Ultimately though, I don’t see why this is getting so many people so worked up, aside from paranoia about returning to the “bad old days” (which weren’t really that bad, but I digress). As I’ve said a few times on Twitter, this argument is pretty much pointless without knowing what the disagreements was about. Was it about money? In that case, I don’t see why anyone really cares. Ownership can spend whatever they want to on players, and if they decided they were willing to pay for Soriano then why should anyone else care? It’s not like they decided to sign Soriano instead of some other, superior player by any means. And as much as we like to look at contract value and so on (and yes, the Yankees are overpaying Soriano, no argument there), at the end of the day, they’re still the Yankees, and it’s not like they can’t afford the contract.
On the other hand, if they bought into the media chatter that the Yankees were “hibernating” and needed to do something to keep up with the Red Sox, and decided to make the move just for the sake of doing something, that’s a bad thing. I don’t see any indication that that’s true though, and I also don’t see anyone arguing that the signing makes the Yankees worse in 2011, so while I obviously don’t know what happened, I’d say this is pretty unlikely.
The final possibility is the most difficult one though; did the two sides disagree over the importance of the draft pick the Yankees forfeited in the deal? If this is the case, then whose side you come down on is going to depend on what you think of the value of the pick. I’d rather have Soriano than the 31st pick in the draft, so if Cashman was insistent on holding the pick and was overruled by his superiors, I have a hard time getting too worked up about it. I’m also not really sure it’s true, and this is why:
The disagreement looks worse because of Cashman’s public stance that the team would not surrender its first-round pick for anyone other than ace Cliff Lee, who spurned the Yankees to sign with the Phillies.
Much of what has been written on this question has focused on Cashman’s statement that he wouldn’t give up a first round pick for Soriano, but that’s not exactly what he said. As noted here, Cashman said he wouldn’t give the pick up for anyone other than Cliff Lee and, to be generous, that’s ridiculous on the face of it. Do you really think Cashman valued the pick more than he would have valued Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth if the price had been right for one of those outfielders? Of course not. Maybe Cashman meant anyone left on the market, but assuming he meant it literally, it’s so absurd that I have a really hard time believing he meant it.
So looking at this from 10,000 feet, we have a signing the general manager didn’t want to make, but by most reporting wasn’t strongly opposed to. There’s no argument that the signing doesn’t make the team better, which is probably why Cashman apparently wasn’t too worked up about the deal. And, to some degree, it actually looks like there was a different philosophy towards risk involved. Cashman was apparently more willing than ownership to gamble on Mariano Rivera not getting hurt and/or Joba Chamberlain or David Robertson being able to fill in for him, while ownership wanted to buy a better insurance policy, albeit at a premium price. But it does not appear that there is any sort of significant rift in the front office, nor that there is anything to particularly worry about in the decision making process here.
The Soriano contract wasn’t a great one, but it wasn’t a horrible one either. And while there was disagreement in the front office about it, by no means does it appear that it was particularly rancorous. At the end of the day, it still seems to me that people are getting far too worked up about this deal.