Brian Cashman pleads guilty to Yankees’ sluggish start

Yankees GM Brian Cashman talks to the press at Yankees dugout on May 3, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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Brian Cashman has been at the helm of the Yankees for the past 26 years. This summer, they re-signed him to a new four-year contract. As the Yankees are currently fifth in AL East with a 17-15 record and struggling in both offense and pitching departments, fans in the Bronx are up against him.

On Wednesday, Brian Cashman took responsibility for the team’s shaky start by speaking out for the players and staff.

“You want to convict somebody, convict me,” the Yankees general manager told. “This is my responsibility.”

Brian Cashman talked to the reporters at Yankee Stadium for almost 30 minutes before the Yankees crawled through a 4-3 victory against the Guardians after 10 innings in The Bronx. He talked about the team’s bad start, the number of injuries, and the recent organizational choices that didn’t work out.

Brian Cashman pleaded for supporters to be patient despite the Yankees’ present position at the bottom of the American League East. According to him, the bad start to the season was only a blip.

Injuries are killing Yankees

The Yankees’ injury issues are “certainly killing” them, according to Brian Cashman. Over time, his concerns have evolved. The Yankees’ general manager was concerned about his starting rotation’s performance when he departed Spring Training without three of the five projected starters. Then, a ridiculous number of injuries to key players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton ruined the starting lineup.

Apart from Judge and Stanton, Brian Cashman’s team has starters Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas out with injuries. On Wednesday’s game, Harrison Bader and Oswald Peraza both left due to injuries and their status is uncertain.

Brian Cashman stated that he would not attribute the recent wave of injuries to any specific individual or department, stating that it was not a result of how they trained their players. He also refrained from blaming players who may have had prior injury histories.

A six-year, $162 million contract had recently been signed by Rodon. His wrist injury forced him to miss the spring season, and his ailing back has prevented him from continuing to exercise. While Rodon’s health has been relatively consistent over the past two seasons, he has dealt with a number of injuries in the past.

brian cashman
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Brian Cashman made a late deal for Montas last season. His shoulder was bothering him when he came. In the spring, Montas said that he “wasn’t fully 100 percent” when the Yankees signed him.

“Ultimately, we got all the information that we had access to,” Brian Cashman said of Rodon and Montas. “In terms of Rodon, he came in and did the full physical. … In Montas’ case, we got all access to everything, including me talking to the player involved. When he was here, he was 100 percent healthy.”

The Yankees are a team with more promise than consistency. There has been exactly one season since 2019 in which Stanton played in more than 110 games. In 2021, Rodon’s shoulder strain forced him out of action. Tommy John surgery was performed on him in 2019, and in 2017 he had an arthroscopy on his left shoulder. Severino made three starts between 2019 and 2021.

Brian Cashman stated that the three players in question were “elite” when they were in good health and that the priority was to focus on getting them back to full health.

“Everybody’s roster has [injury-risk] guys like that,” Brian Cashman added as part of a 28-minute, state-of-the-Yankees briefing. “Ultimately, the worst thing that could happen is when you have a lot of [injury] stuff happening at the same time, which is going on with us right now.

Brian Cashman has been quite vocal about how the current Yankees lineup is not what he envisioned when he was putting the team together. He said that injuries were to blame rather than a lack of depth.

Despite this, the left field hasn’t been affected by the issues, even though it wasn’t repaired this summer. Oswaldo Cabrera and Aaron Hicks have spent the most time at the location, although neither has managed a hit. Brian Cashman said that there were no regrets for the inaction at the position and that he did not see “any missed opportunities with everything that was in play.” He doesn’t see an opening for a replacement anytime soon.

He mentioned that such opportunities were not commonly available at such an early stage.

Brian Cashman expects a revival

However, he feels that the first of May is more appropriate for a rebirth than an autopsy. Brian Cashman reassured everyone not to freak out after 32 games by referring to the “long season” three times.

The Yankees general manager said in his first news conference of the season, “Don’t count us out, don’t give up on us. We’ve got a good group of people, player-wise, staff-wise, support staff-wise. It’s a championship-caliber operation from that perspective, but we’re not currently flying at the level that we would have expected because we’re missing some really important pieces.”

The general manager told that there would be no trades happening soon since he was certain that the Yankees team roster will be complete in the end (excluding Lou Trivino and Scott Effross, who are out for the season).

Brian Cashman was aware that the current Yankees roster is much different from the one he and his staff assembled during the winter in preparation for spring training and opening day. There are currently 12 Yankees players on the disabled list. Three previous MVPs, three starting pitchers, numerous crucial relievers, and more are among them.

Cashman and Boone at Yankee Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

“We have time to make up ground, and we’re going to compete with who we have here,” Brian Cashman said as his team is 8 ¹/₂ behind the AL East leaders the Rays. “We look forward to getting who we need back at a later date.”

