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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.

2010 New York Yankees Trades and Transactions

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.

Grade-Net minus

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.

Grade-Net plus

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.

Grade-Net plus

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.

Grade-Net minus

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.

Grade-Net plus

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.

Grade-Net minus

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.

Grade-Net plus

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.

Grade-Net Minus

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.

Grade-Net plus

Total Net plus transactions-6

Total Net minus transactions-3

Tomorrow I’ll look at Brian Cashman’s 2009 transactions.

11 Responses to “Assessing Brian Cashman’s reign-Part 1 of 5”

  1. Not really sure if I agree that Jackson “outproduced” Granderson when you consider that he only a .2 better WAR in 147 more at bats than Granderson had, if anything to me it proves that Curtis had the better year despite Jackson’s unrepeatable BABIP and Granderson’s extremely poor first half. I would have to believe that in 147 ABs that Granderson would be worth at least .2 WAR.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    That’s fair, and I did address those things in my post. But health counts, and when you factor in the other pieces my overall point still stands.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    bg90027 Reply:

    I think it’s extremely flawed to just base your analysis on a comparison of 1 year WAR totals. The Yankees wouldn’t have fielded an OF with two question marks (Gardner & Austin Jackson) while trying to compete for the WS. If they hadn’t done this trade, they would have likely started Gardner in CF and brought back Damon or signed or traded for another leftfielder. The proper framework for analyzing this deal is whether Granderson was a guy they should have wanted for the length of his contract, whether they gave up anyone they would really regret trading, and whether Granderson represents fair value for Jackson, Kennedy and Coke at the time of the trade not now. I still like the trade but think you could make a legitimate case for it being a plus or a minus. If they hadn’t done either the Granderson nor the Vasquez trade, plugged LF with Damon last year, they could have started Kennedy in the five spot and perhaps packaged Jackson, Nunez, Vizcaino and another prospect for Greinke this offseason and signed an OFer this year. Given what Crawford and Werth signed for though, I really like the Granderson contract and expect him to outperform Jackson over the next few years.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Very interesting excercise, but I think it is also worthwhile to take a look at Cashman’s earlier tenure. Even though their is some dispute about responsibility for deals, Cashman’s fingerprints are all over some very big moves…even on the 1998 team that most people assume he just inherited.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. I know there isn’t a set formula that conclusively reveals whether a trade was a win or a loss, but I would have to say that the Berkman trade was a win. I know he didn’t do much in the regular season, but he came up with a few big hits in the playoffs. Additionally, given his performance and his comments, Melancon was unlikely to amount to anything for the Yanks.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Joe G Reply:

    I dont recall seeing the Melancon comments and I cant find them on a simple google search. Could someone post a link, i’m interested in seeing those. It’s a shame cause I was a big Melancon guy when he was in the system.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I’ll try to find it when I get home, but it was a female reporter who blogs for their AAA team. I think she also works for the astros in some capacity. Came out a few weeks after the trade.

    BTW-i remember Mike Axisa doing a piece on it, and I might have done one as well. Search TYU and. RAB for “Mark Melancon” posts  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    http://footer.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/08/mark_melancon_was_diplomatic_w.html

    Found it. In my Keeping up with ex-Yanks post.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    bg90027 Reply:

    I agree with Craig. Besides, Melancon didn’t really have any trade value then or in the future. He’s a middle innings reliever who had failed in the several opportunities given to him. This was a salary dump by the Astros. If you want to argue that the Berkman wasn’t worth the salary he earned as a Yankee that’s maybe a fair statement but losing Melancon was no big deal.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. That’s fair, and I did address those things in my post. But health counts, and when you factor in the other pieces my overall point still stands.  

    Actually you didn’t…. All you said was Granderson has more upside, you never mentioned how much time was missed and IMO that is a pretty big deal, of course health matters but when you are talking about a WAR with such little difference in that many less ABs I think it needs to be more than glossed over.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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