Would Brian Cashman rather run a small market team?

18 Comments

Over the weekend, Bill Madden of the Daily News wrote a column about the Brian Cashman/Rafael Soriano press conference.  The premise: Brian Cashman is chafing at what it means to be the general manager of the New York Yankees:

If you listen to some of things Cashman has said over the years and look at the pattern with which he has chosen to operate in the last few years – the CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira winter notwithstanding – a picture emerges of a GM who clearly wishes he was running a small-market team like his pal Billy Beane in Oakland. Indeed, you get the feeling that Cashman is tired of being labled a “checkbook GM”, while viewing that $200 million Yankee payroll as an albatross rather than a built-in insurance policy for making the postseason every year.

I suppose there are any number of ways to read this — Brien at IIATMS, where I saw the column linked, has a pretty robust takedown of it all here — but I tend to revert to Occam’s Razor whenever possible.

A simpler explanation than Cashman wanting to prove his brains to the world by running a team with a relative handicap is that Cashman would simply prefer to run the Yankees without being overruled by anyone and that he got a bit miffed when he wasn’t allowed to.  Doesn’t mean he wants to leave. Doesn’t mean he wants to prove himself by turning the Pirates into a winner or something. Like all of us, he just wants to do the job he currently has in a manner that makes him happy.

Cashman’s reaction to the Soriano business is a human one, and unless we hear of more palace intrigue from Yankeeland, I’m inclined to believe that this is simply a matter of a guy venting a bit as opposed to some crisis of confidence like the one Madden describes.

Major League Baseball orders balls stored in climate controlled rooms for some reason

Getty Images
3 Comments

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated reports that Major League Baseball will mandate that teams store baseballs in “an air-conditioned and enclosed room[s]” this season. He adds that the league will install climate sensors in each room to measure temperature and humidity during the 2018 season, with such data being used to determine if humidors — like the ones being used in Colorado and Arizona — are necessary for 2019.

This move comes a year after Major League Baseball’s single season, league-wide home run record was shattered, with 6,105 dingers being hit. It also comes after a year in which two different studies — one by Ben Lindbergh and Mitchel Lichtman for The Ringer, and another by FiveThirtyEight’s Rob Arthur — found evidence that baseballs were altered at some point around the middle of the 2015 season which coincided with home run numbers spiking in the middle of that year, quite suddenly.

Also coming last year: multiple player complaints about the baseball seeming different, with pitchers blaming a rash of blister problems stemming from what they believed to be lower seams on the baseballs currently in use than those in use in previous years. Players likewise complained about unusually smooth and/or juiced baseballs during the World Series, which some believe led to a spike of home runs in the Fall Classic.

To date, Major League Baseball has steadfastly denied that the balls are a problem, first issuing blatantly disingenuous denials,  and later using carefully chosen words to claim nothing was amiss. Specifically, Major League Baseball claimed that the balls were within league specifications but failed to acknowledge that league specifications are wide enough to encompass baseballs which could have radically different flight characteristics while still, technically, being within spec.

Based on Verducci’s report, it seems that MLB is at least past the denial stage and is attempting to understand and address the issues about which many players have complained and which have, without question, impacted offense in the game:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that MLB commissioned a research project after last season to study the composition, storage and handling of the baseballs. He said that investigation is not yet completed. “I’m not at the point to jump that gun right now,” he said about the findings.

The investigation is not yet completed, but the fact that the league is now ordering changes in the manner in which balls are handled before use suggests to me that the league has learned that there is at least something amiss about the composition or manufacture of the baseballs.

Major League Baseball is a lot of things, but quick to impose costs and changes of process on its clubs like this is not one of them. There is likely a good reason for it.