Brian Cashman, Hank Steinbrenner

Olney: Brian Cashman has “full confidence” of Steinbrenners


If you ever had any doubt that the Yankees own New York, just look at the back page of the New York Daily News today.

Pretty impressive feat — no, I didn’t use that word because of Rex Ryan — especially on a weekend when the Jets are playing the Patriots in the divisional playoffs.

Anyway, Bill Madden and Roger Rubin wrote this morning that the Steinbrenners were “bothered by Cashman’s blueprint,” specifically that the club was going into the season with a thin starting rotation and little in the way of protection for closer Mariano Rivera. Cashman expressed confidence with in-house options Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson for the bullpen, but team brass ultimately decided that Rafael Soriano was an insurance policy that they couldn’t turn down.

Despite the difference of opinion, Buster Olney of hears that Cashman still has “full confidence” of the Steinbrenners. Jon Heyman of hears the same, adding that while Cashman preferred to keep the first-round draft pick, he “in no way threw a body block” to prevent the Soriano signing.

So, it sounds like Cashman was overruled in this instance. But is this really a big deal? And do we have any evidence that this hasn’t happened before? As much as we’d like to think that Cashman has been calling the shots personnel-wise, this is just a dose of reality that ownership has the final say, not just here, but pretty much everywhere.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon
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I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.