Saw this quoted on Baseball Think Factory this morning and had to pass it along. It’s a quote from Joaquin Benoit who was Rafael Soriano‘s setup man in Tampa last season. It’s in reference to what Brian Cashman said at Soriano’s press conference. How he didn’t want him, he thought their funds were allocated better somewhere else, but that other GM’s would love to have him shoved down their throats and he makes the team better.
Anyway, this quote is via John Tomase of the Boston Herald:
Last season, reliever Joaquin Benoit joined Soriano at the back of baseball’s best bullpen in Tampa, and he was flabbergasted to hear Cashman’s comments.
“Wow,” Benoit said Thursday night at the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner. “I still don’t know what to say to that. That’s a really weird comment to make about a guy who had the type of year he had. Who wouldn’t want him? I figured he was going to be the closer somewhere, not setting up for the Yankees.
“Once you get to the seventh inning, it’s going to be tough to beat them. It’s like having Mariano and (Eric) Gagne when he was back with the Dodgers on the same team. It’s basically over.
“If (Cashman) says that, he has the power to say it. Now it’s in Soriano’s hands to make him eat his words.”
The reason why I think that this is a bigger deal than some others is because of reactions like this. There was a much better way for Cashman to handle that press conference, but instead he chose some pretty strong words. The result is that outside players and free agents are going to think that the Yankees are running a fractured franchise. They were, after all, doing that for years and guys like CC Sabathia had to be convinced that wasn’t the case anymore before he signed here.
No, Cashman didn’t outright criticize anybody, but he was very blunt in his portrayal of his role even pointing out that he was not part of negotiations. He also used the words ‘shoved down his throat’ when describing this deal. That signals a pretty big problem with a deal and shows extreme differences.
This is coming from a man who after the 2005 season almost walked away from the team because he felt like he was being interfered with too much. He only stayed after he was promised full autonomy over baseball moves by then owner George Steinbrenner. Now the Yankees are under new ownership which has not avoided overruling him when they felt it was necessary.
Some people might say that is the ownership/GM dynamic, but Cashman was promised a bit more control than GM’s usually are and has told reporters in the past that he considers himself director of spending. Well this was a $35 million move that was not approved by the so called director of spending.
With his contract up at the end of the 2011 season it makes you wonder how upset he really is. Was he holding anything back at all during the press conference? Or did he say everything that was on his mind? We’ll probably find out in about 10-11 months when the Yankees try to re-negotiate his contract.
Getting back to what Benoit said, I think we as Yankee fans would love to see Cashman eat his own words here no matter how much you like him. The thing is, as much as some people don’t really like this deal – if Soriano pitches brilliantly in 2011, helps the Yankees do big things, and then opts out of his deal – it wouldn’t be a bad contract at all. It might even get them two draft picks a year from now.
There is some potential for it to backfire in the Yankees faces though which is of course why Cashman is so against it. But there is certainly a possibility that it won’t. Time will tell. I’m rooting for Cashman to eat his own words.