All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Decline and Fall of the Cashman Empire

People have been talking since at least last season about Cashman's rumored loss of power in the Yankees organization. In 2006, he was on top of the world. He made a couple of deadline deals that seemed astonishingly good (Craig Wilson, Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle). Adoring fans wanted to buy Cashman jerseys. Word was that the Yankees had agreed to let Cashman have the final say, banishing the "Tampa Cabal."

It didn't last long. On Friday, Hank Steinbrenner spoke to an AP reporter about Johan Santana. It's been rumored that Hank is at odds with brother Hal, the bean-counter of the organization, who doesn't want to spend the money it would take to get Santana.

Speaking yesterday outside Legends Field in Tampa, Steinbrenner essentially confirmed a report that indicated he still wants to make a deal for the Twins' ace but is facing opposition from his brother Hal, who has concerns about the financial implications of adding Santana to the team's $200 million payroll.

"I'm still leaning towards doing it," Hank Steinbrenner told the Associated Press.

"There's others leaning not to do it. There are some others that are leaning to do it also. Disagreements within the organization. Nothing major, but just different opinions. I've changed my opinion a couple times."

But perhaps more interesting is his comment on Cashman:

Though Yankee GM Brian Cashman has a say in the process, Steinbrenner indicated that ownership will make the final call on pursuing a deal...

The fact Cashman won't have final say on whether the Yankees pursue a deal indicates the GM, whose contract expires next fall, has lost much of the authority he gained following the 2005 season, when he contemplated leaving the organization.

"I always told [Cashman], 'I'm going to make the final decisions because when you're the owner you should,'" Steinbrenner said. "He is the general manager, and he has the right to talk me out of it."

Yesterday, Cashman weighed in, and seemingly confirmed what Hank said:

“The dynamics are changing with us,” said Cashman... “When I signed up with this current three-year deal, and this is the last year of it, it was with full authority to run the entire program. George (Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ owner) had given me that. But things have changed in this third year now with the emergence of Hal and Hank Steinbrenner and that started this winter.

“I’ll be honest, I’m learning as I go along, too. But it is different. But the one thing is that I’ve been with this family, the Steinbrenner family, for well over 20 years, so I’m focused fully on doing everything I can to assist them in their emergence now as decision makers. But it is definitely different than it has been the last two years.”

NYYFans sees this as warning from Cashman that he could walk at the end of this year, when his contract is up. Perhaps. But I'm not sure this is the best way to deal with Hank. He seems too clueless to detect subtle messages like that. And if he does, it seems more likely to tick him off than to get him to change his ways.

Cashman seems to be blaming the Steinbrenner sons for his decreased influence within the organization, but I wonder if might have happened anyway. Even when Cashman was first granted his increased authority, many wondered how long it would last. The Yankees expect to win every season, and if they don't, there's hell to pay. The Boss even said that if the Yankees failed to win, it would be Cashman's fault, not Torre's or anyone else's.

Well, the Yankees haven't won. Some of Cashman's luster began to fade in the 2006 post-season, when despite those great deadline trades, the Yankees washed out of the playoffs early. In fact, the players gained in those deals had little to no impact, then or in the following season. Lidle passed away when his plane hit a Manhattan building. Craig Wilson was released, and ended up missing almost the whole season after shoulder surgery. Abreu got off to a terrible start, and though he rebounded eventually, he was something of a disappointment for the season.

And Cashman brought some of it on himself. He laid down the law early last season, saying he wouldn't talk about extensions until after the season was over. It ended up costing him. If he'd been willing to make the deals early, he could have probably signed Mo and Jorgie to shorter contracts than they ended up getting. And he might have been able to prevent A-Rod from opting out.

But he insisted on waiting until after the season. By then, the market had changed. And A-Rod opted out, making it much harder for the Yankees to lose the switch-hitting Posada, their second-best right-handed bat.

I'm not sure what to make of all this. I'm glad Cashman has nurtured the farm system, and is open to "new school" stuff like sabermetrics. OTOH, he might take it too far. The Yankees want to win, not just have a good farm system. Would it have killed him to sign Mo to a deal in the spring, instead of waiting until after the season? Yes, the stat-heads warn that relievers can fall off the cliff quickly, so logically, you should wait until the last minute to sign them. But this was Mo, not just any reliever. He was clearly hurt that Cashman wouldn't make a deal early, and I suspect that cost the Yanks later. Sometimes the logical thing to do isn't the smart thing, if you know what I mean.

The Yankees going back to their dysfunctional warring factions, complete with meddling owner, doesn't seem like a good thing. OTOH, maybe it's a good thing for Cashman's decisions to be tempered a bit by others in the organization.

posted by BubbaFan, 4:11 PM


Time to DFA Cashman.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, January 06, 2008 11:02 PM  
I'm in create-a-player in Madden making Bubba. What position do you think he'd play? Right now, I've got him set to free safety.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, January 07, 2008 9:43 AM  
LOL. Somehow, I've never thought of Bubba as a football player. Even though "Bubba" sounds like a football player's name.

Though come to think of it, he probably played football as a kid. He grew up in Texas, after all. My guess is he was a quarterback. Seems like a lot of kids who are pitchers are quarterbacks, too.

As for what position he's best suited for safety sounds pretty good, with his speed and aggressiveness. He's got good hands, so maybe he could be a running back or wide receiver. And there's always cornerback, where a lot of speedy little guys end up.
commented by Blogger BubbaFan, January 07, 2008 7:33 PM  

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