Thursday, March 3, 2016

MLB GM's, Brian Cashman and Comparing Apples to Oranges

My name is Daniel Burch and I have been a fan of the New York Yankees ever since I can remember. Being born in the Bronx and into a family full of Yankees fans I really had little choice in who my affiliations and fandom would go but I have to say in all honesty it was the best decision I ever made or had made for me. Being born in 1985 I missed the Don Mattingly MVP Award and much of the losing in New York before watching religiously starting in the 1994 season. I have to say I was an utterly crushed nine-year old when the season and World Series was cancelled with “my” Yankees in first place in their division and I was even more crushed to see them lose to Seattle in the 1995 ALDS. My disappointment wouldn’t be long-lived though as the team went on to win the World Series in 1996 and made the postseason in 1997 but I can remember the first time I ever questioned the Yankees decision making and truly worried for the team. It was in 1998 when at the time what I described as a “little nerdy guy with glasses” (remember I was 13-years old) took over as the GM for the team I grew up adoring, his name was Brian Cashman.

Cashman’s history is well known around Yankeeville these days as he boasts (with or without “Stick” Michaels help) five World Series Championships, seven American League pennants and 15 trips to the playoffs during his 18 season tenure with the club. It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions, ups and downs with Cashman as the team’s GM with not enough praising and far too much mob inciting lynching going on. Over 18 seasons if I had a penny for every time I heard or read “Fire Cashman” I’d have enough money to buy a new hairpiece and I’d be the one running for President of the United States. Why “Fire Cashman” though? Is he not doing what he’s told just like everyone else that has a boss does? We don’t really know what we have in Cashman as a GM because either George Steinbrenner was butting in promising the world to a player or Hal Steinbrenner is butting in doing the same thing just with less money at his disposal. This is all before even mentioning the fact that Cashman has dealt with the “World Series or bust” mantra year in and year out where improvement and steps forward were not allowed and winning was mandatory.

As a blog owner so many times have I seen Cashman compared to other GM’s around the league, namely John Mozeliak of the St. Louis Cardinals, Brian Sabean of the San Francisco Giants, Dave Dombrowski formerly of the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and Boston Red Sox (current) and Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays. As I said earlier in that 18-year tenure Cashman has seemingly led the Yankees to the postseason 15 times, to the World Series seven times and brought home five World Series Championships all while having to deal with management driven deals and trades, trades and deals being shot down due to fiscal restraints and moves being shot down because of a limit on years given out in contracts. Mozeliak, Sabean, Dombrowski and company never had to face such hardships and difficulties simply doing their job, they always had full control, so comparing Cashman to any of these GM’s in my opinion is like comparing apples to oranges.

During that same 18 season stretch the St. Louis Cardinals finished outside of the postseason six times while finishing in first place nine times. That's quite impressive, no one will argue that, but making the postseason 12 times and winning two World Series is not 15 postseason trips, seven World Series trips and five World Series wins. By the way Mozeliak inherited a team in 2007 that was fresh off a World Series victory in 2006 and only has one World Series win to his name so keep that in mind before bringing up the fact that Stick Michaels and Bob Watson handed Cashman a dynasty.

Andrew Friedman was hired before the 2005 season to be the Tampa Bay Ray's general manager and he led the team to the postseason four times and the World Series once in 2008. Talk about being handed a great team though and talk about riding the coattails of someone else, do you all remember the farm system that Friedman was handed? This is not to say that he didn't do an absolutely stellar job while in Tampa, because he has with little to no resources all things considered, but that was only because Tampa was allowed to have eight consecutive losing seasons before hiring Friedman, something that will never fly in New York.

Finally you have Dave Dombrowksi, the man who has "fleeced" Cashman in trade after trade after trade over the years. I say "fleeced" because I feel like Cashman has done okay outside of the Mike Lowell trade and did especially well with the Didi Gregorius acquisition but that's another debate for another day. From 1998-2001 Dombrowski was in Miami where he had three losing seasons before heading to Detroit in 2002. From 2002 until he was relieved from his job this season in Detroit the Tigers made the postseason five times with one of the biggest payrolls in all of MLB and with the best hitter on the planet Miguel Cabrera. Detroit went to the World Series twice losing both times to the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants respectively. Dombrowski is a great GM but he still hasn't been able to hold a candle to the overall success in New York under Brian Cashman.

So there you have it, Dombrowski, Friedman and Mozeliak have had great careers with their respected team and they are all great GM's. They may be better GM's than Brian Cashman truth be told but honestly we will never know. For much of Cashman's tenure he has been cut off at the knees at every turn and has won in spite of it, not because of it. Those three, and many other GM's across the league, may be great but Cashman is no slouch either and comparing them all to Cashman is simply like comparing apples to oranges. That's just my opinion. 


  1. Well I couldn't let this one go by as you know my dislike for Cashman the Elf. This post should've just had my name on it. Is he the worst GM in baseball? The answer is no. Is he in the top 7-10 the answer again is no. There are a few points that you stated that I will address. The first point you referenced that I need to discuss is the Stick Michael's Bob Watson comment. Cashman did live off the moves of these two executives, its FACT. Second point no one ever wants to address is how weak this farm system has been while he has run it over the course of his tenure.

    Some of you will claim its Oppenheimer and Newman at the time they were running it. My answer to that is BS. The President and GM of Baseball Operations has the final say in baseball decisions and i'm sure he knows who is being picked with each and every selection that is made. Has his baseball people drafted one top flight pitcher or position player the answer is NO. That's not opinion thats fact, and people that say Cano was a product of the draft is incorrect. He was an international FA signing just like Severino.

