Dec 23, 2010, 04:27AM

Is Brian Cashman Asleep at the Wheel?

Cliff Lee is just one more missed opportunity by the NY Yankees. Thank God.

Alg cashman.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Nothing has made me happier this baseball off-season than Cliff Lee spurning the drowning-in-dough Yankees for the Phillies, who incidentally paid him with an oil drum filled with cash. Lee really didn't do any great charity in going back to Philly. In fact his deal with the Phils has a higher average annual value than the Yankees or Rangers offers. Frankly I don't care how much he's getting, I'm just glad he won't be getting it from New York. The baseball world is so accustomed to the Yankees gobbling up top free agents that Lee was practically penciled into the Yanks 2011 rotation while he was still pitching against them in the ALCS.  

Lee rejecting the Yankees is certainly noteworthy but I think the failures of New York's General Manager Brian Cashman deserve some attention. In the past 16 month, Lee has changed teams four times. Cashman had four distinct opportunities to acquire Lee and failed to do so each time. I'm not losing any sleep over those failings but Cashman should be. The Yankees are the league's most expensive team but for some reason don't have more than one reliable starter to trot to the mound in October. Behind CC Sabathia; ancient mariner Andy Pettitte is supposedly leaning towards retirement (I'll believe it when I see it), AJ Burnett looks like an $84 million mistake, Phil Hughes wore out down the stretch, and the dynamic duo of Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre won't even scare the Orioles.

Cashman's failure to acquire Lee was probably fueled by the thought that there was no need to trade for him. Just like everyone else Cashman may have thought that buying Lee dinner and letting him go for a dive in the Steinbrenner's Scrooge McDuck-like vault of gold coins would seal the deal. Now the MFYs have gone 0-4 in the Cliff Lee lottery and are left holding an empty bag with a big embroidered dollar sign.  

Let's not stop at Cliff Lee. In the past calendar year four legit MLB aces have changed teams:
Lee x4
Roy Halladay
Roy Oswalt
Zack Greinke

The only thing more stunning than the Phillies acquiring three of them is the Yankees acquiring none. If I were a Yankee fan I'd be wondering just what the hell is going on. For a team with unlimited financial resources to whiff on four aces in one year is unfathomable. Just what is Cashman waiting for? It certainly isn't any sense of fiscal responsibility as the team was offering Lee over $140 million. Perhaps Cashman is reluctant to deal prospects due to its core group of aging veterans. I’d think the aging roster would make Cashman more likely to deal prospects for vets as the window of opportunity on the current group in the Bronx is closing. Maybe the real problem is that the Yankee prospects just aren't that good. It's no secret that Yankee Minor Leaguers are routinely over-hyped (I'm looking at you Joba). The name Jesus Montero has been tossed around for two years as the next great Yankee. Montero, a catcher, apparently wasn't good enough to be the centerpiece of a trade for Lee last July or Greinke last week. Montero may be more Dioner Navarro than Jorge Posada. Shame on Cashman if he refused to include Montero in a deal for a proven ace. Cashman has the easiest job in MLB this side of Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee; he's never had to be particularly creative or resourceful until now. Simply handing over a check won't solve your problems this time, Brian.

  • While I agree with you on the fact that Cashman is an overrated GM, on what basis can you say that Jesus Montero is an overrated prospect? He had a .289/.353/.517 triple slash line with 20 HRs as a 20 year old in AAA, and the only reason his OBP and AVG aren't higher is because of slow start in adjusting to AAA pitching in April and May. He may not be a whiz defensively, but he's one of the best offensive prospects in all of baseball. The reason the Mariners preferred Justin Smoak over him because Montero is a righty while Smoak is a lefty, and just ask Adrian Beltre how hard it is for a righty to succeed in Safeco. There are only a few prospects in the minors I would rather have than Montero, but you're right about one thing, he sure isn't going to be like Posada, he's going to be a lot better.

    Responses to this comment
  • I'm not so much saying that Montero is overrated (he obviously is considering you just said he'll be better than a 5 time champ/future HOFer) as I'm saying that all prospects are inherently overrated. Especially Yankee prospects. Any chance you have to deal a maybe for a sure thing you do it. Montero may be better than Posada or he may be lucky to be Dioner Navarro. No one knows. The fact that he wasn't included in a big time trade leads me to believe that within the industry there are major question marks about Montero. The Yankees are so confident in him they signed a washed up Russell Martin.

    Responses to this comment
  • Nobody is questioning Montero's offensive potential, the yankees are trying to involve him in a big trade because he's a defensive liability. With teixeira signed until 2017 or whatever they cant play him at first base and it's already too late in his development to move him over to third base and he's too slow for the outfield. They could theoretically play him at catcher, but he stinks worse than Jorge presently. The only option left is DH, and Cashman has been adamant about the DH hole being a rotating spot after Jorges contract is up. And gorge is NOT a future HOF. Playing in the middle of the steroid era and having very very borderline number generally hurt your chances. Right now the Yanks need pitching, and since they have no place for Jim, why wouldn't they package montero in a deal for an ace. It's true that's there's no definite way to tell how a prospect will preform in the majors, but minor league numbers are an indication.

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment