Matt I. addressed this topic in an excellent post on Monday, but I didn’t get around to reading Will Leitch’s profile on Brian Cashman in this week’s New York Magazine until now, and wanted to offer my own two cents, being that I’ve written more words this winter on Brian Cashman than I ever thought I’d need to as well as the fact that though I find myself disagreeing with Leitch from time to time, he’s still an excellent writer and works for one of my favorite publications.
Last time I wrote about one of Leitch’s articles I was extremely disappointed in the premise and authored a fairly angry rebuke, which New York was actually kind enough to quote in the following week’s issue. Needless to say, that made my day. This time, however, Will has done his homework, and his Cashman piece is an enjoyable read, even if he does ultimately jump to some questionable conclusions.
Will asserts that Cash has historically been less high-profile than his GM counterparts and friends Billy Beane and Theo Epstein, and backs this statement up by saying that “no one writes books about Cashman, and it’s impossible to imagine him sneaking away from reporters while wearing a gorilla costume.”
Aside from one of these descriptors applying to Beane and the other to Epstein, I’m not really sure how either reinforces the notion of Cash being some low-profile GM. The man works in the most media-saturated market in all of professional sports for the most recognized franchise on the planet with dozens of reporters paid to cover his each and every move 365 days a year — I’m not sure there’s a less high-profile job. The gorilla comment is just silly, while the only reason no one writes books about Cashman is because he clearly isn’t ready to let anyone do so. If Cashman called a reporter up and allowed him 24/7 access to the inner workings of the Yankee front office a la Beane in “Moneyball,” do you really think the writer would turn him down?
Additionally, can you imagine the kind of stories Cashman must have tucked away having worked for the New York Yankees for the past 25 years? Not to mention the fact that 13 of those years have been served as the franchise’s General Manager, a position that only one man in team history has held longer (per Wikipedia, Ed Barrow was at the helm from 1921 through 1944). After Cash retires and finally decides to open the vault, I’m certain his (auto)biography will vault to the top of the best-seller list.
A couple of other interesting snippets:
“Cashman, who will never be played by Brad Pitt in a movie, has always envied this; he’s close friends with Epstein and knows how revered Epstein is, not just in Boston but in the sabermetric baseball community as a whole. Boston is a little bit of a general manager’s fantasyland; Epstein has power and public renown in a great baseball city. Epstein can walk down the hall and talk to Bill James; Cashman is stuck running into Hank Steinbrenner on his smoke breaks.”
I doubt Cash is all that jealous of the fact that Brad Pitt is playing Billy Beane in the “Moneyball” movie, but that’s really neither here nor there. What strikes me here is the idea that Theo Epstein runs some kind of totalitarian dictatorship up in Boston. I imagine these days Theo has his share of autonomy, but how quickly we forget that Epstein left the organization in 2005 amidst “‘agonizing soul-searching’ over office politics and his relationship with his boss.” Perhaps ownership promised to meddle no more upon eventually wooing Epstein back into the fold, but why should we take that concept at face value in light of what happened with Cash’s very public overruling just this past winter? Boston’s ownership group doesn’t strike me as the type to leave each and every personnel decision 100% in the hands of the general manager, no matter how much they might insist otherwise publicly, but now I too am speculating.
“This leads to the inevitable question: Who, in fact, is in charge here? The answer, of course, is: They all are. The Yankees are a billion-dollar organization, with a cable network and a new stadium and revenues flowing from every corner. That is too much for one man to handle. The whole notion of the job of G.M. is to have a finite amount of funds to be dispersed in as efficient a manner as possible; this is the whole point of Moneyball. But the Yankees have infinite funds, even if Cashman likes to pretend they don’t. So much so that when Steinbrenner and team president Randy Levine hand him a top-tier player like Soriano, he actually complains about the price. This is Cashman’s curse: He can run the team as smartly as he likes, but he’s never the one truly in charge. He is always going to be smaller than the team. That’s not what today’s G.M. is supposed to be.
Leitch pretty much nails it here — as much as we Yankee fans might like to think the team’s front office is confident enough in their sophisticated general manager to allow him to operate carte blanche, history has shown this not to be the case. There are simply too many egos involved. While Hal Steinbrenner appears to be comfortable with Cash calling the shots, Randy Levine has never been one to shy away from self-promotion, and seems to have this distorted self-image of himself as a kind of reverse folk hero, robbing from the poor (Cash and his beloved first round draft pick) to overpay the rich (the unnecessary acquisition of Rafael Soriano). However, Leitch also contradicts himself to an extent, going from tacit acknowledgment of the fact that no one general manager can have all-encompassing power over a franchise as wealthy and with as vast resources as the Yankees have, to bemoaning the fact that Cashman doesn’t in fact have that same authority.
“Meanwhile, the Yankees get everything they want: a smart, steady hand at the till, trying to keep costs down and put a championship team on the field, a guy they know well enough that they understand when to step in and overrule to spend some money. It might seem like chaos, but it works. And Cashman knows it. Which is why, as much as he might look out the window sometimes and wonder what life is like outside the only adult job he’s ever known, he’ll never leave. He has it pretty damned good here. We all do. If he needs to go slide down a building every couple of years to blow off some steam, more power to him. Nothing’s more stressful than your dream job.”
This last paragraph is fairly tragic in its painfully accurate summation of the team’s current power structure. “A guy they know well know enough that they understand when to step in and overrule to spend some money.” This is exactly why the stat-driven segment of the Yankee blogosphere didn’t support the Soriano signing, and why, even as Cash continued to get taken to task by various members of the media and fanbase, many of us continued to stand by him. Cash had a target, and that target, to the surprise of pretty much everyone who follows baseball, decided to somehow turn down $30 million and go to Philadelphia, leaving Cash to improvise and advise the fanbase to “be patient.” The reasonable among us in Yankeeland completely understood this, knowing full well that there were no other worthwhile starters to be had and that it’d be pointless to overpay in either dollars or via trade for anyone who wasn’t as close to a bona fide ace as it gets. Additionally, the farm system is arguably currently more loaded with talent than it’s been at any point possibly in franchise history, with many a young arm close to knocking on the MLB door. There was no need for ownership to get involved and spend some money simply for the sake of spending some money. If the Yankees honestly think less people would’ve come out to the ballpark in 2011 if they didn’t sign Rafael Soriano, they are less in touch with the modern-day Yankee fan than any of us realized.
However, after all is said and done, Leitch once again has it right in his final paragraph. Even if Cash does secretly pine to prove that he could build a winner on a shoestring, Billy Beane-esque budget, deep down he truly does love the New York Yankees. He understands the team’s importance to the city as well as his custodial role in continuing to maintain and build on the legacy of tradition and winning that the interlocking N-Y has always been identified with, by those who both love and revile the team. He’s a company man through and through, and I can’t envision him ever leaving the only organization he’s ever known of his own volition. He knows the territory, knows who his masters are, and knows that even if he might be the smartest guy in the room, even he will periodically get overruled. And you know what? If you’re Brian Cashman, that’s OK. Something about a $2 million salary and being the highest-paid general manager in all of baseball probably helps take the occasional sting out.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees