Catching up to the Red Sox

Where do we go now?
Finding a role for Burnett in October
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Yankees officially beat out the Red Sox for the AL East title last night, but the two teams have been chasing each other for more than a decade now. It’s been a vicious cycle of free agent signings and trades and front office innovation, and Boston was winning the war in the mid-aughts. The Yankees have turned the table in recent years, and Brian Cashman spoke to Ken Rosenthal about how they’ve done it. He didn’t reveal too much, which shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve listened to the GM talk to the media for the last 13 years or so.

“[The Red Sox] were having a great deal of success with players of lesser ability,” said Cashman. “I studied what they were doing to some degree, adjusted accordingly, brought the Yankees up to speed, brought us into the 21st century.”

The Yankees have done a better job in the so-called scrap heap department in recent years, namely with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia this season. Does luck play a role? Absolutely. Luck is the residue of design though, and the Yankees definitely did their homework with these two beforehand, particularly Colon. Luis Ayala has been the best seventh man in the bullpen in baseball this season, and in recent years we’ve seen guys like Marcus Thames, Edwar Ramirez, and even Brian Bruney contribute positively to the Yankees cause. Not everyone on the roster needs to have a long-term role with the organization, filling the gaps with players capable of exceeding expectations has helped get the Yankees ahead of the Red Sox the last few years. Perhaps role players are the new market inefficiency.

“How they approached their pitching program was of interest to me,” added Cashman, explaining why the team hired Joe Kerrigan to be bullpen coach after the 2005 season. Kerrigan had been Boston’s pitching coach from 1997-2001. “I was throwing out much more [pitching] talent than the Red Sox had and they were having more success. It goes to execution, game plans, stuff like that.”

The Yankees still have not had a great deal of success turning their prospects into legitimate big league starting pitchers, though injuries have played a part in that to a certain degree. It’s also not an easy thing to do in the first place, and the win-now mentality isn’t exactly conducive to letting a young kid take his lumps either. If you don’t have instant success like Ivan Nova, it’s tough to keep a job in this town. They’re trying though, and I think they’ve been getting better at it in recent years, but they still have a way to go.

“Cash does it the right way,” said Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers, who spent last year as a special assistant with the Yankees. “The way he works the room in meetings, it works. If he wants the analytical view, he asks [the stat people] a question and they provide the information. They usually only speak when asked. With the Yankees, it’s not, ‘these guys and us.’ They’re all kind of one.”

That last line is pretty telling, because for the longest time, all we heard about was separation between the Tampa faction and the New York faction. Cashman basically dissolved the Tampa faction after (supposedly) getting autonomy before the 2006 season, merging everyone into one united front office. Of course he did some house cleaning as well, firing several of George Steinbrenner‘s long-time employees, including former scouting director Lin Garrett. Rosenthal explains that the Yankees are now “among the most aggressive teams on the statistical side, with more than 20 people working on analytics.”

Cashman’s contract is up after the season, and as I’ve said before, it wouldn’t surprise me if he left and it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed. I’d like to see him back, but that’s another discussion for another time. Rosenthal’s article and Cash’s comments give us a little look at how the team has adapted in recent years, and how the Yankees are learning from their biggest rival. I’m sure this is a two-way street too, chances are the Sox have been doing the same as well.

Where do we go now?
Finding a role for Burnett in October
  • lardin

    Give him credit, he realized some of the things the Yankee were doing were not working. He found an approach that worked and changed it. So he copied the Red Sox so what? In the last three years or so, Cashman has vastly outperformed Theo Epstein. In the last three years, The Yankees farm system has produced Gardner, Nunez, Roberston, Joba, Hughes, Noesi, and Cervelli. The farm system has allowed the Yankees to trade for Swisher and Granderson. He signed CC and Tex. Granted he also signed AJ Burntett. But Theo Epstein signed Lackey. Believe or not Burnett has actually outperformed Lackey. In the last three years, Bucholtz, Bard, and Lowrie have come out of the farm system and they used the farm to trade for Agon. At the same time Theo has developed a team with zero depth. Why does it seems that every player the yankees plug in for an injured star performs well? Look at Nunez and Chavez when Arod and Jeter got hurt. Look at Nova and Colon when Hughes got hurt. Look at Robertson when Joba got hurt.

    But to answer you question why no one copies Cashman, its because they Cant. Because in addition to developing a solid farm system, which includes one of the three best prospects in baseball, Cashman has payroll of 200 million dollars. So, in addition to bringing up young players who contribute, Cashman can spend money of the stars of the game or take on salary in a salary dump.

    • Dan

      Right, Cashman can use the farm to supplement guys like Sabathia, A-Rod, Jeter, Granderson… While other teams need to develop their own ace starters and all-star hitters. The money also allows him to take hits on bad contracts like Burnett without having an effect on his operating ability, while other teams would have to reduce spending until the contract is no longer a burden.

