In his 11 seasons as general manager of the Yankees, Brian Cashman has been called many things, both good, bad, and ugly. "Inactive" has never been one of them.
But when the dust cleared on yesterday's non-waiver trade deadline, "inactive" was the only way to describe the Yankees' state. As contenders throughout the American League wheeled-and-dealed to prepare themselves for the stretch run, Cashman traded a low-A ball catcher for Jerry Hairston Jr., a role player best known for having a dad and brothers.
The Red Sox added a three-time All-Star to their lineup in Victor Martinez. The Tigers brought in a consistent veteran left-handed starter in Jarrod Washburn. The White Sox finally landed 2007 NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy.
The Yankees? They called up a guy named Shelley.
This wasn't the first time Cashman had been silent at the deadline. In 1998, his first season as GM, the Yankees didn't make any moves, though being 50 games over .500 to that point probably had a lot to do with it. There have been other quiet seasons as well.
But in most instances, Cashman has acted when necessary. As I pointed out in Monday's post on the Yanks' recent deadline history, Cash has never been afraid to pull the trigger to improve the team. In fact, no team has been more active than the Yankees this decade: trades for David Justice, Shawn Chacon and Bobby Abreu all instrumental in respective runs to the postseason.
But Cashman didn't like something about the market in 2009, a season in which the Yankees are legitimate favorites to return to the World Series. It's the reason Sergio Mitre was on the mound last night, his start falling on the evening when he should have been replaced in the rotation.
Predictably, Mitre was battered by the White Sox, looking tentative and generally terrible. Joe Girardi said after the game he wasn't sure the Yankees had options in terms of replacing Mitre in the rotation.
“He has got to get it done for us," said Girardi, barely able to hold back the tears.
Apparently, the organization remains conflicted on the abilities of Triple-A legend Kei Igawa.
Cashman will continue on; he knows as well as anyone that upgrades are necessary for Mitre, Brian Bruney and possibly even the conspicuously shaky Alfredo Aceves. But with the deadline passed, any player involved in a deal would have to clear waivers.
In other words, the Yankees have left themselves vulnerable. In a pennant race that promises to be a dogfight, that's not a good thing to be.