Yankees’ nightmare week vs Cardinals, Mariners packed with Brian Cashman whiffs

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 05: Luis Castillo #21 of the Seattle Mariners hugs Robbie Ray #38 during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on August 05, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 05: Luis Castillo #21 of the Seattle Mariners hugs Robbie Ray #38 during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at T-Mobile Park on August 05, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The New York Yankees‘ 1-5 nightmare week, featuring blown leads, poorly-timed offensive scuffles, and Paul De Jong, played out like a Brian Cashman funhouse, with pitching mistakes and missed opportunities popping out of dark rooms at every turn. Only an Aroldis Chapman meltdown on Monday against the Ms to kick off the week — which felt possible when he entered for the seventh inning of a 6-2 game — would’ve made things sting worse.

Of course, that Chapman game worked out for the best, as did the Jonathan Loaisiga inning that followed … because that was before the trade deadline on Tuesday. You remember that time, don’t you? A single day of unbridled enthusiasm on the heels of Clay Holmes coughing up a three-run shot to Salvador Perez, preventing a four-game sweep of the Royals.

The Yankees’ bullpen had all the help it needed that day in the form of Scott Effross, with a Lou Trivino comeback also lurking. The rotation would be fine; Frankie Montas was en route, making Monday’s game ostensibly a sendoff for Domingo German, who tipped his cap to the crowd pregame in what seemed to be an admission that he knew his work in the Bronx was done. The lineup? Andrew Benintendi provided the perfect contact complement to a red-hot Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge. He’d get himself together shortly.

Five games later, the Yankees have yet to secure follow-up win. On Tuesday, their bullpen was worked by a Mariners lineup without Ty France and Julio Rodriguez. On Wednesday, Luis Castillo — too rich for the Bombers’ blood — had his way during a day game. He was opposed by Gerrit Cole — richer than Castillo — who allowed six runs and three homers in the first inning. And, from Friday through Sunday, the Yankees were swept at the hands of a National League opponent for the first time in 15 years, blowing a save in the eighth on Friday, getting shut out 1-0 on Saturday, and pouring gasoline on a raging fire throughout Sunday’s Montas debut, with Effross delivering the final blow on a two-out hanger to DeJong, a .157 hitter who singlehandedly beat New York twice in the series.

Oh, and the winning pitcher in Saturday’s shutout was Jordan Montgomery, who the Yankees just can’t seem to score for, and who is now a member of the Cardinals. Cashman’s final piece of deadline calculus — when all that was necessary was a bunt single — may very well have pricked and deflated the entire thing. At the very least, it set the Bombers up for a week of disaster, with reminders of what could have been lurking in each and every dark crevice.

Yankees series vs Mariners, Cardinals full of Brian Cashman misses

Add in Andrew Benintendi getting sarcastic applause from the entire Yankees bench every time he records a single hit, and you may have a problem here.

The Cashman defenses are so obvious at this point that any dedicated Yankee fan could lip sync them. Some fans — innate Cashman defenders whose personalities basically boil down to, “Great trade for the Yankees! Who’d they give up? And who’d they get?” — would be more than happy to parrot them for you without anyone asking.

“Considering the performance difference between Castillo and Montas, the requisite difference in packages surrendered did not justify the cost of acquisition.” What about getting dominated by Castillo once (with another matchup looming), as Gerrit Cole’s walls fell down around him, then watching Montas melt in the St. Louis heat? What was the acquisition cost of that exact nightmare? Because a refund might be nice.

“Montgomery wasn’t likely to make the playoff roster. This was a move geared for October.” Fair enough. But the Yankees have eyed their enormous lead in the AL East — down under 10 games for the first time since mid-June — as an opportunity to tinker, rather than an invitation to continue dominating. Champions view past success and decide that it tastes good. The 2022 Yankees view past success and decide it affords them the opportunity to get a head start on their offseason shopping.

And, with so much experimental shuffling going on, an Oswald Peraza promotion hasn’t been considered whatsoever. Got it.

“Scott Effross as the Michael King Replacement” seems like an unfair burden to be placed upon a very nifty right-hander who was solid in his first two outings before allowing the final blow in Sunday’s St. Louis heat. No one can replace King. Even if Effross stars, he won’t have the same effect. It also feels chintzy to roast Montas for a poor outing where he was already capped at 70 pitches after a long layoff on the Bereavement List. Is Montas’ ceiling the same as Castillo’s, though? Is the increased “acquisition cost” worth winning a World Series? And does the A’s right-hander’s 6.11 road ERA worry a single decision-maker in the front office? That’s across eight starts in 2022, for what it’s worth, and one of those rare good road starts came against the Yankees, a wilting lineup he’ll no longer have the pleasure of facing.

New York’s luxury is their performance from April through June. Their horrid 9-16 stretch, beginning with a blown save in Boston that hinged on defensive wizard Josh Donaldson’s inability to turn a game-ending double play, has left them “only” 9.5 games up in the AL East with seven games remaining against the Toronto Blue Jays, a star-studded team that’s battled plenty of inconsistency of their own. There’s a chance the Yankees survive all of this, bring Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo back, and round into October form with a fearsome foursome in the rotation.

And when they arrive there, they might come face-to-face with Castillo once again. They might be worn out in the bullpen from a tidal wave of three-inning Domingo German starts. And this awful week full of happy haunts may be Cashman’s permanent undoing.