Say what you will about the speculative firing of Mets General Manager Omar Minaya, the next baseball executive to walk the plank in New York may be Brian Cashman of the Mets crosstown rivals.
That gleam reflecting off the forward deck of that sinking Yankee clipper ship on the East River Waterfront is coming from the hardened steel sabre of Yankees Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, who watched as Cashman failed to claim Indians hurler Paul Byrd off the waiver wire, thus allowing Byrd to fall to Boston.
How convenient for the Red Sox, whose precarious five-game wild-card lead over the Yankees had just been been seriously jeopardized by the loss of starter Tim Wakefield to his all-too-familiar shoulder problems.
What can Cashman be thinking?
All the Red Sox had to pay was a bag of balls, six cans of chowder and a David Clyde rookie card for Byrd, a playoff experienced, veteran starter with a 1.46 ERA and 4-0 record since the All-Star break. Though 37, Byrd already all season had been a perfectly serviceable option, but suddenly is even more valuable since discovering he can stop surrendering homers by not tipping his pitches.
This is Cashman's second dubious decision, since he, Gene Michael and Stump Merrill were believed to have ganged up on Steinbrenner to talk him out of signing free agent home run king Barry Bonds.
Cashman opted instead to trade for Xavier Nady of the Pirates. There's nothing particularly , wrong with Nady -- and Bonds comes with his share of baggage -- but Cashman had to give up prospect Jeff Karstens to acquire Nady, and all Karstens has done since leaving the Yankees is pitch 15 scoreless innings, including a two-hit complete game.
Bonds would have cost Cashman nothing more than a major league, season pro-rated minimum of $150,000, yet would have been an unmistakable force in the middle of the lineup, providing a desperately needed spark in the Yankees flat, demoralized lineup.
Hopefully Cashman has an explanation that will become evident in the next few days. It had better be good.