Well, here we are again. The same old business model dusted off and exercised in the off-season. Of course, I speak of Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s practice of bringing someone’s “second best” over to our team just for the sake of making a deal. It’s amazing how he seems to just get caught up in the activity swirling around him at the winter meetings, and in some perverse effort to make himself relevant, reaches an agreement with another team or player that does little or nothing to truly improve the team.
It has become almost predictable each winter, and each time it is precluded with statements either by Cashman or Manager Joe Girardi 100 percent contrary to what actually happens.
This time, it was Girardi talking about the spring competition between Dustin Ackley and Rob Refsnyder for the starting second base job. Both had performed exceptionally well down the stretch and during the most crucial games of the season (hitting a combined .303). Refsnyder had played so well (hitting .385 with one error attributed to him, but in reality was an errant throw from pitcher Andrew Miller) that he was given the starting spot in the wild card game.
Under an hour later, the deal was confirmed – pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan were headed to Chicago for Castro – who would play second base for the Bombers.
Let me go on record as saying that I have nothing against Castro. He’s athletic, young, and has a decent ceiling – nothing like the long list of issues I had with Stephen Drew. I just don’t see him as a significant upgrade for second base. The Refsnyder and Ackley combo did absolutely nothing last season to warrant the focus on getting a replacement. In fact, they were among the small number of players that helped to keep the team in the post-season chase. Refsnyder, in particular, has never been given the chance to prove himself. Yes, over the past few years his defense has been suspect, but observers in MLB noted his improvement in that area. He was truly developing into a very productive player – both at the plate (where he has always been above average) and in the field, and that development showed in September – when the team needed him the most.
My real problem here is what I’ve written about in the past; that Brian Cashman continues to use the Yankees minor league system as trade fodder, and nothing more. The only time any of our minor league stars truly get a shot is if injury (Bird, Refsnyder etc.) or necessity out of lack of depth/ poor play (Severino) dictates that opportunity. If the over-paid veterans with long-term contracts on the MLB squad remain upright, or simply perform at a lower-end level, our minor leaguers aren’t given any consideration – no matter how ready, or how much better they might be.
The bottom line is that Cashman doesn’t believe in, or trust, HIS OWN draft picks or HIS system of development enough to see them through to a conclusion (be it good or bad). Simply put, he has no balls to believe in his own judgement.
I love the Yankees; always have, always will. That is why it pains me to realize that we may not again see the likes of the “Core Four and Bernie”. Cashman simply won’t allow it.
I wish Starlin Castro only the very best. The potential is there and will be given the opportunity to be realized – a chance our “home grown” youngsters will never have.
--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
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