Managers and general managers have come and gone with regularity during the Steinbrenner Era in New York. But Brian Cashman and Joe Torre are special. If Torre gets fired this season--or if he chooses to leave at the end of the year--there will be much written about what a huge loss it will be for the Yankees. (There will be fantastic wailing for weeks.) And to a large extent, I think it will be a big loss. But instead of moaning about how George could have let it happen, how he could let his ego get in the way of a great thing, we should take that time to stand back in amazement that Torre lasted as long as he has in the first place. (I understand that George didn't have much of a cherce, what with Torre winning four World Championships, but still, this is Steinbrenner we are talking about.)
Brian Cashman hasn't been sainted by Yankee fans and the New York media in the same way that Torre has, but he's been a marvel in his own right. (When he finally does leave New York, he won't have a tough time finding work.) Cashman was at a Hot Stove event in New York last night and had some candid things to say about where the Yankees stand going into the 2004 season. Tom Singer of mlb.com was there and filed this report.
When asked about the Red Sox being the favorites to win the East, Cashman replied:
"That's fine with me. That means we have something to prove," the Yankees' general manager said, showing a square jaw to his audience. "We plan on selling our players on the fact they're not getting any respect.
"We've tripped and skinned out knees, and now are supposed to fall apart. 'It's up to you to show that's wrong.' We're going for the jugular."
What about the notion that the Yankees can spend money 'til the cows come home?
"Having money to spend can make things more difficult," he said. "It can be more difficult to handle high expectations. I've been in a position of telling George, 'We don't need to spend this, it's too much extra, we're fine where we are.'
"I'm probably the only general manager that's ever had that conversation with an owner. But I run more risks. Someone else maybe can't afford a $3 million mistake, but I'm after bigger game. I can't afford a $10 million mistake."
As a self-incriminating case in point, Cashman volunteered Jeff Weaver, who went 12-12 in a season-and-a-half in the Bronx before being dealt on to Los Angeles. Weaver was acquired in the first year of a four-year, $22 million contract he'd signed with the Tigers.
"I thought he had the right mentality to handle pitching in New York, but I was wrong on that one," Cashman said. "That turned out to be a $10 million mistake."
From New York, straight talk. Peace to Repoz for the link.