Monday, August 1, 2016

Adventures of a Blind Squirrel

Brian Cashman has been busy. A flurry of deals before the MLB Trade Deadline has left heads spinning in Yankee-land just trying to keep up with all the comings and goings. Much praise has been heaped upon Cashman for his haul of prospects, and rightfully so.

So while I've never been shy to criticize Cashman in this space, this won't be a Bash-Cashman piece. Give the man credit for taking a bunch of mismatched parts and turning them into pieces to build a foundation for the future.

However... I did find it interesting that in his post-deadline press conference, Cashman had this to say about the 2016 Yankees. Talking about a team that was swept by the last-place Tampa Bay Rays after a stretch of good play:
A true playoff contender, you know, not a playoff pretender, wouldn't do that.
Sure, Brian, that's true. It's also what most Yankee fans have been saying about this team all season long. Nice of you to come around.

It's also an interesting choice of words to describe a TEAM THAT YOU PUT TOGETHER. One thing that always frustrates me about media coverage of Cashman is that he somehow seems to get the credit for all the things he does well but never seems to get blamed for the mistakes he often makes. I'm not sure who Cashman thinks brought all these pretenders together, but he sure was glad to see them go.

An under-performing middle of the lineup? I don't suppose it was Cashman who signed Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Oh, right, it was. Nor was it Cashman who benefited from their unlikely success in 2015 and did absolutely nothing to bolster the offense should they not reach their 2015 levels. Wait, right, that was Cashman, too.

Were it not for the resurrection of Carlos Beltran -- a player who has put up better numbers through July than he did in full seasons in 2014 and '15 -- the Yankees offense might be the worst in baseball. (Even with Beltran, the Yanks were 24th in MLB in runs and 29th in extra-base hits.) That Cashman was able to flip the free-agent-to-be for a top pitching prospect is as much luck as skill.

Though the Yankees have raised the white flag on 2016, no one will miss Chapman, Miller, Beltran or Nova -- not, at least, as far as wins and losses are concerned.  However, it will be some years before we know how successful this deadline swap session has been. Prospects, even elite ones, often take time to develop into solid major leaguers. The 2016 Yankees might be worse off, but by most measures the 2017 Yankees and beyond have taken the first steps towards improvement.

Time will tell if this particular squirrel has stashed away enough nuts for a snowy winter ahead.

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