Bad Process vs. Bad Results

Betances to miss a start due to blister
Feliciano has torn shoulder capsule
"You okay, Pedro?" "Si, si ... no." (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Baseball is a game of failure, whether you’re a hitter or a pitcher or a coach or a scout or a general manager. Everyone’s going to make mistakes, it’s part of life and it’s part of the game. Some make more than others, and if you’re the Yankees, you make more high-profile mistakes more than others. That’s what happens when you play in the deep end of the pool. The team got some bad news last night following Pedro Feliciano’s MRI, as the left-hander has (what we can infer is) significant damage in his throwing shoulder and may need surgery. Depending on the severity of the injury, he could miss the entire year and possibly even the start of the next season.

Unfortunately an injured lefty reliever is nothing new for the Yankees. The reason they signed Feliciano in the first place was because Damaso Marte is going to miss a significant chunk of the season after having shoulder surgery himself. Since signing his three-year, $12M contract before the 2009 season, Marte has thrown a total of 35 innings for New York, and that’s regular season plus playoffs. The team clearly hasn’t gotten its money’s worth.

When the previously ultra-durable Feliciano hit the disabled list to start the season, Brian Cashman lashed out at the lefty’s previous employer by saying flatly “he was abused.” That was a head-scratcher simply because any dunce with access to Baseball-Reference could tell you that Feliciano had been overworked by the Mets in recent years, but the real head-scratcher is why they still signed him if they knew he was abused. The “limited market” for left-handed relievers was used as an the excuse, but that doesn’t really pass the sniff test. There were no fewer than 13 big league caliber LOOGY’s on the free agent market this offseason, and six of them were still on the board when the Yankees pulled the trigger on Feliciano. Plus, they’re the Yankees, there’s no such thing as a limited market for them.

Failure in baseball comes in two forms: results failure and process failure. Results failure is when you do everything right and it still doesn’t work out, something we see every day. A batter squares a ball up but hits it right at a fielder. A pitcher buries the changeup down and away but the hitter just throws the bat head out and bloops a single the other way. The relief ace enters the game in the right spot but still blows the lead. That’s life, and it’s part of what makes baseball so great, the unpredictability.

Process failure is another matter entirely. That’s when the decisions leading up poor results were bad. Stacking the lineup with lefty batters against Randy Johnson. Leaving the LOOGY in to face an elite right-handed batter. Sacrifice bunting a runner up a base when he’s already in scoring position. That’s the kind of stuff that qualifies as a process failure, the straight up bad decisions. Hey, sometimes they do work it, but more often than not they don’t. Signing Feliciano to a market rate and multi-year deal when the team was obviously aware of the risk and there were viable alternatives on the market, that’s a process failure.

Let’s just ignore the multi-year contract aspect of it. We know those are generally bad ideas in the first place, and the Yankees have seen first hand over and over and over again. The whole idea that they knew Feliciano was at heightened risk of injury (remember, he’s already 34, he’s no spring chicken) and still gave him a market value contract just seems like a good old fashioned swing and a miss. Either they didn’t evaluate him properly, they didn’t evaluate the alternatives properly, or they got too caught up in the name value. Maybe it was all three.

Yes, swallowing Feliciano’s $4M salary is no big deal for the Yankees this year. That barely makes a dent in their bottom line. But being able to do that shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to take on added risk, not in the situation like this. He’s a lefty reliever, Feliciano’s impact would have been minimal even if he was perfectly healthy. Maybe they take on that risk for a front-end starter or a power bat, but a LOOGY? Now they’re stuck with no Feliciano, a budget missing $4M (more when you count the luxury tax), and a real limited market. All the free agents are gone and no one’s ready to make a trade yet, certainly not when it comes to left-handed relievers anyway.

Feliciano won’t be anything more than a footnote in the history of the 2011 Yankees, but his signing will hopefully serve as lesson like Marte, Kyle Farnsworth, and Steve Karsay apparently didn’t. Giving multi-year contracts to non-Mariano Rivera relievers is a terrible idea, especially when there are obvious physical concerns with the player. Luckily the Yankees can absorb the mistake and move on like nothing happened, but they definitely goofed on this one.

