Dec
01

“MLB needs a strong Yankee franchise”

By

Brian Cashman rarely reveals more than is necessary. As the general manager of the Yankees he faces the media frequently, but he never gives away too much. Instead, he speaks in a rehearsed, collected manner that is alternately comforting and frustrating. Comforting when the team is winning and we’re all happy. Frustrating when the team is struggling and we’re seeking answers. Sometimes I want to see him tone down the censor and talk more in-depth about the job and the decisions.

At the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square this morning, WFAN hosted a breakfast with Cashman. Steve S., b/k/a The Artist, kindly invited me, and we enjoyed an hour plus of Cashman talking about the team. Mike Francessa emceed, and unlike on his show he wasn’t argumentative for the most part (except for when it came to Joba, which I’ll get to in a moment). He let Cashman have the floor, and what resulted was a more candid Casham than I’ve ever seen.

The headline is a direct quote from Cashman. In fact, it was the first thing he said to the audience. In front of a New York audience it probably wasn’t the height of candor, but at that point it was clear to me that this wouldn’t be a cookie cutter Brian Cashman interview. He confirmed my thought a few moments later when he called Joe Torre’s book “garbage.” I know he was critical of the book in the past, but this is the first time I’ve heard him speak so strongly about it. Which makes sense, as he explains. Cashman was, after all, the general manager for all but two of Torre’s Yankee years, and wasn’t once interviewed for the book.

He then moved onto the managerial hiring process. With Joe Torre at the helm since Cashman took over, he’d never had to conduct manager interviews. Even in 1995-1996, when he was the assistant GM, there was no real process for interviewing candidates. The job was simply offered to Torre, and he accepted. This came after, earlier in the off-season, Torre turned down an offer to be general manager. No one wanted to work in that position under Steinbrenner at the time, and The Boss found that embarrassing. It probably led to the decision to hire Cashman in 1998; there was little chance Cashman, who started with the Yankees as an intern in 1986, would turn down the position.

When deciding among Don Mattingly, Tony Pena, and Joe Girardi, the Yankees set up day-long interviews that involved the entire baseball operations team. The heads of pro scouting, amateur scouting, player development — everyone in the organization who would have to deal with the manager on a frequent basis. As far as the actual assessment, Cashman gave an example. He put the Yankees projected 2008 roster in front of each candidate and asked what he would do in the following situation. It’s July. CC Sabathia is on the mound. How do you arrange the lineup? He noted that at least one chose to sit the lefties in that situation. Then he presented the same scenario, but changed it to Game 1 of the ALDS. Still Sabathia, still the same roster. Yet at that point, the manager left the lefties in the lineup. The exercise wasn’t to find a per se correct answer. Rather, Cashman wanted an explanation for the dissonance, if it were present.

Of course, when the topic of starting pitching arose, Francessa put back on his bullheaded attitude regarding Joba Chamberlain. He’s a born reliever, yada yada yada. Cashman explained the situation as he always does: it’s much harder to find a starter than a reliever, when you find a good starter on the free agent market he’ll cost you a lot of money, and it’s easier to move a starter to the bullpen if necessary. Francessa kept interrupting and misunderstanding. He said no fewer than five times that it was a “purely economical issue,” as if it were some great revelation. Of course, it’s not “purely” an economical issue, though economics do play a prominent role. It’s also about maximizing the value of each player, but Cashman couldn’t get in a word edgewise to explain that.

Another fascinating part of the talk came when Cashman described the new guys. When he brought in Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira, the told them to not check their personalities at the door — that he brought them in not only because they were exceptional baseball players, but because they could change the stodgy atmosphere of the Yankees clubhouse. “I told them to not be intimidated,” he said. That’s a tremendous task, of course. The Yankees clubhouse contained four luminaries from the 90s dynasty. How can four new guys come in and turn things around? Apparently they were up to the task, though, and Cashman couldn’t be happier.

