Brian Cashman has been steadfast on at least one item throughout this uneven – and ultimately disappointing – start of the 2021 Yankees season: Don’t blame Aaron Boone, or the fourth-year manager’s staff, for it.
"This is not an Aaron Boone problem, and this is not a coaching staff problem," Cashman said Tuesday before the Yankees snapped a four-game losing streak with an 11-5 victory over the Angels at the Stadium. "They’ve got my support. They’re doing what they need to be doing. We’re just not getting the results."
That falls in line with how Cashman has responded all season when asked about making changes to his dugout staff, whether it be Boone, the longtime GM’s hand-picked manager to replace Joe Girardi after the 2017 season, or members of his staff such as hitting coach Marcus Thames or pitching coach Matt Blake.
"That's not something I believe in," Cashman said on June 15, when asked about potential in-season changes to the staff, something he hasn’t done during his tenure as GM, which started in 1998. "And it doesn't mean I'm not willing to make changes if I felt they were warranted. But I don't feel they're warranted here…[This is] the same coaching staff and same manager that's had a lot of success here. So we are charged with finding a way to fix what's ailing us. And the ultimate responsibility on that is me. I've told our personnel that I don't intend to let us fail…we’ve got really good coaches that know what they’re doing, I think we have a really good manager that knows what he’s doing."
When Cashman spoke those words, the Yankees were just 33-32. They surged from that unimpressive mark to win seven of nine, which included a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, an offensive juggernaut, but they soon stalled. That has been the case every other time this season when the Yankees seemed poised to break out of whatever slump they were going through at the time.
"It’s easy from my chair to all of the sudden say, ‘you know what, let me throw something overboard just to satisfy the masses,’ and it’s harder to actually stick with what you’ve got because you believe in it," Cashman said Tuesday. "These people care. They're working their [butt] off. They're really good at what they do. We're not getting the results. I'm the head of baseball operations. That's more on me than them."
The Yankees came into Wednesday at 41-38, in fourth place in the AL East, 7 ½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, who swept the Yankees at Fenway Park last weekend, and 5 ½ behind the second-place Rays.
Cashman did not rule out the Yankees being sellers before the July 30 trade deadline, though that is not the preference nor, at the moment, the intent. The objective is for the Yankees to buy, with outfield, rotation depth and a lefty bat among the areas of need.
"That's our intent [buying at the deadline] because we're not giving up on our season," Cashman said. "There's enough time left, but there's some massive frustration by how it's played out right now because we [gave] too many games away, we haven’t played to our expectations and it's made [us] at times unwatchable. We're used to so much different than that."
And while the Yankees haven’t been in sell mode at the trade deadline since 2016, that eventuality can’t be outright dismissed, a possibility before the season that would have been laughed at.
"Is there a chance that we could be sellers?" Cashman said. "Hey, if we fall like a stone, then you have to regroup and reassess. Obviously, we're trying to fix what we've got, self-correct what we have and add to it if we can. But if it's unworthy at some point, then you have to have different conversations."