• The Cablinasian On Cashman

    Posted by on November 7th, 2009 · Comments (22)

    Sean Pendergast offered many thoughts on Brian Cashman last Thursday. Some funny stuff in there. He’s a snip:

    Cashman is one of the most intriguing people in baseball to me, not because he’s particularly charismatic (or charismatic at all) but mostly because every time they show him in the owner’s box at games he has a look on his face like he’s simultaneously battling food poisoning and watching animal porn. I keep thinking someone needs to remind the guy that he is getting paid seven figures to construct a baseball team with the virtually bottomless checkbook of a senile old man. On the “job quality” scale, with 1 being “guy who empties portalets” and 10 being “a Maloof Brother,” I would say Cashman’s job is a solid 8.5. And yet aesthetically, the guy is one step above a skeleton.

    Comments on The Cablinasian On Cashman

    1. MJ
      November 7th, 2009 | 3:00 pm

      Meh…it’s not all fun and games like this author makes it out to be. After all, he works in a city where not winning the World Series every year ranks right up there with the war crimes of Slobodan Milosevic.

      In any case, who cares? Now that you’ve finally admitted that nothing Cashman will ever do will ever satisfy you, your criticisms of the man are essentially nullified as moot. If he can never satisfy you, there’s no sense in bothering to discuss him anymore.

    2. Evan3457
      November 7th, 2009 | 3:20 pm

      Everybody wants to be Brian Cashman, it seems.

      Maybe there’s an alternate reality where “Being Brian Cashman” happens to everyone for 15 minutes as in Being John Malkovich.
      I often think about what I could do as GM of the Yankees. I think about the changes I would like to see in the organization. It makes for a pleasant fantasy.

      For about 5 minutes. Then I think about the pressure from the fans, the media and the Steinbrenners that every season must end in a title, the byzantine nature of the whole organization, and the competing egos that must be fed and interests that must be deal with on the corporate level, and I think: thanks, but no thanks.

      And speaking of thanks: thank you Brian Cashman, for leading the organization to it’s 27th title. This one’s all you, and no one can ever take it away from you by saying it’s someone else’s team ever again.

    3. Evan3457
      November 7th, 2009 | 3:21 pm

      Well, maybe it’s not all you, Brian, but you made the key decisions this year, and your staff gave you good judgement and advice, and you were correct in the great majority of those decisions.

    4. MJ
      November 7th, 2009 | 4:04 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      This one’s all you, and no one can ever take it away from you by saying it’s someone else’s team ever again.

      Well, maybe it’s not all you, Brian, but you made the key decisions this year, and your staff gave you good judgement and advice, and you were correct in the great majority of those decisions.

      Bingo. I toss my thanks in there behind yours. Couldn’t have done it without Cashman’s leadership and foresight. Who knows where the Yanks would’ve been in ’09 with Santana’s bad elbow and no Phil Hughes in the bullpen…

    5. Scout
      November 7th, 2009 | 4:44 pm

      I take it, Steve, that this post means it’s open season on the Yankee GM again. Well, you did at least wait until after the parade…..

      May I suggest that you open a Cashman post early next week so we can each express ourselves yet again? I’m ready, willing, and able.

    6. yagottagotomo1
      November 7th, 2009 | 5:49 pm

      Well, this is the post where Was Watching officially jumped the shark. The first post about Cashman after the championship is this drivel? Nothing at least acknowledging him as the architect of this team? Whatever.

    7. November 7th, 2009 | 6:41 pm

      Hey, did Cashman, or did he not, spend $423.5 million 11 months ago (thereabouts) to acquire free agents Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett?

      Well, yes, he did. Would the Yankees have won a ring this year without CC, AJ, and Tex? Perhaps – given how AJ and Tex did, at times, in the post-season. But, FOR SURE, no doubt, the Yankees don’t reach the post-season without those three, this year.

      So, if it makes you guys happy, yes, I’m more than willing to acknowledge that Cashman, via his moves and non-moves, from 2006 through 2008, got the Yankees into a position where they needed to spend $423.5 million to fill three holes on their team,

      And, sure, I’m more than willing to thank him for having the leadership and foresight to get CC to agree to a $23 million a year deal, A.J. to a $16.5 million a year pact, and Teixeira $22.5 million a year contract.

