Cafardo: Rumblings that Cashman may be “a little tired” of Yankees

Via Nick Cafardo: There is speculation among rival executives that GM Brian Cashman has grown “a little tired” of the Yankees and could head elsewhere if he finds an opportunity he likes with another team. This directly contradicts what Jon Heyman reported last month, that Cashman and ownership have no interest in severing their “overwhelmingly positive longstanding relationship.”

Cashman, 46, has run the Yankees for almost 16 years now. He is under contract through next season and it is very uncommon for a team to let a high-ranking executive out of their deal for the same position with another team. A promotion? Sure. A lateral move? Doesn’t happen all that often. I suppose the team could fire Cashman this offseason if they miss the postseason, but that would really surprise me. If he was going to leave though, this is the time to do it. The big league team sorely needs to be rebuilt, the farm system has little to offer, and payroll is coming down. Not exactly the most appealing situation for Cashman or a potential replacement. Given their track records with this sort of stuff, I buy Heyman’s report more than Cafardo’s.

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On Brian Cashman and Alfonso Soriano

“I would say we are in a desperate time. Ownership wants to go for it. I didn’t want to give up a young arm [Corey Black]. But I understand the desperate need we have for offense. And Soriano will help us. The bottom line is this guy makes us better. Did ownership want him? Absolutely, yes. Does he make us better? Absolutely, yes. This is what Hal wants, and this is why we are doing it.”

That’s what Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman just days after the Yankees acquired Alfonso Soriano last month. A lot of people have taken that to mean Cashman didn’t want Soriano, but he didn’t really say that. Maybe he meant it, but he didn’t say it. He simply said he didn’t want to give up a good but not great Single-A pitching prospect for a good but not great corner outfielder. Considering the Cubs had little leverage after Soriano said he would only waive his no-trade clause to come back to the Yankees, you can argue Black was an overpay. I think it was a fair trade, but that’s just me. Maybe Cashman thought they could get him while giving up something less. That’s not unreasonable.

Now that Soriano is pretty much carrying the team offensively — or at least producing the loudest with all the homers — Cashman’s taking a ton of heat for not wanting him even though that’s not what he said. It kinda sounds like he said that though and now he looks silly. Such is life. Does that have any actual impact on the team’s performance? Maybe, but I find that hard to believe. Maybe Cashman’s ego is bruised, but who really cares about that. He’s been the GM of the New York Yankees for a long ass time; I’m pretty sure he’s learned to tune out the public perception of him and the job he’s doing. You kinda have to to survive that long.

The question I and I think a lot of people have is why? Why did Cashman go public with his disagreement with the trade? Was he simply responding to a question or was it unprovoked? Was he suggesting the Yankees stink and should focus on rebuilding rather than adding another ancient player signed through 2014? Is he just sick of being over-ruled? No one knows other than Cashman and that sucks because it leads to all sorts of speculation. We’re all guilty of it and none of it is productive. Sure is fun though.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

There is one thing I do know: Brian Cashman isn’t stupid. If you’ve listened to him talk at any point in the last like, 15 years, then you know he’s mastered the art of saying both a lot of words and nothing at all. He gives these long-winded answers and there’s nothing to them. Lots of words and no information. It’s amazing. Joe Girardi has gotten good at it as well. When Cashman does say something with actual substance, it’s because he wants to. There’s a reason he came out and said he didn’t agree with the Soriano deal trading Corey Black. There’s a message for someone in there.

An important thing — maybe the most important thing — to remember is that there are reputations involved here. What if Cashman was in trade talks with other clubs and told them Black was untouchable? It sure would look bad if he turned around and dealt him to the Cubs, wouldn’t it? That would make it tough to trust the guy in future trade conversations in my opinion. I remember a few years ago, while speaking at a WFAN charity event, Cashman said part of the reason he was so outspoken following the Rafael Soriano signing was because he had told other agents he was unwilling to go three years on a relief pitcher. He had to let those guys know hey, it wasn’t me. My bosses did it.

