The Life And Rant Of Brian

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I apologize in advance for subjecting you to the writing of Joel Sherman.

Sherman wrote this piece in today’s NY Post in which Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman went into a self-indulgent tangent about the Life of Brian.

It’s no wonder he’s defensive considering his pitching choices that have deprived the team of their number 1 hitting prospect Jesus Montero and a useful arm for their rotation in Hector Noesi in exchange for two pitchers that now reside on the disabled list and will be there for the foreseeable future. Michael Pineda—who Cashman referenced in the piece with a clear agenda to defend himself—is lost for the year with shoulder surgery. Jose Campos is also on the minor league disabled list. He was initially put on the 7-day DL with elbow inflammation. That “7-day DL” has lasted for, by my count, 46 days.

Manny Banuelos is also injured and Dellin Betances has lost the ability to throw consistent strikes. The reality surrounding Cashman’s pitching maneuvers precludes any raving mania of, “It’s not my fault!”

Here are the main clips from Cashman’s rant. Facts ruin his foundation for said rant.

Cashman stews because he does not like the perception the Yankees’ usage strategy led to Joba Chamberlain’s Tommy John surgery.

No one who knows anything about baseball and pitching thinks that it was the Yankees’ usage of Chamberlain that caused his Tommy John surgery. Tommy John happens to pitchers who are starters, relievers, journeyman, stars, huge prospects and non-prospects. It happens to infielders, outfielders and catchers. It happens to quarterbacks in the NFL and anyone who stresses their elbow ligament with a throwing motion. There’s no stopping it no matter how cognizant and cautious teams are. Stephen Strasburg was the catalyst for the Sherman column to begin with and in spite of their babying, Strasburg got hurt too. That same thing happened to Chamberlain and it’s not the Yankees’ fault.

In fact, he used the term “people are so [bleeping] stupid” three times because he feels matters have been twisted to fit a narrative that he does not know what he is doing.

There’s a significant difference between not knowing what one is doing and not realizing that what one is doing is not working. Whether or not Cashman knows what he’s doing is only determined by the results of what he does and his pitching decisions have been, by and large, failures.

He’s clung to the innings limits, rules and regulations that have been shunned by other clubs and watched as those clubs have developed their young pitchers with greater rates of success than the Yankees have.

The most glaring part of this lament is that he’s still clutching to these failed strategies like he’s in quicksand and they’re a lingering tree branch. He’s made no indication of accepting that things may need to change to get the most out of the talented young arms they’ve accrued.

“Joba was a starter his whole amateur career and his first pro season (2007) with us,” Cashman said. “We only brought him up to relieve to finish off the innings he was allowed to throw while trying to help [the major league team]. And we probably don’t make the playoffs in ’07 if we didn’t put him in the pen. But he wasn’t bounced back and forth. And the debate only began because instead of keeping him in the minors hidden as a starter, we tried to win in the majors.”

This is the Yankees’ fault. Period.

If the long-term intention was to make Chamberlain a starter, what they should’ve done after 2007 was to make him a starting pitcher and leave him in the starting rotation in the face of the demands of the players, the media and the fans.

They didn’t.

Here’s what happened with Chamberlain: he was so unhittable as a reliever that he could not, would not surpass that work he did over that magical month-and-a-half in 2007. If not for the midges in Cleveland, that Yankees team might’ve won the World Series. The entire context of Chamberlain from his dominance to the “Joba Rules” T-shirts to the fist pumping made him into a phenomenon. It’s up to the man running the organization to contain the phenomenon and Cashman didn’t do it.

Cashman is engaging in revisionist history here to shield himself from the onus of contributing to Chamberlain’s on-field performance downfall, not his Tommy John surgery nor the shoulder injury that’s been called the real reason his stuff has declined and why he can’t start.

The debate began because he was a dominant reliever. They kept using him as a reliever to start the 2008 season, then shoved him into the rotation with the same hindrances preventing him from getting into a rhythm as a starter.

It got worse in 2009 as they again jerked him back and forth, placed him in the rotation—in the big leagues—but used him as if it was spring training during the regular season and let him pitch 3 innings in one start before pulling him; 4 innings in another start before pulling him, and continuing with this charade. Even when he pitched well and appeared to be finding his groove as a starter, they messed with him by giving him unneeded “extra” rest. After that extra rest, he reverted into the pitcher with the power fastball, inconsistent command and scattershot secondary pitches. Saying he wasn’t bounced back and forth is either a lie or Cashman has truly convinced himself of the fantasy.

Cashman also angrily said he believes the Yankees are held to a higher standard on this matter. He noted most organizations — such as the Nationals with Jordan Zimmermann and Strasburg, and the Mariners with Michael Pineda — shut down young starters when they have reached a prescribed innings cap.

