By Chris Melore
“My job is obviously to constantly try to improve this club,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday.
It’s a shame he didn’t remember that one day earlier.
New York passed the July 31 trade deadline without making a single move to help their major league roster or their beleaguered pitching staff.
“The best play was we did nothing… these were prices that I felt were making things way out of reach,” the GM said after not parting with a single piece of his deep farm system.
The epic failure by the front office will sting even worse as the Houston Astros have yet again come away with an ace pitcher – landing former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke in a shocking deadline deal.
With no waiver trade period in MLB this year, there are no do-overs, no second chances for the Yankees to find help outside the organization.
The stunning inaction by New York means Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, Domingo German, and CC Sabathia will continue to fill out the rotation – even though that underwhelming group just gave up the most runs (73) in a six-game stretch in franchise history.
After claiming the prices were simply too high to acquire a starter, Cashman reportedly pivoted to strengthening the bullpen – and again he did absolutely nothing.
Like the Astros did with Greinke, Cashman was again outfoxed by more aggressive and cunning GMs. The Atlanta Braves were able to land coveted Tigers closer Shane Greene and the Giants’ Mark Melancon.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,” the general manager said.
Effort aside, there was clearly a lack of urgency in the front office. To not understand how far below the rest of the AL contenders the Yankees rotation is shows a troubling level of arrogance or incompetence.
This is now the third straight trade deadline Cashman has failed to do whatever it took to bring in a game-changing pitcher.
In 2017, he infamously chose the cheaper option of Sonny Gray over future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander – who ended up leading Houston to a World Series championship.
In 2018, the GM again went the safe route and picked up J.A. Happ. A mediocre postseason pitcher, Happ was crushed in just two innings by Boston in the ALDS. Cashman then re-signed the 36-year-old and Happ is now sporting an awful 5.19 ERA.
Now, Cashman is trying to cover up yet another failure by boasting about the possible returns of Luis Severino and Dellin Betances.
Claiming New York was comfortable relying on their injured stars to make heroic returns didn’t sit well with fans and even drew criticism from Yankees beat writers.
#Yankees and #Astros have been the best teams in the AL this year. Both needed pitching going into deadline. Hou got Greinke, Sanchez, Biagini. NYY got a minor league arm. This is not optimal for NYY.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2019
A team with World Series aspirations deserved better than to put their hopes on two pitchers recovering from shoulder injuries.
The fans deserved better than to keep watching a starting rotation with a 4.77 ERA struggle to reach the fifth inning each night.
Embarrassing and a slap in the face to us fans. Someone needs to be held responsible
— Ryan Bonnano (@bonnano_ryan) July 31, 2019
New York City deserved better than to be told by a tone-deaf GM that their team is a “damn good roster.”
No Brian, a team with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke is a “damn good roster” and is now the runaway favorite to be champions in 2019.
If you see Brian Cashman playing cards in a casino this winter, run over to play at that table because the Yankees GM can’t bluff, is clearly afraid to go all-in, and is obviously past his prime as an elite executive in Major League Baseball.
Read more columns by Chris Melore