Cashman took over a Yankees team in 1998 that was just coming off a World Series win in 1996 and a post-season berth in 1997, and, Sabean took over a Giants team in 1997 that was coming off a 94-loss season (in 1996).
Therefore, what they inherited with their franchises was different. But, they’ve both had success with their teams since becoming G.M. and both have had their critics as well.
Cashman has more rings than Sabean. But, Cashman thinks very highly of Sabean. See this from 2002:
[...Brian] Sabean has been lauded for believing in the deal and having the guts to make it.
Those who know Sabean say those are qualities he honed during an eight-year stint in the Yankee organization, when he blossomed as a baseball executive.
The man who put together the Giants, the team that is one victory away from a World Series title, has roots in Yankeeland. He was the coach of the University of Tampa’s team in 1984 when then-scouting director Doug Melvin hired Sabean to scout the state of Florida.
Yankee GM Brian Cashman worked for Sabean “doing anything Sabes wanted me to do,” Cashman recalled yesterday. “He’s one of the people I learned the most from, along with Gene Michael.
“He was a tremendous leader. He made everybody feel like a part of things, he got everyone involved. He’s talented not only in evaluation, but in leadership.
“We’d get together away from the park, all of us. Not only was he the boss, but he was one of the guys, too. Despite his abilities and him being the boss, he didn’t have any boundaries.
“That’s important when you have to get after it as hard as you do in this business.”
Sabean, 45, rocketed up the Yankees’ organizational chart, becoming its director of scouting by the time he was 30 and getting a promotion to vice president of player personnel and scouting four years later. He left in 1992 when a promotion to assistant GM with the Giants beckoned.
He got some credit for restocking the Yankee farm system while George Steinbrenner was on suspension and, at one point, was considered the Yanks’ future GM.
“He’s responsible for a lot of guys we’ve got in the big leagues,” Cashman said. “(Andy) Pettitte, (Derek) Jeter, even (Giants first baseman) J.T. Snow, a lot of these guys were on Sabes’ watch.”
Along the way, Sabean met his wife, Barbara, too. She had been Steinbrenner’s secretary for two years and the two kept their romance quiet until they decided to get married. They now have four children.
Sabean has said his time in the Yankee organization helped make him the GM he is now, which is “one of the special GMs,” Cashman said. “If you think about the best in the game, he’s in that top group with John Schuerholz or Billy Beane.”
Which one of these two Brians is the better baseball G.M.?
It seems like Sabean has done more with less whereas Cashman has more trophies to show, overall.
But, if the Giants win another World Series this year under Sabean, that would give him three World Series appearances and two rings in the last 11 years – compared to two World Series appearances and just one ring for Cashman in the same 11 years. So, in terms of more recent history, maybe Sabean is better than Cashman.