Three Reasons for New York Yankees' Struggles You Can Pin on Brian Cashman

Joseph Zapata@JosephZapataIIIContributor IIIJuly 20, 2014

New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann (34) reacts after striking out in a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium in New York, Monday, June 30, 2014.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Currently halfway through the 2014 MLB season, the Yankees find themselves with a mediocre 49-47 record. With the second highest payroll in baseball, most of the blame lands on Yankee GM Brian Cashman.

After failing to make the postseason last year, Cashman decided to spend big money in hopes of turning the team around. Unfortunately, most of these purchases need to be returned.   


Signing Players Over the Age of 30 to Big Contracts

During the offseason, Cashman brought in several notable free agents: Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury.  

After a terrible performance by their catchers in 2013, the Yankees signed McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract. McCann is coming off of six consecutive seasons with 20 or more home runs, but unfortunately, he has greatly underperformed in 2014.

He is currently batting .240 and he's only on pace for 17 home runs, according to ESPN. Not only is McCann already in his thirties, but he's also a catcher, which makes his shelf life even shorter.  

If McCann is struggling to hit over 15 home runs at the age of 30, what will his numbers be like four years down the road?

Another questionable move was signing the 37-year-old Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal.  

Beltran is currently hitting .225 and is only on pace for 17 home runs, according to ESPN. In his defense, he's missed a lot of time due to injuries, but that's a bad sign for any player in his late thirties.

Many Yankee fans remember rolling their eyes at a few of Beltran's recent injuries:

What a drag it is getting old: Carlos Beltran injures his elbow taking practice swings

— HardballTalk (@HardballTalk) May 13, 2014 

With Beltran struggling to stay healthy and perform, it looks like it will be a rough two more years.  

Another signing gone sour was Ellsbury's seven-year, $153 million contract. He's currently hitting .281 and only has seven home runs.  

Ellsbury is not a bad player, but is he worth this mega deal? The answer is probably no.  

In his seven-year career, he's only hit above .300 three times, and he's only reached double-digit home runs once. Ellsbury is a great baserunner and an even better fielder, but the Yankees signing him to this contract was definitely a dud.  


Letting Robinson Cano Leave

With the Yankees currently ranked at 16th in batting average and 18th in OPS, they could desperately use Cano.  

Unfortunately, the Yankees were unwilling to match the Seattle Mariners' 10-year, $240 million contract offer this offseason.  

He may be on the Mariners' payroll, but Cano is making the Yankees pay for letting him leave. He is currently batting .335 and ranks eighth in the American League in WAR.  

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02:  Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners has a laugh with Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees prior to his first at bat in the first inning at Yankee Stadium on June 2, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Many Yankee fans took comfort in the fact that Cano was signing with a mediocre team, but alas the Mariners are two and a half games ahead of the Bronx Bombers in the wild-card race.

Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports tweeted about Cano's success:

Robinson Cano's adjusted OPS+ is now exactly the same (137) as his combined mark with the Yankees from 2009-2013 and the Mariners are 47-38.

— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 2, 2014 

Signing Cano to a 10-year contract would be a bad idea, but would you really rather have Ellsbury for seven?  


Not Trusting the Yankees' Minor League Prospects

Everybody knows that the Yankees have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Before the 2014 season, ranked the Yankees' farm system at 21st out of the entire league.  

However the Yankees have been stacked at the catcher position when it comes to potential prospects. Not only do they have John Ryan Murphy (back-and-forth between Triple-A and majors), but their No. 1 prospect is Double-A catcher Gary Sánchez.  

Gary Sanchez in a spring training game vs the Washington Nationals
Gary Sanchez in a spring training game vs the Washington NationalsStacy Revere/Getty Images

In 2013 at at Single-A+, Sánchez had 13 home runs in only 94 games. He was also ranked the 35th best prospect heading into this season by Baseball America.  

Sánchez is still a year away from getting a shot in pinstripes, but how is he supposed to get his chance with McCann under a four-year contract?

Possibly Cashman thought he could sign McCann and then use Sánchez as trade bait, but now they might need the young prospect in the near future.  

So far this season both Murphy, and Francisco Cervelli have higher batting averages than McCann. Instead of wasting big money, the Yankees could have just depended on their two backup catchers.    

Of course, both of these catchers are not long-term solutions, but minor stopgaps while waiting for Sánchez to mature.  

Fortunately for Cashman, he still has half a season to see if his acquisitions will pan out.  


Follow me on Twitter: @SupermanJZ


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