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Corporate Yankees

April 13, 2017

Baseball is a business with private ownership, so little information is available about how teams operate. Tuesday Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees, gave a glimpse in a NY Times article.

The article discussed his longevity with the team and his role as general manager. I found it quite interesting and am sharing some thoughts with you here.

Cashman stated that his job was to run the team as director of baseball operations. There is some oversight and overriding decisions by management, but by and large he handles assembling the team and turns it over to Joe Girardi, the field manager for the daily decisions. Cashman tries is to balance the analytics with the scouting acumen while taking a long view with the goal of assembling a World Series winner – nothing less. He gave an example of how he wanted to trade Robinson Cano at the time he was the best Yankee player. This was before Cano would become a free agent anticipating that he would not re-sign with the Yankees when his contract was up. He reasoned that the 31-year-old Cano would want a 10-year contract with super big bucks while a trade then could have landed the Yankees a desirable player. There was no question he was worth big money, but the 10-year deal did not fit into Cashman’s equations which included juggling team salary caps, luxury taxes and player development. Ownership overruled any trade.

Cashman said Hal Steinbrenner who was a pilot, looked at things at a 30,000-foot vantage point while he had a 5,000-foot view. Ownership’s role was multifaceted. Of course they want a winning team, but the owners also must consider sponsorship commitments, partners to answer to, maintenance of the season ticket holder base, and TV network ratings among many other non-baseball functions. It is a business and most fans never get to see this part of it. At the time, it was important to the owners for Cano to remain a Yankee until his free-agency.

The Yankees are a business and I appreciated Cashman’s insights since they apply to how every business is operated. The products and services might differ, but the principles of sound management and leadership are similar. I also am a Yankee fan and crave any “inside” information about them.

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