With the season’s first two full months in the books, Brian Cashman’s lottery ticket team-building strategy has been put through the ringer. Although he started the calendar year strong with a 61 percent approval rating, that tally tumbled as time went on, dropping to 51 percent in February, 48 percent in March, and all the way down to just 35 percent of voters approving of Cashman as the Yankees’ general manager by the end of April.
At first, it appeared that Cashman’s approval was a lock for a rebound in May. The Yankees stormed back from their 6-11 start and 12-14 April to go 16-5 up through the end of play on May 23rd. At that point, they were just half a game behind both the Rays and Red Sox for the AL East lead. They promptly slammed into a 1-6 wall to end the month that featured an embarrassing road sweep at the hands of the lowly Tigers, and now it’s anyone’s guess as to where the team will go next.
Cashman’s marginal moves have had a negligible-to-negative effect on the team’s chances of winning. Jay Bruce didn’t last long before retiring, Rougned Odor remains a frustrating at-bat to watch, and Justin Wilson’s on the IL for a second time this season, which is probably better for the Yankees than him actually pitching, given his 6.08 ERA and 6.80 FIP in 13.1 innings. Also, the return for Mike Tauchman, Wandy Peralta, has had a pair of rough, two-run outings, though has otherwise looked sharp despite his 4.00 ERA and 5.23 FIP since joining the Yanks. (For what it’s worth, Tauchman currently has an 83 wRC+ on the season).
The high-risk, high-reward offseason acquisitions have yet to pay major dividends. Among Cashman’s bigger swings, Corey Kluber seemed to be rounding into shape and culminating a May renaissance with a no-hitter before suffering a shoulder injury that will cost him at least two months. Elsewhere, DJ LeMahieu has performed more in line with the mediocre production of his days in Colorado than the MVP candidate he’d been since coming to New York, and Jameson Taillon’s 5.10 ERA has overshadowed his 3.81 xERA and career-high strikeout rate of 10.4 K/9.
This month, Deivi García earned his second call-up of the season, looking far worse than his first outing against an even worse opponent. After giving up a pair of earned runs through four innings to the O’s in April, García allowed four earned through four on May 29th. He was quickly shuttled back to Scranton.
Alternatively, Estevan Florial was called up for his second big league game, and his first of the season, and flashed some of the offensive prowess that earned him the start. On May 27th, he went 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout in a seven-inning Yankee win over the Blue Jays, but was sent right back down to Triple-A after the game, though his outfield competition continued to struggle.
Following the conclusion of their six-game winning streak, the Yankees have dropped six of their seven, regressing significantly on both sides of the ball. Without any room under the luxury tax to go out and add talent, or budding young talent to shop around for upgrades, Cashman’s hands appear to be tied by his own doing. The injured Aaron Hicks won’t be returning in 2021, but the eventual returns of Luis Severino, Zack Britton, Darren O’Day and again, Luke Voit, could help grease the wheels by the time the playoff race heats up.
With April and May in the rear-view mirror, where do you stand on Brian Cashman? While the Yankees’ success, or lack thereof, has much to do with factors beyond the general manager’s control, you may very well feel that the responsibility for the effects of free agent signings, trades, and roster moves rests on Cashman’s shoulders.
Vote in the poll below and let us know! We’ll revisit the results in a month.
Do you approve of Yankees GM Brian Cashman?
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