Out of His League?

Perusing the last three or four years of MLB transactions, and in light of the rather skillless acquisition of Randy Johnson (and potentially Beltran), one has to wonder if Brian Cashman is simply out of his league as a GM. For all the touting of Cashman as a wheeler/dealer par excellence, on this site and elsewhere, for all the hagiographic nonsense about how keen an intellect he is (and though he might be “smart” by most normal standards, I am not sure it’s baseball brains he’s got), it is worth reviewing the higher profile deals that Cashman has (supposedly) orchestrated, and how those have panned out, how they have helped the Yankees, and how they have offered flexibility to the team in their moments of need or down the road. To wit:

Steve Karsay – I hope that 4 year contract was insured.

Drew Henson – A disastrous waste of money, riding pine in Dallas.

Jeff Weaver – acquired in a touted move for the rising Ted Lilly, a valuable young lefty, turned out to be a weak-nerved wildman, later converted via big-money assumption into the wall-punching bust and serial hothead Kevin Brown.

Jason Giambi – 7 year albatross, came with syringe kit stealthily concealed in carry-on baggage.

Javier Vazquez – prized "answer" to Sox’ Schilling acquisition (in tandem with the aforementioned $30M pugilist Brown), lost his control and nerve and also helped “lose” 1st pitch fastball to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of 2004 ALCS. Spun off (tentatively) for $22M/year (16M+6M deferred) 41-year-old HOF Lefty along with 9M in cash, 2 mid-to-high-level prospects, and a soon-to-be assumed $32M contract extension for aforementioned HOF Unit with no knee cartilage. That’s some value, there.

Orlando Hernandez – 2004 trading deadline savior (briefly, that is), anchored rotation until arm expectedly crashed, leaving team with pitching depth issue left unsolved by GM.

Jose Contreras – "aced out" Beantown rivals for defective defector, spun Contreras off for Esteban Loaiza in suppsed defensive move (also rumored to have been going to Boston, though that’s hard to believe and unsubstantiated), Loaiza reverted to expected form, that prior to his 2003 anomaly.

Sterling Hitchcock – inked to 2 year deal, to do what has never been determined.

Rondell White – 2 year deal, never fulfilled expectations, shipped away after first year of deal.

Aaron Boone – Deadline deal splash in 2003, supposed 3rd baseman of the future, had a big dinger, blew knee out in offseason basketball blunder. Dropped like a bag of diapers down a NYC apartment building garbage chute.

Posada: Extended contract while bidding against nobody, lead-footed albatross waiting to happen.

Jeter: Also bid up against nobody, last two or three years of his contract will be for past services completed.

TBD, other acquisitions or potential acquisitions from this offseason. (Note that two of the three players were considered among, if not the best available at their position, and went or might go to the team with the biggest wallet and also tabled offer)

Carl Pavano – spent 40M on homeboy, long-time Yankees fan whose career record has been highly publicized and who has yet to win 20 games in the Majors. Jaret Wright – 21M for a 15 game winner with a questionable arm.

Carlos Beltran (?) – $100M+ perhaps for a dangerous Gold Glove and fantastic all-around player, but one who is streaky and has yet to really hit consistently within a full season.

Mike Stanton (in lieu of Steve Kline).

High-profile missed opportunities:

Ichiro – Did the Yankees make an offer, even? Hard to remember.

Thome – a little patience, retaining Martinez (welcome back, Tino, by the way), waiting for Thome (in Yankee Stadium no less!) might have been wiser, hindsight and all.

Ortiz – Winter ’02 – What else do we need to know here? Inked with Boston for 3 years at the price of one year of Giambi, pretty much.

Schilling, Fall ’03 – No chips to deal, David Wells shenanigans fallout? Big Unit at the deadline in 2004 (just think how different things might be if he had made this deal).

So Cashman has pretty much unlimited resources, as evidenced by his moves during the last 5+ years. And he’s made splashes, picking up guys who were the elite players at their postions, or the elite prospects at their position, or the elite defectors at their position, with coffers that puts the Yankees in a privileged position, first in line because of their resources, for all of these players. But the Yankees have fallen short, despite allocating resources like Star Jones planning her wedding. Cashman, the "architect" of these teams, has seen several division championships, numerous World Series, but no titles since 2000 (and one could argue those late 90’s champs weren’t even his teams), despite being able to assemble the team of choice, literally, something no other teams can do. Cashman is the Henry Blodget of baseball GMs – a supposed wunderkind that everyone thinks is the new new thing, but who is playing with his Dad’s money, and not very well.

6 comments… add one
  • To be fair to Cashman, we don’t really know which of those deals are his, and which are from George and the Tampa coalition.
    But, Gene Michael and even Bob Watson seemed to be able to talk George out of those disastrous moves that he would gun for, and the ones he couldn’t talk him out of, like signing Strawberry and Gooden, seemed to pan out.
    As a Yankee fan, on balance, I would say that Cashman has not been a good GM. Every GM has their duds, but he hasn’t shored up a decent bench in years, and most of his bullpen additions/subtractions have been disasters. Just take a look at the assembly of the 1996 team, where Watson was making move after move to get different pieces that seemed to fit in. Just about every in-season trade by Cashman has been a flop, as far as I can recall, the acquisition of Enrique Wilson sticking out like a sore thumb (maybe some NL team can get him to hit Pedro this season:).

    JeremyM January 1, 2005, 11:22 am
  • “Schilling, Fall ’03 – No chips to deal, David Wells shenanigans fallout? Big Unit at the deadline in 2004 (just think how different things might be if he had made this deal).”
    And to be fair to Cashman on this one, I think Arizona was firmly in their “we hate the Yankees” mode because of the whole David Wells thing at that time. It’s not like Boston gave them blue-chip prospects in that one, they basically fleeced the D-backs there.

    JeremyM January 1, 2005, 11:25 am
  • The Yanks may have been able to have had the Unit for the same package they are offering right now, at last year’s trade deadline instead of in the dead of Winter. But it never materialized, and it turns out that not wanting to give up Vazquez at that point hurt them in a measurable way. I think this definitely had something to do with the David Wells thing, but it’s not clear if that was Wells’, Cashman’s, or Big Stein’s thing.

    SF January 1, 2005, 3:08 pm
  • In fairness to Cashman for two of his dubious moves. Pavano would have been a Red Sock at a higher price if his wife and mother were not fans of the bombers. This according to the always reliable testimony of Gammons.
    Contreras was lusted after by Theo and Co, as well. This is to say that the supposd true wunderkid is capable of making egregrious errors in judgement. He also has a Giambi on his record. Ech!
    I seem to remember that when the Yanks acquired Javy and Brown last year, the internet community was praising Cashman for his creativity in replacing Clemens and Pettite. It turned out poorly of course, but generally his moves were completed with forsight and a reliance on statistical analysis.
    Also, Cashman should not be entirely blamed for Torre’s total mismanagment of his bench and relievers during the season and postseason.

    Ghost of Bob Watson January 2, 2005, 11:23 pm

    rich January 3, 2005, 2:19 pm
  • As I’ve commented on my own site, Cashman’s job is limited to signing free agents, which goes something like, “We know what you want, you know we’re going to give it to you, so let’s just try and do this with dignity, OK?”

    Chris January 6, 2005, 7:41 pm

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