Shortly after the Yankees reached an agreement with Rafael Soriano, Buster Olney tweeted that it was more of an "ownership-driven deal" than a baseball operations one. And today, as the Yankees introduced their new setup man, Brian Cashman admitted that not only did he not want to give closer money to a setup man, he wasn't even involved in negotiations with Scott Boras by the end of the process. (Randy Levine actually did much of the negotiating.) Said Cashman: "I didn't recommend [the deal]."
More from Cashman, via the News:
"It's not my team. I don't own it. They do," Cashman said. "I'm a big boy ... In any job you better be prepared for every decision to not go your way. That's part of being an employee.
"There were internal debates and discussions on it and disagreements in terms of how you should proceed and ultimately Hal's in charge of making the final call in what he feels is the best direction at that timeframe. He made that call. This is Hal Steinbrenner's and his family's franchise. It's not mine and it's never been, obviously."
You'll recall that Cashman gained increased control over the team's baseball operations in 2005, and he was asked today whether he was concerned that being overruled would become a trend. Again, from the News:
"No, I just recognize it's certainly possible that if I have 10 recommendations, nine or eight get followed, but not every one of them," he said. "It's certainly possible this won't be the first time and may not be the last time."
Perhaps this was indeed an isolated incident, and that it's not wise to read too much into the signing of a single middle reliever. But Cashman's contract expires at the end of the 2011 season: Perhaps, when (or if) negotiations begin on a new deal, Cashman will once again want to know exactly how much control he has over baseball matters. In any case, Cashman — who admitted that "We are better with Soriano" and that "I think 29 GMs would love their owner to force Rafael Soriano down their throat" — has distanced himself in no uncertain terms from this signing, so if Soriano doesn't prove he's worth the big contract (and the first-round draft pick it cost them), it's not on Cashman.
In his "Don't Brett Favre us" talk this week, Cashman also said that "the legacy George left is he created a bunch of other Georges." He meant it in the sense that the Steinbrenner family remains "dedicated to winning." But after overruling his general manager on a free-agent signing, it's as clear as ever that Hal Steinbrenner is George Steinbrenner's son.