VOTE: Are you happy with Cashman’s return?

October 13, 2014 | 14 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

There can be no more Cashman apologists

October 11, 2014 | 16 comments | in Featured | by SJK

We’ve been critical of Brian Cashman over the last two seasons, because he’s abandoned the philosophy he emphatically advocated earlier in his tenure.

Cashman in 2005:

“We have to get back to doing what made the Yankees so good for such a long period beginning in the ’90s,” said Cashman. “We’re in the position we’re in because we stopped developing our own young players.

“… storm clouds are on the horizon if we keep just staying old,” Cashman said. “You’ve got to reinvent yourself with youth and mix them in with the veterans, instead of going all veterans.”

What the hell happened to this?

Anyway, with the circus that is the Yankees’ front office, there’s always been questions whether player transactions are either “Cashman moves”, “Randy Levine moves”, or “Someone Else’s Moves.” For example, it was reported that Cashman did not want to sign Arod to a 10-year deal, wanted to be tougher re-negotiating Derek Jeter’s contracts, didn’t want Russell Martin to leave, etc. As a result of these reports, we (and others) sometimes cut Cashman some slack.

Well, no one can cut him any more slack. As we tweeted yesterday:

No more apologists. If his power is sometimes usurped, it doesn’t matter. By re-signing for another three years, he’s clearly made it known he’s a company man. He knows the environment. If he wanted to put his own unique stamp on a team, he could have left. He now deserves to be linked to every move or non-move this team makes. No more excuses for him.

Book sale

October 10, 2014 | 9 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Kevin Long Book NoMaas Yankees

Arrivederci, Guru

Justice Cashman

October 10, 2014 | 5 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Brian cashman Supreme Court Justice NoMaas Yankees
For life.

Yankees continue Cuba embargo

October 8, 2014 | 23 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

NY Post:

According to an industry source, the Yankees don’t appear to have a serious interest in Cuban defector Yasmani Tomas.

It’s believed Tomas, who will turn 24 in November, is seeking more than Castillo and could be looking in the $100 million area.

“He is a good player, but for $100 million? I don’t know,’’ a baseball official said of the 6-foot-1, 230-pound right-handed hitting outfielder who batted .375 (6-for-16) with two homers and five RBIs for Cuba in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. “He is better than [Castillo], but that doesn’t mean he is worth $100 million.’’

The Yankees’ disinterest in Tomas likely isn’t only financial. They hope Carlos Beltran can play right field if Alex Rodriguez needs to DH. That means there isn’t room for Tomas.

The 2015 Yankees: How about that WNBA?!

October 6, 2014 | 21 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

The 2014 season has mercifully come to end for the New York Yankees, a team whose only highlight of the year was to commercially milk the retirement of a legend — and unless Bud Selig is replaced by Vince McMahon, such ebulliently dramatic scripts will not be written anytime in the near future for this franchise. The curtains closed on the grim sequel to a playoff-less 2013 season, and the trilogy will be completed with more of the same next year. Despite a relatively weak AL East, the 2015 Yankees will be a distant cry from competing for the division, and fans will once again face the Fall alone.

In 2014, the entirety of the “professional baseball journalist” trade looked at this team before the season and saw a tour de force. NoMaas saw it for what it was: a farce. The marquee names look good in a newspaper headline, but the combination of frailty and utter lack of depth foreordained failure for this team from the outset. Even as the season unfolded and the roster was exposed for its dearth of talent, the rosy prattle among beatwriters about playoff hopes didn’t abate until the Yankees were mathematically eliminated. Journalists are a sycophantic lot. The Pavlovian response to drool over every utterance from a Steinbrenner or a Jeter runs too deep to be altered by mere reality. Expect more fawning over the front office’s futile efforts when they announce the next set of inefficient, bloated contracts.

However, the mediots are not alone in their myopia. Brian Cashman claims to have not foreseen this mediocrity going into the season. And far, far worse…he was apparently unable to see the mediocrity as late as July 31st, foolishly refusing to even entertain trading lame ducks like David Robertson and Hiroki Kuroda for young assets. Instead, he traded notable prospects Peter O’Brien and Rafael De Paula, who won’t be on anyone’s All-Star ballot next year, but are young and cost-controlled. It’s the second consecutive season that Cashman stubbornly refused to accept reality at the trade deadline and left the Yankees with fewer young assets in failed attempts to reach the playoffs.

