• Notice To Agents & GMs: You Can Go Around Cashman Now & Deal Directly With Stein Bros.

    Posted by on January 25th, 2011 · Comments (10)

    I heard the tail end of Michael Kay’s radio interview with Brian Cashman today on ESPN 1050 AM. I found it very interesting that Cashman said he was proud that he led the transition of the Yankees from what he called a “Checkbook team” to a team who doesn’t just rely on signing free agents (and give up on kids) to field a good team.

    Yeah, I guess that’s why this off-season lived and died with the attempt to sign free agent Cliff Lee. And, to fill voids in the bullpen (Feliciano) and starting catcher (Martin), Cashman went out this winter and signed free agents. (For the record, Cashman also said that this team – as it is now – really needs to add another “front end” starting pitcher. Gee, thanks Cash, good to know…)

    But, what really caught my attention was Cashman’s answer to the question of why he was so vocal at the Rafael Soriano presser – stressing that this was not his move, etc.

    Cashman said that he talks to agents and other GMs all the time. And, this off-season, he spoke to the agents for Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz, among others, and said that he wasn’t going to pay $7 million a year for a set-up reliever – or give up a pick to sign one. And, he spoke to other GMs looking to unload pitchers and told them the same thing. So, in order to retain his credibility with these agents and GMs, he needed to make it clear that what he told them was true, and it was the Yankees ownership who made the crazy deal with Boras for Soriano. (Brian also included the media in there – saying that his job requires him to deal with agents, other GMs, and the media – and he wanted to ensure that all three knew that he was not telling them one thing and doing another.)

    This is all fine. But, does Cashman also now realize that he (and Yankees ownership) has now essentially told every agent and GM out there “Talk to Cashman. And, if you don’t like what he’s saying, call the Steinbrenner family and see if you can get a better deal”?

    Man, this is pretty basic stuff. Once the word is out that you can get a discount a day after the sale by asking for the manager and bypassing the sales clerk, everyone and their brother is going to start asking for the manager. Yup, that’s what we have in Yankeeland now, thanks to all this stuff. And, by “all this stuff,” I mean Cashman allowing the team to fall short in the starting pitching department, Cashman’s failed plan to solve this problem with “the checkbook,” and management’s reaction to that failure in signing Rafael Soriano (against Cashman’s wishes).

    And, I would bet that Cashman knows this now. He’s had his legs cut out from under him on this thing and he knows, whether he admits it or not, that once they’ve been cut, all the other agents and GMs out there can go around him any time they want with the greatest of ease.

    Comments on Notice To Agents & GMs: You Can Go Around Cashman Now & Deal Directly With Stein Bros.

    1. Evan3457
      January 25th, 2011 | 6:19 pm

      But, does Cashman also now realize that he (and Yankees ownership) has now essentially told every agent and GM out there “Talk to Cashman. And, if you don’t like what he’s saying, call the Steinbrenner family and see if you can get a better deal”?

      That would be on Hal, Hank, and Levine, not Cashman. He held the line; they didn’t.

      He’s had his legs cut out from under him on this thing and he knows, whether he admits it or not, that once they’ve been cut, all the other agents and GMs out there can go around him any time they want with the greatest of ease.

      That depends on whether or not 1) Soriano “works” and 2) Hal, Hank and Levine do it again anytime soon.

    2. LMJ229
      January 25th, 2011 | 6:25 pm

      Yeah, that’s right Evan, and its a very bad way to do business.

      You know, I wonder if the July trade for Lee has anything to do with this too, since that trade fell through for the Yanks. Not saying it was Cashman’s fault but that doesn’t mean that Levine and the Steinbrenners wouldn’t hold it against him. You know, the old “we coulda done it better” deal.

    3. Scout
      January 25th, 2011 | 8:52 pm

      Much as we fans believe we could do the GM job better than Cashman does it, the same probably holds true for the amateurs atop the Yankee hierarchy. We and they are always quick to second-guess the GM, and certainly there are grounds for doing so, as Steve is quick to point out. I don’t think Cashman is a brilliant judge of baseball talent, especially pitching, but he’s still more competent than the Steinbrenner duo or Levine. My great fear is that if Cashman chooses to leave or is forced out, his replacement will be a figurehead or a pushover. Either way, the amateurs would be in control, and that is a recipe for disaster. What we saw this off-season, in the idiotic Jeter contract and the Soriano signing, are a bad omen for the future.

