Sleeping with the Enemy: It Feels Good

Cashman still isn’t talking, and the NY press has now focussed its attention on the crucial hair issue (props to the Times for pulling those Oscar Gamble pics), but after 36 hours we feel a little more comfortable discussing the new Yankee outfielder in a rational way. Our official take: Kudos to the Yankees; we’re going to enjoy watching Johnny Paycheck for some time, barring the unforeseen.

The Yankee blogosphere is pretty much unanimous in support of this move, giving it the Sabermetric seal of approval with only minor quibbles. In comes a terrific offensive player at his position, and the analysis seems to be that his regression, even in the field, will not be devastating, and that even in the final years of the deal he’s going to be a solid contributor on both offense and defense. In the immediate future, it pays huge dividends, and correspondingly hurts Boston. The Yanks only give up a draft pick (but still have a first round choice, and a higher one at that), and the deal seems to fit into their economic structure. Cashman gets double-bonus points for his “Bubba is our man” bluff, for putting together a winning package, and making the ninja-like acquisition. If there’s any sense of frustration, it’s with the assumption that Damon will lead off, when it seems clear he should hit in the 2 slot. But whatever. Page Six must be thrilled; we, too, like a player who likes New York, and chooses to make the most of what this city has to offer—it’s good for our collective morale and mystique—and we expect Johnny to be that type of player. Anyway we sure like this quote, which sounds old school in just the right way: “Now I’m part of the Yankees and that great lineup, and we’re going to be tough to beat.” The tougher the better.

29 comments… add one
  • Cashman gets double-bonus points for his “Bubba is our man” bluff, for putting together a winning package, and making the ninja-like acquisition
    Ah, yes, the hagiography begins. And only a day afterwards. The Yankees made the highest offer, YF, against a team that had no interest in going nearly as high with their dollars for a player represented by the biggest dollar-grabbing agent around, who clearly was interested in cashing out with the highest paying and contending team, all his earned right. Damon said that as much yesterday, with regards to whether he would have taken less to stay with the Red Sox – he wouldn’t have, unless they had signed him to an extension a year ago. Damon was clearly on the Yankees minds once he hit free agency, and all the BS thrown out to the press about them not being interested was just that: BS. You fell for it. Hard. So apparently they can fool not just the press but even the most intelligent and devoted of Yankees fans. That you would have fallen for this bluff reveals the fraudulence in your belief in an Yankee organizational ethos-shift. If you believe Damon (a big if, of course), the Yankees even went to 5 years with the contract before Boras asked them to do 4 for more money per year. Ninja-like? How about rotisserie-like, more correctly. This one, which we agree on as to the quality of the move, took no skill. It goes both ways: the Sox not anteing up $52M took no apparent skill either; it wasn’t a deadline deal, it wasn’t about giving up talent to get talent (the draft pick notwithstanding). This one was financial, and the Yankees had the $13M slot from Bernie. It’s what they had available to pay a centerfielder, as long as the centerfielder would accept the $13M. The sophisitication of this move is all in your head, just another way for you to lionize Cashman against all evidence to the contrary. You write history the way you want it to read, not the way it actually happened.

    SF December 22, 2005, 10:31 am
  • Sorry SF, but I think the man with blinders on today is you. Only you seem congenitally incapable of distinguishing fact from reality when evaluating Cashman and his moves. Here, for example, is Steven Goldman on this deal–he is the man who writes the Baseball Prospectus evaluations of Yankee moves, in addition to his terrific–and highly critical blog, Pinstripe Bible, from which this is from:
    “Bubba Crosby was a bluff. He always was. Kudos to Brian Cashman for carrying it off so brilliantly, for keeping his poker face on for the last two months. Crosby is a fourth or fifth outfielder. The signing of Damon, along with the probable retention of Bernie Williams, locks him into that role.”
    “Additional credit is due to the Yankees for correctly gauging the market for Damon, recognizing that no team was going to give him a seven-year contract at his age (or in this pennywise era). One can quibble about just how much Damon is getting per year, but I prefer not to, assuming that said remuneration doesn’t affect the team’s ability to make needed additions down the line.”

