Brian Cashman has become something of a lightning rod this off season, drawing criticism from fans and media types for both his lack of activity and distancing himself from the Soriano deal. But he also has his defenders, and while appearing on Mike Silva’s radio show last night Mike cited a poll he ran where the voting came in 2/3 positive on Cashman. We all know GMs will have their share of good and bad moves, but who’s more right here? On balance, is he a good or bad GM?
I wanted to take a look at what his track record has been since taking over full control of Baseball Ops in 2005. That’s an important milestone for Brian, taking full control (and responsibility) for baseball decisions. In the previous period, some moves were made by George, others by ‘The Crack Committee’ so the waters are too muddied to know whether or not Brian was 100% behind those moves. I’m going to look at each year the way BR does it, beginning in November (when the off season begins) and ending in October of the following year. This way I capture the off season and mid season moves on the same list. I won’t look at any of this year’s off season moves, since its obviously too soon to know whether they’ve worked out or not. I’m only going to look at major moves, ones involving at least one MLB player that spent time on the 25 man roster. I won’t look at retaining their existing players as free agents (such as A-Rod, Mo, Pettitte or Jeter) since its simply maintaining the status quo. But I will look at free agents they let walk, such as Johnny Damon from last year. I’ll do a quick analysis of each move, and assess a grade of net plus or net minus for the franchise. I’ll total up each at the end of the post, and give a final total at the end of part 5.
December 8, 2009
As part of a 3-team trade, traded Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers and Ian Kennedy to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers.
Very complex deal, so I’m just using WAR here. Phil Coke (1.1), Austin Jackson (3.8) and Ian Kennedy (2.4) combined for 7.3 WAR last year, while Curtis posted 3.6 WAR. I think Curtis has more upside in him, and we all know A-Jax’s BABIP was sky high last year and unlikely to repeat. But Austin Jackson alone outproduced Granderson last year, so there’s no positive way to spin this. You can’t make a final determination for a few more years, but as things stand now the team would have been better off standing pat.
November 9, 2009
Johnny Damon granted Free Agency.
Fans were sorry to see the popular Damon go, but the Yanks didn’t miss him much. Brett Gardner put up a surprising 5.4 WAR playing LF while Johnny posted a 1.9 WAR with the Tigers. Defense counts, folks.
Hideki Matsui granted Free Agency.
Another popular Yankee fans were sorry to see go. Had a solid season for the Angels, posting an .820 OPS and 1.9 WAR despite the big positional adjustment for DH. Yanks wound up getting 3.1 wins out of their DH spot between Posada, Thames and Johnson.
December 22, 2009
Traded Arodys Vizcaino (minors), Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn and cash to the Atlanta Braves. Received Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez.
Melky was awful for the Braves, posting a -1.2 WAR. Dunn spent some time with the Braves, posting a 0.1 WAR but was quickly traded. Arodys Vizcaino hurt his elbow and had TJ surgery. From the Yankee side, Vazquez was very bad at the beginning and end of the season, but managed a good mid-season stretch that kept his WAR (-0.2) from getting too ugly. Boone Logan was the best part of this trade for either team, giving the Yanks a much-needed LOOGY and posting a positive 0.4 WAR.
Grade-Net plus (for Logan)
February 8, 2010
Signed Randy Winn as a free agent.
Low risk/low reward move for bench help, which didn’t work out. Not significant, but not positive since Winn did nothing as a Yank and was quickly released by the team.
February 10, 2010
Signed Marcus Thames as a free agent.
Low risk, medium reward move which paid off nicely. Thames added a potent lefty bat as DH and off the bench, and was worth about double in production what the Yanks paid him.
February 28, 2010
Signed Chan Ho Park as a free agent.
Low risk move in terms of dollars, but Park was unusable except in low leverage situations. Signed to add veteran stability to bullpen, didn’t deliver.
July 30, 2010 (Standings)
Traded a player to be named later to the Cleveland Indians. Received Austin Kearns. The New York Yankees sent Zach McAllister (minors) (August 20, 2010) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.
Kearns did little as a Yank, but Zach McAllister was exposed at AAA and in all likelihood won’t be missed. Brian deserves credit for getting something out of Z-Mac while he still had some value, but the player he landed didn’t pay off. I’ll give Brian a generous net plus, only on getting some actual MLB production in exchange for someone like McAllister.
July 31, 2010
Traded Jimmy Paredes (minors) and Mark Melancon to the Houston Astros. Received Lance Berkman.
Berkman did little for the Yanks, but Melancon also did nothing for the Astros. Melancon excelled at AAA but lost his control in the majors, and then made matters worse by complaining about New York fans, which he made known after he was sent to Texas. Melancon wasn’t cut out for New York, but Brian would have been better off hanging onto him for another deal.
Traded players to be named later to the Cleveland Indians. Received Kerry Wood and cash. The New York Yankees sent Matt Cusick (minors) (October 21, 2010) and Andrew Shive (minors) (October 21, 2010) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.
Best move Cashman made all year, and it came at little cost. Wood was terrific down the stretch as a Yank, stabilizing the bullpen and setting them up for a deep playoff run. Cusick is a career minor leaguer and Shive is a reliever with control problems.
Total Net plus transactions-6
Total Net minus transactions-3
Tomorrow I’ll look at Brian Cashman’s 2009 transactions.