But if we allow ourselves to indulge in the words coming out of New York, it seems as if the Yankees' top dogs are not chewing on the same bone. The question is: Will the apparent divide eventually fracture the working relationship with general manager Brian Cashman and brothers/owners Hank and Hal Steinbrenner?
It just might, if the results are not there. Hank hinted at the urgency to win (is that ever not the case in New York?) in an interview with the New York Post, declaring that the Yankees "just need to [expletive] win."
One would not be faulted for thinking there's a second half to that statement, an "or else" predicament. Could that be something along the lines of, "or there will be changes"? Could Cashman be a casualty of a down year?
It might not even matter. Not only is Cashman's contract up next winter (a few years after he considered leaving a first time), he has shown a complete reluctance to play the patsy in recent weeks.
Indeed, winning, at least in places like the Bronx, is often the only cure. Hank's father was your back-slappin' buddy when the Yankees were winning. He was never shy about voicing his displeasure when they weren't.
The oddity about the current situation lies in the fact that it has been Cashman, and not a Steinbrenner, that has voiced displeasure. It first came last week, when reliever Rafael Soriano was introduced to the New York media, and the GM spoke off-podium about how he advised against the move, only to be overruled by the brothers.
The Soriano squabble is one thing. Just this week Cashman was quoted as saying the Red Sox had the better team between the two old rivals and admitted that while Boston has six legitimate starting pitchers, he's still "looking for a fourth." Can you imagine the reaction if Theo Epstein said that the Yankees were a better team? He still has to explain his use of the word "bridge" in a throwaway line made over a year ago.
One way to interpret this is that Cashman was calling out himself for failing in the pursuit of Cliff Lee, who decided against a generous Yankees offer to sign with Philadelphia. That certainly delivered a big hit to the club's offseason plans.
However, Hank Steinbrenner hinted this week that Cashman never even met with Lee, even though it was widely reported that the GM flew to Arkansas for a face-to-face with the lefty early in the offseason. Steinbrenner indicated that Lee was on a hunting trip and unavailable. But was that the case in November and the early part of December? If so, let's hope Lee brought some snacks.
If Lee wouldn't even meet with Cashman, that's not a GM issue, it's an organizational issue or an issue with the city. Lee didn't want to come to New York, for whatever reason. Yet, Cashman is the one that has been abused for the whole situation.
Perhaps Cashman saying he is still looking for a fourth starter is a veiled reference to the fact that the organization itself never had a chance, but he had to go through the motions and then take the fall.
Who can blame Cashman, then, for speaking out on Soriano, for giving the Red Sox the edge or for Tuesday's comments that he can see shortstop Derek Jeter being shifted to center field at the tail end of the shortstop's current contract? Some onlookers have seen Cashman's insinuation that such a move might happen as a shot at the Yankees' captain, with whom he had a very public contract negotiation this fall, and for which Jeter expressed his displeasure. They wonder if maybe the GM has finally had enough and is so beyond making friends that openly discussing the captain's future is a non-issue.
However, those same people may be the ones reading too far into everything else. Cashman hasn't said anything outlandish or untruthful or overly negative. In fact, he's been brutally honest about everything that has taken place during a trying offseason. But because it's Cashman, and not the Steinbrenners, we take note and wonder when the guillotine might fall.
That is, unless, the Yankees win.