Hal: “I think Brian does a great job”

Thinking about the starting five
How greatly did Burnett’s 2009 affect his 2010?
(Seth Wenig/AP)

We are indeed plodding through the worst six weeks of the year. In fact, right now we’re at the halfway point. There is sunshine neither behind us nor ahead of us. In many years this leads to idle chatter, but this year, after a rough off-season that saw Cliff Lee snub the team’s millions, fans are starting to get cranky. Despite having made overhauls to the team in the last two years that resulted in a World Series title and an ALCS appearance, Brian Cashman has come under fire. But if we’re to believe Hal Steinbrenner, this vitriol comes from only the fans. He has no problem with his general manager.

Despite Cashman’s recent outspokenness, which consisted of him honestly answering questions, Hal says that he and the GM continue working together as normal. Joel Sherman of the Post has Steinbrenner’s exclusive comments.

[Cashman] and I have a great working relationship. There is no problem, right now. I think we have a bunch of drummed-up drama.

I value his opinion and his advice. That does not mean that I am always going to go with that advice and all of my VPs know that I might go a different way. There are no hard feelings between Cash and I. There never was. Reasonable men can differ in opinions.

I keep reading about dissension and discord. We are a well-functioning company. The bosses have a decision to make. Sometimes people don’t agree with those decisions. So I told him, “You are always honest with the media, be honest now. Tell them what you have to tell them.” I was already onto the next decision. I told him, “You and I are fine. Answer in any way you want.” We are not always going to be on the same page. It is my job to think what is best for the family, partners and company.

Hal also said that he wants to keep Cashman beyond 2011, but that “now is not the time for that.” It would be quite hypocritical, indeed, if the Steinbrenners extended Cashman’s contract before it expired, when Cashman refuses to do so for his players.

When reading these comments, it is important to remember that Hal has every reason to say what he did. The franchise does not benefit from the perception of internal unrest. Hal’s comments are meant to smooth over what has been seen as a rough patch for the organization. Continued silence would only lead to further speculation. In that way, Hal did a good job of quieting doubters and maintaining an image of solidarity in the front office. But I’m not convinced he actually means it. Nor am I convinced that he doesn’t mean it.

This is merely the media’s nature. Sometimes we get exclusive information. Other times we get a long PR spiel. This was certainly the latter. It is nice to hear the owner of the team backing up his GM, but to take this at face value is a mistake. After all, how often do we see a GM or owner give a public vote of confidence to an employee, only to fire him within days? I do hope that Hal is sincere in his words, but experience studying the media tells me to take his comments lightly.

In his column today, Joel Sherman offers a sober look at the situation. It doesn’t make me think Hal’s comments are any more sincere, but reading it reminded me of one thing. There might be a perception of turmoil right now, but it won’t affect how the Yankees approach the season. They’re still going to look for a pitcher, whether that’s in February or it’s in June. If there is a front office issue to deal with, it will come in October or November. Which serves as a reminder that we have seven months of baseball between now and then. That’s the sweetest reminder of them all.

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Thinking about the starting five
How greatly did Burnett’s 2009 affect his 2010?
  • CS Yankee

    Picture looks like Hal telling Cashman…
    “You pull that shit again & we’ll find out who the real Ninja is”

  • Cash is good, but…

    “Hal also said that he wants to keep Cashman beyond 20111,” – Cashman’s good, but let’s not get carried away…

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    If this has become a “rough patch” during this off season than we have become a spoiled bunch of fans and media.

    The Yankees missed out on Lee, “so be it.” I wasn’t so excited about 170 million or so going out the door with all the committed big and long contracts already spoken for. This team may have been in deep do do with another long term contract.

    We have resources both in money and farm hands with a very 25 man roster. Cashman is smart and knows his way around the MLB. He’ll get what we need. In fact he’s ordered it but no one believes him. Its called patience. The dominoes will fall into place.

    • LarryM.,Fl.

      With a very good 25 man roster

    • David

      Good post. Hopefully the return of Joel Sherman writing will tone down one of the most bizzare offseasons imaginable. The fans make some kind of translation like 200M payroll = 100 wins + sure playoff domination. Then if it doesn’t look completely like that, they moan about all kinds of nonsense like Cashman’s status with the organization and even Joba.

      The reality is that the team is in great shape.

      Look at the Tampa Bay position players: C – John Jaso/Kelly Shoppach, 1B – Pena (.196 average), 2B – Sean Rodriguez, SS – Brignac, 3B – Longoria, LF – Jennings/Damon/Matt Joyce, CF – Upton, RF – Zobrist/Joyce, DH – Manny. Is this remotely comparable to the Yankees? To me, it is one great player, one or two good players, and a bunch of marginal junk.

      One would have to rank the starting pitching as better than ours, although if Andy comes back and Hellickson does not adequately replace Garza, that could change very rapidly.

      Their bullpen looks comical. Kyle Farnsworth is maybe their second best reliever. J.P. Howell could be their closer!

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

        Pena is gone, he went to the Cubs

        • David

          Good catch. Who replaces him, the immortal Dan Johnson?

  • kenthadley

    I don’t know what track record you have to doubt Hal’s sincerity with this…..who wouldn’t want to work for a boss who had no problem with your disagreeing with him and taking it public….it does nothing but say that this is a strong working relationship…if Cash wants out because he is occasionally overruled by his bosses, in spite of being really well paid and given all the tools to succeed, then he wouldn’t belong in the job in the first place….he’s already got the best deal going, and his biggest problem is some of the idiot media like Lupica and Madden, who make up most of their facts.

