Brian Cashman has decided to pull up his chair to the Yankees’ table for three more years by agreeing to a new contract extension, which, if fulfilled, will make him the organization’s longest tenured general manager since Ed Barrow constructed the first dynasty teams from 1921 to 1944.
After decades of having the general manager position be a revolving door, it’s almost hard to fathom the idea of a Yankees’ executive ranking as one of the most senior members of his fraternity, but only the Giants’ Brian Sabean (who was a member of the Yankees’ scouting department when the core four first joined the team) has been on the job longer. During that time, Cashman has had his share of hits and misses, but, for the most part, his stewardship has been a key component of the team’s considerable success.
Sometimes, familiarity can breed contempt, which is why it’s not surprising that a vocal segment of the Yankees’ fan base has soured on Cashman despite the team’s impressive accomplishments. Those critics will often argue that Cashman’s teams should be successful, considering the payroll at his disposal. However, as teams like the Mets have shown, spending money doesn’t always equate to winning. So, even though some of his accomplishments have been predicated upon having a hefty budget, that doesn’t diminish the unprecedented level of success enjoyed by the Yankees under Cashman’s reign.
For a dated evaluation of Brian Cashman’s tenure written before the 2008 season (ironically at a blog that recently announced it would close it doors as a protest to Cashman’s new contract), click here.
Regardless of how one feels about the job Cashman has done in the past, it’s hard not to see the benefit in having him return for another three years. At the same time that several competitors are undergoing significant upheaval, the stability of the Yankees’ current management structure has to be an advantage. After all, the Yankees’ organization is not the easiest environment in which to operate. It has taken Cashman years to secure his place at the table and ensure that his voice is heard, so bringing a new general manager on board would come with obvious growing pains. What’s more, Cashman has spent over a decade building a solid reputation with both colleagues and player agents, something he undoubtedly has been able to leverage over the years. In fact, his recent dealings with C.C. Sabathia regarding the left hander’s just completed contract extension seem to be an example of that. Time and again, opposing GMs and agents have expressed respect, and even admiration, for Cashman, making his strong presence a real asset for the Yankees.
Perhaps most importantly, Cashman also has intimate knowledge of the team’s minor league system. Unless the Yankees had promoted Cashman’s theoretical replacement from within, it could have taken months for a new general manager to get up to speed on what the organization has growing down on the farm. Considering the likelihood that the team will be active in the trade market this offseason, such a lapse could have proved costly. As the Yankees evaluate potential trades, the job of their GM will be to not only select the right target, but also avoid trading away the wrong prospects. Being one of the architects of the team’s farm system, Cashman is clearly in the best position to make that evaluation.
There’s something to be said for the relationship between stability and success. The Yankees have had three general managers serve for at least 10 years, and during those tenures, the team has won 21 of its 27 World Series. Obviously, there’s a chicken and egg relationship at work here, but it doesn’t really matter which one comes from first. Under Brian Cashman, the Yankees have enjoyed a new golden age, so replacing him at this time would have been akin to killing the goose who helped bring it all about.