It has become a common Twitter occurrence, obvious even to the occasional viewer, to see Brian Cashman’s name trending every time the Yankees lose ugly.
“Fire Cashman,” the masses say, at least when they’re not clamoring for manager Aaron Boone’s job.
Make no mistake, it’s always fair to question a front office for a team’s deficiencies. Cashman is responsible for the Giancarlo Stanton trade, the Aaron Hicks extension, and holding on to Clint Frazier too long.
But over the past few days, the longtime Yanks’ GM has injected energy into a stale team, shown the opposite of complacency with a season that has disappointed everyone so far, and made deals that earned praise in the industry.
All told, it’s a timely reminder of why the Yankees have been in capable hands for so many years.
As one high-profile agent puts it, “You’re just not going to find a better executive/manager combo than Cashman and Boone.”
We agree that Boone is a strong manager, but we’ll set that topic aside on trade deadline day. Let’s focus in on the way that Cashman changed the ballclub while remaining under a luxury tax that is mysteriously important to owner Hal Steinbrenner (the Yankees say publicly that going over the $210 million line is an option).
Joey Gallo is versatile, athletic and left-handed, three qualities that the Yankees roster lacked. Anthony Rizzo is also a lefty slugger, a superior defender at first base to Luke Voit. The trade for Rizzo also brought shock value trade that itself helped to shake up the vibe. Then, just before the deadline, Cashman added Andrew Heaney for desperately needed rotation depth.
Even more than the individual players acquired, though, Cashman succeeded in altering the composition of a club that has somehow slipped from young and promising to frustrated and depressed. These are not the Baby Bombers anymore, and whether the team is complacent, overly pressurized or simply flawed, they needed a different energy.
Rather than focus on prospect value and projection, Cashman dealt from his minor league depth generously enough to convince the Rangers and Cubs to pay the entire salaries of Gallo, reliever Joely Rodriguez, and Rizzo.
It’s unfortunate that he had to worry about the luxury tax, but he navigated it nimbly. The Yankees aren’t in a phase in which minor league depth should be their priority; they’re trying to keep their championship window open despite the partial fizzling of that 2017-2019 core.
To that end, good for Cashman for being unafraid to push aside Voit, too. It’s a tough day for Voit, himself a source of fresh energy when he arrived in 2018. But he simply wasn’t healthy or productive this year, and the Yanks couldn’t afford to wait it out. And it’s probably not a bad message to the clubhouse that starting jobs must be continually earned.
We have no idea if this new group will revitalize the Yankees season. Neither does Cashman. If Gerrit Cole, Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton don’t pitch well, there’s probably nothing that can save the team.
But we do know that sending a jolt through the clubhouse and lineup was necessary. In doing that, Cashman showed that he still has his ear tuned to the right frequency, and knows how to pounce when he decides that the moment requires it.