Betances to miss a start due to blister
Feliciano has torn shoulder capsule
  • SteveD

    great article

    • Eric Solomon

      Seriously. RAB takes it up yet another level.

  • Yank the Frank

    Who would have thought that we would have been better off with Jose Feliciano rather than Pedro. At least Jose could sing the National Anthem.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Jose able to “light fire”.

      Pedro unable to “put out fire”

  • Chris

    Who should Cashman have signed instead of Feliciano?

    • Adam B

      I was actually a big George Sherril fan, he’s always been death on lefties… Even though Torre misused him last year, I think he was the best bargain at 1 year and 1 mill.

      • It’sATarp

        yea i wanted Sherill as well and wasn’t too thrilled with the feliciano signing…but only b/c i thought Sherill was more for bang for the buck…i didn’t forsee felciano getting injured so quickly.

        • Adam B

          I agree, not that I was upset about the feliciano signing either, but I preffered sherril cuz I think he is every bit as good as Feliciano… I would have gone Sherril and Jenks over Feliciano and Soriano

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I also liked Sherrill as a lottery ticket signing, but both Sherrill and Feliciano are risky in different ways.

            Feliciano’s risk was that his arm was beat up from overuse; Sherrill’s risk was that he’d pitch like crap (like he did three of the past four years).

    • Mickey Scheister

      Not all are LOOGYs or even LHPs but they could have signed someone with less than 80+ appearances the past several years; a 34yo with 80+ appearances several years in a row is the recipe for disaster. I’d prefer just young guys that are not top prospects to fill the RP role, ala Coke, Robertson, someone for less than 4M per year that has yet to reach their prime, not past it. Cash should defer to someone else, moving foward, when it comes to deals for RP’er. Use that farm!

      Jeremy Affeldt
      Grant Balfour
      Joaquin Benoit
      Randy Choate
      Jose Contreras
      Jesse Crain
      Scott Downs
      Kelvim Escobar
      Randy Flores
      Frank Francisco
      Jason Frasor
      Brian Fuentes
      Mike Hampton
      Darren Oliver

      • Ted Nelson

        What is that list?

        • Mickey Scheister

          Like I said at the beginning, a list of some of the relief pitchers that were on the FA market. Not all were LOOGYS or LHPer but pitchers less worked and most of whom signed for comparable money and will all WAR more than Pedro (since he was overworked and is damaged). I’m on a cellphone, so I didn’t scrub all the names just a quick glance of RP’ers that could have been signed.

          IMHO, the LOOGY is one of the most over-rated people in the pen. A good reliever should be able to get out both right handed hitters and lefties.

          • Ted Nelson

            It’s not, though.

            Not all those guys were FAs. Frasor and Francisco took arb, Oliver wasn’t a FA.

            Not all are lefties.

            Not all of them have even been signed to date. Hampton.

            And several of them got more money than Feliciano, so they couldn’t have signed them to the same deal. Benoit (3/16.5), Downs (3/15), Crain (3/13), Fuentes (2/10.5).

            Right there I’ve eliminated just about you whole list…

            That he got hurt doesn’t prove that he was the wrong signing. Injuries happen. If the Yankees signed one of those guys and they got injured would that have been the wrong signing?

            “A good reliever should be able to get out both right handed hitters and lefties.”

            A guy who can get out both righties and lefties is usually called a starter and not a reliever.
            Statistically pitchers generally fair better against same sided batters. That your opinion is that’s not how it should be doesn’t change how it actually is.

            • Mickey Scheister

              I personally would have preferred Choate or Fuentes. A successful pen can be brought together without a mid thirties, overworked LOOGY, they’ll do just fine without him. Fuentes has shown he can also get RH and LH hitters out. I guess stamina and developing more than two pitches has little to do with a guy being in the pen or the rotation, but more getting out RH and LH.

