Last night in Fenway Park Boston Aroldis Chapman, age 29, had his biggest Yankee blown save. Chapman pulled a Mariano Rivera: blew both the save and game in the same inning. Rivera did that in game seven of the 2001 World Series, although Rivera pitched a scoreless 8th inning before failing in the 9th.
Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman, after trading Chapman to the eventual champion Chicago Cubs July 25, 2016 for minor league infielder Gleyber Torres, whom Cashman had tried but failed to sign as an amateur, then signed Chapman as a free agent after the season: $17 million for each of five seasons. Chapman is a relief pitcher, a one inning specialist, not a starting pitcher who could pitch 200 innings. For 60 innings, Chapman will be paid $283,000 per inning. His most innings was 72 in 2012 with the Reds. Even if Chapman reaches 72, his pay per inning will still be $236,000. How is that cost effective?
Cashman had twice granted free agency to lefty starter Jose Quintana (28), who was just traded from the White Sox to the Cubs for top prospects. 2013-2016 Quintana threw at least 200 innings each season. With White Sox: 2012-2017: 1,055 innings, 115 ERA+.
Cashman signed free agent starting pitcher from a Japanese league Masahiro Tanaka (28 now) 1/22/2014: 592 innings, 119 ERA+. In 2017 Tanaka is having by far his worst Yankee season: 102 innings, 84 ERA+.
During Cashman's recent reign of relative austerity to make up for multiple bad contracts he has signed in 20 years as Yankee GM, he has not even considered signing any other big free agent starting pitchers. Here are the big ones with their current ages and what they've done with the team that signed them for big bucks.
Jon Lester (33): 2015-2017 Cubs: 516 innings, 126 ERA+
Max Scherzer (32): 2015-2017 Nationals: 585 innings, 153 ERA+; no-hitter or two; 2016 Cy Young award; in 2017 at age 32 leads NL in ERA, SO, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, HR9, SO9
Zach Greinke (33): 2016-2017 Diamondbacks: 275 innings, 122 ERA+; 163 ERA+ in 2017 bounceback
David Price (31, 323 days) 2016-2017 Red Sox: 283 innings, 113 ERA+; in 2016 led AL in GS, IP, H, BF
I wanted Cashman to sign any but Greinke, who at the time was older, with mileage and would cost too much, something that even a non talent evaluator like me could see.
One reason I wanted Price was to keep him from the Red Sox. Whether I was correct is irrelevant. The Yankees are not paying me to do this, they are paying Brian Cashman, who became GM for the 1998 season, inheriting the team that won 114 regular season games, which accounts for Cashman's perceived early success. But Cashman had no championships 2001-2008, eight years, then one in 2009 anchored by 1998 holdovers Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Then another long drought of seven years and counting.
On trades Cashman has made some good but small ones, like Didi Gregorius, now the Yankee shortstop:
December 5, 2014: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees sent Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers. The Detroit Tigerssent Domingo Leyba (minors) and Robbie Ray to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Not Roger Maris but a good trade. Cashman had a chance to pull off a Roger Maris but failed when he was looking for a third baseman while Oakland traded Josh Donaldson to Toronto, where Donaldson was AL MVP in his first season. A month after Donaldson was traded, Cashman signed Chase Headley for four years.
And most recently Cashman lacked the imagination, nerve and minor league talent to trade for lefty Chris Sale (28): 2017 Red Sox: 128 innings, 168 ERA+
Sale and Price will start for the Red Sox who now have the chance for the four game sweep that the second place Yankees desperately needed. See my post on this yesterday. If swept, the Yankees will be in much the same position as 2016 but without the aging and failing Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to blame. And that despite all the success of the Yankees 25 year old rookie sensation Aaron Judge.
Now the talking heads on MLB Network debate just how cautious the Yankees should be and whether they should be buyers or sellers, as they were in 2016 when the Yankees tanked, as the obscene July 31 trading deadline approaches.
But isn't Cashman responsible for young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez? Yes, although ...
Yankees drafted Eric Jagielo before Aaron Judge in 2013. Oops. Friday, July 14, 2017
Cashman has one championship 2001-2016. One, in 2009, surrounded by droughts of 8 and 7 years. Cashman is timid and unimaginative. Much is made of the Yankees winning more games each season than they lose. When did that low bar become the measure of success for the New York Yankees? And even that is largely based on the Yankees spending more money each of those seasons than any other American conference team. How good does Cashman have to be when he spends $200 million for a .500 record? And except for 2017, field manager Joe Girardi elevated sub .500 teams over .500 to help Cashman keep his job.