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"Soriano? If he stinks or gets hurt, he’ll be a Yankee for 3 years"

I attended the WFAN ‘Breakfast with a Champion’ with Brian Cashman on Tuesday morning, and as always, Brian didn’t disappoint one bit. I’ve attended these functions for 3 years running, and if anything Brian only seems to get more open, more verbose, and more honest with each event. You may have read some recaps on some other blogs, but I took extensive notes and can provide some context to some of the utter garbage that’s being spread around the MSM about what he did and didn’t say. I’ll use this post to fully recap his comments and I will have a follow up post tomorrow clarifying the Jeter/CF nonsense you’ve probably been reading elsewhere. There are no plans to move him now or in the future. If you’ve read some other Yankee blogs some of this stuff will be familiar, but there are other parts that I haven’t seen elsewhere that I found very interesting. The Soriano comments were especially blunt and entertaining.

On Jeter-He was asked by Francesa if there are any lingering bad feelings after the very public falling out they had during Derek’s contract negotiations. He said their relationship is “good” then amended it immediately “well.. alright”. But that doesn’t bother him at all, its not his job to be friends with the players but to do what’s best for the organization. He further went on to say “I don’t care” if players like him,  his focus has to be on winning and anyone who stands between him and that goal will have a problem with him.

On Posada moving to DH-He said there was no debate whatsoever when he discussed the move with Jorge. He directly told Jorge in no uncertain terms where they planned on playing him next year, and he has the entire off season to prepare as a DH. He wanted to do it himself, rather than have his manager tell him and possibly upset their clubhouse relationship. He went on to say if it doesn’t work out with Jorge as a DH, then he would have to explore other options mid season. But his days as an everyday catcher, or even a part time Catcher, are over. He’s their DH, period. He will only catch in case of an emergency.

On his media comments-“Everything I say (publicly) has meaning. They’re like bread crumbs leading you in the direction of where I stand on a player.” This is so true. You often have to read Brian’s comments carefully to glean where he stands on a subject, but he doesn’t lie to the media. Sometimes he’s not allowed to comment on a player who’s under contract with another team, sometimes he doesn’t want to show his cards knowing agents and the Red Sox are listening. But if you follow his comments and what happens, they generally match up.

On his contract expiring-The organizational rule where they don’t negotiate a deal before it expires is his baby. He created it, so he said he would be “a hypocrite” if he waived the rule for himself. Don’t read anything into him being on the last year of his deal, it tells us nothing about whether he will or won’t return. It was noteworthy that later on he was discussing small market teams, and said those jobs were akin to “retirement”.

On his bad contracts and the high profile nature of his job-(referring to himself) “The higher up a tree a monkey climbs, the more you see of his ass”.

On his Brett Favre/Pettitte comment-He said it might have been a poor choice of words, but the comment was completely misunderstood publicly. What he meant was that in his opinion, Brett Favre wasn’t fully committed to play in 2010 and was wooed back by the Vikings with helicopter visits, millions of cash, etc. He wants Andy to be fully committed, not give a half hearted effort out of obligation to his team or teammates. His comment had nothing to do with Andy jerking the team around.

On Andy Pettitte playing in 2010-He said he’s working out, that his wife and kids are on board with him playing this year, and said “I believe he’s going to play”. But he added the caveat Andy pulled him aside in Texas and told him “Don’t wait on me” if he was considering making moves, which was something that hadn’t happened in previous years. Andy was more banged up last year than the Yanks let on, dealing with a bad groin, bad back, among other ailments.

On Andy coming back mid season-“I don’t think Andy is open to that.”

On Joba-When asked about Joba returning to the rotation, he made it very clear that will not happen and the organization thinks his stuff has never been the same since the shoulder injury in 2008. He mentioned the injury 3 times in responding to his role, and said “his stuff has been watered down since then. Even his breaking pitches aren’t as sharp.”

On his #4 and #5 starters-He said he would like to have Andy come back and have Ivan Nova be his 5th starter. But once you get past that he went on extensively about his top pitching prospects, mentioning Dellin Betances and Manny Baneulos in that order. He said Dellin has a “Felix Hernandez type curveball” and that both pitchers are top of the rotation prospects, both with “Phil Hughes or better ceilings”. But he cautioned that he expects both pitchers to stay in the minors for the 2011 season.

On his farm system-He said the Yanks have a top 5 farm system “for the first time since I’ve been here” and that every rotation spot in AA and AAA next year will be filled with a legitimate pitching prospect. No veteran retreads, and mentioned David Phelps and Adam Warren as guys who could be with the MLB club this year, quoting Gene Michael as saying both “could be better than Ivan Nova”.