              I’m sure Mo, Soriano, Robertson, Joba and too many to mention should all be starters because they’ve pitched an inning or more at a time without a LOOGY needed to get out the LH’er, but they’re all starters, right Ted?

              As I stated, 1.) I did not scrub the list, but I did say, 2) Not all lefties.

              Your so wise Ted and have all the answers, let’s all run a read Ted’s blog.

              It was a bad signing, period.

              • Ted Nelson

                “I guess stamina and developing more than two pitches has little to do with a guy being in the pen or the rotation”

                Without more than 2 pitches it’s hard to get out hitters of the opposite hand…

                “It was a bad signing, period.”

                Your opinion is that it was a bad signing… You want to “prove” this with the fact that he got hurt. Instead you suggest signing guys who weren’t FAs, righties, and guys who got considerably more money.

                The fact that you can name two guys you’d have rather signed doesn’t make it a bad signing. Fuentes got a bigger role in Oakland, and may not have come to NY to compete with Logan to be the 5th guy out of the pen. Perhaps Choate has a distaste for the Yankees after they traded him previously. That they didn’t sign those guys doesn’t prove they didn’t look into it.

                “I’m sure Mo, Soriano, Robertson, Joba and too many to mention should all be starters because they’ve pitched an inning or more at a time without a LOOGY needed”

                Robertson got absolutely creamed by lefties last season… that’s my point: you’re not basing any of this on fact, just opinion. Mo makes $15 mill per and Soriano makes $12 mill per… these are not average relievers, they’re the best. A lot of people do think Joba should be a starter… yes.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            IMHO, the LOOGY is one of the most over-rated people in the pen. A good reliever should be able to get out both right handed hitters and lefties.

            And the Yankees weren’t in the market for a good reliever, because between Mo, Joba, and Robertson (and eventually Soriano), the team already felt confident in its in-house stock of good relievers. Cashman was only looking for a LOOGY, because the bullpen master plan was to get multiple pitchers who specialize in pitching to (and retiring) left handed power batters in late inning pressure situations IN ADDITION TO the 3-5 good relievers that would already be in the bullpen.

            LOOGYs are overrated in general situations, but having a good LOOGY in the playoffs is a very significant weapon that is important and not overrated at all.

            • Mickey Scheister

              It was pre-Soriano but your point stands. Still 2/8 for an abused LOOGY just seemed like a bad deal, really abused or not.

              In the playoffs, absolutely, but with teams selling that fall out of contention or someone nearing their innings limit in AA/AAA could also be a viable option to fill a spot on a playoff roster.

              • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                And all of that goes into the calculation of the risk/reward that I think justifies Cashman’s choice to pursue Feliciano.

                2/8 for a LOOGY with an injury risk seems like a bad deal, but frankly, all the LOOGY candidates (Choate, Fuentes, Downs, Oliver, Mahay, etc.) were also bad deals in one way or another (draft pick compensation, injury risks, recent poor performance, higher contractual demands, etc.)

                What Feliciano offered that they collectively didn’t was:
                1.) A good, recent track record of excellent performance against LHB
                2.) No draft pick compensation
                3.) A two year deal as opposed to a three year deal

                Cashman took the risk. And he took it knowing that if it blew up, he could probably get many of those same other options, the Choates and Fuenteses and Mahays midseason on the trade market for a fairly low cost in minor league depth.

                Shoot for the moon, knowing that many of your less ambitious alternatives will still be there later if your moonshot fails.

    • Thomas

      RAB was hoping for Randy Choate, considering his past performance and expected contract.

  • Ross in Jersey

    There were no fewer than 13 big league caliber LOOGY’s on the free agent market this offseason, and six of them were still on the board when the Yankees pulled the trigger on Feliciano.

    To be fair, even if I could go back in time I wouldn’t have wanted the Yanks to sign guys like Okajima, Mahay, or Fuentes. Letting cheaper-but-still-effective guys like Choate go was a mistake though.