You think these last two seasons sucked? Just wait. It will get worse.

Let’s start with the roster as currently constructed. The Yankees declined by one win in the standings from 2013 to 2014, finishing with 84 wins — a healthy 4 games back of the second wild card spot and a cavernous gap of 12 wins behind the division-winning Orioles. Yet, just as in 2013, the quality of this team is significantly worse than its mediocre record lets on. This team was outscored by 31 runs over the regular season, meaning the front office is really building off a .475 (77-85) ballclub. This is a very key point to remember, and why we were correct in forecasting the Yankees’ mediocrity in 2014.

This sub-.500 talent level ballclub will likely be losing Hiroki Kuroda and his 3.5 WAR. It also prefigures the impending free agency of David Robertson, Brandon McCarthy, Chase Headley, and Chris Capuano who combined to contribute ~ 7-8 WAR. The Yankees are certainly capable of re-signing these players, or replacing those lost wins with other free agents, but they were all on contracts that paid them less than they were worth. That means that even if the Yankees do replace those wins it will come at a higher cost, giving them less money to actually add wins at other roster slots (assuming Hal still does not want to increase payroll).

Perhaps the Yankees will take the $16 million coming off the books with Kuroda leaving, add another $5 million annual, and make a run at Scherzer or Lester — or maybe they just re-sign McCarthy at market value (this would be a wiser allocation of resources). With Tanaka, Pineda, Nova, and Sabathia hopefully returning, the Yankees will probably have a very good rotation. However, the good news here is also the bad news. No matter how well the Yankee rotation and bullpen works out next season, it will not be an improvement on 2014. The Yankees finished 1st in the American League in pitching WAR. It was a great year for the Yankees staff, despite all the injuries (kudos once again to the under-appreciated Larry Rothschild), and we can expect it to be a team strength again next year.

Yet, regression to the mean is too strong a force, meaning the Yankees will surely take at least a small step back towards the pack. Moreover, should we really expect Tanaka to post another 2.47 ERA; or for McCarthy (or his replacement) to post another 2.89 ERA; or for Pineda to even approach his 1.89 ERA? The main hope here is that each is capable of posting more innings, even if at a less proficient level. However, with a rotation of Tanaka, Pineda, Sabathia, McCarthy, and Nova, healthy innings are not what you want to be hanging your hat on.

The flip side to the rotation’s ceiling is the vast room for improvement in the putrid offense. Even before adding any pricey free agents, the Yankees are sure to best their run-scoring output, which was 13th among the 15 AL teams this season. There’s almost no way the Yankees can lose ground at shortstop now that the albatross of Derek Jeter has been removed from around their neck. Based on WAR, The Captain was the 8th-worst player in the majors.

Yes, there is always the chance that old obsessions will reemerge and Brian Cashman will deal Brett Gardner to reacquire Eduardo Nunez. Barring that, the Yankees will probably get a couple more wins out of their shortstop next year. They could go all in on Hanley Ramirez, the best available free agent hitter. He would fit right in with the rest of the Yankee cast of post-peak, overpaid, injury-prone players. Brian McCann is going to be better with the bat, and a full season of Martin Prado will be a breath of fresh air after going through too many games with the awful trio of Brian Roberts, Brendan Ryan and Stephen Drew.

The other disaster area was right field, where Ichiro was the only above-replacement level player among an aged group that included Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano. Here is where the Yankees could stand to gain 2-3 wins from free agent spending. Counting on a 38-year old Beltran to stay healthy and provide passable defense is a fool’s errand — even though Brian Cashman recently told us we should expect the “real Carlos Beltran.”

Unfortunately, there’s not a large cast of great players available. The best free agent right fielder is Nelson Cruz. He put up a 4 WAR season this year, but like Beltran, his defense is shady and he’s an injury magnet. The previous 3 seasons saw him fail to manage even a league-average WAR. The Yankees could also look at another bad defending disabled list lock in Josh Willingham. The Hammer actually has a higher career wRC+ (122) than Cruz (+118) and will require a much smaller commitment in terms of dollars and years. A final option is 23-year old Yasmani Tomas. He’s highly-regarded by scouts and it would be nice change to see the Yankees splash cash for a young position player. Yet, that’s about as good as it gets in this winter’s group of outfield free agents. It’ll be an upgrade, but nothing transformative. The rest of the outfield should hold serve, so long as Gardner and Ellsbury can stay on the field.

