Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cashman takes his share of blame for defeat

Brian Cashman rightfully took his share of the blame for the New York Yankees falling short of their goal of repeating as World Series champions.

He didn't take all the blame for the ugly defeat at the hands of the Texas Rangers and he shouldn't have because he put together a team that was more than capable of a long, successful run in the baseball playoffs. But he was honest about how some decisions he made in the offseason ended up hurting the team in the regular season and October.

The move that obviously hurt the most was thinking Javier Vazquez could be a key cog in the Yankee rotation. Because Vazquez was never able to put everything together in New York and lost the faith of his manager, he was never an option for the playoffs and that really limited Joe Girardi's choices. Cashman has been vocal about accepting complete responsibility for that move, leaving the pitcher off the postseason roster even though that made it clear the offseason trade was a bad decision on his part.

But Cashman made some moves that were sheer brilliance, namely picking up an injured Kerry Wood, who helped the Yankees secure a postseason berth with some solid set-up work for Mariano Rivera. He deserves a lot of credit for that one. He was also under a lot of pressure to trade Phil Hughes for Johan Santana a few years ago and his reluctance to do so paid big dividends when the kid became a key member of the bullpen last year. Despite his rough postseason, the Yankees wouldn’t have even made the playoffs this year if their fifth starter Hughes hadn’t won 18 games.

I look at the Curtis Granderson trade as a mixed bag with solid potential for next year as he showed in September and October the kind of player he is capable of being. Cashman’s pursuit of the younger, more athletic outfielder could prove to be a good move in the future.

Unlike Joe Girardi, you get the impression that Cashman is perfectly willing to take a hard look in the mirror and learn from his mistakes. So I expect no more signings of injury-plagued players, unless they are willing to sign for low-dollar, incentive-laden deals (So long, Nick Johnson!). No more expensive bullpen guys, unless Wood is willing to settle for being Rivera's set-up guy in exchange for another shot at the World Series.

Cashman has a lot of tough choices to make and is somewhat limited in revamping his roster, but the one thing we now know is that he will be the first guy to the microphone to take the blame when things don't work out.

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