CHICAGO — John Ryan Murphy. Adam Warren. Shane Greene.
That’s who Brian Cashman traded — in order — for Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius.
And it was that trio that combined to go 9-for-13 with two homers and six RBI in the Yankees’ 11-6 victory over the Cubs on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.
Aaron Judge’s seven-game hitting streak may have come to an end in his first game in the cleanup spot, but it didn’t matter.
“Awesome,” Castro responded when asked about taking at least two of three from the defending World Series champions after hitting a two-run homer against his former team in the fourth inning. “I think it’s good to come in here and compete against these guys. It tells us how good we can be and how good we are.”
Hicks, Castro and Gregorius all went through their share of struggles in pinstripes at various points, but all three appear to be on the rise in 2017. Hicks (.355, six homers, 15 RBI in 62 at-bats) has figured out how to thrive in a part-time role, Castro (.381, six homers, 19 RBI, 43 hits) is playing like an All-Star again and Gregorius (.344, 11 hits in 32 at-bats) has picked up right where he left off last season after opening this season on the disabled list due to a strained right shoulder.
Cashman has gotten credit for building a strong farm system, but he deserves some plaudits for these under-the-radar deals as well. Joe Girardi is certainly pleased with how all three players are performing.
“I think Starlin is having a blast playing here,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying he didn’t have fun playing in Chicago, but I think he’s fit in great. He’s happy, he’s comfortable and he’s played really, really well.”
“Hicksie deserves a lot of credit because he wasn’t happy when we left spring training (and he lost the starting job to Aaron Judge),” Girardi said, citing Hicks’ maturation as a player and ability to figure out a plan when he does play. “But he’s getting plenty of at-bats, and it’s another huge night for him.”
“And Didi’s been great,” Girardi added. “As guys come in they’re doing a really good job, and we’ve talked about how we don’t ever really know where the offense is going to come, but you feel like it’s going to come. Because it’s been so spread out and everyone has contributed.”
Murphy is currently playing for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate while Greene has become a quality reliever with the Tigers following two terrible seasons as a starter.
Warren, of course, has rediscovered himself in New York after struggling in Chicago. And it was only fitting that he recorded the final four outs on Saturday night while lowering his ERA to 0.57.
After the game, the Yankees munched on meatballs covered in tomato sauce in the clubhouse while watching highlights of their latest “W” on ESPN’s SportsCenter. They’ll have a chance to sweep the Cubs on Sunday night in front of a national TV audience. And somewhere, their GM was probably feeling at least some satisfaction.
If only for a moment, anyway.