After Brian Cashman’s contract ran out following the 2005 season, disgusted with the fractured and factioned way in which the Yankees baseball operations had been run, he insisted on complete autonomy regarding all personnel decisions were he to come back, and ultimately received it.
Or so we’ve all been told.
In light of the Rafael Soriano signing that, quite frankly, still seems to have baffled much of the Yankosphere — for the record, I don’t think anyone can dispute that Soriano certainly makes the team better in 2011; it’s the 2012 and 2013 parts along with the missing draft pick that seems to be most unsettling — word has leaked that the signing was not in fact a Brian Cashman decision, but rather that Randy Levine and/or Hal and Hank Steinbrenner themselves may have pulled rank and ordered the move against Cashman’s desires.
If true, this is the second such instance in the last four offseasons — that we are aware of — in which ownership went over Cashman’s head to sign a player he wasn’t interested in, the first of course being the re-signing of Alex Rodriguez to his 300-year, $80 trillion deal after Rod famously opted out during the 2007 World Series. Cashman was quoted numerous times that offseason more or less saying good riddance to Rodriguez, before Hank Steinbrenner reportedly stepped in and bid against himself to lavish A-Rod with the richest contract in professional sports history.
“The third option is the one that is cause for real concern. In his daily column, Buster Olney hinted at a divide within the Yankees organization, while Peter Gammons tweeted that Randy Levine was the driving force behind the signing. Even Mariano Rivera has been credited with holding sway. If true, that could be disastrous for the Yankees. Whether you like Cashman or not, the Yankees have seemed to benefit from having one coherent voice on baseball-related matters, so a return to the days of front office factions could have undesirable consequences. I am sure more on that topic will be written in the coming days, but usually when there’s an early leak, there’s also an unhappy general manager.”
If any of this is indeed true, it’s a real problem. While I was joking with Leonora, Ross, Joe and several others on Twitter this afternoon about Mariano Rivera playing GM, the idea that Levine completely usurped Cashman’s authority to make this deal is troubling, and I have to imagine Brian Cashman is quietly seething somewhere. Who’s really in charge here?
As much as Cashman clearly loves the Yankee organization, having worked for the club in a variety of capacities for more than two decades, at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he was ready to bolt after his contract is up at the end of the 2011 season. And for as much as any of us would presumably love the opportunity to run our favorite franchise and can’t imagine anyone turning down the job of General Manager of the New York Yankees, I would get the heck out of dodge if people routinely questioned my authority, meddled in my decisions and ostensibly tried to do my job for me. That’s no way to work, and that’s also no way to run a baseball team.
* Of course right as I was about to hit publish Mike posted a brief note on this at RAB, so here’s a link to that piece as well.
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