Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Season of Change is Upon Us...


Jasson Dominguez (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

Out with the old, in with the young…

Writing about the Yankees is no longer fun.

This has been such a disappointment of a season. Aaron Judge’s toe. I think the injury at Dodger Stadium was when the air started to deflate my enthusiasm.  While the play saved the game for the Yankees, many of the subsequent losses were the result of Judge’s absence. In retrospect, I would have rather lost the Dodgers game and kept a healthy Judge on the field. Nevertheless, I never expected the Yankees to go in such a tailspin, and I legitimately had hoped the Yankees would try to improve at the trade deadline.  When it did not happen, I lost hope for this season even if the Yankees have not been mathematically eliminated.

Even if the Yankees could make the playoffs, what would they do? They do not have the team built for October success. Any playoff series would be a one-and-done situation. 

The blame for the Yankees’ 2023 failure resides with General Manager Brian Cashman. I think the team’s Analytics Department is largely responsible for many of the misfires, but they report to Cashman. The failures occurred on his watch, and he should be held accountable. I will maintain my position that promoting Cashman to President of Baseball Operations is an acceptable alternative to his firing. Either way, the Yankees need a new general manager. The search should be external only. Tim Naehring may be a talented executive, but the Yankees need new ideas. There are many bright minds in baseball, and the Yankees should tap into other teams’ strengths. 

You always hear that Cashman would find another job in Major League Baseball immediately if the Yankees let him go. Fine, let him get started on his new job as soon as possible.  I could not care less about Cashman’s post-Yankees career. 

The first off-season firing by the Yankees should be Assistant GM Michael Fishman, the head of the Analytics Department. I know he is another long-tenured employee, but it is time for a new approach. We need new Nerds. I equally understand the need to bring a balance of analytics with old-school baseball.  The Yankees have the financial resources to find the right guys who can make a difference. 

If the Yankees fire (rather than promote) Cashman, they should also place Manager Aaron Boone on the chopping block. I reluctantly place blame on Boone for this dreadful season even if he shoulders some blame with his decisions.  2023 will always be about the horrific roster construction and the bad personnel decisions that were made in the years leading up to it. If Cashman is gone from the organization, the new GM should have the right to choose his own man for the team’s manager. My personal favorite is Willie Randolph. I think he would be a strong choice. I have always been supportive of Don Mattingly, but I have mixed emotions about him suiting up as the Yankees manager. Many fans are put off by his managerial records for the Dodgers and Marlins. There is also the aspect that I would hate to see my favorite Yankee player (when he played) fail for the organization.

Maybe Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner is finally listening to the fans. He told the Associated Press today that this year was obviously unacceptable. He promised there would be a deep dive into the organization and everything they are doing, and mentioned they may bring in an outside company to look at baseball operations and especially a closer evaluation of the team’s analytics. Hal needs to be the driver for frank and honest discussions and be prepared to make hard choices if the Yankees intend to recapture their winning ways in the immediate future.  The season may be unacceptable to Hal, but the front office is unacceptable to us, the fans. We demand change. We demand actions that will drive better performance in the seasons to come.   

It was frustrating to see the Yankees take no action at the trade deadline. I was on board with buying if the team believed the Wild Card was within reach or selling if the team felt they did not have the horses to succeed in October. But to do nothing was the worst possible outcome.  Subsequently, the Yankees have shown they should have been sellers. The recent nine-game losing streak effectively ended any aspirations of catching the teams ahead of them. There was value in several players without ripping the necessary core for 2024.  This week’s placement of Harrison Bader on irrevocable waivers was an example of getting nothing when they probably could have gotten a mid-range prospect. The Cincinnati Reds claimed Bader today which ended his Yankees career. Bader is sad and so are we. I do not blame the Yankees for parting with the free agent-to-be, only frustrated they let him go for nothing because of the trade deadline inaction. Maybe Bader will come back to the Yankees next year. Stranger things have happened, and I think there is mutual respect between the player and the team.  Maybe we have seen the last of him in Pinstripes. Either way, I wish him the best for the remainder of his professional baseball career. Baseball needs more players like Harrison Bader. 

