When Cashman was old enough to join the working world in 1989, a good friend of his father’s had a job for him. The friend was George Steinbrenner, and the job was at Yankee Stadium as an assistant in baseball operations.
He was there – and briefly in Tampa – as Steinbrenner plowed through five of his first 16 general managers. Cashman became the 17th when Bob Watson could no longer tolerate Steinbrenner after two years and retired.
Inheriting a team that had the highest payroll in baseball and, bulked up by the owner’s free-spending ways, would reach the unprecedented $200 million level eight years into his tenure, Cashman was playing on an uneven playing field.
Cashman, however, has not produced a World Series winner after 2009 and, based on Steinbrenner’s history, would not have retained his job as long as he has had Steinbrenner not died in the middle of the 2010 season.
In significant ways, Hal Steinbrenner has adopted the opposite style of his father and last year he extended Cashman’s contract for three years. That decision bothered some Yankees fans and other observers.
I recently wrote a column saying the Yankees made a mistake, that 17 years in the position were long enough and that Cashman had outlived his usefulness. Cashman didn’t appreciate my view and told people I was “out to get” him, as though he were above criticism or questioning.
Because Cashman hadn’t taken or returned my calls for a couple of years, I was surprised when he got on the phone Friday when I called him. It wasn’t a long conversation. In fact, it wasn’t a conversation at all.
“Why are you bothering calling me?” he asked gruffly. “Lose the number. Write your shit.”
And he abruptly hung up.
I was calling Cashman not to ask him about the Yankees but about the person who really is “out to get” him. For at least the last six weeks – it could be a lot longer – this person has anonymously filled reporters’ inboxes with …