Desperate for pitching, Brian Cashman and the Yankees strike out

The New York Mets got Marcus Stroman. The Cincinnati Reds got Trevor Bauer. The Houston Astros got Zack Greinke.

And the New York Yankees got the title character in a spaghetti western.

That’s how the 2019 MLB trade deadline has shaken out for GM Brian Cashman and his staff of analytics experts.

While teams all over the league were improving their pitching staffs — especially Houston, through which New York’s road to the World Series probably passes — the Yankees added a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher in the low minors whose name might ring a bell with movie fans of a certain age.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’’ was the name of a Sam Peckinpah shoot-em-up made 45 years ago in Mexico.

And the main character’s namesake, who was the Yankees’ sole trade deadline acquisition this year, has been having his head handed to him in A-ball, going a combined 3-10 with a 6.00 ERA in 22 starts at Asheville and Boise.

Zack Greinke pitched five strong innings against the Yankees on Wednesday -- and then was traded to their playoff nemesis, the Houston Astros, minutes before the deadline. (Getty Images)

But today, Yankees fans are likely to be calling for the head of Cashman, who vowed he was going to take a big swing at shoring up his suspect starting rotation but came up with nothing but a whiff.

“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,’’ Cashman said. “We just never matched up.’’

Cashman said he and his staff “knocked on every door.’’ He said they “looked under every rock.’’ Engaged in “dialog with every team,’’ except for the Boston Red Sox. Even the Mets.

But — and this would have been heresy around here between 1973 and, say, 2008 — the Yankees found the asking prices too rich for even their royal blood.

“As a buyer, it almost has to hurt. I get that,’’ Cashman said. “But I was not willing to do what was being presented, and certainly my counterparts were unwilling to do what I was willing to do in my offers. Maybe they felt my offers were underwhelming and I felt their offers were overwhelming.’’

So he went to Plan B: “Stand pat, fall back on that current roster of guys that we have, and wait for some of the people we have on the disabled list to come back.’’

That means relying on Masahiro Tanaka, who couldn’t get out of the fifth inning on Wednesday, and J.A. Happ, whose six-inning stint in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss was the longest by a Yankees starter in 10 days, and on James Paxton, who has been a disappointment, and on CC Sabathia, who is old and injured, and on Domingo German, who has 13 wins but wouldn’t even be on the team if Luis Severino hadn’t gotten hurt in spring training.

It means counting on a rotation that has averaged 4 1/3 innings a game and posted a 12.19 ERA over its last 10 games.

And it means relying on that group to out-duel the three aces in Houston’s deck in October, provided the Yankees get that far.

Ultimately, it means believing that a starting staff that rarely can get through five innings in a regular season game can somehow get through three rounds of playoffs.

The Astros, whose 69-39 record is one game better than the Yankees’, added Greinke to a rotation that already included Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, and threw in Aaron Sanchez for good measure.

The odds of the Yankees landing Greinke were admittedly slim; they were one of 15 teams on his no-trade list.

But there was a healthy crop of other credible starters the Yankees also chose to pass up on. The Mets landed Stroman for a package of prospects — Triple-A pitcher Anthony Kay and 18-year-old Simeon Woods-Richardson — the Yankees could have topped if they so desired.

And to land Bauer, the Reds were able to put together a three-team, seven-player deal of the type a truly innovative front office, as the Yankees’ is purported to be, should have been able to match.

When you consider that in the winter, the Yankees chose to pass on free-agent lefty Patrick Corbin, who is having a fine season for the Washington Nationals, in favor of trading for Paxton, and allowed Dallas Keuchel to languish in limbo for half the season before the Atlanta Braves scooped him up, it makes you wonder if the Yankees analytics staff is as good at evaluating pitchers as it is with hitters.

“Some of the players in the marketplace we didn’t really value. And there were a lot of players that were allegedly available that really weren’t, as we’ve seen because they weren’t moved,’’ Cashman said, a possible reference to Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, both of whom stayed put.

Cashman repeatedly turned the conversation back to acquisitions that had worked out — DJ LeMahieuGio UrshelaMike Tauchman and Edwin Encarnacion, position players all — and said that to sign Corbin might have meant passing on some or all of them.

Yankee fans are likely to be calling for the head of GM Brian Cashman. (Getty Images)

“It’s all inter-related,’’ he said.

But at this point, with the trading deadline past and the only possible player movement through waiver claims, it seems the best the Yankees can hope for the rest of the way is to finish up the season with the team they hoped to take north out of spring training.

That means awaiting the returns of Severino, Giancarlo StantonGary SanchezDellin BetancesBrett Gardner, Sabathia and Jonathan Loaisiga, all of whom are on the IL and in various stages of recovery.

“Nothing changes here,’’ manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees held on to beat Arizona, 7-5, on Wednesday afternoon. “It feels good looking around the room and knowing we’ve got everything we need to be a championship club. So we’re ready to move forward now that this day is officially behind us.”

In that way, the Yankees’ message to their fan base was straight out of another old movie — “The Godfather, Part II,’’ in which Michael Corleone told Moe Green, “You’ll get nothing, and like it.’’

On this trade deadline, the Yankees got nothing.

And right now, they seem to be the only ones who like it.

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