      I’ve said this before, so, I’ll say it again: In the end, Cashman’s plan to retool the Yankees for 2009 was to spend about a half-billion dollars on three free agent players. Well, he’s pretty lucky that he works for the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family – because that plan would not work with the 29 other big league teams.

    8. yagottagotomo1
      November 7th, 2009 | 7:29 pm

      Forget it, Steve, it isn’t worth it to fight with you. Your pettiness and obstiinancy on this subject knows no bounds, so we will not get anywhere.

    9. Tresh Fan
      November 8th, 2009 | 12:22 am

      The real trouble with the New York Yankees is that everyone that really knows how to run the team is cutting hair or driving taxi cabs.

    10. Evan3457
      November 8th, 2009 | 2:39 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      So, if it makes you guys happy, yes, I’m more than willing to acknowledge that Cashman, via his moves and non-moves, from 2006 through 2008, got the Yankees into a position where they needed to spend $423.5 million to fill three holes on their team,

      Not so. Not at all. (First of all it’s not $423.5. It’s roughly $60 million a year, paid out over 8 years. Calling it $423.5 million is like calling me a millionaire, because starting this year, and running through 2018, I’ll have earned a million dollars in salary. But I digress.)

      It was the nature of the team he had, the organization he was with, and the organizational structure that got them into that position.

      You have an aging team, in an organization that has won a bunch of titles recently, an organization that refuses to commit to rebuilding, ever. An organization that will not put its fate in the hands of untried rookies, unless they succeed almost immediately.

      It therefore refuses to pay serious attention to its farm system and drafting, relying on the notion that, as it has the most money to spend, every year, it can just buy what it needs to supplement its aging core. It would rather buy the best free agents it can get, regardless of whether those free agent truly address the team’s needs, regardless of whether they’re reliable long-term or “one year wonders”.

      You have a deliberate division of power between competing power bases. You have one faction in charge of the new stadium, one in charge of the television network, one power center in Tampa where the owner is based, and another in New York where the team actually is. You have son-in-laws who think they’re in charge, because they’re married to the bosses’ daughter.

      On top of everything, the luxury tax is getting steeper and steeper, and down comes a mandate to stop paying so much luxury tax, and that the payroll will be allowed to grow no farther.

      You still have no farm system to speak of, and you have no control over it, anyway. You have an aging team, becoming less athletic and less healthy year after year, and you have a well-financed, well-run competitor in your division on the ascent.

      It is nearly impossible to get a coherent plan from that mess.

      Cashman is the one who realized they had reached an organizational cul de sac, that they couldn’t keep doing what they had been doing. He realized that they had to build a bullpen from within. They’ve done that. He realized that they had to get better, cheaper parts for the bench. They’ve done that, too.

      You want to keep Posada, Jeter, A-Rod, Mariano. They cost about $80 million, total. You want Matsui and Damon, too? Another $25 million.

      Finally, after long contracts expire, several aging, injured, nonathletic and very expensive parts leave, to the tune of about $70 million in payroll. You have that much to play with, and you have a mandate: you can’t wait for young players from your slowly improving system, your ownership demands you win now. Besides, your core ages, year by year. Who knows how many years you have until the bottom drops out?

      So what do you do if you’re Brian Cashman?

      I’ll tell you what you do; if Sabathia, Burnett and Teixiera are available on the market, you damn well BUY them up, that’s what you do. It’s the only sensible thing to do.

      I mean, what the hell is Cashman’s supposed to think? “Well, I need to prove that I can build a winner for only a little more payroll than anyone else in baseball, just to prove to all the people that think I’m an idiot that I’m not an idiot, so let me pass on the those three players that are exactly what my team needs, and I’ll win 85 games and finish out of the money but I’ll be frugal so my fanbase, my local media, they’ll just stand by and tolerate and even praise my willingness to compete on a level playing field with the other 29 teams, and my bosses will think, well, he’s not a genius, but he didn’t spend so much money this time, so they’ll renew my contract for five more years.”

