Archive for Brian Cashman
Buster Olney spoke to executives from around the league recently (Insider req’d), and the feeling is that this season will be Brian Cashman‘s last as Yankees GM. “I think maybe he’s finally had it,” said one GM. “That’s a job that will take a lot out of you.” “I don’t think he has any idea how different his life would be if he wasn’t general manager of the Yankees,” said said another exec.
Cashman said yesterday that’s he’s not worried about his future, only that he doesn’t intend to talk about a new deal until after the season, per team mandate. Olney says it’s the uncharacteristic honesty that has him thinking Cashman’s ready to leave, echoing what I said last week. He also reminds us that it appeared as if Cashman was going to leave on three other occasions, only to return at the behest of the Steinbrenners. I think it’s 50-50 that he stays, the lowest odds I’ve ever given these situations.
As the 2011 season marches along, there’s one gigantic elephant in the room that everyone’s trying to forget about for the time being: CC Sabathia‘s opt-out clause. The Yankees’ ace can skip out on the final four years and $90-something million dollars left on his contract after the season and hit the free agent market in search of greener pastures. Sabathia will be the best freely available pitcher by a mile, and the Yankees desperately need him to stick around.
Brian Cashman said yesterday that the team will not discuss a new contract with Sabathia during the season despite some obvious reasons why they probably should. This is not news though. The Yankees have a long-standing policy of not talking contracts until the current one expires, regardless of the player’s status or importance to the team. In fairness, Cashman also stuck to the rule three years ago, when his contract expired and he didn’t pursue some kind of extension beforehand. Barring a complete catastrophe, Sabathia will opt out because it’s the smartest move he could possible make.
On the open market, CC is going to have a lot of leverage against the Yankees, and I mean a lot. An unprecedented amount, even. But the Bombers won’t be completely handcuffed because only a limited number of teams can afford to give Sabathia the monster contract he’ll be seeking, and at the end of the day absolutely no one can offer him more than New York. Sabathia has also said “I’m not going anywhere” while noting that he lives in the area year-round and that his kids go to school here. That’s just a clever way of not saying he won’t use the opt out though. So if/when he does bail on the rest of his contract, CC’s choices will be a) come back to the Yankees on a new deal that will pay him handsomely, or b) take less money elsewhere and uproot his family for the second time in three or so years. And be hated by Yankees fans for basically the rest of eternity.
In other contract non-news, Hal Steinbrenner refused to commit to Cashman beyond this season, simply saying that the higher-ups will base the decision on more than just the team’s performance this year. Cashman responded by saying nothing, almost literally: “Nothing to respond to.” His latest three-year contract is up, and although he was more candid than expected this past winter, he and the Steinbrenners still have a strong working relationship.
The Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy, but I think Cashman’s will be messier. I figure CC will return after using Cliff Lee’s contract with Philadelphia (six years, $150M) as a starting point in negotiations (he’s got a much longer track record and will still be younger this winter than Lee was this past offseason). Maybe he’ll make all our hopes and dreams come true and decide not to use the opt out, but I would be stunned if that happened. Cashman has some leverage over ownership given the way they went over his head for Rafael Soriano and with Derek Jeter‘s contract, plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available. These decisions won’t have to made for a few months, but ever so often reminders like this will pop up.
You might not recognize the man pictured to the right. Two and a half decades after this snapshot, he hardly looks like the same person. Were he to wear a baseball cap, there wouldn’t be any hair protruding. He also wouldn’t be wearing a uniform, since his current job is more administrative. The only familiar aspect, really, is the same haven’t-slept-in-weeks look. Yes, the man to the right is Brian Cashman, from his ball playing days at Catholic University of America.
At CUA’s campus newspaper, The Tower, Douglas K. Barclay reminisces on Cashman’s time at the university. While he is often chided for not being a baseball guy — he never played professionally at any level — Cashman’s decision to attend Catholic was centered solely on baseball. “The Catholic decision…was pure baseball,” he said.
Really, this post is just an excuse to display an image of Cashman that might catch people off-guard. It’s certainly not how we’re used to seeing him. But make sure you read the entire article. It’s a quick one, and it provides us with a little more insight about the man making the decisions for the Yankees.
