Thursday, June 22, 2017


Photo: Getty Images
"Everything looks nicer when you win", Billy Martin said. The girls are prettier, the cigars taste better, and the trees are greener.  So raise a glass of your favorite beverage  and toast sweet victory. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em and enjoy the view.

Eight days is a long time between wins for Yankee fans who haven't suffered through a seven-game losing streak in more than 10 years -- or ever, depending on their age and entry point in our Universe. And it felt especially long coming directly on the heels of a six-game winning streak powered by big hairy bats that actually had many in the fan base under the delusion this happy ship  might steam its way deep into the playoffs while short starts and long relief use took their collective toll.

But took their toll they have. And while Wednesday's win by Montgomery was sweet indeed, he still failed to complete six innings and  required a rescue from the pen. And despite solid work from Dellin and  Chad Green -- who was abducted from a promising starter's trajectory down on the farm  for bullpen duty when Chapman went on the DL and appears to have been Jobacized for good now that Warren's hurt and Clippard's melting like a snow cone in the Sahara -- Joe insisted on giving the clueless Clip yet another chance to blow a seemingly blow-proof 8-2 lead in the 9th. Which he promptly set about attempting to do, forcing the need to bring in Chapman.

So once again, even on a night when the bats scored  eight runs and the team was coasting with a six-run lead heading into the 9th, all the Yankees' highest-leverage horses in the pen had no rest.

That doesn't bode well for the pen, the rotation or the team's prospects this season.  But as I've continued to point out -- and as one or two of the beat writers seem to finally be coming around to grasping - it's a rebuilding year and this team was never intended or constructed  to compete; and the only way Brian and Hal will possibly make any deadline moves is if they make sense for the future plans and payroll. Not for just this season.

Mike Mazzeo at the Daily News is one of those beat guys who gets it.

"Masahiro Tanaka has a 6.34 ERA, CC Sabathia is expected to be out at least six weeks, and Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery (5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) could potentially hit the wall later this season as their innings totals increase. Cashman has not gone public with any innings limits, which seems like the right move. Acquiring an impact, controllable arm like Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray or Jose Quintana would be nice for both now and in the future. Of course, the prospect cost would have to be right.

"Recently, the rotation hasn’t provided enough length, taxing the bullpen. No Yankees’ starter has gotten through seven innings since June 10, the return of a troubling trend that plagued the team earlier in the year. Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren haven’t been the same since Aroldis Chapman went on the DL...

“Hell, you could talk about first base, you could talk about anything -- the bullpen vs. rotation -- but I’m always open to trying to improve ourselves,” Cashman said. “It remains to be seen. We’ll have our discussions and if I can acquire something outside the franchise that’s better than we already have and it’s an acceptable cost, then we can talk to ownership about it.”

Acceptable cost. That's Brian's and Hal's escape clause right  there.  Acceptable cost. Two words that justified building a rotation around a pair of arms attached to a knee brace and a torn ULC  and an unfinished one that's getting all kinds of kudos today for ending our losing streak -- but ironically is a textbook illustration of the larger problem with this club. It not only couldn't last six innings but it's well past the halfway point on its odometer for innings in a season despite lasting seven innings only once this year. Just another arm that likely won't go the distance.

Acceptable cost. Two words that explain why the Yankees were willing to risk playing their fragile injury-prone one-year rental designated hitter Matt Holliday at first base Wednesday in the hope he'd produce  more offense out of the position -- and  why Chris Carter, the strikeout-prone bust-of-a- one-year rental first baseman who got benched Wednesday, was signed in the first place and is still here.

Acceptable cost. Two words that Hal has used a hundred times to describe his determination to join the league of ordinary franchises that have managed to win championships without paying a cent in competitive balance taxes -- and how meeting that threshold is not only a key component of this current rebuild but was the inspiration for it and remains the driving force behind it.

Acceptable cost. Two words likely never uttered in the same sentence by his dad.

The  cost of the Yankees rebuild has been accepting the loss of some good players and the likelihood of losing still more before it's over.

The cost of standing largely pat last winter in the pitching department has resulted, predictably, in mounting rotation problems, concurrent bullpen problems and a slow, inexorable regression that will likely make the rebuild an agonizing torture test for awhile longer.

As Mazzeo and I agree, how much longer depends on how soon  Brian gets the green light from Hal to start shopping for replacements for CC and Big Mike, at the very least, if not also for Tanaka. It would be an amazing and awesome coup on Brian's part if he pulled something off of the magnitude Mazzeo mentions. But honestly, I just have a hard time seeing Hal going for it this season, don't you?

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. That means he's sticking strictly to the original, disciplined rebuild plan and a brighter future for all of us Yankee fans. The bats are pretty great now and they can cover up a lot of sins and omission until the rest of blueprint catches up. An outside shot at the playoffs maybe if the rest of the division happens to crash and burn perhaps.

That is, if someone else in this now-tightly packed division doesn't decide to go all in and try to buy it with a massive trading and spending binge. I'm fine with that too.

Maybe we could interest them in Clip and Carter.

By the way, more on Chris Carter and another perspective from BYB Senior Managing Editor Jeana Bellezza soon. Be sure the check it out.

--Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Follow me on Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore

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