Cashman’s best offseason move

Yankees sign tenth rounder Ben Gamel
Javy Vazquez and the arbitration question
Credit: Sipkin/New York Daily News

Brian Cashman had a tough offseason coming into 2010.  While many of his moves made sense at the time, several of Cashman’s offseason trades and signings have not worked out.  Nick Johnson is likely out for the season after less than 100 plate appearances.  Javy Vazquez has at least provided innings, but otherwise has been much worse than expected.  Curtis Granderson, so far, has not rebounded from his poor 2009 and will need to hope Kevin Long can get him straightened out with an overhaul of his swing.  Chan Ho Park and Randy Winn, again signings that made sense, were disasters.  All of this brings me to one move that Cashman nailed in the offseason: Marcus Thames.

Thames was brought in to mash left handed pitching.  Cash likely had some visions of Thames playing the OF, but the injury to Johnson has for the most part left Thames in the DH role.  That’s a good thing.  Thames is a butcher in the outfield, but we knew this before he was signed.  Keep him out of the outfield at all costs. Despite doing everything asked of him and more, Thames has seemed to get no love this year which is unfortunate.

It started for Thames in spring training when he could not buy a hit.  He went 7 for 52 putting up a stunning .135/.182/.269 line.  Just 33 at-bats into spring training people already wanted Thames cut (Ed. Note: Like this idiot).  Small sample size be damned, people were killing the Thames signing and instead wanted the Yankees to keep Jamie Hoffmann, or explore the Jermaine Dye, Gary Sheffield market.  Luckily cooler heads prevailed and Thames made the cut.

Thames shining moment of the season, when he was finally appreciated by the majority of fans quickly disappeared.  On Monday May 17th Thames did the thing that Yankees fans might enjoy most for a regular season game.  Hit a walkoff against Jonathan Papelbon.  It doesn’t get much better than that, and remember, Paps is a right handed pitcher, so it wasn’t what Thames was brought in for.  If Thames had struck out there I would not have been surprised nor pissed at him, it’s not his primary role.  24 hours later of course it all came crashing down as Thames dropped a ball in the outfield that led to a Yankees loss, again against the Sox.  Thames was nearly in tears after the game; probably as much for the reception he would get from fans as he was for blowing the game.  Again though, Thames was outside of his element, he had no business being in the field in the 9th inning of a close game.

Getting back to Thames’ actual role he could not be doing a better job.  He is hitting .343/.416/.448 off left handed pitchers.  More shockingly Thames is even destroying right handed pitchers this year to the tune of a .283/.386/.500 line.  For a guy who was only brought in to hit lefties, could he have possibly brought more to the table than he has?

Yankees sign tenth rounder Ben Gamel
Javy Vazquez and the arbitration question
  • Newbie

    I will admit that I was torn between Jamie Hoffmann and Thames due to Hoff’s fielding skills and speed. It’s a good thing Cash is running the team and I am not.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      Hey, the Yankees could’ve used Hoffman’s fielding skills and speed on many occassions this season. It was a tough time having Thames in the outfield when Granderson went down. Hoffman is currently at .316/377/439 right now for Triple-A. Can’t fault you for wanting Hoffman. Although I HIGHLY doubt he would have come close to Thames’ production at the plate this season. It’s definitely been a pleasant surprise.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        They could have used Greg Golson’s speed and defense this year as well.

    • Chris

      Losing Johnson so early in the season opened up playing time for Thames that would not have been there under the original plan.

      • Tomaconda

        Im sure the origional plan included a back up for WHEN not if Johnson went down.

  • Pete

    Thames has been an excellent weapon for this team all year long. I’m glad at least one of Cashman’s many good decisions of this past offseason actually worked out.

    • Not Tank the Frank

      I love the way you worded that. People need to realize that they were good decisions. They haven’t worked out as planned, but that tends to happen. It was going to be very difficult to replace Matsui and Damon’s production from last season. When Granderson and Johnson fail to put up that kind of production, fans clamor for Matsui and Damon. But you know who else wouldn’t have put up that kind of production this season? Damon and Matsui.

