In a fairly uncreative piece ranking the game’s General Managers, Jon Heyman at Sports Illustrated pegged Brian Cashman at baseball’s number five GM.
5. Brian Cashman, Yankees. Three rings in his first four years are something of a memory, though 10 straight postseason appearances and the ability to last in that pressure cooker aren’t bad accomplishments, either. The negative is one bad free-agent pitching pickup after another, leading to the new strategy to spend on youth and to go with youth. So far he’s spent on the right young guys, and that’s a big plus.
If Heyman’s talking about Carl Pavano as a bad free agent pick-up, let me again say hindsight is 20-20. Carl Pavano was a hotly-pursued pitcher, and no one knew he would make 19 starts over three seasons.
Meanwhile, for a number five ranked GM, Cashman doesn’t seem to garner much praise from Heyman. This guy’s put together a team that hasn’t missed the playoffs during his tenure. Despite some skeptical bloggers, Cashman is the guy who should be helming this team.
I’m not so keen on his choices as Theo Epstein and Billy Beane as numbers 1 and 2. Epstein can rest on the laurels of the Josh Beckett trade, a deal made when he wasn’t the General Manager, and the jury is still out on their $102-million import.
But with Epstein, it comes back to the same criticisms as Cashman should face. A lot of big-ticket free agent moves haven’t worked out. Anyone remember Edgar Renteria or Matt Clement? And had the Sox not gotten hot in October last year, Epstein wouldn’t be on the top of this list. Remember how the Sox had squandered a 14-game lead? That’s the team Epstein put together as well.
I’d rather see these lists headed up by guys who have put together winning teams with budgetary constraints. Again, with Cashman, Epstein can rest on his money. The Red Sox were, after all, the most expensive team to ever win a World Series (and, yes, Boston fans, the Yanks were the most expensive team to ever lose in the first round of the playoffs). But I’d have to go with the Indians’ Mark Shapiro as the game’s top GM.
As Heyman wrote, “He does more with less and should have made the playoffs two out of three years, despite decided dollar disadvantage in the increasingly tough AL Central.” Imagine what Shapiro could do with the payroll of the Red Sox, Yankees or Tigers. It’s not much of a competition.