Just Deal With It: A Look at Brian Cashman's Best and Worst Moves as Yankees GM
If you have been reading my recent works, you know that I have a very strong opinion about Brian Cashman.
Well, if you don't know, I think that he is mediocre at best and think he should be fired. But in this article, I look at everything he's done, which includes the good moves that he's made. And in looking at all Yankee transactions since he took over in February of 1998, I found a surprising amount of moves that I was impressed with.
However, there were of course many big mistakes that were made, and I will list those as well. Unlike my previous article about the best and worst trades, I will not put the number of entries to a limit and I will not rank them, because it seems that creates more ruckus, and it makes it look like I don't know what I am talking about.
Cashman has made many controversial moves, but I will list only the best and worst. If I feel there is a trade that isn't a great trade, or a terrible trade, it simply won't go on the list. I will also create a section for interesting things that I have found while making this list (when you get there, you will see what it is, and you might actually find it interesting).
Anyways, this article is about going throughout the career of Brian Cashman, and seeing what he did well (yes, I know he has made some good moves), and what he didn't (obviously a lot more of these than good moves).
Though I do have my strong opinions about Cashman, this is a completely non-biased article, and I will analyze the trades as if I am a fan of another team, having no stance on Cashman.
Now, buckle your seat belts, as I'm going to take you throughout the career of Brian Cashman.
The Good Moves of Brian Cashman
The following is all of the good transactions that Brian Cashman has made over his tenure as Yankees General Manger.
Signing Hideki Matsui
Definitely one of Cashman's better moves.
Godzilla, as he was known in Japan, was a three-time MVP for the Yomiuri Giants. Cashman lured Matsui to come to the Yankees on a three-year, $21 million contract. Matsui, in turn, has been one of the more productive Yankees of the last seven years, hitting .292, with 126 home runs and 547 RBI's in 852 games.
Matsui was also noted for having a consecutive game streak of 518 in the Major Leagues, as it was ended by Matsui breaking his wrist on May 12, 2006.
Cashman was able to think outside the box on this move, and it has paid off very well for the Yankees. In addition to the production on the field, the Yankees make a fortune off of Japanese advertising due to Matsui being on the Yankees.
So in more than one way, great signing by Cashman.
Trading Robin Ventura to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor
This is not a major trade, but if you are a big Yankee fan, you can probably appreciate this trade. Ventura's good career was coming to a close, and the Yankees had no need to hold onto him for the remainder of the 2003 season, so they shipped him to the Dodgers, mainly for Ventura's sake, since Aaron Boone had taken over as the third baseman.
Considering that it was a move which was probably intended for the players benefit, the Yankees did a very good job. They landed Bubba Crosby, who, by looking at the numbers was nothing more than a rarely used outfielder, but was also a fan favorite.
Just like the slogan of his Web site, how can you not love a player named Bubba? And any die-hard Yankee fan would remember that huge, walk-off home run he hit on September 19, 2005 against Toronto that helped the Yankees to winning the AL East.
Along with Crosby in the trade was Scott Proctor, who pitched well in 190 games out of the bullpen for the Yanks, going 11-10 with a 4.29 ERA. All in all, the Yankees got a solid reliever for three years and a huge walk-off home run all for what?
A few more games as a backup third baseman, which Ventura would have provided. Good pickup by the Yankees.
Signing Orlando Hernandez
I was kind of leaning against putting amateur free agents on the list, but since Hernandez was at least 33, possibly 37 or even 41 when the Yankees signed him, I figure that I will make an exception and put him on the list.
Either way, it was an amazing move by Cashman, who inserted El Duque into the starting rotation in his first year with the team, and boy, did it pay off. A 12-4 record, with an ERA of just 3.13 in 21 starts.
You think it's a coincidence that that happened to be 1998, possibly one of the greatest years in the history of Yankee baseball? That's no coincidence, it's El Duque at his best. Orlando would end up going 61-40 with a 3.96 ERA over 136 starts as a Yankee.
What he did for the 1998, 1999 and 2000 teams was unforgettable. His ability to perform in the clutch was unmatchable, and he will be remembered in New York.
Purchasing the contract of Alfonso Soriano from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Bet you didn't know that. Well, either did I.
I had no clue that Soriano played in Japan before coming to the Yankees. Well, he did, and here is another one of those Cashman "thinking outside the box" moves that I really love.
Though I'm not an A-Rod fan, Soriano was basically traded straight up for A-Rod, and though it hasn't been natural, A-Rod has produced a ton for the Yankees. Soriano, in his time with the Yankees, also had a lot of offensive production.
