The Worst Cashman Column Yet

Aside from the fact that I’m anything written under the premise of “if The Boss were still running things…” this is completely baseless speculation from Madden. Shocking, I know. Not being privy to private conversations, we have no idea what went in to the team, and team officials’, public statements. It’s just as likely that, given how public Cashman’s lack of desire to sign Soriano was and given that it was already well known that he wasn’t in favor of the signing, it was better to have Cashman be up front about things, rather than engaging in some sort of silly double speak.

And if he hates his job so much, he is of course free to resign his position. He hasn’t done so, and no one has reported he intends to do so, so color me skeptical. To say nothing of the fact that these stories have taken on a life of their own, neglecting the fact that Cashman hardly seemed angry about the matter, even if he didn’t agree with it.

Madden isn’t done though, by any means.

If you listen to some of things Cashman has said over the years and look at the pattern with which he has chosen to operate in the last few years – the CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira winter notwithstanding – a picture emerges of a GM who clearly wishes he was running a small-market team like his pal Billy Beane in Oakland.

Ok, let’s take a look at that. Since the 2008-09 offseason, Cashman has traded Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Curtis Granderson, traded one of his better pitching prospects (at the time anyway) for Javier Vazquez and the $11 million he was owed in 2010,  attempted to trade his best prospect for a 2 and a half month rental of Cliff Lee, and then offered 32 year old Lee a 7 year, $150-170 million contract. Obviously these are the actions of someone who just hates spending lots of money on baseball players and spends his nights dreaming of being the GM of a team with the budget of the Marlins, Pirates, or Padres.

And then, we start getting really deep into the weeds:

Indeed, you get the feeling that Cashman is tired of being labled a “checkbook GM”, while viewing that $200 million Yankee payroll as an albatross rather than a built-in insurance policy for making the postseason every year.

Um…what? More money means more resources, and that means more flexibility to do your job, Every GM in the league would like to have more money. Less money is the real albatross, because it limits your options in terms of putting a team together. If Madden is right about this, I’m basically forced to conclude that Brian Cashman is the most irrational person in baseball. Of course, Cashman has made many rational moves in the recent past, so by process of elimination it seems more likely that, as is usually the case, Madden is peddling complete bovine excrement.

Ever since that $423 million splurge in 2008, Cashman has taken great pains to state his annual goal of trimming the payroll and it’s no wonder that he still seethes privately about that Hank Steinbrenner-approved $275 million Alex Rodriguez contract that will curtail that effort through 2017.

And now Madden has just completely taken us to Oz in his quest to make whatever point he’s making. To wit, while I suppose opinions may differ on the matter, rather than stating his “goal” to bring down payroll, Cashman has always seemed to be stating his charge. And that, of course, fits nicely into both facts and logic, as we know Hal wants to run the team on something of a budget, and it’s ownership, not management, who has an interest in keeping payroll low since, you know, it’s their money being spent. The idea that Cashman has a concern for lowering payroll simply for the reason of lowering payroll is just absurd, and Madden has, at this point, pretty much lost all semblance of being tethered to reality in this column.

And, of course, most logical people can recognize that the reason Cashman is still upset about the A-Rod contract is that it was an unnecessary expenditure of a lot of money that Cashman could be using somewhere else.

Cashman longs to build a team in his own image – a team fashioned around a homegrown nucleus like that of 1996-2001, one of his predecessors and mentor, Gene Michael; a team especially anchored by homegrown starting pitching.

Hmm. I was sort of young then, and growing up in the midwest, but I seem to vaguely recall the Yankees being a pretty decent baseball team from 1996-2001. Can someone confirm that for me?

Judging by the hard public line Cashman took with Derek Jeter this winter, I believe that Cashman, left to his own means, would’ve offered the Yankee captain no more than a one-year deal with a vesting option and been perfectly content to go with Edwin Nunez as his starting shortstop this year.

This is quite possibly the one thing Madden has right in this whole column, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

“Remember, this is the same GM who essentially fired Bernie Williams, and in that respect, Cashman has shown himself to have the same cold business-like manner as George Weiss, the Hall-of-Fame Yankee GM of the ’50s (who, just as coldly, severed ties with Yankee icons Phil Rizzuto and Vic Raschi among others) when it comes to sentimentality.”

