At the end of this baseball offseason, Theo Epstein was being showered with accolades and Brian Cashman was considered a major disappointment by many. Theo was the hero that acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, leading the press to anoint the Red Sox as title favorites. Cashman was the goat that pissed off Derek Jeter, missed on this off season's big name free agents like Cliff Lee and Crawford and publically objected to signing Rafael Soriano. The Red Sox appeared ready to start the season with an offense for the ages and the Yanks seemed to have gaping holes in their rotation that would be impossible to overcome.
One month into the season, the reality seems a little bit different. Theo let Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre go and brought in Crawford and Gonzalez instead, in an effort to make the Sox better. Let's look at how these four players are doing:
Gonzalez is hitting .290 with 1 home run, 13 RBIs and 16 strikeouts.
Crawford is hitting .156 with 1 home run, 6 RBIs and 16 strikeouts.
Martinez is hitting .250 with 2 home runs, 9 RBIs and 9 strikeouts.
Beltre is hitting .253 with 7 home runs, 20 RBIs and 10 strikeouts.
So far Epstein has traded nine home runs, 29 RBIs and 19 Ks for two home runs, 19 RBIs and 32 Ks. Yes, Gonzalez is hitting for average and yes, Martinez isn???t exactly setting the world on fire with his production, but this surely isn't what Red Sox fans were expecting/hoping for. Theo had to trade valuable resources to the Padres to get the privilege of signing Gonzalez and moving Kevin Youkilis to third base. Was this wise? They could have signed Beltre without giving up anything in trade. Yes Gonzalez plays good defense at first, but Beltre delivers the D at third. Beltre's seven home runs are two more than any member of the Red Sox, a team desperately in need of some power hitting. Youkilis is hitting .214 with 23 Ks, is it possible he's responding poorly to changing positions?
How about Martinez's replacements at catcher? Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting .186 with zero homers. Jason Varitek is hitting .091 with zero home runs. Theo was high enough on his catching core that he also passed on Russell Martin, a catcher picked up by Cashman instead. Martin is hitting .292 with six home runs. Score one for Cashman.
What about Cashman's other moves? While Epstein was drawing raves for his big moves this offseason, Cashman was getting more attention for the moves he failed to make (see Lee, Cliff.) Despite this perception, Brian had a busy offseason.
First, unlike Epstein, he resigned his big name free agents: Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Then he picked up some impressive role players: Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez, who are hitting .316 and .348 so far. Yes, but what about the pitching?
The Cliff Lee thing was a failure, but given the contract the Yankees offered him, it's hard to put too much of the blame on Cashman. Instead, he has gone out and picked up some lesser name veterans that are all showing promise: Bartolo Colon 2.77 ERA, Freddy Garcia 0.69 ERA and Kevin Millwood (2 runs in 14 minor league innings.) The Yankees' rotation is actually starting to look like it might be a strength, rather than the disaster most people have been expecting.
Sure Cashman was unwilling to completely break the bank for Jeter, but perhaps he understood Derek's best days are over (.262, zero homers.) Further, it looks like the Yanks probably should have taken his advice on Soriano too (7.84 ERA.)
Baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint of course. These stats may completely turn around in a couple months. For now though, round one definitely goes to Cashman.