    I said it right when they signed Pedro – signing any reliever to a multi-year deal comes with a ton of risk. Even if the Yankees can afford to do it, they should really do their homework before pulling the trigger. The wasted cash doesn’t really bug me, what bothers me the most is that this really came off like a hasty “oh man we need a strong LOOGY to stifle the Red Sox lefties” semi-panic move.

    • whozat

      I wonder if Soriano wasn’t the first multi-year reliever deal handed out this past offseason over Cashman’s objections.

      • Nigel Bangs

        Precisely what I was thinking.

    • Justin

      Exactly Cashman made a bad decision probably because of panic and thats what I take out of it.

      • Whozat

        That’s exactly the opposite of what I was saying. I meant that I wonder if ownership pushed this signing despite cashman’s objections. Panicing and signing multi year reliever deals is something he hasn’t done in a couple years.

        • Ted Nelson

          A two year deal is not necessarily a panic move… Did every team that signed Takahashi, Ohman, Choate, Downs, Fuentes, Balfour, Putz, Jenks, Guerrier, Gregg, Crain, Carrasco, and Benoit also panic? I guess a lot of teams were panicked this offseason…

  • Mister Delaware

    I always find it funny how most of us 100% agree that big money, long term deals on relievers are bad ideas yet would all argue that “of course Rivera is the exception”. I wonder what would happen if we had a 26 year old Rivera-esque closer about to hit the open market.

    • whozat

      After his age 26 season? He’d been a reliever for about a year and a half. He wouldn’t have commanded much money, or a multi-year deal. In fact, someone would have to have non-tendered him during his pre-arbitration years for that to happen. Which wouldn’t happen. So…

      • Mister Delaware

        I’m not saying career clone (at which point we would be about a year out from nearly trading him for whoever the modern day Felix Fermin is), I’m saying if we had a young, very effective, very in demand reliever who was viewed as the Rivera successor. Think a pending free agent Yankee version of present Joakim Soria.

        • KeithK

          It would still be a risky proposition to sign your prospective reliever. Relievers are volatile as a rule. We know that Rivera is a rare exception to the rule because we’ve seen it for so many years. But I think it’s hard to project that quality.

          Even knowing how great Rivera is the Yankees have always been reluctant to give him a long term contract. Has he gotten a deal longer than three years? Mortal relievers should be treated with at least as much skepticism.

          • Mister Delaware

            His first deal at 32 (I think) was for 4 years. Using him as the hypothetical is tough because he blossomed late and never seemed interested in really testing the market. I guess I just find it weird that, if we were to homegrow the next Mariano Rivera, at some point most of this board would be against his retention.

            • Ted Nelson

              I think that’s a good point. We don’t have to look for the next as an example… Say it’s Mariano’s first time he’s eligible for an extension or FA… Most of the board would just let him go even if he wanted a 2 year deal, since they would have little proof of his longevity at that point.

              Mo is the best, but there have been plenty of other relievers who were not as good for as long, but were still good for a long time.

          • Ted Nelson

            The point is, though, that if you just take the attitude of never signing any reliever to a multi-year deal there is a downside. There is a downside to signing them to multi-year deals since they are risky, but there is also a downside to never signing a reliever to a multi-year deal in that you’re just about never going to sign a good reliever. You can develop guys, but it’s hard to count on any system to constantly spit out high quality relievers. You’re going to end up trading assets for relievers and signing the riskier guys who no one wants to sign… you’ll find some gems, but your average return will be lower. Every team that signs a reliever to a multi-year deal didn’t fail… Mike is dead wrong there. They took a calculated risk. Risk is a part of life in general and the GM job specifically… to act like the best decision is always to just eliminate the downside risk of a multi-year deal (even 2 seasons) to a reliever is ridiculous. Especially for a team with the financial might of the Yankees.