Of course, literally everyone other than Bernie recognized that Bernie was completely washed up well before Cashman “fired” him, so this accusation makes no logical sense. There’s a difference between sentimentality and stupidity. Giving Derek Jeter a little bit too much money is one thing, guaranteeing Bernie Williams a roster spot in 2007 would have been quite another (and, for the record, I love Bernie).

And once again, I seem to remember the Yankees enjoying a decent amount of success in the 1950′s. Anyone want to get me Ken Burns’ email address so I can ask him to help me out?

This is why I’m beginning to think, when his contract runs out after this season, Cashman will walk away from the Yankees and try to land a job with a small-market team, with an ownership that will give him a free hand.

And there’s two obvious problems with this conclusion. The first is that plenty of small market jobs have opened up recently, and Cashman made no attempt to leave for any of them. Sure he’s under contract, but there are ways out of those. He certainly isn’t being forced to work for the Yankees against his will, as no one would keep on a general manager with a stated wish not to be doing that job. And the second is that “an ownership that will give him a free hand” doesn’t exist. Even in a hypothetical situation where Cashman leaves and goes to, say, Cleveland and the owner gives him complete autonomy to do whatever he wants with the roster, the owner is going to control how much money he has to do it with. You can pretend that that’s not something other than “complete control,” but how many resources you have to work with is a lot more of a controlling factor than having an owner who decides he wants to spend $35 million on one of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

And that’s it. The rest of the column is devoted to other subjects. So Madden tossed up a column speculating about what Brian Cashman thinks or may want to do in authoritative, specific terms without a shred of reporting. Seriously, there isn’t even an anonymous source or one of those persons in person X’s camp Madden is famous for. It’s all complete conjecture, and Madden doesn’t even make a minimal effort to make it look reported anymore.

This guy has won sports journalism awards people.

27 thoughts on “The Worst Cashman Column Yet

  1. jay_robertson

    OK – tho you gotta admit (maybe) that the column reads fairly well, top to bottom. Without the added commentary. I was willing to believe it when I read it this morning; after seeing it dissected, I dunno. I can see Cash wanting to be his own man; I can also see him not being unhappy shoveling Steinbrenner money around.

    Guess I'll go with your take, and not sweat Cashman leaving; that said, neither would I die of shock if he didn't come back in 2012. (not that it will make any difference – the world will end long before the All-Star Break. I have that on good authority) ;)

  2. The most obvious problems are the logical leaps it makes. Cashman wants to have a tighter budget imposed on him for no particular reason? He's mad about the A-Rod contract because it makes the payroll bigger, not because it limits his flexibility as GM unnecessarily? C'mon, Occam's Razor and all that.

    The thing you have to remember is, as Axisa pointed out Cashman is always wrong in this game of Calvinball. If he signs 3 top free agents or trades a couple of minor leaguers for quality big league players, he's the director of spending. If he won't trade Jesus Montero or Manny Banuelos he's a prospect hugger. If Cliff Lee wants to play in another city and Cashman doesn't want to spend a lot of money on a relief pitcher, Cashman secretly wants to be the GM of a team with a $60 million budget.

    And, of course, there's still the flawed premise here that Cashman somehow isn't respected as a baseball person, which he very much is by anyone who (in my opinion) matters.

    But even if it is a good read, that's neither here nor there. At the end of the day, like pretty much everything else Madden writes at this point, there's no reporting at all in it. It's conjecture at best, total fiction at worst. And when you're going that route, it's easy to make something a good read if you're a good writer. But that doesn't change the fact that it's pure BS.

  3. William Levis

    Cashman made a mistake last year with Damon. He nickel and dimed him and than jumped at signing Johnson????? In the end, he spent more money on the replacements for Damon than he would have spent on Damon. I agreed with Cashman on the A-Rod contract for $275 mil. Yanks way over paid, but A-Rod had to be brought back. Cashman had to go to his bosses to get money for Texeira which was not a cheap sign. Burnett was a lot of money and people killed him in many columns for spending that kind of money on Burnett. Cashman can leave at any time and Madden stating Cashman wants to be a small market GM is probably a little over stated.

