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.