Monday, July 10, 2017


(Julie Jacobson/AP) 
Brian Cashman says the Yankees are going to be "careful buyers" this trading deadline. Do yourself a favor and be a careful listener when he explains what he means, so you're not disappointed later -- you know, like when they have a lead and Clippard starts warming in the pen.

The GM who staged the biggest garage sale the Bronx has seen in a generation isn't saying he'll be careful not to overpay some smiling car salesman wearing a clean, freshly-pressed suit in a well-lit auto showroom when he goes shopping for a couple of shiny new Cadillacs.  He saying he's hitting the back roads, poking around junkyards, church bazaars,  garage sales, smelly barns and overgrown lots for rusty scratch-and-dent "as is" rent-a-wrecks that more discerning, well-paying  customers want nothing to do with and will cost little more than the gas it takes to drive them home.

“We have a long-term plan that I think people are seeing the excitement from," he said, per the Daily News.  "We’re definitely not going to deviate from that, but also, part of that long-term plan is in the short-term winning now and putting out the best effort possible. But not at the expense of what we feel can lead us to more championships, plural. And so I think everything we’re going to try to do is going to be in the context of improving us now as well as how it continues to improve us in the future.

"Whatever we do, it’s gonna hurt, that’s the nature of the beast. But that’s the walk we’re trying to walk. So far I can tell you the sticker prices are pretty high, and I’d like to think our fan base would be happy that we’re saying no to a lot of things that are currently being presented to us."

I know a lot of Yankee fans won't take no for an answer. But you can't blame Brian for being concerned about asking Hal permission to invest in a tux, limo and corsage for a prom that could turn out like Carrie's.

This season, after all, while entertaining and exciting for its showcase of future potential, is a nightmare for any GM to project and navigate going forward, and especially one whose prime directive is to safeguard, as Brian put it, "what we feel can lead us to more championships, plural."
So if you're in Brian's shoes, which Yankee team would you tell your boss you're betting his assets on for the second half:

The one that sat at 38-23 a month ago, 15 games over .500 and four games up in the AL East standings, flying high on a six-game winning streak and a +117 run differential?

Or the one that just crash landed into the All-Star break winning only seven of their last 25 games with a -19 run differential, looking up the butts of the Red Sox 3 1/2 games,   caught and tied by the Rays for second place, and hasn't been able to rub two wins together since June 12th?

On the one hand, you could argue they're still three games better than they were after their 86th game last year and have a small busload  of key injured players allegedly on their way back from the disabled list.

For fearful fans expecting this rebuilding season to resemble a disaster movie of upside-down Poseidon Adventure proportions, that slight improvement and those returning players might combine for a case  to make some big deadline moves.

Then again, some might posit being three games better than  a team that wound up throwing its best players overboard for life preservers is a little like saying it's just sinking three hours slower than the Titanic.

The reality is there's just no way for sure anyone can know which team we'll see in the second half, and it's distinctly possible it may never be all back in one piece, healthy and firing on all cylinders like it was to start the season. So when Brian says he's buying carefully, he's saying don't expect any big moves.

The eliminates starting pitching from his shopping list --  and since the weak rotation is the primary cause for the burnt bullpen, more bullpen infernos can be expected in the second half and bargain basement band-aids are this careful buyer's most likely deadline targets.

Out of the slew of  recent Yankees rumors making no sense whatsoever, at least one looks potentially promising, although not surprisingly it was half wrong when first reported. The Yankees, it turns out,  have in fact actually been having serious discussions with the Padres about securing a reliever. It just wasn't about the reliever the rumors first mentioned.

Photo: Getty Images
According to Sunday reports in the Post and,  Brandon Maurer -- not the more desirable and costly Brad Hand -- is the object of Yankees interest in the San Diego pen.

Frankly, Maurer makes much more sense and is a far better fit for the profile of  garage-sale find that would attract a careful buyer like Brian, who's hamstrung by a blueprint with a budget, loves damaged-toy projects that pop the right sabermetric buttons and needs to hedge his bets.

Photo: Getty Images
Per MLB Trade Rumors:  "Maurer has a 5.60 ERA over 35 1/3 IP for San Diego this year but he has been victimized by a inordinately low 52.9% strand rate.  ERA indicators (2.95 FIP, 3.56 xFIP, 3.31 SIERA) and his peripheral numbers (8.92 K/9, 5.00 K/BB rate) paint a much more positive view of his 2017 performance.  San Diego had interest in Gleyber Torres prior to his Tommy John surgery, though officials from the Padres and other teams believe that the Yankees’ farm system is deep enough that they’ll be able to make deals without moving any of their top prospects."

Any team who tells Brian they have a  potentially useful, cost-effective trade piece he can drive off their lot that won't cost him or his boss  "any of their top prospects" is at the top of the believability scale in the Yankee rumor mill right now, even  if the guy's engine is knocking and his paint is peeling.

And any rumors of  shiny Cadillacs that mention crosstown rivals,  prized Yankee prospects or the luxury tax should be effectively ignored as idle gossip.  Because a careful buyer like Brian can't be caught dead driving anything flashy and expensive home from the deadline at this late date in the rebuild.  If he did, it would be a distinctly retrograde move; the kind that  not only implies the team isn't serious about its rebuilding plan but signals a willingness to abandon it.

For both the GM who drew up the blueprint and the  team that's still paying a steep price for decades of instant gratification and overspending on flashy nameplates, a step backwards like that would be  astounding.

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

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