When I look at the Yankees season, I can’t help but think of Stephen Sonheim’s not-so-famous musical, Merrily We Roll Along. In this 1981 musical, the play opens with the protagonist, a composer-turned-movie producer named Franklin Shepard, throwing a lavish party to celebrate his latest blockbuster success. Such a celebratory moment, however, is in truth the lowest point of his life, as his oldest friend abandons him and his second wife announces that she wants a divorce. Posing the question, “How did you get to be here?” the play moves backwards in time, tracing the lives of Franklin and his two closest friends until concluding the show with an uplifting song that portrays the hopeful youth that these friends shared on the day they met.
How did we get to be here? That really is the question for this Yankees season, isn’t it. What can I say about April and May, except perhaps that they embodied the phrase, “We play today, we win today.” June, somehow, was even better, as they ended the month with a commanding 12.5 game lead over the second-place Boston Red Sox. Not surprisingly, at this point in the season, Brian Cashman’s popularity peaked at a whopping 76 percent approval rating.
While the team did plateau a bit in July, as they posted just a 13-13 record that month, the vibes were still pretty good: they still had a +62 run differential, after all, had acquired Andrew Benintendi from the Royals, and the final days of the trade deadline loomed. Not surprisingly, although Cashman’s approval rating did drop, it was only slightly, to a very nice 69 percent.
And then came August. Mehurcules, mensis Augusti venit. Things started out pretty good, that’s for sure — in came Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, and Scott Effross, out went Joey Gallo. Rumors began to swirl that the team was in on Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. None of the team’s top prospects appeared to be on the move, meaning that Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza were ripe for a promotion to The Show any day.
And then Jordan Montgomery was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for a guy in a boot. Suddenly the wind left the sails of the fanbase as everyone pondered why the Yankees would trade away a homegrown left-handed starter in the middle of a pennant race. The good vibes were shattered, and the only way to bring them back was to win some games.
So, naturally, after opening August with a win, they didn’t win another game until a week after the trade deadline. Then, it was another two weeks after that before they would string together wins, as they narrowly avoided a four-game sweep by the Blue Jays, swept the Mets, and won the first two games in Oakland. After that, however, it was right back to the early days of the month, as they lost two straight to the A’s and two of three to the Angels. As the bullpen suffered with meltdown after meltdown, the offense completely dried up, leading us all to yell “It’s a Hit” every time somebody not named Aaron Judge successfully put the bat on the ball.
Topping it all off, injuries laid siege to the team all month. Matt Carpenter fouled a ball off his foot, and could possibly be out for the season. Anthony Rizzo has battled back problems, DJ LeMahieu toe problems. Nestor Cortes, Scott Effross, Aroldis Chapman, Albert Abreu, and Clay Holmes all hit the IL. Giancarlo Stanton, meanwhile, didn’t return from his IL stint until the last week of the month. I look back at the first few months of the season, where the Yankees largely avoided long stints on the injured list, and I think to myself, “I want it the way that it was.”
Of course, it wasn’t all bad. After a slow start, Benintendi began to rake. Domingo Germán helped solidify an injury-battered rotation. Oswaldo Cabrera and Greg Weissert were both called up from Triple-A Scranton and immediately made major impressions, although Cabrera’s was admittedly much better than Weissert’s.
And so, that brings us to today. Do you approve of the way that Brian Cashman has steered the ship through this mess we called a month? For the purposes of simplicity, the poll as always asks for a simple “yes” or “no,” but as always, please feel free to elaborate more in the comments section below.
Do you approve of Yankees GM Brian Cashman?
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