Brian Cashman interview with Index Universe

Friday Night Open Thread
Must-Click Link: Mark Teixeira on the declining & overpaid Mark Teixeira

Yankees GM Brian Cashman will be a featured speaker at a finance conference next month, and in advance of the conference he conducted an interview with Index Universe. There are a lot of analogies made between baseball and investing and other finance topics, but Cashman does talk about the team’s statistical analysis department, why they are conservative when it comes to Japanese pitchers, undervalued assets, his worst mistakes, all sorts of stuff. The interview gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation, so make sure you check it out. (h/t SG)

Friday Night Open Thread
Must-Click Link: Mark Teixeira on the declining & overpaid Mark Teixeira
  • Youkales’ Mispelled Name

    Cashman has always struck me as a very smart man. The guy has an incredibly hard job balancing competing priorities of a hard-to-please fanbase, owners that are extremely demanding, putting together a championship caliber team in the toughest division in baseball, now while quickly slashing payroll.

    Very tough job, I sometimes don’t think the guy gets enough credit.

    • OldYanksFan

      I agree 100%!
      I often say it’s not fair to compare Cashman to other GMs, because most GMs would be thrilled with 3 PS appearances a decade, and hopefully one WS win.

      The Red Sox may be a bit of an exception, but look where spending big money got them. They were very lucky to get out from under.

      Anyway, Cashman has a different mandate then the rest. And we should not forget the CBA could be renamed ‘How to Slow Down the Yankees’. Cashman deals with issues that no other GM faces.

      Cashman said they now have FOURTEEN employees doing statistical analysis. That’s pretty amazing.

      As an aside, I read an article on why H&H re-signed ARod to that nutzo contract. Yes… the HR chase was a part of it. But the author believed that the Steinettes felt they needed a star (and a controversial one didn’t hurt) to sell the $1,000+ seats at the new stadium.

      And that makes sense. Real fans aren’t paying that, but will still go to games in the ‘cheap seats’. The expensive seats are marketed to non-fans… basically corporate interests that buy the seats to entertain themselves/their clients.

      And even the non-Fan knows of ARod.
      The Yankees needed a big-name entertainer… and they got one.

  • moose14

    moose here, second time long time, very enjoyable site, thank you. Michael do you seriously think the front office had no idea Clemens, Giambi and Rodriguez were involved with PED’s prior to them being signed? Personally I think they knew but just didn’t care as long as the results were there, especially Re: Clemens and Giambi. And there is a very good chance Rodriguez has never played clean, Selena Roberts cleared that up

  • ClusterDuck

    Interesting items from the interview.

    He says the GM and not the manager identifies the player’s roles.

    He said his philosophy comes from Gene Michael (and Earl Weaver).

    He regrets giving up on Mike Lowell.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    Thought it was interesting to note that Cashman specifically pointed out Schierholtz as a nice pickup for the Cubs. Perhaps the Yankees tried to get him and he didn’t want to join, or perhaps there was something the Yankees saw that made him a nice pickup for the Cubs, but not for the Yankees. With the little knowledge I have of him (obviously quite a bit less than the Yankee Front Office), I would have preferred him to Ichiro.

    • dfghj

      The Yanks tried, but Cubs offered more playing time.

    • Mike Axisa

      The Yankees made him an offer…

      …but he signed with the Cubs instead. I assume because they offer him a much greater chance to play regularly.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        I’m sure I read that, but the memory just isn’t what it used to be. Thanks for reminding me, Mike.

    • RetroRob

      Cashman indirectly addressed Schierholtz in the article, noting the market was thin, and players opted to go to teams where they might get more playing time than on the Yankees. Considering the remarks he made about the Cubs and Schierholtz, it’s not hard to connect the dots on that one.

  • TomH

    Cash says (1) “George Steinbrenner set the bar so high: a world championship or nothing.” And (2): “Bud Selig needs to be congratulated. He has equalized the playing field in many respects.

    On #1: This is true–up to a point. That “point” is the dark period after The Fall (1965), those 11 years when it seemed, to many of us who followed it, that the team was permitted to drift.

    However, if you followed the NYY in the 1950s and early 60s, you know that an annual WS appearance was as much a goal as in the Boss’s era. My father, who, as a kid, was old enough to see the Yankees in the 1920s. As an A’s fan, he was also in the first generation of Yankee-haters. According to him, Yankee fans of the period ca 1920-1948 expected, as a kind of entitlement, to get to the Series every year. There seemed a kind of symmetry of expectation, Front Office : fan base. Victory or Death. Ed Barrow and, later, George Weiss, were savagely competitive.

    For me, the jury is still out on what Hal Steinbrenner expects. Lower expectations will surely outrage a “spoiled” fan base for a while (who knows exactly how long?); but eventually obituaries and chronic disappointment work their merciless effect, and fan expectations slowly decline.

    A good example is the Philadelphia A’s fan base, after Mack sold off that fantastic team of 1929-31. By the post-war years, it’s likely that most A’s fans never expected them to get too far. When, in 1950, their rivals, the Phils went to the Series, the city was deliriously, embarrassingly (to Yankee fans) happy.

