The New York Yankees are 17-12, in first place in the American League East. You can't, however, say it has been smooth sailing thus far for the Bronx Bombers -- who just lost three straight to the previously struggling Detroit Tigers. The Yankees have watched Derek Jeter struggle, Rafael Soriano often pitch like Kyle Farnsworth and Phil Hughes mysteriously lose his fastball.
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman was on WFAN Radio with Mike Francesa earlier this week, and Cashman addressed a number of those topics. Excerpts are after the jump, and you can find the full interview at Sports Radio Interviews.
You have to feel good about bringing in Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia?
"Better be lucky than good. Those guys have been gifts from the above. Gene ‘Stick’ Michael talked to me a few times when I was coming up [in the Yankees front office] under him about prospecting and just getting as many nuggets out there and sifting through the prospect pan and eventually some gold will show up. Whether it is short term gold or fools gold or eventually who knows, but it’s allowing us to kick the can down the road a little bit until some of our younger staff gets a little more experience or puts in a position to make a trade or these guys are really some difference makers."
Has the success of Russell Martin changed the way you view the catching position for the Yankees in the upcoming future? Are you convinced he’ll be a big part of this team for years to come?
"He is…that’s a good question. I think we’re in a good position because essentially when he became available we took a shot. It’s a one year contract and he’s under control for two years. He’s arbitration eligible, so he’s got this year and next year before free agency. We control what direction we want to go with it. He’s young. We know what he is capable of when he is healthy. It allows two players that are big names in the catching future market which is [Jesus] Montero and [Austin] Romine, who are ultimately twenty-one and twenty-two respectively and not even eligible to be protected on the forty man roster in the rule five draft, that’s how early they are in their development. It allows us to basically not be desperate to do anything unless we want to. Right now I have three catchers for the immediate and future. I can trade from that position of strength. I can horde it. I can do whatever I want as long as they all stay healthy."
You didn’t want to sign Rafael Soriano in the off-season. What are your thoughts on Rafael Soriano so far this season?
"You know we are learning about him. He’s obviously articulated that he’s having an adjustment period in the 8th inning even though that’s what he signed up for and saying you’re going to do something and doing it are two different things. So it’s incumbent on us to work with him on every level possible to get use to it as soon as we possibly can."
The fans want to hear about your level of concern regarding Derek Jeter’s struggles at the top of the lineup. I take it you are not overly concerned about Derek Jeter struggles at the plate categorically speaking? Is that fair?
"Right now I’m not overly concerned about what we have seen because for instance last year he struggled and then he finished strong. I think there have been periods of time where the uncomfortableness at the plate has shown a little bit, but not for an extended period of time. ... It’s just the way it works, but once Derek gets off and running and takes off and has one of his…he hits .425 over a 10-game stretch you know they’ll be someone else we’ll be focused on. Alex Rodriguez right now is in a little bit of a tailspin, so right now the focus publicly is on Derek, but Alex is struggling a little bit. Nick Swisher is struggling a little bit. We’ve hit a stretch as a team collectively over the last 10 games especially when we hit the White Sox. We were having some trouble scoring some runs and so there’s a lot of guys currently not firing on all cylinders, but obviously Derek has been struggling for the most part and because of who he is it’s a bigger situation and we all have to deal with it a little bit more and that’s fine. That’s what comes with the job. We’ll figure it out. He’ll figure it out."