Hard to fathom that we’re already a month into 2023. But I prefer to focus on the positives, and that means we’re less two weeks away from pitchers and catcher reporting to spring training. Baseball is right around the corner, and as always hope springs eternal. However, rather than look forward to the new season, today’s task puts us in a retrospective frame of mind as we reflect on Brian Cashman and the job he has done as Yankees general manager over the last month.
A lackluster offseason that saw Cashman complete a trade for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa in lieu of the star free agent shortstops earned the Yankees GM a 25 percent approval rating in March, however the team’s historic first-half winning pace vaulted that approval to 70 percent, 68 percent, 76 percent, and 69 percent across the following four months. It would nosedive to just 10 percent in August thanks to the team’s second-half slump, only partially recovering to 42 percent in September as they turned their play around for a postseason push. This uptick would prove just a blip, falling back to 18 percent for October following the Astros’ ALCS sweep of the Yankees before finishing right back where he started, only 25 percent of fans approving of Cashman by the end of November.
But then came a massive reversal in the team’s and its GM’s future outlook. First Cashman was signed to a four-year extension to remain the general manager. As if energized by this renewed faith in his abilities, he oversaw a franchise record spending spree that saw the team sign Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón, Anthony Rizzo, and Tommy Kahnle to a combined total just south of $600 million, restoring his approval rating to 41 percent for December.
It’s been all quiet on the East Cost front still then, much to the consternation of fans and their justified unease over unresolved areas of the roster. The Yankees again passed on a historic class of free agent shortstops, content to award the position to the winner of an open competition between Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza. This, mind you, despite Cashman’s unambiguous admission that Kiner-Falefa’s disappointing 2022 season both offensively and defensively was exactly what they expected to receive. Perhaps even more troubling is Cashman’s attitude toward left field. Rather than augment roster via signing or trade, the Yankees GM appears more than happy to name Aaron Hicks the frontrunner to nab the starting role, while Oswaldo Cabrera will be given an opportunity to impress in spring training.
Why the Yankees prefer a retread of the offense that got shut down in the ALCS is beyond me. The common refrain concerns whether this is the best roster $292.5 million can buy. Sure, on their day Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are bona fide game winners. However, as things stand the Yankees are projected to receive production at or below league average from the five-through-nine spots in the batting order — seemingly unthinkable for a team that has designs on winning a World Series.
While far less concerning than the offensive issues, the pitching side is not immune to uncertainty. Now that Frankie Montas is set to miss the first month with shoulder inflammation, the Yankees are left to rely on Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt to deputize in his stead. Turning to a pair of internal options — both with limited success as starters — as temporary fill-ins for fifth starter is hardly a disaster scenario. However, it highlights the need for MLB-ready depth as insurance for the near-inevitability of starters missing time — depth that was severely thinned by the Yankees’ trade activity last season (Ken Waldichuk and Hayden Wesneski come to mind).
So that brings us to today’s task. Do you approve of the job Brian Cashman has done through the end of January? The polarizing GM certainly elicits stronger feelings than can be captured in a one-word response — you may feel a question such as the one being posed requires more nuance, greater elaboration, or a wider selection of options than just a “yes” or a “no,” however for the sake of this exercise, a binary question works best.
Please 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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