If the Yankees were mediocre in April, it’s fair to say they righted the ship in May. Last month saw them finish just one game over .500 – which is probably what fueled an incredibly low six percent approval rating for general manager Brian Cashman – but they were 19-10 in the month that just finished.
Before Wednesday’s game, the Yankees were 34-23 with four straight victories and just 5.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the division lead. The difference between the two squads was 10 games on May 8, back when the Bombers were last in the division and just a day before Aaron Judge’s return from a mild hip strain.
Judge, of course, has carried this team with a .356/.484/.918 line, 12 home runs, a 1.402 OPS and a 266 wRC+ in May. Having him in the lineup helps a lot.
But back to Cashman. The owner of an incredible 94 percent disapproval rating in April (with 1,765 fans voting), people evidently punished him for the Yanks’ mediocre start and some of his roster decisions late in the offseason, mainly failing to find reliable outfield and rotation depth.
Every time Jhony Brito, Domingo Germán or Clarke Schmidt struggled in April, more fans turned against Cashman. Every game in which supporters watched Willie Calhoun and Franchy Cordero struggle, his popularity decreased.
His six percent approval rating is the worst in a while. The year actually started off relatively well with a 42 percent rating in January after some key signings, including Judge. The number lowered to 31 percent in February when fans started to realize the consequences of largely ignoring left field, shortstop and third base. Watching Anthony Volpe seize the shortstop gig in March, however, fueled a popularity surge for Cashman, who reached 47 percent in March. April did not go well for the GM’s figure; that much has been clear to this point.
May, however, might paint a different picture. Things are looking up in the Yankees universe despite losing Harrison Bader for a few more weeks.
The team is in a much better place at the moment. The roster is getting healthier, with Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, and Tommy Kahnle all traveling to Los Angeles to return in time for the weekend series against the Dodgers. Carlos Rodón hasn’t had any more setbacks, and Luis Severino returned with a bang in May.
Cashman also made three low-profile additions to the big league roster in May. He called up reliever Ryan Weber, signed to a minor league deal over the winter, brought up Jake Bauers (signed last season), and traded for outfielder Greg Allen.
All of them have paid dividends for the Yanks. Weber has a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings, and while he doesn’t strike out too much people, he induces soft contact and gets important outs in a long-relief role. Bauers started off white-hot, then cooled off and is trending up again. Before Wednesday’s game, he had a 114 wRC+, three doubles, and three home runs in May. The adjustments he has been working on since last year have returned good value for Cashman and the Yankees. Allen has been a valuable runner who has scored some timely runs, and has contributed with the bat in an extremely limited sample of 12 plate appearances.
However, the biggest and most impactful move might have been designating Aaron Hicks for assignment and ultimately releasing him. Whether or not it was the right move, it could help him regain some of the fans’ confidence.
Do you approve Cashman’s work after the month of May? Vote “yes” or “no” and, as always, feel free to weigh in via the comments section.
Do you approve of Yankees GM Brian Cashman?
This poll is closed