By Murray Chass on June 4, 2017

    Who said the New York Yankees couldn’t win as long as Brian Cashman is their general manager?

    It seems to me that I might have said something like that in questioning why the Yankees continue to retain Cashman when he would have been fired long ago if George Steinbrenner were still running the team. However, Hal Steinbrenner, who is running the team, is a different boss, and he seems to be intent on being the anti-George.

    That change has benefited Cashman, and the Yankees have unexpectedly played the first third of the season in a way that is also beneficial to Cashman.

    The Yankees were not expected to play as well as they have. A month ago one odds maker, Bovada of Las Vegas, had the Yankees with 16 to 1 odds for winning the World Series. Six teams, headed by the Chicago Cubs at 4 to 1, had better odds.

    In the latest listing, that same odds maker upgraded the Yankees from 8 to 1 to 6 to 1 to win the American League pennant and from 13 to 5 to 7 to 5 to win the American League East title while downgrading Boston from 5 to 7 to 5 to 4.

    I am not an expert on gambling odds and have never cited them. But I use them here to show the positive impression the Yankees have made with their first third 32-21 record, second best in the league to Houston’s 40-16 before Sunday’s games.

    The Yankees haven’t won or qualified for anything yet, and they could still wind up in the same position they have found themselves in the past four years, but if I’m going to criticize Cashman, as I have, for the Yankees’ recent failures (one playoff game in four years despite having the league’s highest payrolls by gazillion millions), I have to give him credit for the younger team he has assembled this season.

    If he had added Aaron Judge and not Gary Sanchez, it would have been sufficient. If he had added Judge and Sanchez but not Starlin Castro, it would have been sufficient. If he had added Judge, Sanchez and Castro but not Didi Gregorius, it would have been sufficient. If he had added Judge, Sanchez, Castro and Gregorius but not Hicks, it would have been sufficient.

    But Cashman has built a young foundation that could keep the Yankees contending for years.

    “We have a young nucleus,” Gene Michael said last Friday on the telephone from Tampa, Fla. “Gleyber Torres is a good young player. He was player of the year in the Arizona Fall League. We have good young arms. A few years ago we didn’t have that. We have more arms and more players than we had in the past. We have a nice nucleus.”

    Michael, who as general manager during Steinbrenner’s suspension in the early 1990s changed the Yankees’ approach to young players, is the team’s senior vice president and special adviser. When the Yankees get a good player, especially a good young player, I automatically give Michael credit. However, he …

    Murray Chass

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