Tagged: Brian Cashman

Hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is priceless.

I wrote a blog post back in November saying that the Yankees were going into the offseason targeting Damon over Matsui. That has been proven to be true by the winter moves. Now, with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to spring training tomorrow, and with baseball just around the corner, some of you can’t help but wonder “What if”. That is understandable. Hopefully, I can put your minds at ease.
Talking to fellow Yankees fans, and reading several Yankees blogs, many questions are being raised about whether or not letting Matsui go was the right move, especially with Damon’s departure from New York. This is natural, as spring training is not only a time to look toward the upcoming season, but it is also a time to reflect on the winter moves.

The main questions I’ve seen being asked are: What if we knew Johnny Damon would reject our offer? Had we known back then what we know now, would we have let Hideki Matsui walk away so easily?

I’ll be asking quite a few questions in this post, but worry not my fellow fans, I’ll give you my answers to the questions at the end of my post. 
First, before I give my answers, it’s time for a little objectivity. Let me raise the concerns that come to my mind.

It was made clear right from the beginning that the Yankees were working with a fixed budget, and they would not go over it. It’s also obvious that there is no way the Yankees could have known that a player would reject a fair offer. However, a little bit of foresight could have gone a long way. Here’s what we did know back then:
  • Johnny Damon puts money first (as evident from his departure from Boston)
  • Johnny Damon is a Scott Boras client, and Boras clients tend to get greedy
  • Due to the strict budget, it would be a choice between Damon and Matsui
  • Both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were essential members of our lineup in 2009
A little foresight could have changed things. We could have foreseen the possibility of Johnny Damon rejecting our offer since it was a paycut for him. Having that possibility present in the back of their minds, should the Yankees have left some wiggle-room with Matsui?
I obviously have no inside information on any negotiations, I’m just a fan trying to make sense of the information given to me. I don’t know what went on between the Yankees and Hideki Matsui, but I find it highly unlikely that Cashman didn’t even put a Torre-like offer on the table. I’m not saying that Matsui should have accepted it, he obviously found a better offer with the Angels. What I’m saying is: knowing that there is a possibility that our Plan A (Damon) would fall through, shouldn’t the Yankees have been a little more lenient with the Matsui offer? 
I’m involved in many business negotiations in my career, I know that there are ways to put an offer on the table and make it known that there’s some wiggle room for an agreement to be reached. There are also ways to show that the offer is final and non-negotiable, which is what I believe the Yankees did with Matsui.
Was that the right way to go? I agreed with Cashman when he chose Damon over Matsui, simply because of Matsui’s aging knees. Now that Damon is out of the picture, I can’t help but wonder what it would have looked like if we added the $2 million we paid for Randy Winn, and maybe some of what we paid for the others, to our original offer to Matsui. Surely that offer would have been in the same ballpark as what the Angels paid.
As I said, I don’t know what went on in the negotiations, so I have to show the other side of the coin. The Yankees could have wanted Matsui back (but not over Damon), so that means that they might have left some room for an agreement with Hideki. Could it be that Godzilla no longer wanted to play in New York? I can’t imagine why the World Series MVP would want to leave the team with which he just won the World Series. So that leads me to believe that he wanted to come back.
So, should Matsui have waited before signing with the Angels? He sure seemed to have accepted their offer quickly. In the blink of an eye, Hideki was off to Los Angeles. That seemed a little strange to me. Which is what makes me think that the Yankees rejected Matsui, Matsui did not reject the Yankees.
I’ve asked the questions, now it’s time to give you my own personal answers. Let me remind you that these are my answers, and obviously not answers given by any Yankee official.
Johnny Damon could make up for no Hideki Matsui in our lineup, but Matsui cannot make up for no Damon. The Yankees knew this, Johnny Damon knew this, even Hideki Matsui probably knew this. If we put our emotions aside and thought about it logically, we (as fans) could have known this, too. I knew it, I even blogged it, and I’m not some baseball genius. I’m just capable of putting my feelings aside, ignoring how much I love a player, and looking at things from a “strictly business” point of view. Remember, with Major League Baseball, and all professional sports: it’s nothing personal, dear, it’s strictly business.
As I already mentioned, the Yankees were working with a budget. They would not in any way go over this budget. That was very clear. I am positive that Brian Cashman was aware of the possibility of Johnny Damon rejecting his offer, it would take an absolute idiot to ignore that risk. So, when it comes to the question “Had we known then what we know now, would we have let Matsui walk away?” my answer is yes. The Yankees would have let Hideki Matsui leave regardless of whether or not Johnny Damon would be coming back. Let me explain why.
If Johnny Damon came back, then the reason behind Matsui’s departure would have been pretty obvious: we didn’t want to go over the budget. So that’s the first part of the explanation.
Second part of the explanation is not as simple, but still quite logical. In the beginning of the offseason, this is what was probably going through Brian Cashman’s mind regarding Johnny Damon: If Damon leaves, we’ll need to find a defensive replacement, a replacement in offensive production (hitting), and a replacement for Damon’s OBP. Looking at the Free Agency market at the time, and knowing that the Yankees couldn’t overpay for a big name for budgetary reasons, there was not one player that could have replaced Johnny Damon. No, not even Hideki Matsui. 
While one player couldn’t replace Johnny Damon, 2-3 players could replace him with correct in-game management. In that case (which is what happened) the Yankees needed to keep some cash free to acquire several players in the event that Damon left. They couldn’t tie their money up in a contract with Matsui. It’s not personal, dear, it’s strictly business.
Therefore, going into the offseason, the Yankees knew that, because of the strict budget, Hideki Matsui wasn’t coming back to the Bronx. I pretty much knew it then and hinted at it (in my blog posts, but especially on Twitter), and quite a few of you did, but it was too depressing to say it bluntly. It was known soon after the World Series Championship that our World Series MVP wasn’t coming back. Talk about a downer.
So, in my opinion, the right thing to do (for both the Yankees and for Hideki Matsui) was to basically let Matsui know that he was no longer needed in the Bronx. It wouldn’t have been fair to Godzilla to string him along knowing that we would not bring him back. It would have possibly pushed him to reject other offers. So, by making it clear that he would not be back in pinstripes early on in the offs
eason, we cut the cord. That’s why he quickly accepted the offer from Annaheim.
That is, indeed, what happened. Johnny Damon rejected our offer (and stupidly so, but you already know what I think from reading my post on Damon), and we replaced him with three new players: Granderson (for home runs and defense), Nick Johnson (for OBP) and Randy Winn (for defense). Damon’s base-running can be replaced in-house by Brett Gardner. Is it more complicated to have four players replacing one? Yes it is, but with intelligent management (we’re trusting you, Girardi) it can prove to be successful. By tying up our money in a Matsui contract, however, it wouldn’t have been possible to fully replace the loss of Johnny Damon.
Luckily for us, Brian Cashman had the correct foresight, and made the right moves.
It’s not personal, dear, it’s strictly business.

