Some critics think he’s overrated and that the talent-evaluators working for him deserve more credit; others see postseason berths in every year of his ten-year reign as GM as indicative of the fact that he’s not good enough. He can’t build a bullpen; he can’t build a bench. You know the drill.
Well, outside of New York, the Cashman vultures are gearing up for what many, rightly, consider to be the steal of the century. When Brian Cashman, who many not seem to like the new Yankees organizational power structure all that much, leaves New York, Philadelphia will be ready to with open arms. Or at least the fans in Philly will be waiting.
Nothing is more indicative of this philosophy and outside view of Brian Cashman better than this post from The Good Phight. Take a look:
But what I find ironic about Cashman and how he’s perceived is that the same bloated payrolls that critics once alleged made it impossible for him to get burned by his mistakes now largely obscure the best work he’s done. Following the Yankees’ 2003 World Series loss to Florida and shocking ALCS defeat at the hands of Boston a year later, Cashman saw an aging roster and a largely depleted farm system. Cashman made a few additions of the type Big Stein had demanded since the ’70s, bringing in the likes of Randy Johnson and, um, Carl Pavano–but his focus was on rebuilding a farm system that Baseball America had ranked 27th in early 2004 and 24th before the 2005 season. A year later, that ranking had jumped to 17th, and an assessment by Baseball Prospectus a year after that put the Yankees at 4th of the 30 MLB teams. BP’s Kevin Goldstein wrote in December, “After years of sitting near the bottom of the organizational rankings due to some drafts that border on reprehensible, the Yankees have begun to place more focus and priority on the draft, and the results have come quickly. Their bounty of young pitching is the envy of baseball…”
That is, in essence, the praise that I have for Brian Cashman, and I would probably go one step further and give him a pass on the Carl Pavano deal. At the time, Pavano was a highly sought-after commodity. The Mets, Red Sox and Tigers were all showing various degrees of interest, and the Yanks got him at something of a bargain rate. Who knew that he would utterly break down and make fewer than 20 starts over three years? That was a great signing then; it just looks terrible in hindsight.
But the Good Phight’s point is one that is often overlooked, and it certainly relates to what Tommy said earlier. For much of the early 2000s, the Yankees were puttering along with no farm system. A series of poor drafts and few big-ticket international signings had left the system depleted, and the George Steinbrenner win-now-before-I-forget-it attitude led the Yanks to acquire pieces, such as Raul Mondesi, that never should have been in New York.
When Cashman made his power play, he and his people really turned things around. The Yankees are still big spenders; they can sign that big free agent — A-Rod, anyone? — when they have to, but they’ve built up an organization that is in the top five of all Minor League systems. They’ve got the chips to use when the time and returns are right, and they’re developing a core group of kids who are well on their way to becoming the next set of homegrown Yankee greats.
I believe that losing Cashman would not be a good move for the Yankee organization. Through thick and thin, Cashman has sustained Yankee success. He did it while facing constant pressure from a Boss who meddled too much in baseball affairs, and he did it by building up the farm when the Boss finally backed off. I’d hate to see the Steinbrenner brothers push him out, and Hank and Hal would be wise to heed a fan base and ownership in Philadelphia who could use a GM with Cashman’s ability to construct a top-notch Big League club while building up the farm for the future.