In three years as the starting second baseman, Soriano hit 95 home runs and drove in 266 runs for the Yankees. Considering they got three years of a great second baseman and A-Rod, all from buying out a contract from a Japanese team, I have to say that Mr. Cashman did an excellent job on this.
The Bad Moves of Brian Cashman
Brian Cashman has made some very good moves, some that have included signing starting position players, giving up virtually nothing for a solid reliever and fourth outfielder, and purchasing the contract of a player in the Japanese league who would go on to be a superstar in the Major Leagues (I'm actually talking about Soriano, not Matsui). Now you will see some of Cashman's bone headed moves, the ones that I will be talking about for a long time.
Trading Damaso Marte for Enrique Wilson
No, this didn't just happen last night.
You are probably thinking, they never traded him. Well they did.
Prior to the 2000 season, the Yankees signed Damaso Marte in November 1999, only to trade him two months into the season to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would spend parts of his career being one of the best relievers in baseball. The Yankees received Enrique Wilson, who was one of the best hitters in baseball during his time with the Yankees.
In all seriousness, he wasn't a bad utility infielder over the next three and a half years with the Yankees, but he was not an offensive player, as he hit just .216 over his time as a Yankee. And it seems bad that the Yankees would give up Marte for that little in return, right?
Well, they would trade for him, along with Xavier Nady, at the 2008 trade deadline. And they didn't give up Enrique Wilson, they gave up Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf. Now, when the Yankees gave up an incredible amount for Marte, he has done nothing for the team, going 1-4 with a 7.61 ERA in 32 games over the last year and a half.
What did the Yankees give up this time? McCutchen, rumored to be a pretty good pitching prospect, Tabata, who by many was considered to be one of the best prospects in baseball (though his prestige has gone down in the last few years), Karstens has been a good spot starter for the Pirates, and Ohlendorf is a starter this year.
Had we kept Marte in the first place, we wouldn't have had to give up a ton for him when he was 33, and we would have had him when he was 25.
Trading Jason Arnold, John-Ford Griffin and Ted Lilly to the Oakland Athletics. Detroit Tigers sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees, Athletics sent Franklyn German, Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers
I consider this to be one of the worst moves Cashman has ever made.
Basically, just acquiring Jeff Weaver makes this transaction a bad one. In just a year and a half on the Yankees, Weaver was 12-12 with a very high 5.35 ERA over 32 starts and 15 relief appearances. As I said, if they traded him for cash, that would have still been a bad deal. But the point is, he was terrible, and they wasted over $5 million on him.
Who did they give up to get him? Let's see. Jason Arnold never pitched in the majors, so OK. John-Ford Griffin, who was a first round pick of the Yankees in 2001, played 13 games with the Blue Jays in 2005 and 2007, so again, not bad.
And there was one other guy the Yankees traded. Ted Lilly.
That was the major mistake that Cashman made. At the time that the Yankees traded him, Lilly, in 11 starts, was 3-6, but with an ERA of just 3.40. Since the Yankees traded him, he has gone 92-68, with an ERA of 4.17 over 211 starts.
What if the Yankees had him over the last 10 years? We wouldn't have needed to sign Jaret Wright or Carl Pavano. We would have had Lilly, who is one of the most consistent starters in the league the last 10 years with the Athletics, the Blue Jays and currently the Cubs.
We had him, but Jeff Weaver is way better, right?
Trading Mike Lowell to the Florida Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Mark Johnson and Todd Noel
There is one thing about this trade that makes me say, maybe it wasn't that bad. That is, that Scott Brosius was the starting third baseman on the team from 1998 until 2001.
The Yankees traded Lowell prior to the 1999 season, knowing that Brosius was going to be the starter for a few more years, and there was no point of having Lowell sit around for three more years. So, in that respect, I understand that trading Mike Lowell was the only good option.
But could they have gotten something better than what they got? Noel and Johnson both never made it to the Yankees, and Yarnall had all of three starts for the Yankees.
What did Lowell do?
Besides being one of the best third baseman in baseball for the last 10 years, he's a four-time All Star, silver slugger and gold glove winner, and has won two World Series championships, one with Florida (2003) and the other with Boston (2007).
I understand in these circumstances why you would trade Lowell, and I realize that you never know what you're going to get with prospects, but the blame falls on the general manager.
Signing Carl Pavano
This was a four-year disaster, and I feel that I can blame this solely on Brian Cashman.