On Jesus Montero-He said Jesus has a “Manny Ramirez-type bat” and a better arm than people realize. He has “a cannon” but needs to work on making his release quicker and his overall catching skills. He left open the possibility that Jesus could work his way onto the MLB squad this year. If he succeeds right away, the club would look to deal Russell Martin.

On Eduardo Nunez-“A trade bait candidate” though he went on to describe him as one of the top 5 in the minors at his position. That being said, he doesn’t view him as an eventual successor to Jeter.

Asked who’s the best team in the AL right now-“The Red Sox” though the Yanks “are a starter away from contending for the World Series”

On Soriano’s contract-An audience member asked him to explain how the opt out clauses in Soriano’s deal works. Brian said “If he stinks or gets hurt, he’ll be a Yankee for 3 years”. The questioner followed up asking what happens if Soriano has a good season, Brian said “he’ll opt out” explaining there will be more money out there if he has a big year. Brian went on to say there is no lingering resentment, that there are different areas of the Yankee business and he doesn’t expect to always get his way, even on Baseball issues. These disagreements are always done in a very candid and professional manner. But he called the Soriano deal “a reactionary move” that was done more for business reasons (selling tickets) than baseball reasons. Francesa then asked the audience if anyone was excited to have Soriano on board, and there were few (if any) positive responses.

On losing the draft pick-An audience member asked him if they will get the draft pick back if Soriano opts out next year. He said yes, but with an important caveat. The collective bargaining agreement is due to expire next year, and one of the issues that the union wants changed is draft pick compensation, especially relating to relievers. He cited Grant Balfour as a recent example of the problems involved. It’s possible, even likely that the next deal will have different rules for Type A relievers, so until the new CBA gets hammered out we really don’t know if they’ll get a 1st round pick as compensation to replace the one they lost.

On Sabermetrics-“I believe heavily in that stuff, along with scouting” adding that anything that can be quantified helps him do his job better.

On Carlos Zambrano-“No” saying he believes it’s important with the intense scrutiny in New York to have “high character guys” so your manager and team doesn’t spend all day dealing with distractions caused by a player.

On Felix Hernandez-“You’d be shocked how hard I went after him”. He just shook his head, indicating he wasn’t available.

29 Responses to “2011 WFAN Brian Cashman Breakfast (extended version)”

  1. This post could be renamed “Why 90% of the stuff you’ve read elsewhere this offseason is wrong”. Brian is great in these settings. I discussed this with Francesa (on air) later the same day, and Mike said “Brian tells you things in these settings that he doesn’t tell you when he’s sitting next to you.” I think its pretty clear Brian likes the idea of getting his message out directly to the fans, without the media filter. Even when someone is being fair with him, as Mike was as he recapped what he said, the way Mike phrases things could be different than the way Brian actually said it, leading people to misinterpret his comments. So getting his side of the story out to the public directly, in long form answers, is something Brian rarely gets a chance to do. And boy, does he take full advantage of it.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    T.O. Chris Reply:

    I agree with all this and add that I think Brian is finally feeling like a man who has taken over his fathers business in a since after simply running it for/with him, he has come out of his shell more so to speak, by that I mean he isn’t as guarded with what he reveals to the media and he seems to operate in a manner that says he doesn’t really care what the media says about him or the Yankee brand so long as he knows everything is being taken care of unlike in the past when the Boss seemed to take things a little more personal.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    williamnyy23 Reply:

    I would change the title to “What Brian Cashman Really Said at the WFAN Breakfast”.

    I fear too many people will pass over the link otherwise, and miss some good information as a result.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I’ll throw in “(extended version)” to the title. That should work.  (Quote)

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  2. Great job Steve as always, I was just coming here to post a little something about the Joba-Shoulder connection in off-topic section and sure enough you already have the article up.

    I think it is really interesting to finally hear a conformation to what many of us have thought for a long time about Joba and his injury that fateful day, it had gotten to the point where some of us thought we were making up the memories of Joba being a starter yet maintaining a 95 MPH fastball. At one point he mentions that “Joba use to be able to throw 100 as a starter and reliever” and while I don’t know about 100 I do know he regularly was able to hit high 90′s and sit in the low to mid 90′s even while in the minors that year so to hear someone from the front office actually talk about the shoulder as the culprit behind the velocity dip is very insightful indeed.  (Quote)

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  3. Good stuff…was going to pass over the link thinking it was another Cashman breakfast rehash, but this recap is the most comprehensive I’ve read.

