Cashman discusses decision to pass on Johan Santana


It’s a (very) old story by now, but I thought this was interesting. Brian Cashman brought up the Yankees’ decision to pass on Johan Santana prior to the 2008 season while talking to Andy McCullough about the team’s blend of stats and scouts recently. “We had data that indicated that this was a high-risk player going forward, health-wise,” said the GM, citing the left-hander’s velocity and slider usage in particular. “I fought hard … It was a public bloodbath because Hank Steinbrenner was very adamant about wanting him. But we did the right thing. We stood down. We listened to the information we had at hand, and trusted it. And were rewarded for doing so.”

As you may remember, the asking price for the then-29-year-old Santana involved some combination of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Mitch Hilligoss, and others. That doesn’t include the nine-figure contract extension he would have required. The Yankees passed and instead decided to wait a year and use the money to sign CC Sabathia, a very risky decision — Sabathia could have easily signed an extension and skipped free agency — that has worked out beautifully. Santana, now 34, is likely to start the season on the DL with continued shoulder woes and has started just 109 games during his five years with the Mets due to various injury problems, most notably a torn shoulder capsule.

Categories : Asides


  1. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I look forward to how this will be turned into “Cashman failed.”

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Clearly he did. The asking price was so low as Wang had injury issues, Hughes has been inconsistent, Melky 1.0 hasn’t done anything that wasn’t PED induced. They could have had Santana & CC now and the Yankees training staff would have kept Johan healthy!

  2. In a parallel universe where Cashman traded for Johan, who in turn took his conditioning more seriously , the Yankees have won 3 out of the last 4 world series with a two headed monster of CC and Johan. While Joba Chamberlain has won two CY Young awards in 2011 and 2012 and nearly topped the Yankees in the ALCS with Phil Hughes becoming the most dominant closer in franchise history for the Twins.

    Please feel free to continue this ridiculous narrative.

  3. Who hates bunts more? Axisa or Earl Weaver? says:

    This also says a lot about Hank. He’s his dad’s son. The Alex contract and the get me Johan bluster. I wonder how many other things before Hal pushed him to the side.

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Hal takes the same amount of blame for A-rod as Hank does. He was the money guy then and now

  4. EndlessJose says:

    This is the same GM who was looking at Javier Vazquez this offseason for a third time and was gonna bring back Carl Pavano back again two years ago.

    Hughes,Wang and Melky have done less than what Santana did the past 5 years.So how is Cashman a smart?Should we think his great.Santana would have won a CY Young in 2009 if not for the Mets horrible bullpen.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      2009. I guess that would have meant a bigger trophy or something.

      You try to pass judgement on what the GM looks at, but doesn’t do, but here you are, commenting on a Yankee blog while he’s got a personal wheelchair assistant.

    • Adam Shprintzen says:

      But imaginary Johan Santana is blocking the prospects!

    • MannyGeee says:

      “Hughes,Wang and Melky have done less than what Santana did the past 5 years.So how is Cashman a smart?”

      Have Hughes, Wang & Melky done $100M less than Johan? Because that is how Cashman is a smart.

  5. Hoss says:

    Gee, I guess Brian didn’t have his magic “high injury risk detector” when he signed Carl Pavano or traded for Michael Pineda.

    Why is this article even being written? It is ancient history, and if it is meant to deflect criticism for the ill-advised Wells trade, it won’t work.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      You’re an idiot.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      The article was published before the Wells trade.

      • Hoss says:

        It was put up on RAB (again) today.

        • jsbrendog says:

          so. what?

          • Hoss says:

            Why do we need to see a feature on a Cashman “success”? How about a story on when Cashman offered the Rangers either Joaquin Arias or Robinson Cano as compensation for A-Rod? Why isn’t that a failure? Isn’t it just as likely that if Santana came to the Yankees he would have been a terrific success? You can’t predict what would have happened in either case.

