- Posted: 10:44 AM, April 30, 2012
1. Wow, is Cashman getting filleted out there for the Yankees’ starting pitching woes, with Saturday’s Freddy Garcia fiasco setting off another round of anger. I’m seeing it in my e-mails, on Twitter and even from a few media folks.
I disagree with much of what is out there. I just don’t think there’s very sound reasoning. Let’s break ‘em down:
First of all, you have the end of April issue. When you do it now, with Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes pitching horribly, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda inconsistent and Manny Banuelos injured, you’re letting yourself be influenced by small sample sizes.
Second of all, when you try to go bigger picture and list Cashman’s many transgressions on the pitching front -- Kei Igawa, Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez twice, et al -- but don’t even mention other teams and their pitching decisions, you’re looking at things in a vacuum. And that’s not how the world works. The Red Sox are paying John Lackey the same $82.5 million the Yankees committed to A.J. Burnett (the Pirates took on $13 million in the February trade), and Lackey has made Burnett seem like Bert Blyleven. Texas once included Adrian Gonzalez in a trade package to San Diego in return for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian. Eaton pitched poorly for Texas that season, 2006, only to get a three-year, $24-million commitment from Philadelphia -- whose GM at the time, Pat Gillick, is now immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do. Has Cashman made a number of notable mistakes on the pitching front? He sure has. Although I’m not sure I’d crush him for failing to send Michael Pineda, a 22-year-old man with an impressive season of big-league ball on his resume, to the Yankees’ Dominican Republic complex following the trade. There was nothing in Pineda’s profile that indicated he needed to be babysat.
Which brings us to our third point: No one’s giving Cashman an A for starting pitching management over the years. But GMs don’t get graded exclusively on starting pitching management. They get graded for overall team management. You don’t win with starting pitching, per se. You win, generally, with run differential. And the Yankees, admittedly at the highest prices in the game, have won 94 or more games in five of the six seasons since Cashman gained full control of the club’s baseball operations.
If he has whiffed notably and repeatedly on starting pitching, in other words, Cashman hasn’t thrown up his hands and said, “Oh, well.” He has covered the team in other ways to make them successful.
Now you’re going to jump to the postseason and say that’s all about starting pitching, and that’s why they’ve won just one World Series in the last 11 seasons. There’s some truth to that, but it’s far from the whole story. The Yankees lost to Detroit in last year’s ALDS because they didn’t hit enough. Their hitting and their pitching failed them in the 2010 ALCS against Texas. If a team uses the postseason (small sample size, again) as an evaluative measure, it’s probably going to wind up missing the postseason.
I don’t mean to come off as a crazy Cashman defender here, although I might have failed in that mission. My greater point is that I can’t stand intellectually lazy criticism of anyone, whether it’s Cashman or Pavano, the “American Idle.” (I can finally use that nickname without having to credit The Post, now that I work for The Post, which originated it). And much of these Cashman criticisms are, in my opinion, intellectually lazy.
2. As first reported by The Post, meanwhile, Young was arrested early Friday morning for an allegedly drunken, anti-Semitic rage outside the Tigers’ team hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Detroit placed Young on the restricted list, as per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement (regarding alcohol-related issues), and the outfielder will be evaluated as soon as today. He could be cleared to play early this week, and Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that Young would be an active player for the team once he jumped through the necessary legal hoops.
Should this be the case? The Tigers, if they were so compelled, could try to negotiate a suspension with the Players Association, the same way the Mets did with Francisco Rodriguez two years ago when K-Rod beat up his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field. Baseball had more leverage in that case, however, as the act in question took place on MLB grounds. Detroit just can’t unilaterally suspend Young, in other words. Maybe the team could look tough by issuing a suspension only to see it never enacted, although I’m not a fan of such symbolism.
I’m a big “innocent until proven guilty” guy, so I won’t fault the Tigers if they don’t feel like disciplining Young at this juncture. But there is a way the Tigers could work around the union and maybe not even hurt their team very much: They could release Young.
He isn’t very good; whatever pop he occasionally provides at the plate is easily neutralized by his terrible defense. And with a $6.75 million salary, well…the Tigers have eaten more salary than that in the past.
It could be win-win: With a release of Young, the Tigers could claim the moral high ground, sending a message to their fans that they won’t tolerate such insensitivity, and they really wouldn’t hurt themselves as a baseball team.
--Have a great day.