Brian Cashman wants to win the war on semantics.
If you missed yesterday’s presser with Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone or you want to relive the most interesting part of the conference, here is the video of a tense moment between Cashman and WFAN’s Sweeny Murti:
Sweeny Murti nailed this. Ever since the winter of 2015, the Yankees have failed to acquire elite starting pitching. There have been multiple and varied reasons given by Cashman over the years explaining why they didn’t bring in an ace. Up until today, the media didn’t do much to directly challenge these explanations. This is the first time in a long time that it felt like the media put Cashman on the hot seat. Cash did not respond well.
It is pretty revealing that the Yankees’ GM was on the defensive from the mere prefacing of a question. Instead of addressing the process and subsequent results of that process, Cashman consciously decided to attack how the decisions were described. Did you pass on it? Did you entertain it? Did you think really long and hard about it? Did you dream about it? Do any of these descriptions have consequences? Is it really worth having a three-minute back-and-forth detailing failed attempts at acquiring must-have players?
The most important quote from this exchange was Sweeny correctly pointing out that these elite pitchers “are currently not here.” This is the only statement that matters. Over the last four offseasons, the Yankees have established a clear comfort zone when it comes to player acquisition. That comfort zone is obviously tied to a certain level of payroll. The franchise is frustratingly steadfast in living in this payroll range. The problem is you are competing to secure the services of the elite in the profession. There is no such thing as a comfort zone for the best at their profession. You are either going to pay the price or you’re going to sit at a press conference after another playoff loss defending a failed process.
The fact of the matter is Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, David Price, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Patrick Corbin are not New York Yankees. You can make the case for some more than others, but all would be significant additions to a rotation lacking in front-end pitchers. The debate of placing the blame more at Hal or Cashman’s feet is also a futile exercise. The New York Yankees did not bring in any of these pitchers. You can argue that they passed or they were outbid. Either description is irrelevant. The team has not succeeded in bringing in elite starting pitching despite having the resources, both financial and player capital wise, to bring one in. There is no semantics argument that can be made to refute that fact.
Brian Cashman is a tremendous general manager. He is a Hall of Fame executive. Cash and his staff have done an incredible job of developing elite position players and supplementing it with talented depth. The Yankees are a true championship contender with sustainability. They also don’t have an ace. There have been opportunities to secure one and the job wasn’t done. It is imperative that the franchise finally brings one in this winter. If they do, we won’t be witness to a silly game of semantics that only highlights the glaring flaw of this talented team.