Oct
06

The Brian Cashman Appreciation Thread

By

This thing might seem a bit Pinstripe Pollyana-ish…

Since February 1998, 28 of the 30 MLB teams have changed general managers at least once. The only two not to are the Giants, with Brian Sabean, and the Yankees, with Brian Cashman. Even as the Yankees have faltered in the past few years, Cashman has remained aboard. New boss Hal Steinbrenner has faith in the GM and his philosophies, and in his fourth year of autonomous control we’re finally seeing what Cashman wanted to do when he re-upped after the 2005 season.

Despite the 12 years at the helm, despite 11 playoff appearances, five World Series appearances, and three championships in that span, there are some who think Brian Cashman has done more to hurt the Yankees than to help them. As the argument goes, he’s nothing more than an idiot with a checkbook. After all, if you can go out and spend $450 million on the top three free agents in an off-season, what can’t you do? In appreciating Brian Cashman, we’d like to debunk this thought process.

The charge: He can’t evaluate pitching

The biggest slam on Brian Cashman is that he’s a poor evaluator of pitching talent. The Yankees teams from 2004 through 2008 share two traits: lack of top-end pitching, and a general lack of pitching depth. Aging veterans like Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson headed rotations, and the back ends were filled with scrubs like Darrell Rasner, Sidney Ponson, and Kei Igawa. How is a team supposed to win like that?

The pitching evaluation argument stems back to the 2004-2005 off-season, when the Yankees acquired Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Randy Johnson. Pavano, infamously, missed the entire second half of the season with an injury which was thought to keep him out for a month, tops. Wright got hurt before the season was a month old, in perhaps the most predictable moment of the season. Johnson pitched well enough, but completely bombed in the playoffs.

It was after the 2005 season that Cashman gained the autonomy he said he needed to run the team properly. While Cashman was certainly to blame for some of the team’s moves from 1998 through 2004, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly what was his idea and what belonged to the Tampa contingency. But looking at his pitching moves from 2005 forward do tell a story.

Heading into the 2006 season, the Yankees had pitching problems. With Johnson, Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Jaret Wright, and Carl Pavano signed up, the team had five starters, but getting 30 starts from each was as long as long shots get. They had some depth in Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small, but those are small, almost nonexistent consolations.

The Yanks could have used another starter, and there were a few available on the free agent market: A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood headed the class, but each had his flaws. Cashman smartly avoided that free agent pitching market, knowing that any short-term benefit these guys would provide, there would be long-term consequences. He passed on them, and while the 2006 pitching staff was far from stellar, it was still the right move.

The 2006 draft is also where the Yankees got a lot more serious about their minor league depth. In June they drafted Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Zack McAllister, George Kontos, Tim Norton, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, and David Robertson. The team got serious about building their pitching depth from within, so they wouldn’t have to settle for what the free agent market offered. The Yanks echoed this approach in 2007, as three of their top five picks were pitchers, as were eight of their top 20.

Cashman’s approach is clear. From the off-season of 2005-2006 to the off-season of 2007-2008 he signed just two free agent pitchers: Andy Pettitte and Kei Igawa. The latter is an inexplicable signing that ignited the Cashman hatred. The former has been a constant positive. Then, in the 2008-2009 off-season, Cashman added CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, two signings which, other than some blips from Burnett, have worked out smashingly.

Think about that for a moment, if you will. In the time Cashman has been the sole person in charge of the Yankees roster decisions, the Yankees have signed four free agent pitchers, and three have worked out. That sounds like a pretty good record to me. In fact, that’s impressive even before you consider the non-move that allowed the Yanks to keep Kennedy and Hughes (and others), while using the money that would have been spent on Johan Santana for Sabathia. It wasn’t a fool-proof plan, but the Yanks took the risk and it worked out.