    YF December 22, 2005, 10:39 am
  • Ah, another Yankee fan said it, so it’s true. Especially the part about how smart the Yankees were about the 7 year deal thing. Yeah, that took a lot of deep analysis. That’s amazing insight, there. Soxbaby Isaac, whose favorite word at the moment is “dort”, even laughed off the prospects for a 7 year contract for Damon. So if Goldman’s silky-thin analysis our new definition of deep thought at this site then I might have to take a leave of absence and leave all the complex stuff to you, YF. I am not sure if I can handle it. Maybe you could ask Steve to come aboard, just make it “YF and YF”. Sounds exciting.
    It’s very simple, YF, and I am not sure why a complex hagiography extolling the brilliance of the Yankees flunky GM is even close to warranted. The Yankees offered Damon the most money and a chance to play for a contender. The Red Sox didn’t come close to that. Where’s the confusion? Where’s the genius? Where’s this famous bluffing? Did Damon go back to the Sox and say, hey give me 4/44 and I’ll stay? Did the Sox figure that he’d never leave for a higher offer from the Yankees? No f**cking way. Nobody’s ever said that. Nobody’s even intimated that. And you agreed with that yesterday. Again, what was the bluff? Are the Sox bluffing about Alex Cora? Or are they examining options for improving the position? You were completely fooled, and you look the fool, not because you think this was a good move (it was) but because you seem so gullible in making it into something far more than it really was. What it was was an intelligent money and career-path decision by a free agent under the advisement of his brilliant agent, who found a team willing to best all other offers by a significant amount in order to procure the services of said free agent. How this becomes the results of genius machinations of Brian Cashman is beyond me.
    You (and Goldman) see things that don’t exist.

    SF December 22, 2005, 10:58 am
  • SF, could you list examples of the genius/brilliant moves made by general managers the past two years? And could you explain each moves’ brilliance? This is not meant at all as a snarky comment, and I’m not grandstanding here. It just occurred to me that it’s hard for me to describe any moves out there as genius.

    Nick December 22, 2005, 11:03 am
  • Reasonable question, Nick. I’ll go back more than two years. Without doing any research, here are a handful of moves that played out well (or seem intelligent and unexpected), though their “geniusness” at the moment of the trade/acquisition could be have been reasonably questioned. Also, these moves include some made by GMs who I don’t consider geniuses, but that wasn’t the question you posed. I realize that I have used the term “genius” in a hyperbolic sense, for effect, and perhaps irresponsibly. I should just say “exhibiting cleverness and creativity”.
    1. Dan Duquette acquiring Varitek and Lowe for Heath Slocumb
    2. Theo trading Nomar, acquiring all those guys who shall remain nameless
    3. Yanks acquiring A-Rod
    4. Marlins obtaining Urbina in 2003
    5. Sox getting out from Renteria deal with Marte acquisition
    6. Conversely, Braves acquiring Renteria from Sox for reasonable per annum salary.
    With some time I am guessing I could supplement this list pretty significantly, but I have to get going for the holiday weekend. To sum up, marquee free agent acquisitions, at least in my book, don’t really come into play all that often in revealing a GM’s talents. And particularly not when a player goes to a team that’s both a good fit and offers more money then the next person, by a large margin. The Jays signing Burnett and Ryan therefore wouldn’t ever qualify as that creative, as far as I am concerned. In addition to building a deep system, it’s getting unexpected production out of the free agents right below the marquee, or successful and surprising offseason and deadline deals, where GMs make their reputation.