      Cashman’s control always depended on one thing — winning championships. He succeeded in 2009 and preserved his autonomy, albeit under a tight budget. He failed in 2010 and compounded the problem by not hooking the big catch this fall. (And I suspect he persuaded management last summer that it was wise not to overpay for Lee in a trade because he would come to the Yankees as a free agent.) Now ownership feels free to make end-runs around him.

      None of this bodes well for 2010 or beyond. If a GM feels enormous pressure to win now, he gives up too much in deals; if ownership meddles, it does the same. And an interfering ownership can make it harder to hire a top baseball mind to run the team when the current GM exits.

    4. Raf
      January 25th, 2011 | 10:13 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      He’s had his legs cut out from under him on this thing and he knows, whether he admits it or not, that once they’ve been cut, all the other agents and GMs out there can go around him any time they want with the greatest of ease.

      That isn’t necessarily true; it didn’t happen after Rodriguez was signed.

    5. LMJ229
      January 25th, 2011 | 11:15 pm

      Raf wrote:

      That isn’t necessarily true; it didn’t happen after Rodriguez was signed.

      I think that situation was a bit different in that it was a player who went directly to the ownership and cut out his agent.

    6. Raf
      January 25th, 2011 | 11:51 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      I think that situation was a bit different in that it was a player who went directly to the ownership and cut out his agent.

      Overall point is that the Soriano signing isn’t the first time a player or agent went around a GM, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend. Rodriguez, Sheffield, Wells, are a few other deals negotiated without Cashman. IIRC, Rodriguez contract was the first time post autonomy that someone went over Cashman’s head.

    7. MJ Recanati
      January 26th, 2011 | 3:53 am

      Raf wrote:

      Overall point is that the Soriano signing isn’t the first time a player or agent went around a GM, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend. Rodriguez, Sheffield, Wells, are a few other deals negotiated without Cashman. IIRC, Rodriguez contract was the first time post autonomy that someone went over Cashman’s head.

      Agreed, although, as Scout is saying, if the end is near for Cashman then more such moves like this will become problematic for the team because there won’t be a Cashman in place to counterbalance the stupidity with the rational.

    8. GDH
      January 26th, 2011 | 1:12 pm

      I agree that the Jeter deal (ridiculous) and the Soriano deal (equally) were probably both non-Cashman, he was likely rolled on both of them. That signals that he’s lost the autonomy he fought to gain, and if I were him I’d be weighing my options.

      Steve, file this one under “be careful what you wish for.” It’s certainly no great secret that you wish Cashman to be gone. But how likely is it (given these forebodings) that his replacement is an autonomous baseball guy versus a Steinbrenner patsy? I give that 50/50 at best.

    9. MJ Recanati
      January 26th, 2011 | 1:26 pm

      GDH wrote:

      Steve, file this one under “be careful what you wish for.” It’s certainly no great secret that you wish Cashman to be gone. But how likely is it (given these forebodings) that his replacement is an autonomous baseball guy versus a Steinbrenner patsy? I give that 50/50 at best.

      So true.

      While I don’t doubt that the Yankees can overcome some level of dysfunction and stupidity, I don’t think the team will be in better hands after Cashman leaves, given the personality, temperament and intelligence level of the remaining front office players.

    10. LMJ229
      January 26th, 2011 | 3:33 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      While I don’t doubt that the Yankees can overcome some level of dysfunction and stupidity, I don’t think the team will be in better hands after Cashman leaves, given the personality, temperament and intelligence level of the remaining front office players.

      I agree but who really knows for sure? I’m trying to be optimistic. Who knows – maybe we’ll get someone better than Cashman. It’s not like Cashman is the best GM in the game. In my opinion, he’s middle of the pack. After all, what qualifications did Cashman really have to be made GM in the first place? He was put there by George to be George’s puppet.

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