While Red Sox roll, Yankees take on water and beg fans to stick with them
Tomase: As Red Sox roll, underachieving Yankees are taking on water originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The baseball boss stared down the phalanx of reporters with his team in last place and made a plaintive request: "Don't give up on us."
A betting man would've assumed in March that the Mayday coming on this May day would belong to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. He had just lost Xander Bogaerts in free agency, been booed lustily at the team's winter weekend, and built a roster that left Red Sox fans uninspired and hoping for deep playoff runs from the Bruins and Celtics.
Imagine our shock, then, to learn that those words actually came from Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman. He addressed the skeptical New York media on Wednesday with his $ 300 million Bombers not only in last place, but battling the kind of injuries that make you wonder if they'll ever be right.
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New York was already without major free agent acquisition Carlos Rodón (elbow, back), slugger Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), and No. 2 starter Luis Severino (lat strain) when reigning MVP Aaron Judge hit the injured list last week with a hip strain. The Yankees are also without ace setup man Jonathan Loáisiga until August or September following elbow surgery, and in Wednesday's win against the Guardians, they lost outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Oswald Peraza, too.
All told, the Yankees have 12 players making more than $ 150 million this year on the injured list. Betting against them is a fool's errand, because New York has qualified for the playoffs 21 times in Cashman's 25 years at the helm, but for now the Red Sox are rolling, the Yankees are sinking, and there's reason to believe neither situation is temporary.
"Don't count us out," Cashman told reporters, including Mark Sanchez of the New York Post, but it's fair to wonder if New York's roster is just fatally flawed.
After all, almost none of the Yankees' injuries qualify as a surprise. Rodón didn't make 30 starts in a season until last year, his White Sox career frequently derailed by maladies big and small. Since arriving from the Marlins in 2018 fresh off a National League MVP, Stanton has missed more than 250 games. For all his perpetual promise, Severino made just three starts from 2019-21. Judge is no stranger to injuries. Neither are first baseman Anthony Rizzo or third baseman DJ LeMahieu, who have thus far stayed healthy.
Cashman built a risky roster, and the Yankees are paying the price.
"Everybody's roster has guys like that," Cashman told reporters. "Ultimately, the worst thing that could happen is when you have a lot of stuff happening at the same time, which is going on with us right now. Our intention is to withstand all that, and, once we get everybody back, hit our stride once again."
It's a noble intention, but it may be out of his hands. The Yankees have been a sub-.500 team for more than 100 games now dating back to last year because they're too reliant on Judge and ace Gerrit Cole, and because they lack the depth to withstand their injuries. They traded away half a dozen prospects in what turned out to be nothing deals for Andrew Benintendi and Frankie Montas, and if Cashman could do it again, he definitely wouldn't deal left-hander Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals for reliever Scott Effross, who underwent Tommy John surgery two months later.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have overcome injuries to shortstop Trevor Story, center fielder Adam Duvall, and starter Garrett Whitlock to win five straight and move a game ahead of the Yankees at 18-14, even though they've faced baseball's toughest schedule. The Red Sox have already played eight series against either first- or second-place teams, and if the season ended today, they'd own one of the AL wild cards anyway.
The Yankees, in contrast, are barely holding on, with chants of, "Fire Boone!" ringing from the House that Jeter Built.
Manager Aaron Boone is the least of New York's problems. Cashman built an aging, injury-prone roster and now it's doing aging, injury-prone things. The best the Yankees can do is hope, and in the meantime, beg their fans not to abandon ship.