Friday, January 21, 2011
What’s going on here? Did Lee really do that much damage to this Yankee winter—or to the Yankee front office?
It may be that he did, and it may be that what we heard from Brian Cashman on Wednesday is the surest sign that he did.
While it’s not at all unusual for a general manager to get overruled by his owner, it is highly unusual for a GM to air the disagreement publicly. And that’s exactly what Cashman did.
He admitted that he didn’t want to sign Rafael Soriano as a setup man for Mariano Rivera—not for $35 million over three years, anyway. He admitted that he took no part in Soriano negotiations, leaving that to club president Randy Levine.
He even strongly suggested that Soriano was signed in large part to appease fans and sell tickets.
Asked if the Yankees felt the need to respond to what the Red Sox had done this winter, Cashman said, “I think [owner Hal Steinbrenner] felt we needed to do something regardless. We were not going to go into spring training without doing something big.”
Cashman said he spoke out Wednesday only because he wanted to be “transparent.” But some people who know him believe his strong comments were a sign of larger disputes within the Yankee front office.
I don’t know that this makes sense. It seems to me it’d have to be a case of:
1) Ownership never wanting Lee and preferring to pursue other avenues to improve the team but acquiescing to Cashman’s desire to sign Lee instead
2) Ownership willing to pay Lee as much as it would take to sign him and Cashman setting a cap that ended up costing them Lee
3) Ownership annoyed that the Yankees were in a position where they were so dependent on signing Lee that the failure to sign him significantly blew up their offseason
I find 1 and 2 unlikely. I guess 3 is possible, but it’s kind of hard to be critical of the situation the Yankees were in after the 2010 season ended considering they won the World Series in 2009.
Cashman’s in the final year of his contract, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t back next year. If I were him, I’d be pretty pissed off about having said that he didn’t think signing Soriano made sense and not wanting to give up his first round draft pick only to have his team do precisely that a couple of days later.
While I do think he’s a good GM, I don’t think he’s irreplaceable. However, the concern I’d have is that if he does leave, Randy Levine will be involved in hiring the next GM and I would be shocked if he hired a good one.
This is the last time I’m going to bring up the lost draft pick, since it’s, well, lost.
According to this draft pick list at River Ave Blues, here are how many picks each of the five AL East teams have through the end of the second round.
Granting that the Rays would have gotten those picks even if Soriano signed elsewhere, that doesn’t change the fact that the Yankees lost one of their picks in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory according to the people who track that sort of thing, and that most of their opponents in the division are primed to take nice advantage of the deep draft.
And the argument that the 31st pick in the draft generally doesn’t become much of a player ignores the fact that he could be traded if he’s a prospect. It’s not like C.J. Henry amounted to anything, but he did net the Yankees Bobby Abreu.
Really though, it’s not the loss of a single draft pick that’s so troubling to many Yankee fans. It’s the thought(or lack thereof) and decision-making process behind it that’s really worrisome. I really don’t want the front office for my favorite team making decisions based on ‘appeasing the fans’ or ‘selling seats’. I want them to make decisions based on how much they’ll help the team win in the short and long-terms.