Viewer Mail 8.3.2011

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Brendan writes RE Brian Cashman, Derek Jeter and the Yankees:

“What if he’s not there to be the one voice to prevent Randy Levine and Hank Steinbrenner from doing such short-sighted and stupid things as outbidding themselves for a pitcher with issues on and off the field like Soriano?”

Correct me if I’m wrong and I’m the one living in a parallel universe, but didn’t the Yankees do exactly the short-sighted and stupid thing described above despite the wise, cool-handed GM? And didn’t they do the very same thing with their 37-year-old, 85 OPS+ing future Hall of Fame shortstop?

Cashman was adamantly opposed to the Rafael Soriano maneuver and said so before and after. My point was that there are going to be other such decisions if Cashman’s not there and another GM is brought in—a GM with less capital than Cashman’s accumulated from his long association with the club and success and ability to rebel and maybe get his way.

If Cashman were making the call regarding Jeter, and it was a pure “in the now and future” baseball move, he’d have looked for an alternative and moved on with a different plan; there were ancillary concerns with Jeter and they weren’t based on sentiment and team history alone.

Aside from the 3000th hit and the disastrous PR hit they’d have taken had he left (and Jeter really had nowhere to go anyway), they didn’t have a suitable replacement for him as we’ve seen in their attempts to fill in with Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena. I suppose, if they had to, they could’ve shifted Alex Rodriguez back to shortstop and found a third baseman along the lines of Mark Reynolds, but the reaction to that among the fan base would’ve been terrible.

Despite their shoddy treatment of Jeter, the fans would’ve had a fit if they saw him playing shortstop for the Tigers, Giants or Reds.

Money isn’t the problem with Jeter and it never truly is with the Yankees—they have the money; and if they lose, it won’t be because the lineup couldn’t carry him and his diminished production.

Cashman has been ruthless in his assessment of players. It was he that wanted to allow both A-Rod and Jorge Posada to leave as free agents before he was overruled by ownership. He was right in both cases.

I’ve been as intense a critic of Cashman as anyone. His pitching decisions have been atrocious with Kyle Farnsworth, Steve Karsay, A.J. Burnett and others along with the foolish rules enacted to “protect” the pitchers; but to criticize him for Jeter? You can’t do it. They knew what the deal was and what they were getting.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Moneyball and my posting about Billy Beane.

Right on point. Had me LOLing from “Yay” onward.

Oh, just wait.

Did you see this bit of revisionist history/pitiful whining in Sports Illustrated by Tom Verducci?

I’m preparing to unleash the full power of the Dark Side because there are certain bullies who deserve every single bit of it.

Beane’s one of them.

If there’s collateral damage to those who are invested in the appellation of genius to the extent of losing any and all concept of “objective reality”, so be it. They’ve earned it too.

//

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2 thoughts on “Viewer Mail 8.3.2011

  1. Cashman was adamantly opposed to the Rafael Soriano maneuver and said so before and after.

    That’s the kind of dude you want running baseball operations — a guy who will badmouth his team’s free-agent signee before the ink’s dry on the signature line.

    My point was that there are going to be other such decisions if Cashman’s not there and another GM is brought in—a GM with less capital than Cashman’s accumulated from his long association with the club and success and ability to rebel and maybe get his way.

    But “such decisions” are already being made. How much is Cash’s “capital” worth if he can’t slow down the Soriano Express? That his hypothetical replacement would hypothetically be even less able to stop future stupid hypothetical signings is a ridiculous reason for keeping Cash around.

    There are some actual positive arguments to bring him back, first being that the Yankees have made the postseason every year of his tenure minus one. Additionally, while he hasn’t been successful in dissuading the Steinbrenners from throwing their money at poor investments — it is their money, after all — he has stifled the family tradition of mortgaging the farm system in blockbuster trades for over-the-hill superstars.

    If Cashman were making the call regarding Jeter, and it was a pure ‘in the now and future’ baseball move, he’d have looked for an alternative and moved on with a different plan; there were ancillary concerns with Jeter and they weren’t based on sentiment and team history alone.

    Again, you say straight out Cash is not in any way running the show here. I’m still unconvinced that he has any effect on the Steinbrenners’ spendthrift ways.

    Aside from the 3000th hit and the disastrous PR hit they’d have taken had he left

    Because we all know the team with the highest average PR is a shoo-in for the World Series each year.

    (and Jeter really had nowhere to go anyway)

    Another good job by Cashman, acceding to the demands of someone who had nowhere else to go.

    they didn’t have a suitable replacement for him as we’ve seen in their attempts to fill in with Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena.

    Nunez is pretty much exactly matching Jeter’s production this year. Their OPS+’s are identical. In 200 fewer PAs, Nunez has one less homer and 14 less RBI. He’s also stolen four more bases. Oh, and Nunez is making $14.5 million less.

    I’m not arguing that I wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on re-signing Jeter based purely on emotional reasons. He’s a fan favorite and what he lacks in production I’m sure he more than makes up for as a driver of merch and ticket sales. I’m just saying I wouldn’t have given a 37-year-old performing below the league average a three-year, $48 million contract.

