NEW YORK -- Billy Beane, the man who has possibly received more credit than any GM ever, looks across the country and doesn't think that his good buddy Brian Cashman receives enough of it.
Yes, the Yankees have a payroll that more than doubles Oakland's, but the money also strips Cashman of any excuses.
"There are a lot of teams that have a lot of money but they don't always win," Beane told ESPNNewYork.com. "Nobody, during my tenure, has won more than Cash."
Beane is very fond of Cashman. In 1998, the duo developed a kinship as they both became GMs.
While Beane has earned his credit, building some incredible major league teams on minor league budgets, Cashman has won four rings and picked a club good enough to go to the playoffs every season except for 2008. And he has done it with the most money in baseball.
"I think he sort of gets penalized many times, in a sense, because of the payroll people take for granted all the success he has accomplished," said Beane, who has watched his teams win just one playoff series. "It is not that easy. I always kid him. It is a shame that he hasn't been the executive of the year. Many times he probably deserves it."
After finishing with the second best record in the American League to Cashman's Yankees in 2012, Beane's A's are among the leaders in the AL West again. But the payroll discrepancy does provide Beane with some cover. In his 14 seasons as GM, he has had six years in which Oakland has finished .500 or worse.
This is not to disparage Beane, who is clearly one of the best GMs in baseball, but to illustrate the expectation to win that Cashman must carry around like giant money bags on his shoulders.
This season, the Yankees' payroll is around $230 million, but the Yankees have near $100 million on the DL right now. To put that into perspective, Oakland's entire roster will make around two-thirds of that number at $60 million.
Beane and Cashman have remained good friends, following each other's careers closely. To that point, Beane can have a good laugh at Cashman's expense. Beane, whose legend grew when Brad Pitt played him in "Moneyball," was asked who would be the ideal leading man if a movie was ever made about Cashman.
"Don't leave that softball hanging for me," Beane warned.
Then Beane, laughing, went to the professorial choice of, "John Clayton from ESPN."
Beane respects Cashman for his disciplined, straightforward approach. While Beane is quick to point out that it's too early in the season to give anyone top executive honors, he applauded Cashman's patience in waiting until the spring to make the Vernon Wells deal and then sitting by for Lyle Overbay to be the first baseman to replace the injured Mark Teixeira.
"It is not only the moves, it is the timing," Beane said. "When they had to go out and get guys, it was probably the worst time during the year to try and find major league players. The season is getting ready to start. There is not a whole lot to choose from. It is a credit to Brian's creativity. I think he was also disciplined, too. One thing is that Brian's been doing this job long enough that he doesn't really care that some days you are smart and some days you are dumb. Just ignore everyone that sort of wants to give an opinion on how you are doing your job."
Without even being told Beane's words, Cashman nearly copies them syllable for syllable.
"You have your great moves and you have your moves that don't work out," Cashman said. "Every GM has their rabbits that they pulled out of a hat and then they have the ones they wished they never pulled."
The Yankees went against philosophy this offseason with Travis Hafner. They were moving away from a full-time DH, but Hafner filled a hole.
"The makeup of this particular team with all the power we were losing and the plate discipline we were losing, although there was risk because of injury, he was too obvious of [a] need and a choice not to pursue," Cashman said.
Like Ichiro Suzuki last July, Wells doesn't exactly fit what the Yankees ideally want. But, as Cashman famously said at the Winter Meetings, "Beggars can't be choosers."
"There are some guys that we have signed that don't necessarily fit our philosophy in terms of plate discipline and power and big, hairy monsters and that type of thing," Cashman said.
Cashman does not relish dealing with all the injuries. He feels that if he is in position to use the Yankees' financial might, he will do it. If not, he will go "low flying." It is just about picking up wins.
"It is only rewarding when you win, regardless of how you do it," Cashman said. "It doesn't matter if I'm spending a lot of money or making small moves or all of the above."
So Cashman isn't running from the money issue, but Beane thinks maybe the critics should focus on what Cashman does do -- win -- instead of what he doesn't.
"Many times with Cash, all they do is wait for him to not win as much so that they can start squawking about the payroll," Beane said.
It is a long time since 1998, and Cashman keeps on winning. The money helps, but if you don't produce it doesn't provide a cushion.