Once upon a time, New York Yankees fans thought Sunday's loss to the Colorado Rockies was rock bottom. But then the three days after happened. They were swept by the Angels, whose pitchers recorded a franchise-record 42 strikeouts during a three-game series. New York scored seven total runs.
Carlos Rodón blew a kiss at Yankees fans who were jeering him. Tommy Kahnle destroyed an actual fan in the dugout out of frustration. Harrison Bader suffered a rib injury after getting hit by a pitch. Aaron Boone had nothing of substance to say.
But hey, Aaron Judge ran the bases for the first time since suffering his toe injury against the Dodgers back in early June! When will Judge be back? We don't know, but Boone assured us it could be "days or weeks." Informative timeline.
Judge also took batting practice again this series, so technically his timetable is trending in the right direction even though we don't have concrete answers. Most fans are wondering if his return will really matter, though.
With the deadline just 11 days away and the Yankees being fully exposed without Judge, what can Brian Cashman realistically do to improve this roster and make it an authentic contender instead of a faux contender?
Yankees News: Aaron Judge update, Cardinals trade buzz, Shohei Ohtani status
Which brings us to the trade buzz. Everyone seems to think the Yankees and Cardinals match up perfectly for a number of trade scenarios ... but do they? Or is that belief gaining steam simply because St. Louis has to sell amid their disastrous season, while the Yankees need to salvage whatever shred of hope they have left?
Do guys like Dylan Carlson, Laars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan or Alec Burleson actually help the Yankees? All of those options are limited in one way or another when it comes to their player profile. And all would require a respectable prospect haul because of the team control they come with (if the Cardinals are even willing to trade more than one of them).
Do Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks move the needle for anybody as it pertains to upgrading the pitching staff? Flaherty has either been mediocre or injured since the start of 2020. Hicks would be your classic redundant bullpen piece for New York: promising "stuff" but a lack of control. These guys wouldn't make the Yankees worse, but the likelihood they boost New York beyond the current pool of playoff teams is unconvincing.
If the Yankees are going to buy, they have to go for it all or find shrewd inroads to give up as little as possible for controllable bats/arms. Neither approach is easy, especially with the countless Brian Cashman failures fans have witnessed since 2018.
And even if they wanted to go for it all, they might have just given the Angels more of a reason to keep superstar Shohei Ohtani after losing to them three straight times to bring Anaheim back to over .500. Now, according to reports, the Angels aren't close a decision on what they might do with Ohtani at the trade deadline, likely because the Yankees gifted them some more runway.
All those reports suggesting the Yankees would be the top suitor for an Ohtani trade already felt misleading, and it's now starting to feel even more unrealistic for the most optimistic fans.
Guess it's time to get the Padres on the phone if Cashman is ready to pounce.