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Brian Cashman must use expertise to offer Yankees answer to Astros

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Over the primary three and a half months of a season, baseball teams will absolutely show their general managers whether or not they’re worthy of trade-deadline support for October. Though the 2021 Yankees all but shouted from a mountaintop that they didn’t deserve that support, Brian Cashman tried to bail them out anyway. 

He made moves last summer for Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, Clay Holmes, and Andrew Heaney. Well, two out of 4 ain’t bad. 

The Yankees lost a one-and-done, wild-card playoff game at Boston, and returned this 12 months meaner, leaner and, manager Aaron Boone said, more willing and capable of master the minutiae of the sport that separates victory from defeat. Despite the disheartening doubleheader sweep at Houston and losing seven of their 10 games preceding Friday night and a dicey 7-6 victory at Baltimore, the 2022 Yankees have shown Cashman they’re most worthy of a helping hand. 

At 65-30, they’ve informed the GM that they may win the franchise’s first World Series title since 2009 … if only he finds them a player or two over the following 11 days who could help them beat the Astros within the ALCS. 

Cashman might need yet one more move after Michael King left the mound within the eighth inning Friday night with an elbow injury, costing the Yankees one other invaluable reliever and forcing Clay Holmes to nail down a five-out save. 

Brian CashmanBrian Cashman Getty Images

Meanwhile, Aaron Judge blasted two homers that traveled a combined 901 feet, keeping him on the right track (with 36 homers) to challenge Roger Maris’ magic variety of 61, and helping the offense produce simply enough to permit for the predicable Aroldis Chapman implosion within the seventh. 

But Judge won’t beat Houston within the postseason without more help, making Cashman a very powerful player for the Yankees between now and the trade deadline of 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2. That’s an excellent thing, in case you occur to be scoring at home. 

First, Cashman has 25 years of experience running a very powerful franchise in the game, which has to count for something. 

Second, he knows what a championship team looks like. Chapman and Rizzo won their historic rings with the Cubs, and Marwin Gonzalez helped Houston win all of it in 2017. However the overwhelming majority of core Yankees prone to determine whether they’ll win the World Series — Judge, Gerrit Cole, Giancarlo Stanton, Holmes, DJ LeMahieu, Nestor Cortes, Gleyber Torres, Josh Donaldson, you name it — have never won one. Boone delivered about as magical a Game 7 moment as a ballplayer can fathom in his wildest dreams within the 2003 ALCS, but he has never won a title either. 

Cashman has won 4 as a GM (five as a front-office man), though yes, it appears like the last pinstriped parade was booked when Dwight Eisenhower was within the White House. The difference between this 12 months and last 12 months is that Cashman knows these Yankees have a real shot to win a championship. He was merely trying and failing to will it into existence with that seriously flawed group in 2021. 

Regardless of what happens in Baltimore this weekend, or at Citi Field after that, it’s all concerning the Astros now. Previously seven seasons, Houston has faced the Yankees 3 times within the playoffs and won all three encounters, beating Joe Girardi’s team within the 2015 wild-card round and 2017 ALCS and Boone’s team within the 2019 ALCS. For all Latest Yorkers who rightfully screamed concerning the Astros’ cheating ways, hey, they beat the Yankees once they weren’t cheating, too. 

Remember, the Astros were within the World Series last 12 months, and the Yankees most actually weren’t. 

If the regular-season series this 12 months were a best-of-seven postseason duel, Houston would have won it in six before doing an end-zone dance Thursday within the nightcap to make the ultimate rating five games to 2. The Yankees played 64 innings against the Astros this 12 months, and held the lead after two of them — the ninth and tenth innings on June 23 and June 26 in The Bronx. 

Thursday night, Boone appropriately identified that nothing really matters until these heavyweights meet within the playoffs. 

“Ultimately,” he said, “we could have to slay the dragon, right?” 

Brian Cashman, left, and Aaron JudgeBrian Cashman, left, and Aaron JudgeCharles Wenzelberg / Latest York Post

Right. So now Cashman understands that he while has the perfect record in the game, he doesn’t have the perfect team within the American League. That’s an issue, and he has 11 days to resolve it. Everyone knows the variety of people available, including Juan Soto, Luis Castillo, and Andrew Benintendi. 

Soto is in a league of his own as a 23-year-old slugger, World Series champ, and on-base-percentage machine. It seems Cashman’s best move could be to offer the Nationals the prospects they need, after which persuade Hal Steinbrenner to stay open to the thought of signing Judge within the offseason and signing Soto after 2024, monstrous luxury-tax issues be damned. 

But when the GM believes the smarter play is the addition of, say, Castillo and a non-Soto player, so be it. Either way, Cashman must lean on his experience as never before, and make the difference-making moves to advance his team past the Astros, who’ve effectively been to today’s Yankees what Michael Jordan’s Bulls were to yesterday’s Knicks. 

Between now and Aug. 2, Brian Cashman must be what he’s been at times up to now — baseball’s best GM. These Yankees have proven worthy of his help. 

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