    On #2, the congratulations to Selig. We ought to consider some time to what extent, if any, the progressive “leveling” of the field, if that be what’s occurring, begins to return the game to a situation somewhat akin to what prevailed during the days of the “reserve clause.” I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable about all these Seligean changes to take up that question in anything but a half-assed way. Still, as owners tie up people long-term and take them out of the FA market, and as contracts and other regulations restrict the kind of freedom offered to the Yankees for so long by George’s Open Purse Policy, it sometimes seems to me that we’re regressing a bit.

    IFF that’s the case, it raises also the question of Being Smart in new, post-Free Agent ways. When you couldn’t expect to hire Stan Musial to New York when his contract expired, you surely had to be smart in other ways to remain committed to annual runs at the AL Pennant. Barrow and Weiss (with the help of the Colonel and those later guys) also relied on dough to do this. (So did Busch in St. Louis and Yawkey in Boston.) There may be some lessons in those Old Days for the oncoming days. Maybe.

    • TomH

      A P.S.: George Weiss reached the limits of his smarts when he refused for so long to hire African-American ballplayers. The Yankees spent much time in Purgatory for that sin.

      • RetroRob

        The Yankees win-it-all approach predates Weiss. It really was Jacob Ruppert, who turned the mediocre Highlanders into the dynastic Bronx Bombers. It’s Ruppert’s DNA that has operated the Yankees for nearly 100 years. It was Ruppert who even hired Weiss with directions to greatly expand the farm system so the Yankees could use their financial power to find and sign the best players.

        Interestingly, Weiss took over operations of the Yankees in 1947, the year the color barrier was broken. The team’s continued success allowed him to ignore the new talent pool of black players, yet by doing so he went against Ruppert’s plan and his plan on how to keep the Yankees on top: sign the best talent available. Yet he passed on Aaron, Mays, Robinson, etc. The Yankees could have had them all because they were the Yankees. That, coupled with CBS eventual purchase of the team and the introduction of the player’s draft were the one, two, three punches that took the Yankees down, where they’d stay until the arrival of George, who once again set out to have the Yankees use their financial advantage to stay on top. I sure hope Hal understands history as well as he does numbers.

        As for Cashman, his job is much more challenging that George Weiss’s ever was. The Yankees run since the mid-90s, averaging 97 wins a year, is in many ways is as impressive, if not more so, than any in the Yankees history.

    • kenthadley

      Nice job Tom. Yanks used their leverage in the “old days” by focusing on minor league talent, and having so much more invested in that level that they could make multi prospect trades for key players, and still be able to keep the key talent they needed. This is where they are different today. The system just doesn’t provide enough talent to do both. Maybe the goal is to get there, but they aren’t at that point yet. When you look at baseball in the 50’s, you see Yankee prospects all over the league, yet the team was wildly successful. They need to be able to do both.

    • Steve (different one)

      This is true, but there were also many fewer teams and fewer playoff rounds.

      Simple math just makes those days an impossible standard.

  • Youkales’ Mispelled Name

    On a completely and totally unrelated note, via MLBTradeRumors:

    Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira knows that fans see his eight-year, $180MM contract as an overpay, and he doesn’t disagree, writes Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal. “Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it,” the 33-year-old said. “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20MM. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent, I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20MM contract.”

    Holy awesome honesty, Batman.

    • Sam

      Tex is a decent human being.

  • Ted Nelson

    Interesting read. He’s not perfect, but I think Cashman is a heck of a GM.

  • Sam

    Cashman gets the perils of long term contracts, but we’ll have to see if the Yankees have learned their lesson when it comes to Cano.

    The MLBPA seems to be wielding a fair amount of power often with a ‘not always positive’ effect. If any Yankees aren’t thrilled with a not being as strong as a WS contender due to revenue sharing and the CBT, they need only recall both were MLBPA preferences over a salary cap.

    Also, no doubt there are non-juicing players frustrated with A Rod and the PED situation in general, but they approved of the current approach through the MLBPA. At what point do the players recognize some of their disappointments are self-inflicted?

    • RetroRob

      What lesson is that? Never sign free agents? The lesson of relentless winning? If the Yankees cease to sign free agents then they will collapse.

      Free agents are part of their success, a big part of it for a generation plus now, and they should continue to do so. The Yankees understand decline years and that free agent players cost more than young players. It’s a product of the CBA.

      What they should ignore, and I assume it’s what you mean, is signing a player to a ten-year deal when he’s already in his 30s, especially now in an age of even greated PED testing. I do not want Cano back on a ten-year deal. Yet it’s going to take more than five years. It’s that gap between that can be the killer.

    • Ted Nelson

      There are perils of l-t contracts, but there are also perils of letting extremely productive players in their prime years walk. It’s a bit of a balancing act.

      In all likelihood a salary cap would be much worse for us as Yankees’ fans. They prefer these options to a salary cap because they believe that teams will spend more money under this scenario. If you want the Yankees to spend more money, these are probably better options. Given what most MLB teams spend, I can’t imagine that a cap would be above, say, $150 million.