At the same time, they’ve restocked the farm system. It might be a middle of the pack one right now, but looking back on its state when Cashman took over, there has been a marked improvement. The Yanks have seen a few of their guys graduate in this time, and still have some more prospects in the system. This has been accomplished through the drat, through international free agency, and even by deals with the Mexican League. To the latter, Cashman acquired both Al Aceves, current bullpen cog, and Manny Banuelos, who made this year’s Futures Team roster.

Like all GMs, Brian Cashman has made some poor trades and acquisitions over the years. The problem is that before 2005, it was tough to determine who was responsible for what move. Since then we know it’s been all Cashman. In that time he’s backed off free agent pitching acquisitions, saving his money for a select few. He’s also bolstered the amateur talent acquisition to provide the team depth. It takes more than a few years to rebuild a baseball team, and while Cashman had many pieces already in place, he’s done a good job to supplement them.

The results speak for themselves. A year after missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, the Yanks rallied to the best record in baseball. They have their best pitching staff since 2003, and perhaps their most balanced lineup of the decade. For this, we appreciate Brian Cashman and his efforts to rebuild the New York Yankees. It has worked this year, and I have faith that we’ll see the team, especially the pitching staff, improve for years to come.

Categories : Front Office
  • http://imgur.com/NMNVd.jpg Joba Powers (all I needs is a jheri curl mullet)

    Steve Lombardi is about to DDOS the shit out of this site!

    • Yankee1010

      Steve Lombardi is just very disappointed that the Yanks made the playoffs. Or that they didn’t finish 168-0. 162-0 wouldn’t have been good enough for him.

  • http://pendingpinstripes.net Greg F.

    Shouldn’t Cash be able to step in and say, “Posada is starting every playoff game behind the plate.”

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      He could, but that seriously undermines Girardi.

      • Chris

        But Torre’s not listening to input from Cashman on lineups was a big reason why he was not retained.

        • whozat

          That’s wild, unsubstantiated speculation.

          • Chris

            True, but it was certainly a factor in tension between the two. At least according to Torre.

        • pat

          Yeah but I think that was more over the course of the season a la the Circle of Trust®™ bullpen management etc. etc.

          • Chris

            I actually think it was related to the Lofton/Bernie as CF issue.

        • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

          I believe that speculation was more based around things like not signing guys because they knew Torre would just play Miguel Cairo/etc. But it’s just speculation.

    • Ed

      Sure he can. But he’d have to be really damn sure it was the right move to do it.

      Girardi’s response right now would probably be something like this:

      “Sure, Posada catching AJ is the ideal situation. But AJ has convinced himself that he can’t pitch to Posada. I know he’d be able to get over it eventually, but I think it would take at least a couple of starts for AJ to get back his confidence in Posada. Now’s not the time to do that.”

      If Cashman overrides Girardi after an answer like that, it means he doesn’t trust Girardi and should look for a new manager.

      On the other side, if Girardi’s answer is “I just have a hunch that Molina would be better”, then yeah, Cashman should override him, but I think Girardi’s smarter than that.

      • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

        That’s even too crazy for Girardi – I see it more like this:

        “We just feel that Molina and Burnett have been working very well together, and so we don’t want to disrupt the chemistry going into the playoffs. We may address this in the offseason, but now’s not the time.”…

        Or were you speculating on internal dialogue between Joe and Cash?

        • Ed

          I was talking about the discussion between Girardi and Cashman, as the post I replied to was asking about Cashman overruling Girardi.

          Your response is a more press-friendly answer.

          • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

            Or, Yankee-speak, as I like to call it. :)

    • AndrewYF

      Maybe Cashman is 100% behind the plan. Girardi’s decisions aren’t 100% his own input, that’s why he’s in on the meetings.

      • Bo

        Why would anyone want the GM telling the manager who to play and how to manage???

  • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

    Applause

  • pat

    Not many teams can overhaul their entire roster and farm system while remaining competitive year in and year out. He deserves credit for that.

    • andrew

      Not many teams have a $200million payroll. Not to say that’s the only reason Cash has been successful, but it certainly makes it easier.

  • Chris V.

    This column would have been much better if it was FJM style on one of Steve’s Cashman posts.

