BRONX, NY – Remember when the New York Yankees used to churn out quality young arms from their minor league system year after year? Neither do I. Other than Andy Pettitte, have the Yanks developed any quality Starters at all in the past 20 years? You want to tell me Ivan Nova? Phil Hughes? I ain’t listening. Ted Lilly is probably the 2nd best home grown Starter the Yanks have developed since 1976 (Ron Guidry) and his production was for other teams. Beyond that, how’re Scott Kamieniecki or Wade Taylor looking these days? So it should come as no surprise that the Yankee organization has failed spectacularly to produce quality arms that would otherwise enable the team to contend this season. As they are currently constituted, the Yankees are a 78 Win team. Pitching and Defense wins championships. The Yanks have neither. If Masahiro Tanaka had decided to sign elsewhere over the winter, the Yankees would be in danger of losing more than 90 games this season. For those expecting another well deserved evisceration of the World’s worst GM, real Sandy Alderson-fasten your seatbelts. Today we’re calling for the head of Alfredo Garcia-or at least a stinging critique of Brian Cashman, the former boy wonder GM of the Bronx Bombers.
Having the worst organization in professional team sports based just 9 miles away has its advantages. The Mets are like a cheesy, off-the-beaten-path suburban amusement park that has one or two fun rides but offers very little else. No frills, no excitement, lots of carnies running around. Kind of like Adventureland on Long Island. The Yankees on the other hand are Sports royalty. I’m not sure what would constitute the “gold standard” for cheesy amusement parks as my analogy here rapidly weakens, but maybe if its one of those Six Flags deals, well there you go. Anyway, the point is, the Yankees have no payroll constraints, no alleged philosophical aversion to spending like the Mets do.
Yet, the Yanks entered the 2014 season in the same manner in which they entered the 2009 season, when after failing to qualify for the posteason the previous year, the Steinbrenners gave a collective “here’s your freakin’ farm system right here” middle finger and dropped half a billion on some new rides/players. Carols Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann all became fabulously wealthy. Tanaka though, was the only Starting Pitcher added to an over-achieving 85 win team from 2013. And as good as he has been so far this year, Tanaka alone is not enough. Cashman counted on a return to “Ace” form for CC Sabathia. A solid year from Huroki Kuroda, who-aside from a second half swoon last year has been very good for them for several years. He assumed Ivan Nova would continue his development. Maybe even get some quality innings out of the pine tar man Michael Pineda. But these assumptions have made an ass out of Cashman. Sabathia has been in steady decline since 2011 and is now slimmer, yet on the DL. Kuroda looked every bit of 40 years old after last season’s all-star break. Nova was wildly inconsistent, and Pineda-a wild card-was hardly a given. Brian Cashman has butchered the construction of the 2014 Yankees. Rather than throwing $40M at Beltran, $85M at McCann, and $140M (what!) at an injury prone center fielder who relies on his legs like Ellsbury, it is now painfully clear that Cashman needed to make additional investments in quality pitching.
I know the Stadium plays as if it was Camden Yards in Denver before the Humidors, but pitching still wins championships. Not only did Cashman spend the Steinbrenners’ money foolishly, he has neglected to develop a farm system capable of supplementing their free agents. Cashman has had free reign to spend and his over-reliance on free agency has left this year’s Yanks in dire straits. This is on Cashman. While he is generally more accessible, more honest and more accountable than the guy across town who spends his days watching Matlock, his inability to develop home grown talent will result in a second straight season with no playoffs for the Bombers. While the old guy in Queens remains baseball’s worst executive, it is time for Cashman to be held accountable as well. Having a team payroll north of $200 million dollars guarantees absolutely nothing. But I sure wouldn’t mind the Mets giving that a try.