Cashman said he didn’t want to trade Black for Soriano for some reason. Some reason we don’t know. I don’t think he was out there thumping his chest trying to reassert his dominance over the baseball operations. He and the Steinbrenners reportedly have a great relationship and that’s the most important thing. That he’s not a simple “yes man” and is voicing his displeasure is a good thing (to some extent) even if comes off as unprofessional. A bunch of guys sitting around a table agreeing with each other is no way to build a baseball team. There has to be different voices. Cashman has been more outspoken these last few years — I find it really refreshing because he’s snarky and often brutally honest — and I think all of it is calculated. He’s not doing this for fun. There’s a method to Cashman’s madness.

Heyman: Mariners requested to interview Cashman for GM opening in ’08

Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees used their contractual right to decline the Mariners permission to interview Brian Cashman for their GM vacancy back in 2008. Seattle eventually settled on Jack Zduriencik. “I’m a fan of Brian Cashman. We’re both Kentucky guys. He’s an astute baseball man, and I like him very much,” said Mariners president Chuck Armstrong.

Despite some very public disagreements, Heyman says Cashman and team ownership have no interest in severing an “overwhelmingly positive longstanding relationship.” Cashman is under contract through next year and reportedly does not want to leave New York, plus an official told Heyman his job is “secure.” I still think Cashman winds up being promoted to some other position (President of Baseball Operations?) after next season with assistant Billy Eppler taking over as GM. I feel like that transition has been in the works for a while now.

Mailbag: Soriano, A-Rod, Pineda, Jeter, Cashman

Five whole questions for you today. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

Soriano was a great Yankee. But A-Rod was better. (AP)
Soriano was a great Yankee. But A-Rod was better. (AP)

Nathan: Looking at their stats since the trade, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano aren’t too far apart. In retrospect, would you still have made that trade? A-Rod has the better stats but has been the bigger headache.

First, the side-by-side comparison (2004-present):

G AVG OBP SLG wRC+ HR SB K% BB% fWAR bWAR
A-Rod 1249 0.292 0.387 0.538 143 302 141 18.9% 12.0% 48.9 52.0
Soriano 1354 0.268 0.321 0.504 110 292 159 21.4% 6.5% 28.1 17.7

A-Rod was the far better player because he was a better hitter and a better defender at a tougher position. Does the headache, which really only became truly insufferable these last few weeks (at least to me), outweigh the production? I definitely don’t think so. The Rodriguez-Soriano trade worked out marvelously for the Yankees. It’s the new ten-year contract they gave Alex after 2007 that has been mostly a nightmare. The 2009 World Series does still counts for something.

Bruce asks: Why is Michael Pineda still only throwing four innings a start?

The Yankees say it’s “innings management,” and it makes sense they would try to limit his workload following shoulder surgery. He did throw six full innings in his third minor league rehab game (with Double-A Trenton), but since reaching Triple-A Scranton he has yet to throw more than five innings and 86 pitches. The last two starts have been limited to three innings (41 pitches) and four innings (58 pitches).

Pineda has thrown 39 innings in nine official minor league games this year. That doesn’t count all the simulated and Extended Spring Training games though, and there were a ton of those as you probably remember. I’m guessing they want to limit him to about 100 innings or so (hooray round numbers!) this season, and want to make sure there are some left for the big league team in September. Pineda’s has already been down long enough to delay his free agency a year, so that’s not a concern. I prefer flat out skipping starts to short starts to control innings, but the Yankees obviously feel differently. I’m sure Pineda will be allowed to start pitching deeper into the game in the coming weeks.

Sal asks: Based on the way Derek Jeter‘s Yankee Lifelong Legend Legacy is going, and with all kinds of earning potential out there for him even after he retires (corporate sponsorships and maybe even buying a stake in the Yankees), do you think he can end up with more lifetime earnings from the game of baseball than, uh, you know where I’m going with this … Alex?

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

According to Baseball-Reference, A-Rod is baseball’s all-time career earnings leader at $353.4M. Jeter is second at … $253.2M. That’s a nine-figure gap between first and second place. Geez. Keep in mind that Alex still has four years and $86M left on his contract after this season while the Cap’n just has a $9M player option for 2014. Given what feels like an inevitable Biogenesis-related suspension, A-Rod probably won’t see all of that $86M. He’ll probably still get a nice chunk of it though, so the career earnings gap will only widen.