The biggest problem this year was the infield, but that’s where the Yankees are most stuck. The club is lumbered with Teixeira at $22.5 million per for the next two seasons and Arod at $20 million per for the next three seasons. Of course, neither will play anything close to a full season, but the Yankees aren’t going to spend the money to sign an above-average player at first or third to pick up the slack.

Speaking of bad contracts, you can add Beltran and Sabathia to the list that have already gone bad and are actively keeping the Yankees from improving their roster. The Ellsbury and McCann contracts will eventually be in that category as well, if they aren’t already. We listed this grotesque spending inefficiency as a major issue in our 2014 prediction article. It has evolved to the point that there is really no way for the Yankees to improve their roster enough to be a legit World Series contender. Making significant short-term upgrades at short (with Hanley) and RF (with Cruz) or even SP (with Scherzer or Lester or Shields) will just add to the long-term morass, and still probably won’t result in a playoff birth.

The common wisdom is that the Yankee fanbase would somehow revolt against a rebuild (because they’re sure packing the stands now /sarc). Yet, the fact is that the Yankees are stuck in a holding pattern of mediocrity for the foreseeable future. They can keep trying to patch over a poorly-constructed roster with a pricey free agent facade, but it is only going to prolong the agony. They’ve now passed up golden opportunities to add to the farm system two seasons in a row. They need to face up to reality, reverse course, and tear it all down:

1. Trade the few tradeable pieces they have in Gardner and Prado.
2. If guys like Nova and McCann bounce back in 2015, see if you can get value for them via trade.
3. Hold people accountable for bringing in and fostering talent in the farm system.
4. Wait out the next two or three years.

It’s going to be ugly either way. Do Yankees fans really feel that much better about an 83 win season than a 73 win season? Just take the medicine for a couple of years. Hopefully by 2017, some young faces will have developed into a viable core (Pineda, Refsnyder, Sanchez, Betances, etc). Then, they can bring back the Yankee spending juggernaut to find elite free agents that can actually put them in a position to contend.

For an organization that refuses to commercially let go of the 1990s, it’s amazing how much they’ve abandoned the baseball formula which facilitated that success. Until the front office changes its ways, we can expect this mediocrity to continue. Next season will be another miserable one.

cashman_koolaid
“We’ll be competing for a championship!”

Absolutely hilarious: Hal uses “championship-caliber” phrase AGAIN

October 1, 2014 | 32 comments | in Featured | by SJK

YOU. CAN’T. MAKE. THIS. SH*T. UP.

Hal Steinbrenner on next season, via the NY Post:

“I don’t think you can teach us old dogs new tricks – we expect to win every year. Our fans do, too. I am disappointed by all of this. We will be back next year with a championship-caliber team.”

As a reminder:

Hal Steinbrenner in February 2013:

All I can assure the fans is we are always going to field a championship-caliber team. Every single year.

Hal Steinbrenner in January 2014:

We did what we needed to do to field this team to be a championship-caliber team.

Unreal. Either he thinks we’re all morons or he’s completely delusional.

Til’ death do us part

September 30, 2014 | 18 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

ESPN:

The New York Yankees have begun the process of constructing a new contract for longtime general manager Brian Cashman, a source said.

Cashman’s contract is set to expire at the end of this month.

Cash must be on that weed tho

September 29, 2014 | 16 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

Daily News:

With all of that in mind, Cashman said he does believe this offense can fix itself.

You’ll see the real Carlos Beltran next year,” he said. “And Tex should be much better. His doctor says the first year after wrist surgery is difficult, and the next year is better.

Beltran will be 38 and is injury-prone. Teixeira will be 35 and is injury-prone. And we should expect them to improve?

Brian Cashman Weed NoMaas Yankees

Kevin Long is one cocky mofo: “Why wouldn’t I be back?”

September 28, 2014 | 16 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

NY Post:

Despite the lineup’s woes throughout the year, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long expects to keep his job after signing a contract after last season.

Why wouldn’t I be back?” Long said after a rare offensive outburst in Sunday’s 9-5 win over the Red Sox in the season finale at Fenway Park. “I’m just going to prepare like I always do.”

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