“I like the Joba fist pumps, I like pies in the face,” he said. What’s there not to like about it? Francessa weighed in, saying he thought that some of Swisher’s and Burnett’s antics were childish. Remember, though, that these guys are playing a game. It might be a business, it might be career, and it requires a level of seriousness. But the career, the business, is a game. Cashman seems more than pleased that his 2009 team kept that in mind.

Towards the end Francessa opened the floor for fan questions, and encouraged us to ask about the team’s plans. Cashman noted that he couldn’t go too into detail, because, “if I say we’re after a certain player, then the Red Sox know that.” So while Cashman was at his most candid, he also knew when to play his cards close to his chest. From the tone of his answers, it doesn’t sound like the Yankees will offer arbitration to any of their free agents. He didn’t say this explicitly, but it’s what I inferred from his answers.

Steve got in a question, perhaps the best of the event. He asked Cashman how draft pick compensation factors into a decision on signing a free agent relief pitcher. Cashman opened by talking about the volatility of relief pitchers and how the Yankees have assembled the bullpen from within over the past few years. Francessa then directed him back to the question, to which Cashman replied that unless it was a situation where there was a specific guy they wanted, to fill a certain role, then they would not sacrifice a draft pick to sign a reliever. In other words, don’t expect the Yankees to pursue Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez if the Braves offer them arbitration this evening.

It meant getting up hours earlier than I normally do, but this breakfast event was more than worth the small sacrifice. Francessa let Cashman have the floor, and that was a great success. I learned more about what goes into his job than I have from dozens of previous interviews. And hey, I might even track him down and ask him a bit more at the Winter Meetings next week. Also, a big thanks to Steve for the invite. I owe you a beer, buddy.

Categories : Front Office
  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    In other words, don’t expect the Yankees to pursue Rafael Soriano or Mike Gonzalez if the Braves offer them arbitration this evening.

    This makes me so happy.

  • pete

    i wish RAB could do a one-on-one interview with Cash. I feel like you guys would ask terrific questions. But alas, that may still be a couple years away

  • Mike HC

    This picture makes in look like Francessa and Cashman are Thanksgiving dinner.

    • larryf

      great ad placement for Johnsonville/tailgateville. Let’s get a RAB sign for the next interview…

    • MatyRuggz

      Is it just me, or does it look like Francesa is Tim McCarver’s long lost brother in this picture?

  • theyankeewarrior

    But I tought dat Buster Olney sad teh Jankees are gonna sine a bunch of releivers dis off season! WHO IS GONNA PITCH DE 8IGHTh Innings!!????!!!11!1!11>?>!!!

    • Bo

      spell check wouldnt kill ya

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Sarcasm fail, Bo. The spelling errors were obviously intentional.

        • theyankeewarrior

          +28!

  • pete

    i would love to hear cashman’s input on things like statistical defensive evaluation, how the yanks budget works (on a more detailed level), etc. He seems like such a smart baseball mind and, more importantly, i think, seems willing to learn new things about the game. I really wish the people who interviewed him had better questions to ask than they seemingly ever do.

  • steve s

    The comment about Torre was extremely revealing. If Cashman is willing to say that in public I could only imagine how the rest of Yankee management feels about him as Cashman was probably his biggest organizational ally. Joe shouldn’t count on seeing that No. 6 retired anytime soon.

    • http://baseballalamode.blogspot.com Mode

      This is a good point. I wonder if he figured his bridge was already burned before he wrote the book. At one point, “Joe Torre Day” plus number retirement was pretty close to garaunteed. Now, I can’t see his number being retired, unless it’s “in memoriam”

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Joe shouldn’t count on seeing that No. 6 retired anytime soon.

      I had figured the Yanks would retire No. 6 until Joe told me what Cashman said today. I’m surprised the team hasn’t given it out yet in fact.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        Jesus, my friend. Jesus.

        • http://baseballalamode.blogspot.com Mode

          Great minds?

        • jsbrendog

          they should give it to some bullpen guy they call up to mop up innings. like a clagget type.

          • pete

            hahahahaahah

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Better idea:

              Let’s bring back Kevin Brown out of retirement, sign him for a day, issue him #6, then announce his re-retirement and put #6 up in Momument Park for Kevin Brown.

