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Cashman’s Winter Continues to Fare Well

By Mike Silva ~ June 1st, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Yankees fans wanted Cliff Lee, but Brian Cashman gave them a bargain bin that included Russell Martin, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Luis Ayala, Andruw Jones, and Eric Chavez. His “inactivity” was criticized widely, since the entire fan base could only focus on is the loss of Lee to the Phillies. This morning, after a 10-3 win in Oakland, Cashman’s Yankees are atop the competitive American League East by two games in the loss column. With declining production from his core stars, coupled with injuries, it’s been the bargain basement that has played a huge part in that success.

A tandem of Lee and Sabathia would have been lethal, but even if the Yankees acquired him where would they be without the bargain buys? Seeing how Jorge Posada has struggled, Russell Martin might be the most important acquisition thus far. He’s come back to earth offensively, but the staff loves throwing to him and he’s earned praise for his leadership. Brian Cashman has called him “Munson-like” for his approach.

Bartolo Colon might be the biggest surprise. At this pace he will easily win “Comeback Player of the Year.” Bionic arm or not, Colon is currently one of the top 20 starters in the American League in Wins Above Replacement.  He is efficiently throwing strikes and going deep into games. More surprisingly, he is eighth in the AL in strikeouts per nine! The process I see gives me no reason to believe this won’t continue- if he stays healthy.

Freddy Garcia is what he is. You don’t like the velocity, or feel comfortable when he’s on the mound. He does, however, provide you a quality performance. You forget he had more Quality Starts last year than either Javier Vazquez or the “electric” A.J. Burnett. To date, six of his nine starts are 6 or more innings and 3 runs or less. What more can you ask from a pitcher? Garcia gives you a chance to win every time out.

Jones, Ayala, and Chavez are bit parts, but give the Yankees depth they haven’t always enjoyed the last five years. After a slow start, Jones is doing what he was brought here: to hit lefties. Ayala, pariah from across town due to critical blown saves in 2008, is filling the Alfredo Aceves roles. His ability to have a rubber arm will be huge in saving David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain from overuse. This is especially important with Rafael Soriano out indefinitely. Finally, Chavez is currently hurt, but was providing the best backup infield play we have seen on the Yankees in a long time. There was very little downgrade offensively, and it appears the bad back hasn’t robbed him of his defensive skills.

No, none of the aforementioned is Cliff Lee. As a matter of fact, Lee hasn’t been who we all thought he was. Going into today’s action he is 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA. In what has been a pitching rich season, this qualifies as a below league average starter. Every member of the Yankees starting staff, except Ivan Nova, is having a better season.

We heard lots of complaining about Brian Cashman during the offseason. Now that his moves have panned out, can we hear some praise?

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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