Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Did Cashman & Co. "Drop The Ball"?

It doesn't drive me crazy when people complain about the Yankee front office, or Brian Cashman in particular, not doing a good job in building a better team this offseason. Being a Yankee fan and whining that they aren't perfect pretty much goes hand in hand. I don't mean to say there aren't exceptions to that, but spend a little bit of time on Twitter during a Bombers' game and you'll see it quite clearly.

What drives me crazy is when you ask a person how the team could have improved, and that person can't provide a good answer. Hell, you're lucky if they can provide any answer. Don't get me wrong, a lot of people you ask will admit to just getting caught up in the moment, and don't really mean to bad-mouth the team, or a particular person on or with the team.

"There must have been something Cashman could have done... right?"

Oh, and that craziness goes up even further when it's a "respected" writer. Particularly when that criticism occurs in an article of theirs, in which they should have provided a good alternative to what the team did or didn't do.

By this point I probably don't have to remind you about the number of injuries to key players the Yankees are dealing with, but here's the lineup if healthy...

Gardner - CF
Jeter - SS
Cano - 2B
Granderson - LF
Teixeira - 1B
Rodriguez - 3B
Hafner - DH
Cervelli - C
Suzuki - RF
*feel free to mess with the order

The only true improvement on that lineup I can see was bringing back Nick Swisher instead of Ichiro. I suppose you can make an argument for BJ Upton, however his career triple-slash of .253/.333/.419 never impressed me. Oh, and paying Josh Hamilton $25 million a year is asinine.

Back to Nick Swisher...  Nick is a good player, and is without a doubt an improvement over Suzuki. However, I don't think guaranteeing him $56 million over the next four years would have been the best decision.

Let me get it out of the way... Swish-a-licious is a good player. During his time in pinstripes, Nick hit .268/.367/.483 while averaging 26 home runs a season. Not only was he worth $15.7 million a season during his time with New York (per Fangraph's Dollar Values), in only one season was he worth less... and that was back in 2009 ($13.3m).

It may only be 20 games, but Swisher's wOBA so far in 2013 is an impressive .374. Which is much better than what any Yankee outfielder is doing besides Vernon Wells... who probably wouldn't be a Yankee if it weren't for Granderson's injury (despite the fact the Yankees had interest in him well before that).

And then there's this. Go Bucks!

Although I'm a fan of Nick Swisher, I can't say he's been a very consistent hitter. That may confuse a lot of people, seeing as how Nick's OPS+ was between 120 and 129 in six of his previous seven seasons (the outlier being his horrendous 2008 season with the White Sox). So allow me to explain...

Between 2009 and today Swish's strikeout and walk percentages have gone up and down so much my stomach is queasy just thinking about it. His strikeout percentage in 2009 was 20.8%, went up to 21.9% in 2010, then down to 19.7% in 2011, back up to 22.6% in 2012, and is at 18.4% so far in 2013. Swish's walk rate was at 16% in 2009, fell to 9.1% in 2010, increased to 15% in 2011, dropped again to 12.3% in 2012, and currently sits at 14.9% in 2013.

To further add to the idea of Swisher being an inconsistent hitter, take a look at his Isolated Power numbers. In 2009 Nick's ISO was .249, dropped to .223 in 2010, fell even lower to .188 in 2011, increased to .201 in 2012, and at this moment is a career low of .167 (tied with his rookie season in Oakland).

Being a Swisher fan I can't help but repeat that I don't mean he's not a good player. I just don't think it was a no-brainer to bring him back. And consider a few other things...

One, three of the top four prospects in the Yankees' system are outfielders (Williams, Heatchcott, and Austin). Two, although Brett Gardner looks less and less like a guy that should be a regular in the lineup, he is around through 2014. And finally, corner outfielders are not that hard to come by, as seen by the fact that even in a thin free agent class this coming offseason the Yankees may still be able to choose between Shin-Soo Choo, Mike Morse, Hunter Pence, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, and David Murphy.

So, you see, Cashman and Co. did not drop the ball on the offensive side of things this offseason.

Unlike Rajai Davis in yesterday's game.

But what about pitching?

This one won't take nearly as long. I mean, was anybody complaining about the Yankees re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettite? Even those that had reservations about Phil Hughes and/or Ivan Nova couldn't have been that up-in-arms. The team already had options for the bottom of the rotation, such as David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Brett Marshall. And it's not like free agency had a ton of promise after Zack Greinke. I mean, were there really that many people clamoring for the signing of Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Edwin Jackson, and Anibal Sanchez (NOTE: I like Sanchez, but I didn't shed a tear when he re-signed with the Tigers).

As for the bullpen it would have been nice to see the team try and take a chance on a few different guys, but after re-signing Mariano Rivera they were just fine. David Robertson was already there to lock down the 8th inning, Joba Chamberlain hasn't given up a run in his last 7.2 innings, not only has Boone Logan done a fine job but his strikeout rate has gone up in each of the last four seasons, and the team added Shawn Kelley after he had a good 2012 season in Seattle (116 ERA+).

So until somebody explains how Cashman and Co. dropped the ball then I'm going to continue to smirk at those that cry and moan about the lineup Joe Girardi has had to run out there so far in 2013.

"Whatcha got, smart guy?"

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