Wednesday, September 24, 2008


WHO SAID it’s tough at the top? Not in baseball, apparently.

No sooner had the New York Yankees failed to qualify for the post-season for the first time since 1993 than the Steinbrenner family were offering general manager Brian Cashman a new contract.

And according to reports on ESPN, Omar Minaya, GM of the New York Mets, is close to agreeing a four-year extension that will keep him with the organization up to the end of 2013.

This with the Mets’ play-off hopes hanging in the balance after another less-than-stellar September.

Minaya has one year remaining on the five-year, $4 million contract he signed after the 2004 season. Cashman’s three-year, $5.5 million contract expires on October 31.

You can only draw the conclusion that neither man is being held responsible for their club’s under-achievement during the past two seasons.

The Yanks, understandably, want to have the issue settled before what promises to be a busy winter of wheeling and dealing.

A number of players (Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina to name but four) are out of contract.

The Yankees have to decide whether to resign them and if not, who to replace them with. 

A frontline starting pitcher will be top of their shopping list with CC Sabathia, currently with the Milwaukee Brewers, the likely No. 1 target. 

The management team decided to gamble on youth this season, a gamble that failed to pay off. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, who represented two fifths of the starting rotation, have yet to win a game between them.

How big a say Cashman had in the decision not to trade for Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins is unclear.

Yankees and Mets offering GMs new deals

It’s true that the Twins were asking a lot more in return from the Yankees than they eventually ended up getting from the Mets.

But it’s also true that the management team overestimated the value of Hughes, Kennedy, and for that matter, Melky Cabrera.

Just look at what Santana is doing for the Mets down the stretch. He is keeping them in play-off contention almost single-handed.

To be fair to Cashman, he had no control over the many injuries the Yanks have had to deal with this season.

But he is responsible for the development of young talent and after years of neglect, it’s taking a long time to replenish the farm system.

Joba Chamberlain, Edward Ramirez, Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves have undoubtedly strengthened the bullpen.

But while players like Jason Gardner and Justin Christian have brought energy, enthusiasm and base-running speed to the team, they have yet to prove they can hit well enough to be any more than bench players.

In my mind, the jury is still out on Cashman’s abilities as a GM. He seems to make all the right moves (like trading Kyle Farnsworth for Pudge Rodriguez) but a lot of them don’t pan out (hands up those who want Carl Pavano or Kei Igawa).

Minaya, who has signed stars such as Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran and Billy Wagner to huge free-agency contracts, has even more to prove.

The Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 to play last September. And this season, they parted company with manager Willie Randolph, who was very much Minaya’s man.

Surely it would seem logical for the Mets ownership to wait until the end of the season before sitting down with Minaya to discuss his and their future?

Minaya and Cashman have one thing in common. They both have the biggest payrolls to work with in the National League and American League respectively.

So far, they have yet to prove they can help their club win the division, let alone a World Series ring.

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