Blog Entry

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Posted on: September 21, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 8:40 pm
Epstein, Cashman

By Evan Brunell

Hidden in a fantastic piece about the impact of Moneyball on baseball by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, with reverberations felt today, is an admission by Yankees GM Brian Cashman that he tried to emulate what the Red Sox had done to turn them into one of baseball's powerhouses on the backing of unexpected contributions and strong pitching. And yet, while Cashman has largely succeeded, it would appear that Epstein has regressed.

“[The Red Sox] were having a great deal of success with players of lesser ability,” Cashman said. “I studied what they were doing to some degree, adjusted accordingly, brought the Yankees up to speed, brought us into the 21st century.”

The Red Sox's transformation began when John Henry bought the club in December 2001 and encouraged increased emphasis on objective analysis. That coincided with the wooing of Moneyball darling Billy Beane, the A's GM, who was at one point on track to become Boston's new general manager before abruptly puling out, clearing the way for Theo Epstein to take over. 

“When I got to the Red Sox, our roster at the time had plenty of star power, but the second half of our roster was not strong," Epstein said. So, he set out looking for undervalued assets using a process he cut his teeth on in San Diego. The Padres were and are a small-market team, which added emphasis to seeking out low-cost players who could return their value and more.

“I spent the vast majority of time focused on players who were undervalued for some reason or another, trying to build value through small acquisitions, through looking at players through a slightly different lens than the marketplace," Epstein said.

That led to a host of players entering Boston that became instrumental in its 2004 World Series victory. Most notably, first baseman Kevin Millar, third baseman Bill Mueller and designated hitter David Ortiz were brought in. Millar would provide a steady presence at first, Mueller won the batting title in 2003 and Ortiz went on to be a Boston legend.

It's no wonder then, that Cashman sat up and paid attention after years of the Yankees throwing gobs of money at free agents to come to town and fail. He hasn't stopped extending major dollars, but has also found success acquiring undervalued players such as Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Boone Logan and more.

But Cashman wasn't done trying to figure out what made the Red Sox so great. He hired former Red Sox pitching coach (and interim manager in 2001) Joe Kerrigan to peer into how the Red Sox approached their pitching. Kerrigan was let go when Henry came aboard, but still had a deep knowledge of the organization.

“How they approached their pitching program was of interest to me,” Cashman says. “I was throwing out much more (pitching) talent than the Red Sox had and they were having more success. It goes to execution, game plans, stuff like that.”

What's interesting is that while Cashman has put together a strong team, founded partly on principles gleaned from Boston, Epstein has regressed.

No longer is Epstein finding undervalued commodities in the trade or free-agent market. Instead, he's opted for higher-priced veterans that have fallen flat on their face. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Daisuke Matuszaka, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria (and some would count J.D. Drew)... the list goes on. And many of Epstein's holes have been glossed over by a trade he had nothing to do with, sending top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez to Florida for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. (Epstein would later extend Mike Lowell in a contract that also ended up a net loss.)

To be sure, Epstein has made up for it by overseeing bountiful crops of prospects acquired via the draft (and through his own maneuvering of free-agent compensation draft picks). In addition, he's also made several other savvy pickups and acquisitions (Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to name a couple), but this is still a person who has seen a team turn from underrated achievers with a strong base of pitching into one of overpaid veterans and a pitching staff that has been nothing short of awful for a large part of 2011. While injuries absolutely shoulder part of the blame, at the end of the day this represents a failure for Epstein.

Both Cashman and Epstein are fantastic GMs. To be sure, Cashman scoping out how the Red Sox do business doesn't mean he's a copycat, or that he owes his credit to Boston. It means he's doing his job in exploiting what can work in New York's favor. Epstein, similarly, is still a strong GM despite some missteps in recent years. Yet, it's fascinating to hear about Cashman looking at what made the Red Sox succeed, then making it work for him. And meanwhile, Epstein's luck has run dry as he's received more and more money to play with -- but his investments are no longer working out.

Such is life running a baseball team.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:14 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:54 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:07 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Ok! Thanks for your insight! I often times should blog post little online site a specific thing such as that. Might i pertain an area , once to successfully my own site?

Since: Dec 15, 2010
Posted on: September 22, 2011 6:17 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Funny, the Rangers have had probs beating the Yanks this year

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: September 22, 2011 6:03 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

"We can only assume that "Evan Brunell" is a fake name used by the Yankee$$ PR department."

Why do people insist on drawing conclusions that are hilarious?

FYI -- grew up a Red Sox fan. Still live near Boston.

Since: Aug 8, 2009
Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:16 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Cashman wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't look at what other GMs are doing and then learning from it. That said, too many hack sports writers are packing a woody because Brad Pitt made a movie. Get over it. It's like the legend of Rudy...nobody in the crowd was cheering that midget's name for the 2 plays he got in the game, it's a myth. Try reality once in a while.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:03 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

At least these guys aren't Minnesota's Bill Smith.Smile

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:55 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

We can only assume that "Evan Brunell" is a fake name used by the Yankee$$ PR department. No really, our winning the division was because Cashman is sooooo smart not the other $200,000,000 reasons. Moneyball and the Yankee$? Please give the readers a littrle more credit that to fall for this BS.

Since: Oct 11, 2007
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:48 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

The Tigers and Rangers may very well make it to the second round but don't chalk up two wins for Detroit just because Verlander is starting. The Tigers winning with Verlander going against the Yankees with Sabathia or the Red Sox with Lester is hardly a foregone conclusion. In fact, the Yankees and Red Sox would both be favored with that pitching matchup if they're playing at home. Verlander has started 2 games against the Yankees this year and the Tigers are 0-2 in those games. He started 2 against Boston with Detroit going 1-1. So that means, for all you Moneyball people out there, the Tigers have lost 75% of the games started by Verlander against NY/BOS.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:06 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Doesnt matter the yankees and if the sox make it will both lose in the first round, detroit will win they have verlander going twice and texas pitching is also superior to new yorks and boston if thry make it cant pitch lester 5 times lol

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