It's Brian Cashman Appreciation Day

Thursday's win highlights the G.M.'s strong work

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The pocketbook of a tycoon with an eye for bargains.

    Depending on the way you look at it, Brian Cashman either has the hardest or easiest job in all of baseball.

    If it's the former, you see the pressures of working in an environment where anything less than being the very best is seen as a failure of Titanic proportions. You can't take a step back and make decisions that result in anything but immediate success because you'll open the door to staggering amounts of criticism.

    The latter point of view holds that the immense Yankee coffers give you a chance to load up on the best available players every single year without stressing over player development or budgets the way his peers are forced to on a daily basis. Any mistake you make is softened by the fact that you can just turn away from it and make another move to replace it.

    Both views are far too simplistic, of course. Cashman has held the job since 1998, overseeing teams that underachieved relative to the immense expectations and saving seasons by looking under rocks to find players cast aside by other franchises.

    We saw that play out on the field Thursday. Brian Gordon started and helped Bob Klapisch write a wonderful column while Cory Wade came in to pick up the win in relief after a long spell on the scrap heap of baseball.

    Gordon was replacing Bartolo Colon, whose work before getting hurt was as astounding as anything in baseball this year, and the Yankees still have Freddy Garcia taking a regular turn. The lineup is laden with stars, sure, but the team would be nowhere without the pickups from the leftover bin.

    Cashman's pulled off these kinds of tricks before. Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon, Ruben Sierra (the second coming) and, way back when, Scott Brosius were all dredged up with little fanfare to help Yankee teams make their way to October.

    It's easy to say that Cashman's just getting lucky and you could easily find other names that suggest the G.M. finds as many lumps of coal as bars of gold. He'd get killed if that's what happened in 2011, though, so it makes sense to give him credit when he makes the right choices.

    All of those players, along with past minor league patches that have included Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang, represent a significant change in the way the Yankees do business with Cashman at the controls. Every bump in the road isn't a call for a big name solution because you can get by with spackle until the right material comes along to fix the problem for good.

    Cashman is smart enough to know that it will take more than Gordon and Wade to get these Yankees where they want to go, but he's also smart enough to know that they can buy the time you need to find better options. There's no guarantee that those options will present themselves this season, a quick look at potential acquisitions supports that point of view, but the Yankees should be feeling pretty confident about the guy assessing them.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.