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.