Pitchers and catchers are still at home. Position players have a few weeks left in vacation. Yet, the Brian Cashman Job Watch is already on the go.
Today, Joel Sherman checks in with his latest: Brian Cashman may very be building a farm system for his successor. Using the Super Bowl Champs as an example, Sherman draws parallels between Cashman and Ernie Accorsi, the former New York Giants GM who built the current Giants team.
It is possible, and Cashman knows this, that he might be rebuilding a farm system for another man, that he will play Accorsi and hand off something ready to blossom to his successor. He insists he is fine with that prospect, recalling how fortunate he was to be gifted a championship roster from his predecessor Bob Watson, saying he owes it to that memory and to professionalism and to Yankees fans to guarantee his baton pass is as fruitful.
“You want to make sure it is sustainable for the next person,” Cashman said.
Cashman has just one year left on his contract. No one would be surprised if he returned again, that his love for the job and his long history with the Steinbrenner family produce another contract. But no one around the Yankees – or really around baseball – would be surprised either if VP of scouting Damon Oppenheimer, like Reese, graduates from heading a draft room to directing the big room. Oppenheimer’s outstanding recent drafts have provided much of the backbone to support Cashman’s vision of restoring youth and financial sanity to the Yankees roster.
A lot of Brian Cashman’s most vocal critics have long pointed to the Yanks’ farm system in the pre-Cashman days as a sign that Brian is an overrated GM. While this argument ignores the fact that Brian Cashman, as an Assistant GM before his days as a General Manager, was instrumental in building up the Yankees farm system, it also ignores what Cashman has been able to accomplish since 2005 when he seemingly wrested control away from King George and his Tampa minions in order to build up a franchise.
Since then, the Yanks have skyrocketed in prospect ratings from the low 20s to the upper echelons of the list. That is not to say that Cashman has been a perfect GM. I’ll happily defend Cash, but I know that the Yankees are a flawed team with an astronomical payroll. But it’s hard to understate the importance of their farm system.
They have top-notch arms in Joba, Phil and IPK ready to contribute at the Major League level now. They have position players who should develop just in time to contribute when they are most needed. And they have a new organizational philosophy that will keep them spending on the amateur draft and international free agents while maintaining a competitive Big League club through free agency.
Who knows what the future holds for Cashman? He may jet to Philadelphia as many have speculated. He may stick around. He could retire and come back after a few years away from the game. But no matter the outcome in 2008, he has left his mark on this team, and it’s for the better.