• Did Cashman Just Compare Yankees To The Viet Cong?

    Posted by on March 24th, 2013 · Comments (30)

    Great stuff on the Yankees G.M. today via Andy McCullough:

    As this woeful camp winds down, with Opening Day eight days away, [Brian] Cashman remains the club’s diminutive symbol of defiance in an era when George Steinbrenner’s scions lack the bluster associated with their surname. He refuses to acknowledge the possibility the Yankees could fall from their perch as one of baseball’s elite despite an aged and battered roster. Cashman considers himself a product of his environment, and even among these kinder, gentler Yankees he can’t shake the history that forged him.

    He started as an intern in 1986. He weathered the tempests of George Steinbrenner after his 1998 promotion to general manager. He emerged from the constant power struggles battle-scarred but wiser, buttressed by a diverse group of assistants in baseball operations, who have helped chart the organization’s revamped course toward fiscal responsibility.

    During the winter, the Dodgers usurped the Yankees as the game’s premier spenders. Cashman appears more than willing to cede that title. The Yankees will never feel like underdogs, he said. But they can adopt their rhetoric.

    “Look at Vietnam,” he said. “The biggest payroll didn’t win there, either.”

    This is his 16th year in charge, which makes him the longest-tenured Yankees general manager since World War II. His résumé includes four World Series titles, 12 American League East titles — and endless disquietude.

    “Working here, you don’t ever feel secure,” he said. “The demands are high. The demands are high.”

    Once Cashman’s ride arrives each morning, he slips into the backseat and keeps his cumbersome cast elevated. At the ballpark, he rides a golf cart along the dark hallway toward the trainers’ room. There waits his black, four-wheeled scooter, the same one utilized by shortstop Derek Jeter while convalescing from a broken ankle last winter. He rides the scooter throughout the complex, and crutches back toward the parking lot each night.

    As Cashman developed his post-injury routine this past month, a sense of gloom pervaded the atmosphere. A losing record appears possible for the first time since 1992. The roster is baseball’s oldest. Jeter could miss Opening Day. Outfielder Curtis Granderson will miss the season’s first month. First baseman Mark Teixeira might miss the entire season. And the viability of their highest-paid player, Alex Rodriguez, is a mystery as he recovers from hip surgery.

    The injury pile-up revealed a dearth of depth on the major-league roster, which critics assert is a result of managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner’s insistence on reducing the 2014 payroll below the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Cashman countered that their 2013 payroll remains robust, more than $200 million for the sixth consecutive year. He cited the team’s “significant” but rejected offer this spring to impending free agent Robinson Cano.

    So for Cashman, nothing changes, even as big-league sharks circle the Yankees and outside observers predict their downfall. The concept of a bridge year, a euphemism for rebuilding, is “just not part of our DNA,” he said. “There’ll be no such thing. Not intentionally, anyway.”

    A perception of weakness materialized this winter. The Yankees exhibited caution. They ignored high-profile free agents Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton, while less-pricey options Eric Chavez, Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz signed elsewhere.

    Like Hal Steinnbrenner, Cashman chafes at the idea his team has become cheap. He framed their behavior as a product of prudence, not poverty, and of making “good, efficient, sound, baseball decisions.” Both Cashman and Steinbrenner have referenced the high prices paid on one-year deals for players like Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Kevin Youkilis.

    “I would not have participated in the Greinke or Hamilton signings,” Cashman said. “Whether that ($189 million) restriction was in place, or not.”

    In turn, Cashman laughed off the notion that the Yankees needed to reclaim their spending crown from the Dodgers.

    “My job,” he said, “is to put a team out there that wins for the least amount of money possible.”

    Yet, of course, there is the specter of The Boss.

    “But I said ‘win’ first.”