Do general managers react to contract years in the same way as players? While the effect doesn’t apply to every player — see Andruw Jones‘s contract year in 2007 — Dayn Perry, writing in Baseball Between the Numbers, found that there is a small, but statistically significant, uptick in player performance when a free agent contract is on the line. Maybe that’s why the Yankees have a policy of not negotiating new contracts until the old ones expires. That policy applies to players, coaches, and executives alike. As such, Brian Cashman is headed into a contract season.
If we’re to believe Cashman’s peers and bosses atop the Yankees organization, this will not be an issue. They love Cashman and want him back. Cashman, by most indications, enjoys his position. In that way, I’m not sure that his impending free agency means much. The Yankees have been down this road before, and despite a poor 2008 season the team eagerly re-upped with Cashman. Now, three years and a World Series title later, I expect much of the same. The situation might change if the Yankees miss the playoffs, but given recent history I’m not sure about that.
It is fitting, though, that Cashman’s toughest season will come in a contract year. The Yankees have made some depth moves to help shore up the rotation, but at some point they’re going to need someone better than Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon, or perhaps even Ivan Nova, pitching in the rotation. That’s how competitive the AL East has become. It’s not enough to have just a solid rotation. The Yankees need to go above and beyond. They tried this winter, but were snubbed despite having made the best offer. Now Cashman has to get creative in order to upgrade. Money alone won’t get it done this time.
Maybe the Yankees’ brass is just making overtures to feign a sense of stability. Maybe Cashman really does pine to run a franchise where his moves aren’t downplayed because of his deep pockets. If one is true, the Yankees will be searching for a new GM this fall. But given most indications, the Yankees like Cashman. They did, after all, re-sign him after the team failed to make the playoffs in 2008. From Cashman’s angle, he hasn’t worked for another company his entire adult life. His family is settled in the area, and he wields more power than other GMs. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s still a pretty good bet that Cashman’s back for 2012 and beyond.
One of the more exciting aspects to the offseason has been the emergence of Manny Banuelos as one of the game’s premier pitching prospects. Last week he debuted nationally, giving everyone but fans in the tri-state area the opportunity to get a good look at him. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein put together a significant writeup of Banuelos. Ultimately he concluded that Banuelos’ stuff was MLB-ready, but that Banuelos wasn’t ready from an innings and durability standpoint to handle the major leagues. He then concluded his article with a rather odd dig at the approach of Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ front office to the offseason:
In the end, the question of Banuelos’ readiness is less about the prospect and more about the failures of the Yankees to shore up their rotation in the offseason by putting all their eggs in the baskets of Cliff Lee and the anticipated return of Andy Pettitte. “If A.J. Burnett is their number five starter, everyone is happy in Yankees land,” said the National League executive. “If they signed Lee; if Pettitte came back, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Just because the Yankees [screwed] up this off-season doesn’t mean they should sacrifice this kid in the process.”
This is a criticism of Cashman has been bandied about frequently since Pettitte retired. Yet the question remains: what exactly would these critics have liked Cashman to do differently? Did the Yankees really screw up this off-season? It’s true that there were plenty of pitchers available in the free agent and trade markets this winter. So did Cashman err by not landing them? Let’s review, keeping in mind that Lee signed with the Phillies on December 15, 2010.
Ted Lilly: A perpetually underrated fly-ball lefty, Lilly signed a big extension with the Dodgers on 10/16/10. The Yankees never had a chance.
Hiroki Kuroda: Another personal favorite, Kuroda never actually hit the free agent market either. He resigned with the Dodgers on 11/15/10 during the Dodgers’ exclusive negotiating window prior to free agency. When he signed, he said he didn’t need to listen to any other offers once the Dodgers told him they wanted him back.
Jorge De La Rosa: Signed with the Rockies for 2 years and $21.5M with a player option for $11M on 12/3/10. His strikeout rates have always been intriguing, but one could justifiably be concerned about how his career 4.5 BB/9 would play in the AL East. Like Lilly and Kuroda, De La Rosa signed before Lee chose the Phillies.
