Dear Brian Cashman,

Brian Cashman

It seems as though you have made a firm commitment to getting the budget under $189 million. The motives are clear, and the benefits will be great for the ownership, and hopefully for the fiscal health of the organization.

You have done an excellent job, in my opinion, of developing a farm that can fill some of the holes that are developing in the organization. Although our farm only ranks 11th by Baseball America, the lower level depth in this organization is unparallelled in this league. This is especially true after your purchase of another GCL team, a necessary and important manuever. There are many players in Triple-A and Double-A now who could fill out the team’s bench slots next season, and possibly even starting spots. This will leave ample money for replacements of the starters who will be leaving after 2014.

My understanding of your plan is that you have a justification for holding off on any major financial commitments for 2014, like Justin Upton, for example. The reason is that you want to see which prospects might be capable of playing a role on the team in 2014 based on their production this season. Then you will know exactly where the team’s holes are and you can worry about filling those holes with free agents or trades when the time comes. If a trade comes along that fills a need cheaply and without giving up too much in prospects, then you will try to get it done. If not, you will wait.

Leading up to 2014, and possibly in 2014 itself, signing veterans to one year contracts is the ideal situation in your plan. You get a known amount of production at a price which is not inflated by youth, and without the risks that are associated with contracts greater than one year in duration. It also allows tight control of the budget. If the player helps the team you can keep them around another year. If not, sayonara. Definitely a reasonable approach to fill 1-2 holes every season.

While I see where you are coming from, I don’t think the above framework constitutes a real plan.

The most concerning part of this plan is that it appears you are waiting until 2014 to make any legitimate move, or filling any of the holes this organization has. The trade you desire for a young stud who costs nothing without having to give up too much in prospects doesn’t exist. If it does exist, then you have to be wary that you could be receiving damaged goods. We may never be able to prove it, but there’s a strong possibility Michael Pineda was damaged goods when we got him. That deal seemed perfect, but it turns out it wasn’t. Waiting for a farfetched deal like this is going to push the team closer to the 2014 season with nothing accomplished. Then you are forced to take whatever is left out there in order to field a competitive team, instead of doing it over time.

The Justin Upton trade was the perfect example of something you should have been salivating over. Upton would make $14.25 million next season and $14.5 million in 2015, while making $9.75 million this season. As was pointed out in a previous article I wrote, you can afford an average of approximately $13 million for starters next season if the bench is filled with prospects. This trade would have been only slightly above that amount. The players involved would not have been an issue either. A comparable deal to the Braves deal would have been Ed Nunez, David Phelps or Ivan Nova, David Adams or Corban Joseph, Adam Warren or Brett Marshall, and a throw in. Only two or three of these guys are even top 10 type prospects. Anyway, I digress.

The major point here is that this front office is clearly procrastinating until 2014 to make any type of a real move. There are no long term free agent signings taking place. There are no trades taking place. All of this while there are legitimate options passing you by.

Recently, at least one player leaves the team for free agency every season, and often no attempt is made to re-sign them or replace their production. This season the significant departures included Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, and Rafael Soriano. Ichiro was signed to replace Swisher, and he marks the only player to be signed for the 2014 season since before the 2011 season. His production comes close to Swisher’s if you account for defense, but it doesn’t match up. No one was signed to replace Soriano, our savior last season. No one was signed to replace Russell Martin either. Several players have been signed to replace Ibanez, but no one with a track record half as strong.

You are willing to trot out a cast of players that is getting closer and closer to a nonplayoff team. You’re willing to walk that dangerous line as the team gets slightly worse every year, and one year the playoffs will slip through your fingers. All of this is in the name of saving the richest organization in sports money.

This is not doomsday. Your team is still a contender, just less of a contender as each year goes by. The problem with the veteran signings is that there aren’t enough available at a reasonable price to replace the production this team is losing every year. Next year there are not enough players to replace the production you have been lucky enough to have from Kuroda, Pettitte, Granderson, Cano, and Mo. There weren’t any catchers to replace Martin this season. Actually, there were, but we weren’t willing to sign them because of financial constraints (see: AJ Pierzynski).

Another thing you seem to neglect is that even amongst the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, there is a 60% prospect failure rate. This is true with our prospects too, despite the fact that many Yankees fans do seem to think that it should be closer to a 0% failure rate with our guys. It’s one thing to fill a hole or two with prospects, but in 2014 we are talking about filling 10 holes with prospects who still haven’t played in the major leagues, or are coming off injuries (Pineda). While it’s going to be fun to watch for me, because I am a farm-o-phile, it’s not smart from a business perspective.

