Brian Cashman, usually fairly easy to find on the field during spring training, wasn't as visible the last couple of days, which was a shame as we were interested in his reaction to Mount St. Steinbrenner's eruptions on Monday and Tuesday.
A small group of us -- I was fortunate to be among them -- caught up with Cashman shortly after Manny Banuelos threw in front of him, VP of baseball operations Mark Newman, Joe Girardi and Gene Michael, to name a few.
“People are really pleased with his presence, and his confidence and things of that nature stand out on the mound," Cashman A lot like when El Duque showed up. I remember Torre and Stottlemyre were like, ‘there’s something about this guy.’ You hear that a lot about Banuelos.”
After talking about some of the young arms in the system, Cashman was asked about Steinbrenner's comments regarding the 2010 Yankees lacking hunger.
"That's an old story now, we're on to 2011," Cashman said with a smile, though clearly not wanting to get into it.
"We have a lot of talent here because they allow us to go the extra mile to try and find as much as we can to put us in position to succeed," Cashman said. "We almost got back to the World Series but almost obviously isn’t good enough in our market so every now and then a healthy reminder of what comes with not crossing the finish line, that’s going to happen."
Then I asked him if he meant to "insult" his players by contending the Red Sox were, on paper, better.
"Z," Cashman smiled, looking at the team's director of media relations. "When are you going to break this up? It’s getting borderline now. They’re winding me up. They’re starting to ask the right questions."
Is that a no comment?
"If you’re talking about me specifically, some days I can be better at my conversations with you guys than others, so let’s leave it at that," Cashman said.
Which, of course, Cashman being Cashman, he couldn't.
“If you’re asking me the same question, I’m giving you the same answer,” Cashman said. “I think we’re the hunter. At the end of the day, listen, no one’s conceding anything. No one’s conceding anything. But as I described the other day in full force, if this was the start of a race…from their winter, they [the Red Sox] qualified for the pole position. Their pole position right now is better than ours because of the winter that they had compared to the winter that I personally had.”
Cashman gestured toward the field, where one of the organization’s top prospects – 19-year-old lefthander Manny Banuelos – had just impressed him, senior vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman and manager Joe Girardi.
“That doesn’t discount anything I’ve got here,” Cashman said. “It’s just that I have more work to do. I might have the answers right here in front of me. I like what we have coming. Is it ready right now or not yet for an American League pennant race? We’re going to find out and weigh that vs. what becomes available over time. But what I do have, I’m very proud of. And what I do have is going to compete for that title. Can I make it better? I can make it better.”
His opinion that, as of now, the Red Sox are better, is shared by most in baseball and hardly anyone saw it as an insult.
Except Hank Steinbrenner.
“When you guys are looking at me straight-faced in the eye and [say] what did you think about their winter and where does that put them compared to you, I think they’re the hunted, we’re the hunter and that’s as simple as that and I don’t thin anybody would disagree with that,” Cashman said. “You can make with it whatever you want, I don’t really care, but that’s not selling us short. I like our talent. I like our talent a lot. I give myself an incomplete. Simple as that. If you want to insult anybody…I’m insulting myself. It’s as simple as that. I have more work to do.”
There was more but you get the idea.