Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Trading Deadline Critique (of Sorts) of Yankees GM Brian Cashman

by Scott Silversten

At this year’s trading deadline, the following quote grabbed my attention:

“I look at our club and it’s got so much fight and heart, and I wanted to, if I could, give it a chance to win.”

Now, can you guess who delivered the line? Was it …

A. Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels following his team’s acquisition of slugger Carlos Lee.

B. Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti following his team’s acquisition of starting pitcher Greg Maddux.

C. Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski following his team’s acquisition of first baseman Sean Casey.

D. San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers following his team’s acquisition of infielder/outfielder Todd Walker.

E. None of the Above

The answer, of course, is E. The quote was from New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Sunday after he dealt four mediocre or extremely young prospects to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Bobby Abeu and starter Cory Lidle.

For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Mr. Cashman. He does deserve credit for only giving up Shawn Chacon from his major league roster and returning Abreu, Lidle, and infielder Craig Wilson from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Yankees, as no one can forget, have a payroll exceeding $200 million. Abreu alone is due over $20 million through the end of next season. Yes, it’s a shame, but it’s the shame of baseball, not the Yankees.

Cashman is only heeding the calls of his owner, and any other person in George Steinbrenner’s situation would do the same. While fans in other cities call for owners such as Carl Pohlad (Minnesota) and David Glass (Kansas City) to spend their own personal fortunes on over-priced ballplayers, Steinbrenner doles out money generated by his baseball team. That’s the way the system is supposed to work.

While there is no way Cashman deserves blame, he does owe it to his peers throughout baseball not to deliver such quotes. By saying he “just wants to give his team a chance,” Cashman insults the baseball intelligence of everyone outside the Bronx.

The cries about the Yankees’ payroll have become old and tired. In fact, the discussions have reached the point of boredom. Nothing is going to change, so why waste energy during these 100-degree days lamenting the Yankees replacing one injured $15 million a year outfielder (Gary Sheffield) with another.

But please, Mr. Cashman, don’t try to claim that you are working with the same resources, or with the same goal, of the other 29 teams. We understand it’s either World Series championship or failure for the Yankees. Even with decimating injuries like the ones suffered this year by Sheffield and fellow outfielder Hideki Matsui, the Yankees have had more than enough to contend for a title.

Let’s not forget, the following players, aside from some minor ailments, have been completely healthy all season: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera and Kyle Farnsworth.

The Yankees would not be where they are right now if not for the contributions of such players as Melky Cabrera, Andy Phillips and Scott Proctor, but the only reason anyone notices is because their performances come in the pressure of important games. Dump those three role players in last place, and even with the same numbers, they would get zero attention from the local fans or press.

All I’m asking is for Cashman to admit that the Yankees operate under a different mantra and different financial structure than the rest. He doesn’t need to apologize for it, and the Yankees should not feel it necessary to change their tactics. They might spend in excess, but this October holds the possibility of a 12th straight postseason appearance.

Twelve straight Octobers of playoff baseball! And guaranteed, whether it’s 20 straight trips or 100, the next time the Yankees miss the postseason, New York fans will throw up their hands in disgust and act like they have been deprived of a Constitutional right.

The Yankees GM will then proclaim, “You can’t expect us to win every year.”

Actually, that’s exactly what we should expect.

Scott Silversten's column, "Age of Reason", appears Thursdays

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