      I mean, does anybody really not get the idea by this point that the Yanks will be paying dearly for this title in 2014-5-6, as CC and Tex (and A-Rod and whoever the Yanks re-sign from among Jeter and Mo) age and decline, and the Yanks are still paying them big bucks?

      This is the price of doing business the way the Yanks want to: you want to win every year? You want to make sure you don’t have to rely on unproven rookies? Then pay the money and the years, buy the best players, and don’t whine about how much money it cost, and don’t whine about how did all these horrible, decrepit has-beens got on the roster at the same time, and don’t whine about how the team is slowly getting less competitive, year-by-year, and slowly fallying out of contention.

      This is not a function of Cashman. The Yanks went through George’s parade of 1-year GMs, and the organization slowly rotted and died by about 1989. Then, the Yanks got lucky. They hit rock bottom at the same time George got suspended, given a good GM (Michael) time and the luxury of finding durable, talented young pieces to fill holes, and plenty of mediocre players who could be easily swept aside to make room for those young, talented, durable pieces.

      Cashman starts from a better position each year, tactically speaking, but from a worse strategic position. Theo can take a year fallow, and hold onto the favor of his owner, because his owner thinks long-term, and is willing to take a bad year or two to rebuild from within. The Yankees organization, for a variety of reasons, will not.

      This organizational thinking necessarily leads to overpaying for goods, sometimes dubious goods; that is the price of attempting to avoid any risk, in any business. It leads to accepting patch-up solutions, rather than solving a problem long-term with an untested young player. It leads to watching your young players become stars for others, because you could not or would not wait for them. It leads to overestimating the true level of ability of the free agents you sign, and to not paying enough attention to the kind of man and teammate they are, and to whether or not they can handle the spotlight of New York.

      These are not talent misjudgments, alone. They are mistakes caused primarily by the overarching organizational philosophy, and the tactical position at the time.
      The Washington Redskins have gone through a succession of coaches and GMs the past number of years. They have signed numerous talented free agents. The latest was Albert Haynesworth, one of the best defensive tackles in the league. At least a dozen teams wanted Haynesworth, but the Redskins got him. Did it matter? No. Because the Redskins are so dysfunctional, his signing hasn’t mattered a damn. Was it because the GM was an idiot? No. Lots of GMs would be idiots just as large.

      It was because the owner Daniel Snyder is the nearest thing to old Boss George in the NFL today. He wants to win right now. He wants to win right now regardless of his team’s strategic situation, regardless of the true level of their talent base. So Haynesworth got signed, and it is very likely that no matter how well he plays, the money will have been completely wasted by the time his contract is up.

      It is not because of the GM. It is because there is an ownership that doesn’t understand that the Redskins must rebuild from scratch in order to build a contending team 3-5 years from now. Snyder is not willing to wait, so he will ride the same treadmill Boss George rode from the collapse of the 1st dyasty in 1982 until the rise of the 2nd one in 1993.
      Brian Cashman has done better than that. He’s had enough money to avoid that fate. The Yanks have been competitive, year-after-year, because they could outspend their mistakes; an option unavailable to the Redskins. But it the Yankees were to stay ahead of the Red Sox from 2004-2007, then the farm system and organization had to be churning out a couple of new stars in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. As we know, it didn’t.

      It is about to start doing it again. Someone from Phil, Joba and Kennedy will break through next season. Maybe more than one. Montero will be up the year after. Other lesser prospects not needed will be tradeable to fill other holes, especially the large one looming at shortstop.

      And now, the eye of the needle has been threaded, and Cashman will be here to see it done. This title gives him the leverage to finish the plan, and make the Yankees self-sustaining again. The logistical train nearly ran out, but this season keeps the plan going.

      You can either adjust yourself to the new reality, Steve, or keep hammering away in the same vein. I hope you’ll be happy, either way. Being angry at your Gm and your loyal readers (and yes, I’m a loyal reader, or I wouldn’t be wasting this many words and this much time arguing) is no way to celebrate a title.

