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Power Play
2005-10-14 05:52
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

While the Yankees collectively lick their wounds over the teams first round exit, the first order of Hot Stove League business concerns the immediate future of General Manager Brian Cashman whose contract is up at the end of the month. Cashman, Torre and Stick Michael have been a successful management team for New York, but in recent years they have been competing with a trio of advisors (Billy Connors, Damon Oppenheimer and Bill Emslie) in Tampa who are close to George Steinbrenner. The Yankees proved this year that they could out-perform huge off-season mistakes, but you have to wonder if that can continue to happen indefinitely.

In a perfect world, Cashman and Stick Michael would be allowed to run the team without interference, but we do not like in any kind of world as simple or clean as that (as a matter of fact, George King reports in the Post today--without any direct quotes--that Michael wants out). There is too much money and too much ego involved. Nobody really knows what kind of mental and physical condition Steinbrenner is in but it is evident that a nasty power-struggle is going on behind the scenes with the Yankees.

Mike Lupica thinks that Joe Torre would be nuts to commit himself before Brian Cashman's situation is resolved

Understand something: Cashman doesn't hate working for Steinbrenner. He hates working around the weasels in Tampa, guys who would be getting Brian Cashman coffee if they worked in the same office. Steinbrenner is the one who made the weasels matter as much as they do. Now he has to make them matter less.

It is why Cashman's play is the one to watch now, why Torre should wait before saying anything to anybody. Because if Cashman stays, with the authority he deserves and the authority that would make this thing run a lot better than it does, then I believe Torre's situation becomes a lot less dramatic. And he no longer feels as if he is the last man standing, with all his top lieutenants gone.

I'm not saying that the Yankees won't continue to do well after Cashman and Torre leave, but my hunch is that it could get a lot worse before it got better. We've seen George screw up his good thing before so there is every reason to think he's capable of allowing it to happen again.

Comments
2005-10-14 06:30:58
1.   domvjr
As much as I would hate to agree with Lupica, he does make a valid point. Cashman has been the buffer between Torre and the Tampa idiots. If he goes, and the Big Stein, installs one of his boys as GM, the buffer is gone, and life would really be miserable for Joe. I am not saying Cashman has been perfect, God knows he hasn't, but considering the alternative, its a scary proposition!
2005-10-14 07:59:30
2.   tz1
I hope Torre stays, he is a great manager and a great person too. Wouldn't be right to see him go.
2005-10-14 08:30:17
3.   Shaun P
In an article this morning talking about Theo's GM contract negotiation, the Globe's Gordon Edes had some info on what GMs make. He said GM salary info is generally sketchy, but these are generally presumed to be true:

John Hart - $2 million/year (though he just stepped down)
John Schuerholz - around $1.5 million/year
Billy Beane - $1.1 million/year + 5% ownership stake
Cashman - $1.1 million/year
Walt Jocketty - around $1 million/year
Brian Sabean - around $1 million/year
Paul DePodesta - somewhere in the $750K-$850K range

Typical GM contract is 3 years (usually 2 years guaranteed + 1 option year)

Edes said the speculation is that Cashman comes back if he gets paid in the $2 million/year range. Sounds like money well spent to me.

I hope this power struggle, which I presume is for-real, doesn't distract from the business of figuring out how to improve the team. Probably wishful thinking, huh?

2005-10-14 08:39:51
4.   Shaun P
BTW, nice analysis of the situation, Alex. You captured my fears in words better than I could have.

In 3 I don't mean it to sound like I think this power struggle isn't for-real. Rather, I wonder if its really as big - or as clear - as the MSM makes it out to be. JohnnyC made some good points, either here or at WasWatching.com, that not everybody in Tampa is on George's side, which has left me wondering.

2005-10-14 09:14:02
5.   Sky1
Ok here is the deal...Steinbrenner is a great owner, don't get me wrong.He has the money to run the team, but not the capability of running a team in New York when he is n Tampa. There is a power struggle, but I think it is completely wrong for Steinbrenner to take all of his advice from Billy Connors, Damon Oppenheimer and Bill Emslie. Unless they are in the dugout or always in the New York offices they have no right to judge the management team of the New York offices. The Tampa Faction sucks! If torre and cashman leave, we are going to see changes in the team that no team player of fan is going to like or appreciate.
2005-10-14 10:05:16
6.   BklynBomber
The doomsday scenario of Cashman leaving, Torre deciding he's had enough, and the prospect of George himself running the show will set the organization back 20 years... to the days when top free agents wanted no part of The Bronx and we had Mel Hall as the guardian of "Yankee tradition". I'm also worried about Stick. If that's true, this thing is about blow up...
2005-10-16 11:25:21
7.   susan mullen
Newsday is reporting today that Hideki Matsui
has told the Japanese press that he'd like to
see Joe Torre back as coach. And, that Joe's
status will effect his (Matsui's) own decision.
Other reports are saying that Tampa's goals are
first to sign Brian Cashman, and second to sign
Hideki Matsui. Sounds like Hideki won't sign
until he knows about Joe.
2005-10-16 14:58:34
8.   randym77
Interesting.

Some of the other blogs are reporting that Steinbrenner wants to keep Cashman, and they may be kissing and making up.

I hope we keep Cashman and Matsui. And Torre. He may not be perfect, but he's better than anyone else we're likely to get.

2005-10-16 19:04:05
9.   marc
getting rid of Cashman would be bad but not that big a deal unless it really did lead to Torre leaving somehow. I personally think losing Matsui would be a diasater, one of those situations where someone isn't fully appreciated until they leave. As I've said before for business purposes I don't see Matsui leaving due to how it would affect the Japnanese TV contract and the increasing number of Japanese fans. If it was just an MLB contract it might not be such an issue but with the Yankees having a seperate TV contract it would be flat out bad business. there's somewhat of a cultural issue here as well I think. Matsui has said way back that if didn't sign (the first time) with the US franchise that was known world-wide as the best i.e. the Yankees, which my understanding is in that way comparable to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, than it would be considered sort of an embarrassing failure in some ways. I don't know if that factor is still operative given that you guys are saying Matsui reportedly might not want to play without Torre returning. But I do think if Matsui would be traded even though he's doing a great job, that there might be a Japanese backlash which could hurt the Yankee's financially in terms of their International TV etc.

The bottom line is the answer to all this crap is a no-brainer. Sign, Matsui, sign Cashman, and thus assure another year with them all including Torre. Is the Yankee ownership so dysfuncfunctional that we're really going to create a whole bunch of problems for nothing? I'm not sure I want to know the answer.

2005-10-16 20:50:45
10.   marc
awesome starting pitching by Chisox. You never know but I supect we wouldn't have done well against them because unlike the Chisox we would have had to go to middle relief. I'm happy for Contreras but let's face it, you never get a long time to straighten out with the Yankees, that's just the nature of the beast when you play in NY and you're fighting and expected to win the World Series every year. I guess we'll at least enjoy a Yankee Championship whenever it happens after all these drought years.

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