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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Brian Cashman cost the Yankees the pennant

Squawker Lisa, I want to commend you for putting the loss to the Rangers in perspective:

I actually feel the least terrible that I have had in years after a Yankees series loss. I'm still peeved, but I'm not in complete despair or anything. After all, the Yankees did win the World Series just a year ago.

Met fans don’t have that luxury. It's been so long since we've had a World Series to celebrate that one of 2010’s promising rookies, Jonathon Niese, was born the night the Mets won their last title. Instead, we’ve had to endure indignities such as the 2009 Yankees-Phillies matchup. A few days ago, most people expected a rematch this year.

So before I return to the disarray of the Mets, I'm going to celebrate the triumph of the Rangers and, I hope, the Giants.

As for the Yankees, at least Brian Cashman is still their GM. Cashman sometimes looks smart when he has his checkbook out, but when he has to strategize without simply making the highest bid, he often runs into trouble. Cashman's moves since the 2009 title season helped ensure that there would not be a repeat in 2010.

Here are a couple of moves that backfired (and I'm not even including Javier Vazquez!).

Ivan Nova and Eduardo Nunez better turn out to be really good.


If Cashman had completed the trade for Cliff Lee, the Yankees would likely be on their way to the World Series. Lee would have made two starts for the Yankees (since they swept the Twins) instead of one for the Rangers. As John Harper writes, Cashman was prepared to trade Jesus Montero; he was just unwilling to sweeten the pot further:

In the end, Cashman says he ultimately turned down the deal when the Mariners came back to him wanting another of his top prospects, either shortstop Eduardo Nunez or pitcher Ivan Nova, in addition to Montero.

"It was too much for a rental," Cashman said.

It's one thing to balk at trading Montero, one of the top prospects in all of baseball, but it's bizarre to offer to include Montero but draw the line at a lesser prospect.

Cashman no doubt figured that he could just whip out his checkbook as usual in the offseason. It could still work out that way, but at least Cashman will have a harder time selling Lee on the notion that coming to the Yankees will give him the best chance to win.

For 2010 at least, Cashman passed on a great shot at another ring for the opportunity to use Nunez to replaced injured Mark Teixeira on the roster.

The Yankees would have been better off this postseason with Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui at DH.

Cashman's offseason moves in OF and DH did make the Yankees younger, landing Curtis Granderson and giving Brett Gardner a chance to play. Time will tell if the Yankees gave up too much for Granderson (Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy).

But Cashman should have held on to either Damon or Matsui instead of filling the DH spot with Nick Johnson. When Johnson went down with his inevitable injury, the Yankees ended up with a hole in their lineup that contributed to the ALCS offensive meltdown.

Marcus Thames hit seven homers in August, but followed with a .596 OPS in September. In the ALCS, Thames went 2 for 16 (.125), striking out seven times.

After hitting 13 homers in 298 at bats with Houston (.245 BA, .808 OPS), Lance Berkman had only one homer in 106 AB with the Yankees while hitting .255 with a .707 OPS. Berkman went 3 for 12 (.250) against Texas.

Both players homered in the LDS, but aside from that they were mediocre down the stretch and in the postseason.

Damon’s numbers tailed off this season, but after the All-Star break, Matsui hit .309 with OPS of .955.

Who knows if Damon or Matsui would have done any better than Thames or Berkman. But they couldn’t have done much worse. And both Matsui and Damon are proven winners – Matsui was last year's World Series MVP and Damon’s double steal on the same play might have been the defining moment of the 2009 World Series. In a do-or-die game, which players in this group would you rather see in the lineup?

*

As for Joe Girardi, his bullpen mismanagement has been well-chronicled, so I'll stick to his decision to change the rotation for the ALCS:

Andy Pettitte should have started Game 2


Pettitte was the Yankees' best starter this postseason, allowing two earned runs in seven innings in each of his two starts. If Pettitte had pitched Game 2 instead of Game 3, he might have won Game 2 rather than seen his Game 3 start overshadowed by Cliff Lee. Then Pettitte would have been able to pitch Game 6 last night instead of Phil Hughes. In Game 7, Joe Girardi then could have started CC Sabathia on three days rest or started Hughes with Sabathia ready to go in the pen.

And here's one last Girardi mistake - from last offseason:

Girardi should not have changed his uniform number to 28.

Now he has to go through another season with a reminder of the Yankees' crushing loss on his back. What if the Yankees don't win in 2011, either? That 28 will start to look awfully heavy on Girardi's back. Maybe he expects he won't be here for long, either by his choice or upper management, if his uniform number doesn't change to 29 fairly soon.

6 comments:

Uncle Mike said...

Everything you said about Girardi is true, Jon. Except for one thing.

The uniform number. Maybe if George was still around, it would get heavy. But it won't.

Besides, by that definition, the new Met manager will have to wear Number 3.

See, I can still talk trash. After all, what Met fan wouldn't have given a tooth to have stunk up the LCS that badly -- compared to what his team actually did this season?

Jonmouk71 said...

Girardi reaching for Robertson once again instead of Wood (the obvious choice) reminded me of Bob Lemon continually going to George Frazier for three losses in the 1981 World Series.....Met fans have a right to gloat - we certainly did when Beltran stood like a statue, two straight years of meltdowns for the division title and the last two years of Jerry, Omar, Ollie, etc. Let them have their fun. Still like our chances in 2011 much better than theirs....

Uncle Mike said...

No, Jonmouk. Gloating is a privilege, not a right. A team that loses 89 games and hasn't won a Pennant in 10 years or a World Series in 24 loses its gloating privileges over a team whose failures would have more than acceptable in exchange for what their own team did.

After all, the last time the Mets got that close, the Yanks were awful in their own Playoff series, but it had only been 3 years since a Pennant and 6 since a ring. And it wasn't just the 2nd ring, and it wasn't over just any opponent. Huge difference. A Met fan gloating over the Yankees' 2010 ALCS loss would be like a Nets fan gloating over a Playoff failure by the Knicks.

Captain Red Claw said...

I like how you nerds are arguing with nobody, in the hope that some random Mets fan will read this and get put in his place. What a couple of losers. So you're a Yankees fan. Great. Proud day for you. You've really accomplished something by choosing which team you like. I choose to root for Arizona, so I am obviously a lesser human being. Your Yankees hat and disgustingly intolerable accent make you a man. Don't let anyone tell you differently ... Fag.

Matt Warden said...

"The Yankees would have been better off this postseason with Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui at DH."

Flat out disagree.

The Yankees would have been better off in the postseason with the 2009 iterations of Damon or Matsui.

Both of those guys had career down years in 2010, though. Who's to say they would have been helpful in the playoffs?

JM said...

Brain Cashman is the most overrated GM in baseball. He simply runs his office by way of deep pockets from the Yankees. When the Yankees were most dominant (1996-2001) winning four World Series in six years, he did little in building that team which was built on players from their system (Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte...to name a few) and players they made great trades for (Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez). Cashman took over the GM duties in the middle of this great team and destroyed the makeup of the Club with foolish acquisitions of Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Javier Vasquez...to name a few). A true GM is one who studies the makeup of his club and can create a winner without spending the most money. He goes about his duties like a kid with the biggest payroll and outbids for the top free agent or trading for big names and paying them with big contract extensions. If he were the GM of any of the other clubs in the 2010 postseason (Rays, Rangers, Twins, Phillies, Braves, Reds or Giants) he would never have had any success and those teams wouldn't even have made the postseason.
JM