The first time all fans became acclimated to the "Yankee Way" was November 29, 1976. On that day, owner George Steinbrenner signed a free agent outfielder from the Baltimore Orioles named Reggie Jackson to the tune of five years, $2.96 million. While players such as third baseman Graig Nettles and captain/catcher Thurman Munson were also integral pieces of those back-to-back championship teams of 1977 and 1978, many felt the signing of Jackson was the move that brought the team to that championship pedestal. Therefore, throwing money at the weakness would become the edict in the Bronx, something longtime general manager Brian Cashman followed.
Instead of resigning first baseman Tino Martinez following the 2001 World Series, he upgraded to Oakland A's first baseman Jason Giambi for seven years, $120 million. When starting pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte relocated to the Houston Astros following the 2003 season, Cashman signed Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. When Brown and Vazquez both failed miserably after one season, the next offseason Cashman threw an exorbitant amount of money at Arizona Diamondbacks ace Randy Johnson. The topper of them all, 2003 ALCS hero third baseman Aaron Boone tore a knee ligament playing offseason basketball and what did Cashman do to fill the void for the upcoming 2004 season? Simple, he worked out a trade that brought 2003 AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers.
All of these moves seem like a lifetime ago as the Yankees scramble to simply find a right-handed bat to spell their predominantly left-handed outfield for the upcoming 2013 season. Furthermore, with current Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner reaffirming the team's position to remain competitive, however significantly reduce payroll, the question is; has Brian Cashman lost his swagger?
No folks, he has not.
What has happened instead is Cashman has rightfully stayed on the sidelines for this offseason, starting with avoiding a weak free agent class. The best pitcher of this year's class, Zack Greinke, has a social anxiety disorder which makes him and the mound at 161 & River a difficult combination. The best hitter of this class, Josh Hamilton, has past drug issues and is north of 30, making this the type of long-term contract Cashman now looks to avoid.
In addition to a weak free agent class, there really isn't a reason to start plucking away at a farm system that Cashman has watched develop into one of the best in baseball just so he can acquire quick fixes to weaknesses. With the likes of outfielders Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, and Tyler Austin, catcher Gary Sanchez, and pitcher Mark Montgomery, it's only a matter of time until these prospects are making an impact at the major league level.
Finally, he has already addressed the "big picture" if you will. With the long-term absence of Rodriguez confirmed earlier this week, Cashman's signing of free agent third baseman Kevin Youkilis to a one year, $12 deal early in the offseason has taken on a whole new level of importance as Youkilis should adequately hold down the hot corner in Rodriguez's absence. Additionally, the resigning of Pettitte and fellow free agent Hiroki Kuroda fortified what should be another strong Yankees rotation as they will return to pair with ace CC Sabathia.
So no, Cashman has not lost his swagger. Sure, the offseason is not over yet and maybe a right-handed bat will be brought in before training camp. However, he has shored up this 2013 Yankees roster accordingly, solidifying a strong rotation and adding a disciplined bat in Youkilis to a lineup that returns a 40-plus home run hitter in Curtis Granderson and a 30-plus home run hitter in Robinson Cano. In addition, with a potential 1-2 at the top of the batting order of Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki and their strong on-base percentages, this will be an offense with the capability of scoring runs frequently.
Furthermore, Cashman has not compromised a Yankees farm system ranked by Jim Callis of Baseball America as among the best in the game. Simply put, as opposed to throwing long-term money at the weaknesses in years' past, Cashman is using a more conservative approach, smaller contracts and developing from within.
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