    11. Tresh Fan
      November 8th, 2009 | 9:28 am

      Does Cashman have it easy? From where I sit it seems so. All he has to do is outbid the other GMs for free agents, and with George’s deep pockets that’s easy enough. So, yeah, it’s an easy job. Not as easy as being a newspaper columnist—all you need is an opinion and spellcheck for that—but easy enough. In fact, it’s probably the second easiest thing Cashman has to do after being a father. Of course, I’ve never been a father myself, but how hard can that be? Just get the kids what they want each Christmas and take them to Disney World every four or five years and you’ll be guaranteed a loving and obedient brood.
      But with all that being said, I still wouldn’t trade places with Brian Cashman. Too much public criticism and I’m rather fragile by nature. No, If I had to trade places with anyone it would be with my boss. Now that’s one easy job. All she has to do is be arrogant and wrong 40 hours a week. I could do that……easy.

    12. November 8th, 2009 | 9:31 am

      It’s interesting that, because my opinion is different than some others, I’m being angry, petty and obstinate. Whatever happened to a person’s right to have their own opinion? And, is it true that, because my opinion is different than yours on this subject, I’m stupid, etc.? Wow. Way to go guys. But, perhaps, instead of bashing me on this because I respectfully disagree with your views on Cashman, why don’t you look in the mirror and examine your words towards me on this because I have an opinion that does not fold into yours?

      Live in an ivory tower much?

      Again, if you want to praise and love Cashman for his resume, that’s great. You have every right to do so. But, just because I don’t want to join you, that does not give you the right to throw stones at me…at least in my book.

      But, obviously, some of you enlightened folks and reading another book…

    13. Evan3457
      November 8th, 2009 | 12:29 pm

      Tresh Fan wrote:

      Does Cashman have it easy? From where I sit it seems so. All he has to do is outbid the other GMs for free agents, and with George’s deep pockets that’s easy enough.


      How’d it work when free agents were signed and players were traded for that could’ve worked out, shoud’ve worked out, but didn’t, for one reason or another?

    14. GDH
      November 8th, 2009 | 12:58 pm

      The thing I don’t understand about this is that people that use the “Best team money can buy” argument to discount the Yanks (or Cashman’s) success, have an emotionally sound but deeply flawed argument. Cashman’s acquisitions over the last of season (with the exception of CC, who we HAD to have no matter what price, could have easily ended up elsewhere, and if those GMs were any damn good, they would have. Cash offered slightly more for Tex and AJ than the Sox, Angels and Braves, respectively. The case could be made that the Angels would likely have beaten us with Tex, possibly the Sox too. Either way, they would have been much improved. Same with the Braves and Burnett. I fault their GM’s for not getting it done. Where were they this post season? Oh that’s right, they were watching TV.

      To placate the “best team money could buy” argument, scientifically, you would need to do one of two things: 1) Cashman could be required to spend less money on players, but about 50-60M per year. OR, one team, ANY team, could adopt the Yankees approach for a couple seasons and see how easy it is to buy the best team.

      As for #1, that’s probably not going to happen. Why won’t Cashman spend 60M less? Because he doesn’t have to, and because the Yanks are happy to invest that money in the team, provided the results are there (no pressure).

      As for #2, I have no idea why it doesn’t happen. You think Moreno couldn’t have splurged an extra few mil on Tex? Atlanta on Burnett? I read somewhere that Stein’s 1.5 Billion net worth ranks him at about the 50th percentile in baseball owners. If this is true, then that is a staggering statistic. That tightwad owner of the Twins – could have easily had a dynasty by now if he had just loosened his pockets a LITTLE bit. It’s easy, right? All you have to do is open the checkbook, just look at Cashman.

      I give Cashman credit. Ben Reiter in SI wrote a perceptive piece on his body of work as a GM: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/ben_reiter/11/05/yankees.construction/index.html

      The argument of “all he had to do was write a check” is untested and thus it just doesn’t fly for me. Epstein is famously “shrewd” when it comes to drawing his lines in the sand and not budging. I’m not impressed that he lost Damon, Tex, and others to that logic. Woould you have had Cashman do that with Posada? Not me.

