Tracking the Cash: Yankees at the Deadline
Brian Cashman was a lowly intern when he joined the Yankees organization in 1986, but he proved skillful at climbing the most slippery corporate ladder in professional sports.
Cashman was named general manager of the club in 1998, and under his watch the Yankees have captured five American League pennants and three World Series titles.
The 42-year-old New York native has been something of a lightning rod in his time as GM. Supporters say he's a smart, hard-working executive that has earned the respect of colleagues around the game. His detractors believe Cashman was simply along for the ride during the championship run, is a poor talent evaluator, and is directly responsible for the team's title drought this decade.
Whatever your opinion of Cashman, the man has staying power. And with the trade deadline upon us, we're going to take a look at the Yankees' July trading activity under Cash.
The Yankees were a staggering 76-27 at the end of play on July 31, so it's likely the young GM was warned like a kid standing next to grandma's china closet.
Don't. Touch. Anything.
Cashman made the right decision, standing pat with a juggernaut team on his hands. The Yankees would go on to win 125 games and the first of three consecutive World Series titles.
One note of interest came during Cashman's first draft a month earlier. He selected, but was unable to sign, a talented San Diego high school kid by the name of Mark Prior. This likely led to daily cane lashings from George Steinbrenner for the next five years or so.
I'm sure Cash really misses answering to The Boss.
July 31: Traded Geraldo Padua to the San Diego Padres. Received Jim Leyritz
Before Jim Leyritz became the tragic drunk he's known as today, he was a Yankee hero, hitting the three-run homer off Mark Wohlers that swung the 1996 World Series. The King, as the loquacious Leyritz was known, was brought back to the Bronx on July 31 for an unheralded minor-leaguer.
This was the '99 season, in which Andy Pettitte struggled mightily in the initial months, leading George Steinbrenner to demand his trade. Cashman wisely convinced The Boss otherwise, and perhaps to placate him, reacquired Pettitte's one-time personal catcher.
Leyritz played sparingly in his Bronx return engagement, though he did hit a home run in the World Series against Atlanta that year. Though an inconsequential homer in the context of that Fall Classic wipeout, Steinbrenner rewarded Leyritz with an unnecessary contract for the 2000 season.
According to Buster Olney's excellent Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, Leyritz referred to the blast as his "one-million-dollar home run."
June 29: Traded Zach Day, Ricky Ledee and Jake Westbrook to the Cleveland Indians. Received David Justice
July 12: Traded Jackson Melian, Drew Henson, Brian Reith and Ed Yarnall to the Cincinnati Reds. Received Mike Frank and Denny Neagle
July 21: Traded Ben Ford and Oswaldo Mairena to the Chicago Cubs. Received Glenallen Hill
The Yankees were a flawed team in 2000, playing nothing like the dominating clubs of the past two seasons. Substantial work needed to be done to buoy the team. Cashman would hit paydirt.
But not without a little luck. Cashman had been foiled in attempts to acquire Moises Alou and Juan Gonzalez when the veterans each rejected the idea of playing in New York.
Not to be denied, Cashman plowed ahead and eventually acquired Justice. The deal is widely considered to be Cash's greatest trade. Justice hit .305 with 20 homers, 60 RBI and 39 walks in 78 regular-season games. After lifting the Yankees into the playoffs, he had the defining hit of that postseason, blasting a late three-run homer off the Mariners' Arthur Rhodes in Game 6 of the ALCS to put the Yankees into the World Series.
Ledee never realized his promise, while Westbrook fizzled out after a promising start to his career in Cleveland. Day had a non-descript career, throwing his last pitch for the Nationals in 2006.
Justice was the primary score, but Cashman acquired two other known big league entities with mixed results.
The trade for Glenallen Hill further aided the sagging offense, the veteran slugger hit .333 with 16 homers and 29 RBI in just 132 at-bats. A deal to add depth to the starting rotation was less successful, as Denny Neagle pitched to a 5.81 ERA in 15 starts.
July 1: Traded Ricardo Aramboles to the Cincinnati Reds. Received Mark Wohlers.
July 4: Traded Brian Boehringer to the San Francisco Giants. Received Joe Smith and Bobby Estalella.
July 31: Traded Darren Blakely and Brett Jodie to the San Diego Padres. Received Sterling Hitchcock.
Cashman was busy again in 2001, but was ultimately unable to match the impact of the deadline deals a year earlier.