Finally, it seems as though you want to model your team after the Rays, or other teams that shuttle prospects in every year. That’s okay, but really what have the Rays won? Nothing. Hopefully your plan at least involves surrounding these homegrown players with some big time stars. I’m assuming it does. In order for that to happen though, you can’t wait until the last minute. Otherwise all that’s going to be left is the John Lackeys, AJ Burnetts, and Carl Crawfords of the world. Players with a high likelihood to bust. Justin Upton trades only come around so often. Finally, if you are going to model your organization after the Rays, at least do what they do best, give your best players extensions! This is yet another way you are procrastinating!

In short, Brian Cashman, I really hope that your plan involves more than what is listed above. At some point you have to stop waiting around for something to fall in your lap, and you have to go out and get what your team needs. The longer you wait to do that, the more you will have to pay for it, and the less likely it is that the type of talent you are looking for will become available when you need it. You have put yourself in a corner, because you have set a deadline for getting under the budget, but at the same time you’re owner is telling people he will try to win at all costs. Those are bold expectations to live by, especially in a city that loathes having their hopes and dreams dashed. I for one, understand the goals, but I am starting to question how realistic they are with the methods you are currently using to try to achieve them.

Here’s to hoping that either you come to your senses and start making moves that make sense, or that you have some ingenious plan that my simple mind cannot understand, and that you will ninja your way into developing a winning team in 2014.

Go Yankees!

Sincerely,

Greg Corcoran

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27 Responses to Dear Brian Cashman,

  1. thegreedypinstripes says:

    We didnt sign anyone to replace Rafael Soriano, you're right, because we have a healthy David Aardsma and Mariano Rivera to replace him. Just nit picking I know.

    • gcorcoran says:

      It's true. That was probably the least legitimate of the examples. To be fair though we don't know if Mariano is still going to be Mariano, and we have no idea what Aardsma is going to give us. This is one place where I will step out though, I don't think we should be signing any relievers to long term deals or big dollars.

    • Greg,
      Reading the writing on the wall, I feel there is a bigger plan than what you propose:

      Some facts:

      – In recent years, the Steinbrenner Brothers have hinted they might prefer just breeding horses rather than over-seeing the headaches that come with owning the New York Yankees.

      – Last year, shortly after the Los Angeles Dodgers changed ownership and sold for $2.15 Billion, it was rumored the Steinbrenner Brothers might be putting the New York Yankees up on the selling block at an estimated value of $3.5-4 Billion. Perhaps they were putting out feelers of appraisal, but why?

      – Just recently, the Yankees sold off a large chunk of the YES network to FOX, with the option of FOX having controlling shares within a few years.

      – With the exception of Ichiro, there have been few mult-year contract offers and efforts to secure multi-year contracts for blue chip players like Upton.

      The financial decks are being cleared fans… But again, for what purpose?

      Take a deep breath & read on…

      – Over the past several years, Derek Jeter has made no secret of the fact that he would one day like to be principal owner of a baseball team.

      – Derek Jeter’s contract is up at the end of 2013 for renegotiation.
      In order for Derek Jeter to stay in baseball for another few years and have a shot at Pete Rose’s all-time hits record, he would need to have some kind of flexibility in the playing schedule like Rose did in his final years as player/manager when he was staying in baseball mainly to pass Ty Cobb at 4,189 all-time hits.

      What if Derek pulled a Michael Jordan?

      MY PREDICTION for 2013-early 2014: Sometime during the salary renegotiation period for Derek Jeter, he will emerge with a buying group (hey, what group of millionaire/billionaire folks would not want to form a club around Capt. Clutch?) and step forward as the principle owner of the New York Yankees and buy out the Steinbrenner Brothers so he can fulfill his dream & the Bro Steins can walk away from the instability of Yankee ownership to focus on stabilizing their stables of horses.

      When the dust settles…

      Derek Jeter will own the New York Yankees.

      Captain Jeter will become Boss Jeter (to his ‘mates: Boss Jeets) and will then have the flexibility he needs to stay in baseball & own a team (really folks, what other team would he want to own other than the Yanks??).

      Sidenote: Lifetime Monster Yankees Fan Billy Crystal became a partial owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks shortly before the Yanks lost by a whisker to AZ in the ‘Bloop in the Desert’ Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. This was the same year Crystal released the labor of Yankees love tribute to his childhood hero & ol’ pal Mickey Mantle and all of baseball, 61*. How fun could that have been for Billy??? Since then, many say Billy has lost a few steps in hosting the Oscars. Take a lesson there, Derek.

