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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Yankee owners: A Fish Rots From The Head Down. Steinbrenner Kids must fire GM Brian Cashman or sell to someone who will.

The Steinbrenner Kids have got to go.  That's the only way that Yankee fans can be rid of the toxic Brian Cashman, general manager too long.

Dumb and lazy Steinbrenner Kids never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity: Tampa GM goes to Dodgers. Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A few days ago the Steinbrenner Kids, who own the New York Yankees, signed their 16 year incumbent general manager (GM) Brian Cashman to a new three year contract.  Did they know that the Tampa Rays GM was available, that Andrew Friedman was talking to the Los Angeles Dodgers?


That's almost one year ago and do things look any better for the Yankees just after their elimination two days ago in the do-or-die wildcard game?  Yesterday I listened to Yankee announcer Micheal Kay interview Cashman on ESPN radio.  Yuck.  Cashman comes across as a monotone boring twit but the longer you listen the more you understand that Cashman has gotten way too much power and control within the Yankees, largely filling the huge vacuum left by the death of George Steinbrenner, whose four adult children inherited the Yankees and who are all in way over their collective heads.

Brian Cashman, Yankees at Orioles 6/12/15 by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Cashman is content to continue to sit in the mess (euphemism) of his own making (pun).  The Yankees are stuck with too few good prospects in their farm system, too many old players on the active roster with too much money on contracts with too many years.  Cashman is responsible for all of that.

One of the few bright spots in 2015 was rookie first baseman Greg Bird, who joined the Yankees in mid August to replace the injured Mark Teixeira.  However, Cashman sees little if any role in 2016 when Teixeira returns for the final year on his contract.  Cashman indicated that Bird had started as a catcher, been tried in the minors at other positions and is only suited to play first base.  That's the concise understandable interpretation of Cashman's boring ass pseudo executive babble.  Bird cannot and will not be moved to the outfield in 2016.  Bird will just have to wait for Teixeira to get injured or play out his contract.

Or worse.  Maybe Cashman intends to trade Bird.  I think the real problem with Cashman is that he is a tight ass who has pushed that down onto field manager Joe Girardi and restricted any flexibility.  What Cashman is doing to/with Bird has precedent with negative consequences.  Two examples:

1. Jorge Posada.  Posada was honored in 2015 so we tend to forget how badly Cashman treated Posada in 2011, his final season as an active player.  In spring training Cashman dictated that Posada would not be the starting catcher, that Posada would not be the backup catcher and that Posada was not allowed to even practice as a catcher.  Posada was angry and humiliated as well he should be.  Posada had been relegated to designated hitter (DH) and nothing else.

Now how stupid is it to forbid the guy who has been your starting catcher from practicing his fielding position?  It's better to have a non-catcher assigned the role of emergency catcher?  Does that make sense?  What Cashman was doing was crushing any hope that Posada might have to be any more than a DH, maybe in the hopes of so inflaming Posada that he would demand a trade.  Sound familiar?

2. Alex Rodriguez.  Rodriguez performed much better in 2015 than expected, achieved three major milestones and was ultimately and belatedly "honored" in mid September by the Steinbrenner Kids, partly because the Kids had pretty much run out of former players to honor.  But in addition to trying to void the extra performance contract that the Yankees had with Rodriguez, Cashman tried his best to have no role for Rodriguez, hoping that Rodriguez would demand a trade.  This included:
- signing 31 year old Chase Headley to play third base instead of Rodriguez;
- relegating Rodriguez to designated hitter (DH).

In spring training the Yankees did let Rodriguez play some third base and even a little at first base but this might have been Cashman hoping that Rodriguez would break down physically or mentally.  You may recall that Rodriguez looked pretty good at third, considering age and rust, and showed that he could still throw.  In the regular season Rodriguez played third in four games and two at first.

But as the season wore on Girardi stopped using Rodriguez, even in games in the ball parks of National Conference (NC) teams where there is no DH.  The Yankees preferred to bench Rodriguez and play Headley, who finished the season with OPS+ 92, i.e., 92 percent of league average.  Rodriguez finished at 130.  Plus, Headley was one of the Cashman acquisitions who faded badly down the stretch: September OPS .475.

Girardi could and probably should have kept Rodriguez involved in the field so that he could fill in as needed and play in NC parks, including in the tournament finals and in that big series in mid September in Citi Field against the Mets.  But by then Rodriguez had lost his confidence in playing the field even though he had been a Gold Glove shortstop and was enthusiastic and certainly competent early in the season.  When asked occasionally about playing first, Rodriguez would say that he could not find a first baseman's mitt.

Keeping Rodriguez healthy was important but having flexibility was even more important, especially after hearing Cashman's constipated thinking about 2016.  I think Rodriguez should have played the field once a week, just to keep his hand in it.  That might have also had the additional benefit of helping him break out of his own late season slump.  Rodriguez would not have been dwelling on the one and only thing he did for the team.

I also think players generally, and intense players especially, like Posada and especially like Rodriguez, make themselves believe they can do something.  That's part of what makes Rodriguez great.  Rodriguez convinced himself that he must concentrate on his DH role because he could no longer play the field.  That's what Cashman said, including in his interview yesterday.  Cashman stated flatly that Rodriguez could not play the field.  Rodriguez had to deal with that and by the end of the season, Rodriguez obviously believed it.

We Yankee fans can only hope that this particular Cashman poison does not bring down Greg Bird in 2016.  What Yankee fan doesn't think that Bird should practice playing right field in place of Carlos Beltran, another of Cashman's mistakes, who can no longer field well and will be 39 in 2016?

Here's another idea: play Bird at third.  It even rhymes.  Like Bird is the word.  If Bird started his career as a catcher, he must have at least a decent arm.  He threw well playing first base in 2015.  Replace the poor hitting, erratic fielding Chase Headley at third in 2016 with Bird.

Cashman forbids it.  And Girardi?  I sense that Joe does not like being reduced to a puppet, a role that is becoming more common among most teams.

Cashman seems secure in his job.  That's because the Steinbrenner Kids are clueless.  The fish is rotting from the head down and nothing is being done.  It stinks.

Yankee signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran were mistakes I opposed. Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two off seasons ago, between 2013 and 2014, I clearly opposed the free agent signings of:
- Jacoby Ellsbury
- Brian McCann
- Carlos Beltran.


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