Shaun Marcum: The Blue Jays traded Marcum to the Brewers on 12/5/10 in exchange for infielder Brett Lawrie. Marcum is currently shut down with shoulder tightness and has never thrown more than 159 innings in a single year.
Aaron Harang: Coming off several poor years, Harang signed a low-money contract with the Padres on 12/6/10.
These are the pitchers whom the Yankees missed out on by waiting on Cliff Lee. Of these, only Marcum could have possibly been a decent upgrade for the Yankee rotation (since Lilly and Kuroda never actually hit the free agent market). However, there are justifiable concerns about his injury history and durability, not to mention the fact that it hardly made sense for Cashman to acquire a starter by trade while he was waiting on Lee and Pettitte to decide.
After Lee signed with Philadelphia, spurning New York for a younger team (ahem), there were really only two pitchers Cashman could have acquired: Zack Greinke and Carl Pavano. Cashman pursued Pavano, going as far as to make him a significant offer for one year. Pavano rejected it. As for Greinke, Cashman met with him and even listened to Greinke make an appeal for Cashman to acquire him, but he ultimately decided against it. Of all the options, is really the only decision with which one could quarrel. Yet this is why you pay your GM the big bucks. He’s responsible for weighing the performance risk of the potential target (which he judged to be high) against the cost of acquiring the target (which we know to be high).
Ultimately it made sense for Cashman to wait on Lee and Pettitte despite the risk that neither of them would be donning the Yankee pinstripes this season. He really had no other choice to go all-in on these two pitchers. Was he supposed to fill his starting pitcher slot with the Kevin Correias and Jorge De La Rosas of the league while Lee and Pettitte were still out there? What happens if Lee and Pettitte both want to join the club? The risk of wasting a roster slot with a subpar pitcher was not worth forgoing the potential payoff of a rotation of Sabathia, Lee, Hughes, Pettitte and Burnett.
The alleged “screw-up” of the Yankee front office this season is more a function of things out of Cashman’s control: the timing of the trades, the timing of Lee and Pettitte’s decisions, and the relatively bare starting pitching market. One is certainly entitled to second-guess the front office, but aside from disagreeing with Cashman on whether Greinke would be a good fit in New York the criticism seems unfounded. As unenthusiastic as fans are about the prospect of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the Yankees rotation to start the year, there wasn’t a whole lot Cashman could do otherwise to prevent it. Sometimes things just don’t go your way.
I bailed on the mailbag last week for no good reason, but I’ll make up for it today with a bunch of questions and some shorter, punchier answers. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any questions throughout the week.
eyerishyank asks: Got into a twitter battle today with Tommy Dee of the Knicks blog about Beltran vs Bernie and who is the better player, could make for an interesting blog entry. I think it is Bernie, though defense and baserunning goes to Beltran. Can we quantify Beltran’s decline? Can we measure Bernie’s championships? I think Sabermetricians may go the way of Beltran and “old school” may go Bernie.
Carlos Beltran’s a better player, but that’s not a knock on Bernie Williams. They have identical .371 wOBA‘s for their careers, although Beltran was power while Bernie was batting average and on-base percentage. The difference is in the stolen base department, where Beltran’s 88.1% success rate is the best in baseball history (239 SB, just 39 CS), and on defense. Bernie’s got himself a bunch of Gold Gloves, but Beltran slaughters him in both CF UZR (+32.4 to -90.8) and John Dewan’s +/- system (+59 to -61).
I hesitate to give Bernie credit for the titles because that’s a team thing, and although he certainly contributed to the cause, it’s wrong to punish Beltran for his sucky Royals teammates for all those years. If you want to compare postseason stats, then Bernie hit .275/.371/.480 (545 PA) in October, Beltran .366/.485/.817 (101 PA). Yeah. Their career arcs are similar, right down to the decline at age 32-33, but when you have two players with similar offensive ability, the guy with the crazy stolen base rate and brilliant defense wins.
Evan asks: With Soriano set to be the primary setup guy, if there is any overlap in batters that he and Mo would both face, is it possible that the batters that faced Soriano’s cutter would be better equipped to deal with Mo’s? Could there be a noticeable negative effect in Mo’s performance this coming season as a result?
