No matter who wins this weekend’s Sox-Yankees series, one thing is clear: Brian Cashman, the General Manager of the Yankees, is an idiot. And not just your run-of-the-mill idiot, either, the kind who merely makes bad decision after bad decision. Paradoxical thought it sounds, the man is a brilliant idiot.
On the one hand, while he’s been the steward of Yankee baseball, he’s made a long list of bad choices, ensuring that the Curse of A-Rod lives on and team continues its quest for futility well into the twenty first century. On the other hand, the man has quite brilliantly convinced the New York press corps–otherwise a famously ravenous lot–that he’s played no part in his team’s failures. He’s been enough of a wizard at press operations to convince the beat writers and jock pundits that, despite the fact that his tenure as GM of the Yanks has coincided with the team’s stunning inability to win, all blame should be assigned elsewhere.
Matt Taibbi, a lone voice in the wilderness on so much of national importance, correctly called Cashman out last spring. Not much has changed since. I know what you’re thinking: But wait! The Yankees are really good this year! Cashman deserves some credit for this season, doesn’t he? It’s true that the Yanks are in first, and are on pace to have a terrific regular season. But the Yankees do not aspire for regular season greatness. The aim of Yankee Baseball (TM), we are always told, is to win championships. And this team is not going to win a championship.
How do I know? Because, once again, Cashman failed to learn an elementary lesson about baseball: pitching matters. And in the playoffs, pitching matters more than hitting. A lot more. In a short series, all you need is a few shut down guys, and you’re on your way to the World Series. The Yankees have not seemed to learn this lesson. Oh, sure, they signed A.J. Burnett and CC Sabbathia to half a gajillion dollars last year. But neither of them has impressive playoff experience. Sabbathia’s post-season record? 2-3. Burnett doesn’t have one.
When two great pitchers were available at the trading deadline, Cashman passed. He could have had Cliff Lee, or maybe even Roy Halladay. Now, neither of those guys have playoff records either, but they’re far more steady presences than the temperamental Burnett. But Cashman chose to hoard his prospects (his shoddy record at talent evaluation is another subject for another day). Mark my words: one day in October, Yankee fans across the land will rue the day they chose to hold on to beloved prospect Austan Jackson rather than win the 2009 World Series.
If I were a Yankee fan, I’d be leading a march outside Cashman’s office, demanding the termination of his employment. Fortunately, I’m not. I’m a Red Sox fan. Which is why, after we triumph over the Yanks in the playoffs, I might send Cashman a cake, as well as a brief note, expressing my profound thanks and appreciation.