NEW YORK -- If this was any other team, in any other city with any other fan base, and in any other market, the course of action would be clear: Pull the plug now, strip the roster of its dead wood and dead contracts, and start looking ahead to next year.
But these are the New York Yankees, who play in Yankee Stadium, a voracious monster that must be fed 40,000-plus fat wallets every night to remain financially healthy, and this is New York City, which hates giving up even more than losing.
Besides, the AL East is so mediocre this season that a team just two games over .500 is still very much in the thick of things.
So the Yankees are not going to be sellers at this trade deadline, even though it is obvious to everyone that their $438 million offseason spending spree has bought them a team that is not even as good as last year's, which could not make it to October.
No, the Yankees, and more specifically, GM Brian Cashman, are guaranteed to try to make some moves to keep this team in contention, or at least keep alive the illusion that this team is in contention. And he now has less than 10 days to do it.
The problem is, where does he start?
Clearly, his team needs a starting pitcher, and a bat, and an upgrade in its infield defense.
But where do you find those vital parts, especially with what the Yankees have to offer in return?
Well, here are a couple of suggestions:
But Hamels, even though he is owed a minimum of $96 million, is not even 31 years old. He can help you not only this year, but also for years to come. And he looms especially important if there is any doubt that Masahiro Tanaka will be able to pitch a full season next year, or at all. The Yankees' gamble on healing his torn UCL without surgery will backfire big-time if they wind up having to cut Tanaka in September. In that case, Hamels can anchor your 2015 rotation until Tanaka comes back, after which he will make a helluva No. 2. The Phillies are looking to dump contracts, so this is probably doable for the Yankees.
Next, take a chance and promote Rob Refsnyder from Triple-A Scranton and make him your everyday second baseman. Not to single out Brian Roberts, who has been no worse than anyone else in the Yankees' infield, but second base is the one position where the Yankees can upgrade from within. They're not going to bench Derek Jeter, but even if they did, they could plug in Brendan Ryan. Zelous Wheeler is a perfectly serviceable third baseman for now, and if Mark Teixeira is healthy, you really can't do any better at first.
But at 23 years old, Refsnyder has got to have more range than Roberts, and how much worse could his bat be? He's hit .322 with 12 home runs and 47 RBIs at two levels of the minors this season; maybe it's time to see if he can make the big jump.
The third task is the toughest of all, namely finding a bat that is both available, and available for what the Yankees have to offer. Right now, the only truly tradeable Yankees appear to be Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and John Ryan Murphy (Wheeler and Yangervis Solarte might be, too, but probably wouldn't fetch very much). You certainly don't want to lose the first two and likely can't buy much with the other four.
Now, who could they get?
There's really not much out there, and contrary to popular belief, the rest of baseball doesn't really exist to trade its top prospects to the Yankees.
But maybe the Astros could be persuaded to part with Chris Carter, who hits for power and can play first base, or maybe the Rangers would be open to dealing Alex Rios, who might be an offensive upgrade over Ichiro Suzuki in right. Josh Willingham is about to become a free agent, so the Twins might be willing to deal. Is Dan Uggla worth taking a chance on? He just signed a minor-league deal with the Giants.
The truth is, none of these guys are likely to save the season, or correct the mistakes that were made this winter on Matt Thornton and Carlos Beltran, or reverse the aging process on Jeter, Teixeira and Roberts.
But we know the Yankees are never going to be sellers, so that means they have to be buyers.
You may not like who Cashman bought this winter -- and the results so far say you are right -- but now, he, and every other GM who thinks his team is still in contention, has 10 days to fashion a do-over.
Question: If you were Brian Cashman, who would you target? Or should he just bite the bullet on this season and retool for next year?
On deck: Game 2 of this four-game series, Chase Whitley (4-3, 5.10) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 5.10), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. I'll be there when the clubhouse opens at 3:20 p.m. with lineups and all the pregame news, so stop in around then. And as always, thanks for reading.