I don’t think so. Theoretically they won’t be facing the same batters in the same game, unless something bad happens along the way. Batters see fastball after fastball at-bat after at-bat, game after game, season after season, and I suspect that as long as Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera aren’t leaving their cutter in the happy zone, they’ll be perfectly fine. Would we ask the same question about a curveball or changeup?
Daniel asks: Does it seem strange to anyone else how many interviews Cashman has done this offseason? Feel its a little out of the ordinary. Could it be that maybe he is advertising himself for a new job next season? No matter what the reason I’m sure there is some strategy to it. What do you think?
It seems odd but I think it’s just a coincidence more than anything. They had the Soriano press conference, then he was doing the WFAN breakfast, then it was the Foley’s thing, then today it’ll be Andy Pettitte‘s presser, all one right after the other. I don’t think there’s much to it, other teams won’t hire him based on what he says to the media.
Pounder asks: Just wondering, what if Jorge is floundering, or is in some other way unhappy with his situation come July, would he be open for a mid year trade?
Can’t see it. And besides, if he’s floundering, he’s untradeable with that contract. The Yankees would have to eat a ton of his salary, and in that case I just say keep him and hope he rebounds late in the year.
Tucker asks: I know you have already discussed Ben Sheets, but assuming Pettitte doesn’t come back and with how thin the market is right now, could he start to become a more intriguing target? It seems like at the right price, he could become the epitome of low-risk, high-reward.
Obviously this question was sent in before the andy Pettitte news broke. Anyway, Sheets had Tommy John surgery late last year and is out until August at the earliest. Considering that it usually takes guys 18 months or so to get their old command back, he probably won’t be ready and effective until Opening Day 2012. I’d pass unless he’s willing to play for dirt cheap, though I suspect he just won’t be ready in time to make a meaningful contribution.
Sheepmeister asks: Do you think Orlando Cabrera or David Eckstein would be worth looking at for the utility inf position at a cheap price?
Nope, both are just names. Cabrera hasn’t topped a .316 wOBA in any of the last three years, and he’s never played a position other than shortstop in the big leagues. Eckstein is slightly worse, topping out at .313 wOBA over the last three years (.296 over the last two years) and being relegated to second base because he literally can’t make the throw from shortstop anymore. I have little faith in Eduardo Nunez, but seriously, he could outperform these two next year.
Michael asks: How did you guys start this blog/know each other and how did you get in on the YES Network.com?
Before RAB, the three of us were blogging at our own sites scattered across the web. I knew who Ben and Joe were but we weren’t anything more than casual acquaintances, exchanging the occasional email. Eventually we all ended up writing at the now defunct MVP, me on the minor league side and them on the big league side, and then one day I got an email from Ben saying the he and Joe were starting a site and asking if I wanted to come along. The rest, as they say, is history.
As far as YES, then contacted us about two years ago about a potential partnership, and it was a pretty easy decision on our part to tag along. That’s pretty much it, they link to our stuff from time to time and we retain full editorial control of the site. We wouldn’t have partnered up without that last part.
The past few months have not been the most kind to Brian Cashman. After watching the Yanks get dispatched in the ALCS by the Rangers, he was powerless to stop his his prime off-season target from heading back to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, he took gruff from the unscrupulous among us for his charity work which included scaling a building in December and tending bar in Midtown for three hours last week and heat for putting together a “Best of the Early 2000s” slate of back-end rotation candidates.
Meanwhile, as Andy Pettitte stews — and in a certain sense, holds the short-term fate of a few key organizational cogs in his hands — Cashman has had to defend himself from New York columnists as well. Bill Madden’s baseless speculation that Cashman wanted to test his hand at team-building with a budget earned a sharp rebuke from the Yanks’ GM who denied the entire story.
Lately, then, the Yankees owners have taken to publicly defending the team official often viewed as the ultimate scapegoat in New York. Anything that goes wrong is Cashman’s fault, and anything that goes right is a result of the Yanks’ fiscal might.
