Yankees-Ichiro Trade: Brian Cashman Balks at Giving Up Too Much
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The move gives the Yankees a proven, veteran outfielder with speed, even at the age of 38, and a solid defensive presence in the outfield.
This deal speaks volumes about Cashman’s reticence in making a truly big splash—one that could put the Yankees in the driver’s seat to not only win the American League East, but the World Series in October.
By surrendering DJ Mitchell, an average prospect with very limited MLB experience, and Danny Farquhar, a player the Yankees only recently picked up off waivers, the move signals Cashman’s desire not to give up any minor league talent of significant value.
The Yankees claimed Farquhar, 25, off waivers in June and had recently promoted him from Double-A to Triple-A. Mitchell may land a regular role in the big leagues someday, though he’s not projected to have a very high ceiling.
Ichiro is a larger-than-life name in the game of baseball, particularly around the world, though he’s not the player he once was. His 2012 numbers so far are that of a middling outfielder whose production mostly has not warranted everyday at-bats.
Suzuki is hitting .261 with an on-base percentage of only .288. Joe Girardi intends to bat Ichiro at the bottom of the Yankees' lineup, and in that, he’s completely justified.
The soon-to-be 39-year-old will not bring the Yankees many returns in the power department. Though if he decides to become pull-conscious, the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium sure is inviting.
Yankees fans should welcome the future Hall of Famer with open arms, provided he produces at a level more in line with his career averages. Ichiro has won 10 Gold Gloves and has averaged just under 40 stolen bases for his career.
In his prime, he hit well over .300 and is a lifetime .322 hitter. The diminutive star has led the American League in hits seven times, including five years in a row from 2006-2010.
The Yankees would sure love the Ichiro of even 2010, though the baseball gods sure have a way of being unkind to aging players. Even future Hall of Famers.
Ichiro should still provide the Yankees with a boost and at minimum should be a slight upgrade over DeWayne Wise. Wise did perform admirably well in limited duty and was a wonderful defensive replacement off the bench for manager Joe Girardi.
But Ichiro’s track record is hard to ignore. Even at the age of 38, the Yankees hope that this low-risk move will be akin—and even better-- to the Lance Berkman pick-up of 2010.
Some Yankees fans are at their wits' end with Brian Cashman. Many were dumbfounded and upset by the Michael Pineda trade in January, largely because Jesus Montero showed such tremendous promise in his limited time with the Bombers last season.
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The Yankees thought they were getting a burgeoning No. 2 starter in Pineda and a rising, young prospect in Jose Campos. Pineda suffered a shoulder injury in spring training and now Campos is likely out for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Montero is presently hitting .257 with nine home runs and on the whole, only having a marginally better season than Ichiro if you track by OPS. He’s actually been less valuable than Ichiro according to the wins above replacement (WAR) metric.
WAR quantifies a player’s value based on the number of wins the player adds to a team above what a replacement-level player would add. Ichiro has represented greater value over Montero due to his speed on the basepaths and superb defense in the outfield.
Ichiro leads all qualified major league right fielders in defensive WAR.
Brian Cashman is paid to make objective, well-researched baseball decisions in order to put the very best product on the field for the Yankees. But we're all human. It's not always easy to be utterly emotionless.
Sure, we can look and see that Montero is not doing much of anything right now. He's 22 years old and in his first full season in the majors. Some of his performance this year may lend toward thinking he's not going to be the next Manny Ramirez, no doubt.
Montero is also on a horrendous team, far, far away from family and friends on the other side of the country where the morale and motivation to play each day is not quite what it is in New York.
Some players thrive in the New York environment. It’s a fair assumption to feel that Montero will at least become an average ball player. Hector Noesi, on the other hand, has been abysmal and was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma. So Cashman is spared there.
Cashman’s deal for Ichiro was representative of a general manager who looked at the standings yesterday and saw his team with a comfortable six-game lead in the division. Today, the Yankees' lead is seven games over Baltimore.
How can you blame him for playing things conservatively? Cashman was burned by the Michael Pineda deal this offseason. Ironically enough, that deal was also completed with the Seattle Mariners.
"Brian Cashman’s style at the trade deadline is to find a hole and fill it with a relatively small piece that does not cost the Yankees big prospects."
Brian Cashman has been reluctant to pull the trigger on a big deal during the 2012 season. It's hard to believe a really crafty, season-altering move is around the corner as we close in on the trade deadline.
The Pineda deal was a big-time move that as of now has really backfired. Not surprisingly, Brian Cashman decided to not give up the farm this time around.
It’s hard to blame him, given the circumstances.
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