    Cashman mentioned the idea of “tread(ing) water until the guys come back.” He has learned from his failures, from trades for aging pitchers (Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson) to misguided free-agent acquisitions (Carl Pavano, A.J. Burnett) to expensive Japanese imports (Kei Igawa). He credited his assistants for their guidance in recent years as he’s become “more choosy.”

    “I’m not gun-shy,” he said. “But we are definitely more educated.”

    Sixteen years of Cashman. That’s a fact. The question is: When will it end? If you ask me, he’s now almost five years past his due date on being fired. But, at least there is a building swell within the Yankees fan base who want him gone. And, hopefully, someday, the Stein Brothers will get on board with it as well.

    Comments on Did Cashman Just Compare Yankees To The Viet Cong?

    1. LMJ229
      March 24th, 2013 | 10:08 am

      It’s no mistake that Cashman’s greatest success came in his early years when George was still George and he inherited a championship roster from his predecessors. Cashman is not a good general manager. He is average at best. If he were fired, I can’t imagine too many teams would be knocking down his door to hire him. Spending money, especially when you have an overabundance of it, is the easy part of being a GM. Finding talent from within is the hard part. He has clearly failed at the latter so I doubt any owner is going to look at him as a “must have” GM. When Cashman is eventually fired, his days as a GM will be over.

    2. LMJ229
      March 24th, 2013 | 10:27 am

      Cashman and the owners keep pointing out that the Yankees are not penny pinching. They keep pointing to the signings of Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Kevin Youkilis as proof of this. And there is some validity to this. However, the Yankees clearly had areas of need that were not adequately addressed due to their fiscal restrictions. Russel Martin, for one. The bench for another.

      Had the Yankees signed Martin, Chavez and Ibanez to their existing contracts it would have cost them $14.25 million for all three players. Now, instead of having Juan Rivera play 1B you have Youkilis play 1B and move Chavez to 3B. You have Ibanez play LF in place of whoever they are going to put out there, and you replace Stewart/Cervelli with Martin. Your opening day line-up looks alot better doesn’t it?

      By signing all of these older players but not providing any depth the Yankees were clearly penny wise and pound foolish. The fans get this. Cashman and the owners don’t.

    3. March 24th, 2013 | 10:39 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      It’s no mistake that Cashman’s greatest success came in his early years when George was still George and he inherited a championship roster from his predecessors. Cashman is not a good general manager. He is average at best. If he were fired, I can’t imagine too many teams would be knocking down his door to hire him. Spending money, especially when you have an overabundance of it, is the easy part of being a GM. Finding talent from within is the hard part. He has clearly failed at the latter

      Dead. Solid. Perfect.
      Nailed it!

    4. Raf
      March 24th, 2013 | 11:07 am

      LMJ229 wrote:

      Finding talent from within is the hard part. He has clearly failed at the latter

      No homegrown players on the Yankees’ roster?

    5. Raf
      March 24th, 2013 | 11:16 am

      Someone needs to educate Cashman on geopolitical affairs. Granted, it was a throwaway line, but still…

    6. KPOcala
      March 24th, 2013 | 2:36 pm

      A little bit of a segue, but I’ll always believe that we didn’t get Cliff Lee because of Hank’s, ‘It would ‘behoove the ‘young man’to sign with the Yankees’ remark. I can’t imagine how insulted that any man of his stature in the game, especially coming from Arkansas, would been. Had they been in the same room, Hank would probably been punched through the door. I’s relevant in that the team “MAY” have won another ring or two, and the staff would have enabled the Yankees to deal from a strength. Amazing how little those two “Boys” learned from the Old Man. On the other hand, it’s also understandable……..

