New York Yankees: Nick Swisher, and Brian Cashman's 10 Best Moves as GM
When you are an employee of the New York Yankees the word pressure takes on a whole new meaning.
New York is a city that doesn’t just like to win, they expect to win. Hence the passionate Yankee fans, who are living and breathe this very sentiment.
So, when things go astray for the Yankees or any other MLB team who takes the blame?
A teams general manager and in the Bronx, that would be Mr. Brian Cashman.
So, what do GM’s really do other then play fantasy baseball for real???
To start a general manager is a team’s decision maker over who controls player transactions; hires and fires the coaching staff; develops the plan for the minor league system that entails keeping tabs on all the players from Single-A to Triple-A ball; stays in close touch with every scout in the field to keep tabs on amateur eligibility and who to draft each season and this is just the beginning of the list.
Cashman also has the daunting responsibility of being the Yankees spokesman for everything and the media in New York expects answers all the time.
Cashman has been the fans and media’s scapegoat for all failures; and sees little gratitude for putting together a contending team season after season for New York to be proud of.
Here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Best Brain Cashman Moves as GM of the New York Yankees:
(Please note that Cashman did not have full authority until 2008, as The Boss had the final word on everything and a lot of bad contracts were unfairly blamed, so many on the list are recent. Hey success is success.)
Yankee fans are familiar with Kerry Wood, after he joined the pinstripes post All-Star break last season and dominated as the team’s eighth inning pitcher.
For Cubs fans, it was déjà vu because Wood not only dominated, but also stayed healthy through the end of the 2010 season.
Yankee fans’ relationship with Wood was an immediate love affair and I have yet to meet anyone who didn't want Wood back in 2011.
Presumably I expect to hear that Wood got a new contract, but instead he want back to where it all started at a bargain price because he said it wasn't about the money anymore. He would be closer to his family and also would be helping Cubs ownership out as well.
Wood is the real hero of this past off-season of putting baseball and life before anything else, not even money could buy it away from his loyalty to his Chicago Cubs.
From 2006-2009, Bartolo Colon played for the Angels, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. In total he made 47 starts, posting a 14-21 record, with an ERA just shy of 5.00, while striking out 172 batters, over 256 innings in total.
So, anybody saying that Yankee fans had no foundation to be apprehensive is just a hater because Colon’s history did not spell anything but possible problem.
Well, Colon is making Cashman look like a certified genius.
Look, I am not forgetting that this was a HUGE gamble for Cashman and even though it is working out BIG time, it could have easily gone south too but it didn’t.
Fact is at 38-years-old and still way over-weight, Colon can still pitch and completely control a baseball game. Colon throws the ball sharply, with enough velocity (clocking a mid-90’s fastball) and movement to be game winning effective starter.
Chavez is a six-time Gold Glove third-baseman and was the face of the A's franchise for his entire career, until he found himself a free agent last year.
Over the last four seasons, Chavez has only played in a total 154 games over the past four seasons due to back and shoulder injuries. He wants to reestablish himself and thanks to Brian Cashman that is exactly what he is doing.
Chavez is a perfect fit and provides skipper Joe Girardi with some real and talented depth all-around with a this guy on the Yankee bench.
Try and Imagine if Cashman didn’t go after catcher Russell Martin?
It would be a different team, who essentially would probably not be in first place right now.
The 28-year-old former All-Star is till uber-talented and seems to be healthy again. Martin had major knee issues when with the Los Angeles Dodgers so he was let go at the end of 2010.
Martin was a popular guy this past off-season with the Red Sox and Yankees hot on his tail. Thank goodness Cashman pursued Martin so much considering Cervelli's broken foot and rookie Jesus Montero's bad Spring Training, the Yankees would have been in a jam at such an important position.
Martin has blended with the pitching staff like he has been a Yankee for years; even Burnett is thriving with Martin guiding him along and keeping his head in check.
Martin has also been a hitting machine with 24 hits, five doubles, six homers, 20 RBIs and drawn eight walks so far in the month of April....WOW!
Curtis Granderson arrived in New York under the watchful eyes of Yankees fans, who were not very happy that he cost the team one of their rising stars that was weeks away from coming to the Bronx to debut.
Granderson initial start in New York was not great, as he struggled hitting lefties (career issue) and then wound up on the DL for 4 weeks suffering from a Grade II groin strain. It left the team sans a center-fielder and did not help Granderson earn the Yankee fans trust yet.
Wow how quickly things can change, as Granderson came back and since last August has been sensational and hasn't looked back. Granderson is dynamic in the field and has always been against righties, but know you can officially warn left-handed pitchers that Granderson is no longer an easy out or out of the line-up all together.
While his counterpart, Austin Jackson is manning his old stomping ground in Detroit, he seems to have picked up Granderson's striking-out numbers but did he did almost win the Rookie-of-the-Year in 2010.
Overall looking back at this trade today.....Cashman made another trade that worked in the Yankees favor.
Mark Teixeira is a darn good baseball player, and having such a talented first-baseman defensively was certainly something that Yankee fans were not used too.
Tex definitely made first-base legit again, as he has been named to multiple All-Star Teams, won numerous Gold Gloves and he is one of the best hitters in all of baseball.
What is there not to like about pitcher CC Sabathia?
Sabathia is a staff leader, great in the clubhouse and not to mention an innings eating ace.
In his first two-plus seasons in pinstripes, Sabathia has pitched 515 innings, fanning 436 batters,with an ERA of 3.22. CC has also pitched four complete games and one shut-out.
In 2009 and 2010 Sabathia finished fourth and thirrd in the CY Young Award voting respectively.
Well worth the $161 bucks it took Cashman to get him to the Big Apple.
Andy Pettitte (second TIme)
Southpaw Andy Pettitte
On January 14, 2003 the Yankees made it official, to the biggest showing of media to a Yankees press conference in the team's 100 year history, that three-time MVP for Tokyo Yomiuri Giants Hideki Matsui was now a Yankee.
Matsui is considered a living icon in his home country of Japan and New York quickly learned why.
Matsui is the ultimate professional and when his team needed him to get a big hit that is just what Matsui did.
Named the MVP of the 2009 World Series is not given to a team's DH unless each at-bat was spectacular. Matsui came off-the-bench and guaranteed the Yankees a championship with every at-bat.
I hope Matsui knows how much he is missed in the Bronx; and that he forever in Yankee fans minds be one of the best to ever don the pinstripes.
Good pick-up Cashman!!
After missing the playoffs in 2008, along with leaving the only stadium they called home, the Yankees needed to lose some of the seriousness in the clubhouse.
So, in the off-season before the start of 2009 Cashman sent Wilson Betemit and two minor league arms to the Chicago Cubs for center fielder-first baseman Nick Swisher.
It was the perfect trade, at the right time.
Swisher and New York were love at first sight.
Everyone from the Bleacher Creatures, to his teammates, and coaches fell in love with this guy. There is no player that fans have smiled and cheered for so quickly in the Bronx than Swisher.
Swisher loves his job and it shows every single time he takes the field. In his first season he picked up the slack to keep the Yankees in the hunt.
Now, who doesn't know the ending to that story?
The Yankees won the 2009 World Series and could not have made their new house, a home without Swish!!
Let's hope the Yankees re-sign him at the end of this season, as he is in a contract year. It would be dumb not too because he is one-of-a-kind.