Okay, fine. The New York Yankees are probably not going to make the playoffs. They're in danger of falling under .500. The last time the Yankees were under .500, the A's had an outfield of Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson, and Jose Canseco. It's been a while.
Which means we haven't seen Brian Cashman, the scrambler. We've seen Brian Cashman, the spender. And we've seen Brian Cashman, the developer. Brian Cashman, the reloader not rebuilder. But never Brian Cashman the scrambler. Now we have. And it is ugly.
Below is a simple cataloging of the hitters the Yankees have acquired from outside the organization this year. Ready for the list?
No. No one is ready for the list. With help from Baseball-Reference.com ...
- Selected Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Giants. (Claimed by Blue Jays a month later)
- Signed Kevin Youkilis as a free agent.
- Signed Matt Diaz as a free agent. (Released in spring training)
- Selected Russ Canzler off waivers from the Indians. (Claimed by Orioles a month later)
- Signed Thomas Neal as a free agent. (Claimed by Cubs in August)
- Signed Dan Johnson as a free agent.
- Signed Travis Hafner
- Signed Juan Rivera as a free agent. (Released at end of spring training)
- Signed Ben Francisco as a free agent. (Released in June)
- Signed Brennan Boesch as a free agent (Released in July)
- Traded for Vernon Wells.
- Signed Lyle Overbay as a free agent.
- Traded for Chris Nelson. (Claimed by Angels a month later)
- Traded for Alberto Gonzalez.
- Purchased Reid Brignac from the Rockies. (Released in June)
- Traded for Fernando Martinez. (Suspended in Biogenesis scandal)
- Traded for Brent Lillibridge.
- Signed Corey Patterson as a free agent.
- Signed Luis Cruz as a free agent.
- Selected Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. (Released a week later)
- Traded for Alfonso Soriano
- Signed Brendan Harris as a free agent.
- Signed Mark Reynolds as a free agent
You knew the Yankees weren't spending a lot on free agents these days, but have you stopped to examine the bulk of underwhelming players the Yankees have acquired? There you go. Those are first-round picks in a career-dead-pool draft, not players who can help a team make the playoffs in the AL East.
Every team takes fliers on players like that, stashing them away in Triple-A just in case. But those are all of the moves made since the 2012 World Series. Youkilis was the big-ticket item. Soriano was the next-biggest, with Wells after that.
That's a smattering of players you've heard of, who once had shining moments. Overbay was pretty good for a while, and Wells was once a franchise player. Johnson is a historical figure for the Rays, and both Francisco and Boesch were benchies on recent World Series teams. Brignac, Martinez, and Patterson were all once big-time prospects, and Cruz hit .300 last year. The Yankees were looking for spare parts, sure, but they were also trying to find this season's Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia. The formerly relevant player who came out of nowhere to lead the Yankees' charge.
It didn't happen.
I'll buy Youkilis as a decent gamble. He was an All-Star type for years, and sometimes those players have bounce-back seasons in their mid-30s. And some of the minor-league free agents were all reward, no risk.
But that list. That list. It's something that you expect from a lesser GM, a guy snatching up recognizable names on a budget. The worst part is that you can add up the WAR of all 22 names on the list and get a half-win -- three fewer wins than Russell Martin has for the Pirates. The most valuable hitter the Yankees have acquired since last October is Alfonso Soriano. He's been with the club for three weeks. They also owe him $5 million next year.
You knew the Yankees were in a tough spot with injuries. Old players tend to get older and hurtier, and the Yankees had to find warm bodies. But Mark Reynolds is a cry for help. That was the replacement player that broke the camel's back. It's been a fantastic, historic run for the Yankees. Now that they need to scramble, we're learning something new: Brian Cashman is a pretty lousy scrambler, everybody. It's a lot easier when the franchise players are acting like franchise players well into their mid-30s.