      • lardin

        You do realize that the 14/25 of the Yankees 25 man roster is from their farm system, right? Think about it, Theres 8 free agents on this team. Garcia and Colon and I think Chavez were signed as minor league FA’s. That leaves CC, AJ, Tex, Sorian and Jones regular FA’s. Soriano is good but hes not worth the money. AJ has been horrible, but hes been better than Lackey, yes i know thats a low threshold….

        • Dan

          Yes, I realize that, I was more making use of those players to make my point that Cashman doesn’t need the players in the farm to develop into stars because of the money he can spend to either help retain players like Jeter/A-Rod or bring over players like Granderson/Sabathia. The fact that he has turned around the farm where they are now producing all-star players has helped them tone down some of their spending.

          • Ted Nelson

            A lot of what you say about the Yankees is almost as true about the Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, LA teams, Chicago teams, etc. Those teams are (or could be with a winning season or two that increases revenues) only a Burnett and Soriano or Marte/Feliciano/Igawa behind the Yankees in payroll. They could pay CC, A-Rod, Granderson, Swisher, Gardner, Nova, Robertson, Colon, Garcia, Martin, Montero, Jones, Chavez, Cano, Joba, Hughes, Noesi, Ayala, Wade, Logan, Teixiera, Mo, even Jorge… and still have money left over to find cheaper alternatives to legacy signings like Jeter who the Yankees know they’re overpaying.
            I won’t even list all the dead-weight being absorbed by the Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Mets, Angels… Angels literally wanted to trade for Vernon Wells last off-season. Wanted it.

  • Double-J

    “Luck is the residue of design”

    It’s here Ray…it’s looking at me.

  • Sayid J.

    Very exciting to hear about the unified front office and the importance of analytics in the New Yankees FO. I don’t feel that Cashman ever gets the credit he deserves because of the payroll, but I think he’s done an excellent job of staying ahead of the curve and adopting other team’s best practices when applicable. Interesting piece Mike.

  • Rich in NJ

    With regard to developing home-grown starters, if you can endure the severe underperformances of Burnett and/or Vazquez, then I think you can do the same with a young starter with upside, at least if they can give you 5-6 IP per start. The young starter is likely to get better, while the declining veteran is likely to get worse, so there is more incentive to be more patient with the younger pitcher.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Very well said Rich if the vets earning a ton of cash get a long leash…the kids should be given the same rope. Unless they’re so bad they need more time in the minors.

  • Stuckey

    Yankees payroll means they should compete for the playoffs every year.

    They do.

    The ONE time they missed in 17 year was by a nose and due to a surprise logjam at the top of one division, which is historically very rare.

    Yankees payroll means they should complete for the division and best record in the league most years.

    They have.

    If people think the Yankees payroll should mean they have more rings than they’d do now, I’d invite you to actually watch the ML postseason some time.

    Brian Cashman has done the job he suppose to do and gotten out of the resources he has what is expected.

    That’s the very definition of doing a good job.

    • lardin

      In addition to spending money, Cashman has also tuurned around the farm system. Also Cashman and Giradi have shown a willingness to use young pitchers more so than in the past. Wether or not they get a fair shot is different story but Wang came up and pitched well and Nova has a legit shot at rookie of the year. Hughes pitched well last year. Robertson has pitched well this year.

      God help the rest of the league. The Yankees have a solid farm system and the money to get anyone they want.

      • Ted Nelson

        I think the problem in the recent past was that there were very few young starters worth giving a shot, more so than that the Yankees weren’t willing to give them a shot. I can’t really think of any examples where the Yankees were holding stud prospects who were MLB ready out of the rotation in favor of questionable veterans… most years it was just that they had a strong veteran rotation and no prospects really pushing the veterans. As soon as they had some prospects in the high minors who had they potential to start… they got them into the rotation (Wang, IPK, Hughes, Joba, Nova).

        • JimIsBored (Jim S)

          Yeah, one can argue all one wants about the treatment of the starters once they were in the majors(and the rotation), but what guys outside of the 5 Ted mentioned were held back?

          I think the much improved state of our minor league system has people believing it was always this good.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah… it’s not even like they were trading and losing (via rule 5 draft, free agency) young guys they didn’t give a chance who turned out to be good… even their top prospects like Claussen or Graman or whoever else burned out. Maybe they gave up on Claussen by trading him for Boone and got lucky he didn’t have any sustained MLB success, but maybe they made the right move by selling fairly high on a kid they correctly thought wouldn’t become much.

            Between Milton and the Big Three… Wang is about it that I can think of in terms of Yankees starting pitching prospects that had any success (unless you consider Contreras a prospect). Of course we can’t say for 100% certain those guys wouldn’t have succeeded as Yankees, but it’s pretty unfair to look at someone who failed and speculate he would have done better as a Yankee.

            • Stuckey

              ‘Maybe they gave up on Claussen by trading him for Boone and got lucky he didn’t have any sustained MLB success, but maybe they made the right move by selling fairly high on a kid they correctly thought wouldn’t become much.’


              The first half of that sentence is 10 kinds of wrong. And this is the ugly part of “harmless” trade evaluation – the HOPING young baseball players don’t perform well to make fans feel good about trades.

              There’s NOTHING “lucky” about Claussen not panning out.

