Brian Cashman has been accountable for the Yankees’ on-field product for greater than 20 years, and on the mixture, is likely one of the extra profitable executives in trendy baseball historical past. He overhauled an growing older and costly roster, ushering within the Child Bomber period, and oversaw a chaotic 2020 whereas fielding a comparatively older, dearer roster, all whereas refusing to push in any commerce chips or tackle further payroll for the second consecutive yr.
It’s onerous to only give a single grade to Cashman. In spring coaching, we have been coming off the largest free-agent pitcher signing in MLB historical past, because the Yankees’ GM pulled out all of the stops in touchdown Gerrit Cole. The highest of the Yankees’ roster was nearly as good as any in baseball, and the workforce was a well-liked World Series decide.
If the workforce had a weak spot, it manifested within the pitching depth. Cole, Luis Severino, and James Paxton have been nearly as good a high three as you possibly can discover, but when one thing occurred to them, the dearth of further signings offered a problem.
Nicely, you’ll by no means guess what occurred.
I don’t blame Cashman for accidents to pitchers; anybody’s UCL can burst at any time, and pitching accidents have been at an all-time high throughout the sport this yr. What I do blame Cashman for isn’t supplanting that top-heavy pitching employees with higher depth, particularly in the course of the season.
Getting Lance Lynn makes that bizarre ALDS Recreation Two choice so much simpler, doesn’t it? You simply hand the ball from one top-five starter in baseball to a different, as an alternative of no matter that bizarre pseudo-opener technique was. Buying and selling for Archie Bradley means you possibly can belief extra than simply Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton in a playoff sequence. The workforce has the cash, and if that is the window, the potential wins in 2022 and 2023 represented by prospects within the system matter a complete lot much less.
And right here lies my central criticism of Cashman. He constantly builds glorious rosters, and the analytical workforce he’s constructed places collectively sturdy, logical game-plans. However he has no flexibility. If all people has a plan till they get punched within the mouth, Cashman’s tooth have been on the mat for 3 years, and he’s been unable to re-adjust.
This inflexibility doesn’t simply have an effect on the workforce on the commerce deadline. Just like the Dodgers, the Yankees make quite a lot of in-game and lineup selections by committee, with Cashman on the head of the desk. If Cashman needed Giancarlo Stanton within the outfield, he would have performed an inning there within the postseason, even in instances the place there was an actual benefit to loading the lineup a sure approach. Ditto for Clint Frazier. Cashman’s loyalty to Brett Gardner has left runs on the desk, particularly in 2020.
In fact we’ve seen this in how Cashman negotiates with free brokers as properly, usually adapting a single-offer, take-it-or-leave-it method. He’s achieved this to guys from Robinson Canó to Patrick Corbin, and when you would possibly be capable to settle for one in every of these strikes, the sample makes for concern. Previous is prologue, and now the very same technique is being bandied about because the Yankees decide what to do with DJ LeMahieu.
And but, regardless of all this, the Yankees have been a run away from advancing to the ALCS, and relying on what they do with Mr. LeMahieu, will enter 2021 as probably the most gifted groups in baseball. Cole isn’t going wherever. Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Frazier and Stanton nonetheless type top-of-the-line offensive cores you possibly can hope for – and two of these gamers are among the many all-time nice entrance workplace selections, as Cashman’s employees was capable of establish and enhance Voit and Urshela for peanuts.
It’s onerous to judge Brian Cashman. He constantly builds sturdy and gifted rosters, whereas constantly displaying a scarcity of flexibility as issues go incorrect. There aren’t many GMs I’d moderately have on the helm, however there are very actual flaws in his management, and a really actual likelihood he whiffs on profitable a championship with probably the most gifted cores in baseball.