      • Chris

        I think people were spoiled but his results in the 2009 offseason.

  • kosmo

    The flip side of Cashman´s moves is the loss of Ajax ,Coke,IPK ,Visciano,Dunn and Melky.

    You can laugh if you want but I´d still take Melky over Granderson.
    Coke has been outstanding for Detroit.
    IPK has held his own with Arizona but could have possibly in a multi player trade netted NY a more valuable piece than what Granderson has shown.
    Visciano might very well have a MLB future as a 2 or 3 SP .Time will tell.
    Dunn is still throwing beebies ,lastly Ajax might with a little more polish turn out to be a very good MLB player.

    Thames without a doubt has pleasantly surprised this observer.
    Chan Ho Parkway????? Winn?? Cost effective.

    • Zack

      I did laugh

      • Zack

        Flip side of the flip side:

        Dunn’s BB9 has increased every time he jumped up a level with the Yankees, not good signs
        AJax’s production is a product of BABIP
        Vizcaino has a partially torn elbow ligament
        IPK “Could possibly” or maybe he’d be in AAA again and bomb in a few starts in the AL East again, then “OMG Cash blew it now he has no value!”
        Coke if a lefty middle reliever
        I won’t even get into Melky

        • Tom Zig

          Coke is having a strange season. His HR/FB% (13.5% to 1.7%) and HR/9 (1.5 to .19) have completely fallen off the table. Meanwhile all of his other numbers are roughly the same. Although his BABIP has jumped 100 points. LOB% is 17 points higher. He also now tripled the use of his changeup, which is rated at a little below average. I don’t know what would have happened if he played in Yankee Stadium.

        • Mike R. – Retire 21

          You argue with confusing acronms because you don’t have facts on your side! BABIP? BB9? AAA?!?!? OMG!?!?!?

          How about you argue with words there buddy!

          /Ingnorance is bold’d

    • Dirty Pena

      Hindsight is 20/20.

    • Mike Axisa

      You can laugh if you want but I´d still take Melky over Granderson.


      • kosmo

        Let´s face it what has Granderson provided NY that Melky couldn´t have ?
        Don´t look at Granderson´s past and say that adds up to the present.Because it just doesn´t .Melky can play pretty good D and hit .270.Granted nothing special.
        What exactly is Granderson´s value right now? He´s a below average hitter who plays a good CF who can´t hit LHP.Big Deal.
        It seems everyone on this blog has been so smitten with his past that they forget how awful he has been this season and for nearly half of 2009.
        Is he going to turn it around because Long is helping him with his approach?It´s funny a seasoned MLB player needing dramatic improvement turns to his hitting coach to help him out.In other words the Yanks got themselves a headcase.Now it´s all about 7 years of bad habits.
        Melky´s value is as a good 4th OF .His offense this season is comparable to Granderson´s.
        The Yanks could have gotten by with Cabrera and an alternative to Vasquez thru FA.
        Granted no turning back now.I apologize for taking up your time with this rant.

        • Pete

          FACT: In 81 road games in 2009, Curtis Granderson hit 20 HRs, is a 20+ SB threat, and plays good to great defense in CF

          FACT: in his entire career, Melky Cabrera has never hit a home run, stolen a base, or caught a baseball.

          ed. note: second fact may not be completely factual

    • Dirty Pena

      I’ll play. Despite how bad Granderson has been, he’s still been better than Melky. There’s literally not a single reason to want Melky over Granderson. Kennedy definitely could not have netted a “more valuable piece” than Granderson, that’s just silly. However good Dunn and/or Coke have been is negated by the fact that Boone Logan (ya know, the lefty we actually have) has also been pretty good. Vizcaino is a nice piece but we have a bunch of pitching prospects, so (hopefully) losing him won’t sting too much.

      • Tom Zig

        Since we’re playing with hindsight. Vizcaino is out with an injury for the season.

        • larryf

          Melky is that rare centerfielder who can make a relay throw from left center to…right center!

        • kosmo

          Sorry I didn´t know Viscaino is out with an injury .Last I knew he was pitching well in A ball.Thanks.

