Saturday, August 5, 2023

Non-Commitment to Winning...


Luis Severino, Kyle Higashioka, and Aaron Boone (Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Yankees continue to make baffling moves…

Where do we go from here?

We, as fans of baseball’s most-storied franchise, want the team to make the playoffs. It is our annual rite of passage. Dreams of a division championship have evaporated but grabbing at least the final Wild Card slot seemingly is within the realm of possibility. Yet, the Yankees’ front office continues to make the moves that thwart those plans. 

Friday night’s game felt like a loss before it happened. With Luis Severino as the scheduled starter, it was obvious the Houston Astros would score runs. A three-run homer in the first inning by Houston’s Yainer Diaz gave the immediate “here we go again” feeling. Despite three home runs, the Yankees could not overcome the deficit Sevy created. Home runs by Jake Bauers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Giancarlo Stanton were nice, but solo home runs suck. Much better when a man or two or three are on base. The Astros won the game, 7-3, halting the Yankees’ brief two-game win streak. I am starting to feel a little better about the team’s bats, but Sevy is a reminder that you need good pitching too. I hope his latest clunker does not derail the momentum of the team’s recent offensive improvement. 

Luis Severino has been given enough chances. The results are in. He is not good. Maybe he is simply not healthy, whether it is mental or physical. It is time to pull the plug. I am not sure that I trust him even as a bullpen piece. The Yankees already have Albert Abreu for the garbage innings, and that is probably the only role that makes sense for Sevy.

For the season, Sevy is 2-6. He has started thirteen games and has pitched 61 2/3 innings. His ERA is a very bloated 7.74, and he has the lowest K/9 rate of his career (7.88). His fWAR is -0.6. He has given up at least five runs in six of his games, and he has allowed thirty-two runs, which includes nine home runs, in his last six games. 

I like Luis Severino and when he was right, he was one of my favorite players. I am convinced his 2023 season is done. He is not going to suddenly become an effective and reliable starter again. He needs to work on making himself better for 2024. As a pending free agent, it seems unlikely he will return to the Yankees. It makes me sad. But if his roster spot is decided between him and pitching prospect Clayton Beeter, who becomes Rule 5 eligible after the season, the future is with Beeter. Whether it is Beeter or another prospect that needs to be added to the roster, the 2024 Yankees have no room for Luis Severino. I truly hope he can find Major League success again, but it appears it will be in a different uniform. Shut Sevy down and let him work toward a better future. I wish him luck. 

The Yankees (57-53) have fallen eleven games behind the surprising AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. They remain in last place, a half-game behind the putrid Boston Red Sox. They are three and a half games out of the Wild Card chase and trail Wild Card outsiders Seattle and Boston. The Mariners have won eight of their last ten games and have a three-game win streak. The Wild Card slots are currently held by Tampa Bay, Houston, and Toronto. If those three teams continue to play to their abilities, there is no way the Yankees can catch them. Poor decisions by the Yankees’ front office have ensured 2023 disappointment.  It is kind of funny that if the Yankees were in the AL Central, they would be the division leaders by percentage points.

Barring a miracle, the Yankees’ season will end on Sunday, October 1st in Kansas City after the regular season finale against the Royals. 

Post-Deadline Losses

The trade deadline passed with barely a whimper from the Yankees and no upgrades for the pitching staff or positions in areas of need. The ineptitude to bring in reinforcements has been magnified by the losses of Domingo German and Anthony Rizzo.

In both situations, the warning signs were evident before the deadline. German was placed on the restricted list after a clubhouse incident involving alcohol went out of control. I am sorry for German, and I hope he finds the help he needs, but I have a difficult time believing the Yankees did not know his continued struggles with alcohol after the domestic violence involving his now-wife a few years ago. He seemed like a powder keg waiting to explode, and, of course, it happens at the most inopportune time of the season. 

Anthony Rizzo was placed on the 10-day Injured List with post-concussion syndrome which dates to his collision with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis, Jr over Memorial Day Weekend. Rizzo has looked lost at the plate all summer, and it is difficult to understand why it took the Yankees so long to determine there was a medical problem with Rizzo’s struggles. As a time with a conservative reputation when it comes to injuries, Rizzo shows they might have liberal incompetence to go with conservatism in their evaluation of player injuries. If Rizzo is struggling with a May head injury in August, I cannot envision his successful return to the field this year. Long, extended rest will be the only cure. I want a healthy Rizzo for next season so if that means shutting him down this year, so be it.  It is not like the team is trending in the right direction anyway.

