NEW YORK -- In times of crisis, Brian Cashman frequently leans upon nautical references, conjuring images of turbulent seas and stranded sailors swimming to shore. The Yankees general manager did so again on Monday, expressing disappointment with the club's sluggish start to the 2021 season and offering assurance that sunnier days will be ahead.
With his club off to their worst 15-game start since 1997, Cashman said he continues to believe that the roster is too talented to play this poorly over a 162-game schedule. Cashman also offered a vote of confidence that manager Aaron Boone and his coaching staff are the right people to pull the Yankees out of their current quagmire.
"We've had a lot of storms hit along the way, and change doesn't happen without a great deal of thought and reason," Cashman said. "We’re not reactive. I don’t see us reacting to shake up the roster too quickly, and I don’t see us not believing in the staff that we have, or the players that we have, either.
"That’s the message to our players: ‘We do believe in you. We know what you’re capable of. This is a bad stretch, and we’re going to get through this together.’”
Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, is said to be dismayed by a start in which their vaunted offense has not played up to expectations. Their 3.67 runs per game are the second-lowest in the American League, ahead of only the Tigers (3.44), and the Yanks’ .642 OPS equals the Rangers’ for the AL’s worst. New York’s pitchers lead the AL with 171 strikeouts, paced by ace Gerrit Cole’s 39, and their staff 3.60 ERA is fourth-best in the AL.
“He’s disappointed,” Cashman said of Steinbrenner. “He’s got a lot invested in this situation, but he’s also a fan, just like we all are. Our expectation is to provide great Yankee baseball for those who come to the game or those who are watching the games. We haven’t done that here in the beginning of April. We’ve got to self-correct here over the course of time. We look forward to doing that and proving anybody wrong who’s going to predict otherwise.”
Cashman said that he considers the offense a “prime target for what ails us.” The Yanks were held to 11 hits over a three-game series this past weekend, during which they were swept by the Rays. New York has lost five of six games to the Rays already this season, coming off a 2020 campaign in which they fared 4-11 against their division rivals, including the American League Division Series.
“[Offense] will be a strength of ours, but it’s not currently a strength of ours,” Cashman said. “That’s magnifying those deficiencies when we’re not scoring like we’re capable of. Those individual, below-average performances, we believe those will get corrected over time. We trust our players, we trust our process. The record is something that we’re better than. We just have to correct that.”
Cashman said that he does not envision making sweeping changes to the roster in the near future. Instead, the club is banking on the return of reinforcements from the injury list. Left-hander Zack Britton (late May/early June), right-hander Luis Severino (mid-summer) and first baseman Luke Voit (mid-May) aim to upgrade a squad that -- if Cashman is correct -- should be playing crisper baseball by the time they are eligible and ready.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in the people we have,” Cashman said. “I've been around the block a long time now and had a number of different managers, number of different coaches. They were all faced with the same situation at times. It just comes down to trying to put your players in the best position possible to succeed, giving them the best information you can, and then stay out of the way and let them play.”