Monday, January 17, 2011

Cashman vs Steinbrenners

Are the New York Yankees reliving the days when George Steinbrenner ran his ballclub with an iron fist?

It sure seems that way with word that Hal and Hank Steinbrenner overruled their general manager Brian Cashman to sign Rafael Soriano to be the set-up guy for Mariano Rivera. I remember thinking last week that it was strange that Cashman would change course so quickly after insisting he would not give up his #1 draft pick to sign Soriano. Now it all makes sense. It wasn't Cashman's decision.

Now that the story is out, the Steinbrenners have created a real credibility problem for Cashman. Perhaps this was just a one-time occurrence. But baseball people will wonder, somewhat unfairly, about whether Cashman is truly in charge of the team or if the Steinbrenner sons are doing their best impression of their dad, who treated his general managers as irrelevant minions and constantly overruled their baseball decisions. One decision doesn't constitute a trend, but it's something that bears watching.

Whether you like Cashman's decisions or not, it's hard to argue that he doesn't have a plan. A few years ago, he declined to trade for Johan Santana, which essentially sacrificed the 2008 season. But he went after CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixeira that offseason and promptly won the World Series in 2009. So his plan worked. Does he have a similar plan now and will the Steinbrenners start messing it up?

I don’t think there will be further fallout from the Steinbrenners’ decision to overrule Cashman just yet. But all eyes will be wide open for any signs of a redux of Cashman vs the Steinbrenners.

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