Brian Cashman: we'll talk to our own guys first

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Brian Cashman, on how the Yankees will proceed in the free agent market:

“I don’t want to make the mistake of having a conversation with somebody else’s agent and it plays out as if I’m pursuing that guy, and somebody misinterprets it (and) that means I’m not pursuing our guy.  We’re not even at that stage yet. So I’m trying to be very careful and respectful to our players first, makes sure they’re aware of where they are in the process.”

But what happens when that somebody else’s agent — say Matt Holliday’s agent — is the same guy as “our guy’s” agent — Johnny Damon?  I’m imagining this conversation:

Cashman: Scott, we want to talk to our own people first, so I called you so we can discuss Damon.  I’ll give him $5 million on a one year deal.

Boras: That’s not gonna cut it, Brian. Damon is irreplaceable. He’s a gamer. He’s given his all to New York, and the fans want him back.

Cashman: He’s not irreplaceable, Scott. We could go out and sign Matt Holliday.

Boras: Good point! Screw Damon. Holliday is the second coming of Teixeira!

And there you have it: professional malpractice and “talking to someone else” in the space of thirty seconds. OK, maybe it’s not that blatant, but the lesson holds: don’t believe much of what you hear when it comes to agents OR general managers. Everything is negotiable and everything is being negotiated, always.

Still, as a general consideration, Cashman’s “talk to the someone elses later” is a smart move.  It’s way easier to let the teams with real budget constraints make their best offer to Matt Holliday and John Lackey and whoever else, and then come in late and beat the best offer by a couple of million.  If I was Cashman, I’d simply call every representative of any free agent out there and say “when you’ve got what you think is your best offer, call me. I’ll let you know whether I’ll beat it within two hours.”

If he does that it’ll be way easier for him to relax this winter.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.