A Disappointing Deadline From the New York Yankees

Just a week ago, I wrote a piece comparing how the Yankees and Mets are run, which included predictions for the approaches each team would take at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. To my complete and utter dismay, I was wrong. The Mets addressed their team’s needs, while the Yankees grew complacent. I am very disappointed in Brian Cashman, and the Yankees, to say the least.
Let me preface this by acknowledging that the sky is not falling, and I am ecstatic that the Yankees hold a 5 game lead in the AL East at the time of this writing. However, I feel extremely let down by our long time general manager. There are glaring holes on this roster that needed to be addressed, and our general manager failed to do so. Although the Blue Jays got Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, and Mark Lowe, I am not afraid of them as far as the division is concerned. I am afraid, however, that the Yankees starting rotation will not survive come October. I hope I’m proved incorrect, but I believe Brian Cashman’s inability to get anything done at the deadline has set the Yankees up for an early playoff exit.
Let me begin by discussing the one move Cashman did make. In exchange for minor league outfielder Ramon Flores and pitcher Jose Ramirez, the Yankees acquired the versatile Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners. For those of you, who like myself, know nothing about Ackley, I strongly suggest you read my colleague Chad’s article on him.

In order to make room on the roster for Ackley, the Yankees designated Garrett Jones for assignment. I know many fans were expecting Stephen Drew to be DFA’d, but we all know that’s wishful thinking at this point. I can’t fathom why the Yankees continue to start Stephen Drew, who hasn’t even hit .200 at any point this season. My hope is that Ackley rejuvenates his career, and steals the job from Drew. While I was a huge proponent of bringing back Martin Prado, I’m willing to give Ackley the benefit of the doubt. Ackley’s versatility allows the Yankees to play him at all outfield positions, second base, and first base. His superior defense is undoubtedly an upgrade over Jones. Hopefully a change of scenery, and the homer friendly Yankee Stadium will help the former number 2 overall pick reboot his career.

The Yankees starting rotation is in absolute shambles at the moment. On Thursday, we learned that Michael Pineda was headed to the DL with a strained forearm. Note that this is the same injury suffered by Andrew Miller earlier in the season, and he was out for roughly a month. Unfortunately, with Pineda’s long injury history we can only hope his rehab goes as quickly as Miller’s did. Masahiro Tanaka has shown signs of dominance, but he is too inconsistent. Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova are solid back end of the rotation arms, but the Yankees are now depending on them to pick up some of Pineda’s slack. CC Sabathia is simply terrible and undeserving of a rotation spot at this point in his career.

The only good news to come out of yesterday’s stagnant deadline for the Yankees is in regards to top pitching prospect Luis Severino. Cashman announced that Severino’s next start would be against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium next week. I can honestly say that I haven’t been this excited for one of our prospects since Joba Chamberlain came up in 2006.

I have to flush out this optimism with some pragmatism, however. When was the last time a 21-year old starter came out of the minors and just dominated in the major leagues? While I’m cautiously optimistic about Severino, the Yankees should have gotten an established starting pitcher. I was hoping and praying all week that the Yankees would somehow pull off a trade for David Price. In my opinion, Price was the missing piece to the puzzle. He is a battle-tested stud who would have fit perfectly atop our rotation, and would have been as reliable as anyone to start game 1 of a postseason series.

As I’ve already noted, I am not afraid of the Toronto Blue Jays, but I’m very disappointed David Price is not a Yankee. I will admit I am happy that Cashman did not trade for another National League pitcher though. Time and again he has acquired them and they have failed in New York. For me, it was David Price or bust. I wanted nothing to do with Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels, or Mike Leake.

I know the prospect lovers are absolutely euphoric about what occurred at the deadline, but as fans we need to realize that prospects are just that, prospects. Most of Brian Cashman’s prospects have turned out to be flops. Aside from Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner (maybe), and Dellin Betances, how many above average players has Cashman developed? Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, Jesus Montero, Andrew Brackman, and Manny Banuelous were all highly regarded, and haven’t lived up to expectations.

When your team is in the middle of a pennant race, sometimes you have to give up the prospects and go for it. In 1995, the Yankees gave up top prospects to acquire David Cone, and he helped anchor the rotation through 4 World Championships. When it comes to Price, I would have been all in. All cards would have been on the table. I would love nothing more than to see some homegrown players develop into super stars, but the Yankees have a legitimate chance of winning the World Series this year. You can’t just grow complacent and stand pat. Areas of need must be addressed, and once again Brian Cashman failed to address said needs.

While all the other contenders in the American League (the Royals, Angels, Astros, and Blue Jays) improved their teams, the Yankees stood pat and did nothing. This is frustrating considering the Yankees were only a piece or two away from becoming a close to complete team. My deadline wish list consisted of two players: David Price and Martin Prado. A real second baseman and a front line starter are exactly what this team needed to be put over the hump. Hopefully, Ackley can develop into the former, and Severino into the latter, although both are long shots this season.

I give Brian Cashman a grade of a D for his approach to the deadline. Before the Cashman lovers attack me, I have to admit I am no fan of his. I’ve been advocating that the Yankees part ways with him for years. He has won one championship in 15 years, and with the resources available at his disposal, that is unacceptable.

To sum this whole thing up, Brian Cashman failed us at the deadline. While our potent offense and dominant bullpen will be real assets come October, I believe the starting rotation will be the ultimate downfall. Without one dependable starter, we will be toast in a short series. Hopefully Pineda comes back healthy and returns to his dominant form, hopefully Tanaka gets over his inconsistencies and becomes a true number 1 starter, hopefully Eovaldi and Nova can step up to the challenge, hopefully CC can find a time machine and bring us back to 2009, and hopefully Severino is an absolute stud. If even two of these are answered in the affirmative then we can be dangerous come October. Unfortunately, I believe Cashman’s inability to improve the roster cost us a great opportunity at a World Championship. Hopefully I’m wrong, but only time will tell.

Article by Steven Eareckson
Follow me on Twitter @SEareckson
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