A few hours ago, MLB.com’s Peter Gammons issued a different take on Cashman and his role with the Yanks. As Gammons sees it, Cashman isn’t a divisive figure in the club’s hierarchy. Rather, he is the calming influence amidst a Front Office. He writes:
Hal is private, and we all think he is tough. He also knows what his father once told me, that, in the end, Brian will do what’s in the Yankees’ best interest, not just his own. Cashman proved it in 2005 when his contract was up and, in the best long-term interest of the organization, would not do a back-page cosmetic deal in the pennant race. He proved it again in 2006 when the Yankees lost in the playoffs to the Tigers, when George Steinbrenner and Levine wanted to fire Joe Torre and were well down the line toward hiring Lou Piniella, and Cashman stood his ground, talked his bosses off the ledge and saved Torre’s job…
When Hal Steinbrenner admitted to Sherman that he orchestrated part of Cashman’s response in the Jeter negotiations, it was evident that even with Levine’s occasional imitation of the organ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there is a sense of stability around the Yankees that will remain in place as long as Cashman is in charge of the baseball operations.
It is also very clear that if Cashman were to leave, Hal Steinbrenner can see the rush for power that would take place below him, which, with the contracts for some of their older players outstanding, might send the Yankees into the kind of chaos Cashman has been able to avoid. Had Torre been fired in 2006, would the Yankees have won a World Series championship three years later? My point, precisely.
As the Hot Stove League has worn on, Cashman has opened his mouth more frequently than ever before this year. Some of that is in response to his critics, and some of his comments have been about the need to keep the organization focused on its player development path. It makes reporters used to silence from the normally tight-lipped GM uncomfortable, but it’s not a sign of his weariness of being a Yankee. After all, it’s the only organization and work place he has ever known.
I don’t think Brian Cashman is the best GM out there. I’ve been critical of his bench-building skills, and I find that he doesn’t use the Yanks’ financial might to improve the team around the edges. The signings of Andruw Jones and, to a lesser extent, Russell Martin could change that this year, and the bullpen certainly won’t suffer from having Rafael Soriano around. Right now, though, Cashman’s the best guy for the job, and as long as he wants to stay, I believe Hal Steinbrenner will keep him.
*Mike summed up some of his own frustrations about the response to the Yankees’ offseason last week. I thought I’d be more specific.
It’s been a pretty lame offseason for the Yankees so far. We’ve missed the guys we want. We ended up signing some players that may or may be good choices for the team. Our minor league signings are taking heat. Our pitching rotation is questionable. Our sluggers are aging. Our GM is raising money for prostate cancer.
I can’t remember the last time I heard Brian Cashman take this much heat (2008?). Every single thing that Cashman has done this winter has been criticized by someone somewhere. I would not be surprised if John Q. Obnoxious Fan woke up yesterday and said, “God, what nerve does Cashman have, making coffee for himself?” At times, it seems the man can do nothing right. If I was Brian Cashman, I’d be more than frustrated with that part of the Yankees fanbase. I think it was perfectly legitimate for him to air some of those grievances to Ken Rosenthal: “Why are people bitching so much? That’s my question. That’s my frustration.” Rest assured, Cash, I would have had much stronger words with a fanbase like this one if I was you.
It’s not that Cashman hasn’t made bad moves in the past. He has. He is not perfect. What gets my goat, though, is how much stuff he gets blamed for that is absolutely out of his control, or the things that are totally irrelevant.
For example, this whole Cliff Lee business. During the negotiations, and even slightly after, it was hard to pin the tail on exactly who’s fault it was, which obviously meant it was Cashman’s fault. Never mind that same group hating on him would have most likely also lambasted the man for offering a 32-year-old starter (with an injury history!) a seven- or eight-year contract. Never mind that Lee made it obvious afterwards that he wanted to sign with the Phillies. Never mind the Yankees offered him more money. It is obviously Cashman’s responsibility to whip out his mind control device and convince players who aren’t interested to sign with the team. Duh. We all know the Yankees have a mind control device Cashman just wasn’t interested in using because Gene Michael used it to convince Greg Maddux to sign in 1992. Wait, no he didn’t.