    • AndrewYF

      No, no Cashman analysis is made better by including Steve Lombardi.

  • OkulaFan67

    Finally some sanity!

  • pat

    Oh, and our farm system is middle of the road right now for a good reason, we graduated a bunch of mofuggers into productive MLB roles.

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      +1

  • Ryan Schutz

    Cash has dealt with idiots calling for his head almost every year. Dudes a professional and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being around all these years in such a highly scrutinized position.

  • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “This thing might seem a bit Pinstripe Pollyana-ish…”

    Positive Posse FTW.

  • Coach6423

    OT…Posada just said Molina will catch AJ.

    • Mike Pop

      Can we get a Jose Molina depreciation thread?

      • kunaldo

        word

      • Nady Nation

        Awesome. You’re on your game, Pop. Hopefully your boy AJ will be too, now that we’re adding a pitcher to the lineup.

        • pat

          We’ve decided to handicap the playoffs and use a NL lineup.

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

            Not only does it suck that JoMo will be hitting, my boy Melky goes from having Jeter as protection to Molina.

            • Mike Pop

              Drew and his crazy nicknames.

          • kunaldo

            you guys are crazy…even pitchers arent that bad

            carlos zambrano OPS+: 72

        • Mike Pop

          Hopefully Molina makes better pitch selections than Jason Garret does play calling.

          That’s what I’m hoping ;)

          • Nady Nation

            Touche, my friend.

      • http://imgur.com/NMNVd.jpg Joba Powers (all I needs is a jheri curl mullet)

        49 OPS+

        Circular lineup, BEEYOTCH!!!!!!!!

    • RCK

      I saw that. I am pissed.

      I can’t believe Joe Girardi wants to get creative now! After all those stupid bunts and never using Mo outside the 9th regardless of which hitters are coming up, and so on. NOW he decides he wants to be Mr. Original. Great.

      • Mike Pop

        Just when you think nothing can stop the Yankees… they go and try to stop themselves.

        • Riddering

          This is Girardi’s version of ‘pitching to the score’.

      • andrew

        He’s not getting creative now, Molina has been catching Burnett for a while now. This isn’t something new.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

      Saw that, sucks pretty bad.

    • cult of basebaal

      “I just hope we win that game,” Posada said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.”

      Make of that what you will …

      • Mike Pop

        If Burnett throws a shutout, I’m okay with the decision.

        But if he doesn’t, it’s off with Girardi’s head!

      • Riddering

        If they don’t, Posada’s gonna go all apeshit on Molina with his elbows.

        Because he’s started pissing on those too.

        He can never be too prepared.

    • CT Yankee

      I just heard that on the FAN. Posada has gotta be pissed

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Pollyanna? http://tinyurl.com/y88qb6k (safe)

    But seriously, I’m a huge B-Cash fan. I think he’s got a good approach and I hope he stays on for a long time.

  • http://twitter.com/hopjake Jake H

    I think Cash has done a good job. While it’s easier for the Yanks to shrug off a hit in FA, it is a lot harder to play in NY then 70% other cities. What I was just thinking about is why no media outlet when nuts when the Sox spent 50 million on the right to negotiate with Dice K. If Cash had done that every media outlet would be going after him.

  • steve s

    Cash’s handling of the Tex, CC and AJ wooing process was outstanding. His timing on visiting the Yanks in Atlanta was impeccable. His hiring of Girardi (in lieu of Mattingly) was gutsy and correct. His transition from George’s piss boy to trusted family advisor to the Steinbrener kids was deft. The turn-around of the Yankee farm system under his leadership is heartening. All that said, if the Yanks lose in the first round he will be gone quicker than it took Tex to turn down the Red Sox offer.

    • steve (different one)

      yeah, no he won’t.

  • Riddering

    With few exceptions, I admire what he was done for the Yankees from top to bottom. Not only decisions we’re seeing pay out over the long term but also the quick ones, ie this season’s trade deadline with the team’s pitcher neediness, Cash still kept his cool. Brushed his shoulders off. Traded for Gaudin.