            Signing position players and starters also isn’t without risk, and if you had to make a definitive rule you’d probably say never sign a guy to a 6+ year contract… However, you’d miss out on almost all the top players in the game if you made this rule. Your own FAs would walk and you wouldn’t sign any top ones. Same is true for relievers, just on a shorter time frame and with less value at stake. Some teams can’t afford to make a 6, 7 year mistake on a player or a 3 year mistake on a reliever… the Yankees aren’t one of those teams.

            Sure, player development is the most efficient way to build a team. When you’re player development isn’t filling your roster with 100 win talent, though, do you just fold up your bags and lose a bunch of games even though you have the money to spend?

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              There is a downside to signing them to multi-year deals since they are risky, but there is also a downside to never signing a reliever to a multi-year deal in that you’re just about never going to sign a good reliever.

              Repeated for emphasis.

            • Ted Nelson

              And in developing home-grown late innings relievers, you’re going to be using some starting prospects in relief in all likelihood… the same people on this board hate both using starting prospects in relief and signing relievers to multi-year deals… in practice you’re generally going to have to do one or the other to have a good pen. Heck, even the Devil Rays and Marlins sign relievers to multi-year deals.

              • Mister Delaware

                I like the idea of using starting prospects in relief, just not relying on them. Like I don’t ever want to see Banuelos ramping up three different times in a single game or pitching back to backs. Strictly long men and/or on a schedule.

                • Ted Nelson

                  My point is really just that you need to get good relievers somewhere. If you have a need for back-end bullpen help your “relief prospects” can’t fill and you’re not willing to rely on your better MLB ready-ish prospects (or just don’t have any) or to give any FA even a 2 year deal… you’re going to be shelling out prospects in trades (it’s easy enough to find spare BP parts via trades, but reliable top shelf talent often requires a premium in trades). Or you’re going to be trying band-aid options. Sure, you might find some solutions. You might also go through multiple options and lose games you could have won by not being cheap up-front. Or you might never find a good solution. You might find a guy who looks good for a few innings, but just can’t get good hitters out consistently over a larger sample… and that could kill you in the playoffs.

  • Howie

    At least LOOGYs shouldn’t cost too much on the trade market come July should the need for one be there. If Logan fails, that makes the Feliciano signing that much worse.

    • Ross in Jersey

      What makes you say this? Good lefty relievers don’t come cheap – look how much the Yankees paid for Marte in both dollars and prospects. The Dodgers aren’t just going to hand over Hong-Chih Kuo for a D prospect.

      The Yankees need for a LOOGY isn’t exactly desperate either. They already have 3 relivers – Robertson, Soriano, and Mariano – who have held LHB to a sub-.700 OPS in their careers.

      • Howie

        The Yankees also got Nady in that deal while he was peaking. In terms of free agent contracts, they can be overpriced, but at the deadline I tend to believe they move easily enough. The Angels only got a PTBNL from the Twins for Fuentes last year.

        • Ted Nelson

          Agreed… Relief pitching is usually pretty cheap to acquire in-season. Especially because the market also includes failed starting pitchers.

          “The Dodgers aren’t just going to hand over Hong-Chih Kuo for a D prospect.”

          The Yankees don’t need a top reliever, as you yourself point out. They just need someone who can come into the “middle innings” of a game and get out one lefty fairly consistently… or two with a walk in between.

          • Ross in Jersey

            They just need someone who can come into the “middle innings” of a game and get out one lefty fairly consistently… or two with a walk in between.

            Then they don’t need anyone at all, because they have at least 2 relievers who can already do this.

            • Ted Nelson

              Perhaps… we’ll have to see. Logan’s always been solid-ish against lefties, but not as good as 2nd half 2010. They could certainly look for an upgrade over Logan. Robertson got hit around by lefties last season. Plus, injuries happen.

              My point wasn’t to emphasize the word “need,” it was that *if* they are looking for a reliever it’s probably not going to be Hong-Chih Kuo. They didn’t need Kerry Wood last season, but they got him at a low prospect cost and it worked out beautifully.

