Others leap at deadline, Yankees limp
August, 1, 2014
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
BOSTON -- Look, Yankees fans, I know what you really wanted under your trade deadline tree: Jon Lester. David Price. And Yoenis Cespedes.
As well as Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and King Felix Hernandez. (Hey, what's the point of being a Yankees fan if you're not going to demand the world?)
Instead, you got three lumps of coal and no reasonable expectation that next year's Yankees, let alone next month's, will be any better than the team you just saw lose two of three to the woeful Texas Rangers.
While other teams were taking giant leaps to improve (Oakland and Detroit) or dismantle (Boston and Tampa Bay), the Yankees were taking baby steps, insuring that they will get nowhere fast, in either direction.
They can say they did this because they are not giving up on the postseason this year, that their roster needed only minor tweaks to remain in contention, but in fact this was a form of quiet surrender, a passive-aggressive way to cry uncle without actually raising a white flag.
Martin Prado, an infielder, playing in right and with Stephen Drew, a shortstop, playing second base.
They're both capable professional ballplayers, but neither is a game-changer, to put it mildly. And like one of their predecessors, Kelly Johnson, both are playing out of position.
If the Prado-Drew (and let's not forget reliever Esmil Rogers) Yankees are significantly better than the Johnson-Brian Roberts Yankees (and let's not forget Ichiro Suzuki, once again a Hall of Fame benchwarmer), I ain't seeing it.
Drew might be an upgrade in the field, but his .176 batting average would have embarrassed Roberts. And Prado, a decent hitter, hardly solves the Yankees' problem this season, which has been a fatal lack of power in their batting order.
Adding him and his five National League home runs to an outfield in which Brett Gardner is the "big, hairy monster," to borrow a favorite Brian Cashman-ism, doesn't seem to do much to change that.
But barring a waiver deal -- I would think Cliff Lee, for one, should clear -- this is what it is the rest of the way, and now it is up to Joe Girardi, who already has taken a roster full of mice and pulled rabbits out of his hat, to take what Cashman has given him and turn it into a playoff team.
Good luck with that.
This should not have been entirely unexpected, since it was well known the Yankees were coming to baseball's annual swap meet with empty pockets and very little to trade. And in fact, the case can be made that Cashman did well to get a major league talent like Prado in exchange for a promising kid (Pete O'Brien) whose entire résumé has been compiled in Class A and Double-A ball.
But the improvement Cashman made is incremental at best. The Yankees needed a bold move, in one direction or other. Instead, they were like the groundhog peeking out of a hole and then ducking back in after seeing his shadow.
In retrospect, it might have been wise to test the trade market for David Robertson, who will be a free agent after this season. While he has had a good year replacing Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have a feasible and affordable option in Dellin Betances. Maybe a package of Robertson and O'Brien, perhaps with Francisco Cervelli thrown in, could have fetched a Cespedes or even a Lester, although I doubt the Red Sox would deal a player of that caliber to a division rival.
But barring that sort of a move, the next logical step would have been to do what the Red Sox and Tampa Bay did, which was cut their losses and start planning for the future.
Instead, the Yankees found they couldn't do the former and wouldn't do the latter.
So today, while four other franchises have taken giant strides to change their fortunes, either now or in the near future, the Yankees guarantee that for now, nothing is likely to change.
Coming up: The ersatz Yankees and the pseudo-Sox will begin a three-game series tonight at Fenway, with Chris Capuano, a former Red Sox who has been a Yankee for all of a week, starting against TBD, who is likely to have been a Red Sox for even less time than that. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Clubhouse opens at 3:40 p.m., and I'll be there ready to meet a lot of new people. I'll also have lineups as well as a report on Game 2 of the 2014 Yankees-Red Sox media game series, which will have taken place in the morning at Fenway -- provided we win, of course.
As Girardi likes to say, that's not what you want. Is it, Yankees fans?