Brian Cashman, the Yankees General Manager, is the new poster boy for what Lord Acton said in 1770: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And we’ll see just how far he goes when the puppeteer hires a new manager.
Accolades have been poured on Brian Cashman for the last eighteen months since he beheaded the Chicago Cubs (Gleyber Torres, Starlin Castro, and Aroldis Chapman, together with the Chicago White Sox (Tommy Kahnle, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Todd Frazier. And then on to the Cleveland Indians (Clint Frazier) and before that, the Arizona Diamondbacks when he stole Didi Gregorius for no one I can remember.
And no one can take that away from Cashman, who has earned the respect of Yankees fans as well as his peers in baseball. But having said that, Cashman’s firing of Joe Girardi, for reasons he has yet to explain, deciding instead to leave it to the “experts” in the media to describe raises the whole question of what looks like a master plan to eliminate the manager in the decision-making process within the Yankees organization.
Did deeper, though and you’ll know
Think back on the 2017 season, and you will recall a defining episode in the interaction between Cashman and Girardi which symbolized the breakdown between the two, and ultimately was never forgotten by Cashman because it was widely covered in the press.
The friction began and revolved around Chris Carter, who was signed as a free agent by Cashman for $3 million when it appeared the Yankees had a need when Greg Bird went down at the end of April. Carter bombed with a deluge of strikeouts and only a handful of home runs as cries from Yankees fandom went up in flames to cast Carter aside.
Cashman didn’t budge until Girardi issued a “directive” to get rid of this guy because I’m not playing him anymore. Or, at least, that’s the message widely distributed in the media. Ultimately, Cashman sent Carter to Triple-A Scranton, at which point he was eventually released.
Following that, the clamor was for Cashman to trade for Lucas Duda or Logan Morrison as a replacement at the trade deadline in July. Nothing happened. Instead, Girardi found his first baseman in Chase Headley, who not only handle the position defensively, but he also put a charge into the Yankees offense when it was badly needed.
The result, a point on the board for Joe Girardi as the team surged in September and on into the playoffs with little or no need for any input or headlines from Brian Cashman.
Apparently, Cashman felt secure enough in his job to make a move with Girardi. The ultimate irony, of course, would be if Hal Steinbrenner fires Cashman, replacing him with a GM who brings Girardi back into the fold. But, that’s probably wishful thinking as it’s unlikely Steinbrenner would have given his tacit approval on Girardi if that were the case.
Cashman: Mine is bigger than yours
Relationships between GM’s and managers are always tenuous at best. The GM fight the owner for spending money to bring in the players he believes gives the team the best chance to win. This, while the manager struggles to make the best of what he’s got.
Except it wasn’t a case, for instance, of Terry Collins trying to make due laboring under the shadow of ineptitude by their GM or ownership. Girardi took the team that was given to him and propelled his players to one game of the World Series. Got a problem with that, Brian?
Cashman, though, does have a problem with that. And it comes down to someone in the organization who has been there for as long as he has. Meaning, of course, that “someone” has built some juice in the organization comparable to his. And if you are someone like Cashman, whose ego has developed at the same rate of his trading expertise, that can be a problem.
Bottom line if you are looking for it, look no further than Girardi’s “dismissal” as a study in power. Cashman won because he has the title and subsequent ability to do what he did. But the question remains, did he, in this one instance, make the move that was the best for the team and the organization.
I think not. And despite all Cashman has done for the team regarding making trades bettering the team, and they are considerable, the spotlight now shines on him to “better” the team by making a selection as manager after the World Series concludes.
I’m watching closely as the interview process gets underway because this, more than anything, will tell me more about the 2018 Yankees than anything I need to know.