Via Ken Rosenthal -
[Joe] Torre’s revelations about players such as Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown and, of course, Alex Rodriguez are receiving far more attention than his criticisms of [Brian] Cashman.
Most manager-player relationships, though, are fleeting. Cashman was Torre’s GM for 10 years, from 1998 to 2007.
The Yankees won the World Series in the first three of those years. They made the playoffs in all 10. And Torre and Cashman formed what should have been an unbreakable bond while working for George Steinbrenner, perhaps the most demanding owner in sports.
Amid the initial uproar over “The Yankee Years,” Torre revealed to the New York Times that he told Cashman, “we’d always be friends.” As much as Torre talks about trust, he cannot possibly believe that.
Cashman, friends say, is “crushed” by how Torre depicted him in the book. He had considered Torre a second father. And he was loyal to Torre, except, perhaps, at the very end.
Torre should be upset if Cashman indeed failed to speak on his behalf at the final meeting — and if Cashman failed to inform ownership of a contract proposal that Torre believed might save his job.
But is that even what happened?
Some close to Cashman dispute that the final meeting went down as Torre described and say that other portrayals in the book are pure fiction as well.
There are two sides to every story, especially in a relationship as lengthy and complicated as the one between Cashman and Torre.
While the book accurately points out Cashman’s flaws — his abysmal record with pitching and occasional overreliance on sabermetric analysis — Torre goes out of his way to embarrass and diminish his supposed friend.
Cashman made more than his share of mistakes, often leaving Torre in a compromised position, particularly with pitching. Some of Torre’s friends still burn that Cashman was “Teflon” with his ability to escape criticism. But Cashman, as the book explains, also did not operate in a vacuum.
The team’s Tampa-based executives routinely interfered with Cashman’s decision making before he assumed full control in 2005. Then, when Steinbrenner’s health began to decline, an ownership committee came to power and again complicated matters.
Oh yes, Cashman also had to deal with a celebrity manager who had his own shortcomings. That’s baseball. Even the best and brightest, from Torre to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, are prone to stumble.
Torre takes responsibility for some of his own slip-ups — recommending Todd Zeile, endorsing the trade of Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver and most notably, failing to remind Mariano Rivera to be aggressive against Kevin Millar leading off the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
But too often, it’s Cashman this, Cashman that. Cashman wanting Kei Igawa when he could have re-acquired Lilly as a free agent. Cashman insisting that Josh Phelps and Doug Mientkiewicz replace Bernie Williams. Cashman making wacky suggestions on how to use players and using assistants to spy on pitching coach Ron Guidry.
Whatever his faults, Cashman was Torre’s principal ally, defending him to ownership, even hiring coaches such as Tony Peña and Larry Bowa when the manager appeared to be growing too distant from his players.
Cashman never criticized Torre publicly for burning out relievers, for batting A-Rod eighth in an elimination game, for presiding over one postseason collapse after another.
Torre gives perspective to the Yankees’ playoff failures by pointing out their stunning overall success while he was manager — four World Series titles, 12 straight postseason appearances, booming attendance.
Fair enough. But Cashman was a major part of that success, too, signing Mike Mussina, trading for David Justice, Roger Clemens and Bobby Abreu, among others. Sure Cashman had the most money to play with. But Torre benefited from the Yankees’ largesse, too.
We can sit here all day finger-pointing, but frankly, this discussion should not even be taking place. Torre and Cashman have a shared history, warts and all. That history should bind them forever. But Joe Torre wrote a book, tearing them apart.
Torre has his story. Sounds like Brian Cashman has his own too. Maybe we need another angle on this…to get a story that’s not coming from Camp Torre or Camp Cashman?
Rick Cerrone was Senior Director of Media Relations for the Yankees from 1996 through 2006. It’s too bad he wasn’t there for 2007 – as he then could have provided the perfect coverage on the Torre/Cashman years.
Reggie Jackson has been a special adviser in the Yanks front office since 1993. Maybe he can do a book and set the record straight. Then again, why would Mr. October bite the hand that feeds him?
Gene Michael? Nah, stick wouldn’t do it. Neither would Mark Newman. Too bad…I bet they know the true skinny. In the meantime, it will be “he said/she said” and everyone will have to pick sides, I suppose…