Joel Sherman of the New York Post has an exclusive interview with Hal Steinbrenner this morning. The unequivocal upshot: there is no rift between Brian Cashman and the Yankees’ top brass:
“[Cashman] and I have a great working relationship. There is no problem, right now. I think we have had a bunch of drummed-up drama.”
The public sparring with Derek Jeter? Steinbrenner says that he — not Cashman — wrote the statement critical of Jeter that Cashman gave following Casey Close’s comments describing the team’s negotiating stance being “baffling.” Cashman’s dissension from ownership following the Rafael Soriano signing? No biggie:
“I keep reading about dissension and discord. We are a well-functioning company. The bosses have a decision to make. Sometimes people don’t agree with those decisions. So I told him, ‘You are always honest with the media, be honest now. Tell them what you have to tell them.’ I was already onto the next decision. I told him, ‘You and I are fine. Answer in any way you want.'”
Steinbrenner says that “there are no problems at all” between he and Cashman and that it “has been a very good relationship.” He says that, while it’s too early to discuss a contract extension, he would very much like Cashman back after his deal is up this fall.
One would assume that this should put all of the Brian Cashman criticism and speculation to rest. But given that the criticism and speculation was unreasonable to begin with, maybe it won’t.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.