Another thing- do people expect Cashman to open his closet and have a fifth starter who passes the Better Than Mitre test just fall out? He knows the rotation is a problem. I’m sure he has looked at all the different options for that problematic spot. But at this point, there’s nothing he can do. Sure, he could sign Millwood or Garcia or Duchscherer to an unreasonable contract, but he’d certainly get criticized for that. Sure, he could trade our well-grown farm system, but he’d certainly get criticized at for that too. And the fact is, those moves aren’t smart ones. Why would he do them? Why would a fan of the team, a person who wants the team to improve, suggest that we make a stupid move just for the sake of making a move? The Yankees are not the Angels. We do not need a Vernon Wells-type thing going on here.
What grinds my gears the most is how I’ve seen and heard people get down on Cashman for doing charity events. Charity Events! People are yelling at him because he is raising money to fight prostate cancer. Baseball is a game. It’s a game we really love, but it’s a game. Cancer will kill you. Between winning baseball games and fighting cancer, fighting cancer is the way to go. Plus, it seems unreasonable that being a GM would take up every waking moment of his life; finding a single night to help fight cancer doesn’t seem unreasonable. I don’t think Cashman is the kind of guy who needs to be sitting at home staring at the phone waiting for Andy Pettitte or Kevin Millwood to call him. He has people to do that for him. Instead, he takes his “celebrity status” and uses it to raise money to fight cancer. That sounds like a class act to me. That certainly sounds like something I’d want my GM doing in his spare time. How in anyone’s right mind could you blast a guy for raising money to fight cancer? It boggles me.
I’m not even going to start with the “checkbook GM” thing.
This is what I do. Whenever I’m angry about Brian Cashman (rarely), I try to think about all the GMs he is not. He is not Tony Reagins, who is now the laughing-stock of the baseball community. He is not Dayton Moore, who signed Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. He is not Sandy Alderson, tasked with fixing the mess that is the Mets.
I am expecting someone to blame Cashman for the Astros extending Wandy Rodriguez. I am also expecting someone to blame Cashman for waking up in the morning and putting on his slippers. I mean, he’s only won what, four World Series rings as GM? Taken us to the postseason every year except 2008? What a crappy performance the guy has put on. Fire Cashman. Punish him by making him manage the Pirates. Wait, that might be what he wants, according to some fans and media-types. I guess we’ll just have to force him to stick around here for a few more years. Damn. What a drag.
The Yankee ownership has spent the winter on ice, in a sense. They had to wait for Cliff Lee to return to Philadelphia as the Red Sox made moves to bolster their immediate prospects. They’re waiting for Andy Pettitte to decide he wants to come back. They’re waiting for some starting pitching to materialize, and they’re waiting to see how an aging core of players performs. From what I’ve heard, they waited almost too long to re-sign Mariano Rivera, but all’s well that ends.
With all of this waiting, though, Hank Steinbrenner is growing impatient. In an extensive talk with Kevin Kernan, the Yanks’ General Partner and Co-Chairperson had some choice words for his team. “We will do what we have to do to win. We have the highest payroll and the reason is we are committed to our fans to win,” he said. “We just have to (bleeping) win.” Of course, he didn’t really say bleeping, but I’ll let you use your imagination.
Hank went on about the Yanks’ off-season. He’s excited about the bullpen and thinks Joba Chamberlain will have a bounce-back year. He’s not happy about Cliff Lee’s decision though. “The fans pay the bills, we owe it to ourselves and to them to put the best product out there,” he said. “If we couldn’t get Cliff Lee, I’m really happy about getting Soriano. I just wish Lee would have given Brian the chance to meet with him, but he was on a hunting trip. He’s got his own reasons.”
Channeling his dad, he spoke about the Yanks’ youngsters and the club’s high hopes for them. “We got those kids coming too, Nova more as a starter, and the others,” he said. “You never know, one or two of them may join the team,” Steinbrenner said. “I know some of our baseball people don’t agree with our other baseball people a lot of the time, but they all like Nova.”
In parts I’m not going to quote here, Steinbrenner spoke about having faith in A-Rod and not regretting the 10-year deal he handed out. He speaks about re-upping with Jeter — “We do have a budget and we’ve got to be somewhat careful. We’ve made all our players rich. Our guys do deserve it.” — and he talks about staying healthy. Ultimately, he has faith: “I say we have one of the top four teams in baseball, whether we end up being the best or not, we’ll see.”
