Brian Cashman’s Harrison Bader-Jordan Montgomery trade proving Yankees fans wrong

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11: Harrison Bader #22 of the New York Yankees reacts as he walks back to the dugout against the Cleveland Guardians during the fifth inning in game one of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 11, 2022 in New York, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11: Harrison Bader #22 of the New York Yankees reacts as he walks back to the dugout against the Cleveland Guardians during the fifth inning in game one of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 11, 2022 in New York, New York. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Hey, make no mistake about it: we love being wrong when it comes to the New York Yankees. Why is that? Because usually when we’re wrong, it means something is going right. That’s the pessimistic life of a Yankees fan nowadays.

But don’t just assume there’s inherent pleasure in taking aim at the team’s decision making only to create a stir. There have been many issues to put on blast ever since 2010, and there hasn’t been a defining moment yet to make them all go away.

So when general manager Brian Cashman, out of nowhere, traded Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Harrison Bader at the deadline buzzer without a plan to address the starting rotation following the loss, it was hard to blame Yankees fans for their anger.

Monty was having a career year. Bader wasn’t even healthy. The Yankees needed all the pitching help they could get, with various injuries and struggles rocking the staff from the rotation to the bullpen.

But all Cashman needed was time. And he weathered the storm. He got through the Yankees’ worst stretch of the season where it was evident they needed an extra starting pitcher. His team staved off a collapse and won the division. Bader returned down the stretch and was a clear difference maker. On Tuesday night, he got the Yankees’ first hit of the postseason in the form of a game-tying home run.

Fans, we might’ve been wrong about this trade. YES Network’s Jack Curry, a few months ago, also foreshadowed how Cashman’s thinking would eventually come to fruition.

Brian Cashman was right to trade Jordan Montgomery for Harrison Bader, Yankees fans

The Yankees did indeed determine Montgomery wouldn’t be in the postseason rotation. At this point, it would’ve been hard to argue against Gerrit Cole, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Jameson Taillon for a seven-game series.

Additionally, Cashman was validated yet again when Monty was used out of the bullpen in the Cardinals’ Wild Card series against the Phillies. Facing elimination, St. Louis called on Montgomery to relieve Miles Mikolas, who gave up two earned runs in 4.1 innings. Monty tossed 2.2 innings but got into some trouble allowing two hits and two walks. Not bad, not great, but also … not exactly “the plan” with a guy who supposed to be a key part of your rotation.

Meanwhile, Bader, though he wasn’t exactly a world beater offensively in the regular season, has managed to string together clutch hits (six RBI in his first three games as a Yankee, all three games were wins) and provide stellar defense in center field. That’s allowed Aaron Boone to leave Aaron Hicks on the bench and deploy Oswaldo Cabrera in left field while returning Aaron Judge to his natural right field.

Then came the postseason, where Bader’s already gone 4-for-12 with four runs scored, three home runs and four RBI. His game-tying blast in Game 1 got the Yankees back on track. His eighth inning homer in Game 3 stole a run back before the Yankees eventually blew it. And his two-run jack in Game 4 extended New York’s lead to 3-0 in the second inning.

Bader’s done exactly what he’s needed to do: lengthen the lineup, get clutch hits, and cover a ton of ground in center field.

As for the rest of the Yankees’ pitching staff, they have various guys able to handle multi-inning relief duty (Taillon for now, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, Lucas Luetge) and have better pitchers in the rotation. Could they use Monty? Sure. Do they need him? No.

In the end, Cashman had to make this move because of his contract blunder with Hicks. But he was also able to make it because of Sevy’s bounce back, Cortes’ emergence, and Taillon’s consistency — all things he can be credited for.

A GM’s job can sometimes be about damage control, and Cashman saved himself here despite roars of criticism at the onset. Gotta toss your hand up when you were wrong.