Yankees’ Brian Cashman goes unfiltered to media with fiery press conference

MLB: General Manager's Meetings
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are a team that’s extremely buttoned up, following their tradition of saying a lot without saying anything. Hal Steinbrenner followed that status quo, remaining vague on various topics, especially on the meetings in Tampa, and when the presser ended, reiterated that the season was an unmitigated disaster. Brian Cashman, the long-time GM of the franchise, came into his media session with a completely unrecognizable approach.

Brian Cashman still refused to discuss the Tampa meetings, but he did come out and say some pretty scathing things that riled up the fanbase. In defense of his organization, Cashman stood behind his people and reiterated his faith in the organization’s staff, and while on the surface, it serves as a slap in the face, it runs much deeper than that.

Yankees Aren’t Analytical? Still Pretty Good? Bitter Boy?

mlb: washington nationals at new york yankees, brian cashman
Aug 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks with the media before the game between the Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Cashman opened his presser by saying that he thinks they’re pretty good (avoiding expletives), and while it’s natural to be furious about the GM saying it following an 82-80 season…was he even referring to the team? When reading the full quote, it’s pretty clearly in reference to the people in the organization, those working under Cashman, who he’s going to defend through thick and thin publicly.

“We’ve got good people. I’m proud of our people, and I’m proud of our process. Doesn’t mean we’re firing on all cylinders, doesn’t mean we’re best in class, but I think we’re pretty f**king good, personally, and I’m proud of our people”

Brian Cashman

The whole quote, while still fiery and shocking, is exactly what any high-ranking official is going to say about the people in their organization. If Cashman had come out and singled out departments to appease the fanbase, what exactly would that have done? It would have read like Cashman, who admitted he should accept blame, was criticizing those beneath him for the season, and while he could have kept his temper down and spoken more rationally, it doesn’t detract from his overall message.

Furthermore, Brian Cashman would later go on to mention that the team had the smallest analytics department in the American League East, which to me, was the most damning statement; until it wasn’t. First, the brilliant Eno Sarris on Twitter mentioned in a reply that he’s heard the Yankees rely on outside consultants for some of their analytics, which wouldn’t count as a full-time MLB employee.

Cashman’s statement also would go on to say that he hopes to expand their analytics staffing, as back in 2019, theirs was one of the largest in baseball, and they likely will get helpful insight by collaborating with Zelus Analytics. The team needs to improve their usage of data, and while Aaron Judge apparently wants them to use BA and RBI more, that’s a consensus opinion shared by plenty of players in the league.

mlb: new york yankees at toronto blue jays, aaron judge
Sep 27, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) adjusts his batting helmet in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Judge is saying what most players think because their job isn’t to be involved with the data side of things. Baseball players need data conveyed to them in a manner that makes sense. Judge, alongside other reports regarding the younger players on the team, likely wants the team to make information more digestible, and that’s something the team needs to improve.

Hal Steinbrenner reiterated the team’s belief that 2023 was a failure, and Brian Cashman reiterated their belief that they have the people in place to do it. The Yankees need to make changes, and they’re expected to do so soon with the hitting coach position, as James Rowson is the frontrunner to become their next hitting coach. Rowson, who worked in the organization from 2008-2011 and then again in 2014-2016, served as their MiLB Hitting Coordinator for both stints and could look to blend a more palatable version of what Dillion Lawson sought to achieve in his tenure with modern hitting.

If the Yankees were deadset on being less modern, they wouldn’t talk about expanding their analytics department, they wouldn’t have brought in Zelus Analytics, and they certainly wouldn’t have a strong interest in James Rowson, whom forward-thinking executives have hired. Derek Falvey of the Twins, Kim Ng of the Marlins, and Scott Harris of the Tigers are some of the more forward-thinking executives in baseball, and all of them brought in Rowson.

The takeaway from Brian Cashman’s presser is simple: he went on a tirade to defend people in his organization and be transparent about things he felt were misrepresented. He also made sure to tell Ben Ruta that he’s a “bitter boy,” which might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard him say. As I said on Twitter, the Yankees are not going to be defined by a spat Joel Sherman and Brian Cashman had, they’ll be defined by the moves they make, the games they win, and the strides they make in the 2024 season.

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