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

      It’s not Hal’s track record that has me doubting his sincerity. It’s the fact that he has no reason not to say this. How do the Yankees benefit from the public perception that the front office is in turmoil? They’re clearly better off if everyone thinks things are hunky dory. As I made clear, I’m not necessarily saying that Hal is being insincere here. But I am saying that we can’t take these words at face value, because his motivation to say this, and not remain silent, is clear.

      • kenthadley

        Everything I’ve read on this tells me these guys work very well together…Hal isn’t a spin master…in fact, he strikes me as extremely self confident with nothing to prove, unlike his old man….I’ve spent 30 years coaching managers on how to maximize the success of their people, and Hal’s response is dead-on….as I said, if Cash has any problems with how he’s being treated by Hal, and how his input is respected, then he’s missing the boat, and I don’t think that’s the case…his comments this winter exhibit someone who knows he’s on sound footing with the “bosses”.

  • crawdaddie

    Until Hal gives you a reason to doubt his word then I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he and his GM are on the same page.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

    I like the fact that the two approaches to Hal’s comments are laid out in the post, because it’s really up to us to believe that either this is a sincere reality check from Hal, or public spin meant to just make the “Cashman is acting out” narrative go away.

    I tend to lean towards the side of the argument that Hal is sincerely behind everything Cashman has said this winter, mostly because what he’s said has in no way been crazy or not in touch with reality. It’s only been presented in an extremely controversial way by entities either a) looking for something to write about or b) already biased and predisposed to hate everything Cashman does.

    You can definitely make the argument to the contrary, that Hal is just saying this to keep the organization from looking split. But I think there are enough sources both in the media and speaking out from the org that disagree with that sentiment to make me think it’s an untrue narrative.

  • http://www.twitter.com/cemiami Carlos Echevarria

    “Cashman’s good, but let’s not get carried away…”

    I agree with this above statement, or do I have to bring up all the off season moves after the ’09 season that tanked, big time, during the ’10 season.

    Granted, I like Cashman and his long term dedication and tenure with the club should be commended but being over ruled by your boss (bosses), on this ONE occasion (post The Boss passing/running things) is not really a big deal, in the grand scheme of things.

    Like my fellow Floridian, Larry, noted he has it pretty good in Yankees Universe, so let’s see how it plays out, we will make a move prior to July.

    Though, in my humble opinion, the team assembled, as of today, is pretty good and having competition, both internal and maybe external, for the fifth spot in the rotation is not the end of the world…LET’S GO YANKEES!!!

    Only 17 days till reporting in Tampa!!!

    • http://www.itsaboutthemoney.net Brien Jackson

      “I agree with this above statement, or do I have to bring up all the off season moves after the ’09 season that tanked, big time, during the ’10 season.”

      That’s a list of exactly one move, the Johnson signing. Other than that, by no reasonable measure did any other move they made “tank big time.”

    • Cash is good, but…

      Haha just for the record, that initial comment that “Cashman’s good, but let’s not get carried away…” was a joke because the original version of the article had a typo saying that Hal wanted to keep Cashman through 20111, not 2011. I really like Cashman and he has given me no reason to want him out.

  • Emmit Fitz-Hume

    “Reasonable men can differ in opinions”…just not members of our blogging network.

  • crawdaddie

    Let’s remember that the two media organizations that has tried to stir up the theme of trouble in the Yankee Universe are the Daily News and ESPN. Both of these media outlets have been known to have a long-standing feud with the Yankees and their sources of inside information is not nearly as good as the NY Post.

    • kenthadley

      and both ESPN and Lupica are driven by rhetoric and sensationalism, and not necessarily held accountable for having the facts

      • Billion$Bullpen

        +1

      • Zack

        ESPN is a Boston site all the way with writers like Bill Simmons,Peter Gammons (though he’s left) and Curt Schilling leading the way.
        Despite that, Lupica puts them all to shame. There’s a reason he diasabled the comment section, he knows he can dish it out but he can’t take it.

      • CS Yankee

        I would doubt almost anything from the Exclusive Sox Patroit News (ESPN) and Lupica just wants to be a victim in life…neither hold any true value.

      • David

        Absolutely true. What Lupica does is set up kind of a straw man about the Yankees, easy to knock down when everything isn’t perfect, and justified by their payroll. It was hilarious that after his typically goofy article, Sherman simply and factually destroyed his baloney.

  • steve s

    I was definitely in the camp that said Cashman was suffering from job burnout or must have a Yankee GM death wish based on his public comments this off-season but the Sherman column (which I believe is very credible) has me believing now that Cashman was simply carrying out orders (most interestingly, the Jeter stuff). Quite the eye-opener for me.

  • bonestock94

    Oh no, not the dread vote of confidence.

    • Slugger27

      Didnt work for wade phillips, did it?

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    But I’m not convinced he actually means it. Nor am I convinced that he doesn’t mean it.

    You have a future in politics!

  • Midland TX

    You generate so much good content it’s hard to keep up with it all!

    I disagree with you skepticism about Hal’s remarks but I think you’ve framed the situation fairly. Frankly if anyone in the front office were likely to be petty and grudge-bearing and fractious, my money would be on Randy Levine.