Along the Major Deegan Expressway, close to the George Washington Bridge, there’s a billboard advertising the latest lottery jackpot. The total winnings are printed in big yellow numbers just above the roadway: $189 million.
The path to Yankee Stadium, quite literally, involves going underneath that number.
“It’s certainly a goal,” Brian Cashman said today. “It’s not a mandate. It’s a goal that we have and if it’s possible. There’s a lot of benefits to staying under that, but it’s not a mandate if it’s at the expense of a championship. It just depends on what the opportunities are before us, and the costs associated with it, and if the feelings are if we don’t do something it will prevent us from taking a run.
“Then, I think (Hal Steinbrenner’s) commentary that he’s already made at the owners’ meetings as well as spring training is that it’s a goal, not a mandate. Every option, every opportunity that comes my way — whether by trade or free agency — I will always present to my owner and team president for evaluation. We will provide recommendations, they will provide their thoughts on what we should do, and the final call on whatever is going to be done. So it’s a goal, not a mandate.”
Cashman mentioned signing Mark Teixeira and getting Andy Pettitte out of retirement as examples of him going to ownership with ideas that were accepted, despite the fact they stretched the team beyond its intended payroll.
“It’s got to be something that you like, something that you believe in, something you think could be an important piece for us,” Cashman said. “Then you share your thoughts with ownership on that. Most of the time they say yes. Most of the time. You go from there. It’s a goal that I’m charged with if possible. It’s not like I’m going to get a red star or something like that if I reach the goal. It’s just a important goal. But again it’s not a mandate.
“If something presents itself over the course of time whether it’s this winter or during the summer at the trade deadline that’s going to put that in jeopardy, I suspect that’s going to happen. A conversation will happen and Hal Steinbrenner will make whatever decisions are best for the franchise in the short and long term. Whatever that’s going to be. I know that it’s a goal and it’s not a mandate and I know his effort and interest is fielding a championship club and bringing another championship here and adding to the trophy case. I know that’s just the bottom line.”
Then there was this line from Cashman:
“The only thing I can confidently tell you is, when the last name is Steinbrenner, the effort is going to be there in terms of making a full push for having the best team on the field you can possibly have.”