      To finish off the changing of the guard:

      Jeet’s ol’ pal Jorge will come back to manage the Yanks.

      Joe Girardi will be relegated to bullpen catcher to satisfy his constant urge to tinker with the ‘pen.

      Bernie Williams will put his guitar on the shelf to become General Manager — or if he wants to remain in the musical limelight, Boss Jeets’ ol’ baseball buddy Gerald Williams will take the position.

      Jeets will remember the previous contract negotiation saga and Brian Cashman will be sent down to be in charge of staffing the team of Valets at the Yank’s Ruppert Plaza Garage.

      With a nearly broken down ‘roids-collapsed, two hip surgeries body, A-Rod's Albatross contract will become an insurance return/tax write-off & if Al wants to remain in the Yanks Organization, he will become the head Valet at aforementioned Garage. Otherwise, he has the bank to leave the organization and make his 'blond bimboes on parade' hobby a full time gig.

      When all of the pieces are in place, Derek will be able to pass Pete Rose at 4,256 and bring dignity and respect to the all-time hits record.

      You heard it here first folks. Spread this around & tell your friends & neighbors because at least most of these predictions will come to pass (not so sure about the last four, but I remain hopeful).

      • gcorcoran says:

        Wow, that's some theory. I think the part about the Steinbrenners selling the Yankees is reasonable. I have heard quite a few people say that and I agree there is a decent possibility that this happens. As far as Jeter becoming part owner, maybe after he retires. As far as Jeter becoming owner/player at the same time, I don't see that happening. I think the rest of what you wrote was only half serious so I want comment, but it was quite entertaining and made me laugh several times (especially the Cashman joke). Great post overall. Definitely an interesting perspective though.

      • Alan says:

        I hope they do sell. Hal is no George. One point you overlooked was the effect playing with a loser has on prospects. Without a stable veteran leadership and a strong clubhouse, rookies tend to get sucked down and fail to reach potential. Also, feeding in one or two rookies in a year is one thing; adding 6 or 7 is another.

  2. Becky Bravo says:

    Well said.

    The bulk of the motivation behind this ridiculous budget thing is to prove to the world that they can be the champ-caliber team while NOT spending any money.

    Asinine.

    No one says you have to spend a shitload on ridiculous contracts like in the past. But you do need to spend SOME. Get real you assholes.

    Glad Swisher is gone. He was nothing more than a piece of debris in the field during the playoffs. Every freaking season.

    Glad Martin is gone as well. But to not go after a legitimate replacement was just foolish.

    I am beyond annoyed with this organization. First the unnecessary price hikes for tix, then they BLAME Stubhub for dismal attendance (LOL), and now they're showing everyone that they're REALLY SERIOUS about being frugal.

    The greed. How brazen it is.

    I can't with these people.

    • gcorcoran says:

      It's pretty ridiculous how cheap Hal Steinbrenner is being with money that was literally GIVEN to him and he has done nothing to earn.

      • wally says:

        Hal is definitely the villain in all this. But I think this not just a matter of being greedy — which he clearly is. It's also a classic case of mismanagement. i can understand wanting to trim budget. But if so, do it with some long-range planning. That has been lacking. Yes, the Yankees need some contributions from young players — but they have been unwilling to give them a chance to play.
        Love your stuff, Greg, but I disagree with you here on several points. Fitrst off, they probably need just six or seven prospects to contribute in 2014. Don't need the ten you cite. Second, even assuming the 60% prospect failure rate, several points must be made. First, that failure rate is much LOWER for position prospects — and that's where the Yankee strength is now. Secondly, the Yankees likely have four Top 50 or Top 60 prospects. Again, the failure rate of position prospects that high up the list is much lower. Third, even if it's true that half or more of prospects fail — that's all the more reason to keep the ones you have. (continued below).
        .

        • wally says:

          Trading IMO is the WORST route to take. But the Yankees should have signed any number of free agents to one or even two year deals this winter. Most readers of this blog can make their own long list. So, yes, keep the prospects. But give them a chance to play. And be prepared to suffer the normal ups and downs.
          The truth is Yanks will have to admit they're in for at least one down year. They refuse to admit that. That's a;so part of the problem

          • gcorcoran says:

            Just so you know, the failure rate of top 50 prospects is about 45-50 percent. Not much better, but definitely better as you stated. I have the article somewhere but I don't have the link handy to cite it. Other than that I agree with most of what you said. I agree that we don't need to phase in 10 prospects next season, however there are 10 bench/relief spots open. If we fill all of those slots with prospects and cheap options then we will have a considerable amount of money to spend on our starting pitchers and position players.

