Will Yankees GM Brian Cashman eat his words about Neil Walker?
With no chance of Yankees GM Brian Cashman demoting Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres to Triple-A, the roster crunch created by Greg Bird’s return will force Cashman to DFA or find a trade partner for Neil Walker.
Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of Yankees GM Brian Cashman. I wrote an article earlier this year, “The Tale of Brian Cashman,” in which I referred to him as the greatest general manager in MLB history.
I am also a fan of Neil Walker and did a very, positive story on his signing, “Is Neil Walker another rabbit out of Cashman’s hat? I was wrong on that one. So was Brian Cashman. Sadly, I think we all got it wrong.
The problem now is that Cashman’s ego will not let him admit the mistake he made in signing Walker for $4.5 million, and he recently made it worse by doubling down in a Q&A with Joel Sherman of the NY Post.
"Cashman points to Walker’s lengthy and consistent track record in the Majors in plainly stating that he “[doesn’t] see Walker as a guy to release, eat (his salary) or trade. “I think he is a better player than he has shown. Track record is something I would trust.”"
Brian Cashman will probably regret those words because he built a team with so much talent he has awed all of baseball, and it might have stunned his own expectations. He never really needed Neil Walker in the first place (ahem, Gleyber Torres), but even Cashman could not have anticipated the eye-opening performances of Andujar and Torres.
Moreover, what does Neil Walker’s history have to do with the reality of the day? Those are the words explaining why Cashman signed Walker. No team can win on track records. They win on the current results in the field, not the past. It’s the same reason questioning Brett Gardner is now a thing.
Neil Walker had the worst WAR in MLB
Joel Sherman continued:
"Neil Walker was the worst player in the majors.Going into his start at first base Thursday afternoon against the Astros, Walker was last in Fangraphs WAR among the 220 players who had at least 80 plate appearances, while he was tied for last with San Francisco’s Austin Jackson in Baseball Reference’s version."
Has Cashman has been a little overzealous? Maybe he never expected Austin’s numbers to be as good as they were. Austin, and much more so, Bird, has been a health risk, to put it mildly — so Cash also brought in Adam Lind, an accomplished veteran on standby in the minors.
The first roster crunch will immediately begin when Brandon Drury returns from the DL. Someone has to go and Cashman, maybe to “save a little face,” Tyler Austin will be sent packing, even though he doesn’t deserve it by any stretch.
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Austin has far better numbers than Walker and leads all rookies in homers and RBI. Austin was near the .300 BA mark when his suspension kicked in before the last week’s Yankees road trip.
He was suspended for charging the mound after Joe Kelly of the Red Sox tried to bean him twice, succeeding the second time and leading to a bench-clearing brawl.
Austin served a four-game suspension, but his bad luck continued when he bruised his hip making a spectacular diving play in the seventh inning of a game vs.probably the Houston Astros,
On that night, the diving grab probably saved Luis Severino’s shutout. Since then, Austin has yet to regain his timing at the plate due to limited playing time, perhaps per the order of the GM.
So what happens when Greg Bird returns? If Cashman sends either Andujar or Torres down, there will be a revolution in New York.
Could Ronald Torreyes be a victim of the Yankee GM’s ego? I cannot believe that. Will Cash try to send Drury somewhere else? No way, at least not now! Only an injury to one of the players as mentioned above will change Walker’s destiny, and nobody wants that.
The only option left for Cashman at that point is to DFA or trade Neil Walker, but who will want him and his .189 BA and $4.5 million price tag? Nobody wanted the 10-year veteran in the off-season, and that was coming off a season where he still managed to hit .265 with 14 home runs and 49 RBI.
Next: The return of Andrew Miller?
Whatever happens, Brian Cashman will remain the most successful GM in MLB history, but very soon, he is going to have to pull another a rabbit out of his hat or eat his words. I call it a special “lunch due to crunch.”