Yankees Thoughts: Trounced by Tampa on Trade Deadline Day

The Yankees had a chance to upgrade their roster for the remaining two months of the season before Tuesday’s trade deadline, or a chance to start building for next season. They did neither, then lost another game to the Rays and another game in the standings as well.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. I knew the Yankees were going to do nothing before Tuesday’s trade deadline, and yet, it’s unbelievable that they did nothing before Tuesday’s trade deadline. The same problems that existed for the Yankees yesterday morning exist this morning. Those same problems have existed for several years, and they continue to go unresolved.

After letting the deadline pass with only trading for an unnecessary middle reliever just before the clock struck 6, Brian Cashman spent the early innings of Tuesday night’s game speaking with the media about what went into the organization’s decision to do nothing. They didn’t buy. They didn’t sell. They did nothing.

2. “We were in play on a lot of different levels … all the way through until the clock stopped,” Cashman said. “Reinforce pitching, positions players, it didn’t matter.”

Cashman didn’t actually say that. Well, he did say it, he just didn’t say it yesterday. He said those words at last year’s deadline, when the same exact problems the Yankees face today were also problems.

“We were entertaining a lot of different concepts and ideas. We were throwing ideas that didn’t find success and receiving ideas that we didn’t gravitate to at the end.”

That was also said last year.

3. Here’s what Cashman said on Tuesday.

“We were being opportunistic buyers if anything made sense, and opportunistic sellers.”

Apparently, nothing made sense. Nothing.

“With the frustration of how we played recently, we became cautious buyers,” Cashman said. “There were a lot of clubs we were heavily discussing things with that I think their intention was potentially sellers, but their teams got hot and they became buyers.”

Cautious buyers is one thing. The Yankees are the couple that goes dealership hopping every week for a new car for years and never pull the trigger, choosing instead to keep driving their same, old car with 190,000 miles and rust all over the exterior.

The only club that fits the description of being a seller-turned-buyer is the Cubs, and Cashman is so clearly talking about Cody Bellinger. Guess what? The Yankees could have had Bellinger in the offseason, just like the Cubs, and all it would have cost them was money. Not prospects, not trying to line up with the Cubs’ needs, not needing the Cubs to go on a losing streak to be sellers. Just money, and the Yankees passed.

4. “I’d say it wasn’t a deep trade deadline in terms of options,” Cashman said. “Navigating it wasn’t easy.”

I think navigating it was easy for the Yankees since they didn’t navigate it. They stood on the side and watched it go by.

Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Jordan Montgomery, Aaron Civale, Jordan Hicks, Kendall Graveman, Lance Lynn, David Robertson C.J. Cron Jack Flaherty, Josh Bell, Carlos Santana, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Jorge Lopez, Dylan Floro, Amed Rosario, and many others were traded. I’d say it was deep enough in terms of options. 

5. “No one was able to pry anything away from us that we felt was more valuable than where we’re sitting in the standings a 3.5 games out still.”

No one is ever able to pry anything away from the Yankees. No one could pry away Eduardo Nunez until the Yankees finally released him for nothing. No one could pry away Miguel Andujar until he was released for nothing. No one could pry away Clint Frazier until he was released for nothing. No one has been able to pry away Oswald Peraza, who like the others is too good to trade and somehow not good enough to play for this shitty team. I look forward to the Yankees eventually releasing Peraza for nothing someday.

6. “We stayed the course with what we had because we felt that given the options that were available coming our way … this was the best play for us.”

What you have is the worst team nearly $300 million can buy. The Mets may have a higher payroll and waved the white flag by trading away Scherzer, Verlander, Robertson and Mark Canha, but at least they have a plan. The Yankees have no plan. Outside of Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole, the team is a collection of underachieving, disappointing, oft-injured players and pitchers. The bullpen is fine, but what’s the point of having a great bullpen if they never have a lead to protect?

To think about where the Yankees were seven years ago today after having sold off every tradeable asset to start playing for the future, and to think about where they were six Octobers ago, coming within one game of the World Series with a roster littered with mid-20s everyday players, and now where they are today is beyond disturbing. The Yankees accomplished nothing during this time, and the only player still standing and playing well for the Yankees from that exciting 2017 team is Judge (unless you think Severino is still standing and doing well for the Yankees).

The dark ages are looming for the Yankees. Stanton and LeMahieu aren’t going anywhere. Rizzo has another year. Torres continues to evade every trade opportunity. Anthony Volpe is more likely to turn out to be a bust than a generational talent, and again, somehow Peraza isn’t good enough to play for this team. The Yankees aren’t going to be able to address their offensive needs this coming offseason because the non-Shohei Ohtani star of the free-agent class is Bader, and the last thing the Yankees should do is bring back the right-handed, oft-injured, can’t-hit-righties and can’t-get-on-base Bader.

What you have is what you get with the Yankees, and the roster that is 47-51 this season against teams not named the A’s and Royals is the same roster that will try to overcome a 3 1/2-game playoff berth deficit over the remaining 55 games, and it’s mostly the same roster you will see on Opening Day 2024. (I’m a little surprised the Yankees didn’t send out one of their clearly-can’t-read-the-room season ticket email offers immediately after the trade deadline ended.)

7. As for Tuesday’s game, like the Orioles, the Rays are so much better at everything than the Yankees. From the last man on the roster through the front office, there’s nothing the Yankees do better than the Rays. You can’t even use the ‘bullpen building’ card when it comes to comparing the Yankees and Rays because the Rays are even better at that.

The Rays traded for the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow. The Yankees traded for the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon. The Rays gave Zach Eflin a three-year, $40 million deal this past offseason. The Yankees gave Rodon a six-year, $162 million deal this past offseason. The Rays do everything better and more efficiently than the Yankees, and like the Orioles, who have the league’s third-lowest payroll, the Rays’ have the league’s fifth-lowest payroll.

8. The Yankees lost 5-2, and the offense no-showed until there were two outs in the ninth inning, and Rodon no-showed for the fourth time in five starts as a Yankee. But he did clear just over $800,000 in salary for last night’s four-inning, 97-pitch effort, so good for him.

The Yankees were getting shut out until there were two outs in the ninth when they managed to score two runs on four hits. With two on and two outs, Stanton came up as the tying run, but Kevin Cash stopped joking around with Colin Poche and brought in Pete Fairbanks to blow Stanton away with fastballs.

9. The loss was the Yankees’ third straight and fourth in five games in this crucial stretch against the Orioles, Rays and Astros. The Blue Jays hold the final wild-card berth, and they lost for a third straight game as well, so the Yankees have now wasted three days of trying to overcome the Blue Jays.

The division path to the postseason is not an option as the Yankees are 11 games behind the Orioles. The first wild card is not an option as the Yankees are 9 1/2 games behind the Rays. The second wild card is not an option as the Rangers just traded for everyone and the Astros just returned Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez from the injured list and brought back last year’s AL Cy Young winner. That leaves the third wild card as the Yankees’ only viable path to the postseason, and “viable” may as well be sarcastic in that context.

10. The Yankees are now two games behind the Red Sox, who also don’t hold a playoff spot, and a 1/2-game behind the Angels. The Yankees have the same record (55-52) as the Mariners, who sold at yesterday’s deadline, while the Yankees stood pat.

“We know that we have better baseball in us,” Cashman said yesterday, “although, we haven’t shown that and proven that.”

I don’t know that the Yankees have better baseball in them. Since July 3 of last season, they are 99-100. They have been a below-.500 team for the equivalent of a full season and then 23 percent of another season. Why should Yankees fans think the remaining 55 games of this season will be different? They shouldn’t.

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