Yankees: Curiously, Cashman – not Aaron Boone names Happ fifth starter

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has taken it up himself to name J.A. Happ as the team’s fifth starter. Isn’t that Aaron Boone’s job?

The Yankees have thrived for many reasons over the years.

An essential ingredient, though, has always been the maintenance of an organization structure which delineates authority from Hal Steinbrenner to Brian Cashman, and then finally to field manager Aaron Boone.

Aaron Boone, Yankees Manager (Photo: New York Post)
Aaron Boone, Yankees Manager (Photo: New York Post)

Steinbrenner writes the checks, Cashman signs, and trades for the players to compose their 40-man roster, and Aaron Boone decides who’s going to play when and where during all games on the Yankees schedule.

A curious event, however, occurred last week that gives pause to ask why Brian Cashman felt it necessary to tag J.A. Happ as the Yankees fifth starter – even before Spring Training has begun.

Any number of concerns arise with this move, but here’s a list of some major ones:

  1. Are my lying eyes wrong, or did Cashman just steal the thunder from his manager in making one of the few remaining decisions for him?
  2. What happened to the much-heralded competition between Happ, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and others that were supposed to take place in Spring Training?
  3. Is this an indication that Cashman has ideas about who should be the Yankee’s third baseman – Gio Urshela or Miguel Andujar? Is he also ready to name the team’s starting first baseman – Luke Voit or Mike Ford – before a pitch has yet to be thrown?
  4. Why should Jordan Montgomery bother to show up in February if the die has been cast, and he’s already out?

Speaking to the YES Network, Cashman revealed on Thursday that left-hander J.A. Happ is the favorite to start the season in the rotation’s fifth spot.

“We’re extremely confident [in the rotation], especially our top four,” Cashman said YES Network’s “Hot Stove” program. “I do think that Happ is going to even be better for us than he was in the first half of last year. I think you’ll see more of the second-half Happ, so we look forward to him proving that with us in 2020.”Max Goodwin, Sports Illustrated

Yankees: A Hiccup Or A Possible Trend

Now, Yankees’ history and recent trends do not indicate a rift between Cashman and Boone. In fact, the opposite appears to be true as the team continues to win without drama.

Cashman hasn’t said this, but his thinking on Happ might go something like this: “If we have to pay this guy $17 million this year, there’s no way in hell he’s going to be pitching out of the bullpen”.

Brian Cashman CSI: The Bronx (Photo: nj.com)
Brian Cashman CSI: The Bronx (Photo: nj.com)

The other anomaly, of course, is that Cashman has spent half his waking hours this winter trying to trade Happ. There have been no takers.

But again, the thinking might be the Yankees are hoping Happ can pick up where he left off in the second-half last year, putting together four or five good starts – and then Cashman can execute a trade.

It’s all speculation, though, which is something the Yankees don’t usually give us reasons to engage in, as Cashman and Boone are especially useful in presenting a forthright case for all baseball decisions.

Still, in his way, it’s conceivable Aaron Boone might whisper in Cashman’s ear – “Please don’t do that again. I’ve got this baseball stuff under control”.

Cashman Goes His Own Way

Brian Cashman was merely promoting one of his players in that interview. That’s part of his job, but in this case, with Happ, he went too far. And he certainly was premature and a bit hasty.

With no reason to believe an all-out power war between Cashman and Boone is about to break out – it’s something we should store in the back of our minds as we move closer to the 2020 season.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.