John Ford's PT-boat classic, "They Were Expendable," might seem to be a strange sort of reference to kick off a recap of the Yankees' decision to sign Carlos Silva, but what are you going to do? It goes to the heart of the nature of the pickup, but also reflects its signal virtue. Silva ain't John Wayne, but for this outfit, he won't need to be.
The Yankees' signing Silva might seem like another admission of failure, as they try to make up for not landing Cliff Lee -- or anyone else of note. While the Yankees donned pinstripes to help slenderize the Babe, you make the case that they're just as necessary (and ill-suited) to the purpose when it comes to potentially suiting up the hefty Silva on a staff already employing the even beefier Bartolo Colon.
However, there are a number of things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the Yankees have their commitment to win now to observe. Rather than keep moping about what they could not control -- like making up Lee's mind for him -- or making a spectacularly expensive mistake on a poorly stocked pitching market, the Yankees have to work with what they can control for the time being. Until the also-rans start running out of hope and faith, and start peddling their veterans on the verge of free agency, arbitration eligibility, or general all-around expensiveness, Brian Cashman and company really have two options: call up the kids, or rely on temps until the inevitable ill fortunes of others expand their options and make those pre-deadline deals possible.
Calling up the kids will always have its attractions, of course. Prospects are always in vogue, everyone likes the thrill of something new, and Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Andrew Brackman all look like they're the real deal as prospects go. Unfortunately, Banuelos and Betances have less than 30 innings above A-ball between them, while Brackman’s half-season at Double-A Trenton last year involved his giving up an unimpressive 4.2 RA/9 (the team-wide average in 2010) in pitcher-friendly Waterfront Park. Good as they may be, seeing what they do against upper-level hitters makes more sense than rushing them up.
Happily, these are not your daddy's Yankees, the team that called up and then quit just as quickly on quality homegrown arms like Jose Rijo, Al Leiter, or even a solid mid-rotation filler like Bob Tewksbury. That way lay Dave LaPoint, Andy Hawkins and madness. The kids will be allowed time to ripen on the vine, and it's more than a little possible that any one of the Triple-B prospects will be a Killer B down the stretch after proving their mettle in the first half. The nice thing for the Yankees is that they don't need to count on any one of them, taking comfort that by having all three they can reap the benefit if any one of them comes through down the stretch.
In the meantime, signing Silva is exactly like bringing in Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, in that he's another inexpensive veteran with some reason to invest temporary faith in. Nabbing Silva will only end up costing them a pro-rated share of the minimum (the Cubs have to pay off the rest of his deal until it runs out at season's end), so the combined expense of employing these three vets adds up to less than $3 million. While signing Silva is another case of retreading a guy who isn't what he once was, Colon is demonstrating that age and bulk have not robbed him of the ability to dial up the occasional mid-90s fastball. Silva isn't that far removed from last year's first half, when he went 9-2 in 16 starts while posting a 2.96 ERA. While that wasn't going to last -- and didn't -- and while you can worry about how he'll do as a flyball pitcher in a homer-happy ballpark like NuYankee if they do call him up, as a Yankee he'll have the advantage of a good outfield defense. Like Chief and Colon, spotted against the right foes in the right situations, he can be successful for a short stretch, and that's all the Yankees would need of him.
Consistent with Cashman's past patience, such as during 2008, when he kept his powder -- and his pocketbook -- dry waiting for the day he could sign up CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, it's moves like adding Silva, Colon, and Garcia that afford the Yankees the opportunity to play a waiting game. That lasts until the people they'll want pitching for them for the stretch identify themselves: either from among their prospects, or those top-tier starters who will be shopped by the non-contenders in June and July. Then and only then should Cashman spend top dollar for the players who are worth it.
Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter here.