SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A ray of sunshine lit the face of one of the newest leaders of baseball operations in the major leagues, Boston’s Craig Breslow, as he politely and carefully answered questions about how he will redirect the trajectory of one of the sport’s most famous franchises. He spoke of empathy for players, gave promises of transparency, and vowed to be driven by Red Sox wins above all else.

When a reporter asked him Tuesday at the general managers meetings about the challenges that come with a job like this in a town like that – and whether they sometimes get too difficult to be worth it – Breslow chuckled.

“Man, I’ve only been on the job a few days,” he said.

“They are difficult. They are massive. They are at times all-consuming,” he continued. “But they are just incredibly rewarding and challenging in different ways. The chance to work alongside talented people to impact the product we can put on the field, to feel like you’re helping to build something larger than yourself, all of those things make it worth it.”

A few yards away, in a shadow created by a crush of reporters and cameras after a failed season, the New York Yankees’ Brian Cashman was tossing out a heated combination of expletives and explanations.

“I’m proud of our people. I’m proud of our process. Doesn’t mean we’re firing on all cylinders. Doesn’t mean we’re the best in class,” the longtime general manager said. “But I think we’re pretty (expletive) good, personally. I’m proud of our people, and I’m also looking forward to ’24 being a better year than ’23.”


Such is the reality of these GMs meetings, the annual start of the MLB offseason, on the rare occasion that the Red Sox and Yankees enter them having missed the playoffs.

The Red Sox opted for change by hiring Breslow, a former pitcher and a Yale graduate with an aptitude for numbers, as the replacement for Chaim Bloom, whose tenure was defined as much by mediocrity as ownership’s hesitancy to spend its way out of it. Breslow has yet to establish a direction for his Red Sox era, which almost certainly will include more stressful nights than sun-kissed afternoons like Tuesday’s.

After they missed the postseason with a roster seemingly stronger than the one that made the American League Championship Series the year before, the Yankees brought in outside consultants and held three days of organizational meetings that owner Hal Steinbrenner suggested would lead to “big changes.”

“There’s going to be changes some people might not consider significant, but (Aaron) Judge and I may because we’re doing this every day,” Steinbrenner told reporters before eventually suggesting that bunting needed to be a bigger part of the team’s minor league development.

Not long after, Cashman offered a lengthy defense of the methods that led his team to three straight World Series titles from 1998 to 2000 but just one since, and of a few seasons’ worth of personnel decisions that never seemed to go right. He defended the circumstances and process that led to failed acquisitions such as Joey Gallo and Frankie Montas, and he passed off as bad luck the creaky nature of an injury-prone roster.

He also took issue with the notion that his team was too analytics-driven, that the human element had been lost in a desire to be the smartest organization in the game.


“We have the smallest analytics department in the American League East. We have the largest pro scouting department in all of baseball. Is that a shocker to you guys?” he asked. “Shouldn’t be. But no one’s doing their deep dives. They’re just throwing ammunition and (expletive).”

Cashman did not deny that the Yankees need starting pitching – much like the Red Sox and much like almost every competitive team. He said they need one or two starting outfielders, preferably left-handed ones, because too few of the left-handed bats he counted on in recent years seemed to stick. Steinbrenner indicated the team would be willing to spend. Cashman said the only change he can promise is to the roster.

“I’m proud of our operation. I think we have a great group of baseball people. I think we have a very strong process that has served us well up until what happened this particular season,” he said. “Certainly, that (was cause) for evaluation (and) self-reflection. That will always be the case regardless, even when we’re flying high.”

Cashman knows that, in jobs like these, flying high is relative and anything short of World Series contention amounts to falling short. His team will almost certainly be a contender for top-of-the-market starters such as Yoshinobu Yamamoto; Cashman flew to Japan to see him pitch in person. Lefty Blake Snell and third baseman Matt Chapman could help, too.

They also could help the Red Sox, who have whiffed in their pursuit of elite free agents of late. Breslow, who smiled through every answer, used words that suggested he understands the pressure he has inherited. Perhaps, as Cashman’s frenetic diatribes after a quarter-century on the job suggested, that kind of thing can only be understood with time.

“It’s all part of it. I get it,” Cashman said. “We’ve got sand being kicked in our face – understandably so. We only won 82 games. We didn’t make the playoffs. I called it a disaster because it was unexpected and it was a disaster.

“I’m certainly hearing it loud and clear from all aspects, whether it’s media, whether it’s fans, all that stuff. Hey, if you’re going to play in this market, you’ve got to be tough.”

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