Up next in our Pinch Hitters series is Daniel Burch, who was born 27 years ago in Lebanon Hospital overlooking the old Yankee Stadium. Daniel has since moved to Atlanta and says that the Yankees are “easily the biggest thing that I miss from living in New York.” Daniel started his own blog, The Greedy Pinstripes, and calls himself a confessed “prospect hugger and anti austerity fan.”
Makes sense, then, that Daniel suggested a post about Brian Cashman’s trade history and whether Yankees fans should trust their general manager to make the necessary moves to keep the Yankees winning without a $200-million payroll.
For fans spoiled to grow up watching the Yankees during the dynasty years of the mid 90′s until as recently as 2009, we have all seen guys come through the system like Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, and a plethora of others guys that I am unintentionally forgetting. We have also seen the Yankees go out and bid against themselves to get the biggest free agent prizes like Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sheffield, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Hideki Matsui, and probably 600 other free agents that George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman have gotten into pinstripes. With a seemingly infinite budget — in free agency, on the international market and in the draft — the Yankees and Cashman have not been afraid to pull off big trades involving prospects for proven veteran pieces to make another World Series run. It was fun to watch until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and its harsher penalties for repeat luxury tax offenders.
The idea to get under the $189-million threshold to save some money and restart the penalties makes sense on paper, but does it make sense in the real world? I personally have my doubts, and my question has always been whether the fiscal savings by getting under the threshold would outweigh the fiscal hit the Yankees would take if we were mediocre on the field not only in 2014 but this season as well. Can the Yankees really compete in a deep and competitive American League East AND follow through with the austerity budget in what seems to be a rebuilding project? Sure, we can, but the only way that is going to happen is if we put our faith into Cashman’s alter ego: Ninja Cashman.
Let’s not beat around the bush: Our farm system, especially in the upper levels, is depleted and barren and not going to really help us in major spots in 2013 and beyond besides for maybe a David Adams, Corban Joseph, Adam Warren, or a Mark Montgomery. While those are nice pieces for depth or in a pinch, aside from Montgomery, none of these guys is a can’t-miss type that we will need to keep the payroll down and still compete. The only way we are going to get this done is if Ninja Cashman can pull off a trade or two that brings us a young and effective piece without creating too many other holes. But can we really bank on that? I am glad that you asked…
I took it upon myself to look at the past six seasons worth of trades, no matter how minor, and evaluate each one specifically to determine whether we should really put our faith into Ninja Cash or if we should expect to miss the playoffs the next two seasons. I am just going to hit the high spots because I do not think anyone puts much weight into trades like when we acquired Justin Maxwell from the Nationals in 2011 for some guy whose name I cannot pronounce and have to copy and paste his last name (Adam Olbrychowski) to make sure the spelling is correct. Let’s look and evaluate the trade history of Ninja Cash:
On July 23, 2012 the Yankees traded minor leaguers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki. This trade worked out beautifully for the Yankees because we were never going to give either of the young guys a shot for the big club, and in 67 games Ichiro gave us a 0.8 WAR, wreaked havoc on the base paths, and was one of the few Yankees to not totally disappear when the calendar changed to October. Verdict: Good Trade
On April 4, 2012 Cashman traded George Kontos to the Giants for Chris Stewart. This trade never made much sense to me because, while I can agree that relievers are a dime a dozen and Kontos was not exactly young or a “can’t miss guy,” can you not say the same thing about backup, defensive-minded, no-bat catchers? And that’s especially relevant when the Yankees already had a capable backup in Francisco Cervelli. Kontos went on to have a pretty good season for the eventual World Series champions, while we were without guys like Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain. Stewart did nothing of note for the Yankees. Granted Stewart looks more and more like our starting catcher in 2013, which I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing, so there is time to get some value out of this trade. Verdict: Bad Trade
On January 23, 2012 the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Mariners. As much as this trade hurt because I have watched Montero come through the system and salivated at the idea of his power in Yankee Stadium, the trade made sense because Pineda was a power arm with five years left of team control and filled a need. Campos was also considered to be able to walk into camp and be listed in our Top 5 Prospects list right away. He had much more potential then Noesi ever thought of having. The trade is obviously incomplete as even after the 2013 season we will still have three years left of Pineda, and Campos is still only in Charleston. You have to wonder if Pineda will ever come back and be effective for the Yankees, and the only redeeming factor in this trade is the fact that Montero once again seems to be without a true position and did not exactly tear the cover off of the ball while Noesi got lit up in Safeco. Verdict: Fair Trade
On July 31, 2010 the Yankees acquired “Kid K” Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for two players to be named later — who turned out to be Matt Cusik and Andrew Shive — and cash. Kerry came over and absolutely dominated out of the Yankees pen with a 0.69 ERA in the second half while, to date neither, Shive nor Cusik has done anything for the tribe. Verdict: Good Trade
On December 22, 2009 the Yankees traded Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino for Boone Logan and Javier Vazquez. While in Atlanta, Cabrera was absolutely terrible, allowed to leave as a free agent, and eventually signed with Kansas City. Dunn has not done anything to lose sleep over, and Vizcaino is going to miss the 2013 season with Tommy John surgery. While Logan has been somewhat of the LOOGY we have been searching for the last five to ten seasons, Vazquez was absolutely terrible for the Yankees. It is a lot to give up just for essentially a LOOGY, but since we did not give up anything that has come back to bite us to date this trade gets my approval. Verdict: Good Trade
On December 8, 2009 the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Tigers hooked up in a three-team trade that saw The Yankees acquire Curtis Granderson from Detroit while giving up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers and sending Ian Kennedy to Arizona with other lesser pieces moving back and forth. Granderson started out well for the Yankees and has compiled a 13.2 WAR since the trade. The pieces we gave up have compiled a 26.8 WAR in the same time period. Jackson has turned into one of the better leadoff men and center fielders in the American League, Coke has dominated us in the playoffs out of the pen, and Kennedy is one season removed from becoming a 20-game winner. Granderson has forgotten how to take routes in center field and has become an all-or-nothing kind of home run hitter that the Yankees were trying to get away from. Verdict: Bad Trade
Our final trade we are going to look at was on November 13, 2008 when the Yankees acquire Nick Swisher and reliever Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit, Jeffrey Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez. This was a classic buy low move after Swisher had the worst season of his career in Chicago and rebounded nicely in four seasons for the Yankees. We gave up nothing of note and got a fan favorite in return that the Yankees are scrambling and struggling to replace after leaving via free agency this season. Swisher has compiled a 15 WAR in his time in pinstripes where Betemit, Marquez, and Nunez combined have brought Chicago a 2 WAR. Verdict: Excellent Trade
I know that I have missed a few trades, but for the sake of space, I hit the high spots and went over the bigger of the trades. According to my tally, I have one excellent trade, three good trades, one fair trade, and two bad trades. Trades, much like the MLB draft, are a crap shoot because you never know what you are going to get, but on the bigger trades Ninja Cash seems to get the better end of the deal more often than not.
I am not the most patient Yankees fan, and I definitely hate settling for anyone less then Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton this offseason — hence the name Greedy Pinstripes. My faith in my General Manager and the team’s commitment to winning will never waiver. Ninja Cash has been fantastic at finding cheap value late in the offseason and in trades, and I have full confidence that he will again in 2013 and 2014 to keep this team in contention.
Associated Press photos