Good thing for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman that George Steinbrenner is not alive or that he is not the bombastic George he once was if he was alive. Good for him that he survived Steinbrenner’s maniacal behavior to somehow stay on in the job too long.
Cashman won the game of survival that he can do whatever he wants. That’s an accomplishment executives, managers and coaches that worked for Steinbrenner could envy. Who wouldn’t want to be left alone? Who wouldn’t want to do his job and not worry about being fired? Who wouldn’t want to be second-guessed whenever the Yankees lose or even win? Sure, Cashman dealt with all that from his late boss, but he somehow came out on top.
Now, Cashman reaps the benefits by enjoying all that equity he has from George’s son Hal Steinbrenner, who is more concerned about the Yankees being run fiscally than winning championships. When he failed to acquire an impact pitcher Wednesday afternoon that would tilt the scales in the Yankees’ favor of winning the World Series, he slept well knowing he would not bear the brunt of abuse from his bosses. He could afford to not be worked up about doing nothing.
Never mind the nine-year championship drought hangs over the Yankees. Forget that it’s been a long time a New York team celebrated through the Canyon of Heroes. Why should this be Cashman’s problem when he has a job for life?
Cashman prefers to keep the prospects since it serves the Yankees well now and in the future. He knows it’s imperative a team wins with youth with baseball being a young man’s game. It’s an admirable trait, but he becomes a prisoner of holding on to prospects too long at the cost of winning a championship. As MLB Network Radio’s Casey Stern said it eloquently, prospects are cool, but parades are cooler.
Disregard the fans for a second. Cashman failed the players of giving them their best shot of winning a championship by doing nothing. He knew well the Yankees needed a starter that could be a difference maker in October, especially after the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox hit home runs after home runs against their starters last week. Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer, Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner fit that criteria. He got neither of them. He couldn’t even get Aaron Sanchez or Robbie Ray.
The Yankees now will take their chances of winning championship No. 28 with their beleaguered starting rotation in October. Good luck to that. Outside of Masahiro Tanaka, which Yankee starter scares opponents? Cashman cites Luis Severino will come back soon, but we will believe it when we see it. Besides, what’s the guarantee Severino can be a difference maker when he hasn’t? Also, he is coming off shoulder surgery, so there’s an unknown of what he can do?
Maybe they can get by through outslugging opponents and bullpenning, but that’s a dangerous approach. The Yankees bullpen are getting hit hard as it is, and there’s no guarantee they will be great in October. Hitting starters in October figure to be harder than hitting starters in the summer since it will be hard to hit when it becomes crisp and cold, not to mention the Yankees would face great pitching than mediocre pitching that we see in baseball.
The Houston Astros posed a threat to the Yankees of making the World Series for the first time since 2009, and that was before they made the big trade of strengthening their championship chances Wednesday afternoon. The Astros needed one more starter to make it a sure thing, and they did just that and then some. They acquired Grienke and Toronto Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez.
Sure, the Astros gave up a ransom for Grienke. So what? They subscribed to the theory championships are better than prospects. With a young core nucleus and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander anchoring the rotation, it makes more sense to go for it now. Besides the Astros have confidence with their front office for having an eye for talent. That’s a credit to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff for being creative in making deals that work for the other team and them.
Cashman likes to behave as if he is the smartest man of the room through his actions. He is not as bad as Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who is not shy to tell anyone he knows more about football than anyone. Still, Cashman has this arrogance that he knows more about building championships. He has been emboldened after retooling the Yankees from being an old team to an energetic, exciting team in a short time. He has been so focused on making the farm system to be like the Astros that it has become an obsession. How else can he hold on to Clint Frazier?
Cashman has good intentions, but he works in the nation’s biggest media market, not to mention he works for a brand in the Yankees. He can’t behave like a small-market general manager. He should know better. The Yankees are such a flawed team that they had to do something, and in the end, they came out as the biggest loser in the trade deadline.
Maybe Cashman will be right when all is said and done. If he is wrong, he left himself more for second-guessing when the Yankees season ends.
He can live with it since he will still be employed now that Steinbrenner passed away.
No wonder he showed no sense of urgency.