Cashman visits Yanks unexpectedly
GM says recent struggles stem from lack of offensive pop
ATLANTA -- The Yankees' traveling party grew by one on Wednesday, as general manager Brian Cashman made an unexpected drop-in appearance on his struggling club at Turner Field.
Cashman initially raised eyebrows by landing in an early-afternoon closed-door meeting with manager Joe Girardi and outfielder Nick Swisher, but those swirling smoke signals -- some immediately began whispering about possible trades -- ultimately proved false.
What Cashman is in Atlanta to achieve is getting the Yankees -- losers of nine out of their past 13 -- back on track. Too early to seriously engage in the trade market, the GM believes that the answers to their offensive woes are all currently within the clubhouse.
"We're struggling right now, mostly with the bats," Cashman said. "It's not going to last, I promise you that. We're too good for it to last. The last three weeks of poor play is mostly to do with our offense. We've got to get our offense going. We're pitching real well, but unfortunately, we're letting that good pitching go to waste."
As Cashman later detailed, the closed-door meeting with Swisher only occurred because the outfielder had wandered in to talk his way into Girardi's lineup after an original card listed Melky Cabrera as the starting right fielder on Wednesday.
Girardi acknowledged that the presence of a general manager wandering in during the second game of a road series did pop a few red flags, saying that it would have made him think the same thing during his playing days.
"I'm sure that you're going to have some players that are a little concerned that he showed up," Girardi said. "You're going to have some players that are curious why he showed up, and you're going to have some players that probably don't think much about it."
But Cashman said that no trades for hitters are on the horizon.
"We don't need a bat," Cashman said. "All the bats are here. I have no doubt about that. We have a tremendous offense that is scuffling right now. The only way we need a bat is if we have injuries."
Cashman also said that he is not in Atlanta to hover over Girardi, who has come under fire in some circles for the Yankees' troubles, and the GM offered an additional vote of confidence for hitting coach Kevin Long.
"I'm not here to send any messages other than that we're here to fix problems," Cashman said.
Despite adding CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira over the offseason, New York entered play on Wednesday with a record of 38-32, just one win better than at this checkpoint in 2008.
"I think Joe has done an exceptional job, I do," said Cashman, who noted the players are behind Girardi. "We're scuffling right now for three weeks, but he's not slumped over, down-and-out, woe-is-me or depressed or on edge or tight. He's keeping his guys up, he's keeping them positive and I hear his messages sent to them. He's doing everything he needs to do."
Girardi said that he could not be concerned about his status or any evaluations by Cashman. The manager is in the second year of a three-year contract, and after missing the playoffs in '08, he has widely accepted the idea that the Yankees cannot have dark Octobers in two successive years.
"I know the drill here -- you win or you go home," Girardi said. "I understand that. I know what we have to do. For me to spend time worrying about that doesn't make a lot of sense. I worry about what we're doing on the field."
Cashman said he had originally planned to drive to Moosic, Pa., and watch pitcher Sergio Mitre and outfielder Xavier Nady play on Wednesday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he changed his travel plans after the Yanks' four-hit showing in a 4-0 loss to the Braves on Tuesday. The trip to Atlanta was made with the blessing of ownership, Cashman said.
"They know we're better than this," Cashman said. "I know we're better than this, and our players know we're better than this. We've got to get back on track. It wasn't too long ago we were feeling real good about ourselves. We've just got to get back to that feeling."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.