Friday, the Yankees and Tigers were out collecting stool samples on Reds starter Johnny Cueto. He's 29, throws hard, has both a big beard and big contract, and let's face it: These days, Cincy is deader than a morgue full of Robert Mapplethorpes.
Clearly, it's Cashman's job to scout every feral cat that might stray onto the market next month, but starters - right now anyway - don't exactly scream "Rent me!" The Evils have Ivan Nova returning, Adam Warren moving to the bullpen, Chris Capuano weaving quilts, and Joe Girardi conceptualizing a six-man rotation. Why trade for Johnny Cueto? That's a question worthy of Stephen Hawking. But - hey - when Cashman eyes the mid-season nose job, anything can happen.
Still, let's say you wanted to boost the Yankee brand for a stretch pennant/wild card run, and you wanted to address the team's problems. Clearly, you need RH bullpen help, and Cashman is already well into psycho-scavenger, lift-every-rock, Storage Wars mode. He signed Sergio Santos, the latest - (or first, if you're thinking of 2015) - in a conga line of down-and-outers, who seek to salvage their careers. Maybe somebody will emerge for a month or two, until the wheels fall off, as they all invariably do. Maybe the Yankees won't have to trade prospects - because no matter how frugal Cashman is with his chips, you can't deal kids forever without getting burned. We're still watching Manny Banuelos and Pete O'Brien, wondering if either's name will someday be burned into Cashman's gravestone, or cause dispirited Yankee fans to salt his driveway with nails.
But here's the question: Can Johnny Cueto play RF or 2B? Because those are the problems.
For a month now, the Yankee blather squads have been crowing about Carlos Beltran's resurgence. And OK, Beltran did improve over his wretched first month of the season. On May 13, he was hitting .221 with no power. He's now hitting .244 with no power. (Over the month, 2 HRs.) He seems to have plateaued in the .240s. Also, Beltran's fielding is atrocious. It's probably not his fault: The guy should be a DH, but A-Rod is there - so Beltran goes to right, where he covers ground like Chris Christie. Frankly, we might be better off with Mason Williams, Ramon Flores and/or Slade Heathcott. But we'll never know, because one - or all of them - will probably go in a deal. And we'll keep Beltran.
Then there is 2B, still held by Stephen Drew. On May 13, Drew was hitting .161. He's now hitting .172 - but then again, he's belted 5 HRs over that period, with sound defense. Last winter, everyone assumed Rob Refsnyder would take over at 2B around July - (and Refsnyder is red hot in Scranton right now, on a HR-hitting binge) - but the Refsnyder Hope Train doesn't seem to be leaving Scranton. His defense remains suspect. And Jose Pirela is also back at Triple A. I think both will have nice MLB careers, but not necessarily in NYC. And we'll keep Drew.
The Yankees strategy seems to be: We're paying them a lot, so we gotta play them.
But the trades are coming. Cashman has plenty of options. Let's hope he address the problems, rather than just create more of them for this time next year.