Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The myth of Brian Cashman's successful moves in the 2014 season -- and beyond

I had to laugh when I saw Brian (Fredo) Cashman pump his chest and brag to the New York Post's Kevin Kernan about he could get the Yankees to win the World Series. Really, Bri? Here is what Cashman said when asked what the expectations were for the Yankees this season:
"Playoffs and then beyond,’’ GM Brian Cashman told The Post. “Be a good enough team to get to the playoffs, allow me to tweak in-season to make it good enough to win a World Series." 
Aside from the fact that Cashman has already been given more than enough resources to have built a WS-worthy team in the first place, his claim is ludicrous. Despite having the highest payroll in MLB virtually every single season, the Yankees have only made it into one World Series since 2003. Here is how they stack up against the rest of MLB in that timeframe:

World Series Appearances Since 2003
St. Louis Cardinals 4
Boston Red Sox 3
San Francisco Giants 3
Detroit Tigers 2
Philadelphia Phillies 2
Texas Rangers 2
Chicago White Sox 1
Colorado Rockies 1
Houston Astros 1
Kansas City Royals 1
Tampa Bay Rays 1
New York Yankees 1

Yes, that's right. The Phillies and Rangers have more World Series appearances since 2003 than the Yankees do! And that is with the Bombers having the Core Four in their prime!

The number of World Series titles since 2003 is even more depressing:

World Series Titles Since 2003
Boston Red Sox 3
San Francisco Giants 3
St. Louis Cardinals 2
Philadelphia Phillies 1
Chicago White Sox 1
New York Yankees 1

Lookee here. The Red Sox have three in the last decade, and the Giants have three in the last five years, starting their own dynasty. Yet the Bombers only have one ring since beating the Mets in the 2000 World Series. Not exactly a record of continued excellence.

As for Cashman's ability to "tweak" a team, that is totally overrated as well. Let's take a look at what the Yankees' record was at the trading deadline last year, and what it was after the moves Cashman made -- picking up Martin Prado, Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, Chris Young, and Stephen Drew. (Some of the moves happened before the July 31 trade deadline, some at the deadline, and one was in August. To average it out, I picked July 31 as the date to separate the moves.)

Yankees' record through July 31: 55-52, .514 winning percentage, 5 games out of first place.
Yankees' record after July 31: 29-26, 514 winning percentage, 12 games out of first place

You know who also had a record of 55-52 at the end of July, besides the Yankees? The Kansas City Royals. That would be the team that made it to the World Series last year and has as many WS appearances since 2003 as the Yankees do. And the team with a payroll a good $150M or so less than the Yanks do.

Yet the media (and Hal Steinbrenner) have seized onto this myth that Cashman somehow saved the season with those moves. Really? How is having the exact same winning percentage in the last two months of the year as in the first four months of the year saving the season? Or dropping so many games in the AL East, and being beaten out by the Royals for the Wild Card?  Is it too much to expect the media to look at facts instead of Cashman's hype? I guess it is!

Not to mention that the Yankees are still paying the costs of these pickups. They agreed to pick up $6 million of Prado's contract -- plus the nearly $4M they paid for him in 2014, thus paying  $10M for a two-month rental. They signed Headley to a four-year, $52M deal -- Johnny Damon money -- based on those two months, even though his numbers as a Yankee were actually worse than A-Rod's in 2013!

And for some crazy reason, Cashman re-signed Stephen Drew for $5M and is giving him the starting second base position, despite the fact that he hit a buck fifty as a Yankee last year. Supergenius explained it all to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
“We’re betting on the fact that last year has to be some sort of aberration; why would he all of a sudden fall off a cliff?” general manager Brian Cashman said. “We put $5 million on the table and gambled that way. We hope it pays off.”
I guess I missed when Drew was a world-beater. And the real "aberration" is not his 2014 season, but his 2008 season, the one where he hit 21 homers and had a .836 OPS, a number he hasn't sniffed since. Drew's numbers have been declining for some time; not just last year. Does Cashman ever look at statistics, or does he just look to see if the player was on the Red Sox, then back up the Brinks' truck? Good grief.

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