    7. McMillan
      March 24th, 2013 | 7:20 pm

      “Sixteen years of Cashman. That’s a fact. The question is: When will it end? If you ask me, he’s now almost five years past his due date on being fired. But, at least there is a building swell within the Yankees fan base who want him gone. And, hopefully, someday, the Stein Brothers will get on board with it as well.”
      It has been reported that Hal Steinbrenner’s “firmly held belief” that a $200 mil. payroll is not necessary to win a world championship as substantiated by “rock solid” “historical data” is “permanently-encoded in the team business plan.” If true, a new gm might be on the horizon; because this one is completely incapable of fulfilling the franchise’s “sacred obligation” of fielding a “championship-caliber” team with less than $200 mil. This is not good news for Mary Bresnan, who might see a reduction in her $1 mil.-per-yr. alimony as a result.

    8. March 24th, 2013 | 7:29 pm

      McMillan wrote:

      a new gm might be on the horizon; because this one is completely incapable of fulfilling the franchise’s “sacred obligation” of fielding a “championship-caliber” team with less than $200 mil.

      The only thing I fear, Cashman, being as Teflon as he is, will skip the blame for the season, citing injuries, bad luck, etc.

    9. McMillan
      March 24th, 2013 | 7:40 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      The only thing I fear, Cashman, being as Teflon as he is, will skip the blame for the season, citing injuries, bad luck, etc.

      As you had written earlier, the injuries work in “Cashman’s favor.” But a Hal Steinbrenner team with payrolls of less than $200 mil. and Brian McGuire Cashman as G.M. will not fulfill the franchise’s “sacred obligation.”

    10. Greg H.
      March 25th, 2013 | 8:55 pm

      Well you might all get your wish this year. (be careful what you wish for). One more year on his contract, they could easily dump his 3M in 2014, although I believe they will probably let him finish the year so as not to add another penny in 2014.

      Just curious as to which available GM you would like to see the Yanks pursue as the replacement for Mr. Cashman either this year or next? (Remember – must answer to NYC press and work for the Steinbrenners and their elite “baseball people”).

      Kenny Williams
      Mark Shapiro
      Dayton Moore (2014)
      Terry Ryan
      Jed Hoyer (pry away from Theo)
      Ben Cherington
      Andrew Freidman (no way)
      Alex Anthopolous
      Walt Jocketty (2014)
      Jerry Dipoto (assuming club options not exercised)
      Jack Z
      Frank Wren (not happening)
      Dan O’Dowd
      Josh Byrnes
      Brian Sabean (assuming 2014 club option not exercised)

      Or someone not currently working as a GM that you would take a flyer on??

    11. March 25th, 2013 | 10:16 pm
    12. Greg H.
      March 26th, 2013 | 12:14 pm

      Steve, does that mean you want the Yanks to pursue Jerry DiPoto to replace Cashman?

      How’s his track record been with Anaheim?

      Would you have signed Pujols for 10 years? How about Hamilton for 5 years? What is this spend, spend, spend? Can’t he be a decent GM without the checkbook? Can he be a decent GM with an open checkbook? :-)

      Plus, the Angels have him signed through 2014 with two more club options after that.

      Option B?

    13. March 26th, 2013 | 12:26 pm

      Greg H. wrote:

      Steve, does that mean you want the Yanks to pursue Jerry DiPoto to replace Cashman?

      It means I want someone like him – with his background and experience.

    14. McMillan
      March 27th, 2013 | 10:19 am

      Greg H. wrote:

      Just curious as to which available GM you would like to see the Yanks pursue as the replacement for Mr. Cashman either this year or next? (Remember – must answer to NYC press and work for the Steinbrenners and their elite “baseball people”).

      This is a tough one: Sabean won 2 world championships with approx. $1 billion in payroll in the same time period that Cashman won 1 world championship with approx. $2 billion in payroll…

    15. Ricketson
      March 27th, 2013 | 10:44 am

      McMillan wrote:

      This is a tough one: Sabean won 2 world championships with approx. $1 billion in payroll in the same time period that Cashman won 1 world championship with approx. $2 billion in payroll…

      And Sabean worked with the Steinbrenners and their “elite ‘baseball people’” for years… A better question might be: who would you not like to see the team pursue and why not?

