Brian Cashman has done a terrific job of taking the pressure off first-year Manager Joe Girardi. With the Yankees sitting nine games out of a playoff spot with 13 games to play, the media has been looking for scapegoats for some time now.
Cashman has been extremely vocal in his defense of Girardi, so much so that he's drawn even more scrutiny to himself. Admirable, but perhaps the beginning of the end to a bittersweet tenure in New York.
Cashman has been emphatic in his claims that Girardi has done everything he could, given the players he has been provided. Unfortunately for Cashman, he's the man responsible for that.
The list of Cashman's mishandling of personnel is a long one. While it may yet pay off in the long run, as of now, refusing to trade Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for perennial Cy Young candidate Johan Santana in the offseason looks to be a colossal blunder.
Adding insult to injury, the crosstown rivals capitalized on this blunder, trading for Santana, and are in prime position to make a playoff run.
The signing of Jason Giambi back in 2002 has not paid off. Giambi has never come close to approaching the success he had in Oakland, and the Yankees have not won a World Series since the signing.
Carl Pavano, another Cashman signing, has set a new precedent for market blunders. Since joining the Yankees in 2005, Carl has won a grand total of six games, and amongst his list of "serious" injuries, are bruised buttocks and a sore neck. Sounds devastating, Carl.
Cashman's refusal to go after the likes of CC Sabathia, Joe Blanton, Greg Maddux, and even Randy Wolf in 2008 left the Yankees in the very unenviable situation of having to incorporate Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson into their five-man rotation for extended periods of time.
I'm not sure even the 1927 Yankees (The Murderers Row team) could make a playoff push with those two being run out there every five days.
It's unfair to put the entire blame on Cashman. I think strengthening the farm system and letting prospects develop is an essential part to maintaining success for any organization. However, a GM cannot do so without exception. Adapting to the situation is critical in a cutthroat business (especially when the Steinbrenners control your fate).
When Johan Santana is available for a reasonable price, and your rotation going into the season has three (out of five) question marks, you sign him.
When your team is several games back of two teams right before the trade deadline, and CC Sabathia is still available, you have to at least take a look at him. It's on page one of the General Manager's Manual.
Cashman can talk all he wants about building for the future and developing young players, but when your payroll exceeds $200 million, someone is going to want a return for that investment. That someone happens to be George Steinbrenner.
The Yankees will not appear in the postseason for the first time in the past 14 years. Someone's going to have to take the fall for that, and since Cashman insists it should be him, and not Girardi, the Steinbrenners' inevitable wrath seemingly await him.
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