As the dust settles from this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, it's difficult not to say the Yankees were the biggest winners -- thanks to Cashman's deals. He knew what the team needed most and went out and got it.
The deals were far from blockbusters, but if the Yankees return to the World Series in October, these moves will stand out. What Cashman did was tweak, or better put, upgrade his roster.
In his era, that often is more important than adding or "renting" an expensive player.
I've never been a fan of the overdone winners-losers scorecard after the flurry of players changing teams prior to the July 31st deadline but admittedly have fallen into the trap here. It's difficult not to recognize what Cashman did this year.
Bottom line: The Yankees, with the best record in the Major Leagues, are more powerful than they were before this important date on baseball's calendar.
The Texas Rangers are amazing, considering the franchise is in bankruptcy and their new owner hasn't been determined. Yet they made key deals to almost assure them of the American League West title. More on this later.
Cashman acquired sluggers Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns, along with reliever Kerry Wood. The Yankees were able to make these moves by adding less than $5 million to their $206 million payroll and, even more importantly, they didn't have to give up top prospects to make the deals.
For years, Cashman has refused to deplete the Yankees farm system to make a trade. At times, he's even stood up to ownership to make this point.
Admittedly, Berkman, Kearns and Wood are on the downside of their careers, but they are perfect fits for this 2010 Yankees team. Playing for the Yankees should fuel an adrenaline rush, especially in October.
They give manager Joe Girardi added flexibility, especially off the bench. Berkman, a switch-hitter, can DH and play first base as he did Sunday. Kearns gives the Yankees power off the bench and Wood, in a setup role, should be valuable, especially considering the problems Joba Chamberlain has had.
"I really felt like I had to do something with my career," Berkman said. "I felt like I needed to either retire or get into a situation where you're scared again, where if you fail, then you're a bum. I want that situation. I want to see what I've got left.
"This is a tough thing to jump into. I haven't played a meaningful game in like three years. You have to learn how to manage your emotions again."
Cashman said getting Wood, who's had a long history of injuries, improved the bullpen, but had nothing to do with Chamberlain.
"Kerry still has terrific stuff," said Cashman. "We analyzed his abilities with what we currently possessed and felt we would be upgrading if we were able to acquire him. As long as he says healthy, he's going to be another legitimate choice for us as we try to match up late in games."
Girardi has more depth on his bench now. This will be important during the dog days of August and the September pennant race when regulars need a rest. Plus, the National League (without the DH) has home-field advantage. That means, for the AL manager, the bench will be even more important because he has to make more moves late in games.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who took two out of three from New York over the weekend to close within a game in the AL East, were trying to add a bat and bolster their bullpen. Their only move was getting reliever Chad Qualls. He cost them $1.3 million. The Rays payroll is still under $75 million.
As for the Yankees getting stronger by adding three key pieces, Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg sounded bitter when he told the AP: "It's not unexpected. I wonder what would have been if they were 12 games up."
The Yankees should win the AL East and the Rays are my pick to go back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 as the Wild Card.
If the Rangers, who've never advanced past the Division Series in October, don't win the AL West, there should be an investigation.
That club president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels could swing the deals they have during the last month is unbelievable. To say the franchise ownership is in turmoil is an understatement. And the fact MLB has had to subsidize the club financially until the new owner takes over from Tom Hicks on paper at least should have limited roster moves.
Ryan, however, insists the team has a payroll budget and, as long as it's not exceeded, deals could be made. And they were.
So, the Rangers with a comfortable lead in their division have been aggressive. Daniels first got catcher Bengie Molina from San Francisco, then landed former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee from Seattle and, at the Deadline, obtained infielder Jorge Cantu from Florida and utility infielder Cristian Guzman from Washington. They added just a little more than $6 million to their $57.2 million payroll which was 27th among the 30 teams on Opening Day.
"We feel good about what we have been able to do the last few weeks," Daniels told MLB.com's T. R. Sullivan. "In constructing our roster, we wanted to give [manager] Ron Washington as much deep and versatile depth as we could -- to give him the option of putting together a lineup on a daily basis and be able to withstand the potential of injury. We feel these adjustments complement what we already had."
When the Phillies obtained Roy Oswalt, the No. 1 pitcher available, from Houston, at the Deadline, without parting with any of their top Minor League prospects, I thought the blunder they made in December by giving Cliff Lee to Seattle would move to the back burner.
I was wrong.
It's obvious GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will never be able to live that down. Now, after pitcher J. A. Happ (dealt to the Astros in the deal) had such a strong outing, winning his debut on Friday for Houston, the Lee talk continues. Had the Phillies kept Lee, who is probably better than Oswalt, they would not have had to part with Happ. More regrests?
Aside from all that, if Amaro isn't able to work his magic on the waiver wire for bullpen help, I really wonder just how far the Phillies can go if they do make it to the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
But we'll save that for another day.