    SF December 22, 2005, 11:22 am
  • I have to admit, YF, the only truly stealthy move by Cash, here, was to force Damon to a decision now. B/c I mean, did anyone actually believe that the Yanks were gonna trot out onto the field opening day with Bubba Crosby as their everyday centerfielder? That they weren’t primed to make a big move, if only to counter the big moves that the Sox and Jays have made already? That’s not to say that Cash hasn’t done a good job–he’s done great so far. But the real ninja in this case, I have to admit, is friggin’ Boras. Forget that they could, but did the Yanks *have* to go to $13M/year for four years to get JD? Seems now that they could have offered less and still gotten him. Basically, Boras did his job and created a bidding war between the Sox and Yanks (at least in the heads of the Yanks brass) that didn’t really exist. *There’s* a bluff for ya. The Sox didn’t bite; it didn’t matter, and Boras knew that would be the case. More and more I get the feeling that the only consequential decision that Damon made himself was to hire Boras as his agent.
    As for the who bats leadoff question, it’s really interesting to do a side-by-side of the career numbers for both Jeets and Damon. Truth be told, they’re practically identical! They both entered the league in ’95 at age 21. Since then Jeets has 6167AB, Damon has 6177AB (regular season numbers). Jeets has the slight edge in average and OBP, Damon has more stolen bases, of course, more triples, and way fewer Ks. On the whole, I can’t imagine two players who’ve logged that much PT with batting numbers that are that similar. So, I really don’t know who should bat in the one-slot. Seems to me that either player would do just fine batting either one or two. YF, why the strong conviction that Jeets needs to lead off?
    By the way, Raysfan v. Marlinsfan might actually be kinda interesting these days. Sure, mostly the usual crickets chirping from the RF camp, but MFs must be doing the existential woe lemming-dance right about now, what with the mass exodus of stars. It’d be like the Suicide Hotline plus baseball. Cabrera and Dontrelle chiming in under pseudonyms wondering what the hell ethnic cleansing they orchestrated in a past lives to deserve this.

    Spidey December 22, 2005, 11:22 am
  • SF: The suggestion that I’m writing a Cashman hagiography is ridiculous; I’ve been quite critical of some of his moves (Pavano, Wright come quickly to mind). That you want to tar Goldman with that brush is basically outrageous. It’s your knee-jerk reaction that’s ridiculous: when things go right he’s a flunky, when they don’t he’s incompetent. And this new obsession with “creativity” and “genius” is basically a load of crap, yet another specious criteria you’ve dreamed up so that you can derogate for no purpose other than your own sad need to do so.
    The handling of the Damon acquisition was, prima facie, well handled. That the Yanks offered the most money and that Boras is effective are true, but beside the point.
    Spidey: Jeter’s OBP last year was around 50 points higher than Damon’s. That’s a big bump, and a good reason to put him first, as is the R-L-R shift you get with Damon in the 2.

    YF December 22, 2005, 12:09 pm
  • Oh, yeah, forgot about the R-L-R shift. True dat. But the OBP diff is only 23 points (Jeets: .389, Damon: .366). I bet Joe tries them both out at leadoff and sees which config works out the best.

    Spidey December 22, 2005, 12:27 pm
  • Spidey, I think it’s certain that Damon will lead off given the rhetoric coming out of Yanks camp and mainstream media.

    Nick December 22, 2005, 12:32 pm
  • We all know Joe. With the first 3-game skid (heaven forfend) the lineup will turnover.

    YF December 22, 2005, 12:33 pm
  • If I am tarring anyone, it’s you. You seem hyper-willing to accept a very logical and common-sensical move, orchestrated for the most part by Scott Boras as evidence that Cashman is some sort of Grade A GM. It’s not.
    And any discussion of “creativity” or “genius” is not out of thin air, nor timely. It’s been something we’ve been discussing here for many months, in particular with regards to Cashman. To make it out as something convenient on my part is disingenuous. You ought to try to engage the discussion, YF, instead of being condescendingly dismissive. It might help dispel what appears to be some mighty arrogance.

    SF December 22, 2005, 12:56 pm
  • SF: Yes, you’re right–the “creativity” discussion is not out of thin air, it’s specious argument you have been making (and I have been rebutting) for several months. It’s kind of amazing for you to critize anyone here for being “condescending dismissive” given that your entire initial comment was a condenscending dismissal of Cashman, yours truly, and several quite well respected bloggers. But nevermind the facts.
    The acquisition of Damon was a smart move handled well. That’s the claim I made. You can interpret it however you want.
    Getting back to Spidey’s point re hitting leadoff. Thinking about this further, I’m going to back off a bit; hitting Jeets first makes most sense to me, but either which way is probably not that big a deal. I guess what wrankles is the knee-jerk reaction that Damon is the automatic lead-off choice, because that seems not very obvious at all.

    YF December 22, 2005, 1:36 pm
  • Hey YF,
    Imagine the knee-jerk reaction if we had signed Corey Patterson!

    walein December 22, 2005, 2:18 pm
  • Now that would have been a move I could have celebrated…

    SF December 22, 2005, 3:06 pm
  • OK, so according to YF we can’t discuss GMs and their abilities in regards to the transactions that their teams commit. Any such discussion would be “specious”. If that’s his position then so be it. I think it’s idiotic and counter to the spirit of debate.
    And how did Steve Goldman become “several” bloggers? Next time at least cite the facts.