              • Ross in Jersey

                Logan was really solid after May, who knows if he’s going to repeat that but it’s reason enough to not give up on him after a few appearances.

                D-Rob held lefties to a .759 OPS against lefties last year, not great (too many walks mainly) but pretty solid for a RHRP.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            That. And since we’re not also currently looking for a LOOGY + position player package deal, the trade cost for a Joe Biemel/Ron Mahay kind of guy will be strictly non-prospects.

  • Cuso

    I honestly can’t believe I’m about to say this:

    It’s unfair to lump Farnsworth in with the other three.

    At least he actually TOOK the mound for us.

    • Howie

      True. But we would’ve been better off if he didn’t.

    • Mickey Scheister

      He woulda been better off on the DL, he gave up over 30 homers from 06-08 with a WHIP around 1.40 and 80 walks all in approximately 180 IP (no small sample size) with an ERA of around 4.50. I hated seeing him take the hill. This from a relief pitcher who’s just expected to get out 1-3 guys per appearance. Pretty sure most AAAA guys could give comparable results.

      • Jared

        Yeah but having Farnsworth resulted in one of my alltime favorite Michael Kay-isms.

        “Farnsworth is a really great pitcher. Anyone will tell you that. His one and only real weakness is he just can’t throw strikes.”

        • MannyGeee

          that is awesome…

  • AJ

    I’d say the Marte signing was worth the money. Yes, he only threw 35 innings, but those innings were mostly high leverage playoff innings versus the Twins, Angles, and Phillies. The sunk cost of Marte was better than alot of the wasted money on Igawa, and countless others. Now, mind you it wasn’t efficient use of millions of dollars, but the money spent directly resulted in a World Series Title.

    As for Feliciano? What can you do? Surely you knew his usage with the Mets, and took a gamble.

    I agree with others who have voiced that relievers from AAA are just as likely to work out as high priced signings. Relief pitching is volatile.

    • Ted Nelson

      You have to have the arms in AAA to make that work, though… AAA relievers are generally AAAA guys who do not have the talent to be *just as likely* to work out as high priced signings. Relief pitching is volatile, not random chaos.

    • bakekrukow412

      If you ever doubt Marte, just think of him striking out Howard in the WS.

      • A-Rod’s Wingman

        “When healthy he’s one of the best relievers in baseball, and if you don’t believe me just ask Ryan Howard”

  • Ted Nelson

    Relievers are more volatile and less valuable… that’s why a Feliciano gets 2 year 8 mill, while Burnett gets 5 year 82 mill or Beltre gets 6 year 96 mill. The market is already accounting for their relative value and volatility.

    It’s not true that it’s never a good move to sign a reliever to a two-year deal, that it never works out. It’s your preference, not a fact. You can point out that it’s a risky proposition and express your opinion that teams shouldn’t do it without incorrectly stating as fact that it’s a bad idea 99% of the time (with everyone except Mo… who of course might get injured in the next 2 years just like everyone else) and never works out.

    Every single FA you sign comes with a degree of risk. As I said above, relievers’ market price already takes the risk into account. It’s why they aren’t getting 5, 6, 7 year deals like Crawford or Beltre or even Burnett and Lackey. There wasn’t a whole lot the Yankees could have done to get a reliable LOOGY for much less than they paid Feliciano. The only guys as reliable or more got as much or more… Downs got 3 yrs $15 mill, Takahashi got 2/8, Rhodes got 1/4.1, Fuentes got 2/10.5… I could see going with two lesser guys and hoping one works out, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the “right” process compared to the security of a proven performer. Either one can fail. If neither of the two lesser guys worked out… there would be articles written about how the Yankees cheaped out dropping some pocket change on a reliable LOOGY.
    The only guys you’re upset about, maybe, are Ohman, Chaote, Tallet, Sherrill, Romero, Okajima, Howell… it’s more a 2-3 mill annual difference. 1-1.5% of their budget… If they liked Feliciano better, it’s not correct to state as fact that it was “wrong” to pay a premium for him. Perhaps he was the wrong guy, but then make your article about who the right guys were and why they were right. It’s easy to throw stones at the org.’s every move without even suggesting alternatives…

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I gotta agree with Ted on this one. This axiom that you shouldn’t sign relievers to multiyear deals isn’t necessarily a valid axiom.