    He is one bad mother–

  • My Pet Goat

    It would appear that the majority of Cashman criticism is built upon a foundation of ever-shifting sands, wherein the only consistent, cogent philosophy is that of animosity and spite. A rational counterpoint should provide an alternative theory or practice and needs to be much more than simple reactionary negativity.

    Over the past 3-4 years most shrewd baseball and Yankee fans have had no trouble in seeing Cashman’s plans. His critics on the other hand are an indecipherable bunch that seem to possess the emotional poise of toddlers. Their concerns are limited strictly to the immediacy of their desires, their memories are selective, and their foresight extends little past the tip of their collective nose.

    • The Raging Platypus

      /purple prose’d

      • My Pet Goat

        Sorry, when I wrote Cashman I meant Obama and instead of critics I meant conservatives.
        Wrong blog, thanks for pointing it out Platypussy.

  • Bo

    because he actually got it right and signed the two best starters on the market he knows pitching? If he didnt have 8 yrs of failure in picking pitchers I guess we wouldnt be overjoyed that he finally got it right.

  • Tony

    Pollyana-ish… – What does this mean???

  • YankFan

    I love Cash & the job he’s done. As you said, some of the moves may have been Tampa.
    You can’t kill him for Pavano since Detroit, Seattle & Boston also wanted him. Boston offered more money if I’m not mistaken.
    No one complained about getting Randy at the time. Who knows how it may have turned out if Duke didn’t get in his face & start the media backlash.
    Also, how about all the little moves he makes in-season to strengthen the bench – Hinske, Haiston this year. Small & Chacon when they were needed in 2005. Leiter, Bruney & others I can’t think of while I leave to go home.

  • Phil McCracken

    Before we install the Brian Cashman Memorial Moument in Cooperstown, please tell me what GM in their right mind would turn down having CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and AJ Burnett on their team?

    Its not rocket science. He signed the best 3 players out there in a terrible economy. Big deal.

    • steve (different one)

      this is BS considering the heap of criticism that would have rained down had he FAILED to sign CC or Tex.

      can’t have it both ways.

      he has it easier b/c of the money, but he also has impossible expectations b/c of the money.

      and your idiotic post ignores Swisher, Gaudin, Hinske, Hairston, all the little moves he nailed.

      it’s the yankees so of course he needs to make the big splash, but if you want to see what a handful of superstars and no supporting cast looks like, just go to Queens.

    • Joba Rules

      His negotiations of the Sabathia and Teixeira deals was masterful. He played them both extremely well.

  • Joba Rules

    IIRC the Igawa signing was going to happen anyways as soon as the Yankees missed out on Matsuzaka, they wanted their own Japanese import too.

  • Davor

    RJ’s deal was directed by the Boss, and I’m not sure Cashman would have done it if he wasn’t forced to. And that was the offseason when Beltran was on the market.
    In overhauling pitching Cashman made two moves that failed miserably – Weaver and Vazquez. They are the reason starting pitching was so weak before this year. And yet, every single GM in the MLB would have taken Yankee part of those deals (at the time they were made) in a heartbeat.
    Cashman had several good moves, that failed because of bad luck or bad execution from the rest of the team. He tried to give Torre former closers and young pitchers for bullpen, but Torre never used latter, and destroyed former. In 2004 he signed two starting-caliber 1B to back up Giambi, and still had to put 4th 1B in playoffs. He tried a new approach in training, and he (and his new coach) approached the players so badly that it had to fail, even though it was a good idea.

    I think that after acquiring Clemens, Weaver and Vazquez, and Pavano, as well as A-Rod, Giambi, Mondesi, White and such, Cashman concluded that the elite usually justifies big contracts, even among the pitchers, but getting non-elite players in FA or big trades rarely works. So, don’t be afraid to spend on the best, but don’t tuch non-elite ones if you don’t have to. I just don’t know where AJ comes, elite or have-to :)