Lactose Intolerance

Got Melk?
I love Melky Cabrera. I have since he made his debut, and I always will. His wonderful personality outweighed his numbers in the hearts of most Yankees fans, and there was much love for him in New York. Especially from the “da womans”. I just want to make it very clear that Melky was one of my favorite Yankees when it came to character. His close friendship with Robinson Cano made him even more of a joy to watch on the field, and off. I will miss him. 
Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s discuss what happened yesterday.

Melky Cabrera, Aroldis Vizcaino and Michael Dunn were traded to the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. Hmmm… I like the name Boone. I tip my hat to Cashmoney for getting this done. In my opinion, this was one Brian Cashman’s best trades of his career. No doubt about it in my mind. 

I was somewhat disappointed, but not really surprised, by some of the reactions to this trade. While a lot of my fellow Yankees’ fans are happy about the trade, there are many others who are ready to see Brian Cashman fired for this. Reading all the negative reactions to this big move, in online forums and on Twitter, was hilariously infuriating to me. I didn’t know whether to laugh about it, or stab the desk with my pencil. No. 2 pencil, of course. The one thing I learned from the SATs is that No. 2 pencils are the Yankees of the pencil world.

The negativity can be divided into two categories: love for Melky, and hate for Javy.
Love for Melky:
Judging by the severity of these negative reactions, you would think Brian Cashman traded Derek Jeter to the Phillies to bring back Cody Ransom. Some fans were going crazy! Some of them were blasting Cashman for being a “heartless pr*ck who will run this team into the ground”, while others were saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Relax for a moment, people. Take a deep breath and go to your happy place. Easy there, Tiger. I love how that phrase has even more significance now. 
First off, in baseball, if it “ain’t broke” it doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. Are we the current World Champions? Yes, we are. Did our team work well for us in 2009? Yes, it did. Does that mean we can’t improve? No, it doesn’t. Anyone who tries to sell me on not fixing something unless it’s broken is someone who has no business discussing baseball, or professional sports in general. When you’re the New York Yankees’ General Manager, you don’t wait until something breaks before you fix it. You keep fixing and tweaking, day after day, to prevent it from breaking. Waiting for something to break before you fix it is how you end up with teams like the Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Secondly, being “heartless” is what usually makes a General Manager great. Sorry to break it to you, my friends and hippies, but you can’t love your way to victory. You can’t hug your players to a World Championship. You need to go out there and break some balls. Not only is breaking balls as fun as it sounds, but it also leads to a franchise’s success. Being sentimental is how you end up with a washed-up has-been eating roster space and payroll money. It’s basically how you end up with Jason Varitek still on your team.
Third of all, we traded Melky Cabrera. Distraught Yankees’ fans: are we looking at the same Melky Cabrera here? I understand your love for the Melk-Man. I love him too, but that doesn’t make him an amazing player. If I had a mentally-challenged son, I’d love him, but that wouldn’t make him a rocket scientist. For the love of Mo and all else that is holy, WE GAVE UP MELKY CABRERA. We didn’t give up the next Babe Ruth. We gave up a mediocre player. Yes, I said it, Melky is mediocre. He’s average at best. Look at his numbers. He’s a C-average student in an Advanced-Placement course. While that may make him a B+ student in a standard course, the Yankees are definitely an Advanced-Placement team. Stop being blinded by nostalgia and sentiment, and open your eyes to the facts.
Finally, with Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in the outfield, and Brett Gardner probably ready to play off the bench, Melky Cabrera was the weakest link. Goodbye. When we have several options when it comes to players in left field (I’m hearing word of the Giants making DeRosa an offer), who in their right mind would choose Melky Cabrera? Wait, I think I answered my own question within the question by including “in their right mind”. Point, set, match. I win.
Hate for Javy:
