-11 break, however, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman firmly reiterated Monday that he’s approaching his work as though Pettitte won’t return.

    “I’ve got no updates from Andy to give,” Cashman said. “He’s told me to move forward without him. It has nothing to do with money, leverage, recruiting or any of that. It’s whether his heart’s into playing or not.

    “Maybe in a month, he’ll change his mind. I can’t predict it. It’s not a baseball issue. It’s a personal issue. We’re moving forward as he requested. He’s not in it. He’s told me not to rely on him, so I’m focusing on what he’s told us.”

    An added potential factor is that Pettitte’s 2011 figures to be disrupted by his involvement in the U.S. government’s perjury case against Roger Clemens. The government regards Pettitte as a “star witness,” and Clemens’ attorneys surely will attempt to discredit Pettitte.

    While Pettitte moves toward a final decision, Cashman said he has nothing hot on the trade or free-agent fronts. The Yankees don’t see fits with Tampa Bay for Matt Garza or with the White Sox for Gavin Floyd or Edwin Jackson, and they’re not particularly excited by free agents such as Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood.

    I totally forgot about the Clemens thing. No way Andy wants to be in New York with all that going down. Book it. We won’t be seeing Pettitte with the Yankees in 2011. And, we can thank Roger Clemens for that.

    The Worst Yankees Starting Staffs Since 2001

    Posted by on December 20th, 2010 · Comments (9)

    Here’s one way to slice it:

    Rk Year Lg Tm #Matching  
    1 2010 AL New York Yankees 3 A.J. Burnett / Dustin Moseley / Javier Vazquez
    2 2008 AL New York Yankees 3 Andy Pettitte / Sidney Ponson / Darrell Rasner
    3 2005 AL New York Yankees 3 Al Leiter / Mike Mussina / Carl Pavano
    4 2004 AL New York Yankees 3 Jose Contreras / Mike Mussina / Javier Vazquez
    5 2006 AL New York Yankees 2 Shawn Chacon / Randy Johnson
    6 2001 AL New York Yankees 2 Orlando Hernandez / Ted Lilly
    7 2009 AL New York Yankees 1 Joba Chamberlain
    8 2007 AL New York Yankees 1 Mike Mussina
    9 2003 AL New York Yankees 1 Jeff Weaver
    10 2002 AL New York Yankees 0  
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/20/2010.
    The slice: Yankees teams from 2001 to 2010 – show pitchers with ERA+ <=99 with at least 15 games & at least 50% GS

    Think 2011 will match the high mark here with 3+ pitchers making the list?  Probably.  Shoot, this might just be the year we see 4 such pitchers on a Yankees team.  When was the last time that happened? That would be 1991. A long, long time ago…

    Rk Year Lg Tm #Matching  
    1 1990 AL New York Yankees 5 Chuck Cary / Andy Hawkins / Dave LaPoint / Tim Leary / Mike Witt
    2 1991 AL New York Yankees 4 Dave Eiland / Jeff Johnson / Tim Leary / Wade Taylor
    3 2010 AL New York Yankees 3 A.J. Burnett / Dustin Moseley / Javier Vazquez
    4 2008 AL New York Yankees 3 Andy Pettitte / Sidney Ponson / Darrell Rasner
    5 2005 AL New York Yankees 3 Al Leiter / Mike Mussina / Carl Pavano
    6 2004 AL New York Yankees 3 Jose Contreras / Mike Mussina / Javier Vazquez
    7 1992 AL New York Yankees 3 Scott Kamieniecki / Tim Leary / Scott Sanderson
    8 1989 AL New York Yankees 3 Greg Cadaret / Andy Hawkins / Dave LaPoint
    9 1988 AL New York Yankees 3 Richard Dotson / Tommy John / Rick Rhoden
    10 1982 AL New York Yankees 3 Doyle Alexander / Roger Erickson / Mike Morgan
    11 1979 AL New York Yankees 3 Jim Beattie / Ed Figueroa / Catfish Hunter
    12 1973 AL New York Yankees 3 Pat Dobson / Sam McDowell / Fritz Peterson
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 12/20/2010.


    Hey Coney, Why Don’t You Have A Dance?

    Posted by on December 20th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    Honestly I don’t have a recollection of this at all, but it’s awesome. Hat tip to my good buddy Justin for the link.

    Cashman: What, Me Worry? I Have Until July!

    Posted by on December 20th, 2010 · Comments (100)

    Via Wally Matthews

    Having finished second, or maybe third, in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, the Yankees are prepared to go into the 2011 season with a pitching rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes , with the remaining spots filled out by youngsters, many of whom have never pitched above the Triple-A level.

    “I’m not saying I want to do it,” general manager Brian Cashman said in a telephone conversation Monday morning, “but I may have to do it.”

    Cashman is operating under the assumption that Andy Pettitte, back home in Deer, Park, Texas, following a an excellent season cut short by a groin injury, will not be returning for a 17th major league season.

    “If we get Pettitte back, so much the better,” Cashman said. “But I’m not waiting for him. He told me not to.”

    Cashman acknowledged his team could use a major league ready starter as well as another arm in the bullpen but seemed pessimistic about the chances of getting one before Opening Day.

    “Could I go out and get a starter? Yes, I could. But there’s just not much out there,” Cashman said. “I have March, April, May, June and July, really, to come up with someone.”

    Cashman also ruled out, although not absolutely, the possibility the Yankees might include catching prospect Jesus Montero in a trade for a front-line starter now that the Yankees have signed Russell Martin to assume every-day catching duties. “There’s just nobody out there I would consider trading Montero for,” Cashman said.

    “We have 10 prospects starting from Double-A on up that our organization can choose from,” Cashman said.

    The GM ruled out a return to the rotation for Joba Chamberlain, who along with David Robertson will compete for the job as eighth-inning set-up man vacated when Kerry Wood became a free agent.

    “In the past, we might have gone out and traded away prospects just to get someone in here,” Cashman said. “But realistically, I have until July to get this solved.”

    Just wonderful. So, it’s going to be “2008” again in Yankeeland – in 2011. Remember then? That’s when Cashman went with kids like Hughes and Kennedy in the rotation to start the season. And, they were later replaced with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson. Oh, and, by the way, the Yankees finished in third in 2008 and missed making the post-season for the first time in what seemed like forever.

    What’s that line about those who do not learn from history being damned to repeat it?

    Is Repeat Wildcard Winner Cashman’s Goal For 2011?

    Posted by on December 20th, 2010 · Comments (10)

    I’m starting to get that feeling.

    What feeling?

    That Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office are now thinking “We screwed up this off-season, but, we still have a good team – and, Tampa Bay lost Crawford and their bullpen. So, since we can’t catch the Red Sox, as they’ve loaded up this off-season, let our goal be to stay with the Rays this season – and hope that the O’s and Jays don’t get into the mix – and then maybe, hopefully, get a pitcher in July that will allow us to separate from Tampa and take the A.L. Wildcard for the second year in a row.”

    Anyone else feeling this? Think it can work?

    I Guess Scott Proctor Was Not Available…

    Posted by on December 20th, 2010 · Comments (2)

    …because the Yankees just signed Luis Vizcaino.

    Hey, look at the bright-side here. Just imagine Cashman jumping off a roof in Connecticut if – like Lee and Wood – Luis Vizcaino has said no to the Steinbrenner dollars this off-season too!

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