Earlier today, Brian Cashman and Randy Levine, center, helped lead the groundbreaking ceremony for Heritage Field. Last night, the two spoke about the Yanks’ organization. (Photo courtesy of the Yankees)
As the Yankee farm system plays host to numerous young stars, the team believes Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will be back in the Bronx next year. That’s the message team president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman delivered at a Times Talk last night.
Speaking to a packed house of fans and reporters, Cashman and Levine expounded on the past, present and future of the Yankees as Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt and later the audience bombarded the two team officials with questions. Levine, though, generated the biggest reaction when he issued his statement on Jeter’s and Rivera’s futures. “We don’t negotiate in public, but I would find it highly, highly unlikely if both of them were not back with the Yankees,” he said. “”Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are the Yankees.”
Cashman, meanwhile, refused to comment as directly on the situation. He declined to respond to an audience member who asked about how A-Rod’s deal could impact Jeter, and although he said that Jeter “still feels confident” at short and is viewed by the team as a short stop, he chose instead to highlight the team’s minor league stars. The GM spoke glowingly of Jesus Montero, Slade Heathcott, Austin Romine, the newly resurgent Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman as the crown jewels of the system.
The talent, said the GM, stems from the recognition in the mid-2000s that the team just couldn’t spend away its problems. In 2005, the Yanks began to invest in the draft, but Cashman recognized the limitations of that strategy. “I hope,” he said, “we never pick in the top ten of the draft.”
Young and old were the themes throughout the talk, and as Cashman discussed a decade bookended by World Series Championships, he wistfully spoke of a future many of us would prefer to ignore. One day, Mariano Rivera, the Yanks’ “Energizer bunny,” will hang it up. “It’s going to be hell replacing him. He has been the most meaningful Yankee during this stretch,” Cashman said.
With this public approach, Cashman and Levine are playing an interesting game with the near-term future of the organization. As Jeter’s and, to a lesser extent, Mariano’s free agencies loom, all parties have been mum, but the Yanks have quietly and not-so-quietly expressed the belief that they will “take care” of their superstars. As I wrote last September, this statement creates a conundrum. Even as the team says it isn’t negotiating publicly, it has handed significant leverage to a short stop suffering through one of the worst first halves of his career. That four-year, $100-million deal many think may be coming to Jeter after the season ends strikes me as a bad investment.
Still, the Yankee brass have a clear plan. They might be willing to pay for nostalgia, but they know that the future rests with the younger players. As Randy Levine reiterated the team’s approach toward reinvesting revenue in the on-field product, it seemed clear that club officials are eying another decade or two of Yankee dominance.
Beyond the talk of the future, the discussion hit on the issues a Yankee fan would assume they would. After the jump, a rundown. [Read more…]