            • jsbrendog says:

              then don’t read it or don’t comment on it or go somewhere else. problem solved. im sure your criticism is filed in the circular bin by mike, and rightfully so

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              As witness in the “I can’t stand the negativity at RAB recently”, I submit Hoss.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Actually, the point here, which I understand eludes you, is that they actually COULD predict some degenerative issue with Santana.

              I’m not even paying the Cano stuff any credence.

              It must be difficult to try to come off as this stupid on the internet.

  6. steves says:

    Cashman is fearless or has a death wish when it comes to his job. Insulting Hank publically and gratuitously is just plain dumb but it continues Cashman’s recent history of some very questionable public statements about players (Joba for example and the garbage dumping stuff). Even if the Steinbrenners think Cashman is the best GM they could ever have I can’t believe they will tolerate public personal insults to themselves or to their billion dollar asset much longer.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I assume they told you this personally when they invited you over for some tea and a slice of theyhavenofuckingcluewhoyouarenordotheycare pie.

      • steves says:

        Well I have no fucking clue who you are but I bet if you publically stated how wrong the owner of the business you work for was and ran down the product publically I would bet your boss wouldn’t tolerate that very well. Don’t need to drink tea with you or your boss to figure that one out.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          And that, in no way, is what was described here.

        • jsbrendog says:

          hank is not his boss. hal is. and my money is this is something hal and cashman have discussed together and come on, it is freaking obvious to anyone anyway

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          ….but I’ll indulge you here.

          I actually work for an organization in which talking to the press, at all, without prior consent would result in my termination, even if what I was saying is “this is the greatest place in the world to work for.”

          I also do not work for the New York Yankees.

          I’d say that, in this setting, where talking to the press goes with the territory every day, that the sort of respectful discussion of past issues between management figures that we’re reading about here is a sign of a incredibly HEALTHY relationship.

        • Hoss says:

          Just keep your hands and feet away from his mouth and you’ll be fine.

    • Guns says:

      I really don’t see how stating that you once had a dissenting opinion qualifies as a puplic insult.

      He’s merely stating a fact. I don’t detect any criticism in what he said.

  7. jsbrendog says:

    only yankee fans can take this opportunity to make obnoxious comments.

  8. Vern Sneaker says:

    We are high, we are far, we are gone!

  9. Leftylarry says:

    when you look at the the Yankees payroll, lack of success since he’s been there,his trades, current roster, how can anyone still view Cashman as anything other than a good interview but mediocre at best GM.
    I mean the evidence is in the lack of CHampionships and poor current aged roster.
    When Yankees got old quickly in 1965 they were coming off of an unprecedented run, Cashman has had mostly disappointment and the roster feels like 1965.
    I went back and looked at ALL of his trades and frankly his decisions have been mostly bad ones but even a blind squirrel finds an acorn and he has made a few good ones, not enough considering his vast war chest for so many years.
    He’s likeable and say’s all the right things but just hasn’t been a very good GM.
    If he were in a small market with less money to throw around he’s fired long ago.
    With 200 million, people posting here could have done as good a job or better.

    • jsbrendog says:

      lack of championships?

      they fucking won 4 yrs ago. and have only missed the playoffs once in fucking damn near 20 yrs. you’ve got to be kidding me.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        1965. Usually the kiss of commenter death, although Larry did mention 1965 in an intelligent comment today.

        5 championships during your tenure doesn’t get you as much as it used to.

      • Jamey says:

        You have to admit he’s right about the lack of championships in the last 4 years. Almost every other team in baseball has won them in that time frame. I’m pretty sure Texas has won 3 since January.

    • Chicago Cubs says:

      Did someone say ‘lack of Championships’?

    • Guns says:

      I agree to a certain extent. But a lot of how trades end up is purely a matter of luck. Pineda had a heck of a rookie year and all his medicals came back clean. The fact that he suffered such a severe injury is basically pure bad luck. Pitchers get hurt. Montero has ALWAYS been described by independent talent evaluators as a middle of the order bat. He’s failed to live up to that by a large margin so far. If he never becomes anything but a league average hitter, that’s mostly just bad luck. There are few if any teams that wouldn’t have wanted Montero in their system or on their roster.

