Brian Cashman Talks Yankees’ Recent Troubles

ST. PETERSBURG — On the morning of June 14, the Yankees woke up in their Boston hotel room with the majors’ best record (50-22), the best team ERA (2.94) and the most runs scored (371). It appeared they would maintain their lead in the American League East.

It was at that point, general manager Brian Cashman said, that “it was like a light switch went from one side to the other,” and the season went in a different direction. The Bombers lost that three-game series at Fenway Park and haven’t won one since. They arrived at Tropicana Field with an 0-6-1 record in their last seven series.

“It’s been a struggle, that’s for sure,” Cashman said. “Fortunately, we’ve come out of the gate really strong. Hopefully that buffer will allow us to get through this, hopefully sooner rather than later, because it’s been long enough. It’s been a tough period for us.”

The Yankees have lost 15 of the 20 games that began Tuesday, the worst record in the majors in that span. Only the Rockies (131) have allowed more runs than the Yankees (130), who have not won consecutive games since June 9-12.

Though Cashman had already been planning a trip to Tampa, Florida, to help prepare for the upcoming MLB Draft, he admitted the club’s poor play prompted him to come to the Trop for Tuesday’s season opener.

“You can sometimes hit some tough spots, and we’re certainly in a tough spot right now,” Cashman said.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, this summer slump isn’t an isolated incident. They started 2022 at 61-23 before limping into the playoffs with a 38-40 record, fueled by Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. They started 36-25 in 2023, finished 46-55 and missed the postseason altogether.

“I think every year is different,” Cashman said. “I think those teams are different and some of the issues are different.”

To address the concerns of 2024, there’s been a laundry list, both offensively and defensively. The Yanks’ 6.11 ERA since June 16 is the worst in the majors, and New York has scored just 20 runs in its last eight losses, going 7-for-46 (.152) with runners in scoring position in those games.

There’s been lackluster production from the Nos. 4-9 spots in the lineup, with the absence of designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton taking away a significant power threat. Alex Verdugo’s offense has cooled, and even the reliable top-of-the-order contributors have stalled.

Anthony Volpe (.439 OPS since June 6) was displaced from the top spot in favor of rookie Ben Rice, Juan Soto has just four hits in his 22 at-bats in July (.182) and Aaron Judge entered Tuesday with two hits in his last 20 at-bats (.100).

Cashman said the Yankees plan to be “open-minded about a lot of different things” as the July 30 trade deadline approaches. Cashman declined to elaborate on the team’s needs, but many are clear: The team lacks a swing-and-miss presence in the bullpen, infielder DJ LeMahieu is hitting .194 in 32 games and second baseman Gleyber Torres has underperformed significantly in a contract year.

“Sometimes those years of free-agent walk can come back and haunt you,” Cashman said. “I’m not sure if that extra pressure is maybe going to get him down or hold him back. We just went through that with [Luis Severino] And [Harrison] Bader last year. He’s almost done with his free agency. … He was our second-best hitter last year, behind Aaron Judge. We’re excited and hoping for that because I know he can have a really positive impact.”

Torres was recently benched for failing to run out a ground ball on June 25 against the Mets, and there have been other troubling incidents recently: center fielder Trent Grisham allowed an extra base for failing to run out a hit by Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario on July 4, and Volpe jogged in a ground ball on July 5, costing the Yanks a run when LeMahieu was thrown out at second base.

Cashman said he believes manager Aaron Boone has managed the Yankees’ decline “as best he can.” Still, the Yankees have struggled against teams in their own division; they entered Tuesday three games under .500 against the AL East (13-16), with a record of 42-21 against all other opponents.

“We have to play better as a whole than we are playing right now,” Cashman said.

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