Defending Brian Cashman

Well, jetanumba2, you asked for a list of New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman's good moves, so I started one.

But before we get to the list, let's have a discussion about what we're evaluating.

There are three different things that get evaluated when we discuss a GM- the wisdom of a move at the time; the value a move produced for the team, regardless of wisdom of the move; or your reaction to a move in retrospect. I'm most interested in my GM making the best move possible considering the information available at the time.

For example, signing Carl Pavano made perfect sense before the 2005 season- the Yankees had just choked away the 2004 pennant because they lacked a reliable starting pitcher after the 35 year old Mike Mussina, Pavano was 29 years old and coming off back to back 200 IP seasons, and he was the best free agent pitcher, sought after by the Mets, the Red Sox, the Tigers, the Orioles and the M's. Now, there's a strong argument to be made that Pavano wasn't worth a 4 year deal when other pitchers were only getting 3 years, but clearly the Yankees needed Pavano (unfortunately, they continued to need him over the next 4 years). By criteria one, it was the right move, even though it failed to produce by criteria two or three.

Some of my favorite Cashman moves:

  1. Acquired Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit- I still can't believe this deal happened
  2. Acquired Bobby Abreu for some minor leaguers- everyone knew the Yankees wanted Abreu, but it took patience and smarts to wait out the Phillies
  3. Signed CC Sabathia
  4. Held onto Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera & others instead of trading for Johan Santana- Cabrera would have a 1.8 WAR season and help win a WS, Hughes has had good seasons in the pen and in the rotation, and with Santana under the knife again, it'll be interesting to see which pitcher produces more value over the remainder of his current contract/ team control.
  5. Signed Robinson Cano to 4 year/ $30M extention with 2 club options, through age 30
  6. Acquired Javier Vazquez for Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera- expectations were too high, and Torre rode him into the ground in the first half of 2004; then he took the blame for the end of 2004
  7. Acquired Shawn Chacon for Ramon Ramirez and Eduardo Sierra (minors)- saved the 2005 season
  8. Acquired a bag of balls and some warm bodies for Tony Womack- he convinced the Reds that Tony Womack was worth trading for!
  9. Acquired Aaron Boone for Brandon Claussen- one swing makes it all worth it
  10. Filled the bullpen with homegrown options in the last three seasons

Some of my least favorite:

  1. Let Pettitte walk after 2003
  2. Acquired Kevin Brown for Jeff Weaver and Yhency Brazoban
  3. Signed Alex Rodriguez for 10 years after he opted out of his contract
  4. Traded for Armando Benitez- the worst of catering to Torre's bullpen mismanagement
  5. Traded for Randy Johnson instead of signing Carlos Beltran- RJ was a great acquisition, but at the cost of Javy Vazquez (after just trading Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera for Vazquez) and the young Dioner Navarro; and the failure to acquire a great CF when the Yanks needed a great CF, led to seasons of frantic FA signings and experiments in CF.
  6. Signed Kyle Farnsworth- a disastrous move compounded by giving him important innings just to satisfy the size of his contract
  7. Traded Damaso Marte for Enrique Wilson.  Wilson was never anything special as a player- so much so that when Jeter went down with a dislocated shoulder, the Yankees gave the starter's spot to Eric Almonte instead
  8. Signed Damaso Marte to a 3 year/ $12M deal- when will we learn the reliever/ multi-year deal lesson?  Since he's been hurt for the first 3 seasons, at least there's time for someone to suggest picking up his $4M option!
  9. I suppose no list of mistakes is complete without Kei Igawa- but he only cost money, and unlike more serious mistakes like Kyle Farnsworth and AJ Burnett, at least Cashman and Co have shown the sense to leave Igawa in the minors where he can't do any serious damage.
  10. I considered leaving AJ Burnett off the list out of hope for a strong rebound. But Burnett has a contract that will take him to 2013 (age 36).  The fun has only just begun.

Put your additions to each list in the comments.

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