1. “The Monty Trade Was Smart. It Was All About October.”
A really smart thing a team can do to show they understand the way sports work is begin to plan for the postseason (and only the postseason) with two months left in the regular season. That type of hubris is almost always rewarded. “Look at these guys! They think it’s over! And they’re … right!” the Sports Gods typically say. They’re always saying that.
The difference between what smart teams do and what the 2022 Yankees did is that, typically, planning for October doesn’t mean sacrificing August and most of September. If the Yankees believed trading Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader would benefit them in the long run, that’s one thing — and they might still be correct! Aaron Hicks is unplayable, and won’t be playing much longer.
But if that’s the direction they wanted to go in, they needed to supplement the rotation with an additional arm. Maybe Pablo Lopez, in exchange for Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza, the shortstop prospect they refuse to use? Nah. Can’t do that. Peraza is the future, which is the only thing the front office wants you to think matters.
Lopez struggled coming out of the trade deadline (who didn’t?), but has found his footing now. Might be nice, considering Torres is unplayable.
Or maybe Jose Quintana? A small trade? He’s prospered for the Cardinals. Wouldn’t have worked here, though. Never does.
Dealing Montgomery for an inactive Bader also neutered a locker room that was already stumbling as the month of August began. The July Yankees looked a little like the May-June Yankees, but things were starting to fracture on the field. This was a .500 team that month. Including their July 9 collapse in Boston, they were 8-11. Excluding a series with the lowly Royals, they were 5-10. They were already losing their grip on a position of power. Then, their homegrown No. 4 starter was traded away and replaced by nothing. A nebulous idea.
Add in Frankie Montas’ struggles, and you have a picture of a rotation torn apart by second-place finishes and one-step-too-cute maneuvers from a front office that operates like they have the Mandate of Heaven. And they do. Brian Cashman know’s he’s not going anywhere, and so he’s going to take full months off and implant a loser’s mentality where a winner’s mentality once sat.
Making a team intentionally worse with an eye on an unclinched playoff berth is an unforgivable baseball sin. That’s it. That’s all. Book closed.