    SF December 22, 2005, 3:12 pm
  • SF, don’t you need to go get in the car already?
    Who’s Number 1?, really comes down to Who’s Number 2? I’ll explain.
    Jeter and Damon have different virtues hitting leadoff. Jeter has a higher OBP, Damon steals more, etc.
    But Derek’s a great number 2: his inside-out swing to right is perfect for advancing the runner and he’s shown that he doesn’t mind giving himself up.
    8 through 3: Cano, Damon, Jeter, A-Rod. Behind that the new healthy Giambi, Sheff and Matsui. Awesome.

    john yf December 22, 2005, 3:36 pm
  • SF,
    Now you have to watch out that the two/three headed monster in Boston doesn’t go and get you guys Corey “lead-off-hitter” Patterson!
    I think Cashman played it very well. He may have overpaid for Damon but the Damon signing is important for many reasons.
    It hurts Boston.
    It adds a known player and backpage headlines for the Yankees.
    It’s a large enough splash to keep people off Cashman’s back.
    It really hurts boston more than they want to admit…Clement for Reed will cost more now.

    walein December 22, 2005, 3:37 pm
  • There you go again. There’s no suggestion that GM’s should not be held accountable for their moves (and non moves). But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Clearly I’m open to that kind of debate, and have quite often been critical of Cashman, though you accuse my of sycophancy. Let’s not change the terms of this debate: your absolute refusal to fairly evaluate Cashman’s moves. That’s how this whole specious “creative” argument was introduced. In lieu of some reasonable critique of Cashman’s very smar offseason, you’ve decided to lob out an immeasurable criteria by which he must now be measured–“creastivity.” (Wins and losses be damned.)
    As for the “several bloggers,” they’re right there in my initial post: “The Yankee blogosphere is pretty much unanimous in support of this move, ” Goldman is a member of that group, but so are the folks at RLYW, WasWatching, and Bronx Banter–all of whom, it is clear, you are dismisssing (condescendingly!) by association.
    Spare us all.

    YF December 22, 2005, 3:48 pm
  • Ah, sure, I smeared everyone. Right. I referred only to Goldman. I smeared you., for sure. You have no need to defend anyone that I didn’t refer to, so spare us the martyrdom – I’m not about to act the egomaniac and presume that your insults directed at me refer to all Sox fans who share my view, as you have done. So don’t put words in my mouth. Seriously. If I wanted to attack some other blogger’s position I would have done so. By name. Or nom de plume.
    As for the whole “creativity” debate, it’s been ongoing, and you’re the one who called out Cashman’s “ninja-like” move. Nick’s question (a reasonable one), and my answer (also reasonable, I think), show that it’s not just about this one move, it’s about everything in total. Why is that hard for you to engage as a topic? Are you feeling your own view of this new Yankees front office ethos spiraling down the sh*thole, your credibility wrecked by another typical blow-every-other-offer-out-of-the-water free agent acquisition? My guess is this move hurt you, however good it was for the team, because it shows that all your presumptions about how the Yankees have “changed” to be false.
    As for not being able to give Cashman credit for anything, why don’t you actually read the comments. From this thread. And add the Chacon pickup to the list.
    For you, no matter what the Yankees do, it’s evidence of Cashman’s newfound power. No matter what happens. Even if the transactions under scrutiny follow what has happened every year that he supposedly didn’t have the power he supposedly now has. Substitute “Sheffield” or “Pavano” for Damon. Nothing’s changed. So your accusations of closemindedness w/r/t the Yankees GM could be turned around back on you, and in a split second.
    Never the twain shall meet, I guess.

    SF December 22, 2005, 7:05 pm
  • The Evil Emperor has made his first big post-Damon, face-saving move by signing former Yankee Flaherty.

    john yf December 22, 2005, 7:31 pm
  • Great Blog ,I enjoy all the comments

    GOTHAMGARY December 22, 2005, 7:59 pm
  • SF: You continue on a nonsensical rant. The initial post in this thread credited Cashman for the move, and noted the wide agreement among Yankee bloggers on this front. If it “hurt me” I would have said so. As for “presumptions about how the Yankees have changed,” well, I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this, or what you mean. Are you suggesting that I believe the Yanks should all of a sudden start acting like the Twins and not press their financial advantage? Or are you suggesting that the current move indicates that Cashman is a pure puppet of Steinbrenner, with no meaningful change in the team’s modus operandi this year (which seems demonstrably untrue, howevermuch you may not like to hear it?) Your initial comment in this thread was dismissive and condescending to a position taken by just about every reputable Yankee blogger. You can try to weezel out of that all you want by claiming, um, that you only smeared one of them (present company excluded), but my guess is that our fair readers will see right through it.