      My biggest criticism has been the lack of player development. You could say a lot of that is dependent on luck as well. But when the organization continues to underperform in that area year after year in comparison to other teams, it may be something other than luck.

    • Hoss says:

      Agree. Mediocre is generous. The 1996-2000 championships wete not Cashman’s teams. Thank Gene Michael et al. The 2009 was built with lots of $ mortgaging the future, as we now see.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        Oh my god. There is so, so, so much wrong with this post that I’m laughing right now.

        Starting with having no idea what “mediocre” means, and ending with having no idea what “mortgaging the future” is.

        • jsbrendog says:

          i agree with you. sigh. the worst part is someone like hoss will read this and go “dissenting opinions not allowed on RAB!!11!11!!111″

          lose lose buddy, lose lose

  10. Matt DiBari says:

    That asking price seemed alot steeper in 2007 than 2013, huh?

    For whatever its worth, regardless of the trade pieces and how they wound up panning out, the career arcs of Santana and Sabathia made this a great non trade.

  11. mike myers says:

    More than anything, Im curious about the health information. Does that mean pitchers should be moving away from the slider?

  12. nsalem says:

    a) Don’t think Cashman really cares if he gets fired or not and he probably field several GM offers (if he still desires a GM job) upon his release. I don’t think anyone in baseball would hold it against him for being critical of this Yankee hierarchy.

    b) At least part of him revels in the possibility of bringing this team deep into the playoffs without the benefit of an unlimited payroll. A great Yankee season in 2013 would once and for all silence critics who claim his success is exclusively due to his payroll advanatages.

    • gageagainstthemachine says:

      “A great Yankee season in 2013 2014 and beyond would once and for all silence critics who claim his success is exclusively due to his payroll advanatages.”
      There is no official budget restraint this season, so they could’ve done a lot more if they chose. Going forward will be the real test. If they stick to magic 189 number.

  13. Frank says:

    In hindsight, we dodged a bullet on the Santana trade. Looking at Hughes vs Santana alone, just in terms of wins, it works out roughly like this from 2008-2012

    Hughes – 47 Wins at an approximate cost of $152K/win
    Santana – 46 Wins at an approximate cost of $2.3M/win

    This isn’t a serious comparison of ability between the two, just a rough look. But I recall we as fans expected a lot more from Hughes, and while he’s given us bright spots, they’ve come along with the lows.

    But in general, it would have been a mess for us if Santana, while with us, had the same issues he’s had with the Mets.

  14. Steve (different one) says:

    I have long been saying that the great Johan debate of 2008 is one of those rare arguments when both sides were wrong.

    Hughes did not turn into the guy many of us (myself included) expected. But Johan, while he has had some decent stretches, has largely been a bust in the context of the contract he required.

    This “trade” taught me a lot about tempering prospect enthusiasm, but it also taught me that sometimes you should keep your powder dry when you are not 100% sure about the guy you are committing 9 figures too.

    That is all, commence with the pissing match.

  15. Garyward says:

    He is delusional. All the bad decisions like Feliciano, Pineda, Pavano and he pats himself on the back for missing on Santana? How this guy keeps his job is amazing.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      He’s not really patting himself on the back, he’s crediting his stat guys and his scouts. That’s the point of the article. He is merely saying he listened to his baseball people and it lead to a better decision. Imagine that.

  16. Hoss says:

    Why do we need to see a feature on a Cashman “success”? How about a story on when Cashman offered the Rangers either Joaquin Arias or Robinson Cano as compensation for A-Rod? Why isn’t that a failure? Isn’t it just as likely that if Santana came to the Yankees he would have been a terrific success? You can’t predict what would have happened in either case.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      Or maybe that article should really be about the Rangers’ colossal failure?