    Even with proper context (and Cashman’s retreat on the Kay radio show), however, I am still a little concerned about Cash’s tone. His description of the Soriano contract continues to be openly critical and overall tone very carefree. Either he has tremendous job security or he isn’t concerned about upsetting Hal.

    A couple more points:

    1) Jorge is basically playing for his Yankee career this season.
    2) If Nunez is trade bait, I wonder why Cashman held the line in the Lee trade talks. I wish someone would have asked him that (and I am not suggesting he should have done the deal).
    3) I’ve always pointed to that injury in 2008 as a turning point in Joba’s performance, so the revelation doesn’t surprise me. I really don’t get why Cashman would make it a public issue, however. Calling his stuff watered down is a very strong statement. If Joba is available on the trade market, Cashman didn’t do himself any favors.
    5) On the CBA, I can see teams making a big stink about a retroactive change. If compensation is changed, perhaps it will be for contracts signed going forward.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    T.O. Chris Reply:

    On number 2 maybe he had some feeling of Lee being a tough re-sign and wanted to hold back on the deal to cut back on potential risk of losing him in free agency, just a stab in the dark and probably wrong though.

    3. I think Cashman has shown over and over again he really doesn’t care about “Joba’s trade value” as many times over as he has called him nothing but a reliever he has given very few good reviews to make you think he was propping him up for a trade, it seems to me outside looking in that the whole group has given up on trading him and everyone outside of Cashman himself has given up on him period, obviously Brian however still thinks he can setup given his unwillingness to sign Soriano.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    Let me clear up the part about his tone. Live, in person, his comments were made in a very ‘matter of fact’ tone, with no sense whatsoever of agitation of any kind. Blunt statements can read one way in print, and come across differently in person.

    Also, I’d like to add that when it comes to a rift in the Yankee front office, its nothing unusual and nothing that hasn’t happened many times before. When discussing the Soriano situation, Mike commented that it had happened before with A-Rod, and countless other times when there was the Tampa/NY split. A disagreement on a player doesn’t mean Brian is unhappy with the Yanks or the Yanks are unhappy with him, and Brian took great pains to make that abundantly clear.

    Don’t forget why Brian had to be so public on his stance with Soriano. He had said publicly that he wouldn’t give up a 1st round pick for a reliever, then the Yanks turn around and do exactly that. His credibility was on the line, so he had to distance himself from the signing. I’m sure he told Hal and Randy Levine that he was going to air his disagreement, and even did so right in front of them at the Soriano press conference. He’s not sandbagging anyone.  (Quote)

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  4. 1) Jorge is basically playing for his Yankee career this season.
    2) If Nunez is trade bait, I wonder why Cashman held the line in the Lee trade talks. I wish someone would have asked him that (and I am not suggesting he should have done the deal).
    3) I’ve always pointed to that injury in 2008 as a turning point in Joba’s performance, so the revelation doesn’t surprise me. I really don’t get why Cashman would make it a public issue, however. Calling his stuff watered down is a very strong statement. If Joba is available on the trade market, Cashman didn’t do himself any favors.
    5) On the CBA, I can see teams making a big stink about a retroactive change. If compensation is changed, perhaps it will be for contracts signed going forward.  

    Is this like the under pants gnome strategy?

    Phase 1: Collect Underpants
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Profit  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    williamnyy23 Reply:

    I don’t quite get the reference, but I did just notice that I skipped over number 4 in my list.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    [Reply To This Comment]

  5. Hey Steve I would actually like to know what you and the other writers feel about Jesus Montero coming in 9th on MLB.com’s top 50 prospect lists as well as the places of Dellin Betances(53), Manuel Banuelos(35) and Gary Sanchez(32) I don’t know if anyone already has plans to blog about the subject but I would like to know your opinion on said subject.

    BTW do you think as I do that “You have no idea how far I went” includes offering Jesus and Hughes?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    He didn’t elaborate, so fill in the blanks as you will. He offered Montero for 2 months of Lee, so adding Hughes for King Felix with years of control at good money sounds reasonable, maybe even a little light.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    I ask because I have read many trade offers from the blog-o-sphere involving Montero and a Nasty B as the main package but with a comment like that it would make me think he went further outside the box than that even and offered a guy like a Hughes or Cano, I come to Hughes because I really don’t think the Yankees have any plans of letting Cano go ever (until old age) if they can help it but with the amount of “Hughes upside or better arms” the Yankees have maybe Hughes is more expendable than in the past and unlike Santana Felix fits the bill of someone you trade a young proven arm for.