Brian Cashman expressed that their intention was to endure the challenges caused by the injuries, and once all the players are back in good health, they plan to regain momentum.

The biggest problem

About $152 million of the Yankees’ total 2023 payroll is connected to injured players like Judge, Stanton, Carlos Rodon, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Severino. On Monday, Judge may return to the lineup against the Athletics, and Severino will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Single-A Tampa. But the rest of them won’t arrive for a few more weeks.

“Every move we make is intended to help us. For the successes, you don’t focus on that. But the failures, that’s my responsibility and take full accountability for those.”

The Bronx Bombers’ offense hasn’t been very explosive. New York’s 13 games with two or fewer runs scored rank at the bottom in the Majors. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Franchy Cordero, Aaron Hicks, and Willie Calhoun have all seen more time on the field than was first anticipated as offensive options.

Brian Cashman defends the Yankees process

A May record of over .500 doesn’t get much respect when the offense is poor, 12 players are out with injuries, and the club must pay more than $150 million in luxury taxes in 2023. Brian Cashman agreed with the Yankees’ strategy of scouting for and taking care of players. He also reiterated that it’s still early in the season and that the Yankees will eventually come back.

“The team we’re currently running out there, that’s not the team we actually anticipated,” Brian Cashman said. “That happens on a continuous basis; typically, you lose one or two guys along the way. But we’ve lost a lot more than one or two guys along the way. We’re patching holes as best we can at this time of year.”

There have been 32 games played so far this season, and on May 3, the Yankees have a 17-15 record, which puts them 8½ games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. A $277 million payroll isn’t reflected in this squad’s performance. The injury list for the pricey room includes players valued at more than $151 million. Significant issues include right fielder Aaron Judge’s hip issue, DH Giancarlo Stanton’s leg issue, and pitcher Carlos Rodon’s arm-turned-back issue.

Cashman with Aaron Judge
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The Yankees’ fate rests in the hands of its two most expensive players, Judge and Gerrit Cole, despite the team’s almost $300 million payroll. The team’s talent isn’t as evenly distributed as on the Rays and Blue Jays, and neither the Orioles nor the Red Sox are pushovers. Moving up from last place to first will be challenging due to widespread skepticism about your health and ability.

New York’s minor league strength and potential haven’t been enough to stay up in baseball’s toughest division. As for Cashman, he thinks the group can keep playing until everyone is well.

No more trades are coming

Brian Cashman noted that the Yankees are constantly looking at the trade market to see what’s available, but that deals typically don’t get done this time of year.

“You don’t want to get wrecked with injuries early because trying to go outside the organization to deal with that is pretty difficult in today’s game,” he said.

Once again, the “silver lining” in Brian Cashman’s view is the anticipated return of damaged assets over the next weeks and months.

“We’ve got what we’ve got, and we’re going to go with what we’ve got unless something can be obtained elsewhere that makes sense, but there’s no guarantee that will happen,” Brian Cashman said. “That doesn’t mean you’re not engaged with it. But right now, there’s really no realistic chances in May — we just got out of April — those opportunities don’t necessarily exist this early.”

Upon reflecting, Brian Cashman said, “It takes two to tango.” This indicated that the Yankees were in fact negotiating with other clubs. However, he firmly believed that had they made any moves during that time, it would have worsened the current situation of the team.

The Aaron Hicks saga

Aaron Hicks of the New York Yankees on April 4, 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg / NYP

The veteran outfielder is having a season “similar season” to many other Yankees players, Brian Cashman acknowledged when questioned about Hicks’ performance. When Hicks does play, he is buried at the bottom of the Yankees’ order.

“There’s a lot of guys having very difficult seasons right now, getting out of the gate in the month of April,” he said.

Brian Cashman’s argument seems valid as the current performance of Oswaldo Cabrera, who was chosen as the Yankees’ primary left fielder over Hicks at the start of the season, has not been up to the mark with a batting average of .198. Furthermore, the entire team’s offensive performance has been subpar, with a team batting average of .227, which is one of the lowest in the league, with only four other teams performing worse.

Hicks, on the other hand, is a simple target for blame. The two-handed hitting outfielder is up to bat .146 and had 14 strikeouts in his 19 games.

Expected changes

The Yankees can only pray that their health improves soon. Brian Cashman has often said that the team is only trying to “tread water” until its players return. He does not believe this is a suitable time to make any major purchases or changes. Most players aren’t available on the free-agent market, and teams usually don’t want to trade players until at least the All-Star break.

“Ultimately, myself and our staff are constantly looking to see what’s available,” Brian Cashman said. “The time of year is tough — April, May, June. If you asked me that question in the wintertime or even March, what’s your biggest fear in the early portion of the season? All general managers would say you don’t want to get wrecked with injuries early.”

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