Posted By Eric Kopp on April 27, 2012
A four -winning streak ended with a loss to the Texas Rangers, but that wasn’t the biggest disaster in Yankee land. The loss of Michael Pineda is a devastating blow to this year’s team. On the night of January 13, Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda were acquired, giving the Yankees too much pitching. The Yankees were projected to be the best team in the American League. Then Andy Pettitte announced his comeback, and AJ Burnett was finally dumped off to Pittsburgh. Just eighteen games into the season, the Yankees clearly do not have enough arms, and are currently not one of the elite teams in Major League Baseball. To me, there’s one person who can be blamed for this: Brian Cashman.
Brian Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998, and he’s been there for four championships. But I can’t really credit him for any of these titles. The 1990’s dynasty team was built by Gene Michael, and 2009 was built by George Steinbrenner’s wallet. CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and AJ Burnett were all free agents who signed blank checks that Cashman brought to their houses. The recent title hides what have been years of horrendous decisions and trades, all capped off by trading Jesus Montero, who has been referred to as a young Miguel Cabrera, and Hector Noesi, a big league starting pitcher. They traded them for a young, 23-year old whose 2011 season looked like 2010 Phil Hughes: good until the All Star Break.
Photo: Sports Illustrated
Recent disasters have included trading Melky Cabrera for Javier Vazquez prior to the 2010 season, even after Vazquez flopped in the Bronx in 2004. He gave left-handed reliever Damaso Marte, and if he didn’t have success against Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the ‘09 World Series, we would still be talking about it. In 2002, he traded Ted Lilly, still pitching effectively for the Los Angeles Dodgers, for Jeff Weaver. They traded Jesus Montero, citing his inability to play the catching. Wednesday night he caught Felix Hernandez to victory in Detroit. Cashman cited the Yankees’ catching depth, and now Austin Romine has a serious back problem and hasn’t played all year, including Spring Training.
Think about the Yankee teams that hadn’t won a playoff series until 2009. The 2005 Yankees were saved by Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon, and a rookie named Chien-Ming Wang. The season’s rotation started with Johnson, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kevin Brown, and Mike Mussina. From 2006 through 2008, we saw pitchers like Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, Chase Wright, and the legendary Kei Igawa. If Curtis Granderson wasn’t an MVP candidate, that trade would be discussed as well. Ian Kennedy was a Cy Young candidate last season, and he’s already 3-0 in 2012. Phil Coke was a viable left-hander in 2009, and Austin Jackson is showing improvement. I love Granderson, but maybe Cashman gave up too much. He’s the one who loves to tell us that we can never have enough arms.
Photo: Pro Rumors
Some of the problems the Yankees are stuck with were due to the Steinbrenner family and the “Tampa Faction.” Alex Rodriguez’s contract is going to be an enormous problem through the 2017 season. Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are two examples of how organizations can destroy their young arms with pitch counts, innings limits, and cute little rules. I agreed when Cashman challenged Derek Jeter to find a better deal on the market for a shortstop his age, although now he looks like the American League batting champion. All of the Yankee failures over the last ten years cannot be put on Cashman, but he also cannot be exonerated.
If George Steinbrenner was still around and in his prime, Cashman would have been gone years ago. His off-season personal problems just add fuel to the fire. The devastating injury to Michael Pineda is a serious blow to the Yankees. The legendary Andy Pettitte will be expected to meet unrealistic expectations, deemed a savior to the rotation. It’s just unfortunate that he can’t pitch in the places of Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and occasionally Hiroki Kuroda.
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