              You make your evaluation at the time of the trade.

              Hoping for failure so as to goose your team’s chances of “winning” or justifying a trade is just unseemly.

              • JimIsBored (Jim S)

                I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what he said. If you’re coming at this from a Yankee fan’s standpoint, if you trade gold for junk, it sucks. That doesn’t mean you’re mad at the gold, or hate the gold, or wishing the gold ill, it just means that trades are easier to swallow if your team gets the better end(or, both teams come out happy).

                If anything, you’re mad at ownership and the GM for trading gold for junk.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Good way to put it.

                  • Stuckey

                    Just NOT the way you put it.

                    “Maybe they gave up on Claussen by trading him for Boone and got lucky he didn’t have any sustained MLB success”

                    I don’t see any way to interpret this as ANYTHING but the Yankees and their fans got fortunate – that fate smiled upon them – that Claussen never had a career, despite the fact whether he did or didn’t not have any success would never change the fact the trade was made.

                    It wouldn’t have changed a THING, just irrelevant perception.

                    I feel bad for the guy he didn’t pan out. Not “lucky” or fortunate.

                    I think that’s awfully small.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      You are misunderstanding what I said.

                      I made an either or statement. Either event one happened, or event two happened. We don’t know for sure which one.

                      Outcome: Yankees traded a fairly worthless pitcher who had one decent MLB season (1.5 fWAR career year, 2.4 fWAR career) for a decent starting 3B (2-3 fWAR most season before a “freak” basketball injury).

                      Event 1: The Yankees were wrong to give up on Claussen–they thought the kid was a good prospect who would probably make it as a front-end starter, but just gave him up for a short-term gain–but he didn’t work out. In that sense they look good for selling somewhat high on Claussen… but they look good via luck, not skill.

                      Event 2: The Yankees looked at Claussen and saw a guy who would never amount to much. They were right and it was scouting skill rather than luck that made them right.

                      All of this taken in the larger context of what I was taking about: the Yankees didn’t have many talented MLB-ready pitching prospects in their system for a good 5-10 year period. If a bunch of guys the Yankees literally gave up on (they didn’t stick with Lilly and Westbrook who became solid starters, but did get Weaver and Justice in good value trades… didn’t give up on them) had worked out it would look a lot worse. The original point was that the Yankees didn’t give young pitchers a chance in the past. Outside of a few guys they got pretty good trade value for (Westbrook, Lilly, Claussen)… who did they really give up on?

                      You are jumping in with a point that is only partially related and taking my comments out of context.

                      “that Claussen never had a career, despite the fact whether he did or didn’t not have any success would never change the fact the trade was made.”

                      It changes the results of the trade. The Yankees thought Boone was a better piece than Claussen. That Claussen never amounted to much means in hindsight they were right (even though Boone got hurt… because how the hell were they supposed to know that?). If they traded away a great prospect they thought was worse than Boone and were wrong about him being worse than Boone… that would be a mistake. Like moving Mike Lowell for Ed Yarnell. Yankees thought Lowell was worse than Brosius + Yarnell… and they were wrong.

                      “I feel bad for the guy he didn’t pan out. Not “lucky” or fortunate.”

                      I said absolutely nothing about how I feel for Brandon Claussen. That point has nothing to do with mine. Sure, for Claussen as an individual human being I feel bad. As a fan of the Yankees, I’m glad they used him to get Boone instead of trying him in the rotation so that he could take that spot from a better pitcher and ultimately fail, costing the team wins in the process.

                    • Stuckey

                      “You are misunderstanding what I said.”

                      I don’t think so. In both of your “events”, you describe how the Yankees “look” in hindsight.

                      Which I think is irrelevant in relation to the guy having a career.

                      “It changes the results of the trade.”

                      No, it does not. The results of the trade where the Yankees got. Boone and the Reds got Claussen.

                      What it changes is the PERCEPTION of the trade. Which I question the relevance of.

                      The results of the trade and what one thinks of the trade are not the same thing, and the latter is utterly worthless.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      No. See below. You do mistunderstand my point. I am only talking about hindsight as it relates to their judgement at the time.

                      It does change the results of the trade. If the Claussen the Yankees traded was a perennial Cy Young contender, that is a different trade (a horrible trade) than if the Claussen the Yankees traded was a never-will-be (a good trade).

                    • Stuckey

                      Ted, we’re dealing with apples and oranges here, and in order to understand my point, you have try to understand what “oranges” are in this case.

                      I don’t agree with what you describe as the “results” of the trade, but even accepting your internal logic of for sake of discussion, I still find your premise unseemly.

                      There is little doubt in my mind when players like Kennedy, Jackson, Claussen etc are traded, there are Yankee fans who either secretly or openly hope these players bust, so they can feel better about the public (and their personal) perception of the Yankees decision-makers, and the Yankees “winning the trade”.

                      It would be one thing if you were simply observing the ramifications, but you weren’t.

                      Saying the Yankees got “lucky” because Claussen didn’t go on to become a really good player is a manifestation of this. The desire for the Yankees decisions to always be the correct ones, with the careers of young players being the fodder.