            I will say this though, I would be extremely concerned about trying to phase in 5-6 prospects in one season. Like you said, this would be a nonplayoff season, which needs to be acknowledged by the front office. Phasing in 6 prospects would be unprecedented for the Yankees. I don't think any team that expects to win should be phasing in any more than two. Again, I don't think it has to be like this. I think they can make some moves and signings that will put a competitive team on the field in 2014 while staying under the budget. They just need to start doing SOMETHING

          • wally says:

            My idea would be to phase in 2 or 3 this year. Then you just need to do 3 or 4 more in 2014. This is very doable. Romine and Adams seem the most obvious choices for 2013, but Mustelier or one of the Almontes, and possibly Mongomery also possibilities. A sleeper is Cesar Cabral. So let's say three of these make it this year. In 2014, I do think you'll need one of the top-tier outfielders to make it. I like Williams because he can play MLB D right now and will add speed and contact hitting. I realize this would be rushing him — but one in a while that's not such a bad thing. Flores another possible. Beyond that, a long relief spot for either Warren, Marshall or Turley. So that's five. Another reliever from Kahnle/Whitley/Goody? BTW, I think Abe Almonte is under-rated. Another guy who can hit, run and get the ball- could be good fourth/fifth OF.

          • wally says:

            BTW, Greg, if Top 50 failure rate for prospects is 45-50%, I would think the failure rate for position players is lower. I know in general, pitchers fail at a higher rate so I would think if you strip them out, the rate for position players is (much?) lower. Maybe I'm overly optimistic but I expect two, if not three of Sanchez, Williams, Austin, Heathcott group to be solid major leaguers. Very important that two of these guys are above-average defenders at skill positions. Anyway, thanks for data.

          • gcorcoran says:

            You would be right. The rate of failure is lower for position players in the top 100 than for pitchers. This is all based off of BA's list btw. If three of the guys from the group you mentioned end up being major league average or better players, that would be huge for the Yankees. I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet because this is a big season for them. If they're all still top 50 after this season, then I'll really start to dream on these guys.

            I hope you're right. I hope Romine and a couple of others are phased in this season. If that happens, then the 2014 team may just have a fighting change. Even if they do this, they still have some major gaps to fill, and they're gonna have to do it through trades and or free agent signings.

  3. Keena says:

    I don't blame Cashman for all this cheap stuff. I put the blame squarely on the little clit that writes Cashman's check, Hal Steinbrenner. Quickly becoming the worst owner in sports. And the franchise is becoming more like the Jets by the day. Not a chance this team contends.

    • gcorcoran says:

      Hal is definitely more to blame. This is his team and his budget. Cashman has been preaching this for a long time though. He desperately wants to be taken seriously as a GM, and the only way that's going to happen is if he actually has a real budget to work with. Can't blame the guy but it should still be all about winning, not about advancing Brian Cashman's career.

      I do think they will contend in 2013, and hopefully the front office comes to it's senses and starts making serious strides towards 2014, because it's getting to the point where it will be too late soon. I don't think it's impossible to stay under the budget and contend, I just hope they get moving on a legitimate plan soon.

    • ldubinsky says:

      the time to start casting blame is not till the team plays a bunch of games and doesn't win many of them…..and "clit' is rather a nice thing and not a term of derision, silly girl

      • Keena says:

        haha, I guess that's true enough! I guess I could come up with much worse things to call him. I just hope he'll sell the team to someone who cares more about winning than these stupid budgets.

  4. Ron Tamoschat says:

    I think the Yankees will be lucky to win 80 games this year.They let 100 home runs and over 200 rbi's walk away this offseason without replacing them. how do you win with that kind of loss ? And how do you let your catcher , a good defensive player and productive hitter despite a low batting average (21 homers , 60+ rbi's) walk away with the replacements being a rookie who has not played in the Majors and was out all last year with a bad back and two career back-ups after him ? Other question marks are Jeter , A Rod , Mariano , C.C after surgery, Kuroda the second time around and a year older, Hughes inconsistency , Nova's implosion I see a lot of subtraction and very little addition. Yankee fans will not turn out for a poor team and the empty seats will cost the Yankees a lot of revenue , maybe more than they save by being penurious.