Look, I get it, “2004” wasn’t pleasant for any of us. It was devastating. Why are you blaming the collapse on Javy? Oh, I see your logic, it’s not like the rest of the team decided to start choking or anything. It’s not like games 4, 5 and 6 had anything to do with it. It must have all been because of Vazquez pitching in game 7.
Give me a <insert swear word here> break.
Javier Vazquez was expected to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in 2004. He was very good in the first half of 2004, and then declined in the second half due to injury. Or, as Javy says, not injury, but he just didn’t feel right. Whatever. We expected him to be our main man after Mike Mussina in 2004. 
In 2010, we’re expecting him to be our #4 starter after CC, AJ and Andy. All three pitchers have proven to be solid throughout the season, and they don’t burn out our bullpen. So, if every 4th start, we get a good 6 innings from Javy, we’ll be fine. Really, people? You don’t think that Vazquez can give us a decent start in the #4 spot? Please, do me a favor (before I slam my head against a wall) and look at his numbers. Vazquez is more than qualified to be our 4th starter. With Pettitte getting older, we may need to limit his innings more, I can see Vazquez moving up to #3.
Speaking of slamming my head against a wall, I saw something on Twitter that pushed me close to doing it: “I’d rather put Mitre and Gaudin in the rotation than Vazquez”. Dude, do yourself (and us) a favor and stop folllowing baseball right now. I’m not even going to dignify that statement with any further response.
For your information, Javier Vazquez came in 4th in this year’s Cy Young Award voting. You’re right, that definitely means he’s a horrible pitcher. Funny how he placed 4th, while CC Sabathia also placed 4th. It’s also funny how his ERA was lower than any of our starting pitchers, including CC. You’re right, that clearly shows how horrible he will be in our rotation. Not to mention his 238 strikeouts this year. Oh my, that’s terrible. He also pitched more innings than AJ and Andy. How rancid. Even with the Braves, Vazquez still managed to get 15 wins this year. That’s more wins than our #2 and #3 starters got for us this year, backed up by our lineup. He definitely sucks.
Again, give me a <insert swear word here> break.
Why all the hate, people? Take a good look at yourselves and answer that question. Sure, we didn’t sign Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, but Vazquez is a great acquisition for us. Who in our league has a better rotation than Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Vazquez and (fingers crossed) Hughes? The Red Sox? Just shut up already. We have [arguably] the best rotation in baseball now, would you stop complaining? If Vazquez even semi-mimics his 2009 performance in 2010, he will be solid for us.
I really do believe that a chunk of our fanbase consists of spoiled brats who will complain about anything and everything. Here we have our GM finalizing what could possibly be the best trade of his career, and a lot of our fans are bitching and whining.
Need I remind you people that you are supposed to be fans of the team and not of just one player? Wake up before I b*tchslap you back to consciousness.

Brian Baby

A little Christmas parody for Brian Cashman. I wrote the lyrics, sang and recorded it myself. 
I’m putting up the lyrics under the player.
I hope you like it!

http://twiturm.com/audio/twiturm_player_s.swf?soundFile=3b9r0

 
(If the player doesn’t work for you, here’s the direct link to the song: Click Here)
“Brian Baby”
Brian Baby, Slip a pitcher under the tree, for me.
Been an awful good fan
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight.
Brian Baby, a starting pitcher is what I need, indeed.
I can’t wait long for you dear.
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight.
Think of all the players we’ve missed.
Think of all the pitchers we crossed off the list.
Next year we could win our 28th.
If you just replace who we dismissed.
Brian baby, I want relievers leading to Mo, and you know,
Joba’s not enough dear.
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight
Brian honey, another thing I really do need, in left field:
A player who can throw a ball.
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight.
Brian cutie, you’ve done a lot with Grandy and Nick, I know,
But we need more from you dear.
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight
Come and trim my Yankees’ tree,
With some more additions like last year’s three.
I really do believe in you.
I hope you don’t disappoint me.
Brian baby, forgot to mention one little thing, another ring.
And I don’t mean from the store.
Brian baby,
So finish up a deal tonight.
Finish up a deal tonight.
Finish, tonight.