TAMPA – Brian Cashman calls Jim Cranes Bluff.

The day after Crane, the owner of the Astros, claimed that his club's illegal sign stealing program "had no effect on the game," Cashman clapped back, whose Yankees lost to the Astros in the 2017 ALCS.

"I definitely think it undoubtedly affected things," said Cashman at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday. “Certainly the Houston Astros had more to do with a clear advantage than their opponents. That is a fact. I don't think anyone can disagree, even if they try. "

When asked if stealing signs would affect competition, Cashman was just as direct.

"Yes. No question, otherwise you wouldn't do it," said Cashman.

The Yankees have been kicked out of the playoffs by the Astros in two of the last three years. Major League Baseball has only recently discovered that the Astros cheated in 2017 and stole signs using electronics, despite the suspicion that they were back in 2019. This conspiracy theory was fueled by Jose Altuve's video telling his teammates not to rip off his jersey – maybe so as not to reveal a buzzer or other device underneath – after he walked off Aroldis Chapman last October – Homerun had completed to win the ALCS.

Brian Cashman and Jim Crane
Brian Cashman and Jim CraneCharles Wenzelberg; Getty Images

The Astros have rejected the claim and MLB said their investigation has revealed nothing. Cashman said he has "no idea" what could have happened, but believes the truth will come out if something goes wrong.

Cashman said all the talk about stealing Astros shields "created unhealthy momentum for our game" when the spring training sessions opened in Florida and Arizona. But when he first spoke to reporters (he previously only talked about it with YES Network), he admitted frustration.

"What has happened in the past is obviously upset," said Cashman. "Our property is upset. Our front office is upset. Our players, who were 17 with us, were understandably upset. There is currently nothing we can do about it."

Many Yankees from the 2017 team said they felt cheated out of a pennant after the Astros won all four home games in this year's ALCS. Cashman did not go that far, but repeatedly emphasized the need to go forward and focus on the present.

"At this point, I will admit for the best in our industry that we have had many discussions with Major League Baseball about suspicions in recent years, but having and proving suspicions are two different things," said Cashman. "If it hadn't been for Mike Fiers, maybe nobody would have ever known."

It was Fiers who became the first player (with The Athletic) in the file to talk about the Astros' illegal sign-theft program in 2017. This prompted MLB to investigate the problem that many teams had long suspected.

When asked whether he was satisfied that a possible fraud by the Astros 2019 with buzzers or devices had been sufficiently investigated, Cashman stood by the commissioner.

"Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball and their security details, their hands are always full of speculation and complaints," he said. "It was only when the whistleblower came out that you could ever put meat on your bones. Many teams in the game showed their fingers. Forefingers are one thing, but having evidence and evidence is another, so it's just a very challenging circumstance. Me I'm happy that the powers are doing everything they can in real time to create this environment of fair play. "