New York Yankees: In Praise of Brian Cashman's Genius

Chris LandersContributor IIIMay 23, 2013

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 17:  New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks on the phone on the field during batting practice against the Detroit Tigers during game four of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 17, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would seem to be the Rodney Dangerfield of Major League Baseball, despite all of the wins and all of the rings he's achieved in over a decade with the team. Anybody can win with that payroll, right?

Missing the playoffs even once should be a fireable offense when you can simply buy your way to a winning team. 

Yes, New York can spend its way through a lot of its issues, even in a season where they were resolved to cut back. But Cashman has been dealt far worse hands than people realize, and he's managed to create contenders out of a scrap heap multiple times.

The Alex Rodriguez contract will hang over this franchise like an albatross for the next few years, hamstringing their ability to get younger and get better. That was never Cashman's fault, really—that was a George Steinbrenner move, through and through, and that's what people seem to forget about the Yankees GM. 

The Yankees have financial clout but rarely financial flexibility. Steinbrenner demanded A-rod, then he demanded changes after New York missed the playoffs in 2008. So much of what Cashman has done has been dictated to him, and for all of the missteps, he still manages to craft a contender. 

The guy is a master of the margins, scraping the bottom of the barrel to patch together wins no matter what.

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Every franchise deals with injuries—sure—but not like this. The 2013 Yankees have been absolutely annihilated by various ailments to just about everyone, and through it all, they somehow find themselves locked in another AL East race.

For the second consecutive year, Cashman's bargain basement signings have come through—Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez last year, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay this year. Even Nick Swisher, who morphed into a legitimate force in the middle of the Yankees lineup, was a low-profile acquisition. 

The Yankees may have had luck on their side for the first couple months of the season—their run differential and win-loss record in close games suggests so—but their GM still deserves a whole bunch of credit. For all of their free-agent splashes, New York has never been a particularly top-heavy team, and that's a testament to Cashman's work. 

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