Cashman's been money (cont.)
Posted: Thursday August 30, 2007 11:47AM; Updated: Friday August 31, 2007 10:51PM
Along the same lines as their surprising youth movement, two more un-Yankee-like calls that appear wise now were: 1) Cashman's resisting the temptation to jump at big-name closer Eric Gagne, even though he understood his unwillingness to part with young center fielder Melky Cabrera or now-about-to-be-promoted pitching prospect Ian Kennedy meant that Gagne was headed to the archrival Red Sox, and 2) his rejection of the Braves' idea to swap Kyle Farnsworth for Bob Wickman.
Atlanta called 10 minutes before the deadline, but Cashman likes to deliberate deals, and while some can become frustrated with his frequent polling, this was another good no-call. Yankees brass didn't have fond recollections of Wickman from his previous stay, and besides, they didn't want to pay $4.5 million of Farnsworth's $5.5 million 2008 salary, as requested. Cashman looks even smarter today: Gagne has struggled in Boston and Wickman has been cast aside by the Braves.
One of Cashman's best decisions -- way before the Joba Rules -- was to give Tampa-based Damon Oppenheimer complete autonomy over the amateur draft, which resulted in an '06 bonanza, as Chamberlain came 20 picks after Kennedy, a USC product. Kennedy (12-3, with a 1.87 ERA at three minor-league levels) has risen quickly through the system and gets Saturday's start vs. Tampa instead of used-up vet Mike Mussina, who has always been seen as a template for Kennedy, a smallish right-hander with an average (88-93 mph) fastball, excellent breaking ball and wonderful poise and smarts. "And just like Mussina did at Stanford, he had a subpar junior year," Cashman said, explaining why he fell to the Yankees at pick No. 21 of the first round.
Oppenheimer focused on Kennedy's whole career, not just the so-so junior year. And when he dropped, Cashman said, "Damon was there waiting for him, no hesitation."
The Chamberlain choice at No. 41 looks like an even bigger bargain, and Cashman recalls Oppenheimer counting down the picks in hope of landing the University of Nebraska phenom. After they tabbed Chamberlain, Yankees people read about their "high-risk, high-reward" selection but they only saw the "high-reward" part of the equation. When they noticed bloggers discussing his alleged "injury history," they thought to themselves, "What injury history?" Chamberlain once suffered from knee pain, but Cashman called the injury rumors a "brushfire of inaccuracies."
In any case, Cashman is determined to play it safe with his star pupil. They never expected him in the majors so soon. So Cashman is acting as the 21-year-old phenom's worried protector. Says Cashman, "I think everyone wins here."
Around the Majors
If the Brewers don't regain whatever it was they had before -- and it looks like they may not -- manager Ned Yost likely won't make it back for '08. Ace Ben Sheets' return from a finger injury on Wednesday brought hope in the form of a 6-1 victory over the now first-place Cubs -- and a reminder of how much they missed him since July 14.
Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin probably has earned the right to return. Cincinnati was 31-51 when he took over, and is 30-21 since -- the second best record in baseball in that span, after the Yankees. Folks around the Reds say the team is showing a much more positive outlook -- though, there's been a public drumbeat for a big-name import (such as Joe Girardi or Tony La Russa) since small names Dave Miley and Jerry Narron didn't succeed.
The Dodgers made a great gamble on David Wells -- almost nothing in terms of dollars. Esteban Loaiza is a bigger gamble at $8 million through the end of '08. But the Dodgers determined it's better to spend money than surrender their coveted prospects (they refused to part with any in negotiations to get Oakland to pay part of Loaiza's salary). And that's OK, too. Even so, the Moneyball A's have to be celebrating L.A.'s claim.
This Guillermo Mota isn't the same guy who helped the Mets in '06. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something missing there, of that I am sure.
With Gary Sheffield looking iffy, talented 20-year-old Cameron Maybin looking unprepared for the bigs and Craig Monroe gone to the Cubs, the Tigers look like they could use another hitter. But GM Dave Dombrowski is saying a deal looks unlikely.
Parity or farce? The highest winning percentage in the National League is down to .553. That's about 11 wins out of every 20 games.
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