What exactly does Brian Cashman do?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t want to trade for Alfonso Soriano. So said New York Post sports writer Joel Sherman.

Cashman also, according to Sherman, didn’t want to sign Rafael Soriano as a free agent, which they did, or extend Alex Rodriguez’s contract, which they did, or sign outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a new contract, which they did. And Cashman wanted to re-sign catcher Russell Martin, which they didn’t, and sign free-agent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, which they didn’t.

Which begs a question: What’s the point of being general manager of the Yankees, if you’re not allowed to generally manage much of anything?

(It also begs another question: Why do I have so many entries on the Yankees, when they’re a fourth-place team that’s nine-and-half games out of first place? Answer: What better time is there to have a lot of entries on the Yankees?)

The Yankees have lost more games (two and a half) in the standings than they’ve gained home runs by Soriano (one) since the trade. But there have been less “I told you sos,” from Cashman than home runs by Soriano. Besides, a public disclaimer would do Cashman as much good as a Vernon Wells at-bat does for the Yankees.

But it makes one wonder which decisions Cashman does make, and if he presumably does so only at the pleasure of the owner. How much micro-managing does Hal Steinbrenner do?

Sherman’s blog last month said, “Cashman would not directly confirm what he advised Hal Steinbrenner . . .,” but Cashman goes on to say “I didn’t want to give up a young arm.” That would be Corey Black, who has no more control — 48 walks in 86.2 innings this year — than Steinbrenner’s father did. If Cashman didn’t think Alfonso Soriano was worth a wild Class A pitcher, then his point of view might be more about Soriano than Black.

Whatever it was, it was ignored. Again.

Which begs a final question or series of them: Who’s responsible for what’s shaping up as the worst Yankees’ season in a generation, the kind that led Hal’s father to fire managers and punch strangers? Who’s responsible for an offense ranked 25th in MLB (they’ve scored two more runs than the Astros)? For $67.5 million spent on three players — Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez — who’ve combined for just 72 at-bats? For the rabble that has been the Yankees roster this season, as anonymous as commuters milling around Penn Station?

The Yankees’ 2013 uniform shouldn’t be pinstripes, but gray, flannel suits. Think there’s going to be a monument for Brent Lillibridge any time soon?

I’m not sure it matters. But I’m going to guess Hal wants the blame about as much as he apparently does Cashman’s counsel.

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