General Manager Brian Cashman’s Plan B

brian-cashmanOf all the criticisms I’ve heard about Brian Cashman, one of my favorites (and by favorites I mean that I find most ludicrous) came this past offseason, when many accused him of having no “plan B” after he failed to sign Cliff Lee.

Anyone who reads my postings here knows that I am a fan of Brian Cashman, but come on: can anyone – even those who dislike him – honestly think he had no plan? He runs the most famous sports franchise in the world. Despite taking time to repel down buildings in elf costumes around Christmas time, there is no way a person as hard working as Cashman is will not explore every avenue. Being GM isn’t a part-time job (though I’m not sure anyone ever told Omar Minaya that). The Yankees have a vast information network of scouts and advisors that Cashman has access to. If all the work Cashman did this offseason was sit down and say “We’ll sign Cliff Lee,” well, I’m pretty sure he would no longer be employed.

It seems like even Yankee executives though bought into the hype and thought Cashman had no legitimate alternate plan; so they went and got Rafael Soriano. Hank Steinbrenner even tried to sell Soriano as the replacement for Lee.

Here’s the thing though: there was no replacement for Lee. The Yankees were either going to overpay Lee (which they happily would have), grossly overpay some middle tier guy like Jorge de la Rosa, trade the farm for an imperfect fit like Zack Greinke, or go to the scrap heap. Cashman decided his plan B was to go to the scrap heap. People didn’t like this plan – so much so that they refused to even call it a plan.

So Cashman went out and got Bartolo Colon. He signed Freddy Garcia. He signed Kevin Millwood, Carlos Silva, and Mark Prior to minor league deals. He shored up the catcher position with Russell Martin.

We’re seeing now that these were not as minor of moves as it may have seemed. Cashman gave up no prospects and did not offer any long term deals and yet he found a way to improve the club. Now he can wait and sign the big free agent he really wants or trade for the player he really wants (or even better, have some prospects develop and contribute).

Colon has only tossed 18 innings, Garcia has made just 1 good start, and Martin’s hot start could easily be a product of a small sample size. But that is kind of the point: the Yankees have other cheap options available and the plan all along was to keep trying things and see what works. Since all these guys have essentially no risk attached to them, anything they do is a bonus for the Yankees. This sort of “wait and see” approach is not as satisfying for fans as they evaluate a team’s offseason, but it is proving pretty effective thus far for the Yankees.

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29 Responses to General Manager Brian Cashman’s Plan B

  1. The Pirate says:

    I'm glad that up to this moment Garcia, Bartolo and Martin are doing excelent, but we have to wait, the season it's too long. Cross your fingers.

    • Hiram says:

      Very good post.

      The plan is working perfectly, but when you say is not as satisfying for fans, let's be honest we still need a very good starter for the postseason.

      The twins are the best example, very good seasons but during the postseason their starters just don't have the caliber for good hitters during that stage of the season.

      I agree with you Brian, no replacements, prospects, no risk, that's completely true but the pirate comment is very realistic, it's a long season and the most important part i want to see the yankees in the world series

  2. highlander64 says:

    the big question will be how Cashman manuevers mid year when we will probably need a decent pitcher and others…we gave up Melancon for Berkman i believe…Melancon had always been highly touted even if he was struggling some…yes, you have to give to get but that's where better GM's thrive…Cashman has done well so far with his recent purchases but mid-year trades haven't been his speciality…

    • Brian Burkhart says:

      Mid-year trades haven't been his specialty? Last year he picked up Berkman, Wood, and Kearns for essentially just Melancon and let's face it: in all probability, Melancon would still be in Scranton if they hadn't traded him.

      Also, remember the trade for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for essentially nothing (one of the greatest mid-season heists ever)?

      The trade of Jose Tabata for Xavier Nady didn't pan out. That's the one mid-season deal you could knock. But of course you have to take some risks.

      • highlander64 says:

        I think there's been so many trades that could have happened and didn't…most recently, there's Cliff Lee…the deal breaker was Eduardo Nunez…Cashman was ready to hand Seattle Jesus Montero but when they balked at David Adams and asked for Nunez, Cashman said no way…sorry, but that wasn't his finest moment either…now maybe it becomes the best trade never made but Nunez should not have been the deciding factor…

        • Brian Burkhart says:

          So we're going to hold Cashman responsible for all the trades he didn't make?

