Foes of Brian Cashman can take heart. In a Tyler Kepner piece in Tuesday’s Times, Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken of the two brothers, shares his views on the current Yankee brain trust, and from his words, it seems that while Joe Girardi and his three-year contract are safe, Brian Cashman and his remaining five or six months may not be.
Hank on Girardi: “I think he’s doing fine. It’s pretty simple — he’s playing the hand that he was dealt, just like I am. He’s doing the best job he can. I have complete confidence in Joe.”
Hank on Cashman: “If Brian wants to be the G.M. next year, there’s a chance he will be. If he doesn’t want to, he won’t be. At this point, do I still want him to be the G.M.? Yeah, I do.”
Talk about hedging your bets: If Cashman wants to come back, says Hank, it’s not a given. There’s a chance that he’ll return which also means there’s a chance that he won’t return.
But within the same interview, Hank took what could be interpreted as a dig as father’s heavy-handed style of management. “Whether those cards work or not will determine what happens in the off-season, and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to win,” Hank said. “There’s been a lot of mistakes the last five to seven years that I had nothing to do with and Joe had nothing to do with — and quite a few things Brian had nothing to do with.”
There were indeed quite a few things Cashman had nothing to do with that have plagued the Yankee organization over the last ten years. The challenge for anyone — and it’s impossible task for those not in upper-level management positions in the Yankee organization — is to weed out the Cashman Moves and the George Moves. Hank probably knows the difference, and he, for now, sees something he likes in Cashman and the role Brian plays.
We’ve made our thoughts fairly clear on this issue. We think Cashman has done a great job. Of course, many Yankee fans judge success absolutely: Either the team wins the World Series and the season is a success or the team does not win the World Series and the season is a failure. While we can try to convince doubters that the playoffs — five-game and seven-game series — are in no way indicative of how good — the 2007 Red Sox — or how average and lucky — the 2006 Cardinals — a team is, Yankee fans are set in their ways.
If the Yanks are serious about pursuing a new path, they should let Cashman’s plan run its course, and that course is longer than the first quarter of the season. That course is probably two or three years long. If the Yanks were to dismiss Cashman now, the spoilers of his era — a highly regarded farm system and better international scouting — would continue to pay dividends well into the tenure of the next GM. And until the Yankees win four World Series in five years, we’ll forever be having the same debate we have now.
Cashman and his approach have gotten the Yanks into the playoffs every year of his tenure so far. Why change things now?