New York Yankees: The 10 Worst Decisions of the Brian Cashman Era
By any standard, Brian Cashman's career with the New York Yankees could be called a success, but over the course of his reign, there have been some less-than-successful signings and ill-advised trades.
Since he became general manager in 1998, the team has won four World Series championships and six American League pennants. Along the way he acquired several players that helped the team win those titles.
But, for even the best general managers, there always seems to be one step back for every two steps forward in trying to put together the talent it takes to win.
This article will take a look at ten personnel decisions that Cashman probably wishes he could have back.
10. Brett Tomko
On February 13, 2009, the Yankees signed journeyman pitcher Brett Tomko.
At 36, Tomko had played for eight different teams (and the San Diego Padres twice) before donning the pinstripes.
He managed to get into 15 games as a reliever with the Bombers before they released him at the end of July. In those contests he held a 5.23 ERA and gave up 19 hits in 20 innings.
Tomko would finish the year on a much better note with the Oakland A's where he went 4-1 with a 2.95 ERA.
9. Alan Embree
On July 30, 2005 the New York Yankees were 55-47 and sat two-and-a-half games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East division.
In an effort to bolster their bullpen, Brian Cashman signed left-handed pitcher Alan Embree. At 35, Embree was coming off a horrible first half of the year with the Boston Red Sox, going 1-4 with a 7.65 ERA in 43 games.
After being released by the Red Sox the day before, Cashman apparently thought he might catch lightning in a bottle and provide manager Joe Torre with another southpaw in the "pen".
It didn't quite work out.
In 24 appearances with the Yankees Embree yielded 20 hits in 14 and one-third innings while holding a 7.53 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.
8. Tyler Clippard Trade
In the time since, Albaladejo spent three seasons with the Yankees posting a 4.70 ERA and 1.60 WHIP before being released in 2010. After a year playing in Japan, he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012.
Clippard, on the other hand, has pitched for the Nationals ever since. He started two games for the Nats that first season, but was moved to the bullpen where he blossomed.
In 2012, he saved 32 games for Washington and sports a 2.73 ERA in his five-plus seasons with the team.
Given the transitions that will be occurring in the Bombers' bullpen in 2014, this is one deal that the Yankees GM wishes he had back.
7. Randy Winn
The late thirties seem to be ideal ballplayer ages for Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
On February 8, 2010, the Yankees officially signed 36-year-old outfielder Randy Winn.
He had spent the previous five seasons with the San Francisco Giants where he hit .290 and played decently in the field (he holds a .992 career fielding percentage).
However, when you acquire players in their late thirties, you run the risk that they have either begun the downside to their careers or will see a decline in their production soon.
For Winn, the Yankees appeared to be his springboard into the deep end of the pool. In 29 games, he hit .213 with one home run and eight RBI.
On May 28, 2010, the Yankees released Randy Winn.
6. Chan Ho Park
Remember what I said about the late thirties and Brian Cashman?
Chan Ho Park is another 36-year-old player the Yankees GM couldn't resist.
Park's season in pinstripes was comprised of extended visits to the disabled list because of a hamstring, a 5.60 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 35 and one-third innings and getting designated for assignment before August could arrive.
5. Nick Johnson
Nick Johnson started his career in MLB as a New York Yankee and had become somewhat of a fan-favorite before he was traded to the Montreal Expos in 2003. He was 24 at the time and coming off a season that saw him hit .284 with 14 HR in 96 games.
It wouldn't be until he was 31 that the Yankees would bring him back to the "Empire." By that time Johnson had established himself as a solid, yet brittle hitter, and the team hoped he could be their DH and occasionally spell Mark Teixeira at first base.
In five seasons with the Washington Nationals, the first baseman had hit .280, but played in more than 140 games just once (2006).
His second stint with the Bombers was a letdown as Johnson hit .167 in just 24 games. By the middle of May he found himself on the DL requiring surgery on a tendon in his right wrist, and he didn't play another game with the Yankees.
4. Carl Pavano
Carl Pavano was one of the treasured free agents going into 2004. The right-handed hurler was coming off back-to-back 200-plus inning seasons with the Florida Marlins, including going 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 2003 (finishing sixth in Cy Young voting).
On December 20, 2004 the Yankees took the bait and signed Pavano to a four-year, $39.95 million contract.
It was a mistake the team would regret for years.
With the big contract in hand, Pavano would appear in a grand total of 26 games over three seasons for the Yankees. In that time he went 9-8 with a 5.00 ERA and multiple stays on the disabled list.
3. Javier Vazquez
As previously mentioned, a young Nick Johnson was traded in 2004 (along with Randy Choate) to the Montreal Expos, ending his first "session" with the Yankees. The player the team got in return was none other than Javier Vazquez.
The right-hander came to the Bombers with a reputation for being a solid pitcher - a workhorse who'd give you 200 or more innings every season (he had four straight such years with the Expos prior to joining the Yankees).
He did give the Yankees 198 innings in 2004, unfortunately that came at a price. That season he went 14-10 with a less-than-sparkling 4.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. What startled the team was that he yielded 195 hits and 33 HR. Clearly the switch to the American League wasn't working for Vazquez.
In January of the following year, the Yankees decided to part ways with him and traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the deal that brought Randy Johnson to the Bronx.
The story doesn't end there.
Following a stellar season with the Atlanta Braves in 2009 where he recorded a 15-10 record and 2.87 ERA, Javier Vazquez once again found himself in pinstripes.
Brian Cashman just couldn't resist.
He traded Melky Cabrera and left-hander Mike Dunn (and cash) to the Braves for Vazquez (along with Boone Logan).
The second time around was no better than the first, and Vazquez went 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA - allowing 32 HR along the way.
2. Sergio Mitre
Sergio Mitre's 2008 season was lost to Tommy John surgery but that didn't stop Cashman from signing the right-handed reliever to a contract on November 3, 2008.
In the next two seasons, Mitre appeared in 39 games for the Yankees and had a 5.06 ERA—not surprising since going into 2009 he had never recorded an ERA below 4.65.
Just prior to the 2011 season the Yankees GM traded Mitre to the Brewers, ending his stay in the Bronx.
Or so they thought.
Apparently once wasn't enough.
Mitre finished the 2011 season with the Yankees pitching just five and one-third innings and giving up seven earned runs (an 11.81 ERA).
He hasn't pitched in the MLB since.
1. Kei Igawa
The "honor" of being the worst decision in Brian Cashman's tenure with the New York Yankees goes to Japanese pitcher Kei Igawa.
One of the characteristics of a bitter rivalry is that the teams involved in it often try to "one up" each other.
In 2006 the hot topic was the bidding war for the rights to star Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Boston Red Sox would win that war, but the Yankees would not stand idly by and allow their rivals to hog the headlines.
So, the Yankees went after "number 2."
Another supposed star hurler from across the Pacific was Igawa and the Yankees won the rights to him as they offered up a $26 million bid.
Cashman then inked the left-hander to a five-year, $20 million deal.
$46 million for a pitcher yet to throw a single pitch in MLB.
It didn't pay off.
In all of two seasons where he managed to make it to the big league club, Igawa appeared in 16 games and yielded 15 home runs while throwing to a 6.66 ERA.
After inflicting his damages upon the Bombers, Igawa became a free agent and headed back to Japan in 2012.
Mission accomplished Igawa, mission accomplished.
All unreferenced statistics courtesy of MLB.Com