NEW YORK (AP) – Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have made life hard on the AL East, and easy for Brian Cashman.
The Yankees general manager decided he liked the hand he held and passed on the chance to add to New York’s roster Sunday at the July 31 deadline for trades without waivers.
“I’m very confident with the position I’ve taken,” Cashman said after the 34-year-old Garcia pitched the Yankees past the Baltimore Orioles. “It’s not like I’m blowing smoke, trying to promote our guys.
“No, I believe in our guys,” he said.
The two starting pitchers have combined for 18 wins and both have ERAs in the low threes. Neither seemed likely to be a front-line starter when signed as a free agent in the offseason, long removed from their heydays in the early 2000s.
But here it is, 2011, and they’re the Yankees’ second and third best starters.
Good enough to keep the Yankees, who certainly have no reticence about adding any piece they think they need, quiet at the deadline.
Colon, now 38, was even once the coveted star in a deadline deal, when Cleveland shipped him to Montreal for a horde of prospects a year after he and Garcia faced off twice in the 2001 AL division series between the Indians and Mariners.
Now, 10 years later, those two are the reason the Yankees didn’t feel the need to give up any of their prized prospects.
“When you look at their body of work, it’s been excellent,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They have an ERA in the low 3s in the American League East, and that’s hard to do.”
After Sunday’s games, New York was two games behind Boston in the division, and comfortably in command of the wild-card race, 6 1/2 up on the Los Angeles Angels. Statistics website Baseball Prospectus assesses the Yankees as having about a 3 percent chance of missing the postseason.
Cashman said he spoke with every other team about adding players. He didn’t get any attractive offers.
The top two pitching prospects that appeared on the trade market in July were Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez and Houston’s Wandy Rodriguez. Jimenez went to the Indians for two top-level pitching prospects and two other minor leaguers, and the Astros never managed to deal Rodriguez.
Neither pitcher would have clearly been a big enough upgrade for Cashman to risk a swap.
Behind those five, Phil Hughes has been inconsistent, but shown flashes of dominance as he returns to full health following shoulder issues.
“We’ve had some surprises that have come out of nowhere for us,” Cashman said. “I look forward to racing down the Red Sox and catching them and passing them.”
The Yankees also have left-hander Manny Banuelos and righty Adam Warren at Triple-A. Cashman indicated either or both could still have a role to play on the big club this season. Banuelos, especially, seems likely, though he’s was only promoted from Double-A on Sunday. The Yankees only have one left-hander in their bullpen, and Boone Logan has had some rough outings this season.
Cashman also didn’t rule out making some additions in August, when players must clear waivers before being traded.
“The 25(-man roster) situation is good,” Cashman said. “It’s nice to have those guys down below, pushing themselves, as an insurance policy.”
Much better, the Yankees think, than having those guys on someone else’s roster.
“I mean, who are we going to trade for?” outfielder Brett Gardner said. “Freddy and Bartolo were two great pickups in the offseason, and both of those guys have been tremendous. I think we’re right where we want to be at.