Squawker Jon's article, How Brian Cashman Cost the Yankees the Pennant, is currently being featured on the popular site Yardbarker! For a Met fan, Jon did a good job encapsulating the mistakes Brian Cashman made this year. But I have a few things to add about Cashman, Joe Girardi, and the 2010 season. Here are some of my own gripes:
* The Javier Vazquez deal: It isn't second-guessing to say this was a horrible trade, and that it was clear that Javier wouldn't succeed in pinstripes the second time around; I was against this deal from Day 1. I heard Cashman last week on Mike Francesa trying to explain the trade. But the deal was inexplicable, no matter what Javy's numbers were last year. How can Cashman not acknowledge that the ability to play in New York is kind of an important thing for a Yankee pitcher to have? Does he not understand his team's own fan base, and that many Yankee fans were not going to give this guy a second chance after he gave up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the ALCS? The booing Javy got this year wasn't right (I don't believe in booing your own team's players) but it also wasn't surprising.
* Signing Nick Johnson for, what, exactly?: Let's leave Hideki Matsui out of the equation here as a possible DH -- he signed with the Angels before even hearing an offer from the Yankees, and reportedly didn't want to come back to New York. But the Johnson deal never made any sense.
I remember Cashman saying that if Johnson could stay healthy, he could be a $15 million a year player. Well, if Lindsay Lohan could stay sober and get a good role, she could win an Oscar one day. But neither thing is likely to happen any time soon.
The Johnson signing was another deal that was obviously a bad one right from the beginning. Cashman seems to sometimes want to show how clever he is with signings like this. He's not. Johnson seems like a decent guy, but he can't stay healthy. And the Yankees paid him $5.5 million for just 98 plate appearances in 24 games.
* Not bringing back Johnny Damon: Sure, Damon and Scott Boras deserved some blame for overpricing Damon. But it was pretty clear that Cashman had zero interest in bringing Damon back, at any price. And that $2 million, last-minute "offer" he made to Damon was insulting to somebody who played his heart out for the Yankees. For the money Cash paid Nick Johnson and Randy Winn, who was dumped during the season, he could have extended a one-year deal to Damon and kept him in the fold.
Sure, Damon faded a little in 2010, but undoubtedly, his numbers would have been better in Yankee Stadium, a place tailor-made for his swing. Plus, he added something to the clubhouse. The Yankee hitters looked so tight in the ALCS; would Damon have been able to loosen things up? I think so. Even Bill James admits that clubhouse chemistry does mean something, and this team was missing a key element of that chemistry this year with Damon being off the team.
* What's the deal with Joe Girardi?: Joe G. most likely will be back with the Yankees next year -- after all, he did lead the Yankees to a World Series title just a year ago. But he did seem to age a lot this season, and to look both gaunt and miserable as time went on this year. What's the story? Several people have asked me privately if he's got some serious disease; that's how sickly he's looked!
* What happened to Dave Eiland?: His still unexplained leave of absence in June cost the team a lot, specifically, A..J. Burnett. It's forgotten now, but A.J. was out to a pretty good year in the first two months of the season; he was 6-2, with a 3.28 ERA. In Eiland's absence, he lost all five games he pitched in June, and his ERA shot up to 5.25. How much of that had to do with his pitching coach's absence?
* And finally, what happened to A.J. Burnett's eye?: How is it that we still don't know what happened? Nobody has said anything. What is the deal? Enquiring minds want to know!
What do you think? Tell us about it!