      You can say that multiyear deals for relievers often don’t work out well, but that doesn’t mean it’s something teams shouldn’t do at all. Like anything else, it’s subject to a risk/reward evaluation.

      And don’t forget that a team like the Yankees can (and repeatedly does) take on more risk in exchange for a bigger reward. There’s more of a chance that a 2/8M deal for Feliciano will blow up in your face than a 1/800k deal for Randy Choate, but Feliciano also has more upside of being a better postseason weapon against LHB power (and a greater chance of reaching that upside as well).

      Choate would be more of a duplication of Logan (which is still a good thing, mind you). Feliciano was a gamble to get something BETTER than just a duplication of Logan.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Agree with both of you, and I’ll add one thought I’ve had when I’ve seen these discussions of the Feliciano situation… The multi-year deal isn’t the problem here. It’s not like Feliciano was good for a season and a half and then fell apart and we all were left slapping our foreheads and cursing the fact that the contract was long enough that the player’s volatility came into play. This guy got injured during Spring Training of year 1 of the contract. And on top of that, it’s a 2-year deal. I mean, it’s not like the Yanks committed a long-term contract to this guy.

        Giving out the occasional multi-year deal to a reliever is a risk the Yankees should be taking. If they didn’t, their bullpen would probably suffer.

        (This is to say nothing of whether it was wise to sign a guy at Feliciano’s age with the wear and tear he’d suffered from overuse, that’s another conversation altogether. Just a general comment about signing relievers to multi-year contracts.)

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


          The problem isn’t giving multiyear deals to relievers, it’s giving multiyear deals to BAD relievers based on one single year of success.

          There’s a vast difference between giving multiyear deals to Marte/Feliciano and giving multiyear deals to David Riske, Danys Baez, or Scott Schoenweis.

          The first two guys got injured; it’s a risk for all pitchers. The latter three sucked and snookered some team into paying them like there were good; even if they stayed healthy it was a bad investment.

          Good but injury-prone relievers can merit a multiyear commitment; bad relievers (healthy or otherwise) should only get one year deals since they can start sucking again at any moment.

          • Ted Nelson

            Agreed. It’s also just the nature of the relief pitching FA market… There are only so many very good relievers, since better pitchers are generally starters. Teams aren’t necessarily going to let their consistently successful “closer” hit FA (and if they do he’s looking for another “closer” job and closer pay). So the quality of relief FAs is often not that high. Plus they’re often older guys if they’re FAs.

            If a guy like Farnsworth or Karsay was largely volatile in the seasons before you signed him, it’s risky to just assume he’s put it all together suddenly and permanently. Some players are late bloomers, but timing that with a guy who has been volatile previously and has a limited recent record of success is tough. I can understand what they saw in Farnsworth or Karsay, but when you sign a guy who has always been good when healthy it’s more reasonable to expect that he will continue to be good when healthy. Soriano’s always been good when healthy and Feliciano had been consistent for a decent stretch… so I didn’t have a real problem with paying a premium for that performance… though both were deals of questionable value. The Yankees can take those calculated risks, and if they backfire still be in a good spot to take another risk.

            Look at DHs… sort of the relief pitchers of position players maybe. You’ve got a lot of guys making less money who could have good seasons–Vlad, Manny (as of the offseason), Damon, Thames, Berkman, Nick Johnson, ANdruw Jones, etc–but maybe you just shell out for the Adam Dunn model because you expect more in return. Plus, if you spend 8 mill on Vlad and he’s done you have to go spend X mill on someone else at the deadline and maybe you could have just about paid Dunn for the same money.

