Yankees' GM Brian Cashman Isn't Always Calling Shots and He'll Tell You About It
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Over the last several years, we've seen an emboldened Brian Cashman:
A man who is more than happy to let the media know about the operational decisions he makes and those he does not. With the Yankees, quite like some other organizations, it's possible in some instances that the team's owner may request a player personnel decision be made.
Thus, removing some control from the general manager.
Suddenly, Brian Cashman is telling everyone about what is clearly his frustration in ownership superseding his judgment on player acquisitions. Most notably, the trade for Alfonso Soriano. Brian Cashman was not against the move, but he simply wanted more patience, feeling time would allow for a lesser prospect to be dealt from the Yankees' farm system.
It’s hard to begrudge the man that, when taken at face value, but in the ever-changing climate of the MLB pennant race, time is of the essence.
In recent years, perhaps due to his tenure in his role and perhaps due to a belief that the Yankees need him, Cashman has pulled no punches when expressing his displeasure at ownership's willingness to make moves—regardless of whether Cashman believed they were prudent.
The acquisition of Rafael Soriano during the winter of 2011 comes to mind as the most significant of recent vintage. Cashman publicly announced his displeasure with the signing and did all he could to extricate himself from the move.
As it turned out, the signing of Rafael Soriano ended up being quite a fortuitous one for the Yankees for the brief two years he played in the Bronx. Soriano had a sub-par 2011 but delivered a stellar 2012 season, in which he filled in excellently for Mariano Rivera.
If Cashman wants recognition for past trades like the one that sent Nick Swisher to the Bronx, then he should also be willing to acknowledge that Casey McGehee and Austin Kearns didn’t exactly pan out in Yankee pinstripes.
How do you grade Brian Cashman's tenure (since 1998) as Yankees general manager?
That said, there’s no denying one’s ability to understand, on a fundamental level, Cashman's frustration. By any definition, a general manager is someone who oversees the daily operations of a business or agency.
So, it's not hard to imagine what it's like to be the one put in a position to call the shots and then have that authority removed from you when ownership deems it necessary. But that's part of the job when you don't run your own business.
It’s unprofessional of Cashman to let the public know, via the mammoth megaphone that is the NY sports media, which decisions he’s made and which he has not. It's a bizarre dynamic—one where Cashman must be frustrated but one where he should seek higher ground.
In most industries, bosses don’t find it acceptable for their employees to publicly air which decisions they made and which were made by their superiors. Those employees are usually fired or reprimanded because it comes off looking petty and juvenile
Cashman might dislike the fact that his authority—to a certain degree—is being undermined, but the irony is, by airing his grievances in the way he has, he’s undermining ownership’s authority to run their business.
It's unbecoming of Cashman. It's unbecoming that a man of nearly 50 would be so willing to hold others accountable but not always own up to his own shortcomings and failings as key decision maker. Has Cashman been bad?
The Yankees have continued an excellent run of sustained success.
But the Yankees also spend more money than any other team, and there have been glaring weaknesses in their lineup and pitching staff for the last several years.
No one is expecting the general manager to be a miracle worker, but when you have more money than everyone else and you've had more than enough time on the job to build up a farm system to replenish the forces, it's quite reasonable for your customer to expect a higher level of performance.
By letting the public know, it makes Cashman look selfish and spoiled. So, Cashman didn't believe it was right to re-sign Alex Rodriguez to a ridiculous 10-year contract following the 2007 season. Good for him. And he didn't want Rafael Soriano and didn't believe Alfonso Soriano was worth a potentially promising Single-A reliever?
Maybe Brian Cashman should let the public know why the team, whose daily operations he's run for nearly two decades, has failed to produce one very good homegrown starting pitcher during that time.
Perhaps he'd tell you it was the ownership's decision things are that way.
Here's a list from a column I wrote last year.
Chien-Ming Wang had two very good seasons with the Yankees, but he only had two seasons where he started more than 17 games with the Yankees. Phil Hughes has had his moments, but his tenure in New York will largely be remembered as underwhelming.
The Yankee careers of David Phelps and Ivan Nova have thus far shown flashes of brilliance and staying power in the rotation, but at times major disappointment as well. Heck, aside from Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner, how many good homegrown hitters have the Yankees really produced in the last 10 years?
Maybe we should ask Cashman for a list, at this point, of every player personnel decision he has and has not signed off on since the 1998 season. Ya know, for scorecard purposes, just to keep track. Only then, apparently, will we be able to judge his full tenure in the Bronx.
Until then, Brian Cashman should probably take the advice he gave Alex Rodriguez last month and "Shut...up."
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