Posts Tagged ‘Hal Steinbrenner’

With C.J. Wilson in Anaheim and Yu Darvish reportedly headed north of the border or deep in the heart of Texas, the Yankees’ offseason pursuit of pitching has so far come up short. Unlike last year, however, when the team’s courtship of Cliff Lee was rebuffed, it doesn’t seem as if the Yankees had much interest in Wilson or Darvish, not to mention the many starters rumored to be available on the trade market. For some Yankees’ fans, this level of inactivity has been the cause of great frustration, leading to speculation that the team’s free spending ways may be a thing of the past.

Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman appear to be on the same page about being more prudent in player acquisitions.

Hal Steinbrenner’s unwillingness to open up the checkbook and Brian Cashman’s reticence to part with prospects seem to contradict the team’s “win the World Series or bust” mantra. After all, it’s hard to argue that Darvish, Wilson, Gio Gonzalez, etc. wouldn’t represent a major upgrade in the Yankees rotation, which, after CC Sabathia, consists of major question marks. Even though rolling the dice with such a rotation worked out well last year (assuming, like me, you consider a 97 win season to be a success), doing so again would constitute a major risk, especially in a league getting stronger by the minute.

The Yankees’ mandate is to win the World Series, but that isn’t a short-term proposition. Although fans, and some within the organization, rarely think too far ahead, it’s important to remember the team’s real mission statement is to win the World Series every year (or at least try), not just this year. That’s why Cashman’s cautious approach isn’t a betrayal of the team’s lofty standards. As the Yankees’ GM has repeatedly stated, no deal is better than a bad deal, which basically means the long-term competitiveness of the franchise is more important than an incremental, short-term gain.


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Brian Cashman was the guest of honor at WFAN’s Breakfast with a Champion, a question and answer session hosted by sports talk host Mike Francesa at the Hard Rock Café in Manhattan. ESPNW’s Amanda Rykoff attended the event and provided “live tweets”, from which the following key points emerged:

  • The Yankees need another starter, and their ability to obtain one will determine their chances at winning a 28th World Series.
  • Cashman believes the Red Sox are a better team on paper, but feels the addition of Soriano gives the Yankees a better bullpen.
  • Joba Chamberlain has been limited since his injury in 2008, and as a result, the organization’s plans for him have been altered.
  • Derek Jeter is not expected to remain at SS over the entire length of his current four-year extension.
  • Being a general manager in New York is hard work.

Is Brian Cashman Fed Up Being the Yankees' GM?

Although some of Cashman’s candor was worthy of a raised eyebrow, none of the opinions expressed were particularly groundbreaking. The revelation about Chamberlain represented the first time the organization has used injury as justification for its handling of the once prized pitching prospect, but otherwise, most of the observations were fairly benign.

One remark that was somewhat of a concern, however, was Cashman’s comment about the media in New York having the ability to “wear you out”. Taken alone, it’s really a very mild remark, but in the context of his conduct this offseason, it does make you wonder about whether Cashman really wants to be in New York after his contract expires in 2011.

Last week, New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden wrote about Cashman possibly wanting to leave the Yankees for an opportunity in which he would have less scrutiny and more autonomy. Also hinted at in Madden’s column was Cashman’s desire to operate without the “burden” of the Yankees’ significant financial resources. In a sense, it seems as if Cashman wants to make it on his own…almost like a child of wealth might desire to get out from under his parents’ shadow.

Although Cashman has sometimes bristled at the implication that his success is directly the result of the team’s high payroll (usually by doing so in a self-deprecating manner), he has always seemed content toeing the party line. In fact, Cashman has developed a politician-like reputation for being able to say nothing by saying everything. However, that has all changed this offseason.

Cashman’s conduct during the Derek Jeter contract negotiations was the first sign that something was amiss. Not only did the Yankees’ GM take an early hard line with the team’s superstar, but he also openly discussed the negotiations, even going so far as to lob a few criticisms in Jeter’s direction. Then, after adamantly stating that he would not surrender a first round pick for Rafael Soriano, Cashman was overruled by Hal Steinbrenner, and wasn’t shy about saying as much during the reliever’s introductory press conference. When Cashman talked about having Soriano “forced down his throat”, he was trying to make a point about the positive influence of the Yankees’ resources, but the way he chose to express the thought didn’t seem very flattering.

One can get carried away reading too much into comments, but in this case, it seems like something is up. Is Cashman fed up with the Yankees, and New York in general? Is he tired of the scrutiny and weary of being thought of as “director of spending” (as Madden claims he referred to himself at the recent Winter Meetings)? Does he feel diminished by ownership’s intervention in the Soriano signing, and perhaps even the Jeter negotiations (and, by extension, could there be a split between general manager and short stop)? Finally, has the charm of being a smaller fish in a big pond worn off now that the Boss is no longer the head shark? Regardless of the reason, if Cashman is strongly considering a change of scenery, the Yankees have to consider how that realization will affect his approach during the season.

I’ve always been a fan of Brian Cashman, and see no reason why the Yankees should look to make a change…unless, their GM has already made that decision. If Cashman really would prefer the challenge of a smaller market team with less pressure, less media and less money to spend (i.e., a pasture with less “green”), then it might be better if he and the Yankees part company sooner than later. The Yankees not only have significant challenges facing them before the start of the season (and likely leading up to the trade deadline), but there are also some long-term transition issues slowly emerging. The Yankees need to make sure their general manager is committed for the long haul, and if not, the team might be better off finding that out now.

In a perfect world, the best approach for the Yankees would be to offer Cashman a “take it or leave the organization” contract extension. Because of his long and meritorious service to the organization, however, Cashman deserves the benefit of the doubt as well as every opportunity to decide upon his future. Having said that, it might be time for Hal Steinbrenner and his general manager to have a frank discussion about each man’s respective vision for the future. If it is determined that both paths will not converge, then Cashman and the Yankees might be better off going their separate ways.

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Derek Jeter and the Yankees re-consummated their relationship with a somewhat awkward press conference today at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Despite calmly admitting that he was “angry” about the public nature of the process (as only Jeter could), the Yankees shortstop reiterated his dedication to the organization and described all involved parties as “one big happy family”.

Today’s reunion was strange to say the least, particularly because such an inevitable outcome seemed to create so many improbable storylines. For whatever reason, many in the media and the Yankees’ fan base seized upon the slow pace of the negotiations to denigrate, ridicule and vilify the team’s Hall of Fame shortstop, thanks in no small part to the curiously public comments of Brian Cashman and ownership. As a result, the press conference welcoming Jeter back almost had the feeling of a reverse parable, with the Yankees’ organization playing the role of the prodigal son. After all, Jeter never left and never intended to, but the Yankees did stray from what should be the organization’s policy of holding its legacy in only the highest of regard.

It was impossible to look at Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner sitting at the dais and not think they probably felt a little bit guilty. Some of the reporters sitting in the audience probably felt the same way, not to mention a vocal segment of the fan base that seemed quick to turn on Jeter. All’s well that ends well, however, so, break out the robes, rings and sandals, and slaughter the fattened calf. The prodigal among us have returned to the fold, rejoining the Captain, who never left.

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