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Watson Resigns As Yankees GM


New York Yankees general manager Bob Watson, who won a World Series during two years with the team announced his resignation Tuesday.

Watson, believed to be dissatisfied in recent weeks with his diminished role in the organization, was replaced by 30-year-old Brian Cashman, who becomes the second-youngest GM in major league history.

It is not known what Watson will do now, but he supposedly was talking to ESPN about becoming an analyst.

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On Sunday night, Watson said that someone -- he did not identify who -- was working on his behalf to explore job possibilities with other clubs.

Watson, 51, was under contract to the Yankees through the 1998 season. He signed a two-year contract that included team options for 1998 and 1999.

"Let's put it this way: I want to know what I'm going to do in the future," Watson said.

A pair of sources said the Yankees will pay Watson a portion of his salary for the remaining two years on his contract, which paid him about $400,000 per year.

Wherever he winds up, he certainly will not face the same kind of stress he felt under Steinbrenner.

Watson, hired on Oct. 23, 1995, had frequent battles with the owner. In recent days, Steinbrenner took over the Yankees' trade talks regarding Minnesota second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, a deal that appears close to completion.

In the past, Watson's role often was unclear as he clashed with the owner. Watson brought the likes of Tino Martinez and Cecil Fielder to New York, while Steinbrenner was responsible for signing Darryl Strawberry and Hideki Irabu.

"If people want to look around and say we didn't get along - this is not because of me," Steinbrenner said. "Everyone knows I'm not easy to work for."

Watson, a former All-Star player, became the first black GM in history in 1993 with the Houston Astros. His departure from the Yankees leaves no black GMs in the big leagues.

In Watson's first full season of 1996, the Yankees won the World Series for the first time since 1978. Yet it was a difficult year for Watson, who, like many other Yankees GMs and managers before him, had a tough time dealing with Steinbrenner.

During his 25-year tenure, Steinbrenner has changed managers 20 times and general managers 14 times. Cashman will mark the 16th GM under Steinbrenner.

New York won the AL's wild-card spot last year, going 96-66 before losing to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. The Yankees went 92-70 in 1996 on their way to the World Series title.

The Yankees owner criticized Watson for getting sore-armed reliever Graeme Lloyd in a late-season deal with Milwaukee in 1996. Steinbrenner suggested Watson should have known that Lloyd was damaged goods. As it turned out, Lloyd became a postseason star.

"Everybody knows Mr. Steinbrenner is a hands-on guy," Watson said last fall. "I know that. It's his club and it's his prerogative. We'll just leave it at that."

At one point, Steinbrenne and Watson had a run-in about how much time the GM spent on the job. Watson was hospitalized last April because of high blood pressure.

Recently, Watson took a playful jab at Steinbrenner when asked to identify the "baseball people" the owner often consults with.

"Little people that run around in his head are his baseball people," Watson said.

Watson later said he was joking, and Steinbrenner responded that comment was "regrettable."

Cashman has been with the Yankees for 10 years, working the last four as the assistant GM. Only Randy Smith, who was hired at age 29 by the San Diego Padres in 1993, was a younger GM in major league history.

Before Cashman takes over, though, Knoblauch might become a member of the Yankees, provided they give up the prospects the Twins want.

Yankees catcher Joe Girardi is among many New Yorkers who would like to see Knoblauch in pinstripes.

"I know from a catcher's standpoint, he's a problem when he's up at bat," Girardi said Monday. "He doesn't strike out. He makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches. He's one of the toughest outs in the league."

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