Wohlers was on the wrong side of Yankee history in the 1996 World Series. Five years later, the right-hander was brought in to fortify the bullpen under Joe Torre. Wohlers appeared in 31 games and battled command issues, finishing with a 4.54 ERA in pinstripes. He pitched one more season with the Indians before calling it quits.
Hitchcock was the NLCS MVP for the Padres in 1998, but he was a disappointment in his second go-around in the Bronx, going 4-4 with a 6.81 ERA. His season in New York wasn't a complete loss, however. He was the winning pitcher out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series against the Diamondbacks, the Yankees' final win of that memorable season.
July 2: Traded Scott Wiggins to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Raul Mondesi.
July 5: As part of a 3-team trade, traded Jason Arnold (minors), John-Ford Griffin and Ted Lilly to the Oakland Athletics. Received Jeff Weaver from the Detroit Tigers. In addition, the Oakland Athletics sent a player to be named later, Franklyn German and Carlos Pena to the Detroit Tigers; and the Detroit Tigers sent cash to the Oakland Athletics. The Oakland Athletics sent Jeremy Bonderman (August 22, 2002) to the Detroit Tigers to complete the trade.
This was a deadline that Cashman would like to forget, even if all the damage wasn't his doing.
The trade for Mondesi was a disgrace, a direct product of George Steinbrenner's petulance.
Mondesi was a player in decline in 2002, a hard-living, undisciplined, expensive slugger whom the Blue Jays believed they had no chance to rid themselves of. J.P. Ricciardi was so sure that he was stuck with Mondesi that the Jays' GM nearly drove off the Mass Pike when he learned the Yankees were interested.
Sure enough, Mondesi was a slug in New York, the antithesis of the kind of player that helped build the recent dynasty. Can't really blame Cash here. Sometimes The Boss is just going to be The Boss.
The Jeff Weaver debacle was on Cash, however. The Yankees gave up left-handed prospect Ted Lilly to acquire Weaver from the Tigers, a talented right-hander who had yet to live up to his potential playing for a bad Detroit team.
The deal blew up in Cashman's face.
Weaver didn't have the temperament to pitch in New York, looking eternally uncomfortable and unhappy on the mound. His lasting legacy is the game-winning homer he allowed to Alex Gonzalez in Game 4 of the World Series against the Marlins in 2003.
The walk-off blast turned the tide in the series, and as Lilly went on to flourish, it ensured the trade would be remembered as among Cash's worst.
July 16: Traded Ryan Bicondoa (minors), Jason Anderson and Anderson Garcia to the New York Mets. Received Armando Benitez.
July 22: Received Jesse Orosco from the San Diego Padres as part of a conditional deal.
July 29: Sent Dan Miceli to the Houston Astros as part of a conditional deal.
Traded Raul Mondesi and cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received John Prowl (minors), David Dellucci and Bret Prinz.
July 31: Received Gabe White from the Cincinnati Reds as part of a conditional deal.
Traded Robin Ventura to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Bubba Crosby and Scott Proctor.
Traded Brandon Claussen, Charlie Manning and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. Received Aaron Boone.
Brian Cashman officially cemented himself as one of baseball's premier deadline movers-and-shakers in 2003, orchestrating several deals for the eventual American League champion Yankees.
Of course, of all the above names, only one truly stands out: Aaron Bleepin' Boone.
Boone was acquired to replace a fading Robin Ventura, but things didn't get off to the best of starts. Boone batted just .254 in 189 regular-season at-bats and had been in a deep funk when he stepped into the box against Boston's Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the ALCS.
One flat knuckler changed all of that, making Boone a folk hero in the process.
Boone went on to blow out his knee playing basketball in the offseason, paving the way for a move that would change the face of the franchise: the acquisition of one Alex Emmanuel Rodriguez.
Five years later, we're still waiting to find out if that fateful pickup game makes or breaks the Yankees.
July 31: Traded Jose Contreras and cash to the Chicago White Sox. Received Esteban Loaiza.
The season that will forever live in infamy for Yankees fans, 2004 was a relatively quiet year on the deadline front for Cashman.
Dealing away Jose Contreras was a white-flag maneuver; the Yanks had fought hard to acquire the rights to the Cuban defector only to see him struggle both on the mound and off in his two seasons in New York.
Esteban Loizia was thought to be a potential wild card, having won 21 games a season before with the White Sox. But Loaiza looked nothing like the All-Star he had been in Chicago, and was banished to the bullpen after a succession of poor starts.
