Monday, December 5, 2022

Yankees Bring Back Cashman To Continue Run Of Regular Season Success


Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees, in a move than was widely expected, announced that they have given their Senior Vice President and General Manager, Brian Cashman, a new four-year contract that will have him continue to run the team through the 2026 season.

This continues the trend of this offseason for the Bronx Bombers in which, instead of making massive moves after a humiliating sweep by the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, they have re-signed players like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Anthony Rizzo, and Lou Trivino, and had Cashman continuing to work for the team after his contract expired on October 31, making today's announcement anti-climactic.

Cashman is the longest-serving Yankees General Manager in team history, and by far the longest-tenured in Major League Baseball. Since he took over as General Manager, the Yankees have won four World Series championships and made the playoffs in 21 out of 25 seasons.

The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009, and remarkably, they haven't even been in one. Since that time, they have seen the Boston Red Sox win two more titles, making it four that they have won since they broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 (readers under 25 years old can look that up, it used to be painful to be a Red Sox fan). The San Francisco Giants, who had never won a title since moving from New York, have won three championships. The Houston Astros have two, with them continuing their postseason dominance over the Yankees; and teams like the Kansas City Royals in 2015 win one. The team the Yankees beat in the 2009 Series, the Philadelphia Phillies, has even made it back before them, despite a horrendous decade of baseball before they turned it in in this season's playoffs after 87 regular season wins.

In the announcement proclaiming that Cashman will be back for four more years (sounds like a presidential term), the regular season successes are highlighted more, such as these:

"Since 1998, the Yankees' 21 postseason berths are the most in the Majors - five more than Atlanta (16) and St. Louis (16), who are tied for second in that span. The 21 playoff appearances are also more than any other American League team (Boston-13). Cashman's feat of reaching the playoffs in each of his first 10 seasons (1998-2007) remains unmatched in baseball history...

"Over his 25 seasons as General Manager, Cashman's lifetime winning percentage of .589 (2,322-1,622-2) is the highest of any General Manager with at least 10 seasons of experience who began in 1950-or-later...

"The Yankees have posted a winning record in each of Cashman's 25 seasons as General Manager, winning at least 84 games in each 162-game season...

"According to Elias, the Yankees have been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention in just 16 of the 3,946 games during Cashman's tenure as GM."

With regards to the last statement: It kind of vindicates former Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who said he wanted to play "meaningful games in September," and was raked over the coals for it, and rightly so. With six teams per league in the postseason, that doesn't matter nearly as much as the last pre-Wild Card year, 1993, when the Yankees went home with a record of 88-74, which would certainly earn a playoff berth now. Or, any of the Yankees 1980s teams past 1981 that routinely finished in second place, so much so that they won the most regular season games of any team that decade, but went home every year without the ability to play in the postseason. Those teams are viewed as failures, and it was the only decade the Yankees didn't win a World Series until the 2010s, when they never even won an American League pennant. Guess the series wins over Minnesota, Baltimore, and Oakland make that decade feel more successful.

The Yankees postseason record since 2010, the year this 13-year championship drought began, is 30-36.

What happened to the "win or else" Yankees? The "if we don't win a World Series, the season is a failure!" Yankees? Where is the sense of urgency? When will Hal Steinbrenner act like his father, George, and go into an offseason and say, 'I want every top guy available,' or at least be in the conversation? If you think the Yankees were serious contenders for Justin Verlander, who went to the Mets (whose offseason has been conducted like the Yankees used to, where they re-signed their closer, Edwin Diaz, as soon as possible, and replaced one ace, Jacob deGrom, with another), I have the lease to the George Washington Bridge for you.

With the announcement today, don't hold your breath that the Yankees will change their modus operandi of measuring success as 90+ regular season wins and a playoff round victory, even if it's against a team with a quarter of the payroll, as the Cleveland Guardians' was this year.

This has been a deflating offseason if you thought the loss to Houston would change the dynamic in The Bronx. If they lose right fielder Aaron Judge, the home run king who is currently a free agent, that will only add to it. Although, come to think of it, not like he's been in a World Series.

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