Will Leitch penned a piece in New York magazine about Brian Cashman. Leitch started with the basic history of Cashman as a Yankee intern and his rise to GM, and all the proverbial bells and whistles that come along with that title. Overall, it’s a well written article while there’s nothing glaringly positive or negative about it. There are just a few lines upon which I wanted to hit.
You don’t make it that far in a business as chaotic and cutthroat as the Yankees without fighting, and winning, some wars.
This is something we need to be reminded of no matter what GM we talk about, no matter what organization we talk about. The GM fights a lot of battles over a lot of players, over a lot of personnel. We often get the impression that being the General Manager of the New York Yankees is an easy thing. After all, the Yankees have such deep pockets. All Cash has to do is ask the Steinbrenners for money and his wish will come true. We don’t get to see the inner-workings. We don’t get to see those fights Cash has with ownership. The Rafael Soriano incident over the winter was a rare glimpse at what happens when evaluators and ownership disagree. We haven’t gotten to see many other things like that, which is probably a good thing. Despite the potential for a rift in the organization, it was somewhat thrilling to see what happened in regards to Soriano. Selfishly, it showed us that Cashman or ownership was on “our” side–either the side that thought it silly to spend so much on a relief pitcher for so many years, even with opt outs or the side that thought signing Soriano could help mitigate the seemingly mediocre starting rotation. Non-selfishly, we finally got the briefest of peaks at the inside of the New York Yankees.
The publication of Moneyball eight years ago changed the way the public thinks about baseball, statistics, business, and Michael Lewis. Within the world of baseball, it created the cult of the general manager.
Leitch expands on this a bit and I’d like to, as well. Maybe it’s just ’cause I’m paying attention more than I ever have but when I was young, I don’t ever remember hearing who a team’s general manager was, let alone as much as we hear about GMs these days. We know them and their moves just as well as we know the players they sign and trade for and how those players perform. We project payroll, and muse about future moves that could be made to improve the team just as much as we muse about players and how we think they’ll perform. I wonder if, in this “post-Moneyball world”, if we’ll ever go back to the relative anonymity of GMs. With the way baseball information travels nowadays, I highly doubt that.
There is one thing that I’m not a fan of in this article:
Sad to say, though, the Yankees are the Yankees: Overpaying for expensive older free agents is their birthright. Cashman can construct a smart roster all he wants, but when the guys with the purse strings want to buy a player, who is the G.M. to say no? Why would he want to? It’s not his money.
Why would he want to say no to a certain player? Well, it makes me think that he actually cares about the team he’s constructing. Obviously, the players and their play on the field reflect on Cashman and his way of building a team. Maybe it’s selfish and he wants people to realize that he’s a good GM, but it shows that, at the least, he cares in some way.
We’d all punch an infant or three to get just a shot at having Brian Cashman’s job, but it’s at least partially thankless. He’s ridiculed when he makes bad moves, then sometimes gets minimal credit when he makes a good move. It’s not quite the rock-and-a-hard-place that most people go through every day, but it’s gotta great on him at some point. For what (little) it’s worth, I think Mr. Cashman does a fantastic job of handling the stress of his office.
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