    • Nick Johnson did not make more money than Damon last year, to say nothing of the difference between what they paid Johnson and what Damon asked for.

    • No, Cashman rightly refused to pay Damon $14m for a two year deal. And Damon refused a one year deal.

      Doesn't excuse the NJ mistake, but let's get the facts right.

  4. Brian

    Maybe you can enlighten Bill Madden about the correct usage of the term "witch-hunt"

  5. If we're going to go that route again:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Figure_of_speech

    • Brian

      just messin with ya

      but we do have differing views on Cashman, or maybe it just boils down to I think he's "average" and you think he is "good".

      I can't imagine anyone out there actually thinks he is great.

      • I think it's generally hard to quantify GM performance, and I don't know that I would Cashman is good but, why not? He's made some killer trades, he's made some decent trades, he pushed to sign Teixeira, which has probably been the best move the Yankees have made in the past 5 years, and he built a top 6 farm system without the luxury of a high first round draft pick. His flop trades haven't generally been huge deals, and the biggest mistakes made under his watch were made by ownership.

        The one stand out mistake he's made was the Johnson signing, but even that had decently strong logic behind it.

      • LarryAtIIATMS

        Why not "great"? If you compare him to other big market GMs, who else measures up except for Theo?

        Admittedly, I'm not sure how much of a GM's success is skill, and how much is luck.

  6. LarryAtIIATMS

    Brien, once again you've nailed this. We can imagine that Cashman longs to run a small-market team, like we might imagine that Lady GaGa longs to sing the standards in some anonymous piano bar.

    Cashman made a mistake when he said that he'd never give up the first round draft choice. After that, everything that's happened makes sense. Team ownership overruled their GM, which of course happens all the time. Cashman honestly owned up to what had happened, which was a better alternative than trying to spin some cover-up story that no one would have believed.

    Is it possible that Cashman is secretly really angry about all this and is plotting revenge, or escape? Of course it is. I'm sure that Cashman didn't like being overruled by his bosses. Who DOES like that sort of thing? But all of us who aren't bosses experience this sort of thing all the time, and 99.9% of the time we get over it and move on.

  7. I went and checked on those 96-2001 Yankee teams and ZOMG!!! Those teams actually won 4 World Series titles in those 6 seasons and came within an out of winning a 5th!! Certainly these are not the types of teams we want Cashman trying to create: winning teams based on homegrown talent, solid pitching, and parts that all fit together. That's just insanity of the highest order!

    In all seriousness, a fantastic job of FJMing one of the consistently worst Yankee and sports writers around.

    • I honestly think Madden is my least favorite writer in the NY media. Yes, worse than Lupica. It's not just that he's dumb, it's he so often writes these columns of pure conjecture and speculation and passes them off as authoritative, even though he's weaving it from whole cloth.

  8. Damian

    Not sure that Edwin Nunez is available to play shortstop for the Yankees this year:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_N%C3%BA%C3%B1e

  9. guest

    Only two little problems with what you've written:

    1. He wasn't dissing the 1996-2001 team, but stating that it was Stick's team, not Cashman's and that Cashman wants his own similar team built around a base of homegrown talent.

    2. Cashman won't have to get out of a contract after this season. it's up.

    • 1. I got that, that was just my way of pointing out that the line makes no sense. The Yankees were really damn good from 1996-2001, so trying to "build a team like [them]" makes sense, no? To say nothing of the fact that you pretty much have to do that now, the way the market is trending.

      2. I was talking about the past 3-5 years or so. If Cashman wants to run a small market team so badly that every writer seems to know it as though it's a given, it stands to reason that it's not a new development.

  10. Brian

    The worst Cashman-related column of recent memory was Neyer's blog post about the Pavano talks.

    Apparently these guys missed the memo that the REAL reason Pavano was so despised and would never be welcomed back in the clubhouse is not because he never pitched, but because he didn't make the full effort to get back on the mound.

