Home > MLB > Girardi, Cashman deserve all the credit for 2012 Yankees Dominance

Girardi, Cashman deserve all the credit for 2012 Yankees Dominance

Brian Cashman has long been one of the better personnel guys in baseball.  He was hired in 1998 to one of the most fertile baseball environments in the sports history: a championship roster that was predominantly young and plays in baseball’s largest market.  Initial success for the 31 year old Cashman was practically guaranteed.  Sustained success over multiple decades was not.

Cashman, now 45, deserves a ton of credit now that the Yankees are still the premier organization in baseball all these years later.  Having a payroll of the Yankee’s size is an incredible advantage, but also works as a curse over time.  With large-market resources comes the large-market committment to winning.  Every. Single. Year.  Even with a market as large as the one the Boston Red Sox play in, Boston’s management was at least afforded an opportunity to declare a “rebuilding” season every now and then.  Cashman has missed the playoffs just once in his tenure, which is really remarkable.

The curse of a large market team is that albatross contracts are practically unavoidable.  A good small or mid market general manager always has the option to act in a financially prudent manner and can be incredibly judicious about what kind of player they give extensions to.  Let’s take a look at one of the smallest markets in baseball, the Kansas City Royals.  The last seven players to get long-term extensions from the Royals: RHP Zack Greinke, LHP Bruce Chen, OF Alex Gordon, 1B Billy Butler, SS Alcides Escobar, OF Jeff Francoeur, and C Salvador Perez.  Five of those contracts looked great when they were signed, and look even better today.  The remaining two (Chen and Francoeur) were relatively short term, managable deals to players who have enjoyed success in Kansas City already.  Neither deal looks good right now, but there is plenty of time left.

The Yankees have to deal instead with players like CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez opting out of their contracts at the peak of their value.  They have to deal with paying Derek Jeter like a top three MLB shortstop, even as they know he isn’t.  For the small and mid-market teams, they have the option of letting players like Sabathia and Rodriguez walk, and even in the case of a hometown superstar like Jeter, they at least have the option of taking the moral high ground by making a competitive offer and moving the responsibility to re-sign to the star’s side.

The point is that every team would have been wise to extend CC Sabathia, no one would have been wise to give an 8 year deal to Rodriguez, and the Jeter deal seems pretty fair for both sides.  If this was Dave Dombrowski in Detroit or Alex Anthropolos in Toronto, they have the autonomy to at least make those decisions.  Cashman, however, is stuck with the burden of having the Yankees win every year.  If Rodriguez wants 8 years, and Cashman needs him this season, Rodriguez is practically entitled to eight years.

This is why the Yankees’ payroll is in such dire straits.  But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the standings.

The Yankees have so much money and job security tied up in players like Jeter, Mark Teixiera, Rodriguez, and even players in their prime such as Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.  I’m not asking for sympathy on behalf of the Yankees: they’ll live, but it is remarkable that they are this good relative to the rest of the league.

Holes in the Yankees’ roster next year are inevitable.  They’ll need a starting pitcher, a shortstop acquisition to replace Derek Jeter, a contract with C Russell Martin (or a replacement), payroll space to pay Cano and Granderson (meaning that Nick Swisher is unlikely to be in New York next season), and all of this is really going to tax the Yankees depth.

But thanks to their successes in 2012, they are so much better off as an organization than they appeared to be at this time last year.  Granderson’s power has actually gotten more impressive, which has helped them weather an injury to Brett Gardner.  Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have pitched better, and Hughes is still a Yankee through 2013.  The bullpen has been better, despite missing Mariano Rivera.

The Yankees have enjoyed an extraordinary 2012 against the odds, and the bottom line is that their future payroll obligations will not look so dire as long as they are winning.  All the credit in the world goes to Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi for this development.

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