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Brian Cashman’s Yankees folly was years in the making

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.22″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.25″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.25″ custom_padding=”|||” custom_padding__hover=”|||”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.27.4″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″]As the Yankees hover around .500 and speculation about the job security of Manager Aaron Boone grows louder, General Manager Brian Cashman arrived in Buffalo to address the media prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays. Rather than issue ultimatums and tear into his underperforming roster as the late George Steinbrenner would have, he expressed support for his club. Yankees beat writers Brian Hoch and Brandon Kuty shared the GM’s thoughts via Twitter:

Brian Cashman: "We have really good coaches, we have a really good manager. We have what it takes in this clubhouse already." — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 15, 2021

Brian Cashman says that the #Yankees are in "buying mode" and "open to anything and everything" that would upgrade their roster. — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 15, 2021

Asked if he is sure Aaron Boone is the right manager for the #Yankees, Brian Cashman said: "We made this bed and we are going to sleep in it. We are in this together." — Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) June 15, 2021

Brian Cashman: "It's frustrating to watch. I get it. It's frustrating to watch because we're better than this." Said it's not because Aaron Boone or the coaching staff doesn't know what they're doing. #Yankees — Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) June 15, 2021

Understandable befuddlement, disappointment, irritation, and outright rage from the fans accompanied the GM’s indifferent response to his handpicked roster and field staff seemingly underperforming so terribly.

Still, allocating blame to anyone other than Cashman himself ignores the reality that the entire roster is his, the manager and coaching staff are his, and the strategies and blueprint are his. It was years in the making from his deft consolidation of power to the point where he is at the top of the hierarchy with only Hal Steinbrenner above him and the results, with one World Series title in two decades and no pennants in 12 years, are not what the Yankees brand is about.

Don’t expect the Yankees to blow it up

For those who are expecting a major overhaul and buying spree to bolster the current roster and make a run, a simple question is: what do they have to trade to acquire the likes of Max Scherzer if they’re selling overhyped and underwhelming prospects like Deivi Garcia? If Estevan Florial is one of the top-tier youngsters, then why was he not recalled to at least give him a chance once Aaron Hicks was lost for the year? Instead, they’ve relegated to using Brett Gardner every day when at this juncture of his career he should be playing twice a week if that.

The Nationals are not looking for salary relief if they do move Scherzer. They’re going to want prospects. But even if they were, would the Yankees take the approximate remainder of Scherzer’s $35 million salary at midseason and blow past the luxury tax when every move they have made in recent years suggests that there’s a hard line at remaining below the threshold? The actions by the GM directly contradict his own statements.

To a degree, Cashman is correct when discussing Boone and saying what’s happening on the field is not his fault. However, as the team fails to play up to its supposed potential, the media scrutinizes him more closely. With the stress evident on his face, he responds testily, leading to questions like the one posed by Ken Rosenthal as to whether Boone will last the season:

Latest podcast with @TimMMcMaster: *Boone status *Scherzer as trade candidate *Cubs, Cardinals *Sticky stuff *Pirates as sellers *Hall of Fame *The alarming decline in fundamentals *More Free to listen! Spotify: Apple: — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 14, 2021

Firing the manager for change’s sake is fine, but doing it and then installing someone who will do the exact same things Boone does is useless. It’s silly to blame Boone for the strategies he implements based on orders he is given. If he’s to be blamed for anything, it’s for taking the job without any leverage or managerial experience in the first place knowing the parameters the GM had set. Obviously, Boone was told what he was walking into, but perhaps he was under the impression he’d be granted greater leeway as time wore on. He hasn’t been. Barring Hal Steinbrenner stepping in and ordering the hiring of an established, independent-minded manager like Buck Showalter, Bruce Bochy, or Mike Scioscia, firing Boone changes nothing. For the Yankees, the manager is now irrelevant. How can someone irrelevant be credited or blamed?

Inhale… exhale…

After the victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, the club has at least one day to breathe with Gerrit Cole scheduled to pitch Wednesday. Even if in the unlikely event they somehow take this flawed roster, turn the entire season around and achieve the lofty predictions from the preseason, there remains that one problem of all the decisions being made with an icy emotionlessness based on Cashman and no one else. Simply going back to a 2016 Cashman statement about the manager’s job and how he envisioned it, his response was telling and honest:

Speaking to a group of baseball’s top public-relations executives at the winter meetings three years ago, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman explained his theory about the role of the field manager. In his mind, the job had evolved into something more like “White House Press Secretary,” since it involves going on TV every day, talking a lot, and spinning the day’s events.

As history has shown, the White House press secretary is a disposable functionary with no power who “serves at the pleasure of the president.” That’s what Cashman wants. That’s what Cashman’s got. He can always find another one and remain the main decision-maker for the entire organization. And judging by how this season has gone, that may be the problem few are willing to acknowledge and the owner is unwilling to address.


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