When the New York Yankees are unable to perform well during a season, or when a recently signed player does not perform up to par, it is easy for fans to point the finger and blame general manager Brian Cashman for their downfall. That is the core reason why the GM has been criticized harshly throughout the years.
Yes, Cashman has made costly mistakes during his time with the Yankees. What GM hasn't? Because of those errors in judgement it is difficult for fans to appreciate all of the wise decisions Cashman has actually made. After all, Cashman has brought the Yankees to six American League Pennants and four World Series Championships. With all of this success, he has to be doing something right.
Sure, with a payroll of $196,854,630 the Yankees are able to attain any player of their choice, as they have some of the greatest players in the game today on their team. However, who helped bring these greats to New York? That's right, Cashman.
I will admit, I am not one of Cashman's biggest fans. However, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, I would not want to see him go, especially after the wise choices he has made this season.
Here are eight reasons why GM Brian Cashman has actually had a successful year.
After signing a minor league contract with the New York Yankees on February 4th, 2011, the major league later purchased Eric Chavez's contract. Despite being injured for about three months, Chavez returned from the disabled list on July 26th where he was placed in the lineup batting eighth for the Yankees against the Seattle Mariners. Since then, Chavez has been a helpful contribution to the starting lineup.
In 82 at bats this season, Chavez has 24 hits, 11 runs, one home run and 15 RBI, maintaining a .293 batting average with the Bombers.
With Jorge Posada performing poorly this season, recording a .237 batting average at the moment, which is actually a high for the DH who fell below .200 earlier in the season, Posada is causing more harm than good for his team. Chavez is a major aid to the starting rotation, as he is filling in for Posada and actually driving in runs and helping the Yankees advance to the playoffs.
In the beginning of the 2011 season, the New York Yankees expected to have an unreliable starting rotation, yet a top-notch bullpen to pick up their slack and aid their struggling pitching. However, beyond everyone's expectations the complete opposite happened and as the starting rotation strived, the bullpen was in jeopardy.
Although Brian Cashman was against it, the Yankees still decided to sign closer Rafael Soriano for $35 million. Many expected the closer, who ended the 2010 season with a 1.73 ERA, to aid Mariano in the bullpen and to one day become the successor to his closer position. However, that was not the case. Whether it was his inability to adapt to the atmosphere of New York or whether he just faced a pitching slump, Soriano choked up on the mound, leaving Cashman to respond by saying, "I told you so." After a few disappointing outings, Soriano joined the disabled list as the bullpen lost one of their ace relievers for the majority of the season.
Unfortunately from there, the injuries just kept on coming. Pedro Feliciano joined the disabled list once the season started due to soreness in his left shoulder and Joba Chamberlain suffered from a torn ligament, forcing the reliever to undergo season ending surgery.
With each of these reliable relievers out, Cashman was forced to rebuild the bullpen, which he did wisely and effectively.
On February 9th, 2011 Luis Ayala signed a minor league contract with the Yankees and was later added to the opening day roster. In 38.2 innings pitched this season, Ayala has maintained a noteworthy 1.40 ERA, allowing 39 hits, seven runs and one home run. After coming off of his 2009 season with a 4.18 ERA and a 11.74 ERA when traded onto the Florida Marlins, attaining Ayala was a risky signing which ended up with season changing results.
In addition to rebuilding the bullpen with Luis Ayala, Cashman decided to give Hector Noesi a shot, which resulted in success.
With Ayala on the disabled list towards the beginning of the 2011 season, Noesi was called up from the minors to pitch for the Yankees. In his major league debut on May 18th, Noesi pitched four scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles, earning himself a much deserved win. Noesi has had a decent season from then on, earning a 3.96 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 42 hits, 17 runs, three home runs this season and is expected to excel during the postseason.
Apart of the Yankees for 17 seasons now, Jorge Posada was always considered their prized catcher. When his title was unfortunately taken away during the offseason, he was forced to become a DH, as his performance on the plate began to decline rapidly.
In response to his poor performance as DH, Posada was dropped to the ninth spot in the lineup. The DH did not take the news well, as he decided to remove himself from the lineup complaining of back stiffness. Instead of sympathizing with Posada, Cashman became strict, a move I believe Cashman played well.