                      We both know these fans exist. They want players not on the Yankees to fail, especially if they used to be young Yankees.

                      If you say you’re not among them fine, but then the “lucky” comment still makes no sense to me.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I have been telling you that we are talking apples and oranges this whole bloody time… You replied to MY comment. I made an apples comment, and you said “no, oranges.”

                      I understand what your oranges are. I agree. No one should actively root for a player to fail. I have said I agree… yet all you keep doing is shouting “ORANGES!”

                      Now please try to understand my apples. You are misunderstanding my point for the semantics of how I worded it. I have gone to great lengths to explain that what I meant and how you read it are not the same. I don’t care to keep explaining if you are unwilling to consider what I am saying.

                      If the Yankees had thought Brandon Claussen had a good chance to become a HOF pitcher (or even a very good starting pitcher) they would not have been wise to trade him for an average-ish 3B (2-3 fWAR per season) like Aaron Boone. The short-term gain from Boone would not be enough to justify trading the next Andy Pettitte or Tom Glavine or CC caliber lefty before his career even really started. Of course the Yankees knew he had a chance to be good, but unless they are stupid they decided that chance was not worth as much as Aaron Boone could provide short-term. I do not take the Yankees organization to be stupid. Therefore, I assume they made the trade decision feeling the net present value to the team of Claussen was less than that of Boone. It’s hard to say whether or not they were right since Boone got hurt in an incident it’s hard to say they could have predicted, but Claussen didn’t amount to much… so they weren’t all that wrong. If Claussen had become a successful MLB starting pitcher (1-3 starter on their team for the next 5-10 years, say), in hindsight it probably would have been wrong.

                    • Stuckey

                      I perfectly understand this “exercise of hindsight” you keep describing. I just think it’s effectively worthless beyond dialogue amongst a circle of fans who find entertainment value in worthlessness, which is your/their right.

                      Understand you also took exception to me expressing my opinion as to what value I think it has in another sub-thread.

                      I’m also not fully convinced of the detachment you claim from hoping for future results to fall in a way that favor (in hindsight) the Yankees judgement.

                      So maybe a simple question is in order: Other than a scenario where he changes leagues and/or a World Series face-off, do you have any personal feelings toward the future career of Ian Kennedy.

                      I wish him all the success in the world.


                    • Ted Nelson

                      I find rooting for or against someone to be worthless. It has no actual impact on their performance.

                      That’s your oranges. That’s not what I’m talking about. My apples are about **evaluating a front office.**

                      You are talking about rooting for or against someone. As I have said, I don’t wish ill to any player unless they are playing against the team I am rooting for. I have answered this question multiple times. I agree with your oranges. No need to root against individual players (unless they are Red Sox).

                      My apples is that in evaluating whether or not Brian Cashman made the right decision in trading Brandon Claussen for Aaron Boone, how their career turned out does come into play. There can often be mitigating circumstances like Boone getting hurt. However, if you trade away a HOF player before he gets to the big for a minor short-term upgrade… there’s a good chance you made a mistake. Same for lesser examples of the same.

                      You seem completely unwilling to even read my comments (you keep asking me about whether I wish IPK ill-will when I have answered multiple times), let alone discuss the issue. It appears to me that you were already sure I was wrong before you even read my explanation.

              • Ted Nelson

                You make your evaluation at the time of the trade, and then the results (doing your best to account for luck such as injuries) often dictate whether you were right or wrong. The Yankees didn’t think Claussen would go on to be as valuable as Boone to them… That doesn’t mean they were necessarily right. The Tigers didn’t think John Smoltz would be as valuable to them as Doyle Alexander…

                It is not hoping for failure. It’s seeing whether or not the actual results vindicated your decision.

                If Claussen had gone on to win 5 Cy Youngs in a HOF career, the Yankees would look like idiots for trading him for Aaron Boone… and rightly so.

                My original point, by the way, was that it would be a lot worse if the Yankees had a ton of young pitching talent they were not giving a chance to. If that were the case, you’d think at least one of those guys would go on to success outside of the Yankees’ org. I can’t think of one. Claussen was one example of that.

                • Stuckey

                  I can’t think of much of relative value that’s measured in hindsight. There is very few things you get mulligans on.

                  Again, we’re not about after-the-fact PERCEPTION, which is fine is you place value in that.

                  “If Claussen had gone on to win 5 Cy Youngs in a HOF career, the Yankees would look like idiots for trading him for Aaron Boone… and rightly so.”

                  So what? Which rings or division crowns do they have to give back for making a mistake?

                  Perhaps if you think something of value is determined by fans on message boards or in ESPN columns? Otherwise once a trade is MADE, what happens to the traded guy probably has LITTLE to absolutely NOTHING to do with the ACTUAL success of the team moving forward, UNLESS (once again) you give weight to speculative alternate realities where trades weren’t made, or you give weight to what people say and write about your team.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    I am only talking about hindsight insofar as it relates to proving or disproving your theory at the time.

