Filed under: MLB | Tags: Baseball, Brian, Cashman, New York, Off-season, Sports, Yankees
Being a New York Yankee envelops a different meaning, a meaning which is regarded as being much more prestigious than just “another MLB employee.” A Yankee is synonymous with 2 things; Winning, and star-power.
So when the 2010-2011 MLB Off-Season began, many thought it was a shoe-in that New York would yet again make the largest of splashes while pursuing another World Series title. After all, there was “Yankee Money” on the table. Surely the likes of Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford could not pass up a chance to sport the pinstripes, right?
I’ll spare you the poetic story telling. Arch nemesis Boston put a stranglehold on the Yankees, pocketing not one but two all-stars in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Cliff Lee spurned that infamous “Yankee Money” and returned to Philadelphia.
The Yankees(as of 1/28) have made one acquisition of substance, dumping a boatload of cash into Rafael Soriano’s dump truck in an attempt to buckle down the bullpen. 35 million dollars later, New York had their man. Not to be outdone, the Yanks also added a former Cy Young winner, a Cy Young finalist, and a Silver Slugger winner who owns 10 gold gloves and 5 all-star berths.
How could Yankees fans not be enthralled with the likes of Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior, and Andruw Jones?
But the interesting aspect of the off-season is that the real issue, besides the questionable player personnel decisions, is the antics of GM Brian Cashman.
Sure, from a talent standpoint the off-season didn’t go as planned. A reason for concern? Of course. But a team which features one of the best offenses in baseball, C.C Sabathia, and a solid back end of the bullpen can still compete admirably.
Pundits alike agree on that point, one man who perhaps does not, is the aforementioned Cashman.
For the majority of his career in New York, Cashman was able to stay hidden in the wake of an iconic manager and larger than live owner. The New York Post would send the Yankees a thank you card in the mail every Christmas, graciously thanking Mr. Steinbrenner and others for the carousel of headlines which they produced. But Joe Torre aged, his stay perhaps too long, Steinbrenner struggled with health issues in the waning stages of his career, fading into the background before passing over the summer. With the figure-heads around him disappearing, Cashman quickly became the media’s new brain to pick as they desperately looked to generate even the most far fetched of rumors.
Cashman, for the most part, stood his ground up until this winter.
He uncharacteristically spoke out on multiple occasions, leaving me perplexed, asking just a simple “What are you doing?”
When not scaling buildings or celebrity bar tending, Cashman was often bluntly answering questions for the media in the oddest of fashions. Whether he’s simply fed up in New York, or Rex Ryan is rubbing off on everybody, Cashman has left his critics with so much ammo they may start to saturate.
Trouble was presumably on the horizon when Cashman went public with the Derek Jeter contract negotiations, questionably stating, “We’ve encouraged him to test the market and see if there’s something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That’s the way it works.” Listen, we know you’re under rule of the Steinbrenner’s and negotiations are as much a poker game as they are a contract debate, but there is a line you don’t cross. Telling the captain as well as the face of your franchise to go elsewhere if he doesn’t like what you have on the table is, well, crossing that line. I can imagine that Hank&Hal were none to pleased with Brian throughout these negotiations, siding with the perturbed Yankee Universe.
To make matters worse, Cashman was not done. When introducing the only off-season acquisition worth more than a blurb(Rafael Soriano), Cashman said he “didn’t recommend the deal” and was outwardly opposed to the signing of Soriano. Not only was this odd, seeing as he’s the General Manager, but he did so with Soriano sitting right next to him.
Talk about awkward.
What really sparked the obligatory firestorm in New York was not the struggle to re-sign Derek Jeter, or the disapproval of newcomer Soriano. Rather, it was the statements Cashman made just days ago. Cashman delivered a copius amount of “hit” one-liners, including “We’re one starter away from being a World Series contender,” “I’d be surprised if he plays SS for all 4 years. I see him moving to the out-field,”(when discussing Derek Jeter) and the ultimate head scratcher, “Red Sox. But we have better bullpen.”(When asked who was better)
Now what Cashman said was nothing that surprised non-Yankee fans. Derek Jeter is becoming a liability at shortstop. Tell a New York fan this and they’ll most likely flip you the bird, but it’s becoming fact of the matter. His range is declining and I’d be hard pressed to tell you he has 4 years left at that position. It’s also common knowledge at this point that the Yankees are one starter short, especially if Andy Pettitte does not pull a Brett Favre.
The problem, is that Cashman made these statements knowing Yankee Universe would respond with cries for mutiny. In a rivalry as heated as Boston and New York, don’t ever admit as a Yankee that you aren’t as good as Boston. You just don’t do it. Even if it’s true, it’s something you leave within your inner circle. The same could be said with the Derek Jeter comments. Did you not learn your lesson the first time around? When attempting to play hardball with Jeter, Yankee fans across the country cry foul.
Surely their own general manager wouldn’t defame “The Captain” enough to suggest a position switch!
It’s bad enough Cashman let down the fan base with a deflating off-season. Overpaying for a middle reliever and bringing in 3 players who are so far past their prime Allen Iverson’s ears perked up is not anything to “write home about.” That is exactly what makes his ill timed comments so much worse. It’s the proverbial lighting a match and throwing it on gasoline effect.
An air of uncertainty was already hovering around this New York Yankees ball club. Early playoff departure and a maligned back end of the rotation is a justifiable cause for concern. It becomes even more a cause for concern now that Cashman has done a less than ample job to fix these problems. Tack on ill conceived statemtnt after ill conceived statement and you have yourself a recipe for disaster, Brian Cashman.
Hopefully he’s learned from his last batch of verbal mixed signals, and will allow the off-season to fade into obscurity.
On its own.
- Mark Chiarelli