    • Newbie

      When looking at a trade in retrospect, it is important only to let what was known at that time influence your decision. Melky Cabrera was/is a blah outfielder who was starting to make a few million dollars, rendering him ultra-dispensable. Coke was a garden-variety reliever. When looking at the moves, Coke was coming off a mediocre 2009 campaign and did not wow people with his stuff.

      IPK would not have had a place on the opening day roster. Plus, guys like Ivan Nova and Z-Mac provide just about the same thing, yet are farther from arbitration years. A-Jax might very well be a good player, however, C-Grand had proved that he was a top outfielder in the game in ’07 and ’08, and had one off-year in which he still had a .340 wOBA.

      Dunn may be throwing beebies, but so is Logan. And Vizcaino may very well be a good #2, hell, he may even be an ace. But he was so far away, and the potential of a good starter is worth a good, durable starter, coming off a 2.76 FIP season.

      Park was excellent in relief in 2009. It was a good low-risk deal. Winn’s previous production equaled that of Melky. He replaced Melky.

    • Steve H

      You can laugh if you want but I´d still take Melky over Granderson.


      Coke has been outstanding for Detroit.

      With a completely unsustainable HR rate and he’s walking even more guys than last year. In an easier division.

      IPK has held his own with Arizona but could have possibly in a multi player trade netted

      I love IPK but he has a FIP of almost 5 in the NL. He would be a disaster in the AL East, and I don’t know how much else he would have brought in a trade. I doubt many AL teams would have valued him too highly in trades (hence why it was a 3 team deal in the first place).

      Visciano might very well have a MLB future as a 2 or 3 SP .Time will tell.

      This has not changed since the trade was made. In fact, Vizcaino has probably lost some value since due to injury concerns.

      Dunn is still throwing beebies

      Logan>>>>Dunn (and Coke)

      Ajax might with a little more polish turn out to be a very good MLB player.

      See Vizcaino. This was known when they traded him. A-Jax was one of the Yankees top prospects and they know he has a chance to become a good MLB player. They also know his flaws more than any other team.

    • bexarama

      You can laugh if you want but I´d still take Melky over Granderson.

      And who’s that Visciano guy? He sounds like he’d be good. Good thing we didn’t trade him away.

    • Guest

      I will also laugh. *Clears throat* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *takes deep breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • http://www, ledavidisrael

    Shouldn’t this be titled Cashman’s offseason move that turned out the best…

  • larryf

    to refresh my memory, what is the Sterling home run call for Marcus?

    • Esteban

      Happy Thames are here again? Is that it?

      • mbonzo

        I hate Sterling so much.

  • j_Yankees

    There is still a segment of fans who dislike Thames. Mostly because of that one error. Big hits being completely ignored. actually numbers being completely ignored. they have a irrational dislike for him.

    He is paid to mash LHPers and thats what he has done…and as you note, steve, he has even done his thing vs RHers .

    Sometimes we can all get caught up in loving young players. To a fault i would say. The Jamie Hoffmann’s of the baseball world spark our interest more then a veteran type player like Marcus Thames. But guys like Marcus Thames are in baseball for a reason…they have track records and for the most part you know what you’re going to get from them.

    • bexarama

      Damn prospect huggers!!!!

  • Ethan Stanislawski

    Kinda serendipitous that Thames is kinda filling the same role that Ruben Sierra provided the Yankees when Cashman traded Thames for him.

    • Pete

      I guess…

  • tonymo

    Thames was like the “dessert” section of the market, not the primary reason to go to the market.

    Granderson,Vasquez and Pavano’s bro’ on the DL circuit, Johnson were supposed to be from the “meat” section. The expensive meat section. The problem with Cashman is that he usually vastly overspends in the meat section, usually ending up with flank steak instead of NY strip steak!

    Only the federal government spends more and gets less for what is spent, than Cashman. I would love to see him have to play under the same rules as the rest of the GMs in the game.

    Can you even imagine what kind of team he would put on the field if he had “only” 50-70 million to spend!!!! His roster would only have 3 or 4 players!