Anthony Rizzo (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

The Yankees could have brought in reinforcements that could have helped ease the losses of German and Rizzo. The company line will be they were not aware of the losses until the deadline had passed, but the warning signs, with both players, were evident long before the deadline passed. Not sure why Yankees management does not want to win as badly as we do. 

The roster construction dysfunction is the responsibility of a single man, General Manager Brian Cashman. I know potential moves that might have helped could have been thrashed by Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner for financial reasons. Regardless of the constraints, Cashman may have faced, the demise of the team is his fault. Sure, the players need to be held accountable, but in the world of Major League Baseball, the buck ultimately stops with the man (or woman) who places those players on the field. 

I fall back to my longstanding belief…promote Brian Cashman to President of Baseball Operations and hire a new general manager from outside the organization. Look hard at the teams who are successful in combining analytics with old-school baseball, and pluck one of the best and brightest minds. The Baltimore Orioles were a pathetic organization under former general manager Dan Duquette. His contract was not renewed after the 2018 season, and the Orioles made the tremendous decision to pluck executive Mike Elias from the Astros organization. Elias has revitalized the Orioles as a winning organization. You can say they are the product of tanking and high draft choices, but having high draft choices does not guarantee success. You must choose the right players, which Elias has done. He has also embraced the international free agent market, something his predecessor failed to do. The Yankees need a visionary hire like the Orioles saw in Elias.  As an aside, I never want the Yankees to “tank”, but a stronger general manager with the Steinbrenner Family’s money can ensure it never happens.  Steinbrenner’s money has helped to make Cashman look better than he is. Imagine if they had the right man on the job. 

You can certainly make the argument that bright analytic minds do not always equate to Major League success. Chaim Bloom has not exactly set the World on fire in Boston. The Yankees need to reevaluate their current cadre of nerds. The first move should be the dismissal of Vice President, Assistant General Manager Michael Fishman. Enough is enough. Let the Yankees’ prospective new general manager bring in his own talented nerd to head the analytics department. 

Healthy Returns

The Yankees' pitching staff will get some immediate help in the coming days. Nestor Cortes, Jr will be activated today to make the start against the Houston Astros which will feature the Astros debut of their former ace, Justin Verlander. I am always skeptical when pitchers first return after an injury layoff and Nestor is no different. He has pitched in minor league rehabilitation games, so it is not like he just rolled out of the hospital bed to take the mound against the ‘Stros. Yet, minor league hitters are not major league hitters. At least not yet anyway. I am excited about the return of Nasty Nestor and although I am optimistic about his help for the duration of the season, I am a little more pessimistic about today.

Nick Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A after last night’s game to make room for Nestor.

The bullpen gets a huge pickup from the return of Jonathan Loáisiga who is expected to be activated by Monday. Clay Holmes has restored my confidence in his closing ability, and a healthy Loáisiga helps make Holmes that much better. I am excited about the bullpen. Keynan Middleton showed he might be able to help too with two strikeouts in a hitless inning of work last night for his Yankees debut.

Welcome back, Nestor and Jo-Lo!

Pereira for Left Field

Now that the Yankees have exhausted outside options for the problematic hole in left field, I am all-in for the promotion of outfield prospect Everson Pereira. Pereira is already on the 40-man roster and has continued to hit following his promotion from Double-A Somerset to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. For the RailRiders, Pereira has hit 5 home runs and has driven in 25 runs in twenty-two games. He is hitting .347/.376/.579 with .955 OPS. The results were good in Double-A, but they have been better in Triple-A.  Pereira may not be the left-handed hitter the Yankees need, but he can play. I am convinced he is better than the stable of Quad-A players the Yankees are currently using in left field. 

Everson Pereira (Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brian Cashman has failed to find a solution for left field for so long that we finally have an in-house option. Let the kid play. Time to promote Everson Pereira to the Major Leagues. Pinstripes are waiting.

As always, Go Yankees!

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