    Before we get ahead of ourselves with Didi who had a good year lets not label him the next combining of a young Arod. There are plenty of ball players that can look at the back of their baseball cards with one good year and all the rest mediocre years. I think he will get better but as you stated thats for another day. You stated that Cashman had to basically appease George and in doing so had an open checkbook that was able to buy FA and again buy his way out of his draft mistakes along with other FA busts.

    Now Hal has hamstrung him with not being able to spend money. Your point is that all other GM's have autonomy to make all baseball decisions. You don't know that for fact as the GM always has an owner to answer to. The new Yankee way has become an embarrassment to the fans that pay outrageous prices at the stadium or in merchandising fees or cable fees.

    I believe the reference you made about DD fleecing the Elf was directed at me as I constantly use that verbiage. DD has fleeced him. Let's see we ended up with Grandson and he ended up with Scherzer, hmmmm. Andrew Friedman built a successful farm system and now has the ability to spend money. Sabean built a farm system and has money to spend. There are many great teams in sports that win and build or draft superior to others. The Patriots in football, the Spurs in basketball the Blackhawks in hockey, just to name a few. The Yankees under the elf haven't done so. Their system has gotten better but I still see them ranked in the late teens to the early 20's in rankings of many baseball publications.

    There will never be a level playing field where GM's can be compared apples to apples all the time. Do I think Cashman is a decent GM? The answer is NO Thats my opinion just as you voiced your opinion. I enjoyed your article, even though I greatly disagree with it. Burch a question for you. Name a Yankee DRAFT pick that the elf drafted during his tenure? The only one that comes to mind is Gardner. I could be wrong on that.

    1. Hi Ken H...
      Nice to see you writing about your favorite topic, and NO I am not going to trash you or call you names. We both know we will not agree on this subject although, we have agreed on a few things before.
      But, I think I would be remiss if I didn't point out some things you may or may not have taken into consideration.
      "Stick" was Cashman's' advisor for many years after Cash took over as GM.
      Even with his help they didn't pick very many good players and the ones they had were traded away for older players by "The King"
      To cut it short and not get into the mess of the front office let it be known Cashman has drafted 27 players that have or will be good major league players.
      He has also picked up 18 International Players that have or about ready to be all they can be when a hole opens up for them.
      I do agree we don't have many stars but we do have many very good players coming and here already and also been here and gone.
      After the core 4+1 we had nothing at all on the farm and with "King" George running things it wasn't something he wanted to spend money on, but even so Cashman started drafting guys like Phil Hughes, Mike Dunn, Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, I.P.K, Joba Chamberlain, Dellin Betances and David Robertson all within the following 10 years. That isn't a bad bunch of players is it? He has drafted a few more ready for the show now and in a year or so.

      Are there better farm systems around...oh, yeah! But, from being last to even the middle of the pack is a huge have to agree to that!
      Stick around Ken, you are more than welcome, we don't have to agree and you do have talent, show us what you got!

    2. Believe it or not Hans I did not write this with you in mind. I actually had it planned for the LoHud pinch hitters special they do every year but they didn't pick me this year. Jerks! I kid. And believe it or not I feel that Dombrowski has fleeced Cashman on more than one occasion. I may have used your verbage but that's only because I like it. It wasn't meant to pull you out of hiding by any means, although I am glad you're here.

      If I get bored this weekend I'll humor you and look up a draft pick that Cashman drafted. I'm sure I can find more than a few that had great MLB careers or at least long lasting MLB career's. So could you if you looked.

  2. A thing or so some fans may not know....

    During Michael's tenure as general manager, the Yankees drafted or signed such notable players as Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada (collectively known as the Core Four), and others.

    From 1996 until 2002, Michael served as vice-president of major league scouting for the Yankees. Never drafted anyone with good major league talents after the Core four.

    Starting in 2004 with the drafting of Phil Hughes, Cashman started building the Farm system his way. AS we have seen with "Stick", it takes a while to build something from almost nothing, but now we are seeing the results.

    1. Sorry Reed the guy has been the gm since 1998. It shouldn't take that long to build a farm system. I'm not sure why you are enamored with the guy? Last time they won the WS he bought Tex, CC and AJ. He has never produced a top flight talent. I get it that you're a glass half full type of guy, however the facts are the facts.

      If you follow football (Giants) they have a second rate GM like Cashman that won 2 SB with his predecessors core roster. Everyone was singing this guys praises and the minute he had to start drafting his on roster everything went to shit. 6-10 another 6-10 and a 7-9 season sprinkled in. My point is you can win Championships as a GM if you inherit top flight talent like Cashman did just as Jerry Reese did.

  3. Oh by the way Reed who's to say that Stick had any say in drafting when he was the VP of Major League scouting? The GM has the final word. You're speculating that Stick was drafting players when he was in that position.

    1. Yup, if you get the credit as GM, you get the credit as VP. Most streets are two-way nowadays. Did you notice when the new bunch of good players started hitting the system? Right after "Stick" left the job!
      Before that time, he was dealing with King George, Stick and the Tampa bookkeepers.

      Also, one can say Joe T, the Core four+one all benefited by being in the right place at the right time.

    2. Well, with Cashman I would assume he thought Stick was better at talent hunting then he was or is today.
      Now it is a better bunch of people making those picks and has been for the last few years...98% of the GM's in baseball and football are not talent scouts at all, that isn't their job. They bring in people that are talent scouts to help make those choices.
      One can't do everything themselves. I was stuck behind a desk many times when I rotated stateside, in charge of anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people, depending on my job assignment at the time. I don't care if it is 16 people or 10,000, one needs a lot of help.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)