TAMPA, Fla. -- Multiple dispatches painting Carlos Beltrán as the so-called ringleader of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing operation crossed Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s desk in recent weeks, suggesting that the veteran outfielder and designated hitter orchestrated the scheme while steamrolling past objections of some coaches and teammates.
Those accounts do not sync with the Beltrán that Cashman knew as a valued player on the 2014-16 Yankees clubs, one whom he welcomed into the front office as a special advisor throughout the '19 season, when Cashman maintained that his teams “did things right.”
“A lot of the stories I have a hard time believing, in terms of just the person and how he's being portrayed,” Cashman said on Friday. “I'm not saying he didn't do anything wrong. Clearly, obviously, the Commissioner’s report speaks for itself. But in terms of somebody that was forcing people to do this, that and the other thing, I have a hard time buying that. That's not the person that I knew as a player, and it wasn't a person that I knew as our special advisor.”
Earlier this week, The Athletic published a follow-up story to their Astros expose in which Beltrán’s sway over the clubhouse was said to override the protests of many, including former Houston manager AJ Hinch.
“He might have been clearly wrapped up in something that wasn't good and healthy and was wrong,” Cashman said. “But in terms of being an individual that was forcing people to do things that they didn't want to do, that's not the Carlos Beltrán I know at all. He was obviously wrapped up in something that I think if you had a chance to turn the clock back, there'd be different decisions to make. And I think all those people down in Houston would do it differently now.”
Cashman said that he believes the Astros’ sign-stealing impacted the outcome of the 2017 American League Championship Series, when Beltrán’s club defeated the Yankees in seven games. The home team won each game of that series, including the Astros taking Games 6 and 7 at Minute Maid Park.
“I definitely think it had an effect on things, without question,” Cashman said. “The Houston Astros were dealing with a distinct advantage, more so than their opponents. That's a fact. So I don't think anybody can disagree with that, even though they may try.”
Cashman said that he believes it has been “therapeutic” for the Yankees and other teams to have their public say regarding the Astros’ activities, but he would prefer to focus his energy on steering his club toward their goal of a 2020 World Series championship.
“Obviously we're upset, our ownership is upset, our front office is upset,” Cashman said. “Our players that were with us in ’17 especially were upset, and understandably so. There's nothing we can do about that at this stage. It’s healthiest for the game, as we move forward, to focus the future and try to leave the past now in the past.”