Cashman likes deal Orioles made when they traded Conine

Yankees GM says swap with Marlins helped beef up O's farm system

World Series


October 23, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - Brian Cashman became the New York Yankees' general manager in February 1998, a few months after the Orioles went wire-to-wire and won the American League East.

Since then, the Yankees have won six division titles. Cashman is 6-for-6. But as he stood watching batting practice last night, before Game 4 of the World Series, Cashman acknowledged that the balance of power could soon shift in the AL East.

"I see Tampa Bay catching up," he said. "A lot of those players that [GM] Chuck LaMar has been drafting are starting make an impact: Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli.

FOR THE RECORD - In some editions yesterday, former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer was incorrectly reported to have won 300 games. Palmer won 268 games in his major league career. The Sun regrets the error.

"J.P. Ricciardi has gone to Toronto [as the GM] and done a tremendous job.

"[Boston Red Sox GM] Theo Epstein almost got me fired this year."

Then Cashman came to the Orioles. And when he thought about the job the team's vice presidents - Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan - have been doing, he immediately pointed to the Aug. 31 trade that sent Jeff Conine to the Florida Marlins for pitching prospects Denny Bautista and Donald Levinski.

"I'll tell you what: That trade was a tremendous one for their farm system," Cashman said. "They got some good young talent back, and so Flanagan and Beattie, I think, have the Orioles on the right track."

Asked what he thought about the deal the Orioles made one month earlier - Sidney Ponson to the San Francisco Giants for Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss and Ryan Hannaman - Cashman sounded less impressed.

"I really liked the Marlins deal a lot," he said. "I'm not criticizing the Giants deal, but the Marlins deal really was like, wow. And it might just work out [for Florida]. Obviously, the Marlins wouldn't be here without Jeff, but I thought the Orioles really did a good job with that."

So the Yankees might have a stronghold on the division now, but Cashman could see that changing if they're not careful. Their farm system is depleted, and their core group of stars in their current dynasty - Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte - isn't getting any younger.

"Unfortunately, yeah, I think things are going to get tougher," he said.

Champagne marinade

Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon has never been to the World Series as a manager, and he sure seems to be enjoying the experience. He said he saved the lineup card from Game 7 of the National League Championship Series after the Marlins eliminated the Chicago Cubs.

"You talk about something that's crumpled up," McKeon said. "I had it stuck in my back pocket, and I must have had about five, 10 bottles of champagne dumped on me. But I still saved it. It's been marinated. Marinated with champagne."

Conine moved up

McKeon made a slight change in his batting order last night, moving Conine up from seventh to fifth, and pushing Derrek Lee from fifth to seventh. McKeon said it was based on Conine's familiarity with Yankees starting pitcher Roger Clemens, and the struggles Lee has been having in the postseason.

"Combination of both, really," McKeon said. "Hope we find the right combination."

Conine went 3-for-5, with two of the hits coming off Clemens.

Selig on Giambi subpoena

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he has not spoken with the Yankees' Jason Giambi about his recent subpoena involving a Bay Area laboratory.

Selig also cautioned fans not to read too much into the case.

"It's important to remember people have not been charged with anything," Selig said before Game 4. "Until we know all the facts, it's unfair to take it to any next level. I think it's important not to jump to any conclusions. We have no facts."

Giambi was one of five prominent athletes subpoenaed in the BALCO case. San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds was among the others.

"They have been called as witnesses, nothing more," Selig said.

Selig also claimed he had received no complaints regarding the first-year formula for awarding World Series home-field advantage to the league that wins the All-Star Game.

"I like it. The people like it. The fans like it," Selig said. "I have not had one complaint from anybody since July 15, including the Marlins organization."

Under the old rules, the Marlins would have held home field for four of a possible seven World Series games.

"Everybody knew [the rules]," Selig said. "Hank Blalock hit a home run in the eighth inning and both sides had a chance to win. It will be in place next year and then we'll take it from there. But, yes, I like the rule a lot and I believe it will [remain in place]."

More Orioles trivia

Last night, Clemens was the first 300-game winner to start a World Series game since Steve Carlton lost to the Orioles, 3-2, in Game 3 in 1983.

The winning pitcher in that game? Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, who entered in relief.

Clemens was making the final start of his career in the World Series, something Sandy Koufax did in 1966 against the Orioles. Koufax lost Game 2 of that series, 6-0. The winning pitcher was a 20-year-old right-hander named Palmer.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Publishing newspaper, contributed to this article.

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