Thursday, November 7, 2013

One of the blessings of a dead development system: We can't trade away the farm...(gulp)... right?

In theory, we have nothing to fear. Brian Cashman may belly up to the craps table this winter, but he has no chips to deal. Our farm system is so barren that he cannot pull off a decade-killing trade for a David Price or James Shields. Right?

He can't trade for a Javier Vasquez, a Jeff Weaver, a Michael Pineda, or even a Jonathan Albaldejo. Right? Let's hope. The truth is, Cashman covets "power arms" the way dogs do cat turds. And his record in big deals for pitching has been his greatest weakness as a GM.

Look, I don't mean to attack Cashman here. If anything, the guy is relentless on the scrap heap - the American Picker of GMs. But I wonder who advised him in big trades? The Stick? Newman? The owners? Year after year, the Yankees pursue power pitchers - and now and then, they snag a Kuroda or a David Wells. But in trades, the Cashman era is dotted with big whiffs. (By him, not the pitchers he obtained.)

A few examples...

Jesus Montero (scrap, thus far) for Michael Pineda.

Tyler Clippard (all-star) for Jonathan Albaldejo. (Scrap)

Jose Contreras, (scrap, at least when we had him) for Estaban Loaiza.

Ted Lilly, Jason Arnold (scrap), John-Ford Griffin (scrap) to Oakland and Detroit for Jeff "the Wrong Weaver" Weaver, a blowout of nothingness. 

Brandon Weeden (scrap), Yhency Brazoban (decent), Jeff "not Jared" Weaver to LA for Kevin "Broken Finger" Brown.

The Big Unit deals: Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro and Javier Vazquez for Randy Johnson - a total NY disappointment.

Then we traded Randy back to Arizona for - drum roll please: Alberto Gonzalez, Steven Jackson, Ross Ohlendorf and Luis Vizcaino. Nothing but scrap.

Arguably the best pitching deal Cash ever made: Hideki Irabu for Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly and Christian Parker. Trouble is, Westbrook and Lilly had their great careers with other teams. (We traded Westbrook for one third of David Justice.)

I can go on - the Mike Lowell trade could inspire a mini-book, and then there are Joba and Hughes, for whom we'll never get anything. Awww, why bother? Baseball is a tricky business. Nobody wins every trade.

But the thing about power pitchers is that teams don't deal them, unless they know something you don't. Under Cashman - I'm not sure it's his fault - the Yankees have had a tendency to show enormous hubris in trades with small market teams. We think we're smarter than they are. The NY sportswriters, as courtiers, add to this. They celebrate each trade and quickly announce that we gave up nothing. That way, they get their phone calls returned.

I don't know how the Yankees get out of their current bind. Right now, we have not one starter who can be considered a sure thing in 2014. Not one. The bidding for the Japanese pitcher will be crazy, and if we do get him, it might take the guy a season to figure out American hitters. Unless CC miraculously gets younger, we have nobody. (Nova? I'm sorry. Let's get real here.)

I have a sense that Cashman's era as GM is winding down, that by this time next year, he'll have moved upstairs or on to some other city. That would make this winter his final chance to belly up to the craps table and chase that power arm trade that has eluded him. Dear God, save us. We don't have much in our system. But we are one fiasco deal away from returning to 1985.

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