Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bernie vs. Cashman?

According to an article in the journal news, there appears to be a rift between former Yankees outfielder, Bernie Williams and Yankee GM Brian Cashman. Cashman recently made comments about Bernie claiming that his music career got in the way of his playing and that was the reason for a subpar 2005 season. Despite his subpar 2005, Bernie was brought back to the Yankees in 2006 as a DH and 4th outfielder. Although his fielding was pedestrian in 2006, he batted .281 with 12 homeruns and 62 RBI's. After the 2006 season, Bernie wanted another season with the Yankees, but outfielder Melky Cabrera was the logical option for the 4th outfield spot. Bernie was offered an invitation to spring training to compete for an outfield job, but he turned it down, and felt insulted by the offer.

This is a touchy subject because for one, Bernie is a beloved Yankee, a hero from the championship era of the late 90's, and a homegrown bomber. I for one love Bernie so its difficult to be objective about the situation.

The truth of the matter is that Brian did not need to bring Bernie back for 2006. In 2005, Bernie had a .249 average with 12 homeruns and 64 RBI's. How someone gets signed to DH with those numbers really is beyond me. If the Yankees had signed anyone but Bernie to DH that season with those numbers, we as fans would be outraged. I saw the signing as a matter of respect. Here was a true navy blue Yankee coming to the end of his career, so despite his 2005 campaign they went ahead and signed him for one last season. Bernie didn't see it that way, and wanted (perhaps still wants) to play. Cashman, as a responsible GM, could not sign Bernie for another season. I agree with the move.

From what I heard about the 2006 clubhouse, Bernie was the last guy to arrive before a game, and the first guy out after a game. You never heard of Bernie taking the younger players under his wing, or putting in extra time in the cages or running down flyballs. Cashman had the awkward task of telling Bernie that he was no longer needed. But the fact is, he wasn't.

What Cashman said about his commitment to the team as opposed to the music was a shot. He should not have said that. But on the same token, Bernie needs to stop acting like the Yankees wronged him in some major way. Sure, batting .281 is not bad, but when you're blocking a better outfielder from playing the outfield, and taking DH at bats from people who are producing more than you, I think its time to realize that the team is better without you. Especially after the organization gave you an extra year beyond what they should have. If he wanted to keep playing there were other teams with offers, not to mention that if he had taken the minor league invitation, there is no way Torre would have kept him off the roster.

It was the great Lou Gherig who ended his own consecutive games played streak because he realized that his presence on the field was hurting the team in place of helping it. Even as his replacement Babe Dahlgren urged him in between innings to get out there to keep the streak alive, he simply said no. I have to say that the way Bernie has handled his decline takes away from his legacy. He could have left on amicable terms the way Tino Martinez did when he was not asked back after the 2005 season. I understand that Bernie has given to the organization for 15+ years, but its not like he did it for free, and its not like the organization hasn't given back to Bernie. This whole fued needs to end.

No comments: