Spring training is here and the Yankees have gotten off to a modest 3-2 start, including three consecutive wins against Atlanta, Toronto, and Detroit. Not that final game results in spring matter, but there have also been a handful of encouraging developments from the approaches and processes of the teams’ top prospects to the velocity and innovation on display from the starting pitchers.
The next month will be chock full of intriguing storylines thanks to the decisions made by general manager Brian Cashman, the most salient of which we will review today. First, however, let’s track the fanbase’s attitude toward the Yankees GM over the last year to inform our evaluation of him on the doorstep of a new season.
Cashman’s approval rating started at 25 percent last March. thanks to a lackluster offseason that saw him engineer a dubious trade with the Twins, eschewing the more impactful options on the free agent market to instead reel in Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Luckily for Cashman, the team’s historic first-half winning pace launched that approval to 70 percent, 68 percent, 76 percent, and 69 percent across the following four months.
All good things must come to an end, and just as quickly as the Yankees’ winning ways evaporated, so did their GM’s approval rating. It cratered to an abysmal 10 percent in August thanks to the painful second-half slump, only partially recovering to 42 percent in September as they turned their form around in time for the playoffs. With the regular season in the rearview mirror and a 99-win season and division title in hand, one could begin to feel optimism toward Cashman and the team.
However, this rediscovered hope would prove just a phantom of the mind, as the Astros’ postseason elimination of the Yankees brought the season to an abrupt end and Cashman’s October approval rating to a lowly 18 percent before finishing right back where he started, with only 25 percent of fans voicing their approval 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 spending spree just south of $600 million to sign Aaron Judge, Carlos Rodón, Anthony Rizzo, and Tommy Kahnle, restoring his approval rating to 41 percent for December. It would hover at this mark, even ticking up to 42 percent through the end of January.
Taken as almost a full year in a review, it’s been a whirlwind that I suppose for Cashman’s sake at least has him slightly higher than where he sat last March:
That brings us to the state of the team two weeks into spring training. Despite overseeing a franchise record winter of spending, legitimate questions remain whether the current iteration of the Yankees represents an appreciable upgrade over the team that got swept by the Astros in the 2022 ALCS. The quartet of signings he oversaw certainly merit praise: however, his inaction in addressing other pressing needs on the roster merits equal criticism. Instead of bringing in time-tested talent, Cashman is allowing the starting left field and shortstop roles be decided via spring training competition between players with wider error bars and significantly lower floors (not to mention the back of the rotation).
Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Kiner-Falefa will battle it out to win the starting shortstop job. That IKF is even in consideration for the role might beggar belief considering the team benched him for Peraza in the playoffs. In left field, we are told that Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera will compete to be the starter, however recent comments from the team call into question the authenticity of that competition. Cashman has repeatedly tapped Hicks as the man he expects to win the job while several voices maintain that Cabrera’s value lies as a utilityman — despite several prospect evaluators questioning his ability to glove it in the infield. And finally there is the competition between Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt to fill the fifth starter role now that there is serious doubt whether Frankie Montas will pitch this year after undergoing shoulder surgery.
So that brings us to today’s task. Do you approve of the job Brian Cashman has done through the end of February? 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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