      After all, the Yankees were getting the best player in baseball at a bargain salary. It would have been crazy to hold up the deal over a good, but not great, prospect.

      • Urban Idiot says:

        Arod Uno was the best trade that ‘little Nerd’ ever made.

      • Hoss says:

        The Yankees dodged more than a bullet when the Rangers took Arias. Once A-Rod opted out of his contract, that trade/contract became an albatross, and would have gone down as awful if Cano had performed in Texas as he has in NY. But you can’t assume that he would have, just like you can’t assume that Santana would have bombed as a Yankee.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          So then what’s your point?

          Basically you are saying that GM’s have really hard jobs since the future is uncertain, while simultaneously ripping Cashman for bad decisions.

          I don’t think Cashman is the best GM, but I also tend to recognize that his work environment is different than any other GM’s. part of me can’t wait until he gets “promoted” upstairs just so we can talk about something else. This argument has been going on for about 6 years and it is beyond boring at this point.

          • Hoss says:

            The point is: Take credit/blame for what you DID, not what COULD HAVE BEEN if you weren’t so fucking smart. Cashman DID NOT replace the lost talent this offseason, which is why there is a mess. Last season would have been a disaster had it not been for Rafael Soriano, who Cashman lobbied against signing. He does not build solid organizations, as we can now see by the lack of depth. We need a GM who can build, like Gene Michael, not just glue pieces together and sign high priced FAs like Texeira to win championships and mortgage the future.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              ” Last season would have been a disaster had it not been for Rafael Soriano, who Cashman lobbied against signing.”

              Oh wait, I thought we were talking about what DID happen, not what COULD HAVE BEEN. You have no idea what the hell last season would have been like without Soriano.

              • jsbrendog says:

                not to mention the fact that cashman couldnt replace any talent because he was under budget constraints from hal. but HE SHOULDVE DONE IT ANYWAYZ!!!11!1!!1

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          Apparently any hint of happiness is enough to light a fire under your ass.

  17. pc says:

    after the arod decision and now this info i hope hank is relegated to the brother of hal for the immediate future.

  18. Nathan says:

    The Santana “pass” in retrospect looks good now but I have to say that I was upset at the time that the Yankees didn’t pull the trigger. Not super upset but mildly so. I believe I was more upset that the Yankees didn’t explore a deal for Halladay since he was still very strong and proved himself in the AL East. I hope there is an article like this about that non-deal, as well, in the future.

    Looking back at how excited everyone was about the “Big 3″ of Hughes, Joba and IPK, it’s hard to believe that the one with the most success is Kennedy and that he did so away from the Yankees. I would have guessed Joba, Hughes and then IPK. Who’d have guessed it would be the exact opposite.

  19. WFAN CALLER says:

    Randy Levine forced the franchise to sign A-Rod. Maybe with a little jowl-shaking by fatso Hank and some number crunching by Hal’s Asberger’s. Then, when A-Rod was finally locked up, Randy did a girlish little dance and poured orange Kool-Aid into that awful bowl of golden curls perched on top of his giant head.

  20. Johan blows. says:

    If we get Johan we may not get CC or tex and then probably not get a nice trophy in 2009 and we have to deal with him not pitching for 2 years. Yea i’ll pass. Great move by Cashman. Hughes was huge in 2009 out of the bullpen. Melky had a ton of clutch hits. if we have Johan then CC might have never became a yankee. Whether you guys want to admit it or not Burnett pitched great in the 09 playoffs too. If you guys just want to complain an whine for no reason go ahead. That non-trade won us a world series title. But hey thats only logical thinking, we could just let you guys be gm and trade away the entire farm system for pujols, mauer, trout, cabrera, felix, verlander, have a billion dollar payroll, and drug every gm to get them to trade these players…

  21. Johan blows. says:

    Great news johan might be out another entire season.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.