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Cashman and Boone in spring training

Cashman and Boone in spring training

Of the many words uttered by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on a Zoom news conference Tuesday, these ones, largely lost in the shuffle, might actually have been the most revelatory:

“All these comments are my comments,” Cashman said while endorsing manager Aaron Boone and the coaching staff. “I can’t speak for anyone above me, because I obviously have bosses and they obviously have their own thought processes. So I’m not speaking for anybody but the general manager of the New York Yankees.”

This is accurate, of course. But in recent years it has been easy to forget that Cashman is not in fact the final word on Yankees decisions, because he has survived, thrived and become the face of the team’s baseball operations through many other changes.

In reality, he answers to managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and his family. A GM also ranks below a team president, in this case Randy Levine.

It’s no secret that Cashman and Levine have not always agreed on what the proper direction of the franchise should be. Steinbrenner, while trusting Levine on countless issues, has tended to give Cashman the benefit of the doubt to run his department, baseball operations.

Because of that, we’ve become accustomed to the idea that if Cashman wants a certain person to be the manager, that’s who will be the manager.

The timing of the season comes at an awkward moment in Boone’s status, however. Because he is up at the end of this season, the Yankees won’t have to simply not fire him — they’ll have to either offer him a new deal or let him walk. If this season doesn’t straighten out, the optics of a new contract won’t be easy to sell.

Of course, sometimes you have to tune out customers in the name of the smart business that will ultimately please them — especially those customers who rage tweet or call into WFAN.

Because of their emotional investment, fans can become prisoners of a moment, when a long view reminds us that this is the same skipper they adored two years ago for his steady hand and “savages in the box” virality.

From where we sit, the idea of parting with a manager after three mostly excellent seasons and one bad one is absurd. Stability breeds success, and the Yankees have good baseball people in the dugout and front office.

You want to throw Boone overboard? Phil Nevin? Carlos Mendoza? Or for that matter, Cashman, Michael Fishman, Jean Afterman and Tim Naehring? You’d better have a long list of capable replacements in mind. This is an organization held in the highest regard by their competitors. That’s just a fact.

Still, it’s a results business, and the results this year have not been good; actually, this started to get weird last season. Now fans are rioting, at least verbally. And our intel on Steinbrenner is that he is not taking it passively.

This Boss is far less mercurial than his father, but is said behind the scenes to be tougher and more invested in winning than many fans realize. Beneath the placid public persona, Steinbrenner demands winning and accountability. We’d be very interested to be a fly on the wall for some of the recent conversations.

Steinbrenner is also a longtime supporter of Cashman, and is said to like and respect Boone. It’s a safe bet that his preference would be to keep the band together.

That’s where the rest of this season becomes important. Does the team return to respectability, win more often, and play cleaner games? How does it look?

Will Steinbrenner allow Cashman to offer Boone a new contract, a year before the GM’s own current deal is up? If not, who decides on the next manager?

We know what we think should happen. We’ll be watching closely over the next few months to see what actually will happen.