    YF December 22, 2005, 8:37 pm
  • I’ll repeat, from above, for your sake only. (I’ll assume our readers have the comprehension skills you seem to be sorely lacking, so they can just skip the rest)
    Ah, sure, I smeared everyone. Right. I referred only to Goldman. I smeared you., for sure. You have no need to defend anyone that I didn’t refer to, so spare us the martyrdom I’m not about to act the egomaniac and presume that your insults directed at me refer to all Sox fans who share my view, as you have done. So don’t put words in my mouth. Seriously. If I wanted to attack some other blogger’s position I would have done so. By name. Or nom de plume.
    Now, you can choose to believe me or not. But spare me this noble victimization complex, bearing the burden of supposedly maligned Yankees bloggers everywhere. It’s phony.

    SF December 22, 2005, 9:31 pm
  • Your initial comment in this thread was dismissive and condescending to a position taken by just about every reputable Yankee blogger
    Seriously, where do you come up with this? My first comment is dismissive of YOUR position, and your position only. I never mention a single blog or blogger other than you. You then go on to quote Goldman, who apparently has convinced you to take his exact position, a position I also disagree with. Never do I malign any other bloggers, other then to call Goldman’s analysis “silky thin”, not exactly a Ricklesian putdown. If you want to disagree with me, then that’s totally cool. If you take issue with my tone, then fine, we write differently. But if you are going to misrepresent my comments as posted (and your statement as italicized above is, to be blunt, a complete crock of shit), then I am going to call you on it. This isn’t the first time you have fabricated my supposed positions deep in comments (the further from the original posts the less likely it is that people will review them, conveniently for you). I don’t imagine it will be the last. It’s completely dishonest of you.

    SF December 22, 2005, 9:46 pm
  • Talk about your victimization complexes; sheesh. The only fabrication here is yours. A quote from your first comment: “apparently they can fool not just the press but even the most intelligent and devoted of Yankees fans.” Your words. And let’s note that “fans” is plural, so clearly you’re not just referring to me. I haven’t misrepresented your comments. You have, and you continue to do so. What’s dishonest is your Rovian debate technique: smear and then change the terms of the debate. When it comes to condenscension and dismissive attack, you are the instigator. To accuse others of it is base hypocrisy, as is the contention that Cashman gets a free pass on this site from yours truly. Give it up. Direct your anger elsewehere. Or maybe you should devote that energy to cooking up a few “creative” suggestions on how the Sox might best deal with their gaping holes up the middle. I’m sure Larry and the boys would just love to hear from you.

    YF December 22, 2005, 11:23 pm
  • My gosh. This thread is devolving into a debate over grammar, unfortunately, but there’s no way the phrase you cite (“the most intelligent and devoted of Yankees fans”) should be read as referring to anyone but you (all those bloggers you refer to aren’t even linked to in the post, and you mention nobody else by name until later in the comments). It’s an absolute misreading to extend that to include the entire Yankee blogosphere, instead of reading it as it was, a quantification of your intelligence and devotion. The entire comment is directed at you, I even address you with your salutation in the comment to make that clear. If you don’t believe me, and I think the words in that first comment back me up, then that’s just unfortunate.

    SF December 23, 2005, 5:53 am
  • Head hurt. Too much talk!

    Manny December 23, 2005, 9:31 am
  • My back hurts. I wish the Yankees would fucking make me an offer.

    Boomer December 23, 2005, 9:54 am
  • here’s a pattern i’m noticing. top two posts on this thread, for example. SF points out all the points where he disagrees with what YF has written.
    YF responds with “Only you seem congenitally incapable of distinguishing fact from reality” which by the way doesn’t even really make sense, but the words “congenitally incapable” are pretty harsh and personal given the well-thought-out points made by SF.

    beth December 24, 2005, 8:56 pm

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