                    Two teams or people see the same young 20, 21, 24 year old player with little or no MLB track record. They both assign a value of how good they think he will be over the next, say, 5 seasons if he remains healthy (assuming there are no health red flags already present… which of course would complicate the matter). These two values are different, let’s say significantly different. One team thinks he’ll be X good, and one team thinks he’ll be Y good. Without using that player’s results going forward, how do we assess which team was right? If the player did turn out to be X or Y good… that team was ultimately right.

                    • Stuckey

                      But (to put it in your terms) your premise boils all trades down to one scenario, that teams/GMs are solely motivated and act upon the X>Y, or X<Y scenario, and that's just narrow-minded.

                      There are a myriad of other factors other than this simple equation that goes into trades.

                      A team might KNOWINGLY give up what even they feel is equal, or even the greater level of talent, to address a more pressing, or immediate need.

                      You ignore the possibility that for both teams X and Y could be relatively equal, which is probably very common.

                      And you ignore the Z factor… they something happens subsequently in a player's career that is so unforeseen that it isn't fair to criticize or give credit to in hindsight.

                      I'm sure there were some people in the Yankees front office who would have traded Mariano Rivera anytime prior to 1996 to address another need.

                      Are they complete boobs because they didn't foresee him essentially inventing a pitch after the fact that transformed him into the greatest reliever of all-time?

                      Which brings us back full circle to my point. If fan want to partake in this exercise in speculative fiction, who "won" trades, constantly changing the conclusions on a slide rule as player's careers evolve, I'm fine with that.

                      I just reserve the right to express an opinion about it.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      My premise is that trades should be judged (like investments) based on net present value. If you want to get a short-term boost from a veteran that might bring in playoff revenue and win games now, there is often a trade-off in terms of giving up more long-term value. However, that doesn’t just mean you should give away all your prospects for minor short-term upgrades. There’s a balance.

                      I am not ignoring your “z factor” as my case study clearly proves… Aaron Boone did hurt himself in an unforeseeable accident.

                      “Are they complete boobs because they didn’t foresee him essentially inventing a pitch after the fact that transformed him into the greatest reliever of all-time?”

                      No. But he didn’t start throwing the cutter in 1996. He started in 1998, I believe. He was very, very successful before the cutter. So, yes they would have been wrong. People are often wrong. That doesn’t mean they should be shot. You hope the team you root for is right more than it is wrong, though.

                      My your logic no one should hold it against a portfolio manager if their fund continues to under-performed because they can pick whatever stocks they want for whatever reasons they want and how they perform is irrelevant. That’s not how it works. Your predictions are based on what you believe will happen, and the way to verify their validity is to look at the results. There will be plenty of noise, but the goal is to be right more than wrong… and as a GM not to be really, really wrong on a prospect. One bad trade can really ruin a team.

                      “If fan want to partake in this exercise in speculative fiction, who “won” trades, constantly changing the conclusions on a slide rule as player’s careers evolve, I’m fine with that.”

                      So it doesn’t matter who you trade for who? Cashman can trade whomever for whomever… and no fan should judge based on how those players turned out? If Montero goes on to be a HOF player and Cashman had traded him for a Jose Molina… it would be ok? “Hey Molina filled a need at back-up C, so it’s cool.” No. It’s about NPV of the guys being traded.

        • Rookie

          Absolutely, Ted. As a Yankee fan, it was painful to watch year after year as Boston and other teams invested aggressively in their farm systems and drafted immortals like Dave Parrish ahead of Adam Wainwright and Jon Poterson ahead of Huston Street.

          Thank goodness they’ve taken their prospect acquisition and development so much more seriously in recent years and valued them more appropriately — although, of course, the only reason they still have Cano is because they were turned down when he was offered in trade.

          And my respect for their prospect judgement reached new heights this year with the blossoming of Ian Kennedy (who I thought was probably an overdraft) and the success of some of their first-year players.

      • Dan

        I agree, and I think this is particularly where the Yankees and Red Sox have switched places over the last 6-7 years. The Yankees did not have to make as many (if any) in season moves because of not only the depth in their ML roster, but the depth that they had in the minors. In previous years an injury to A-Rod would have meant going out and trying to trade for an Aramis Ramirez, but because of players like Chavez, Nunez, and Laird they didn’t really even need to consider making a move. Same thing for any problems to their rotation, as they have basically had 6 starters all year and even when one was hurt there wasn’t much concern about needing to bring up any of their AAA arms (which included Millwood when there was concern of their depth) because many of them were thought to be able to handle a 4-5 spot. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have had to try to sign 4 or 5 different pitchers and rush a number of minor leaguers to try and fill holes in their rotation. The only minor leaguer they brought up this year that has had any success is Reddick and he has declined after a hot start.

        • B-Rando


  • whocarestom

    Cashman has been a brilliant GM and I’d be sad to lose him, but there are other fish in the sea. *cough* Andrew Friedman *cough*

    • Rich in NJ

      The issue with replacing Cash (which I oppose, btw), is autonomy. Would ownership/Levine be willing to hire another talented GM who is willing to oppose, publicly if necessary, when their power is usurped, in order to maintain/enhance their autonomy/reputation, and how many prospective GM would want to work under that limitation? Or do the owners/Levine prefer a YES-man (pun partially intended)? IDK.

