GM Cashman won't commit to being part of Yankees' future in '09

NEW YORK -- Brian Cashman is all for Hank Steinbrenner's plan to set up a new advisory group to help the New York Yankees make baseball decisions. He just won't commit to being a part of the team's future, at least not publicly.

Cashman, whose contract as general manager expires after this season, insisted in 2005 that the Yankees' fractured decision-making process be simplified, and that all baseball operations report to him. With New York on track to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, Steinbrenner said this week that he wants more people advising on baseball decisions.

"At the end of the day, I definitely without a doubt believe that as owners, they need to set up a structure they're comfortable with. Simple as that," Cashman said Friday after the Yankees' game against Tampa Bay was rained out.

When Cashman negotiated his last contract three years ago, owner George Steinbrenner was still in charge of the team. But with his health fading, Steinbrenner turned over day-to-day operations to sons Hank and Hal following the 2007 season.

"If Brian stays on as GM, that doesn't mean he won't be the No. 1 guy," Hank Steinbrenner said. "But the fact is, the more opinions the better. I think that's probably the best way. It worked in the '90s, and it can work again."

Cashman, who took over as general manager after the 1997 season, didn't want to talk about his future Friday, saying that was for another day.

"I'm certainly not going to make this about me," he said. "I do have an advisory board: It's my manager; it's my coaching staff; it's our pro scouting director; it's our farm director; it's our amateur scouting director."

Some have speculated that if Cashman were prepared to leave the Yankees, the Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies might be interested.

"Obviously, they're just reports," he said. "I'm linked to here. That's where I'm at. I've got a job, and we're dealing with, obviously, a lot right now."

Cashman made the decision to hire Joe Girardi as manager last October after Joe Torre turned down a new one-year contract and left after 12 seasons. Hank Steinbrenner has said Girardi will return for 2009, and both brothers appear to want Cashman to stay on.

New York are fourth in the AL East, nine games behind wild card-leading Boston with 16 games remaining. Given the Yankees' sorry season, there's a lot of disappointment.

"I understand fans are upset. I'm upset with where we are. And I don't blame them with being upset where we are," Girardi said.

He wouldn't endorse Hank Steinbrenner's assessment that "clearly a lot of mistakes were made."

"To me, playing the blame game doesn't really do much," Girardi said. "Yeah, it might good for talk radio and articles but, you know, our job and our thought process is how do we get better and how do we fix it?"

Offense slumped because of injuries to catcher Jorge Posada and left fielder Hideki Matsui, combined with poor seasons by second baseman Robinson Cano and center fielder Melky Cabrera. Injuries to Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain weakened the pitching staff.

"I don't think anyone in this room would have thought that we would have went through what we went through with Hughes and Kennedy, where it's Sept. 12 and, you know, they haven't won a game this year," Girardi said.

Still, he's not ready to turn his attention to 2009.

"My focus is on this season, not what happens a month from now, two months from now, six months from now," he said.

Yankee Stadium's finale is scheduled for Sept. 21 against Baltimore, a nationally televised Sunday night game. New York seems stunned that for the first time since the 1994 strike, postseason games might not be played in baseball's most famous park.

"You don't ever want to think that a regular-season game could be your last game here at Yankee Stadium," Girardi said. "That has not been the case for a long time, and you don't want to start thinking that way."

Girardi is giving Andy Pettitte (13-13) an extra day of rest, starting him Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox and pitching rookie Alfredo Aceves in Monday's series opener. Pettitte, a veteran of 11 seasons with the Yankees, four World Series titles and six AL pennants, then will be lined up to pitch the stadium finale.

"It would seem fitting that next Sunday would probably be Andy's turn," Girardi said.