Sunday, September 14, 2014

Keep hope alive: Will Brian Cashman be given his walking papers at the end of the year?

I guess $2.7 billion doesn't go as far as it used to. That is how much New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman has spent in Yankee payroll since 2001 to get exactly one World Series title in 14 years. But even though Cashman has literally outstpent every other team in the majors over that time frame, the Red Sox, Cardinals and Giants have more World Series titles than the Yanks do over those years.

I would call the Bombers the new Atlanta Braves -- they only had 1 title over 14 seasons as well -- but the Braves never spent anywhere near what the Yanks did. Plus they actually made the playoffs each of those years, while the Bombers are about to miss the playoffs for the second season in a row. Not to mention that the Yankees got to keep all of their core, but the Braves lost Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine to free agency. So for the Yankees to have only 1 ring in those years, with the player and payroll advantages, is really bad.

The exact date Brian Cashman jumped the shark

Anyhow, all of this is to say that it seems more than a little odd to me that Hal Steinbrenner may actually bring Cashman back for another contract. At what point does accountability matter with the franchise again? And just because Cash may have done a good job in his earlier years does not mean he is doing a good job now.

For me, I can pinpoint the exact date where Cashman jumped the shark. I was stuck all day in Newark Airport on December 22, 2009, trying to get a flight to Austin, Texas so I could go home for the holidays, when I heard the news that Melky Cabrera had been traded for Javier (Home Run Javy) Vazquez. Losing Melky was bad enough, but the fact he was being traded for a pitcher who was nothing short of a disaster in his first time in pinstripes (remember Vazquez giving up the grand slam to Johnny Damon in the 2004 ALCS?) was crazy. Not to mention that in that very same week, Cashman decided to bring back Nick (The Sick) Johnson, too.

It was almost like Cashman felt liberated after the 2009 World Championship, and decided he could do whatever he wanted to, with no feel of repercussions. And he would redo moves that didn't work the first time to somehow show how smart those moves were in the first place. Instead, Vasquez and Johnson Part Deux were even more awful than the first time. Javy's ERA was over 5, and Johnson made all of 98 plate appearances before getting injured again. Vasquez made $11.5 million that year, and Johnson $5.5 million. On any other team, a GM might get in trouble for spending such money with so little in return, but on the Yankees, Cashman got a pass, the way he did just last year for spending $12 million on Kevin Youkilis for 118 plate appearances.

Mark Newman leaving isn't enough

Sure, Mark Newman, head of the team's minor league operations, is "retiring" (although he is now saying that his retirement was planned back in February.) But at what point does Cashman get held responsible for this disaster of a team?

Last week, there was a story leaked that the Yankees had already decided to bring Cashman back. While nobody has confirmed anything on the record, I wondered if 1) Hal Steinbrenner had leaked that as a trial balloon, to see how fans and the media would reaction, or 2) Cashman himself had leaked this story even though it hadn't been agreed to by ownership, simply to make getting rid of him more difficult.

I have heard the argument that Cashman shouldn't be fired, because ownership backed up all of his dopey moves. Well, using that logic, no GM could ever lose their job ever.

If Cashman does get a new contract (and undoubtedly a raise, to boot) for doing a terrible job (in his last three seasons, the team only had one postseason appearance, one that ended in the worst Yankee collapse since the 2004 team), the team won't win anything. Cashman is incapable of introspection, of trying a new approach, and of the competence needed to rebuild this team. If you want to see more of the same -- next year's Carlos Beltrans and Stephen Drews of the world -- that is what you will get with Brian Cashman. What you won't get is any hope that this team will ever improve.

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