Thursday, January 10, 2013

Yankiverse Confidential: Shhhh, it’s the time of year when Brian Cashman is silently, covertly, creating his mayhem

Last Jan.23, out of nowhere, the Yankees dropped a bomb: They dealt Jesus Montero, et al., for Michael Pineda, et al – a trade that defined the 2012 season. Until that moment, the Yankiverse had experienced a meek and mild winter. Suddenly -- tornadoes. 
    I note this because, if you believe in moon phases and biorhythms, and if you study Brian Cashman’s psychiatric history, the month of January is when he boards his invisible flying monorail to Looneybin City, chasing the next Paul O'Neill for Roberto Kelly. When not handling the obligatory interview about Eduardo Nunez or Austin Romine — moments when he spews Jeterian nothingness — he’s holed-up in his Yankee war-pod, plotting something big - really really big.
    Lately, speculation has centered on a possible deal for Michael Morse, an outfielder that most Yankee fans have until now never heard of. If there’s one thing we know about Cash, it’s that he doesn't work in open water. He hides under the desk. In public, he waves a shiny object — say, Michael Morse — then uses slight of hand to deal away Jesus Montero. You never suspect it, until it's done. 
    That was the case with Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and Michael Pineda - Cashman's biggest trades. No advance rumors. No trial balloon. The Gammonites didn't see them until they were on the wires.
    So. . .  let’s think outside the honeybun: We know Cashman is toiling. He's got 30 days to find a catcher, a hitter and maybe a pitcher. He can’t trade Arod. He can’t move his front-liners. The farm system jewels have yet to reach Triple A. They can be deal sweeteners - but little more.
    So, if he’s looking for the next Paul O'Neill, where does that leave us?
    I keep coming back to two troubled souls: Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes. They’re in their final contract years. Next winter, when the new Steinbrennerian austerity hits, they’ll almost surely leave, the Yankees receiving nothing in return. So Cash could deal one – or both – and throw in a prospect from Charleston -- for what?

  Think with me here. He wants a 26 to 28 year old, somebody yet to hit prime. He wants a RH outfielder, a starting pitcher or a rock solid catcher. He has front office pals in San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle and Pittsburgh —people who will deal with the Yankees (some teams won't) - and he’s probably good with Theo Epstein in Chicago. He can sell Granderson as a smart, fan-friendly OF who hits 40 HRs, and Hughes as a pitcher about to emerge, as Ian Kennedy did. 
    So... can he find that target, that stud hitter or pitcher?
    Listen: I have no inside track to Cashman's mind. You'd need a flashlight and compass in there. (Maybe pack a condom too) I can't begin to speculate what he'll do. But if a week from now, the Yankees pull off a stunner – well — you heard it here first.

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