          Also, are you saying it's a good thing or a bad thing that they did not trade for Cliff Lee? It's hard to judge Cashman based on what we've heard was or was not on the table. Those reports are speculation.

          • Mike S. says:

            Justice 2000. Boone 2003. Chacon 2005. Abreu 2006. Without those deals, the Yanks don't win the 2000 WS, the 2003 pennant or make the playoffs in 2005 and 2006.

            As for Lee, he had his heart set on Philly. NOTHING Cashman could have done to bring him to NY. NY was 3rd on his list. They were in Philly before, loved it and wanted to return. Bobby V may have said it best. He is the only one to say this: Never underestimate the P/C relationship. Lee built one with Ruiz. He knew if he went to Philly who he'd be working with. Not so in Texas (Molina/Treanor gone) or NY (Posada isn't catching, Martin wasn't signed yet and at the time, Montero was being considered the catcher; he or Cervelli). When comparing what catcher he wanted, that part of the decision was a no-brainer for Lee: Ruiz.

            Lee would have turned out to be a half-season rental. It may be best that they didn't deal for him.

            Now if only Girardi would play Nunez. Jeter hasn't done much and Nunez deserves more than 1 AB in 16 games. Rest Jeter more and keep Nunez fresh by giving him games and at bats.

          • john says:

            I agree completely. as hard as it is to say Im afraid Jeter may be done very soon. I will hold out for a larger sample size til I run him and Jorge out on a rail.

          • highlander64 says:

            It's a little more than speculation…Cashman could have done little to bring Lee to New York via free agency, except maybe add a few more mils/year but like Mike S points out, Lee was looking for another gig in Philly…do you really believe that Smoak was the difference in the Lee deal…Cashman had Montero wrapped up with a bow on…he balked at the lesser known players to seal the deal…and yes, a GM can't simply be judged by the deals he makes…i'm not saying that Cashman is a tard…he's been able to assemble a team without giving away some of our prized possessions…and I'm not talking about just Montero…he has added a few important players here and there…just take a look at some of the additions he made especially in his first year, 1998 mid year but he doesn't work the trades as well…I'm not saying Cashman needs to go, i'm just pointing out an area I'd like to see him improve…and I respect the fact that he didn't want to put the money out for Soriano…that seemed like the right move at the time…

  3. Paul Knopick says:

    How about giving Posada, who looks lost as DH, a glove and let him muddle about in leftfield. Bring up Montero and make him permanent DH.

    • Brian Burkhart says:

      Saying Posada looks lost is a bit much. He has 5 HRs and a bunch of walks. His K-Rate and BB-Rate are both around his career norms. He just has an absurd .094 BABIP. No way that keeps up all year.

      If you want to see him lost, try putting him out in the spacious left field of Yankee Stadium.

      • Mike S. says:

        The guy (Posada) is a soon-to-be 40 year old ex-catcher with no speed and you want to put him in LF at Yankee Stadium. Never mind that he hasn't played the OF in his career, how many balls do you think he'd get to? The answer? Not many.

        • Paul Knopick says:

          Yogi did quite well in left field toward the end of his career. The Yankees have buried a lot of bodies out there over the years. Posada is a much athlete than Yogi ever was..

  4. highlander64 says:

    Posada would struggle in left field but when do you pull the plug on his DH stint…not now, i can agree to that but if he's hitting below .200 on May 21st, what do you do…maybe he has 10 hrs by that time but he's a rally killer…

  5. john says:

    I have been a big critic of Cashman for a long time. Not sure what he can do without a huge budget. The offseason was not all his fault when it comes to Lee and a "plan B" WHO BESIDES Lee was actually out there as a starter? Pavano? Lets not go there again please,

    His failure was not Lee who wanted to go back to Philly no matter what. his failure was Feliciano and Soriano.

    He didnt want Soriano and it took ownership to make it happen and How could he Blame the Mets for overusing Feliciano? he could read a stat sheet when they looked at him couldnt he?

    Wood and Lee took less to go where they felt at home that is not Cashman's fault but the Feliciano deal is and his blame game with the Mets made him look like a crybaby joke.

    If anyone wants to hammer Cashman we should do it for valid reasons, Like the Pavano and Jaret Wright deals, Not when its a cheap shot like not having a plan b where one did not exist.

