SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spent much of his hourlong media availability on Tuesday vehemently pushing back against some of the backlash directed toward the organization in the wake of an 82-win season, frequently defending the team’s decision-making process and the various people involved with it.
“I’m proud of our people, and I’m proud of our process,” Cashman said from the site of the General Managers’ Meetings on Tuesday afternoon. “Doesn’t mean we’re firing on all cylinders, doesn’t mean we’re the best in class, but I think we’re pretty f—ing good, personally. I’m proud of our people, and I’m also looking forward to ’24 being a better year than ’23.”
The Yankees made the playoffs each of the previous six years but haven’t advanced into the World Series since winning it all in 2009. In 2023, they finished 19 games out of first place and needed a 17-10 September to avoid their first losing season since 1992, prompting widespread calls for Cashman and sixth-year manager Aaron Boone to get fired.
The Yankees’ offense was exposed while without Aaron Judge for most of June and July, ultimately finishing 24th in the majors in OPS. Outside of Gerrit Cole, their starting pitchers combined to post a 4.49 ERA. In hopes of breaking through an American League East that has become appreciably more difficult with the Baltimore Orioles emerging as contenders, Cashman said the Yankees need to “reinforce our pitching” while adding two outfielders — preferably left-handed hitters — and addressing what he called an “infield surplus.”
Day 1 of the GM meetings, taking place at the Omni Scottsdale Resort, marked Cashman’s first public comments since August, when he called the Yankees’ season a “disaster.”
“We got sand being kicked in our face, understandably so,” Cashman, the Yankees’ GM since 1998, said. “We only won 82 games, we didn’t make the playoffs. I called it a disaster because it was unexpected, and it was a disaster. That roster on paper was a hell of a lot better than it played out. But I gotta live with that. I gotta own that. I’m responsible for that. And I’m certainly hearing it loud and clear from all aspects, whether it’s media, whether it’s fans, all this stuff. Hey, if you’re gonna play in this market, you gotta be tough, and you gotta fight through it, and we’re gonna fight through it and have ’24 be a better outcome than ’23. But I did not see ’23 coming. I don’t think anybody here saw ’23 coming with the roster we had.”
Cashman added: “At this point last year, closer to the end of the winter, it was, ‘This is a playoff team. This is a World Series-contending team. In fact, maybe the best roster they’ve had to give them a chance to get to the World Series.’ And the same people now are talking about roster construction, too much analytics and all this other stuff, which I get a kick watching that back and forth where, ‘Geez, those are the same kind of people that actually liked what we did six months ago, and they’re killing us for it now.’ I get it. It’s part of being part of this process. That’s what makes sports so amazing. But we’ve got good baseball people. We’ve made good decisions over the course of time. More recently, some of these things haven’t been as good. I’m responsible for that. That’s my call. And hopefully we’ll be in a better position with some of the decisions we’ll hopefully run into to improve the roster and improve where we’re sitting at the end of ’24.”
Cashman at various points defended the Yankees’ due diligence leading up to some of the trades that famously flopped, particularly the midseason acquisitions of outfielder Joey Gallo in 2021 and starting pitcher Frankie Montas in 2022. Cashman noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins acquired Gallo after he struggled in New York and that none of the medicals indicated that Montas would eventually need shoulder surgery. He believes most of the criticism directed at the Yankees is a reaction to the on-field results and not rooted in the processes that led up to them.
“I get a kick out of how it’s decisions about players that are really good Major League Baseball players or potentially helpful Major League Baseball players, and that we’re dumb for getting them, and other people, obviously, they’re not dumb,” Cashman said at one point. “Bottom line, it just comes down to winning and losing. And that’s what this is all about. We lost way too many games than we should’ve lost last year. That’s my fault. I’m responsible as the baseball-operations GM. If the owner wants to tag me out at any time, he clearly can do that.”
Cashman also pushed back on the notion that the Yankees are too analytically driven, claiming the organization has “the smallest analytics department” in the AL East but also “the largest pro-scouting department in all of baseball.”
“No one’s doing their deep dives,” Cashman said. “They’re just throwing ammunition and bulls–t and accusing us of being run analytically. Analytics is an important spoke in our wheel. It should be in everybody’s wheel, and it really is an important spoke in every operation that’s having success. There’s not one team that’s not using it; we’re no different. But to be said we’re guided by analytics as a driver — it’s a lie. But that’s what people wanna say. I know I can’t change that narrative. All I can continue to do is say ‘bulls–t, not true.’ But I will guarantee it’s important to utilize it, along with our pro-scouting opinions, along with our amateur-scouting opinions, and yeah, sometimes we do better and sometimes we do worse with our decisions. Sometimes they don’t work out, but that’s also part of the process.”