    As for the package being a little light I would totally agree with you and taking it a step further I would be willing to include Betances, Nunez and one of Nova/Warren/Noesi/Nova/Stoneburner types along with Hughes and Montero for Felix and if I’d be willing to do it I imagine Cashman would as well which probably means he is right about him going no where because that’s a pretty decent package of players even for pure speculation.  (Quote)

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  6. Great stuff here, Steve. It’s good to actually get the real context of what was said from somebody who was actually there. I’m sure some of the overreacting, jump-off-a-cliff posts that some of us wrote yesterday after hearing the first comments about Jeter and Joba would have been a little more toned down if we knew the whole story.

    BTW, what did they actually serve for breakfast?  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    Standard food service fare. Pre-cooked bacon, little sausages, french toast, fruit platter. What you’d expect if you were staying at a hotel in Anywhere, America.  (Quote)

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  7. Great post Steve, glad to get the full report on what actually was said. Also, the monkey’s ass line is hilarious.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    Yeah, it’s a great line. It got a big laugh out of the audience.

    Mike was saying how people think Brian’s job is so easy, and he said that’s nonsense. That the opposite is true, that when he wins, he’s supposed to win, and when he doesn’t he’s an idiot. He likened it to his own job, where people expect him to get top ratings and if he has one bad book, he’s getting dirty looks from his bosses as they pass in the hallways. So Brian agreed, that its part of the high profile nature of both of their jobs, and he’s made his fair share of mistakes. Then he delivered that line.  (Quote)

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  8. Interesting on the Joba shoulder deal.Cash say’s he never recovered the velocity from the sohulder injury.What he doesn’t say is the following season after the shoulder, the Yankees changed Joba’s violent delivery which everyone knew before he was drafted might cause arm issues and since then. he’s managed to stay healthy but just doesn’t have as much heat on the pitches.
    If they left him alone he probably would have the 94-99 stuff but he’d probably never make it through a season or career.
    This way the delivery puts less strain on his shoulder but he’s just a guy.
    Additonally, AJ Burnett was instrumental in convincing Joba that going 100% power gets you injured and isn’t necessary, something AJ learned from playing with Haladay.
    Unfortunately, like Joba, AJ now sucks also and doesn’t have as much bite on any of his pitches.
    Maybe it’s better to get people out, get injured, get healthy and get them out again, get injured etc…….
    Let’s hope Rothschild has some answers.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    Yeah you’re right AJ sucks because he doesn’t try his hardest on the mound it has nothing at all to do with the fact that he is a 2 pitch pitcher who has reached a point in his career that his velocity is dropping and his bite is retreating due to age, it’s the exact thing Beckett is going through right now it has nothing to do with not going all out.

    I also want to know how everyone connects Haladay and AJ through this link…. Doc is probably the best pitcher in baseball yet his advice to AJ Burnett made him worse? To me this just has never made any sense and really doesn’t fit Doc’s pitching philosphy which relies a lot on different kinds of movement from cutters, sinkers and changes now. If anything you think his advice would have been work more on developing movement and not focusing on throwing through a wall which is sound advice.  (Quote)

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  9. How can anybody not like Cashman? Even if you disagree with some of his decisions, you have to respect his process. Just wish someone would have asked Cashman and (more importantly) Francessa what’s happening with Jason Hirsh.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    jason, are you Jason Hirsh? JK

    Are you asking if Hirsh is in the Yankees plans this year as far as signing him I wouldn’t know but if you are asking if he is still in the system on that minor league deal he signed the answer is no but I imagine if he was going to be brought back it would have happened already, his career is really over though and he isn’t going to even sniff the bigs with us.  (Quote)

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    jason Reply:

    Appreciate the update.

    I was asking primarily because of this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q-psVKy9v4  (Quote)

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  10. I’m amazed how candid Cashman was. Great stuff Steve.  (Quote)

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  11. You guys don’t get it.Cashman has figured out a long time ago thqt if you’re candid, good interview and get the Press on your side, you can be a total buffoon, with the largest payroll in the sport and not go to the WS year after year and still be respected and keep your job..  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Yes, that’s it. Most of the fans who actually ignore the MSM like Cashman, but that’s because he is a good interview.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    T.O. Chris Reply:

    It’s just too bad Cashman hasn’t gotten us to a World Series in years… Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we at least got to a CS every couple of years or something.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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