      • whocarestom

        Ownership only cares about winning. I think they’re smart enough to have realized by now that they need a GM with a plan and the autonomy and authority to enact it (at least I hope). Some potential GMs might be scared away by the pressure, but just as many will be enticed by the payroll, facilities, and allure of working for the most successful team in baseball.

    • steve (different one)

      Friedman is good, but if he leaves, it will be for Houston

  • Jesse

    “Does luck play a role? Absolutely.”

    My God, I’m sick and tired of hearing that “luck” is the reason why the Yankees are where they’re at. First of all I hate hearing that “luck” is the reason that certain things happen for anything. And secondly, can you just give the credit to where it’s due? I mean, Larry Rothschild should get a very good chunk of the praise here. He’s one of the best pitching coaches in the game. Maybe things just happen for a reason, and Rothschild is that reason.

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      Luck is what we call the result of things happenings for so many reasons that we can’t isolate one.

      Flipping a coin isn’t luck, it’s the result of how hard you flip it, your technique, wind currents, table surface, how hard the coin is, etc. When the result becomes near-impossible to predict, that’s when it’s called luck.

      If you don’t believe that this season had unpredictable twists(the result of myriad variables affecting a million different things), then I don’t know what to tell you.

      Rothschild should get some credit, sure. But there were absolutely things that happened that no one could foresee.

      • Jesse

        Just because no one could foresee it doesn’t make it “luck”. EVERYTHING happens for a reason, and Rothschild plays a huge part in it.

        And with the flipping of the coin example, it’s all odds. It’s a 50/50 shot that it happens.

        • JimIsBored (Jim S)

          You’re splitting hairs here. If there’s something you can’t predict, then the next best thing we do is put odds on how likely that outcome is, adding “luck” to the equation.

          Do you understand that if you actually believe a coin is a true 50/50 chance, then you logically believe that the result is a product of luck?

          Did you read my explanation of why flipping a coin isn’t actually luck, but we call it that because it’s impossible to analyze all the variables that go into the result?

          I don’t feel like getting in to this with you. You thought it was a “lock” that the Sox were winning 6/7, in the face of plenty of counter-logic.

          • Jesse

            You’re failing to understand that regarding this situation (the Yankees success this season) is not due to luck. It’s due to Larry Rothschild playing a big role in the success of Garcia and Colon, the awesome bullpen work, and the overall offense among other things . Not luck, it happened for a reason. Good managing, good coaching, and execution on the field is the reason for the Yankees success this season.

            And I don’t understand how my prediction of the Red Sox winning 6/7 against Baltimore has anything to do with this, I can’t believe you’d actually remember something like that anyways. And for the record, Joe Pawlikowski said he’d be shocked if the Red Sox didn’t win 5/7 against the O’s in his podcast, so he’s pretty much implying that Boston was a lock for at least 5/7, so you shouldn’t be bitching about that at me anyways.

            And if you don’t feel like getting into this with me then don’t comment. It’s called an opinion, I have one just like everyone else. I respect Axisa’s opinion on how a lot of luck was involved into the season, but I have a different opinion so I expressed it.

            • JimIsBored (Jim S)

              No, I’m absolutely understanding how you’re looking at the situation. You’re not understanding what “luck” actually is(aka, the result of so many different things happening, that it’s not predictable).

              The 6/7 thing was relevant because I brought odds into the conversation, proving that even something that has 80/20 odds of happening is still not very likely to happen 6/7 times. And you brought up odds.

              • Jesse

                If that’s the case then EVERYTHING is the result of “luck” because it’s not predictable, and I’ve heard of the years that baseball is unpredictable. So you can attribute luck to EVERYTHING.

                Why is Ivan Nova having a very good year? Luck

                Why is Derek Jeter now a .290+ hitter after being a .270 hitter last year and a .260 hitter before his injury? Luck

                Why is David Robertson having a breakout year compared to the last couple years? Luck

                Why are Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon having great years? Luck.

                Nonsense. Ivan Nova is having a very good year because of hard work, good coaching, and execution on the field. Same with Jeter, Robertson, Garcia, and Colon, and you can say the say the same thing about nearly everyone else.

                • JimIsBored (Jim S)

                  Then yes, result of good or bad luck, the amount of luck varying depending on the situation(luck in comparison to prior knowledge).

                  What you’re missing is that in some situations we have a much better grasp on the variables than we do other times. That’s how we figure out the odds.

                  You choose to defend some weird, weird, points. I’m going to take my own advice and stop trying to explain things.

            • Ted Nelson

              Your guess on what role Larry Rothschild played is nothing more than speculation. Unless you know what advise he gave what pitchers and how they used it… you can’t even comment. He might have told them all the opposite of what they did, and they might have told him to shut up. I highly doubt that’s the case, but you are guessing about something you have no idea about and passing it off as fact.