If there’s a “higher standard” for the Yankees it’s because they invite it with the suggestion that they’re better than everyone else.

And no, Brian. It doesn’t work that way. You don’t get the benefits of being the “Yankees” without having to endure what’s perceived as a negative when it doesn’t go your way. I say “Yankees” in quotes because I’m not talking about them as the most decorated organization in baseball, but as the entity of the “Yankees” with their history and smug condescension of being one of the richest, most famous and recognized brand in the entire world. He has more money than any other GM to spend and with that comes responsibility. When things go wrong, he’s the man who holds the bag.

Without getting into a Selena Roberts-style bit of autodidactic pop psychology the kind she used with her amateurish biography of Alex Rodriguez and traced every A-Rod foible to his father having abandoned the family, it’s abundantly clear that Cashman’s profane forthrightness—bordering on unhinged—is stemming from the pressure he’s feeling not just for the hellish trade he made for Pineda and Campos, but because of his off-field crises that have embarrassed him as well as the organization and made him into someone whose mid-life disaster is negatively affecting his job.

It may have been cathartic to get these feelings out into the open, but he’d have been better off telling it to a psychiatrist than a hack writer from the New York Post because all this did was place Cashman back into the headlines with a bullseye on his back as a paranoid, egomaniacal, deluded and self-involved person whose job is on the line.

It’s not the “bleeping stupid” people who are to blame. It’s Cashman himself. He did it and he has to face the consequences.

All he succeeded in doing was to make himself look worse.

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Joke Or Not, If Alderson’s Unhappy, He Should Leave

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To the best of my knowledge the Mets aren’t paying Sandy Alderson with IOUs from one ply peeled from two-ply pieces of toilet paper.

Nor are the checks written in the penmanship of someone right-handed trying to write left-handed and signed, “Jeff’s Dad” as if Jeff Wilpon were trying to pay Alderson with whatever’s left of his dad’s teetering financial empire.

Alderson’s being paid in real money and he’s being paid a lot of it.

Alderson has decided, as he’s making his way to spring training, to start a Twitter account. The first tweet was either a badly worded or misunderstood joke or a shot at the Mets’ paucity of funds.

Under the handle MetsGM, Alderson said:

Getting ready for Spring Training-Driving to FL but haven’t left yet. Big fundraiser tonight for gas money. Also exploring PAC contribution.

Whether it was an attempt at comedy or a legitimate kick at the fact that he doesn’t have any money to spend, he’s oblivious if he didn’t realize that saying that would be construed as a negative toward his employer.

Can you imagine one of George Steinbrenner’s GMs saying something like this and still being the GM the following day?

Or Vince Lombardi so openly disparaging a team that he tried to craft into the epitome of professionalism and year-round proper representation of the Green Bay Packers?

It wouldn’t happen because there was a baseline, known code of conduct of what would and wouldn’t be acceptable from any and all employees of their teams.

Alderson was a Marine and should understand that even if the Secretary of the Navy is from a different party as the President or disagrees with policy, he’s not going to publicly say something so negative—even in a joking context—about his bosses or his branch.

Alderson was a lawyer and a respected GM for the first decade of his career with the Athletics. Then, when he moved to the forefront, his own personality came to light.

Along with the resume of being Vietnam veteran and well-spoken military man and adaptive, intuitive corporate lawyer, there’s another side to Alderson—a snarky, credit-seeking and obnoxious side that has reared its head repeatedly.

As GM of the Athletics, Alderson’s success was tied to two things: money and Tony LaRussa. When the A’s spent money under Alderson and were managed by the Hall of Famer LaRussa, they won. When the money dried up, they slowly declined; then LaRussa left and the team came apart.

Alderson went to the Padres, behaved like a capricious tyrant and created factions that were beholden to him to craft an aura of dysfunction where everyone was looking over their shoulders for someone holding a knife.

It’s been this way in every job he’s undertaken since and is now happening again with the Mets.

Whether he wanted the Mets job (and it certainly appeared he did when he was interviewing for it) or took it as a favor to Bud Selig is irrelevant. He took the job and is being compensated heavily for it. He’s gotten everything he wanted including the high-priced hirings of his lieutenants Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi. He hired the manager he wanted in Terry Collins. If he had a load of money at his disposal, there’s no guarantee he would’ve wanted to spend it on Jose Reyes because it’s never been his modus operandi to invest so much money in a player who relies on speed and doesn’t get on base.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The circumstances with the team are what they are, financially and practically.

Financially, ownership is under siege from a lawsuit that they claim is doling out blame and holding them accountable for transgressions that they are not guilty of committing.

That will be settled in time and the Wilpons will either find a way to maintain control of the team or sell it.

Alderson may or may not be the GM of the new owner; he may or may not remain as the GM if the Wilpons retain control.

