Joon LeeESPN3 minute read
NEW YORK — Brian Cashman knows Yankees fans are ready to smash the panic button. The injury bug is sweeping the clubhouse, the roster looks like a shell of itself, and the team is sitting in last place.
Despite this, the Yankees general manager said he believed they could win a World Series, as long as they were in better health.
“Don’t count us out,” Cashman said ahead of Wednesday’s game. “Don’t give up on us. … This is a championship caliber operation.”
On May 3, 31 games into the season, the Yankees don’t look like a team with a $277 million payroll, having posted a 16-15 record and sitting 8½ games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. . More than $151 million from the pricey clubhouse is on the injured list, highlighted by right fielder Aaron Judge and his hip problem, designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton and his hamstrings, and pitcher Carlos Rodon and his arm issues returned.
But it’s more than superstars. The roster lacks a lot of depth, with Josh Donaldson, Luis Severino, Frankie Montas and key relievers Tommy Kahnle, Lou Trivino, Jonathan Loaisiga and Scott Effross all running out of time.
“What is the biggest fear of the season on behalf of all general managers?” Cashman said. “I would say you wouldn’t want to be destroyed by injuries early on.”
To deal with all the injuries, Cashman and the front office are exploring the trade market, but with the season only a month old, the other teams aren’t very interested in trying to make a deal. Cashman said the Yankees continue to explore trades that would address the roster’s surplus of infielders, but both in the offseason and early in the campaign, no deal makes sense.
“It’s not like the NBA with the G League where you can choose whatever you want if you have a series of injuries,” Cashman said. “You have to deal with what you have internally here.”
Cashman and the team have been criticized for building a roster with injury histories, including Judge, Stanton and Rodon, but the general manager dismissed those criticisms given the stars’ healthy track records of success.
“They’re elite players when healthy, and we just need to get them healthy,” Cashman said. “Whether it’s over-reliance on them or not, they’re our players, and I know when they’re healthy – and I can’t wait to get them healthy again – so we can get what they’re capable of.” because they are impact, talented players.”
Rodon is suffering from a stiff back after starting the season on the injured list. While Rodon pushed the team to start pitching in order to make his comeback, Cashman said the team held that off out of caution and trying to maintain his health for the rest of the season. In eight major league seasons, Rodon has pitched more than 30 games just once.
Rodon will undergo further testing Thursday before the Yankees decide whether to increase his throws.
“Carlos is frustrated; he wants to throw it again,” Cashman said. “We want to wait to get through tomorrow and then we’ll be in a better position to make sure we feel comfortable enough. It’s more of a precaution, and yes we lose days, but that’s the way to go. safer to go.”
Minor league prospects and depth weren’t enough for New York to sustain itself in baseball’s toughest division. Cashman hopes the current roster can tread water until the roster is healthy.
“In the position we’re in, we have to be thankful that we’re in for a long season because we’re in such a bad place right now,” he said. “If the season was short, we would be eliminated. But we have time to catch up.”
The Yankees also suffered a minor setback with Nestor Cortes, who has been suffering from strep throat for the past few days and will have his start pushed back from Friday to Monday. But there will likely be reinforcements soon, with Severino beginning his rehab assignment Thursday with the Single-A Tampa Tarpons.
Cashman knows this is a results-driven business. The season didn’t live up to fans’ expectations, and someone has to take the blame.
“If you want to convict someone,” Cashman said, “convict me.”