In recent days, fans and columnists have been speculating about Brian Cashman’s future with the organization because of some of the comments he’s recently made and the way he’s very publicly distanced himself from the Soriano signing. Some see this as a form of disloyalty, this sentiment is especially common among those who supported the Soriano deal. Some of these folks conveniently forget the comments he made just a week prior to the signing, which had to be addressed. Further, Brian aired his dissent publicly at the Soriano press conference, right in front of his bosses. Despite this, Hal Steinbrenner was interviewed by Joel Sherman and quoted saying he has no problem with Brian whatsoever:
“[Cashman] and I have a great working relationship. There is no problem, right now. I think we have had a bunch of drummed-up drama.”
“I keep reading about dissension and discord. We are a well-functioning company. The bosses have a decision to make. Sometimes people don’t agree with those decisions. So I told him, ‘You are always honest with the media, be honest now. Tell them what you have to tell them.’ I was already onto the next decision. I told him, ‘You and I are fine. Answer in any way you want.’”
Those aren’t the comments of someone who was just sandbagged at a major press conference. Brian made it known to his bosses he was going to go public with his position on Soriano, and they had no problem with it. But it seems pretty clear there are dissenting views in the Yankee hierarchy, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless too many chefs are cooking the roster. One move doesn’t mean Brian has been neutered. Looking at it long term, I think recent events will bolster his authority to make baseball decisions. Personally, I think Brian’s setting himself up to consolidate his power with the Yanks for the next few years and/or when he re-ups with the team on his next contract.
Think about it. We all know multi-year deals are a risky business when it comes to relievers. Brian has had much experience himself in this department, most of it (Karsay/Farnsworth/Quantrill/Marte) bad. By all accounts, Randy Levine is the one who pushed for the Yanks to sign Soriano all winter. Randy Levine is the one who’s sticking his neck out here, and his justification for signing Soriano was the Yanks had to ‘do something’. Which is what most people say before they do something really stupid. I think that’s why YES/Levine has been sensitive about criticism on the deal, because he knows he’s taking a risk here that could blow up in his face.
I think Brian is smart enough and experienced enough in this town to know if you get the Baseball right, everything else takes care of itself. Most of George Steinbrenner’s bad moves were ones made for business reasons, adding star power to sell tickets. That’s what led to some middling teams and very bad trades in the 80s, and the old, overpaid, under performing teams of the mid-2000s with zero roster flexibility or prospects to bring up/make trades with. I think Brian is making a calculated bet here, and odds are he’s going to be the one who the Steinbrenner brothers will be listening to if the Soriano deal doesn’t work out. I’m sure his stock was down after missing out on Lee and doing little else this off season, but if Cashman and Levine were both traded on the NYSE, I’d be buying Brian and selling Randy right now.