As Hank breaks his silence, another member of the Yankee Front Office spoke about his own relationship with his bosses this week. After a strained press conference with Rafael Soriano, the New York media wondered about Brian Cashman‘s comments, and during his Tuesday appearance on The Michael Kay Show, Cashman spoke about his reaction. He had, he said, “full authority from Hal” to dissent from ownership during the Soriano presser and did so for a reason.
“For me to be able to do my job, I have to be able to communicate with GMs, agents and media, and part of those conversations are very, very important,” he said. If he’s talking to other relief options such as J.J. Putz, Kerry Wood or Bobby Jenks, he can’t tell them that the Yanks won’t pay $7-$8 million per year for a set-up man if the team is going to sign Soriano for even more. “During those conversations,” he said, “your credibility comes into play when you make statements.”
By talking about at the press conference, he sent the message that he did not lie to other clubs and players. He was simply out-voted by those in charge of him. “It’s not the first time I’ve been overruled,” he said, “and it won’t be the last.”
Cashman respects his bosses. He says he lines everything that he says up with ownership first to make sure they’re on board, but every now and then, they’re not on board. It happens to everyone. These days, Cashman has been preaching patience, but those above him on the pecking order seem to be chomping at the bit. Even as the off-season of Andruw Jones, Russell Martin and Rafael Soriano drags toward Tampa, things are rarely quiet for the Yankees.
Brian Cashman held court at WFAN’s annual “Breakfast with a Champion” this morning, sitting down with Mike Francesa to discuss the state of the Yankees and field questions from the audience. Friend of RAB and espnW’s Amanda Rykoff tweeted the hell out of the breakfast, so I’ve rounded it all up for you. Cashman was tremendously candid and honest with his answers, sometimes brutally. I think we can all appreciate that. Let’s start with the major stuff…
- Cashman said he’ll be surprised if Derek Jeter sticks at shortstop during all four years of his contract. He sees the Captain winding up in the outfield. If Jeter makes a successful transition to the outfield at his age, I’ll eat my hat.
- “We’re one starter away from being a World Series contender,” said the GM. It’s hard to argue with that, they were two wins away from the Fall Classic last year and have improved every aspect of the team other than the rotation so far.
- Ready for a bombshell? Cashman acknowledged that Joba Chamberlain has not been the same since his injury in Texas. It’s the first time anyone involved with the team has publicly discussed the issue even though it was quite obvious. Once again, he said there’s no chance Joba will start.
- Still nothing new on Andy Pettitte, but Cashman did confirm that the lefty is working out to remain in baseball shape. Cash said his best case rotation scenario at this point has Andy coming back and Ivan Nova sliding down into the fifth starter’s spot.
- Jorge Posada is the full-time designated hitter, and the starting catcher’s job will be an open competition in Spring Training. I think he means just like the fifth starter job was a competition last year.
- Cashman said the Red Sox are the better team as of today, but the Yankees have a better bullpen. Part of me thinks that’s a little passive aggressive dig at ownership for Rafael Soriano. Cash called Mariano Rivera “the best Yankee he’s ever seen.”
I’m not so sure about that Jeter stuff, maybe he can fake left field for a year, but I think he’ll wind up at designated hitter if anything. The Joba stuff is pretty groundbreaking, but at least it gives us some closure to the whole “why isn’t he starting” thing. It also tells us that there is some level of concern about Joba’s health going forward.
Here’s the rest, but it’s just a bunch of smaller, miscellaneous items…
- The Yankees use statistical analysis in combination with scouting reports, but you knew that already.
- The in-game lineup is Joe Girardi‘s call, but Cashman does discuss it with him. Same deal with Joe Torre back in the day.
- Cashman called Andruw Jones “Marcus Thames with slightly better defense.” Slightly? I think the GM is either underselling Jones or giving Thames too much credit.
- A.J. Burnett is well aware that his performance was a problem last year and is working hard to correct things.
- Cash stated the obvious, saying the Yankees have a big advantage over other clubs because they can enjoy a strong farm system while having money to spend on free agents.
- He also acknowledged that the media coverage in New York can wear you out.
- “The higher up the tree the monkey climbs, the more you see of his ass.” I’m not quite sure what the means, but it made me laugh.