So, here’s most of the story of how I landed the Brian Cashman interview in Trenton tonight. I happened to be making a lap around the stadium out of boredom when I noticed someone who looked like Cashman sitting on one of the benches outside of the ballpark. Sure enough, it was him…and he recognized me and we started talking. I asked him if he was going to be available to the media at all, and he said now was the best time. While I had no questions prepared at the time, the always gracious general manager of the New York Yankees sat down on a bench and spoke about all sorts of topics for about five minutes.
About what, you ask?
Mike Ashmore: How pleased are you with the development your farm system as a whole has made so far this season?
Brian Cashman: “Well, like every year, some guys take steps forward and some guys get hurt and some guys take steps backwards. Every year is a new with new guys who emerge and some guys we get disappointed in. Then there are other guys where you’re like, ‘Damn, man. I wish he hadn’t got hurt.'”
Ashmore: At this time of the season, with the trade deadline approaching, is it interesting to you to see which of your own players are asked about potential trades? Does it give you a better idea of what other teams think about the players in your system?
Cashman: “Oh yeah. There’s always value in hearing who other clubs are asking for from you. Then obviously, the more certain names come up, it cements what you’re seeing or what you’re not seeing at the same time. Sometimes, you get a lot of questions about guys that maybe you don’t think as highly about, and it makes you re-focus on if you should change your position. But that’s unusual for that to happen. But there’s power in all that information.”
Ashmore: Is it pretty much the usual suspects that people are asking about?
Cashman: “I think some people know not to ask anymore on certain guys.”
Ashmore: I remember you once told me that no one is untouchable. Is that still the case?
Cashman: “Realistically, there are guys that are untouchable for me. But I’ve got bosses, so.”
Ashmore: Has anyone in particular really impressed you one way or the other this season?
Cashman: “Probably, but I’d have to think through it. I’d have to have my board up and stuff…”
Ashmore: Anyone who’s come out of nowhere to make a name for themselves then?
Cashman: “I wouldn’t say Zoilo Almonte’s come out of nowhere, because he’s always had the physical tools, but he’s putting it all together now just like Melky Mesa did last year. We’ve got a lot of guys at the lower levels that are making a name for themselves. (J.R.) Murphy, the catcher at Charleston and now Tampa, he’s proven that he can be a catcher. We always knew he was going to hit, but he’s proven he can catch.”
Ashmore: How has Montero progressed in that regard?
Cashman: “Catching wise, he’s come a long way. No doubt about it. Offensively, he hasn’t had the year that he’s capable of or put up typically. But catching wise, he has improved significantly in the last year and from the previous year. He’s gotten better each season.”
Ashmore: Is Romine progressing well for you?
Cashman: “Great progress. Defensively, he doesn’t necessarily need progress. Offensively is where he needs more developmental at-bats, and he’s taken advantage of it here.”
Ashmore: I know the organization has been pretty high on Brandon Laird, and with his call-up today, I wanted to get your thoughts on him…
Cashman: “I’m glad he’s put himself in the position. This isn’t April. If this was April, I don’t know if this is the way we’d go. But the way he’s played, we have a need, you have no problem making the move. We lost Pena, that stinks. But I’ve got Laird, I’ll bring Laird up. He’s not a middle infielder, but he’s a corner guy…the organizational depth still allows us to do certain things, so that’s a good thing. Rather than looking to your left and your right and it’s what am I doing, I’ve got nowhere to go. I have places to go, which is good.”
Ashmore: I know you’re here to see Betances, so I won’t ask you about him…but Manny Banuelos, has his season been a little disappointing to you in any way?
Cashman: “I wouldn’t say disappointing at all, because the stuff is the stuff. It’s just the walk totals need to come down, that’s all. But he’s a kid. What he’s doing at this age is spectacular. So that’s why, just like Montero…he’s a kid at Triple-A and he’s 21 and going on 22 right now, most people would be killing to put the numbers up that he is at that level or has done at that level if you combine last year too. So you can’t forget about the age level that these two guys are. Manny’s got great stuff, but there’s things he has to work on. His time for the big leagues isn’t yet. That’s why right now, he’ll need more developmental time to allow his game to catch up with his name.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com