Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brian Cashman Did A Good Job At The Deadline

It's been a week since the non-waiver trade deadline came and went. Initially, I was disappointed that the Yankees didn't make any significant moves. We discussed many trade targets here, and the team reportedly did ask about some of them, but in the end... nothing.

Many people have taken to Twitter and such in order to voice their displeasure of Brian Cashman, going as far as to say he should be fired. Again, on the surface, that seems to be a totally legit thing to say. The team has some glaring holes, and Cashman failed to fill any of them. And I don't mean holes just this season, I'm talking about things like a future catcher, shortstop, third baseman, or pitcher.

But who could Cashman have offered? I mean, no matter how good you think Cash his, he can't use the Jedi Mind Trick in order to fool another GM into giving him something for nothing.

"So those were the droids I was looking for?"

Robinson Cano is not only the best hitter on the Yankees, but he's also the best second baseman in baseball. Along with playing such a premium position, he represents exactly what a selling team wants in a trade chip. Therefore, the Yankees could have gotten a pretty darn good package of young players in return. But keep in mind that when I mention those "young players", I'm not talking about established MLB players.

Think about it... the only teams that would acquire a player in his final season before free agency, while paying the high price, are those that have a strong shot at the postseason. That means they aren't going to give up a current MLB player of value. What would be the point of that? Gain a lot in one area... lose in another? The net gain would not be worth it

But if the Yankees decided to bag this season, which they might as well have, then that plan would have been fine. Except for one thing... the Yankees can afford to re-sign Cano as a free agent, and build a team/lineup around him. That player should not only be fairly young, but also be a very good hitter. Taking a look at the upcoming free agents makes me think Robbie is the only one that fits the bill.

By the way, I thought the Yankees should have brought back Cano before we learned that ARod's contract would be off the books for them in 2014. Rodriguez's suspension just makes the return of Robbie an even better idea, as they can do that and still build a strong team while getting under the Luxury Tax threshold.

The end result may be right, Bud, but the way you got there was messed up.

The only other regular MLB player that would have much value is Brett Gardner. Yet he has his issues too. For starters, his strikeout rate has gone up in each of the last three years, culminating with a K rate 2 percentage points above the league average. And his walk rate has plummeted this season too. Not a good combination for a guy who can do the most damage on the basepaths. Oh, except for the fact that his base stealing instincts are pretty much non-existant. 

I don't mean to say Gardner stinks. I don't believe that at all. I'm just looking at things from an outsider's perspective, and trying to figure out whether I'd want my team to make a deal for him. And my answer to that is "sure, but I wouldn't pay that much". If the Yankees had a good alternative to Gardner next year, then I'd be okay with taking a shot on dealing him away. But the best alternatives in center field for 2014 seem to be paying Curtis Granderson or another free agent, or handing the job to Melky Mesa. Well Mesa doesn't instill much confidence (see his batting line of .245/.273/.418 this season in AAA), and Granderson or another free agent may already be brought in for a corner outfield spot. 

It seems to me that trading away Brett Gardner would not have been the smart thing to do either. Which doesn't leave a whole lot. 

The rest of the MLB roster is full of players with contracts that would scare a buyer off (Rodriguez, Teixeira, Sabathia), young players who have not done well (Adams, Nunez, Romine), players simply not hitting well (Overbay, Stewart, Hafner, Wells, Suzuki, etc), those with injury issues (Jeter, Youkilis, Granderson, Cervelli). Oh, and as for Cervelli, that doesn't even mention the fact that it looked like he was going to be suspended anyway.

Yes, Youkilis is still a Yankee.

Finally, teams trade their top prospects for big-time players all the time. But those types of deals involve prospects close to MLB. The Yankees biggest prospects, guys like Gary Sanchez, are either in AA or lower. So not only are they a couple of years before helping a MLB club, but there's enough time between that for things to go bad. Heck, Manny Banuelos went from being the top pitching prospect in the Yankees farm system last year, to sitting out the entire 2013 season. So you couldn't have expected Cashman to do much here either. 

Knowing that Cashman's hands were tied, I think the best thing he could have done is nothing. Keep Cano around, and build the offense around him. Keep Gardner around not only for the cheap help next year, but because of lack alternatives already on the team (just move him from the leadoff spot). Keep all your top prospects, as they wouldn't get you much anyway, and they could allow you to get help in other areas a couple years down the road.

We're actually in a good spot going into this offseason. The Yanks can bring Cano back, bring Granderson back (assuming he'd return for a qualifying offer, or around that same price), and have plenty of money leftover for somebody like Brian McCann, another strong pitcher, and third base help. Then, hopefully, some of your top prospects have come along really well, so they can help the team when it comes to next year's trade deadline.

"2014 can't come soon enough."

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