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!


MJB said...

I tend to agree with many of your points, but I don't think it is really too bad.

The bad: First, I totally agree that basically substituting Matsui with Nick Johnson does not make any sense. In fact, this is the one thing I will say is actually stupid. I like the idea of getting younger, but this was not a good move...

The bad 2: ...especially when you get rid of Melky. I'm not saying Melky was the greatest, but when we look at our current outfield what we need is...Melky! Young, good D, good speed, great arm, switch hitter with a little bit of pop. Perfect! I've said all along that I felt Melky would have been better in a corner OF position (I used to say RF because of his arm, but he's good for LF just the same).

Losses: Some say that Nick Johnson's OBP makes up for the loss of Matsui. I'm not sure I believe it, but since it is possible that Johnson will be an OK replacement, I will count the loss of Melky as the greatest loss of the off-season. I do not lament the loss of players like Ajax, Coke, or IPK at all. I dont think they would have amounted to much in NY (although Coke was pretty good). Now for Damon, who could still come back. I like Damon and think he's a darn good player. I will be fine with him coming back. But this is the part of getting younger that actually made sense...until they traded Melky. I will be happy if Damon comes back, but I guess I won't mind too much if he doesnt. He's getting old.

The Good: Even though the Yankees had to give up Melky to get him (which I hate), I think Javy Vasquez is a good addition to the rotation. I think back to last year when we were all worried about bringing Pettitte back as the 4th starter behind CC, AJ, and Wang. Now, we have Vasquez in the same situation: an "innings eater", who can pitch pretty well, but not without questions. I know he's not Ace material, but like you say, as long as he's in the #4 role, he's a good pick up. And given the disaster season Wang had, even if one of the top 3 go down, its not the end of the world.

The Good 2: Our LF? Hoping it will be someone good, but so far, the best rumor seems to be Reed Johnson. Not good. I wonder what it would take to get Melky back? haha.

Move I want to happen that will make me forget that we have nobody to play LF: resign Wang to whatever matches his best offer. Will it be minor league contract? Maybe, maybe not. He is the insurance the Yankees need that will relieve worries about injuries to the top 3 and relying on Vasquez, Joba, or Hughes too much. Wang has great upside since he's won so many games as a Yankee.

Finally, you are right that the team has some situations which appear to be setting them up for disaster (shaky OF, loss of key players, loss of top minor leaguers, uncertainty of starting 5)...but I think it will take multiple injuries to make it turn bad. Hopefully, that won't happen.

Here is what I would have rather happened:
1. Granderson deal looks fine to me. Start him in CF.
2. Keep Matsui, forget Nick Johnson
3. Keep Melky! Start him in LF.
4. Sign Jon Garland to be the 4th or 5th starter. He can't cost as much as Vasquez's contract and wouldn't have cost Melky...probably just as reliable as Vasquez too.

Starting 5 would have been: CC, AJ, Andy, Garland, Joba. Injury replacements: Hughes, Aceves, Mitre, Hirsh.

Line up would have been:
1. Jeter ss
2. Cano? 2nd
3. Arod 3rd
4. Tex 1st
5. Matsui DH
6. Posada C
7. Granderson CF
8. Swisher RF
9. Melky LF

that looks solid to me! but it will not be! Oh well. Lets hope Question marks do well!
? Vasquez
? LF
? Nick Johnson


Jessica Lee said...

I totally agree with what you say about Melky. Many Yankees fans think losing Melky is not a big deal because he is not a super star player. However, I do believe most people overlook Melky’s contribution. We don’t need 25 super stars on the roster. We need a team when players play different roles.

I understand the thought behind not signing Damon and Matsui back because the importance of getting younger. However, as a team that is expected to be playoff every year, they need to do it slowly. That is why I think they should get one of Damon or Matsui back. I don’t mind they trade for Granderson. However, I will feel more comfortable they keep Melky and sign Damon back on the short term deal (P.S they may end up with getting Damon back any way).

I just think we need more certainty on the offense, especially we can’t count on Posada, Jeter, A-Rod, Tex, Swisher and Cano all duplicate what they did last season without injury issue. And then we expect new guys (Granderson and Nick) to replace the production of Damon and Matsui perfectly.

I just don’t like the Vasquez deal. I rather they keep Melky and others and then use the same amount of money to sign 1-2 starters on the free agent market. If they don’t like any of starters on the free agency market, I rather they trade for one frontline starter. P.S. We also don’t know how he will perform in the American League East under the spotlight of New York.

Like I say, Yankees will be fine as long as we ask him to be a no.4 starter. In 2009, Yankees was survived after Wang’s terrible season because Pettitte pitched like a no.2 starter while A.J. pitched the whole season without getting injury. I am just afraid that Yankees will be in trouble if one of C.C. or Pettitte is out for injury for significant period of time and then we need to count on A.J. and Vasquez.

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Greg Prosmushkin said...

Thanks for sharing this article with us. The offseason is a very important part of the year for a team to get their team better. Have a great rest of your day and keep up the posts.
Greg Prosmushkin