Mets And Yankees Start The Process

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Cashman Needs a Reality Check: I am still attempting to understand the tirade and show last week in Scottsdale at the General Manager meetings, of course referring to Brian Cashman the Yankees GM holding court at a media scrum. To say the least, Cashman was defensive and as he responded in an uncharacteristic manner to how the Yankees do business with their system of analytics and a scouting department that has come under scrutiny.

A tirade of profanities and an obvious defensive attitude of he knows best and we don’t, yet the late owner George Steinbrenner would have intervened and stood against the nonsense that the GM leveled. I would say, Cashman would have been openly reprimanded by the “Boss” and apologies would be forthcoming.

Behind closed doors and gathered from accurate sources it has been reported that owner Hal Steinbrenner, the longtime loyal supporter of Cashman, was livid and reprimanded his GM. Regardless, it was not the Yankees way and Cashman with his tirade further divided himself from a Yankees fan base that is starving for their first World Series title since 2009.

Consider that Cashman is the culprit here, as I have stated numerous times. The Yankees avoided their first losing season since 1992 as they finished 82-80. With the second highest payroll in baseball, that to Cashman was a disaster as they failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016.

And the architect of this disaster is responsible for orchestrating numerous trades that have failed and put the Yankees in a position of not being the perennial favorites in the AL East. It’s now a division that features the young and improved Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, and possibly the Red Sox in better positions to win.

So when Cashman said Monday regarding Giancarlo Stanton, a contract he inherited in the trade with the Marlins, “Stanton is injury prone, can’t count on him,” what does that say about the GM? Yankees fans are holding the GM accountable and so should the owner. Cashman will retain his position until he decides to step aside. The Yankees hierarchy admires his decision making and will always reflect on the Joe Torre managed years of four World Series championships. 

But those years were different with analytics not dictating manager decisions and comprising the lineup. Baseball has become complicated and the Yankees, despite what Cashman says about having the smallest analytical base in the AL East, have been a failure even with the largest scouting department they employ.

Something, though, is definitely not right in the Bronx. Analyze the Brian Cashman decision making with trades and a flop of free agent signings, Stanton except for one good year, in that group. Since 2009 departed and with World Series rings: Aroldis Chapman (2), Jordan Montgomery (1), Andrew Heaney (1), and Nathan Eovaldi (2).

Can’t blame Cashman about Chapman, a failure and bad egg in the clubhouse with constant control issues on the mound. Montgomery did not have a fastball, according to Yankees player personnel. Heaney was traded and Eovaldi bypassed in free agency.

Instead, the lucrative free agent deal for pitcher Carlos Rodon was a bust on the mound. The left hander was injury prone and signed off the success of 2022 (14-8, 2.88 ERA) that turned into 2023 of a Cashman disaster, (3-8) 6.85 ERA) as he missed numerous starts due to recurring injuries. Need I mention the disastrous trades for outfielder Joey Gallo in 2021 and that midseason 2022 acquisition for pitcher Frankie Montas, who eventually had shoulder surgery.

So, Cashman has to explain the failure and play the wrong type of defense. The Yankees are stuck with the remaining parts of a $140 million Stanton contract, who played in 391 games in five seasons. Stanton, a five-time All-Star, batted a career-low .191 in his sixth year. Also, the Yankees will be in the mix for Juan Soto, spend again, and possibly trade Gleyber Torres, their consistent hitter of a disastrous 2023.

However, the decisions of this general manager continue to be scrutinized among the media, and most importantly a fan base who have made him their target. But Cashman is proud as he said in his statement.

I’m proud of our people,” he said. “Doesn’t mean we’re firing on all cylinders, doesn’t mean we’re the best in class, but we’re pretty f—ing good personally. I’m proud of our people, and I’m also looking forward to ‘24 being a better year than ‘23.”

And before going further, manager Aaron Boone is not the culprit who is dictated by the numbers as 29 others are in the dugout. The Captain, Aaron Judge is reportedly a part of the decision process and that can’t be a good look for the GM. A tirade uncalled for and not the Yankees way. Fans are frustrated as much as Cashman says his moves did not translate into results on the field.

THE MENDOZA FACTOR: Was Carlos Mendoza the proper choice? Tuesday afternoon at Citi Field. Mendoza, the former Yankees bench coach, became the 25th manager in Mets history and another first time manager for the franchise.

Mickey Callaway and Luis Rojas had short reigns as first-time managers at Citi Field, so who is to say that Mendoza will complete a successful three-year reign? This is also the first significant hire for David Stearns, the new Director of Baseball Operations.

Plenty to digest here, then again, I was not an advocate of Stearns dismissing Buck Showalter who deserved to complete his final year, but this is baseball business and it applies to Stearns as the new general in command. The assumption was Plan A, Craig Counsell who went to Chicago and that wasn’t a sure thing.

This is not to say that Mendoza will fail. We will await how he handles the roster, a clubhouse of accomplished veterans and young players yet to reach their potential. The criticism and adversity of managing in the New York media market, all of that will play out.

Regardless, Mendoza gets a long awaited opportunity as the Mets play roster reconstruction, explore the free agent market, and venture into trades. The Pete Alonso contract extension and a need for viable starting pitching is something that Mendoza will confront in his first year.

Then again, Mendoza has been in the dugout across town with Aaron Boone. He has the ability to pick a coaching staff with the exception of pitching coach Jermey Hefner who has been retained. His bench coach can go numerous ways, Willie Randolph former Yankee and Mets manager has been the subject of speculation.

Every stop along the way, and especially my last six years here in New York, I know it’s real,” referring to sitting alongside Boone as the Yankees bench coach. “I know the expectations from the fan base. It’s one of those things where I can’t wait to get started. I know I am ready, and I know I’m prepared.”

Indeed, it was a big day for Mendoza. He cited future Hall of Fame manager Dusty Baker and Phillies manager Rob Thompson as major influences. The 43-year old native of Venezuela understands the media and is capable of taking on the challenge of answering the tough questions that will arise in New York.

He pointed out the Mets 2022 success of winning 101 games, again if the players don’t perform then Mendoza will be perceived as the culprit. It happened to Showalter in a 2023 season of misery. It could happen to Mendoza if the roster fails to meet expectations.

Certain, though, is the trust and communication that Stearns and owner Steve Cohen sought in hiring their new manager. Mendoza has those attributes, so did Showalter. “The more time Carlos and I spent together the more we both felt comfortable that we had the ability,” Stearns said.

Those first few months of the season wins will be important as they are in September for Mendoza. Important for a Mets team to make an early statement as the process begins to turn around what was supposed to be a successful 2023 team with the highest payroll in baseball.

Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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