Over four years, the Yankees spent $38 million on a man who won nine games for the team. Four in 2005, one in 2007 and four in 2008. Talk about consistency.
Even before he needed Tommy John surgery in his first year as a Yankee, he was terrible, going 4-6 with a 4.77 ERA over 17 starts. The surgery caused him to miss all of the 2006 season. Then he came back in 2007 and made two starts, and he really didn't look too bad.
Then what happens?
Another injury, causing him to miss the rest of the season and most of 2008. Then, after many months of being out, Pavano resurfaces again, and he did exactly what people expected.
With generous run support from his team, he went 4-2 in seven starts, but not without having an ERA of 5.77. Face it, Pavano was a complete bust, and all blame goes on the GM for that move.
The reason Cashman signed Pavano, as it seems, is the wonderful 2004 season he had with the Marlins, going 18-8 with an ERA of 3. But let's take a look at Pavano's career stats before he signed with the Yankees.
He was 57-58 (that's including the 18-8 season), with an ERA of 4.21, and remember, that is all in the National League, so his ERA should actually be a little higher, if comparing it to the American League.
The point is, Pavano wasn't a great pitcher when the Yankees signed him. He was an average pitcher who had one great season. He wasn't worth $38 million, and Brian Cashman knew it. Remember, Orlando Hernandez was 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA the year before.
Had they resigned him, which would have been much less than Pavano would make, the Yankees would have never had to put up with the mess that is Carl Pavano.
Signing Jason Giambi
I have talked with many people about Jason Giambi, and his contributions (not many) to the Yankees. And I have been shocked that there are people out there that think he was a great player.
I'm not kidding.
I have heard people say that he was one of the best players in baseball the last seven years. So anyway, he is a bust in my opinion, which is apparently not the general consensus.
Giambi, coming over from Oakland in the free agent market, signed a seven-year, $120 million mega deal that paid him most of the money at the end of the contract.
How many dominating years did Giambi have?
One, the first year of his contract, where he hit .314 with 41 home runs and 122 RBI's. It all went down hill from there. The second year was pretty good, but not as good as 2002, as Giambi hit just .250, with 41 home runs and 107 RBI's.
2004 was the year where it all started to collapse. He missed most of the season to an injury associated with a tumor, and hit just .208, with 12 home runs and 40 RBI's. The next few years would be up and down, as he hit 30 home runs three of the next four years, but hit just .253 over those four years.
Giambi's biggest problem was not even the low batting average, it was that he was so streaky. Look at the 2005 season for Giambi, in which he hit 32 home runs with a .271 average. In April, he hit just three home runs with a .224 batting average. In May, he hit just .241 with just one homer. In June, he hit .310, but had just one home run. So now let's look at his stats. At the end of June, he's hitting .257 with five home runs and 22 RBI's—not to good.
But look at the month of July—it's absolutely outrageous. Nearly half of his 32 home runs come from the month of July alone, as he hit 14 homers in July, along with a stellar .355 average. In August, he hit .250 with six home runs, but consider that the six home runs were hit over a course of three games, all being multi-home run games.
This is an example of Giambi being one of the streakiest hitters in baseball. He's great for one month, and does nothing the rest of the year, and the statistics look OK.
Face it all Giambi lovers, he's a $120 million bust.
Signing Kei Igawa
Speaking of horrible, disastrous signings, here's what could be the worst of them all.
After the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a huge contract prior to the 2007 season, the Yankees felt that they needed to compete with the Red Sox signing of the best pitcher on the market.
So what did they do?
They signed Kei Igawa, who many said would fare pretty well in this league. He's not even faring too well in the Minor Leagues.
In 13 starts over two seasons, Igawa is 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA. And how much has it cost the Yankees? You think maybe $15-$20 million at most right?
Nope. When it's all over, the Yankees will have spent $46 million on Kei Igawa! Igawa signed a five-year, $20 million contract, and his former team, the Hanshin Tigers, received $26 million for letting him go to the Yankees.
That could be the worst work of Brian Cashman.
Interesting Things I Found
The Yankees had Carlos Pena, but released him just one year before he would hit 46 home runs with the Rays.
Chris Davis, now of the Texas Rangers, was a 50th round pick of the Yankees in 2004, but did not sign.
Current and former Met's Omir Santos and Phillip Humber were both drafted by the Yankees in the 2001 draft. Santos signed, but Humber did not.
Mark Prior was a first round pick by the Yankees in 1998, but he did not sign.