Posada had no right to take himself out of the lineup, he was lucky they didn't take him out of the game all together. Sure, he is a veteran and deserves respect but when you pose no value for your team you have to do what is best for them in the end. Posada does not run well, does not play the field and was hitting a .165 at that time, what value did he really have?
Since then Posada has been in and out of the lineup. In a recent series against the Boston Red Sox, Posada was taken out of the lineup and replaced by Eric Chavez to hit against the dominating ace Josh Beckett. When Posada returned to the lineup a week later, he hit a grand slam and six RBI, his most hits since 2006.
Maybe Cashman playing hardball with Posada was exactly what he needed to improve.
Cory Wade was called up to the majors on June 15th to pitch against the Texas Rangers. Fans were unsure of what to expect from the minor league pitcher who was making his major league debut and who ended his 2010 minor league season with a 5.53 ERA. Despite speculation Wade set the tone for the remainder of the season as the reliever pitched a scoreless inning, retiring all three batters in order. The following day Wade refused to disappoint. He once again versed the Rangers but this time pitched two scoreless innings, retiring six batters to earn himself a win.
From there Wade continued to pitch with the caliber of a veteran reliever, as he now maintains a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched, allowing 19 hits, seven runs and two home runs.
When Brian Cashman was unable to come through for the Yankees, allowing Cliff Lee to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies and by letting Andy Pettitte go, he decided to sign Chicago White Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon.
I am sure you have all shared in my disbelief when he signed the 38-year-old. Going from two ace pitchers to Bartolo Colon, a pitcher whose age was starting to get the best of him, did not reassure my worries in regards to the starting rotation.
After all, Colon ended his 2009 season with a 4.19 ERA in only 12 starts. It was difficult to judge whether Colon would be an effective contribution to the starting rotation, especially after taking the 2010 season off.
Despite all of the negativity towards this deal, Colon prospered and proved to be one of the most dominant and reliable pitchers to be apart of the starting rotation. Colon has managed to record a 3.31 ERA in 21 innings pitched so far this season and is a definite to be apart of the starting rotation during the playoffs.
I had my doubts about Colon and whether it was just luck on Cashman's part that Colon actually turned out to be as good as he is, it was still a wise choice.
I had shared the same feelings when Freddy Garcia was signed onto the Yankees as I did for Colon.
Although Garcia had actually pitched the 2010 season and was expected to perform better than Colon on the mound, I still wasn't secure about the starting rotation, as I considered it weak and unimpressive. Sure, Garcia had a decent 2010 season with a 4.64 ERA. However, he hasn't had a completely solid season in years.
When Garcia was signed, I wrote an article expecting the pitcher to come back down to earth. Thankfully, he never did. Garcia exceeded expectations greatly and aided the Yankees magnificently, posting a 3.16 ERA so far this season. I am actually excited to see what else Garcia has to bring to the postseason.
If it wasn't for Cashman's decision to sign Colon and Garcia, the New York Yankees would be down two dominant pitchers and who knows where we would be in the standings.
When the trade deadline passed, many waited for an announcement from the New York Yankees for any last minute trades. Unfortunately, no trades were made to aid the Yankees who have been trailing behind the Boston Red Sox for months in the standings.
Many criticized the GM for his decision, as many hoped a trade would bring a star pitcher to join the starting rotation, creating a completely dominant and reliable rotation along with CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.
In response to Cashman's decision to keep his current team and rely on the hope that they all remain healthy, I composed a slideshow criticizing his decision, arguing that he should have traded the farm for former Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. However, after further speculation I decided that in the long run Cashman had made the right decision and that the farm, which consists of Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, is better kept than traded for.
After all, trading for Jimenez would have been a risky call, especially since the Rockies refused to let Jimenez take a pre-trade physical exam, which is essential after his drop in velocity this season. Jimenez left the Rockies with a 4.46 ERA in 21 games and now maintains a 3.46 ERA in two games started with the Cleveland Indians.
Although having Jimenez would have been nice, our starting rotation is performing well enough to advance to the playoffs without him. Our prospects are the future of the New York Yankees and in the long run, they will bring us to multiple victories. In the end, Cashman made the right decision keeping our farm.