Practically, even if there was a ton of money available, the free agent market was such that the Mets were unlikely to dive deeply into it to bring in enough talent to compete in a loaded division. The farm system needed to be rebuilt and the big league club overhauled. In actuality, the Madoff trial is giving them the built-in excuse to refurbish the club correctly—something I would think Alderson would embrace to put a club together devoid of the $200 million superstar since those contracts almost inevitably become onerous by year four or five.

That too is secondary to the perception of the team.

On the one hand, okay, it’s a joke; on the other, he’s the GM and shouldn’t be openly attacking his club even in jest. If you’re the GM of the team and there’s even a split-second hesitation as to how a joke is going to be interpreted, then it shouldn’t be said. Once it has to be explained, it was a bad joke.

If it was a subtle attempt to say publicly what he says in starker terms privately; if Alderson is unhappy with the money at his disposal; if he doesn’t like working for the Wilpons; if he took the Mets job only as a favor to Selig; if he wants out and is being passive aggressive to get that information into the public sphere, then he should resign and stop taking the Wilpons’ money to be the GM of the club.

This type of stuff is why they’re the “Mets”. I don’t mean the Mets organization. I mean an adjective for a punchline of whatever can go wrong, will go wrong and that the employees—even in the upper reaches of the hierarchy—are willing to make negative and embarrassing comments to highlight that fact.

Done with appropriately hideous timing befitting the “Mets”, while the team across town is enduring their own humiliating scandals involving their GM Brian Cashman and his bevy of girlfriends and divorce, one of whom was apparently stalking him, Alderson decided—as seems to be the Mets wont—to make the Mets the butt of evening gossip and laughter. For the titular head of the baseball operations, someone whose conduct and skills in dealing with the media and manipulating the language to prevent such a thing from happening, it was a stupid and inappropriate comment to make. Former GM Omar Minaya’s biggest fault was crisis control and a lack of skill with the language, but I have no recollection of him saying something like this about his employers.

The Mets are not going to stop being a joke until they cease treating themselves as a joke. It comes from a clear set of rules that are adhered to from the simplicity of wearing a coat and tie when traveling on the road to not criticizing the organization.

From the time of Alderson’s hiring, I said that the Mets have to cease the practice of acting as if any star player who joins the organization is doing them a favor; that any and every player they currently have is here out of desperate necessity rather than out of a business agreement between parties. Until the Mets make the conscious decision to stop laughing at themselves, why should anyone else hesitate to laugh at them?

If there are people within the current organizational structure who don’t want to be part of the Mets, then they should leave. When I said it 15 months ago, I was referring to the players. But it also applies to the GM.

If Sandy Alderson doesn’t want to be part of the Mets, then he should go. They’ll get someone else.

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Truth is Stranger Than Bad Fiction with Brian Cashman

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Tom Wolfe had the “Masters of the Universe” in The Bonfire of the Vanities, I have the GM of the Evil Empire.

I need a title.

The Life of Brian would be good, but it’s taken.

But we’ll worry about the title later.

A useful technique in fiction is that if you have the exoskeleton of a story mapped out in your mind, but don’t want to lose the plot by thinking too much, then you come up with names that represent the role of the characters therein and give them believable names once a rough draft or outline is complete.

But if you’re doing satire and want it to be clear satire, you give them names that are so absurd that they have to be real.

It’s a fine line.

Truth is stranger than fiction and given the names of the two protagonists—Brian Cashman and Louise Meanwell—are so ludicrous for a story of this kind, I feel compelled to come up with some names for the other participants.

They may or may not be thinly veiled for “real people”.

May or may not.

Let’s take a look:

Brian Cash-man: GM of the fictional Big Apple Highlanders (*wink*), he’s enduring a mid-life crisis that resulted in his newfound honesty in dealing with his players to the detriment of his employers, engaged in at least two affairs that have gone public and acquired a real life would-be stalker who tried and succeeded in extorting money from him.

Louise Mean-well: Is she a crazy criminal or is she a crazy person who got involved with a powerful man and used that to her advantage by trying to accumulate money?

There’s more to her story than the tabloids are telling and because someone may or may not be mentally unstable doesn’t mean they’re lying about everything they say.

A.J. Tabloidreporter: Working for a self-described muckraking website and crossing the line from exposing athletes and sports people into the tawdry, he broke the story just as it was about to explode.

Perhaps there’s a correlation between the two.

Or maybe not.

Jimmy Goodcop: a lifelong Highlanders fan, walking the beat in the toughest neighborhoods to “do some good”; he’s honest to a fault, plays by the rules and is the legitimately kindhearted police officer who arrested Ms. Meanwell and assured the Yankees GM that he and his estranged family were safe.

