Nobody should feel bad for Brian Cashman. He gets to helm the mighty Yankees, with their endless pool of resources and roster chalk full of Hall of Famers. It is an enviable position…a thoroughly thankless job for which he will never receive an iota of credit, but an enviable position none the less.
The reality of being the Yankees GM is unlike any other general manager position in the game. There is no “ninja GM” fan club for Brian Cashman. The job of Yankees GM not a position of subtlety or nuance – every year is a do-or-die year. Every season begins with the same expectation: win the World Series. Not compete for a playoff spot, not rebuild or reload for two or three seasons down the road. Win the World Series – this year. Every year. Forever.
Should the team achieve this feat, it is because the Yankees were expected to win the World Series, not because of deft moves or foresight by the general manager.
Which makes Brian Cashman’s job a peculiar one. The choices he’s faced with each and every off-season are unique, in that he often has his “pick of the litter” but it doesn’t make them easy. Deciding which veteran looking for one last kick at the can he should bring in on a minor league deal. Separating wheat from chaff is not as simple as it looks.
As such, the peculiar pressures of Brian Cashman’s job seems to have made Brian Cashman a little…ornery. The Alex Rodriguez twitter debate seems to bring the very worst out of Rodriguez, as many pundits and pontificators rush to declare the “rift” between the Yankees GM and their highest-paid player a personal one.
Cashman: "We want to control the message and when." "We want Alex back. That's not an issue."
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) June 26, 2013
I'd just like to throw my hat into the ring to co-write Brian Cashman's burn-it-all-down memoir in 20-30 years.
— Emma Span (@emmaspan) June 26, 2013
The Yankees received bad news yesterday as it appears Mark Teixeira will miss the remainder of the regular season. Again, the deep-pocketed Yankees create problems which are, in some ways, unique to their elevated financial strata. The contract extensions the Yanks inked with Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia (to a much lesser extent) offer reminds what happens when a team effectively bids against itself.
The Teixeira contract, like the AJ Burnett deal signed that same off-season, are more a case of fiduciary restraint versus flags flying forever. The Yankees got great seasons out of Teix and Burnett in 2009 and won the World Series. The back end of any long-term deal is all but scripted to end poorly. Older players get worse and get hurt more often. That 2009 banner still flies over Yankee Stadium, as do 2011 and 2012 AL East titles. One World Series, to trips to the ALCS in Teixeira’s tenure.
Under Brian Cashman, the Yankees have four World Series titles and six trips to the World Series. Because of the scale on which he works, Yankee busts live long in the memory. But the tiny victories are easily forgotten. The prospects who didn’t work out are remembered, that the Yankees made an astute trade to receive Curtis Granderson in exchange for two young players/prospects in Ian Kennedy and Austin Jackson. Again: the Yankees won in the aftermath because that is their goal, their singular focus. Service time? Arb years? The Yankees care not for such trifles.
So while he might pop off in the media from time to time (another downside of the Yankees bubble – living life with microphones shoved under your nose forevermore), Brian Cashman knows what he’s doing. The Yankees aren’t successful by accident. The deals he makes — or doesn’t make — deserve more credit than he’ll ever receive. Even after a lacklustre offseason in which many glaring roster holes went unaddressed, the Yanks sit seven games over .500, with eyes on yet another playoff berth.
It hardly seems fair, if we’re being honest.
And the rest
ALRIGHT FREDDIE FREEMAN, I give up. You’re pretty good.
A guide to Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, where they still mourn the loss of Pistachio Girl [Big League Stew]
The Prodcast featuring your boy Stoeten! [Productive Outs]
On the Rays and the best pitch in baseball, the change up [Baseball Prospectus]
The evolutionary traits of pitching [NATURE!]
Keith Law on Futures Game rosters [ESPN ($)]
Pretty cool: the Blue Jays ownership group will broadcast tonight’s Red Sox/Jays game in Mandarin on a multicultural network (which they also own) [Sprotsnet 720]