              • Jesse

                If that was the case someone would be gone and probably everyone would know about it by now. We even knew when A.J Burnett and Dave Eiland were getting into arguments and Eiland ended up getting the ax. Use some common sense.

                • JimIsBored (Jim S)

                  This is such a boversimplification .

                • Ted Nelson

                  I don’t see why you are attacking everyone who disagrees with you as illogical and not using common sense.

                  I doubt Rothschild is a blabbering idiot who has nothing to do with his pitchers’ successes and failures. I was exaggeration to show with an extreme example how I think you are wrong.

                  My point is just that you don’t know how much of the credit and/or blame for things to assign to Rothschild, so why are you just handing him all the credit? At least if you were to give Long praise for Granderson’s resurgence there is some anecdotal evidence, though it would largely be the same thing.

        • Ted Nelson

          “It’s a 50/50 shot that it happens.”

          Yes, and what is it called whether one 50% chance or the other happens? Luck.

          Luck refers to things that are outside of your control. Unless you believe all human control their entire surroundings (which would be impossible, since there are other humans in their surroundings), I don’t get your point that luck doesn’t exist. Your own explanation of a coin flip clearly proves that it does.

          • Jesse

            No, it’s odds. 50/50 odds. Luck is something that happens for no reason.

            • JimIsBored (Jim S)

              Nothing happens for no reason(or in other words, due to no cause), if you believe in a deterministic world, which I do, to a point. Different topic, different day, different arena.

              But, things DO happen for so many different reasons that it’s impossible to predict. Humans don’t want to say “Oh, this happened because of so many different circumstances I couldn’t analyze properly beforehand”, so we say “Oh, I got lucky.”

              • Ted Nelson

                You can’t predict the future… you might have done your absolute best to analyze the circumstances beforehand, and shit might just have gone wrong. There was a cause or causes for it going wrong, but in terms of a GM’s decision making… it was just luck.

                • JimIsBored (Jim S)

                  I was simplifying, I didn’t really want to get into science and extended cause-effect chains.

                  Any shit that might have just gone wrong would be possible to predict with enough knowledge. Injuries, performance, etc. It just requires such a mind-boggingly huge amount of knowledge about a mind-bogglingly huge amount of things that for all human(and currently, all computer) purposes, it’s not predictable.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Not at all trying to disagree with your main points… just on the margins.

                    I don’t think every injury is knowable before hand, not matter how much research is done. How can you know Pudge is going to throw a low ball down to second that Joba has to duck for? Or that Dominick Hixon will come back through the DB for an under-thrown TD pass and tear his ACL? (Granted he had already torn it… so maybe not a perfect example… but guys have freak injuries.) If you know Pudge or Manning is going to make that throw, maybe you can predict an injury will result. Maybe. How do you know the throw is coming, though? Or that Aaron Boone will injure himself in a pick-up game? Or even that Crawford or Dunn will have the kind of season he is having injury free?

            • Ted Nelson

              And what do you call getting the odds of one or the other (heads or tails)? Luck.

              Before the fact the odds of something might be 50/50 (or 80/20 or 20/80 or whatever), but after the fact one thing happens or the other… that’s luck. Especially with a true 50/50 outcome where it could go either way, and even more so with something where odds are 20/80 against you and you still get the results you wanted.

              Examples of luck for a GM include whether or not a player gets injured: Cashman could have constructed the same exact team, but if Granderson, Sabathia, Cano, Robertson, and Mo all go down for the season in spring training on fluke accidents where they all tear their ACLs in warm-ups… that might be nothing more than bad luck. Player performance in general has a lot of luck involved for a GM. You might know this guy has good *odds* of succeeding, but you aren’t holding the bat. It’s out of your control.

              For a player… all they can really control are their own actions. If I throw a pitch I can entice the hitter to swing and miss/make poor contact… but I can’t even control whether they swing let alone if the ball falls two feet beyond a fielder’s range or two within a fielder’s range… or whether that fielder makes a clean play.

            • Ted Nelson

              “Luck is something that happens for no reason.”

              You might want to look up the definition of luck… that may honestly be the reason you don’t understand people’s references to “luck.”


              “Luck or fortuity is good fortune which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result.”


              the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities: With my luck I’ll probably get pneumonia.
              good fortune; advantage or success, considered as the result of chance: He had no luck finding work.
              a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person: She’s had nothing but bad luck all year.
              some object on which good fortune is supposed to depend: This rabbit’s foot is my luck.

              No where have I found a definition that describes luck as something that happens for no reason.

            • billbybob

              Not to get all seventh grade math on you, but odds and probability are different. Odds are the number of favorable outcomes compared to the number of unfavorable outcomes. Probability is the number of favorable outcomes compared to the total number of outcomes. The probability of a coin landing on heads is .5, the odds however are 1 to 1.

        • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

          Everything happens for a reason? I’d be happy to have that conversation over a half dozen Saphire+Tonics, but I’m not sure how people say that, and I’m not sure you can legally drink. Life is full of random events.

          • Jesse

            Yeah everything happens for a reason, if you actually think about things logically instead of not thinking and call everything “luck” you’d notice that.