      For the Red Sox to use that argument is a crock of bull. The system may be unbalanced, but I cannot fault Cashman for exploiting it to his advantage, and to the advantage of my beloved Yankees. And any team with the resources (but not the nerve) to buy the pieces they need, who whine that the Yankees outspent them and that’s why they lost, is lame. With Stein’s checkbook last season, he basically rebuilt the team around two younger stars, Tex and CC, both of whom have tremendous “makeup” and both of whom were extremely productive. And all it took was money. It was the right move, and this time it paid off.

    15. Evan3457
      November 8th, 2009 | 1:05 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Live in an ivory tower much?

      That’s not really what living in an ivory tower means.
      From Wikipedia: “From the 19th century it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life.

      As such, criticism of your criticism of Brian Cashman doesn’t come anywhere near this definition.

      Writers sometimes forget that the message that they write, the message they intend, is not always the message received by the reader. For years you have expressed in various ways your disdain for Cashman. Occasionally, those remarks have come off, when read, as irritable, annoyed, and yes, sometimes, angry. Especially 2007-2008, when the Yanks slipped from division winners to wild card winners to out of the playoffs. But my first sentence in this paragraph was not talking about you, especially, but about what I wrote in my last post.

      It seems to me, reading all you have written this season, that, for some reason, you spent the better part of the year trying to demonstrate that this was not a Yankee team capable of winning a title. (I spent a lot of time and effort trying to prove an easier case: that this team could win a title.)

      As the Yankees successes increased in the 2nd half, as they progressively slayed one demon after another: the Red Sox, the White Sox at home, the Angels in the regular season, the Twins in the 1st round, the Angels in the ALCS…you kept on looking for new rationales as to why they couldn’t win, and each time you thought up something else, frequently tried to attach it to Cashman (and sometimes Girardi as well, because he’s a Cashman ally, or so it seems).

      The last attempt was trying to apportion blame to Cashman and Girardi for going to a 3-man rotation for the World Series, if the team lost the last two. This at a time when the Yanks were one win away from a title, and heading home for games 6 and 7.

      There’s laconic, there’s pessimistic, and then there’s stubborn. There’s a difference between trying to figure what went wrong and why, and assuming 100 things are wrong that will sink the team, and assuming only one person is to blame.

      And so, I got the impression from the recent, post-Series writings that while you were celebrating the title, as all Yankee fans do, you were miffed that Cashman was rightfully getting credit. So I tried to point out that this was a waste of time and energy, as he’s now staying on as GM for the foreseeable future.

      Now, you say this is not the case. Very well, I take you at your word.

      When you write, in various modes, that Cashman is an idiot who should’ve been fired long ago, you irritate those of us who think that he’s fairly intelligent. Sometimes, intelligent people make mistakes, but those mistakes should be judged within the context of their occurrence.

      You attack Cashman, and some of us readers defend him. You point out the things he’s done wrong; we point out why the things were done, or who else might have done them. Or we point out the things he got right. Or we point out that other GMs, even more successful ones, made the same judgements as Cashman, but didn’t have his money, and didn’t win the bidding. You can’t really expect to criticize Cashman as often as you do, and for as many different things as you do, and not expect that those of us who think differently will argue back.

      Occasionally, if you debate long enough, sometimes you lose a battle. This year, the battle of Cashman is over. Next year may be an entirely different story.

      One last thing. You have the blog. It’s yours. You can ban whom you want. I don’t have a say about that. But as long as I’m allowed to reply here, I’m going to tell you what I think, too.

      It is not my desire to make your life worse by posting here. My hope is that you find the exchange useful. But if you find it painful, or not worth your time, put it down. Or put me out. I’m a grown-up; I can find other bloggers to argue with. You don’t even have to outright ban me, just tell me I’m not welcome, and I’ll leave. I mean it.

      If it’s the blog as a whole, if it’s a bunch of us, just stop. Life is too short. I have given up things I thought I loved; thought I needed, because they caused needless pain or simply were wastes of my time.

      I hope you don’t stop. I hope you don’t tell me to leave. I find this place valuable, useful. Yankee fans come here to discuss and debate the team. I’ve enjoyed this. I’ll miss it if it’s gone.

    16. GDH
      November 8th, 2009 | 2:19 pm

      And another thing about Sean Pendergast’s sorry little smack-whine. What – he can’t round up a few good ol boys around Texas who have an extra few mil burning a hole in their pockets?

