Forget the summers. Forget the lenghty Octobers. Remember how great the winter was in YankeeLand for the better part of two decades?
Passing the time on edge, checking your phone (or the MSG broadcast) for confirmation of a new addition. CC Sabathia and the Yankees' brass captaining charity turkey drives at the stadium. Everyone wearing beanies and being coy about which stars were about to join the fray. Knowing deep down that a blockbuster, for better or worse, was always around the corner?
This winter seems likely to be different. Instead of anticipating a big trade or massive signing, Yankee fans are instead hunkered down, living out a 'Groundhog Day' scenario where every day feels like the day in 2017 when Shohei Ohtani eliminated the Yankees first and metaphorically kicked Brian Cashman in the Nick Johnson.
Ohtani is back on the market this offseason, but will cost $500+ million. Cody Bellinger's contract could approach or surpass $200 million. Yoshinobu Yamamoto's will reach the same territory, and signing him won't fix an underperforming lineup. The only way out for Cashman might be stacking money on top of money and hoping things all work out, especially after so many of his "savior" trade moves have gone wayward in recent years.
So when Michael Kay heard Cashman ardently defend his process on Tuesday in a press conference, many of us thought would include a mea culpa, he was rightfully left questioning every failure that led to this explosion. Despite being the voice of the Yankees, he still acutely pointed out the long list of Bad Trade Breadcrumbs that continue to follow behind Cash's roster.
Yankees announcer Michael Kay: Brian Cashman's trades didn't work. Something is wrong.
"To say the process is not flawed ... you traded for Josh Donaldson. That was like setting fire to $50 million."
Kay's counter could've stopped there, but he went on to highlight failed trades for a dinged up Frankie Montas, Harrison Bader's exit, and the continued evaluation of both hitters and position players (Gary Sánchez and Miguel Andújar on line one...).
It's difficult to toss out a regime that hasn't put together a "losing" roster ... ever, but it's completely fair to criticize Cashman's recent run of form as the "Smartest Man in the Room" who can't conquer said room. Injured target after injured target. An endless stream of offensive prospects smacked by the learning curve between the minors and the bigs. A stark lack of lefties, leading to panic trades for the likes of Joey Gallo (or, in 2023's case, no trades for anyone and the acceptance that the team was doomed).
Cashman has always been held up as the gold standard for mining for lost talent, but even his post-dynasty rosters looked overmatched come playoff time, no matter how impressive their regular seasons had been. Entering the longest World Series drought in franchise history, we're past the point of Cashman being viewed as a genius who operates in silence. Instead of rapt anticipation this winter, fans are simply waiting for things to fall apart, with Tuesday's mess in the desert the latest sign that nobody (but Kay) has their finger on the pulse.
Now, the criticism is coming from inside the booth.