Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time to Cash Out

I know I mentioned recently here that I was just finishing up Moneyball, Michael Lewis's best seller about how the Oakland A's changed the way that teams were built to win in Major League Baseball, and that before that, I had read Tom Verducci and Joe Torre's The Yankee Years. Well, the funny thing about my reading those two books just recently is that now, unlike what I used to think about the guy before this year, I can't stop thinking on an almost daily basis how Yankees GM Brian "Cash" Cashman really needs to be fired. I mean, like so many on the Yankee championship teams during Joe Torre's tenure, Cashman deserves some of the credit for bringing in guys like Clemens, David Wells and a few others who were able to contribute so well to the team's amazing run from 1996-2000. But since 2000, the bottom line that has been made clear to me for the first time by reading these two books -- and enforced almost every single day these days out on the field it seems -- that Cashman has been consistently and clearly out-GM'd by the guys out there choosing players simply using better, more refined and more useful criteria than what Cashman has obviously been doing over the past decade from his office at Yankee Stadium.

Take the pitching situation, for example. While teams like the Red Sox went out and nabbed Curt Schilling to provide some veteran leadership from the mound, and young Josh Beckett from the firesaleing Marlins, Dice-K Matsusaka from Japan and many others, just look at the roll of embarrassing pitchers that have been paraded into the Bronx during Cashman's tenure. Roger Clemens for his second return to New York, now the subject of major steroids speculation, and someone who simply could not be relied upon during most of his last two seasons with the Yanks, including some less than good playoff appearances in his final starts in the city. Carl Pavano, who was paid over $40 million by the Yankees to make a grand total of I think 9 starts in New York. Javier Vazquez, who was brought in from the struggling Expos but who could never seem to make it work in the Big Apple and was gone after one disastrous season at Yankee Stadium. Estaban Loiza. Jose Contreras. Randy Johnson. The list just goes on and on and on of the pitchers who Cashman has paid huge, huge money to bring in here, and yet who could not hack it in New York.

So the Red Sox go to Arizona and get Schilling, who ends up dominating for them and contributing greatly to that franchise's first two world titles in almost 90 years, while the Yankees chose Schilling's teammate Randy Johnson, who failed miserably in three seasons with the Bombers and never returned to his prior unhittable form as he was clearly just not comfortable in New York. The Sox turn to former Marlins upstart Josh Beckett, with tremendous success over several years now in both the regular and post-season, while the Yankees go to his former teammate in Florida, AJ Burnett who has so far pitched to just so-so results when the Yankees really needed him. The Sox bid outrageous money to wrestle Dice-K away from the Yankees, who has ended up being another solid contributor, while the Yankees spend their huge money on a foreigner to bring in Contreras, who was also gone in under two years to the White Sox after it was determined that he just cannot pitch well in New York. All those other pitchers I mentioned above, all paraded in here one after the other, and all unable to achieve their previous success once putting on the pinstripes, while the Red Sox and other teams have found a way to bring guys in who can make immediate, substantive contributions to their teams.

And this trend has continued right on in to 2009, as Cashman hit the free agent markets in a big way last offseason, nabbing prized free agent CC Sabathia from the Brewers along with former Marlin AJ Burnett to solidify the Yanks' troubling rotation, and just look at the results so far as we head into the end of the first month of the baseball season: After Monday night's loss to the Tigers, Sabathia, sporting a $15.7 million price tag this year, will end April with a 1-2 record in five starts, including 15 walks in 32 innings pitched and a 4.73 ERA. Burnett, who is making $16.5 million in 2009, has just two wins in his first four starts, posting an even loftier 5.47 ERA and, most importantly, coming up real small against the Red Sox this past weekend as the Yankees were swept by their arch enemies in the teams' first of many meetings during the 2009 regular season.

On offense, it is really more of the same as far as Cashman's performance over the past several years. While the Red Sox went out and acquired players like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller and Manny Ramirez in winning two world titles in the past five seasons, who are the big free agent signings on offense for the Yankees since the 2000 season? Jason Giambi -- a $20 million a year steroids user, oft-injured and old, a shell of his former self almost the entirety of his time as a Yankee. Alex Rodriguez -- another known steroid user, making a whopping $33 million+ this season who also recorded his best three-year stretch as a pro prior to joining the team in the Bronx, and who has been a consummate loser since signing on with the team after the union killed a deal that would have altered the course of baseball history by sending A-Roid to the Red Sox. Aaron Boone, yet another steroid head who had one huge home run but otherwise dragged this team down every step of the way during his two-year stretch in the infield with the team. Johnny Damon came on during the 2005-2006 offseason, after he too had experienced his best years as a major leaguer in Kansas City and Boston. And the latest addition to this long line of losers at the plate -- Mark Texiera , who comes to the Yankees making $20.6 million this year and yet who so far is hitting a whopping .220 through 16 games of the 2009 season.

Face it, it is time for Brian Cashman to go. Although the team obviously was doing something right in the mid 90s as it built the greatest baseball dynasty in at least 20 years, the days of John Wetteland, Paul O'Neil, Scott Brosius, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez are all over with. After that down-home and largely homegrown core of players slowly departed the Bronx as the last millennium drew to a close, the guys Cash has brought in to replace and replenish both the lineup and the starting rotation in New York have performed woefully poorly. And this during a time when other teams in the league, even in the Yanks' own division, were picking up the Schillings, Becketts and Dice-Ks, and their cross-town rivals the Mets nabbed Johann Santana (probably the best pitcher in baseball at the moment). Whatever the reason, the movement based on sabremetrics that has been so successful for teams like the Red Sox, the As and the Blue Jays over the past ten years has more or less completely passed Brian Cashman by. After defending the guy in my head for several years, I just can't escape the conclusion anymore than Cash has ultimately failed, being primarily responsible for the roughly $2 billion spent on this team over the past nine seasons, with absolutely zippo to show for it in terms of the only thing that matters to Yankees fans here and around the country -- World Series championships.

Oh, and the Hornets lost in the playoffs 121-63 to the Nuggets last night. At home! 121-63!! I mean, what do you even say? What's next? Waffles winning an entire month of the BBT? Give me a break!

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Blogger Astin said...

You know, if the Yankees paid attention to Burnett's 3 seasons with Jays (you know, after the Marlins), they'd have realized they picked him up after a peak year, and essentially a contract year with his option coming into play. Don't expect consistency from him... ever.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Micah Seymour said...

For the life of me I can't figure out who the $40 million 9 start guy is. It's certainly not Big Z, and Victor Zambrano is still scuffing around the Yankees minor league org looking for another chance.

2:03 AM  
Blogger steeser said...

The Yankees wish they ever had Zambrano. Pretty sure he is thinking of Carl Pavano....kind of rhymes.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Right, Pavano, not Zambrano. My bad.

In the end, that $40 million doesn't even matter; that's how bad the Yankees' parade of pitchers has been over the past several years.

9:48 PM  
Blogger VinNay said...

I've been calling for the firing of cashman for a good 5 years. I just hope the yanks do bad enough this year that he finally gets the axe.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Oh by the way I didn't even mention Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright or Kei Igawa. Cashman's record with pitchers has beyond utterly abysmal over the past 10 years.

7:10 AM  

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