1 Yankees scapegoat to fire: Brian Cashman
Will Brian Cashman be fired? You already know the answer to that. He was extended after an ALCS dismantling where someone under his watch decided to show the 2022 Yankees motivational footage of the worst postseason collapse in franchise history. Often a circus, it's possible the modern Yankees have never been more embarrassing.
But should Cashman be fired? He's certainly made a number of shrewd, low-dollar deals over the years, adding relievers and below-the-radar bats like Gio Urshela and Luke Voit to supplement his highest earners. But it's difficult to argue he's maximized his resources. The Yankees might not carry a $450 million payroll like some fans wish, but $290 million is more than enough to hold the trophy at the end of the year. Even the most ardent Cashman defenders, at this point, have to admit it may be time for a change of voice at the most desirable position in MLB. Who doesn't want control over the Yankees' fortunes? Which budding exec wouldn't want to be handed $250 million minimum, with only Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (partially Marlins money) weighing the payroll down long-term?
If the Yankees ever were going to dismiss Cashman, it would be difficult for Hal Steinbrenner to look his longtime accomplice in the eyes during the conversation. It would also almost certainly come after missing out on postseason revenue altogether, which could very well happen this season, even if the Yankees sneak in as the lower-seeded road team in a doomed Wild Card series.
The dismissal would also likely require a clear cause-and-effect. Look no further than the 2022 MLB trade deadline, when Cashman went all in on acquiring Andrew Benintendi (freak injury) and couldn't manage to re-sign him. He also surrendered the farm for Frankie Montas, whose shoulder was already injured, one of the more egregious misallocations of resources in modern MLB maneuvering. This is not to even mention Hayden Wesneski for Scott Effross, whose Tommy John surgery only further underscored the disaster. And don't forget dealing Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader without assurances from Marlins GM Kim Ng that they were also receiving Pablo López, something that maybe didn't happen, but almost definitely happened.
Excepting 2023 from the conversation (because this is a reality-based chat), the only team Cashman has ever constructed "from the ground up" that's won a title was in 2009, when George Steinbrenner's passing seemed imminent and Hal and Co. gave him the go-ahead to buy AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. But even that team lacked depth. The postseason rotation was three men deep (CC, AJ, Andy Pettitte); Cashman forgot to insure against Chien-Ming Wang's regression and attempted to survive with Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Joba Chamberlain, and ... ???. He's lucky it worked.
Plus, that '09 team was still powered by the Core Four, all drafted and developed by the brilliant Gene Michael. Cashman didn't uncover Derek Jeter. He splashed cash around him, barely survived with a thin rotation, and secured exactly one ring in two decades. The playoffs may be a crapshoot, but that doesn't sound like someone's resumé we should be eternally indebted to.
The best version of the modern Yankees probably involves neither Cashman nor Boone, but the GM's shoddy roster construction has grown more egregiously stale than the manager's caretaking.