    Despite their shoddy treatment of Jeter, the fans would’ve had a fit if they saw him playing shortstop for the Tigers, Giants or Reds.

    Except they wouldn’t have, because the Tigers, Giants and Reds wouldn’t have given eight digits a year to Jeter, since they have no history with him and he would not be a big draw. And I can’t disagree enough with the idea that Jeter was a victim of “shoddy treatment” by the club that, again, gave him a three-year contract for $48 million after he turned in the worst season of his career. Jeter knew there was no market for him outside of the Bronx for his asking price.

    Money isn’t the problem with Jeter and it never truly is with the Yankees—they have the money; and if they lose, it won’t be because the lineup couldn’t carry him and his diminished production.

    No, re-signing Jeter is probably not a fatal error on Cashman’s part, but the contract drama with the Captain represents an unfortunate pattern with the front office.

    Cashman has been ruthless in his assessment of players.

    I’m not sure “player assessment” is that vital an aspect of his job. He’s neither a scout nor a columnist.

    It was he that wanted to allow both A-Rod and Jorge Posada to leave as free agents before he was overruled by ownership.

    That’s why neither of them are on the team today. Also, once again, “overruled by ownership.” The Steinbrenners could pay me about a tenth of what Cashman earns and take just as much advice from their GM, and the Yankees would still make the playoffs.

    He was right in both cases.

    At least he was the moral victor, then.

    I’ve been as intense a critic of Cashman as anyone.

    I’m pretty sure Cash has a few critics out there who don’t make up arbitrary and meaningless metrics to defend his job performance.

    His pitching decisions have been atrocious with Kyle Farnsworth, Steve Karsay, A.J. Burnett and others

    Free-agent relievers are always a crapshoot; Farnsworth had two excellent seasons prior to stinking up the place at Yankee Stadium and Karsay was more than serviceable in pinstripes when he was healthy. It’s hard to argue with you about A.J., but you’ve gotten three years of league-average performance from him. Ever heard of Jaret Wright? Carl Pavano? Kei Igawa? $18 million for half a season of a 44-year-old Roger Clemens? Kevin Brown?

    criticize him for Jeter? You can’t do it.

    Dude, I totally just did, see above.

  2. Clearly you haven’t been reading me very long. You seem to be under the impression that I’m a Cashman apologist. I’m a Mets fan; I couldn’t care less about the Yankees.

    Did Cashman “bad mouth” Soriano? No. In his own self-interested, Machiavellian way—a way that has been more invested in gaining a Billy Beane/Theo Epstein-style credit for being the man responsible for the success of the team—he was distancing himself from a maneuver that he disagreed with in theory (losing the draft picks and investing large money in a set-up man) that’s burned him before; and practice (because it hasn’t worked in the past for him and other clubs.)

    If they hire an “organizational man” to replace Cashman, said new GM isn’t going to have the cachet to say no to Levine and the Steinbrenners, nor the experience to frame it in the media the way he wants to and place the blame where it would belong—on ownership. They can fire the new GM if he doesn’t get with the program, they won’t fire Cashman. He could leave, but they won’t fire him.

    Jeter staying and the club’s PR have no connection to the World Series and the idea that the team won’t make it far in the playoffs because of Derek Jeter being in the lineup is ludicrous. If they fail, it won’t be because of Jeter.
    Have you seen Eduardo Nunez’s defense? He can hit, but you or I could play just as badly as he has in the field.

    Cashman basically gave Jeter the ultimatum—shop the deal around—knowing Jeter had nowhere else to go and that the Yankees were his and their only option. They needed each other and both knew it. You’re arguing two different things: the money is irrelevant to the Yankees and the disaster that would’ve been created had he left wasn’t worth what the replacement was and wasn’t going to provide. It was easier to keep Jeter in every possible permutation.
    I didn’t say the club treated him in a shoddy fashion, I said the fans did and have. They still are with their “Captain DP” and “Captain Groundout” nonsense. Those fans are spoiled ingrates who throw tantrums when they don’t get their way. The club has been above-and-beyond the call kind to Jeter.
    The “contract drama” is more of Cashman’s increasing lack of interest in perception. He used to say things without saying them—and it was probably better for him and the club to do so—but he’s now speaking his mind, something that I see as a mistake and said so at the time regarding both Jeter and Soriano.

    The pitching decisions—as I said—have been mistake-laden. The whole issue with Farsnworth was his inconsistency and penchant for allowing home runs. Karsay’s problems were exactly as you described them—he was good when he was healthy, but was always hurt.

    No one, nowhere could criticize the Pavano signing because no one expected him to pitch and behave as if he didn’t care. The Red Sox, Mariners and Tigers all offered similar contracts to Pavano, it was the Yankees he chose. If he didn’t get the money with them, he’d have gotten it somewhere else.

    If you’re looking for “concrete” metrics in opposition to that which you consider “arbitrary and meaningless” I suggest you go elsewhere. That’s not what I do. I judge the circumstances based on how I see them and you’re taking different issues out of context to bolster a non-existent, opinion-based argument, something that’s what you want it to be; it’s easily defended against and dull.

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