    16. McMillan
      March 27th, 2013 | 10:54 am

      Greg H. wrote:

      Would you have signed Pujols for 10 years?

      That was a Levine… I mean a Steinbrenner… I mean a Moreno move.

    17. Greg H.
      March 27th, 2013 | 11:20 am

      FWIW, Sabean was absolutely pounded in the SF media (far gentler than NY) during the years 2002 to 2010, for the entire span during which he built the team to what it is now. Would he, could he, in New York? Working again for the Steinbrenners? I don’t think you could offer him enough money.

      I have to agree with Steve here, that if Cashman is replaced, it could very well be a guy with plenty of experience, but not a current GM.

    18. Raf
      March 27th, 2013 | 5:00 pm

      Sabean has been with the Giants since 1997… The year the Yankees were eliminated in the first round. Cashman was hired in 1998, the year the Yankees won 114 games and the first of 3 world series in a row. :P

      Of course it should be noted that Cashman shares Sabean’s tendency to hire old(er) players. :)

    19. McMillan
      March 27th, 2013 | 7:44 pm

      @ Raf:
      What kind of haircut does “The Manchild” have in these photos (http://deadspin.com/5845140/the-photos-of-yankees-gm-brian-cashman-that-broke-up-a-marriage), taken at the time he was sleeping with Brian Brennan’s wife, Kim? It is not one typically seen on an adult or a man, is it?

    20. Mr. October
      March 27th, 2013 | 8:30 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Cashman was hired in 1998, the year the Yankees won 114 games and the first of 3 world series in a row.

      Not much of a record since 2005 (and 2013 is not looking good); probably because his predecessors and others deserve 99% of the credit for 1998-2000.

    21. Mr. October
      March 27th, 2013 | 8:43 pm

      Steve L. wrote:

      Dead. Solid. Perfect.
      Nailed it!

      Agreed.

    22. Raf
      March 27th, 2013 | 9:42 pm

      McMillan wrote:

      @ Raf:
      What kind of haircut does “The Manchild” have in these photos (http://deadspin.com/5845140/the-photos-of-yankees-gm-brian-cashman-that-broke-up-a-marriage), taken at the time he was sleeping with Brian Brennan’s wife, Kim? It is not one typically seen on an adult or a man, is it?

      Don’t know, don’t care. I’m not one to obsess over hairstyles ;)

      However,
      A team spokesman refused to comment when asked if Cashman was still married. “Brian Cashman has done a great job for us,” the spokesman said, “and we want him to be with the Yankees for a long time.”

    23. McMillan
      March 28th, 2013 | 2:03 pm

      Raf wrote:

      A team spokesman refused to comment when asked if Cashman was still married. “Brian Cashman has done a great job for us,” the spokesman said, “and we want him to be with the Yankees for a long time.”

      “[A paid] team spokeman;” I would say the same thing in such a capacity if I was called on by my employer to address the type of negative publicity this little creep had brought to an organization with this conduct – what else would a spokesman say about a $3,000,000.00/yr. family friend of the organization’s ownership?

    24. Raf
      March 28th, 2013 | 4:14 pm

      What else?
      “Brian Cashman has done a great job for us”

      Or he could have mentioned that if Mr. Brennan had gotten a haircut, the Mrs. wouldn’t be chipping around… :P

    25. Mr. October
      March 28th, 2013 | 5:41 pm

      According to a resident of my town who is a well-known sports journalist with a major New York newspaper: Cashman is not going anywhere. Cashman is “entrenched” with the Steinbrenners, and Hal, who is not the most knowledgable owner as far as the game and business of baseball is concerned, “trusts him implicitly.” Further, the Steinbrenners would not like to see Cashman’s “legacy” be that of a GM that inherited championship teams in the early years of his tenure and as a “checkbook GM” throughout, and Cashman will be the GM of a team that will in all likelihood return to its free-spending ways to an extent in 2015…

    26. Ricketson
      March 28th, 2013 | 5:59 pm

      LMJ229 wrote:

      It’s no mistake that Cashman’s greatest success came in his early years when George was still George and he inherited a championship roster from his predecessors.