              You wanna be petty, childish, and vindictive, Joe Torre?

              I’LL SHOW YOU PETTY, CHILDISH, AND VINDICTIVE, JOE TORRE.

              Kevin Brown. Monument Park. #6. BOOOOOOOOOOOM.

              • Rey22

                I like your idea. Just a minor tweak though. Instead of bringing Brown out of retirement…we trade for Jeff Weaver and give it to him. Then we kick him out of the roster and enshrine him at Monument Park. Done deal.

      • http://baseballalamode.blogspot.com Mode

        Maybe it will be retired, in 2030, under the name Montero.

  • http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d80/madamsteph/Sports/alg_melky.jpg Drew

    Sounded like a great time, I’m jealous.

    That was a good question by Steve and I’m happy Cash answered as he did.

  • Tank the Frank

    Soooooo…you were within a few feet of Mike Francesa and did not make an attempt at his life?

    That’s ok I suppose. Some people lack the stomach and the dedication it takes to commit premeditated murder. I have no such problem. I’ve devised a way to stop his rants once and for all.

    He’s 55-years-old; and I’d estimate him at about 300-320lbs. He’s also had some recent health problems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Francesa#Health
    I’m going to send the man chocolates and salami/cheese platters twice a month, every month, on a rotating basis. Have him stuff his fat face to the brim week in and week out…courtesy of his biggest fan of course. Given his age, weight, and health history, it should take no more than 16 months until he’s little more than an epitaph.

    The beauty of it is…he’ll be none the wiser. “Eeeuuuuuhhh dees au good chawklets uuhhhhh Jobber uuuuuhhhh bulldog uuuuhhhhhhh.” Andthenhesfuckingdead!!

    Cholesterol is America’s # 1 killer.

    • jsbrendog

      do it.

      • Bo

        Classy comment.

        And some wonder why blogs are given a bad name.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Things people don’t really wonder:

          “Why blogs are given a bad name”

        • Joey

          Dunno, River Ave. Blues is a very catchy name. If the name wasn’t right, I wouldn’t read it, period.

  • pollo

    It’s a little redundant to explain why Francesa was wrong. It’s best to just delete that whole paragraph and replace it with handwave.gif

    • pollo

      That said, great piece. I’d love to have gone to something like that.

  • Senor A. Boy

    Fantastic article.

  • pat

    Joe Torre as general manager? Sheesh, thank our lucky stars.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      “I don’t trust this Pettitte kid. Too raw.

      Let’s trade him for a nice 8th inning guy, like maybe Jeff Reardon or something.”

      … aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand, SCENE!

    • ROBTEN

      Just think how it could have revolutionized the game, though.

      No starters, no bullpen; just Mendoza, Quantrill, Proctor, Sturtze, and Mo.

      • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

        Thats pretty funny.

    • Thomas

      The bench would have been as strong as the starters. Of course, that would be a result of Miguel Cairo, Luis Sojo, and Enrique Wilson starting, but that’s irrelevant.

    • Rob in CT

      Terrifying. Wow.

      It’s amazing how dysfunctional the Yankees apparently were, even during the dynasty years. George giveth, George taketh away.

  • http://twitter.com/riddering Riddering

    That picture cracks me up for some reason.

    Thanks for a great write-up, Joe. It’s very fascinating to get a closer-to-inside look at Cashman and the Yankee organization.

  • larryf

    The binder. Joe G got the job because of the binder. It tells you what to do with your lefty batters against CC in July and October. “I know it’s in here somewhere Cash”

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      You laugh, but that binder was smarter than Ron Gardenhire, Mike Scoscia, Charlie Manuel, all the pundits and talking heads, and pretty much everyone else.

      Girardi >>>>>>>>>>>>>> the haters

      • the binder

        i know how to win the war in afghanistan

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          (golf clap)

        • All Praise Be To Mo

          ietcvm

      • jsbrendog

        girardi’s binder>>>>>>>>>>>>> the haters

        there, fixed

        • larryf

          not a hater. Just a quipster. Where is my sarcasm icon?? I luva Guiseppe….

