Is Brian Cashman More Active To Save Own Skin?
It’s a well-known fact that the New York Yankees like to spend, and spend big on big names, and even bigger egos when it comes time to replace aging or underperforming players. The Cashman regime took control as the dynasty died with that short, looping fly ball in the Arizona desert back in November, 2001.
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Leaving the dynasty team was Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, and Scott Brosius, and in came the likes of Raul Mondesi, Jason Giambi, and Robin Ventura. Not that Ventura had an ego, but he simply was far too past his prime to really be a contributor long term. Guys like Rondell White, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, and so on, were all brought in by Cashman, in an attempt to return the Yankees to their frequent title-winning ways. Well, two more AL pennants, one title, and an epic collapse later, Brian Cashman has finally decided, in his 18th and what could be his final season at the helm of the New York Yankees, on a new route to return the Bronx Bombers to their past glory.
After 2008, the first time the Yankees had missed the postseason since 1994, and again in 2013, Cashman loaded up on big names and big contracts to try and stop the bleeding. It worked in 2009, as title #27 came back to the Bronx. Last season, not so much. The Yankees were on the outside looking in, as injuries and poor performances plagued the roster top to bottom.
Now that the Core Four era is officially over, Cashman isn’t held to making sure egos are massaged and legacies aren’t tarnished. Now it’s about self-preservation, pure and simple. While the Brothers Steinbrenner might be much more patient and forgiving than their late father, a third straight October without playoff baseball in the Bronx, could be the death knell for both Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.
Rather than signing every big name free agent under the sun, Cashman has taken the route of reducing payroll, and holding on to prospects. He has built a bullpen, that on paper, looks to rival some of the great units of all-time. The lineup looks impressive, if it were 2005. Loaded with aging and injured veterans, Cashman is banking on the idea that the injury bug won’t rise up and bite the Yankees for a third straight season. His patchwork starting rotation is a time bomb waiting to explode. If this team remains healthy top to bottom, they can compete for a World Series title as currently constructed. A handful of injuries to key components, along with underachievement at the plate, could put the Yankees in the basement of the American League East, and Cashman and Girardi out of jobs at season’s end. Cashman believes in this new route, taking a page out of Gene Michael‘s book, that young, controllable players, and a top notch bullpen is the recipe to build a winner.
Unlike Michael however, the new crop of Yankees minor league studs won’t be ready to contribute until 2016 at the earliest, with a handful of exceptions, including Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder and Jacob Lindgren. There is no Core Four waiting in the wings to take the Yankees from fringe contender to dynasty overnight. The new breed of Yankees’ superstars are still developing, gaining much-needed seasoning. Unfortunately for Cashman, if the 2015 Yankees don’t produce at the very least a Wild Card berth, he very well may not be around to see his hard work come to fruition.