    • Keena says:

      Right on, Ron. As of now, I'm predicting 84 wins. Hal is determined to turn us into the Mets.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I don't think this year is a problem actually. They came close to replacing Swisher's production with Ichiro (between his offense and defense), and I think people underestimate how bad Martin really was last season. Aside from the homeruns, his production is easy to replace (although not by Stewart or Cervelli).

      The team definitely has some question marks, and they're not as good as last year's team, but I still think they make the playoffs because of good pitching and still solid hitting.

  5. @rv37087 says:

    I am lucky enough to have as many dead presidents you want to wager they win 80 or more.. Or maybe sorry to interfere for your just _(oh you know)..

  6. Thomas says:

    I have to agree with some things and disagree with others.
    1. Yankees made a trade offer to the diamondbacks but they never were interested in what the Yankees had. Cash an did try.
    2. At times we will never know what goes on behind closed doors. Which talks were had with free agents or what was said. If swisher agent said to the Yankees , if you don't start at 3 years, don't even offer anything.
    3. I have read over the years fans, maybe you, who begged to sign Crawford and were so upset that the Yankees didn't,now look at that signing by Boston. I for one am glad that sori is not on the team anymore.I am sure that people were pushing and excited about A-Rod's extension when he opted out, I was against it, now look at his contract. Some fans are impossible to please.
    4. If the Yankees have a plan, I doubt they will be making it public for all their competitors to know. This is a tough business and owners and GM's need to keep things close to the vest.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I agree with you on most counts here. First, I know Cashman tried, but he didn't make it happen. He was passive in the whole process. He made a call, but not necessarily a legitimate offer. I agree that we don't know what went on behind the scenes though.

      As far as resigning Swisher goes, I don't care all that much. I just wanted them to replace his production, which they came close to doing with Ichiro. Unfortunately it doesn't make the team better though.

      I did not want the Yankees to sign Crawford. I was definitely nervous when the Red Sox did, but I didn't think he was worth it for the contract he was commanding, although I always did like him before he was a Red Sock.

      As for A-Rods extension, I was a proponent of re-signing him, but I was not a proponent of bidding against ourselves like we did. As for Soriano, I'm glad we didn't sign him at the contract he got. Again I'm more concerned about replacing his production. Looks like we have the guys to do that in house, so I'm more okay with a non-move in this scenario.

      If the Yankees have a plan, of course they would not discuss it. They would, however, begin to execute that plan at some point. Thus far they have not. They've done nothing to make the 2014 team more competitive except sign Ichiro. Something has to give soon otherwise the procrastination is going to catch up to them and there's not going to be anything worthwhile available for 2014.

  7. Gonzalo Hiram says:

    lame fans, whining whining and whining

  8. Tanned Tom says:

    First, it seems obvious that Cashman is operating under orders from ownership. He has never been a do-nothing GM. Even when I thought the moves to be feeble, he was active. Second, it seems clear that these moves are precursors to selling the team. As horrid as the brothers have been, new ownership is likely to be worse. Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch, anyone?
    As for fixing the team, let's start with asking which players you'd want on your team in 2014? Cano, Gardner, Robertson, Sabathia. I really think that's it. Jeter will be too old, and is already a defensive liability at SS. Mo and Andy will be retired. Teixeira is already no better than average.

  9. Tanned Tom says:

    So start with some bold moves:
    1) Void the A-Fraud contract in any manner possible, even if a bought out "retirement" has to be staged.
    2) Move Jeter to 3B. At least his range won't hurt so bad there.
    3) Trade Granderson now. Worst trade of the Cashman era.
    4) Stop signing old stop gap players. The Ibanez signing last year was mind-blowing in it's stupidity. Signing a 40 year old player who can't hit lefties, can't run, can't field, and was coming off a terrible year makes no sense. And outside of his unexpected theatrics in the post season he failed to perform. Either sign or trade for real major leaguers (Upton) or let's see the kids now.
    5) Bite the bullet and re-sign Cano. He's the best player on the team.
    6) Move Gardner to CF.
    7) Remember that not all players have to be stars, but all have to be solid. Look at the OBPs for the '98 team. Guys like Knoblauch, Curtis, Brosius were really no more than role players, yet all had OBPs above .350, all could field (except for Knoblauch's arm) and all could run a little. A balanced player with no weakness is more valuable, and cheaper, than a "star" with flaws.