      C’mon, Sean, y’all can play at this baseball thing too, can’t ya? From the land of more is better? The land of the first truly obscene contract (A-Roid polished his act on your coin, buddy)! What happened to the plan? Too rich for y’all? Maybe yer jest sore about having to pay Alex all those sheckles to hit homers in the Bronx. I understand that.

      How come with all that oil money laying around, the Astros are nickel and dimers, and the Rangers can’t seem to take their cute lil ol’ 4 team division stacked with the awesome A’s and mighty Mariners?

      Sounds like ya’ll could stand to take a page out of Mr. Pepto Bismol’s book.

    17. Left Coast Mike
      November 8th, 2009 | 2:33 pm

      Steve, I like this blog a lot, for the most part, but I’m with the folks that are annoyed seeing negative posts about Cashman, pushed at the reader ad nauseum every other day during the season, and continuing now. I kinda see your position and where you’re coming from on this, though I don’t agree with it. Thing is, your readership doesn’t much agree with you on this either, for the most part. I asked for a survey a week ago, and as you can see, you’re quite alone in your assessment of Cashman, at least in the company of about 100 folks that participated (http://waswatching.com/2009/11/03/november-2009-survey-question-1/).

      This topic has been chewed up and spat out so many times, with quite polarizing opinions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just agree to disagree on this and leave it alone? I don’t see much point in antagonizing the majority of your readership over this, do you? We know where you stand on this, you know where most others do, why not leave it at that and make life easier in this part of the Yankee blogosphere?

    18. YankCrank
      November 8th, 2009 | 3:30 pm

      Brian Cashman, 2009 World Series winning General Manager.

      That is all.

    19. Raf
      November 8th, 2009 | 4:12 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I’ve said this before, so, I’ll say it again: In the end, Cashman’s plan to retool the Yankees for 2009 was to spend about a half-billion dollars on three free agent players.

      If it were only that simple… Don’t forget bounceback seasons from Jeter, Cano, Cabrera, and Posada. Those were just as important if not more than the signing of those 3 free agents.

      From a RS/RA POV, the problem in 2008 was the offense. It wasn’t the case in 2009. Why no one seems to bring that up I don’t understand. Guess ZoMG $500M!!!!1!!1!!!1!! makes a better story?

    20. Nick-YF
      November 9th, 2009 | 12:41 am

      Given the current economics of the game and the financial situation of the Bombers and management’s season-to-season demands, spending a ton of money is the primary means by which any general manager would and will operate. I am not particularly impressed by Cashman as a person or talent evaluator, but he’s competent. There is also something to be said for his ability to deal with the odd power dynamics within the organization.

      I’m not sure how to articulate this without offending anyone, so please no this is not my intent, but I almost find the discussion of whether a general manager is good or not, based on trades and signings, overly simplistic. There are tons of different processes at work for a general manager to oversee, that a discussion of money spent and trades seems short-sighted. Furthermore, the nature of a general manager’s role seems almost entirely predicated on the nature of the organization he works for, and the nature of that organization is entirely influenced by economics both long-term and short-term. For instance, if the Yanks aren’t moving into a new stadium this past season, do they still open up the pocket books for CC, Tex and AJ? How much did the 2009 moving date factor into Cashman and management’s plans in the preceding years?

      I’ll say this, as Yankee fans we’re incredibly lucky to be able to be in a situation where our team is likely the team of the decade and we’re discussing (both sides making legitimate points mind you) whether the general manager is good or not.

    21. Nick-YF
      November 9th, 2009 | 12:42 am


      and i’m sure there are more:)

    22. williamnyy
      November 9th, 2009 | 10:58 am

      With the afterglow of #27 creating an even more insatiable appetite, I’ve been checking out blogs I’ve pushed to the wayside. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to remember why Was Watching was crossed off my list. In addition to the incessant and inane Cashman hating as a major theme, crude humor has been added a specialty. How anyone could find humor in someone referring to the Boss is sickening. Hopefully, they never have to deal with a loved one in a similar state.

      It’s time to permanently cross WW off the blog list…hopefully I don’t make the same mistake after #28. Sad.

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