Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein spoke at William Patterson College in N.J. the other night. Peter Abraham has a brief recap of the event and its fallout here
, with some really juicy quotes from Brian Cashman regarding Bernie Williams. Here's a taste:
Cashman said Williams had a "terrible season" in 2005 and former
manager Joe Torre was wrong to play Williams as often as he did in 2006
because better players were available.
This quote is a huge statement for a couple of reasons, but it only scratched the surface for Cashman on that night. Not only his he openly criticizing Torre for his insistence on playing a veteran at the expense of a young player, something he's never done publicly before, but he's also taking a shot at Bernie.
Brian Cashman said Williams spent too much time with his burgeoning
music career "and that took away from his play" on the field.
The shocking part of this quote is Cashman describing Bernie's music career as burgeoning. Seriously, though. That's a pretty heavy accusation for a G.M. to make about a current player, let alone a guy who hasn't been on the team for over a year. This strikes me as something personal, and not something Cashman should be talking about in an open forum. I've heard this line of thought countless times, but it's always come from Yankee fans who despised Bernie later in his career. To hear it from the G.M. is shocking.
I don't know what's behind all of this. Bernie was insulted when the Yankees offered him a minor-league contract to come to Spring Training in 2007 with a chance to make the team. When you look at his production, or lack thereof, in 2006 this wasn't a slap in the face. Bernie was obviously past his prime, and in my mind at least, he didn't have a spot on the team. In Bernie's mind, he was a key member of four W.S. Champion teams for this franchise and owed more respect than he got.
This same situation came up a few months ago when Joe Torre was insulted by the contract offer the Yankees gave him. Again, I didn't have a problem with the offer which would have kept him as the highest-paid manager in baseball, by a large margin. Maybe Cashman is getting tired of the old guard in Pinstripes. He's taken this team in a new direction over the past couple of years, and he wants to make it clear that the youth movement is his movement.
It's been speculated that the front office wasn't happy with Torre's insistence on playing veterans over young players, even when the veterans were obviously hurting the team. Maybe Cashman just wants it on the record that service time will not dictate playing time going forward. Was this a message to Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui?
As far as Bernie's concerned, I think the guy did a lot more to help the team in the first 12 years of his career than he did to hurt them in the last four. Let sleeping dogs lie. As for Bernie's upcoming rebuttal, just play your guitar man. There's no need to participate in a verbal war, it isn't going to change anything.