At just 52, Brian Cashman is far from nearing senior citizen status. But his 23 years as the Yankees GM merit a status achieved by only four of his peers – the HOF.
When Brian Cashman took over the post as General Manager of the New York Yankees in 1998, he could not have known he would be in the same seat more than two decades later.
Nor could Cashman have imagined he would survive even his first year as a 31-year-old tenderfoot faced with having the inimitable George Steinbrenner as his boss.
Brian Cashman Handed A Silver Platter
But Brian Cashman quickly learned to do what he’s always done best – by taking advantage of the silver platter handed to him by Gene Michael – building and fine-tuning as the years moved along.
Michael’s career mainly centered in scouting before he reluctantly took on the job as the Yankees GM.
He is the unsung oft-forgotten baseball guru who put together the Yankees Core Five that led to four World Championships in the blink of an eye during the late 1990s.
Any fan of the Yankees knows their names like the back of their hand – Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and yes – Bernie Williams because the tandem should never have been tagged as the Core Four.
Brian Cashman seized on yet another opportunity presented to him, Joe Torre.
Seasoned, calm, respected, it was Torre who took hold of the team while providing an oasis fending off “The Boss” when those inevitable tantrums arose, shielding Cashman at the same time.
Again, Cashman recognized his good fortune, not squandering the time it took for him to acclimate himself to the “Yankees Way,” building his staff, learning, and molding himself into the wheeler-dealer he would soon become.
A Floury Of Trades, Draft Signings, And Free Agents
The trades came fast and furious once Cashman was settled in. From the first trade he made on February 6, 1998, acquiring the enigmatic Chuck Knoblauch, to the last one on June 15 of last year when the Yankees acquired Edwin Encarnacion, the list remains star-studded.
Over the years, the list mounted and the litany of trades is too long to list here, but you can browse through them, catching names like Roger Clemens, Aroldis Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Boone, and Randy Johnson along the way.
Or, you can jump to the College Draft Picks made by the Yankees during Brian Cashman’s tenure to find players like Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Phil Hughes, and yes – Cashman’s self-tagged “White Whale,” Gerrit Cole.
The list of Cashman’s free-agent signings is even longer. And it’s there you’ll come across CC Sabathia, Mike Mussina, Jason Giambi, David Wells, Hideki Matsui, as well as a rare few we’d all like to forget (Carl Pavano, AJ Burnett, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Following the passing of George Steinbrenner in 2010, Brian Cashman didn’t miss a beat, forging a partnership with Hal Steinbrenner that flourishes even to this day. You find ’em – I’ll write the checks, says Hal to Brian. And it works.
Brian Cashman And The Baseball Hall Of Fame
With all that backdrop, consider the following. Presently, there are only four General Managers enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
They are Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey, George Weiss, and Larry MacPhail. No GM has been installed since 1960.
Generally, and rightly so, the HOF is reserved for the players. Front office, media, and managers take a back seat.
But if there is one general manager with a plaque, it follows there can be more, if warranted.
With the understanding, we are looking at the future, not the present, and factoring in longevity, only Billy Beane approaches the level Brian Cashman has reached.
Beane, the GM for the cash-challenged Oakland A’s, and only a year behind Cashman in tenure is credited with transforming baseball while producing pennant contending teams on a string.
Dave Dombrowski, as another example, has the years served along with a modicum of success. Still, he bounced around with four teams until reaching his final resting place when the Boston Red Sox dismissed him following the 2019 season.
Brian Cashman – A Resume Still In The Making
Premature? Of course, it is. But what is wrong with initiating the discussion now, when a rating of Cashman’s tenure with the Yankees is already surrounded with accolades?
The Hall of Fame has room for both, but it is Cashman who has not only survived but thrived in the most challenging market in baseball – New York City.
General Managers don’t “hang up their spikes,” they fade away. Some, like Frank Cashen of the New York Mets, are never recognized for the lasting contributions they engendered.
May that never be said of Brian Cashman…