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Yankees Afloat, but Cashman May Bail

After a summer of struggle, the Yankees are a season-high 25 games over .500 and in first place in the AL East.
After a summer of struggle, the Yankees are a season-high 25 games over .500 and in first place in the AL East. (By Al Bello -- Getty Images)

"I've never been concerned about managing to save my job," Torre said recently, "because I always manage to win."

Steinbrenner declined a request to be interviewed for this story, but his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, said, "What [Steinbrenner] has said is that he's just focusing on winning right now. And he's not going to make any comment at all about Joe Torre or Brian Cashman or any of those other issues."

The decision on Cashman, however, is not Steinbrenner's to make -- unless the former shocks everyone by deciding he wants to return. Cashman was first hired by the Yankees as a college intern in 1986 -- recommended to Steinbrenner by a family friend who knew the Yankees owner -- and slowly worked his way up to GM. He has survived longer than any other GM in Steinbrenner's 33 years of owning the team.

Things were fine when the Yankees were winning four World Series titles between 1996-2000, but playoff losses in each of the last four Octobers -- including last year's historic collapse against Boston in the AL Championship Series -- have increased the frequency and intensity of Steinbrenner's tirades directed at Cashman.

"He's hands-on, and I think he appreciates that he has a pretty strong worker bee under him, in me," Cashman said of Steinbrenner. "Some days we see eye to eye and some days we don't. It's not any different than any other employee-employer relationship in any other walk of life."

Should he walk away from the Yankees, Cashman would be an intriguing candidate for any GM opening in the game, particularly on the east coast, where he has deep roots. Cashman played baseball at both Georgetown Prep and Catholic University, and he still has family in the region.

And it just so happens that both big-league teams in his home market -- the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals -- have lame-duck GMs with murky futures. Either team presumably could do worse than stumbling upon a 38-year-old GM with four World Series championships on his résumé and a proven ability to handle even the most demanding of owners -- something which might be of particular significance in regards to the Baltimore job.

As with most parolees, the bigger question for Cashman would not be how he handles his last few weeks in confinement, but what he makes of his life when he gets on the outside.


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