Let's look at some of the things Brian Cashman has said about Rob Refsnyder in the last ten days:
"Refsnyder, I think he had a tremendous camp, but (he's had) maybe 240 games at second base so far,'' Cashman said. "He just needs to finish off some more defense. ... If we needed to use him, we'd be comfortable enough, but at the same time you guys saw in camp he's got some work to do on the defensive side.
"I know there’s a lot of dialog wrapped around Refsnyder and Pirela," Cashman said. "But I think also that those guys have shown they still have work to do on the defensive side still. ... I also think they’ve shown they have some development still to go, despite the bats. The bats are impressive, but you’ve seen the defensive stuff they’ve shown us in short sample sizes as well.
Compare that to some of the rainbows and lollipops we've heard about obviously flawed players from Jesus Montero to Peter O'Brien.
Cashman has been brutally honest before. My personal favorite was the time he told Rafael Soriano (and the media) that he didn't want to sign him during Soriano's introductory press conference. But Cashman has also downplayed expectations before, most notably last spring as he worked relentlessly to convince us all that Masahiro Tanaka was a #3 starter. I think Cashman has shown himself to be a shrewd operator over the years, and despite some questionable signings of his own, I don't think Cash is the type to drop the (then) 5th largest pitching contract in MLB history on a #3. Instead, Cashman was trying to temper expectations in case Tanaka got shelled in his early outings (Hiroki Kuroda had blemishes in his debut, and then went on to a stellar Yankees career). The New York media fishbowl and spoiled fans like me can be a pain as a player adjusts to the big leagues.
So I think Cashman is doing the same thing now: telling all of us to cool our jets talking about this kid as the Yankees' savior when he's barely cleared 130 games above single-A ball Cash certainly heard the radio and read the papers last season and he knows we were all howling for a new homegrown star. However, the Yankees have always been very cautious with their minor leaguers, especially if they thought they had nothing to gain in rushing a youngster.
Sure, maybe Cashman agrees that Refsnyder would have been more valuable to the 2014 Yankees than Stephen Drew, but how much more valuable? Valuable enough to close the 11 game gap between the Yankees and the Orioles? Definitely not. Valuable enough to bridge the five games separating the Yankees and the Royals? Of course not, and all calling him up does is start his arbitration clock for a team that is only at the fringe of contention.
Here's the kicker: remember that as recently as December, "sources" in the organization were talking up Refsnyder as the best hitter in the Yankees' minor leagues. Considering Greg Bird had been named MVP of the Arizona Fall League a couple weeks earlier, that's pretty high praise. And I bet that's still the opinion in the organization. So, as the Yankees' GM, why talk down your prospects? Because you want to temper your fans' expectations, and because you know you have absolutely no plans to trade the prospect away in the coming months. Because you know that this kid is a part of the future, and as a Yankee fan, that thought excites me more than a little hollow praise ever could.