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Six months vs. the bigger picture, starring the Mets and Yankees

Sorry for the absence yesterday. Here are your updated playoff teams and seeds:

AL: Boston (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Yankees (4).

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Milwaukee (3), San Francisco (2) or Arizona (2) vs. Atlanta (4).

Thoughts: How 'bout those Diamondbacks? Two straight wins over Carlos Beltran's Giants in San Francisco. Kirk Gibson could wind up overtaking Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle and the Mets' Terry Collins for NL Manager of the Year.

Now, to our main item. I've used this quote before here, so consider this an environmentalist move. I'm recycling.

Brian Cashman said this to me in spring training of 2008:

"I choose not to look at something as six months. Whatever happens, it's only six months. I've got a bigger picture in mind. And I think that the next five-to-10 years of the franchise, (people) will be very proud of a lot of the work we are doing, and I'm willing to walk through fire to get there."

You might disagree with that philosophy. But I don't think you can accuse Cashman of not practicing what he preaches. To the contrary, many Yankees fans seem aggravated by the uncertainty of the team's starting rotation and were upset by the Yankees' lack of action at the trade deadline.

And to be sure, some of Cashman's competitors agree with the fans - and with respected media folk like Tom Verducci, who takes some shots at the Yankees in this column - that Cashman has overvalued his prospects. That he has overpioritized the "bigger picture" while sacrificing the Yankees' chances to win the World Seires in 2010 and 2011.

In the meantime, the Yankees won again last night, with Phil Hughes - whom Cashman ultimately refused to include in a package for Johan Santana during the 2007-08 offseason - looking more like his "first half of '10" self. The Yankees wouldn't trail the Red Sox by a game in the AL East if not for the contributions of homegrown types like Ivan Nova and Edwin Nunez (the two players Cashman declined to include last year in a package for Cliff Lee), David Robertson, Brett Gardner (who has a 3.5 rWAR compared to the 0.0 posted by his Boston counterpart Carl Crawford, whom the Yankees didn't seriously pursue last winter), not to mention the low-risk free agent flyers Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

You might argue that Lee, had the Yankees completed the trade for him last year, would have re-upped to stay in the Bronx, and therefore they'd be well ahead of the Red Sox right now. You might be right. But you might not be. All of the players in the above paragraph are here because of the "bigger picture" approach; Cashman called upon Colon and Garcia because he didn't like the asking prices on pitchers with potentially higher upsides like the traded Matt Garza and Zack Greinke and free agent Carl Pavano.

Over in Flushing, meanwhile, the Mets lost their fourth straight game, another late-inning heartbreaker, and you could contend rather fairly that this might not be the case if Sandy Alderson hadn't traded the team's best reliever in Francisco Rodriguez and its best middle-of-the-lineup threat in Carlos Beltran.

Alderson did the right thing in thinking beyond these six months, getting payroll relief (and a couple of warm bodies to be named later) for K-Rod and a highly regarded pitching prospect Zack Wheeler (plus a little more payroll relief) for Beltran. I wonder only if Alderson should have gone even further.

Jason Isringhausen, who suffered his second straight loss, is still a Met because Alderson wanted to "give) the remaining group as good an opportunity as possible to see how far they can go," as he said in this story by Anthony Rieber. Yet Isringhausen is a soon-to-be-39-year-old reliever who barely pitched in 2009 and 2010, and whose FIP and xFIP forecast some regression.

Tim Byrdak will turn 38 on Halloween, and when you consider that not a single lefty specialist was traded last week, he, too, could've brought something back in a deal. David Lennon reports that both the Red Sox and Braves were interested in Scott Hairston, as well.

I think the Mets should've seriously entertained trade offers for Jose Reyes, but that's another issue altogether.

By trading the likes of Isringhausen, Byrdak and Hairston by last Sunday, the Mets would've slightly hurt their chances at a longshot playoff run this season and slightly improved their talent base and payroll flexibility. It's not important enough an issue over which to derive great passion.

More than anything, Alderson's decision reflects that he realized how badly the Mets needed to re-engage and re-energize their disillusioned fan base. Not badly enough to hold onto K-Rod and Beltran, which would have been somewhat irresponsible. But enough to prioritize these six months a little more than other teams would.

If the Mets' season continues to head south, then they could conceivably work out waivers trades for Byrdak, Hairston, Isringhausen and any other furniture not chained to the floor (Chris Capuano?) and, at the least, gain some payroll relief.

Back to the Yankees, meanwhile, where the mantra around the team is that every title-less World Series constitues a failure. I know Cashman doesn't believe that, and I think Hal Steinbrenner sort of believes it but understands the bigger picture. And when Cashman attends Manny Banuelos' Triple-A debut, you see what it could mean, even to a team like the Yankees that prints money, to have a frontline starting pitcher under control for his first six major-league years.

Or at least ready to cash in if the Mariners decide to trade Felix Hernandez.

--I'll check in later from Citi Field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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