          • larryf

            the binder epilogue has one word:

            Mo

  • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

    He confirmed my thought a few moments later when he called Joe Torre’s book “garbage.”

    I love Cash more then I did before because of this quote.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      And yet, there he is, just inches from the single dumbest man in all of NYC sports, the man who singlehandedly makes his job ten times harder by infecting the brains of NYC sportsfans with ignorant false narrative and poor reasoning, and did Cashmoney once get up and just punch him in the face, or choke him out, or smash his face into a car winshield and then take Mike Francesa’s mother Dorothy Francesa out for a lovely seafood dinner and then never call her again?

      No, Cashmoney did not.

      You can’t let golden opportunites pass you by like that, Brian. When Francesa starts whining about Joba, you pull your huge cock out and smack him across the face with it, then you give him a wedgie and step on his nuts and tell him that he’s not fit to be on the stage with you because he’s a retarded assclown who couldn’t score 100 on the SAT. Then you fuck his daughter on stage, in front of him, and pour 10 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke all over her when you’re done, because you’re Brian Fucking Cashman, baby!

      • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

        And yet, there he is, just inches from the single dumbest man in all of NYC sports, the man who singlehandedly makes his job ten times harder by infecting the brains of NYC sportsfans with ignorant false narrative and poor reasoning, and did Cashmoney once get up and just punch him in the face, or choke him out, or smash his face into a car winshield and then take Mike Francesa’s mother Dorothy Francesa out for a lovely seafood dinner and then never call her again?

        I’m not sure. I wasn’t at Hard Rock Cafe this morning and Joe’s article doesn’t contain conclusive evidence one way or the other.

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    The Francesa hate on this site is rather silly. The man does go on and on. He is dead wrong on several Yanks related issues. That said he is correct more often than not which for talk radio, especially sports talk radio does not happen much in other markets.

    The whole Joba thing, is I think mainly a way to get people all riled up and to listen for days at a time when there is no story. Same thing that was done in Philly with Allen Iverson regarding whatever… Every day there was no Eagles news… BAM! LISTEN TO WHAT AI DID.

    The one thing that impresses me with Francesa is he has the best recall of anybody I have ever seen to recall some obscure Yankees games and situation. Most guys in his position just use the producer for such things, while he at times really can recall stuff with decent detail going back into the 50’s.

    Mad Dog on the other hand was just a mook who talks like he is deaf but actually is not.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      That said he is correct more often than not

      Is he? Can you demonstrate that?

      I have yet to listen to Francesa for more than 15 minutes without hearing at least one horrendously retarded thing that he says that is dead wrong.

      The man does not know how to think things through in a clear and thorough manner. He operates off of emotion and blind narrative. He is dumb.

      I can say with full and complete certainty that he is INCORRECT more often than not.

      • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

        “I can say with full and complete certainty that he is INCORRECT more often than not.”

        That would be the one that you need to prove. A broken clock is right twice a day. He only would need to be right 51 percent of the time for what I said to be true.

        You said “I have yet to listen to Francesa for more than 15 minutes without hearing at least one horrendously retarded thing that he says that is dead wrong.”

        Well so if he is talking for 15 mins and he says one thing that is wrong in your eyes that is not better than 51 percent?

        Also if you only listen from time to time how do you really know? No stats available to read to determine. Nah mean?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I guarantee you that if the people behind FanGraphs or PitchFx started tracking and compiling the things that Francesa says on a daily basis, there would be more stupid than smart. His “smart comment” batting average would be like .300, at best.

          • KayGee

            The fact that you say you have never listened to him for more than 15 minutes at once but you can “guarantee” that Fangraphs can prove him wrong more than half the time is flawed in itself. You are basing your knowledge of the show and Francessa’s opinions/analysis on the “no more than 15 minutes” that you grace him with your presence…you are guilty of exactly what you preach about “blind narrative”…

            When you are on air for 35 hours per week and covering multiple sports, are responsible for giving opinions and fueling listener response, you are bound to say things that are pretty ridiculous (Arroyo, Nate, etc.)Is he always right? Absolutely not. But I listen to him more a lot as well, and his batting average is much higher than .300.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      To add to TSJC, he might be able to recall many obscure Yankees games, but wasn’t able to recall any of Jason Hirsh’s 29 ML starts which came between 2006 and 2008.