    • Paul Knopick says:

      Kind of ironic having Cashman blast the Mets for abusing Feliciano, when he was the GM when Torre abused Proctor…and said nothing. Understand Proctor carries his arm with him in a large guitar case these days.

  6. john says:

    I know its Blasphemy but why dont any of us question Jeter? We all find someone to Hammer like Gardner and Posada but Jeter has been bad this year so far. I keep thinking he is going to come out of it but it seems like he just rolls over to the shortstop way too much. Ill give him and Jorge more time but just hope they arent done

    • Brian Burkhart says:

      Oh, I am happy to question Jeter. He is a groundball machine at this point and his numbers suggest, unlike Jorge, it's not just a matter of some bad luck. He really should be at the bottom of the order.

      As sad as it is to say, but the Yankees probably would have done just as well saving the money and letting Nunez play. I'm hopeful for a bounceback but not optimistic.

      Jorge still walks and hits homeruns. The BA will improve as the year goes on.

      • highlander64 says:

        if Posada's average remains under .200, his bb will drop…his hr's may actually increase…bottom line, the Yanks will give Posada more time to turn things around but not much more time…if he's still under .200 a month from now, expect some changes…

    • Mike S. says:

      I've been hammering Jeter for a while and was on management's side this past winter. I love Derek, but facts are facts. He has hit the ball out of the park once since last June 12th. That's 112 games. He doesn't make the warning track anymore. 13 of his 14 hits this year are singles. Here's Buster Olney on Twitter:

      Top 5 groundball ratios in the majors:5.Elvis Andrus 1.80. 4.Jose Tabata 2.04. 3. Alcides Escobar 2.10. 2. Wilson Valdez 2.23. 1. Jeter 2.93

      Also:

      Derek Jeter's groundball ratio's year-by-year, 2007 forward: 1.31, 1.44, 1.39, 1.96,2.93. Current SLG pct.:.234, ranked 189th of 196 players

      Here is something else:

      2006 .343-14-97 OPS+ 132

      2007 .322-12-73, OPS+ 121

      2008 .300-11-69, OPS+ 102

      2010 .270-10-67, OPS+ 90

      2011 .219-0-4 0 OPS+ so far, 45

      Note that I purposely kept out 2009. 2009 looks like a blip in the stats. His .334-18-66, OPS+ 125 that year is looking more and more like a last hurrah. The dying gasp of greatness if you will. Because if you take out 2009, there has been a continuous gradual decline since 2006. It's not easy to tell when one goes from .343 to .300 then has that last hurrah at .334. But looking back to 2006, and then taking out 2009, you can see the decline. I suggest not only looking at what I have here, but also going to baseballreference.com. Besides the BA, HR, RBI, OPS+ listed here, the OBP, SA, OPS all are a continual drop from 2006=2011, taking out 2009. It's early and Jeter may rebound. But the trend isn't good.

    • Paul Knopick says:

      So what do you do with Jeter? Release him? Bench him? He's still going to look old and slow as DH. What a conundrum.

      • Mike S. says:

        This year? Full time. Next year? Platoon. 3rd year? Backup (I never would have given him three years). The 4th year is Jeter's option. You hope his pride takes over and he retires before then.

        • Franco Kotos says:

          I would hope that Jeter doesn't milk the contract…it's still early but he's moving in the wrong direction…

          • john says:

            Its crazy to think were having this problem with Jeter, Think about it he is just aging like a normal player should and used to before the roid era. some of you younger fans may not be used to guys being done at 35 like they did when I was younger. Iremember Mike Schmidt had 35hr in 87 and was retired by midseason in 89, things like that guys drop fast and thats what happens. I think we all got used to seeing guys put up crazy numbers late in their careers and now we are adjusting to natural aging of athletes. at age 34 Joe Morgan hit .236 and had one last good year where he hit .289 at age 39. Roberto Alomar hit .336 with 20hr and 100rbi at 34 then fell apart(rumors of his health aside) alomar went from MVP candidate to out of the game in a flash. Guys also used to hang on and complie to get to milestones, Like Pete Rose and Wade Boggs. I think this is what will happen to guys who did it natural like Jeter(I hope). Everybody have a happy easter and lets hope we get these 2 games in and shut Buck's big mouth.