Unlike 2011 or 2008, I think the Yankees should not keep Brian Cashman as GM. I have three reasons for this.
First, the farm system has not produced enough talent in the past few years. A lot of this has to do with some pretty bad drafts. Now the Yankees have been handicapped because of their low draft position, but they still should be able to get players in the first round who can at least contribute to the big league club. That hasn’t happened since the 2006 draft when they took Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in the first round. Since then they have picked Brackman, Cole, Heathcott, Culver, Bichette, Hensley, Jagielo, and Lindgren. With the exception of Brackman and his 1/3 of an inning, none of them have reached the bigs as a Yankee and most are never going to.
But it goes beyond the draft. The players who we hear about being on the verge of contributing seem to flame out. Take Mason Williams. Before the 2013 season, he was the #32 prospect in all of baseball. Now he is on the verge of getting released after a sub-.600 OPS season in AA. Maybe he simply didn’t have it, but there are other names like him and I question the instruction the Yankees are providing. Whatever the reason, the Yankees are not getting the talent they need from their minor leagues and that is Cashman’s fault.
My second reason for letting him go is his approach to roster building is outdated in my mind. While there have been exceptions, I think the game has been cleaned up dramatically in terms of PED’s. Furthermore, amphetamines are not part of the game now. Maybe those are the reasons why players in their late 30′s don’t hit like players in the late 30′s once did, but whatever the reason, the game is more about youth and positional flexibility than it was. Brian Cashman hasn’t shown an ability to thrive under those conditions. Year after year, he builds his roster around stars and then tries to round it out with castoffs from other clubs. Part of this is simply the Yankees way of doing business, but part of it is simply an inability or unwillingness to try younger players in certain spots. The Yankees need to stop signing guys like Brian Roberts to round out the roster and sign more guys like Yangervis Solarte. I know Cashman signed both, I just believe he prefers the former to the latter.
Finally there is the simple fact that he has been on the job for 17 years and that is a really, really long time. Thinking becomes calcified in organizations without change. Opportunities are missed because there are not enough new perspectives. Brian Cashman has been a great GM, but it is not a lifetime appointment.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the Yankees will make a change. There are already stories that they are working on a new deal with Cashman. I can only hope that if they keep him they make him change some of the ways he operates. Brian has been a wonderful GM for 17 years, but the time has come to try a new one.