Thursday, June 20, 2013

Yankees GM Cashman's scouting failures now apparent

I've contended many times in the past that New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is the most over-rated executive in major league baseball, and the team's current situation highlights this.

Even with the Yankees being more financially responsible in the three years since the death of owner George Steinbrenner, the franchise still holds the greatest financial advantage in baseball history. This did result in a World Series championship in 2009, but any one of us would have also had the good sense to sign Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia in their prime.

Cashman hasn't done much with the financial advantage lately. Giving Kevin Youklis $12 million was a dumb move, especially since everyone knew that Youklis had chronic back trouble. With surgery it's likely Youklis will never put on the pinstripes again.

Cashman was also against signing free agent Rafael Soriano several years ago - but without Soriano the Yankees probably would not have made the playoffs in 2012, since he was almost just as good a closer as Mariano Rivera had been.

Basically what Cashman does is throw stuff against the wall and hope that something sticks. Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells have contributed to the team's early season success, but that's hardly the result of top notch scouting. It's just hoping that an older player has something left in the tank.

With all the injuries the Yankees have suffered this year, it would have been an opportunity for their minor league players to step in and show what they can do. It could have resulted in a young player taking over, or showcasing them as a trade chip. But right now the Yankees have practically nothing in terms of position players. David Adams may turn out to be a good third baseman and hitter, and the same can be said for outfielder Zolio Almonte (if he's given the chance to play every day). 

Down on the farm outfielder/first baseman Tyler Austin promises to be a good player, but he's two years away. Outfielders Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott, along with catchers Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy, will also probably be ready in two years and may turn out to be good players. But at the moment the Yankees are sticking their fingers in the hole trying to plug the leaks by using journeymen Reid Brignac and Thomas Neal as regulars, because they have no other options in the minor leagues. We'll see what happens with that.

For all of Cashman and his front office cronies use of statistics and sabermetrics, their scouting of players leaves much to be desired. It's been an ongoing thing, dating back to 2006 when then-manager Joe Torre wanted to sign switch hitting Bernie Williams for one more year and use him as a pinch hitter and reserve off the bench. Cashman refused, instead going with Doug Mientkiewicz and Josh Phelps - who combined to produce a .200 batting average off the bench.

Now in 2013, it doesn't look like Cashman's reliance on sabermetrics is going to do the team much good for the rest of this season, either.

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