    Players were getting ready for a game and had to watch Pavano sit there and eat candy bars (note: note once or twice, this was happening routinely)…

  11. Brian

    Also, since we're speculating, I'll just throw out there that I think Cashman is also annoyed that he was asked to play the "bad cop" during the talks with Jeter.

    This happens all the time in sports with "aging stars"… the owner doesn't want to pay a guy for what he *used to be*, but he doesn't want to damage his relationship with the star, so he has the GM do the dirty work for him.

    But just because it happens all the time, doesn't make it right. Cashman (unlike that jackass Levine, who took the opportunity to get his name in the news) was put in an uncomfortable position and predictably, has now burned the bridge with the greatest living Yankee icon. Not good times.

    • I don't think Cashman minds. For some reason, every time I hear Cashman talk I envision him delivering a pat impression of Michael Corleone. "It's not personal Sonny. It's strictly business."

  12. Russ Cress

    Here's the thing that I don't get…why does Cashman always get vilified while Boy Theo gets near unanimous praise by the mainstream media for doing the same things? What is the difference between what Theo did with Crawford & Gonzalez and what Cash did with Tex/CC/AJ? In fact, since Cashman took over full control, if you check their track records Cash has made far more astute moves and built a better farm system. Yet somehow Cash gets ragged on while Theo can do no wrong.

    To me, this is clearly a case of Anti-Yankism and there is a real double standard at work here.

    Other big market teams make moves that would get the Yankees slaughtered in the media with barely a peep. Can you imagine the outrage if the Yankees made the Vernon Wells trade? Or gave that contract to Jayson Werth? Or made a trade for someone like Adrian Gonzalez and then gave him a secret under-the-table huge contract extension without announcing it in an effort to defraud the luxury tax system?

    There's some big league hypocrisy going on.

  13. Kurt

    Have to agree with Russ all the way on the Theo comparison and the other questionable deals this offseason. I wouldn't rank either Cashman or Theo near the top of the current GM's out there. I like what Towers is doing in Arizona since he took over and I respect guys like Jon Daniels, Ned Colletti and Brian Sabean.

    • Ned Colletti and Brian Sabean are stupid, no good, very bad general managers.

      • Fact! And it's waaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy to early to say that Towers is going a good job in Arizona. That dude has a lot of work to do and a lot of moves to make that actually play out to his team's benefit before anybody can even intelligently discuss the job he's done there.

        Cash is the man and people need to start recognizing it.

  14. Allen

    I think the Mets would be smart to try to sign Cashman when his contract is up. They could use a guy who can exercise restraint to reorganize the team and minor league system, and he'd probably welcome the challenge of turning around such a complete mess while still having a big budget to play with. I was also surprised to see that his current contract is only for about $2 millions per year – for his entire tenure with the team, his manager has been making a lot more money than he has. I could see that getting under his skin, and in that light it doesn't surprise me at all that he didn't show any loyalty to Torre (no loyalty deserved, IMO, but that is a different and long dead conversation).

  15. Mark

    Right now, what does the payroll look like for this year, because even with the Soriano signing, my thinking is that the Yanks are under 200 or right at it. I'm figuring that they had planned on 25 for lee, 13-15 for pettitte and 17 for jeter. So take pettittes 13 and give it to soriano and the yanks probably have about 10 million left to spend under last years budget. If that's the case, they should be able to make plenty of moves during the season. Cash is a great GM, I would say top 3 in all of baseball (Theo & Amaro also there). I've read a lo that he's to blame for not having a Plan B after Lee, but in reality, there really was no Plan B unless you thought Grienke was a real option. I give Cash credit for not panicking and throwing the kitchen sink at the Royals to get him because in reality the future wouldve looked much worse with Greinke than without. The team is pretty much the same team that was 2 games away from teh World Series last year and the basic core of the 09 team is still intact. These writers just need to calm down, but it's the pre-spring training season and when there's not much to write about, BS is usually the way to go.

    • Is that "BS" as in "before spring"?

  16. JimJ

    Now that I think about it, Bill Madden is kinda the John Sterling of writers.

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