            • Ted Nelson

              You have to do a lot more to prove this than just say “because I said so.”

              If you are Brian Cashman and you watch Granderson, Cano, A-Rod, Gardner, and Teixiera all tear an ACL in the same spring training game… what “reason” did that happen for? How is that anything more than luck in terms of your team construction?

            • JimIsBored (Jim S)

              Why aren’t you acknowledging what the actual definition of “luck” is, before you discredit it?

              And who here is “not thinking”? Why would you go there?

            • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

              If you are just defining Cause and Effect then fine, everything happens for a reason.

              If you are saying “everything that has ever happened to me has happened to me for a reason” – like invoking influence of a deity on who won a baseball game (I love Mo but I hate when he does this) – then I am icing the Gin.

              • Joey from jersey

                Might need something stronger than gin for this conversation.

      • Ted Nelson

        And if someone else is flipping that coin it is entirely luck from your perspective… you have no control at all over the result.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Well yeah if you ignore the negatives then yes someone is obviously the best in the league…

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      First of all I hate hearing that “luck” is the reason that certain things happen for anything.

      I’m guessing that you haven’t read The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

      • http://RAB Nuke LaDoosh

        Great book.

        • JimIsBored (Jim S)


    • gc

      Why did you conveniently skip the next sentence after the one you quoted? The one that more or less qualifies that quote by saying that in the Yankees’ case, “luck is the residue of design” and that they’ve done their homework. The whole point of the article is that the Yankees have indeed put themselves in a position where they are planning better and putting pieces more smartly in place so that even when they do go through some unlucky periods as all teams do, they are better equipped to survive them with what they have, instead of having to go elsewhere and either spend a lot of money, sacrifice players (including some farm talent), or both.

      Nobody is saying that THE reason the Yankees are where they are is due to luck. Simply that it does play a role, no matter how small. And it does.

      • Ted Nelson

        Great point.

    • pat

      Yes, it was lucky that Colon has thrown 156 innings @ a 3.46 FIP. Nobody on earth predicted that. Nobody.

      • Jesse

        I did. Eat that.

  • dutchsailor

    Not to mention what Kevin Long has done with Granderson and others. But Rothschild and Long are both part of the system that Cashman has developed. I sure hope Cashman stays.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Out of AA, Friedman, Cash or Eptein who would you choose?

    • Brian S.

      AA. He would get some team to take AJ Burnett and the rest of his salary.

      • JimIsBored (Jim S)

        That would be amazing. I’m not sure whether it would be more or less amazing than unloading Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, but damn.

    • Paulies Favorite Water Cooler

      Obviously all are excellent G.M.’s and all probably rank in the top 10 major league wide. As much as I love Cashman it would be interesting to see what he could do with a payroll the size of Tampa’s. Same thing with Epstein. Friedman has been as good or better than any other G.M. out there. Perhaps that is a byproduct of the scouts they have and being so miserable for so long that they acquired all those top draft picks, but you still need to choose the right player with those picks. And I would imagine the G.M. is going to have a very big say on who his scouts are and what players to draft, obviously. With that said I think Friedman may be the best of that bunch. But I do love that Cashman is trying to build up the system and develop his own players. Actually, not trying but succeeding. Gardner, Robertson, Cano, Nova, all products of player development. Even small bit players like Nunez and Cervelli have had many instances of success in the roles they’ve been placed in. And with Betances, Banuelos, Sanchez, Mason Williams, and of course our savior Jesus, we may have even more homegrown contibutors on the way. If all these prospects pan out, which granted is a huge if, it will have been our greatest influx of homegrown talent in a very, very long time. Even more so than the great teams of the late 90’s. If so, that credit has to go to Cashman, and probably Cashman alone.

  • IB6 UB9

    I hope Cashman stays and gets a bit more proactive in working the arbitration offer draft pick game (assuming it stays as is). That’s one area that Boston and now Toronto have really gotten an edge.

  • Januz

    I love how people love to use terms like “Luck” to describe the Yankees, which of course is highly inaccurate (Is it luck alone why they won more titles than any North American Professional Sports Team?). The reality of the matter is the Yankees have a desire, and perhaps more importantly, an attitude that they will win. On the other hand, the Cubs who refer to themselves as “Loveable Losers”, are the exact opposite of the Yankees, they expect to fail. This team has guys on it such as Jeter, CC, Rivera, Robertson, Rodriguez, Martin, Posada, Teixeira and Swisher who simply hate to lose (Just like the DiMaggio’s and O’Neill’s of the past hated losing). For example: I remember how unhappy Jeter was when the team failed to make the playoffs (And that was only ONE time in his career). Are there exceptions to that? Of course (Burnett who is always in denial over his bad performances is one example of this), but Jeter is far more reflective of being a Yankee than is Burnett.

    • Heisenberg

      “Let’s lose two”

      -Ernie Banks

  • TomH

    I’m all for the emphasis on “analytics” (“statisticians” wasn’t good enough?), as long as they have people who know how to RECOGNIZE baseball talent (or its absence), first-hand, by assessing actual-existing players.