Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look up in the sky. It's a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman. No I meant Brian Cashman.
As we all know, at Christmas, he climbs the side of buildings for charity, but his real job is building Championship teams for the New York Yankees.
I sat down with the long time Yanks general manager and we spoke about the upcoming season and how he has created such excitement in New York for the first time in years.
Ray Negron / Brian Cashman Interview
Negron: Brian Cashman, New York Yankees General Manager, now Brian number one, how are you?
Cashman: I am doing great. The weather is good; we have healthy players, and exciting times.
Negron: Now Brian is this probably one of the most exciting spring trainings you have ever had?
Cashman: It’s hard to say because we’ve had a lot of great players, a lot of great teams before so hopefully I can at some point add a team like this to that level of conversation, but you know we are down here working that out right now to see if we can emerge into that level.
Negron: They say that you’ve built a rock star atmosphere with this ball club, how do you feel about that?
Cashman: I hope the expectations; we are able to meet those. I mean that’s what this is all about it’s trying to put together something special and then letting it play out that way and we are excited about the buzz, we certainly got everyone’s attention by years of hard work by a lot of people and hopefully we can deliver on what everyone is hoping for.
Negron: There has been a lot of criticism about the fact that baseball has become 40, 50, and over as far as fan perspective. I did a walk around the ballpark, I am seeing a lot of younger fans this year more than any other years, what is your opinion on that?
Cashman: Well I know last year with what Aaron Judge and Sanchez and Severino amongst others were doing created a great deal of buzz and interest — I saw nothing but old and young obviously rallying around the type of athletes that are wearing those Yankees uniform, so that’s exciting enough. I don’t believe that there is an area of the younger generation not buying into baseball, that’s not what I see. It’s our job to make sure we put a great product on the field that people want to come see, young and old.
Negron: With so much attention going to the two twin towers, Stanton and Judge, I see that other guys are stepping up. I saw where a guy like your short stop Didi Gregorious was going into the stands and talking to the fans and signing extra autographs is that something that, in an essence, you have put to these guys or are the guys doing this on their own?
Cashman: Oh that’s something that comes on their own. We have a lot of high quality people. They understand the importance of the fans and giving back and putting forth their own time and they do that all the time. That’s how they’re wired, that’s credit more to their parents than the Yankees because we inherit that goodness that they already had in them. We are thankful for it; it’s one of the attractive traits that I’m sure our scouts bought into when they had a chance to drill down on these guys, not just their performance but them as people. They are hitting homeruns in the ballpark and hitting homeruns off the field with how they relate with everybody.
Negron: On ESPN Desportes people have asked about different situations, different players that you bring in for spring training, the retired guys. One guy that I noticed when he gets here, he goes into the stands, he really embraces the people, is Nick Swisher. Do you have an essence to pick guys that you feel that were going to be the most fan-friendly?
Cashman: I mean we are looking for nothing but people that realize that it’s a privilege to wear this uniform and find a way to contribute to the efforts that we are putting forth and allowing this team to be all it can be. And that’s on both sides of the ball, meaning the players in that locker room, how to best prepare them, and then also how to create a fan-friendly atmosphere. Nick Swisher for instance gets all aspects. He understands what this game is about, to play on the field and the fans in the stand as the same time, he’s a special one. We’re lucky that we’ve got him. He goes down as one of our better trades that we’ve ever made. And he is one of the reasons why I have a ring on my finger, which is 2009 the most recent one, it’s because of his contributions. He’s nothing but positive energy at all times and we want that. We want people to come in here and lift us all up and take us to a new level and Nick Swisher is one of many that are trying to do that.
Negron: Last thing — fans don’t always understand what’s really going on inside the clubhouse and the decisions that management has to make. Very difficult decision for you I’m sure was the Girardi-Boone thing and yet in one week I have noticed how the fans have taken to Boone and how Boone has taken to the fans without ever really managing and the people are really digging that which is an important trait for Yankees managers
Cashman: Well I mean our fans are excited about this club and I think they rallied heavily around Joe Girardi at all times and I think they’re going to do the same for Aaron Boone. Listen, Aaron is going to be leading this club on that field and finding a way to set those lineups everyday and to plug our pitching on a daily basis and they want him to make every decision right as we do too in the front office. He’s going to have their support; there will be some push back along the way as our previous managers knows as every manager has to deal it. It’s a tough job, it’s an impossibly difficult job but we think we’ve picked a good one. We relied on the team process to allow us to pick a great one before and we’re hoping we have a great one now. It’s nice to know where spring training is a great atmosphere where everybody can find a nice, loose, and relaxed way to go about their business, because the games don’t count yet but once they do it’s lights, camera, action, and obviously the pressure gets increased a little more or a lot more depending how things go.
Negron: I went to an event just before spring training started and you had Gleyber Torres there and he was signing autographs, this was on a Saturday afternoon in New Jersey, and then next to him was your manager Aaron Boone. The one thing that I was able to report to the people at ESPN Desportes was, “que el savilla habla espanol” that Aaron Boone was actually able to speak in Spanish to Gleyber Torres and I found that actually pretty cool, did you know that?
Cashman: Yes, I mean he’s obviously gifted. He’s extremely smart; he obviously can speak some Spanish. His imitations of people, their mannerisms, and their physical walks have you second to none. He’s a smart, very sophisticated individual and he’s got a very calm presence about him. I think we’ve run into a tremendous baseball person. His family back ground is well documented from his brother playing to his father playing in the big leagues to his grandfather playing in the big leagues so the family is one of the all-time families of baseball and I think we’re fortunate to have him here.
Negron: I’m very excited about this ball club; I’m very excited about what you have done, and congratulations, early.
Cashman: Thanks, we’ll see what happens.
Ray Negron can be heard Saturday's from 12-2 p.m. on Impact ESPN 1050AM.
Ray Negron is a sports executive with over 40 years of experience in baseball. His first job came from a chance encounter with George Steinbrenner as a youth. He has become an American film producer, a best-selling author, and a philanthropist. His memoir is entitled, "Yankee Miracles: Life with the Boss and the Bronx Bombers. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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