Is Brian Cashman a Hall of Famer?

S.L. Price’s new profile of Brian Cashman in Sports Illustrated is well-wrought, but I’d like to focus on just this tertiary issue:

… “If anybody else had done what Brian’s been doing, you know what’d be in front of his name? Future Hall of Famer,” Beane says. “There was a time I voted for him for Executive of the Year every year, regardless.”

Despite winning an average 96 games a year and missing the playoffs just three times, Cashman has never won that award and most likely never will. Cooperstown is no lock, either; only five GMs have made it in, and the franchise’s massive financial edge makes him easy to dismiss. Then again, Cashman never had the luxury—like, say, Epstein as the Cubs’ GM—of averaging 95 losses for three years.

Historically, it’s been difficult for GM’s to get elected, but there’s an exceptionally obvious reason for this: until somewhat recently, very few GM’s were terribly successful for more than a few years. I do believe that Buzzie Bavasi and Al Campanis, both of whom were associated with the Dodgers for many years, have strong cases for the Hall of Fame. But otherwise, few pre-1980 executives had both the success and the tenure that we have come to expect from a Hall of Famer.

That’s changed, though. There are more playoff spots available, and more GM’s are holding the job for decades. Just off the top of my head, John Schuerholz and Dave Dombrowski and Kevin Towers and Billy Beane have all built Hall-worth résumés, and Theo Epstein’s well on his way. Sandy Alderson’s certainly had an interesting career. Will all of them make it? Should all of them? People don’t go to Cooperstown to see bronze plaques of guys wearing ties.

Without doing more research, I don’t feel comfortable ranking all these candidates. Except I’m sure Schuerholz belongs atop the list, and I’m sure Cashman fits squarely into the discussion. To win that many games and championships is incredibly impressive, regardless of the budget.