Had Cashman been able to flip Contreras for a more usable part, maybe it wouldn't have been a broken down Kevin Brown starting Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston that season.
Ah, the power of regret.
July 2: Traded Paul Quantrill to the San Diego Padres. Received Darrell May, Tim Redding and cash.
July 16: Received Al Leiter from the Florida Marlins as part of a conditional deal.
July 28: Traded Eduardo Sierra (minors) and Ramon Ramirez to the Colorado Rockies. Received Shawn Chacon.
July 29: Received Joe Thurston from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a conditional deal.
July 31: Sent Buddy Groom to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a conditional deal.
The Yankees scrambled their way to the postseason in 2005, winning the AL East despite an unusually sluggish start. One notable Cashman deal was a big reason for that.
Shaun Chacon was a relative unknown when the Yankees acquired him from the Rockies in exchange for two minor leaguers on July 28. Chacon had gone 2-16 over the past two seasons in Colorado, and yet Cashman saw something in the right-hander.
Chacon, using a bowling ball sinker, was a revelation out of the starting rotation, going 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 12 appearances (10 starts) for the Yankees. Chacon, along with journeyman Aaron Small, formed an unlikely dynamic duo in the back of the rotation, combining to go 17-3 for a team in desperate need of pitching.
July 30: Traded C.J. Henry (minors), Carlos Monastrios (minors), Jesus Sanchez (minors) and Matt Smith to the Philadelphia Phillies. Received Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle.
July 31: Traded Shawn Chacon to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received Craig Wilson.
Much as David Justice revitalized the Yankees offense upon his arrival in 2000, Bobby Abreu brought similar results to the team six years later.
Abreu was the perfect fit for the Yankee lineup. A left-handed batter with pop and patience, he was an ideal player to be hitting in front of Alex Rodriguez.
Phobia of outfield walls aside, Abreu was everything the Yankees could have hoped him to be, batting .330 with seven homers, 42 RBI, 37 runs, 10 steals and a gaudy .419 on-base percentage in 58 regular-season games.
Abreu went on to play two more full seasons in the Bronx, quietly producing all the way through his tenure before leaving for the Angels via free agency in 2009.
Chacon was quietly dealt away, injuries and inconsistency robbing him of the ability to match the success of a season earlier.
Lidle appeared in relief in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tigers, getting hit hard in the game that eliminated the Yankees. He died in a plane crash in Manhattan just a week later.
July 21: Traded Jeff Kennard (minors) to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Received Jose Molina.
July 31: Traded Scott Proctor to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Wilson Betemit.
The acquisition of Jose Molina was a particularly deft one by Cashman. Molina was known as a defensive standout who worked with pitchers well. He possessed qualities that Jorge Posada lacked and vice versa, making them a good combination behind the plate.
Scott Proctor was once a contributor out of the bullpen, but overuse by Joe Torre and a secret struggle with alcoholism led to his exit.
Wilson Betemit was of very little use to the Yankees, though they would later flip the strikeout-prone switch-hitter for Nick Swisher, which is a good thing if you value outfielders who try too hard to be funny.
July 26: Traded Daniel McCutchen (minors), Jose Tabata (minors), Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady.
July 30: Traded LaTroy Hawkins to the Houston Astros. Received Matt Cusick (minors).
Traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Detroit Tigers. Received Ivan Rodriguez.
July 31: Traded Alberto Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals. Received Jhonny Nunez (minors).
The 2008 season was the first year Cashman did not qualify for the postseason as the general manager. It wasn't for lack of effort, as the GM attempted to repair a team loaded with holes at the deadline in '08.
The big move involved the acquisition that brought Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pirates for prospects. Nady did give the Yankees another presence in the lineup, but he blew out his elbow this April, likely ending his Yankee career.
Marte has been a disappointment from the start, struggling to find a role in the bullpen before a trip to the DL last season. He injured his shoulder lifting weights during the World Baseball Classic in '09, leading to another DL stay that's cost him most of the season.
Jose Tabata made headlines shortly after the trade for a kidnapping case involving his daughter and insane cougar wife. Ross Ohlendorf has been a mainstay in the Pirates' starting rotation this season, going 8-8 with a 4.51 over 20 starts.
The disposal of Farnsworth was a necessary move; the erratic right-hander had long since worn out his welcome. Fourteen-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez was supposed to help offset the loss of Jorge Posada, but Pudge was a shell of his former self in pinstripes, batting just .219 with a pathetic three RBIs in 33 games.