Brian Cashman

Brian Cashman: “Plan B is patience”

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Brian Cashman just spoke to the media. Surprisingly, the signing of Russell Martin wasn’t the main topic of conversation. That kid from Arkansas who can’t hack the Big Apple was.  No, not Burnett. The other one.

Cashman’s remarks included a lot of expected spin.  Spin designed, it would seem, to disabuse other teams out there of the notion that he’s all panicky and is now willing to grossly overpay for a starting pitcher.  Stuff like:

I do stress Plan B is patience. It’s not like we’re in a rush to do anything … We have a great team … It would be a rare situation for me to include Montero in a deal … I don’t think we have a lot of holes ..

With respect to plugging those holes, Cashman said “it doesn’t have to happen in the winter time,” suggesting that the Yankees could wait until the trade deadline next year.  He also talked up his current rotation, saying that Ivan Nova “has taken the next step” and that he likes his team as it is, even if it can stand some improvement.  All of which are smart things for him to say, even if all of his statements could be made more truthful by adding the phrase “but we really, really would like to add a top-flight pitcher.”

As for Lee himself, Cashman echoed what many people had already suspected. When the delay in an answer from the Lee camp occurred over the weekend, he knew it could be trouble.  That the Yankees did everything they could do to sign him.  That there are no hard feelings with Lee and no sense that Lee’s agent was jerking anyone around. It was a negotiation like any other. All in the game, yo.  [Cashman did not actually say “all in the game, yo.”]

So the air is now cleared from the Yankees side of things.  It won’t stop a half dozen columnists from writing about how this was a death blow for the Bombers, both competitively speaking and in terms of that Yankee Brand we keep hearing about. But hey, we need something to get us through the rest of the week, right?

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.