Did any Yankees fan expect a different Friday afternoon in the Bronx when Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone took the stage for their annual state of the union? This was their first meeting with the media almost two weeks after the Astros swept the Yankees in the best-of-seven ALCS in the Bronx.
So, they left the Bronx after that sweep and the questions loomed? There was the manager under contract, would he return next year? Cashman, the longtime GM who is in a walk year? Will the GM ink another deal with owner Hal Steinbrenner?
And the question of Aaron Judge, who had that epic career as a Yankee. Will this ownership, that did not allow Hall of Famer Derek Jeter to walk, award Judge a hefty contract and long term deal to remain in pinstripes?
Yes, Boone is going nowhere and that was established. Like him or not, with his decisions from the dugout, some that paid the price against the Astros, it has to be established that the Yankees are an analytically drawn franchise with too much of a reliance on numbers.
So, after Boone provided some answers in the press conference room at Yankee Stadium, describing how much he admires Judge, and that he is not satisfied because his team and loyal fans are watching the Astros vie for a World Series title, it was time for Cashman.
And it was a replica of the past few years when Cashman returned to the stage. Questions and the same old response that are fit for a challenge and video review of a call at Yankee Stadium.
Except we know for now, Cashman has a handshake agreement with Steinbrenner to continue as the GM. You know where this is going because there is loyalty to Cashman and he has his job until he says otherwise.
But the blame on another Yankees failure to overtake the Astros, resulting in sitting out a World Series for the 13th consecutive year, is on the executive who took the stage again.
Of course, this Yankees debacle as it has become is not the fault of the manager. He does not make the decisions or comprise the roster to be one of two teams standing in late October.
But this GM will never take the fall. Cashman is invincible and has been since that 2009 World Series championship. Yet the results say otherwise, despite the Yankees making the postseason every year but there is never satisfaction in the Bronx unless there is a World Series.
Cashman will not win a popularity contest with this Yankees fan base. They did not want to hear this GM take the stage again. They would rather have heard, ‘I am not returning,’ and it is time for a change.
So, what were the highlights of this latest Brian Cashman state of his union in the Bronx?
“We’d love to bring Aaron Judge back and have him maintain being a member of this franchise and the career paths he’s currently on.”
“Of course I’d like to stay, but we have not had any further discussions on that. I’m dealing with a lot of other employment stuff with other people. We’ll see how that plays out.”
Cashman said Boone “did a great job,” despite the Yankees going in a mid summer swoon after a great start. The Yankees were 61-23 in July but they didn’t even win 100 games. Cashman’s Yankees ended up winning 99 games, and the AL East, but the season came to a crashing halt with an Astros sweep of the Yankees in the ALCS that has not made Cashman look good. It was the fourth time in eight seasons that the Astros sent the Yankees home.
Cashman was questioned about the trades to shore up the left side of an infield that has been a Yankees dilemma. Shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and third baseman Josh Donaldson were acquired from the Twins but was it a move that benefitted the team?
Both, by the way, failed to produce during the postseason and contributed to the Yankees failure to score runs as Judge struggled in the post season after setting the AL season home run record.
In one of those repetitive and getting around the question, customary for this GM, he said “I think Kiner-Falefa was along the lines of what we expected, and in Josh’s case, he’s both an elite defender and a typically high-end offensive player.”
He added, Donaldson struggled at the plate for any number of reasons and believed that so-called “Swag” will return, though age is on the side of Donaldson and with Matt Carpenter as the Yankees appear to be convinced they can win with these veterans and an influx of younger players.
But all Cashman has to do is look at the Astros model of youth and a deep player development system (need I mention Jeremy Pena in place of Carlos Correa at shortstop). Though, Cashman did not directly get to the forefront of the issue as that brief span of “Baby Bombers” has one remaining in 30-year old Aaron Judge.
“Back to the drawing board,” Cashman said. “Even though we have fallen short against Houston.” He mentioned there could have been a difference had DJ LeMahieu, Carpenter, and Andrew Benintendi been healthy. But the trade for local guy Harrison Bader can’t be overlooked because the Yankees have their center fielder for years to come.
Perhaps the acquisition of Bader is a Brian Cashman plus. Anything else is a negative, and this continued failure is on the GM and where were the answers on that stage?
The Yankees don’t play small ball, something the Astros do instead of that dependency of swinging for the fences. These Cashman built Yankees have failed.
A lot of improvements for this Yankees team and Brian Cashman may not be the one to lead the overhaul and get the Yankees back to the World Series. He is an architect but not a good one.
“We’ve got to improve ourselves and give ourselves the best shot,” he said. And I have to ask, will we hear the same Yankees State of the Union on that stage next year?
Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network