Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Cashman has done this off-season

Let me get straight to the point. I don’t like the moves Cashman has made this off-season even though I have been in Cashman’s supporters’ camp. It seems everyone likes his moves. Not for me. Those moves make Yankees better on paper. However, I have a hunch that those moves may come back to bite us. As a diehard Yankees fan, I hope I am wrong about my prediction.

I also start wondering whether Cashman has the ability to make good signings or trades in order to improve his team when he can’t throw money at the problems.

I believe Cashman makes those decisions based on the numbers. I am pretty sure you guys get tons of analyses like that. You are not going to get one from me. My opinion is more based on my observation.

I believe chemistry can affect the team performance. I believe some players can perform better under the pressure or at the clutch time than others. I also believe the team overall performance can be better when some players play with certain players.

From this point on, barring some surprises, two things are more likely happening in Yankeesland. First of all, Cashman may add a second-tier left outfielder. Secondly, he may add one bat off the bench. So, it will be a great time to review what Cashman has done this off-season?

Well, he basically replaces Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera and numbers of no.4 starter(Joba chamberlain, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, etc) with Curtis Granderson, Nick Johnson, Jamie Hoffmann and Javier Vazquez while he almost empties the depth of minor league system except catching department.(P.S. You can’t count Joba and Hughes because they are already major leaguers.)

Of course, I don’t count players don’t contribute that much this season, such as Bruney, Nady, Wang,etc. I also don’t include the possible impact of losing Molina, Phil Coke, etc.

Because I already commented on what I think regard of Curtis Granderson trade, I am not going to repeat one more time. But, in short, you can say it is a push when it comes down to Johnny Damon vs Curtis Granderson because Johnny Damon is a contact hitter with more speed who can put together more good at-bats and Curtis Granderson is younger with more power.

As for Nick Johnson deal, let me make one point clear. I understand Yankees don’t bring Matsui back due to age and injury concerns. The days he plays on the field are gone, it makes Yankees very difficult to rotate DH spot for Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira and Posada. But, why bring into a younger version of Matsui? I know there is slight difference when Nick has high base percentage and Matsui has more power. But, he also can’t stay healthy and will be our full time DH with occasional first baseman.

These analyses above are rational. Irrationally, I rather have Damon and Matsui than Nick and Granderson because I trust them more to delivery at the clutch time. If I were Cashman, I would trade for Granderson and sign Damon back.

Of course, I don’t have problems with Nick instead of Matsui if Yankees spend over their budget they claim they have again and end up with getting Damon back in the end.

If Cashman ends up with a second-tier left fielder(not Damon) along with Nick and Gradnerson after trading Melky, I am afraid of this experiment may not end too well.

There are just too many players in the lineup we are not sure what we can get. Don’t forget A-Rod has a hip surgery that requires second surgery originally. Don’t forget Swisher actually perform better than most people expect. Let alone Posada stays healthy while Jeter plays well. On top of that, we actually have Melky and Gardner platoon for center fielder. I am not sure what we can get from Gardner when he plays everyday.

As for Javier Vazquez trade, it is a good deal if the only thing we ask him to do is pitching behind CC, AJ and Pettitte. If one of top 3 gets hurt that is high possibility after the workload they endure for 2009 season and we ask the other guys pitch at the spot they are not supposed to be along with a uncertain no.5 starter, I can see the disaster waiting to happen.

I just don’t feel too comfortable with the combination of three-year workload of CC, injury history of AJ, age of Pettitte and uncertainty of Joba and Hughes. That is why I don’t like the trade for Javier Vazquez.

I know Javier Vazquez has a nice track record of durability. But, it doesn’t guarantee it will happen again in 2010. Let alone what happened in 2004. If I were Brian Cashman, I will push for a front line starter who proves he can handle American league, such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, John Lackey,etc. Even if we can’t get one of them, I will use the same amount of money given to Javier Vazquez to sign both Chien-Ming Wang and Ben Sheets that will bring us two potential two frontline starters.

The other two things what Cashman has done this off-season I don’t like are bullpen and catchers. He basically hand the job to Cervelli. Don’t get me wrong. Cervelli has done a great job. But, can he handle the job as a full time backup to Posada? Let alone the possibility to be a starting catcher if Posada gets hurt again. I think Yankees underestimate the value of Molina.

Of course, I know Yankees have depth in catching department down the farm system. But, are they ready?

The other thing is no move at all made by Cashman for the bullpen. I know relief pitchers except closers perform differently every year. I know Girardi shows the ability to manage the bullpen well. However, I am not too sure Girardi has enough options after Cashman almost empties high level of Yankees minor league system this offseason.

Don’t forget Mo is 40 year old, especially when you consider the workload he endures during playoff run. On top of that, it seems to me Mo loses his stuff a little bit after the injury he suffered at previous year. Not to mention, he told to reporters after playoff he pitched with some sort of injuries.

Even if Mo is Mo and someone from somewhere can do the good job in the bullpen, Yankees certainly need a more certain setup man. I believe that guy will be Joba who Yankees finally stretch him out enough as a starter. Keep in mind two things. There are more frontline starters available while Pettitte is more likely retired next year.

That is why I would sign or trade someone to be Mo’s setup man if I were Cashman this off-season. Just in case, Mo may get hurt or pitch not so well. If the guy perform well, he may be the potential heir to Mo next season or use as leverage to get Mo back at reasonable price. By getting a new setup man, we can put both Joba and Hughes into the rotation where they are supposed to be. Because there are some uncertainty surrounding with Joba and Hughes as starters, The signings of Ben Sheets and Chien-Ming Wang as safety net will work out perfectly.

Among CC, AJ, Pettitte, Joba, Hughes and Sheets, someone will get injured or pitch not so well. Of course, the other 5 guys can form a great rotation. Because the depth we have in the rotation, we can ease Wang back to his old form right around All-Star break for potential injury. Even if Sheets and Wang don’t work out well for Yankees, they are one-year deal and we can see what we can get from Joba and Hughes.

That being saying, I bet one of Sheets and Wang will perform well in 2010. By the way, we can save some depth in the minor league system by not making a trade for Javier Vazquez.

Hopefully, I am wrong and Yankees have the same luck as 2009 season in terms of injury.

Let’s Go Yankees!