I am completely out of my element when it comes to sponsorships and ownership stakes; I have no idea how lucrative that stuff can be outside of “very.” Forbes has Jeter at $9M in endorsements (Nike, Ford, Gillette, etc.) this year and A-Rod at just $0.5M. We’ve seen him in ads for Nike and Pepsi, among other stuff, in the past. I have to think Alex’s endorsements well will dry up following the Biogenesis stuff, but will that be enough to allow Jeter to pass him in career earnings over the time? It’s possible, especially if he does wind up purchasing a stake in the team, but he’s got a ton of ground to make up.

Mike asks: Does the Yankees being in 4th place make the waiver market at least slightly more favorite than in years past? Seems like there has been times where another team behind them was able to block a player from getting to them, now will they have easier access to players they want and can they now block players from getting to Boston, Tampa, or Baltimore?

Sure, being this low in the standings will definitely help the Yankees on the waiver trade market. Of course, I wish the team was higher in the standings and didn’t need the players, but that’s not the case. The Yankees have waiver priority over all of their wildcard competitors (Orioles, Indians, Rangers, Royals), meaning they’ll get first crack at whoever is on waivers. That means they can both block players and trade for them, if they want. It’s a nice consolation prize and could be helpful at some point.

Shaun asks: It may be to early to speculate, but do you see ownership’s trend of going above Brian Cashman being a problem with Cashman’s next contract? I know autonomy was a big deal to him during previous negotiations. If anything, ownership is making it more difficult to get under the $189 threshold.

Eh, I doubt it. Cashman knows how the Steinbrenner’s operate, and I believe even he said there is no such thing as true autonomy at the GM level. Besides, he signed his most recent contract after the Rafael Soriano signing. Hal is much less meddlesome than his father, though I suppose Cashman could be sick of it after 15 (!) years on the job. Ownership has gone over his head quite a bit these last few years, but it would surprise me if that was a big problem for him going forward.

That said, I do think this is Cashman’s last contract as Yankees GM. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. His current deal expires after next season, at which point I think he will be promoted to some other position. The “President of Baseball Ops” position the Cubs made up for Theo Epstein sounds nice. The Nationals just promoted GM Mike Rizzo to that just yesterday, so it’s already a trend. Cashman will have been the GM for 16 years when his deal is up, and a promotion is the natural order of things at that point. It appears as though former pro scouting director and current assistant GM Billy Eppler is being groomed to take over sometime soon, or at least he’s the only obvious in-house successor. I would be surprised if the Yankees brought in a new GM from the outside and threw them to the wolves. Experience and familiarity with the New York market would be a prerequisite.

Update: Cashman confirms Yankees hope to re-sign Girardi

June 3rd: Cashman confirmed to Ian O’Connor that the team does indeed want to re-sign Girardi. “We’d like to have Joe Girardi back … We have a great interest in keeping him, and hopefully Joe will be here. I think there’s really no reason to believe Joe won’t be here,” said the GM to no one’s surprise.

May 18th: Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees have not yet had contract extension talks with either Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman. Cashman is under contract through 2014, so that’s no big deal, but Girardi’s deal expires after this season.

The Yankees do not negotiate new contracts until the current one expires thanks to their archaic team policy, and right now I have no reason to believe they won’t try to bring Girardi back after the season. The team is far exceeding post-injury expectations and the credit for that deservingly goes to the manager. If Girardi doesn’t return, my guess it will be his decision — wants a new challenge, another club makes a huge offer, burnout, etc. — and not the team’s.

ESPN’s Sunday Conversation with Brian Cashman

Brian Cashman sat down for a chat with Buster Olney for ESPN’s Sunday Conversation recently, and the two discussed a number of topics including the idea of buying World Series titles, Alex Rodriguez‘s contract, and Robinson Cano‘s inevitable contract. Part of the interview can be seen above, but the entire thing will air later tonight, so check it out.

Brian Cashman interview with Index Universe

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)