I don’t like the Alfonso Soriano trade and sometime after it was made official on Friday, I took to Twitter to let it be known that not only was I upset with the deal, but I was fed up with Brian Cashman as well.
My beef, at the time, was that while I still thought Cashman was a good general manager, I didn’t feel that he was the right man to help guide the organization since they have arbitrarily decided to lower payroll to $189 million. The Soriano deal, while they are only paying $5 million of his salary next year, is simply not the kind of deal that is helpful to the long-term health of this organization and it joins the Ichiro Suzuki signing and Vernon Wells deal as a troubling trend.
It turns out that it hasn’t been Cashman pulling the strings lately.
In Joel Sherman’s column in Saturday’s NY Post, he pointed out that Cashman advised the Yankees NOT to trade for Soriano. Sherman also pointed out that Cashman was against the re-signing of Ichiro and had previously advised the team to re-sign Russell Martin and to sign Nate Schierholtz last offseason.
“I would say we are in a desperate time,” Cashman told the Post. “Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. … This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.”
If the Yankees had heeded Cashman’s advice rather than overruling him so often recently, I feel like they would be in a much better position not only this season, but next year as well.
For one thing, the Yankees still have an extremely high payroll this season so quite a lot of trimming will need to be done this offseason. It’s not going to be easy and it’s been made harder since the only multi-year commitments the Yankees have made in the past year have been to three bums — Wells, Soriano, and to a lesser extend Ichiro — to the tune of $13.9 million in 2014.
Think of how much better this team would have been with Schierholtz instead of Ichiro, Martin instead of Chris Stewart…Ichiro is currently hitting .270/.307/.676 while Schierholtz is hitting .281/.341/.529. Stewart is hitting .233/.308/.302 while Martin is hitting .248/.350/.401. Schierholtz signed a one-year deal worth $2.25 million while Martin was rumored to have been willing to sign a one-year $7 million deal.
So rather than spend $9.25 million on Schierholtz and Martin, they spent $13 million on Ichiro and nothing on a catcher and have exactly that much to show for it. While the Vernon Wells deal might have been inevitable because of the Curtis Granderson injuries, I can’t help but feel like the Soriano trade wouldn’t have been necessary had they landed Schierholtz. So let’s bump that to $19.8 million (the Yankees owe Soriano $6.8 million this year and next) that the Yankees have been forced to spend because they tried to save $9.25 million during the offseason ($11.5 million of that counts against next year’s luxury tax number).
About 10 years ago, the Yankees were having a problem with a split front office. The Tampa faction and New York faction were fighting and things were turning sour. In 2005, Brian Cashman asked for and got more authority from then owner George Steinbrenner. He had it for a while and the team eventually won the 2009 World Series.
Since that time, Hal Steinbrenner has taken over the team and Cashman has lost authority over the club. It started with Hank Steinbrenner going against Cashman’s wishes and re-signed Alex Rodriguez. It’s only gotten worse since that including a disgruntled Cash throwing ownership under the bus at the Rafael Soriano press conference.
I fear that things are only going to get worse unless something is done here. Maybe Cashman, whose contract is not up until after 2014, needs to demand to have his full authority reinstated. Maybe the Yankees need to replace Levine if he has too much influence over Hal. Or maybe this is just the way of life that we need to expect under the new regime — a team with a goal to cut payroll and no plan or vision of how to go about doing it.
Photo credit: (July 26, 2013 - Source: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America).