Monday, July 17, 2017


They came. They played. They split.

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Never have so many Yankees and Yankee fans seemed so relieved to depart Boston just as buried in third place as they were the day they arrived for a four-game series -- one that saw them lose yet another starter to the DL (likely forever);  yet another first-base replacement player who went 0-for-the series with five Ks in seven trips to the plate;  their leading slugger become a poster boy for the home run derby blackout theory; and the first total shutdown of the batting order all year.

Still, strangely, there seemed to be a lot of upbeat vibes radiating at its conclusion.

Photo: Getty Images
We’re going in the right direction,” Manager Joe Girardi said per the Times' Billy Witz, “and I think part of that was getting our bullpen back on track and getting some people healthy,” he said, referring to the return of Matt Holliday and Starlin Castro to the lineup."

Then there was the little matter of the disappearing Judge who went a startling 1-for-18, managing only a rolling mistake in the grass that traveled about six feet from the plate he managed to beat out.

"Judge said between games that he felt fine, even though he understood why some might suggest that the trip to the All-Star Game had left him tired," wrote Witz. " “I could see that, but I’m feeling good,” Judge said with a smile. “I didn’t look fatigued at the Home Run Derby, did I?” "

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Still, as ESPN's Andrew Marchand pointed out, it was at best a momentary "tourniquet" for a bleeding team that's now lost 20 of its last 29, hasn't won a series in nine tries now and is about to hang its hopes against the Twins  who are breathing down their necks for the second wild card spot on Bryan Mitchell (1-4 in eight MLB starts with an opponent slash of .305/.380/.440/.819) and Luis Cessa, the bouncing swingman who in three starts for the big club this year (all losses)  has only lasted five innings once.

Photo: Getty Images
Hey,  I get why some might celebrate not losing ground to the first-place Red Sox, and even might be overjoyed by seeing solid outings from CC and the pen, for a change; not to mention by Tanaka, albeit in a losing effort. It certainly beat slipping further into the tank, especially against those crybabies on their home turf.

It could've been worse, I keep seeing, hearing and reading everywhere. Damn right it could've been worse. And it will be, if we're lucky.

These Yankees are neither built nor are they building to make a run at anything meaningful  this year, and at this late date have wasted too many games, still possess too many question marks, and were the beneficiaries of too much positive regression from the mean in the first half to start plotting short-term roster upgrades and expending significant resources now even if making a run was a preferable objective.

Trading for journeyman farmhand Garrett Cooper as a response to the team's sub-par first base production was only the latest revolving blue beacon signaling  Brian's next Kmart sell-off is about to commence, and it was a welcome one indeed.

Photo: Getty Images
This team is running with the ones they brought this year according to a blueprint that was chiseled in stone way back before spring training when Chad Green became the first contestant disqualified from Joe's sham race for two open rotation spots despite being the leader of the pack. And that blueprint says farmhands and not free agents are going to be the reinforcements in this campaign, no matter how high the casualty count.

When recent call up LHP Caleb Smith steps onto a mound this week,  he'll be the 12th farmhand to make his debut this season.  In their relentless march toward a younger, self-sustaining roster that can at long last shuck the luxury tax penalty, the Yankees are on track to shatter the franchise record for 17  debuts in a season set in 1912 and tied in 2015.

September call-ups will see a bunch of kids called up who need to be evaluated ahead of the winter meetings, not to mention those Brian may be giving last looks or showcasing over the next two weeks ahead of the deadline.

That's a recipe for a rough ride and the likelihood a full-on run will take a back seat to even more knuckle-crunching, acid-inducing,  ulcer-inflaming  ups and downs for Yankee fans.

But don't howl for Brian and Hal to dial 911 for help. In fact, if you love this team, keep your fingers crossed they don't try and just let the blueprint and roster tough it through.

The deadline should only matter to this Yankees team as an opportunity to add depth and trade chips to the system -- not as a dash to the drug store for more Band-Aids and tourniquets to stabilize the patient and keep the bleeding  under control.

This season's supposed to be all about the future, and it will be a waste if Brian and Hal don't maintain their grit and resolve to stay the course and finish what they started. No matter how bloody it gets.

Just let it bleed.

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

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