      He also has no clue how to evulate players, shown when he was willing to “pay a lot” for Nate McLoth because he has the long blond hair.

      • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

        “He also has no clue how to evulate players, shown when he was willing to “pay a lot” for Nate McLoth because he has the long blond hair.”

        I am in the car a lot and listen to sports talk radio, especially when it is about baseball. Listen to Francesa for a bit most days. Never heard that one, you might need to produce audio for me to believe that was said.

        Heyman bothers me more than Francesa. Heyman just spouts off commonly known facts, made up crap, or Scott Boras propaganda and he is paraded around as a baseball info god.

        • Mike M

          If you listen to him most days you HAVE to have heard him spout about McLoth. I’m pretty sure he was willing to give up the farm for that “5 tool player”. The problem with Francesca is whenever a person with a rational thought comes in he’d immediately bullied off the phone. What your left with is hundreds of calls that go…

          “Hey Mikeyyyy first time long time. Congrats about the twins…I got a trade proposal for how we can land Pujols…then I’m gonna hang up and listen to you on the radio”

          • Tank the Frank

            The problem with Francesca is whenever a person with a rational thought comes in he’d immediately bullied off the phone.

            + 1,000

            I can fully attest to this. His show is complete garbage. I should know…I work it. To be fair, he’s a good interviewer, but that’s all I’ll give him.

        • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

          Never heard that one, you might need to produce audio for me to believe that was said.

          Ask and you shall receive:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmHHMNZf2zg

          • http://theyankeeway.mlblogs.com/ Keanu Reeves

            I love that even though Francessa thinks Joba is a reliever, he wouldn’t include him in a trade for McClouth.

    • Bo

      The Francessa hate is funny because these people actually listen to him 4+ hrs a day or watch on YES.

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    Any greater detail available on this:

    “As far as the actual assessment, Cashman gave an example. He put the Yankees projected 2008 roster in front of each candidate and asked what he would do in the following situation. It’s July. CC Sabathia is on the mound. How do you arrange the lineup? He noted that at least one chose to sit the lefties in that situation. Then he presented the same scenario, but changed it to Game 1 of the ALDS. Still Sabathia, still the same roster. Yet at that point, the manager left the lefties in the lineup. The exercise wasn’t to find a per se correct answer. Rather, Cashman wanted an explanation for the dissonance, if it were present.”

    Did you get a vibe of which guy he was talking about?

    Also was this on WFAN? Any audio available? I know Francesa does not turn down a free meal and an extra check and does these breakfasts rather often. I did not see it on the WFAN site so I am assuming it not aired and they just played the unlistenable Boomer and Carton instead.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I’m really not sure if it was aired, but I doubt it.

      I think he was talking about Mattingly. Cashman seemed very against the idea of sitting your lefties against Sabathia in the regular season only to play them in the playoffs. More than that, though, he said he was clearly not accepting of the answer given him, hence my thought that it was Mattingly. (In other words, perhaps Girardi said the same thing, but Cashman liked Girardi’s rationale more.)

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    Also, a big thanks to Steve for the invite. I owe you a beer, buddy.

    Thanks for coming, Joe. I really enjoyed it and I’m sure we’ll catch a game sometime next year so I can collect that beer of mine.

    BTW-Nice recap.

  • http://ibleedblueandwhite.com Jamie

    Fabulous job Joe and a huuuuuuge thank you goes out to The Artist for putting this all together.

  • Nick-YF

    Nothing to add really. Just a thanks for this write up.

  • Pingback: Just say no to Lyon | River Avenue Blues

  • Pingback: Peanuts and CrackerLINKS: Meaty Talk With Brian Cashman | 7th Inning Stache, an MLB blog

  • Pingback: Yanks like Soriano, but probably won’t sign him | River Avenue Blues

  • Pingback: Cashman sports a successful track record | River Avenue Blues