      Raf wrote:

      Cashman was hired in 1998, the year the Yankees won 114 games and the first of 3 world series in a row.

      There were not too many Igawas, Pavanos, Johnsons, etc. on the 1998 team; the organization itself was so substantial that it took an incompetent such as Cashman 10 years to bring it down: a gradual decline from a 114-win season and world series titles (1998-2000), to league championships (2001, 2003), to division titles (2004-06), to wildcard postseason appearances (2007), to a year without a postseason appearance (2008) as the ages of Jeter, Martinez, O’Neill, Pettitte, Posada, Rivera, Williams, etc., and the team’s payroll, gradually increased.
      It was the Steinbrenners’ “interference” with $423 mil. for Sabathia, Teixeira, etc. that allowed for a world series title in 2009. And once again this incompetent has the team in decline from a world series title, to division titles and wildcard postseason appearances (2010-12), to a year projected to be without a postseason appearance (2013).
      Mr. October wrote:

      Cashman is not going anywhere.

      Unfortunately and probably true, at least for the foreseeable future or the next several years.

    27. Raf
      March 28th, 2013 | 6:19 pm

      Ricketson wrote:

      There were not too many Igawas, Pavanos, Johnsons, etc. on the 1998 team

      There weren’t any Learys, Witts, Muhollands, Abbotts, etc there either. At least Cashman got it right, bringing in Orlando Hernandez, instead of Xavier Hernandez. :P

      It was the Steinbrenners’ “interference” with $423 mil. for Sabathia, Teixeira, etc. that allowed for a world series title in 2009.

      As well as the interference that brought in Jimmy Key, Wade Boggs, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Kenny Rogers, David Cone, Spike Owen, etc.

      To say nothing of the ability to swallow salaries like those belonging to Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson, Cecil Fielder and Paul Assenmacher :P

      So magnanimous! B)

    28. Mr. October
      September 10th, 2013 | 8:38 pm

      Raf wrote:

      At least Cashman got it right, bringing in Orlando Hernandez, instead of Xavier Hernandez.

      Cashman didn’t bring Orlando Hernandez in – Cashman just became more involved in the negotiations when Bob Watson resigned and Cashman was named GM in Feb., 1998. El Duque was signed in Mar., 1998.

    29. Raf
      September 10th, 2013 | 9:43 pm

      @ Mr. October:

      Glad you’re enjoying the archives…

      http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/07/sports/baseball-defector-from-cuba-will-join-the-yanks.html

      Mr. Cubas said:

      I was about to cut a deal with Cleveland. We were at opposite ends of the spectrum yesterday. The thing that helped was that Cashman got directly involved, which he hadn’t been from the very beginning.

      Mr. October wrote:

      Cashman just became more involved in the negotiations…

      And as a result of his involvement, Orlando Hernandez signed with the Yankees instead of the Indians. :)

    30. Mr. October
      September 10th, 2013 | 10:36 pm

      @ Raf:
      That’s what I said.

      “American scouts had seen Hernandez several times during international tournaments, but possessed nowhere near the amount of information they accumulate on the average prospect. ‘We thought, at best, El Duque would be a third starter for us, a back-of-the-rotation guy,’ says general manager Brian Cashman. ‘We didn’t project anything like this.’”

      Even when Cashman’s right, he’s wrong.

      “[Gordon] Blakeley, 49, joined the Yankees organization in 1994 as Pacific Rim coordinator after working for the Seattle Mariners’ scouting department since 1988. As vice president of international scouting and vice president of professional and international scouting for the Yankees, Blakeley was instrumental in the signings of Alfonso Soriano and Orlando Hernandez in 1998, and Jose Contreras and Hideki Matsui..”

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