Robert Badcop: A fan of the crosstown Meadowlarks and Jimmy’s intimidating partner who made sure to let Ms. Meanwell know that she would never ever harm Mr. Cashman nor his family. His tough guy persona is a cover for the underlying heart of gold.

Jane Prosecutor: Attractive, conservative and not a baseball fan, she’s considered a hardline district attorney who advocates harsh sentences for any and all crimes and public transgressions. Political aspirations will be ably assisted by this high-profile case. Her intention is to publicly dress down the Yankees GM for his complicity in the prototypical affair.

Michael Yankeesshill: The lead broadcaster for the Highlanders signature network, HEN, in his delusional world if the story isn’t mentioned by him, it didn’t happen.

If Cash-man had worked for the crosstown Meadowlarks and was dealing with the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by international criminal Irving Made-Off gutting their coffers and ruining their team and reputations or if it was the scandal-plagued former GM of that team—Phil Stevens—the story would’ve been the entire show even during Super Bowl week.

Instead, it was ignored.

Fritz and Helmut Sensenbrunner: the owners of the Highlanders and right wing conservatives for whom any embarrassment to their franchise is spitting on the grave of their late father, the tyrannical raving maniac Rolf Sensenbrenner. They’re unhappy that the GM of their team is behaving in this way and, worse than anything, getting caught.

A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez has to be in this story as A-Rod.

Just because.

***

In all seriousness, when Deadspin broke the story in a gauche manner with A.J. Daulerio going so far as to say he was wearing Cashman’s pajama bottoms at “Lou’s” apartment, it was something that was done to embarrass a man because of his personal life and it wasn’t really anyone’s business but Cashman, his family and the Yankees.

The next day, it became news that is going to affect the Yankees organization because once it reaches these proportions, the behavior of the man running the team is absolutely relevant on and off the field.

Cashman was obviously involved with this woman.

If he hadn’t been, why did he pay her one penny let alone $6000? Why is there the audio of Cashman calling her (in a tone that suggests he wants her to do his taxes rather than contacting a former or present lover) and writing recommendation letters on her behalf?

And why, if she was some “psycho stalker”, was he taking part in consultations with her family and psychiatrist? Is he a humanitarian that he wants to save the world lunatic by lunatic?

Why didn’t he call the police and alert the Yankees that he had a problem with a disturbed person? She would’ve been arrested and the police and Yankees would’ve taken steps to protect Cashman and his family.

This ongoing saga is a strange, scandalous turn of events that will go on and on until the media and public tire of it.

And that’s not going to be for a long, long while.

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Yesterday the Cashman Story Was Gossip; Now It’s News

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Brian Cashman took part in a “sting” to catch this woman who was supposedly stalking him?

Okay.

It’s a little farfetched, but okay.

Yesterday Deadspin published an article detailing this woman (the mysterious “Lou”) who claimed to have had a relationship with the Yankees GM and I wrote that Cashman’s off-field activities are no one’s business as long as they’re not affecting his job.

They updated the piece after “Lou” was arrested. You can read it here.

A few hours later, the woman was arrested.

You can read the news story here on NYTimes.com.

Obviously Cashman had some sort of relationship with this woman and it morphed into extortion, arrest and embarrassment.

With the revelation (also on Deadspin) that Cashman had been carrying on with a different married woman last year, this along his newly outgoing and somewhat self-destructive decision to openly discuss his players as if he were a columnist or TV analyst with ruthless honesty, is Cashman’s mid-life crisis permeating into the way he does his job?

If so, that’s not good.

Were George Steinbrenner still around, he never would’ve tolerated his GM acting in this way and having it get into the public sphere as foundation of ridicule for his franchise; nor would he have taken lightly Cashman’s public rift with his bosses over the signing of Rafael Soriano a year ago and the hard-line he took with Derek Jeter which angered the iconic star.

Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine—conservatives all—can’t be happy with the “new” Cashman’s image either.

Having just signed a 3-year, $9 million contract and running the team in a mostly effective fashion, Cashman’s job is not in any kind of jeopardy. But if this off-field meltdown continues, there may come a day where they say enough is enough. And if Cashman thinks his four World Series rings as a GM and history of success is going to get him another job immediately if he and the Yankees part ways, he’d better realize that there’s still the perception in many circles inside and outside of baseball that he’s an average GM who’s benefited greatly from a $200 million payroll and can’t transport his success from one club to another as Pat Gillick did.

Yesterday this was fodder for tabloid gossip and in the wink, nod and giggle section of the paper. Today it’s in the front of the paper and making the GM of the most famous team in sports and his organization look foolish. If he wants to maintain a reputation of professionalism, he’d better get his personal life and attitude in order and somewhere close to what it was five years ago or his problems are going to expand to the point where he won’t have a job in New York anymore.

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