            As tommie keeps pointing out, it’s ultimately about the risk/reward. And there’s also not necessarily a right or wrong decision without the benefit of hindsight. Going for Manny over Dunn would have been the Choate over Feliciano move, and the Rays got zilch for it just like the Yankees may from Pedro.

  • nsalem

    Judging a GM on 1 move over the course of a season is about as fair as judging a player on one game. A GM has to make hundreds decisions over the course of a season. inevitably some will go bust and a GM should be evaluated on his full body of work. Though LOOGYs do only get very few outs their input can determine the balance of power as the Heredia era all too well illustrates. Cashman took a chance it didn’t work out and it iooks like it’s time to move on. Hopefully Logan will suffice the need for a quality LOOGY may not rear it’s head until October. We have a couple of months to solve this issue.

  • A-Rod’s Wingman

    I mean, they already lost the pick to Soriano, why not just sign Downs? Obviously Randy Choate was who I wanted but still…you already lost the pick what’s another second rounder isn’t going to mean much. Considering how good Downs is and he could probably add an extra win or two over a guy like Boone Logan, I would have done that instead.

    However, if an organization is going to make the same mistake over and over again I’d rather it be on guys who don’t have a whole lot of impact.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I mean, they already lost the pick to Soriano, why not just sign Downs?

      Feliciano was signed (or, more specifically, agreed to contractual parameters) December 17th. That’s AFTER Downs signed with the Angels (December 10) but BEFORE Soriano signed (January 13th).

      So, when we signed Feliciano, Downs was already off the table, and Soriano was probably not yet agreed to by the organization. I’m sure that while the Feliciano negotiation was happening, Cashman was still adamantly trying to convince Levine et. al. not to part with the pick/money for Soriano.

      • A-Rod’s Wingman

        Ahh yes, that’s correct. Given that they already lost the pick anyways, I guess I would have rather had Downs, but shit happens.

      • MannyGeee

        So, when we signed Feliciano, Downs was already off the table, and Soriano was probably not yet agreed to by the organization.

        FWIW, I still think this is the case….


    Thank you Mike for writing this article. I was getting tired of hearing all the excuses for Cashman on this deal…

  • jorge brosada

    This move, along with not keeping Aceves…very frustrating

    • Rick in Boston

      I’m not sure if you can criticize the Yankees for not bringing Aceves back right now. Let’s see how long he lasts – he is coming off a season lost to a back injury. Back injuries don’t just go away, after all.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Furthermore, Aceves might not even have had a spot on this team. The only bullpen slot he would have taken is the Luis Ayala/Hector Noesi slot, which only came available thanks to Feliciano’s injury.

        If Aceves was retained over the winter and Feliciano didn’t get injured, Aceves might have been an end-of-camp DFA.

        • Rick in Boston

          I guess he would’ve been optioned out (did he have options left?). But the point still stands – he was probably the odd-man out, unless he outpitched Colon and Garcia in camp.

        • Mike Axisa

          Aceves has two options left, they could have just stuck him in the minors.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Ah, my bad. For some reason I was thinking he was out of options.


            (pours Pinstripe DFA IPA)

        • MannyGeee

          or maybe he competes with Garcia/Colon/Mitre for #5 starter…

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            With the team spooked about his back issues, I bet he never sniffs the 5th starter competition. Strictly a reliever.

  • J. Scott

    I liked the Feliciano signing because, among other things, he’d proven himself in the “New York Environment” which none of the other available LOOGYs had done. That counts for a lot to me. And, apparently, to Cashman as well, since he mentioned it a number of times after the signing.
    Unfortunately, Pedro appears to have arrived DOA.

  • Mike c

    Oh well, at least we’ll have banuelos to strike out lefties in the fall

  • Greg

    I agree that Marte was worth the money. He was the middle relief MVP of that postseason

  • wilcymoore27

    Good article & good analysis, Mike.

  • CapitalT

    I’m a Cashman fan but the “abuse” and tone when he said it is a little much. Torre handed out his share of abuse to set up men and JoeyG is doing the same to Robertson. Has he warmed up and or pitched in every game so far?