Brian Cashman has had a lot to say this week about the state of the Yankees, but all of his comments can be summed up with two words: Bah Humbug!
The Yankees GM has been playing the role of Scrooge for some time now. Since Hal Steinbrenner first announced plans to trim the Yankees’ payroll below $189 million, the team has taken a miserly approach to adding talent. So, while the franchise’s revenue has steadily climbed, the percentage allocated to players has declined just as precipitously. And yet, when asked about the team’s penny pinching, Cashman seemed to portray the Yankees more as Tiny Tim. Unfortunately, the media’s acquiescence has been a crutch.
Below is a summary of Cashman’s recent comments, along with obvious rebuttals that so far have not been forthcoming from those with access to Steinbrenner or the Yankees’ GM.
“I don’t have the money.” – Brian Cashman, quoted by Bryan Heyman.
Presumably, Cashman meant ownership has not budgeted the money for offseason acquisitions. Otherwise, a lie like that might land the Yankee GM on Santa’s naughty list. The Yankees may not want to spend money on improving the team, but they sure have plenty of it. This would seem to be an easy statement to refute, but so far, neither Cashman nor Steinbrenner has been challenged when they plead poverty.
“We’ve spent more than when The Boss was running the show.” – Brian Cashman, appearing on the Michael Kay Show
Although true in real dollar terms, every team is spending more because salary inflation and industry revenue have exploded. In these relative terms, the Yankees’ investment in player costs has dropped dramatically. Cashman knows this. He also knows he can get away with such a vacuous statement because many fans and media don’t grasp the financial nuances involved. Still, truth cloaked in deception is as good as lie.
“I think we’re just operating in a different environment. It’s a completely different arena than The Boss operated in.” – Brian Cashman, appearing on the Michael Kay Show
This comment was a lament about the siphoning effect of competitive balance measures like revenue sharing, but one that’s easy to refute because we know George Steinbrenner allocated much larger percentages of revenue to team payroll. Also, revenue sharing and the luxury tax existed during Steinbrenner’s reign, and neither caused him to shy away from reasonable efforts to field the best team possible. If Cashman wants to defend Hal’s stinginess, that’s fine, but he shouldn’t question the Boss’ dedication to winning in order to do so.
“I feel that we have a good, strong process. We’ve evolved. We’ve grown. The way I do business today is radically different than the way I did business back in the day, and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of how we’ve moved forward.” – Brian Cashman, quoted by Chad Jennings
Back in the day, the Yankees perennially won 95 games, advanced far into the playoffs, and posted record setting attendance and ratings. That would seem to be a source of pride, but apparently not for Cashman. Under the new “process”, however, the team has had three mediocre seasons and suffered declining attendance and television ratings. And, yet, Cashman is proud of that transition? If winning is the focus, it shouldn’t matter how it’s accomplished, unless other priorities have emerged. For Hal, it’s clearly profit; for Cashman, perhaps it’s the legacy of winning without a big budget?
It’s hard to blame Brian Cashman for being so defensive. He has been given his marching orders, and is bound to fulfill them. However, that doesn’t excuse the blatant dishonesty used to justify what he and Hal Steinbrenner refuse to admit. The Yankees unwillingness to spend is not about an improved process, changing financial landscape, or economic restrictions. The reason is much simpler. Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t want to spend $200 million to win a world championship. He does, however, want Yankee fans to keep paying through the nose to watch his increasingly mediocre team.