Harrison Bader (Photo Credit: YES Network via X, fka Twitter)

The Yankees finally closed the book on one of the most highly controversial acquisitions in recent memory when they released third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is an excellent defender, but I am glad his Yankees career is over. For him, I do not blame the Yankees for letting him go for nothing. They are on the hook for the remainder of his contract, but I do not think I could have accepted seeing him on the field in Pinstripes again. I closed the book on him when he was placed on the Injured List and had no interest in his reactivation to the active roster. He was once a great player, a Most Valuable Player, but those days passed long before he pulled on the Pinstripes. Donaldson signed a minor league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers today, so he will get a chance to prove he is worthy of a spot in Milwaukee’s active roster and is eligible to play in the postseason since he signed before September 1. Good for him. This is probably the last thought I will give Donaldson. I could never embrace him as a Yankee and would just as soon erase any memories of him. 

The Yankees also released the minor league trade deadline acquisition (Spencer Howard) after less than one month in the organization.

With much resistance, the Yankees finally gave way to the needed youth infusion. Although the statistics have not been great, outfielder Everson Pereira and infielder Oswald Peraza have been playing nearly every day. Although they have yet to hit like they did in Triple-A, Peraza has made highlight plays with his glove at third base. I am okay with their struggles. It is part of their maturation and growth as Major League Baseball players. At this point, wins and losses are irrelevant. The Yankees are building for 2024, and Pereira and Peraza can be part of future success. 

With new room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees are expected to promote outfielder Jasson Dominguez and catcher Austin Wells on Friday. I suspect we may see a pitcher as well. It seems that Clayton Beeter is the most likely candidate.  With many projecting Beeter to be a future reliever, I want to see if he can help fill the void in the bullpen with the move of Michael King to the starting rotation. I have mixed feelings about losing King from the bullpen, but he has the arsenal to start and if starting pitching is his passion, he should go for it. 

It would be tremendous if the youth infusion helps the Yankees catch the Boston Red Sox to saddle them with last place in the AL East. 

I do not know what the future holds. I am not optimistic about 2024. It seems like championship contention will not happen until 2025 at the earliest. The Yankees could surprise us. We have the right to be skeptical after years of underwhelming decisions. I want to write about the Yankees to be enjoyable again. I love the New York Yankees, and there is nothing better than a season that ends with the Yankees celebrating a World Series championship.  In 2017, the Yankees fell short, but the team was universally loved. I hope we can have that type of team again.  Well, one that does not have to face a cheating organization with the odds stacked against them, but regardless of why the Yankees did not win in 2017, I want a team with heart, passion, and determination like the Baby Bombers. Give us a reason to believe. The young players are our hope for the future. I am glad they are here.

Volpe has 20/20 vision…

Congratulations to shortstop Anthony Volpe for his twentieth home run today, a three-run shot in the ninth inning that tied the game with the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees went on to lose in extra innings due to a throwing error by Gleyber Torres, but it does not take away the historic achievement by Volpe to become the first Yankees rookie with twenty stolen bases and twenty home runs.

Anthony Volpe (Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP)

I have been a little frustrated by fans who have complained about Volpe. He is a rookie. He is not going to be brilliant on the field every day. He is still growing as a Major League player and needs time to become the player he will be.  I am not fine with the Yankees losing season, but Volpe’s struggles are an acceptable cost of doing business. He WILL be better.

Although I once wanted Volpe as the starting second baseman and Oswald Peraza as the starting shortstop, times have changed. The commitment was made to give shortstop to Volpe, and he is gradually showing us the reason why. I have no intention of looking back. Volpe is the shortstop of the future.  Period…end of story.

Chad Green’s return…

I am saddened to see the news that the Toronto Blue Jays will be activating Chad Green tomorrow. Sad only because he is a Blue Jay, but I am happy that Chad will soon be on a Major League mound again. It will be Green’s first MLB appearance since May 2022 when he underwent Tommy John surgery.  I am glad his rehabilitation since surgery has led him back to the game even if he is wearing the wrong uniform.

Chad Green (Credit: sportskeeda)

All things considered, I wish Green was still a Yankee, but the combination of free agency and the surgery last year led to the parting of ways.  It happened to Nathan Eovaldi, and he has gone on to have a nice career. Hopefully, the same works out for Chad.  Well, with the usual caveat that it does not happen against the Yankees.  Chad is a good guy, and I wish him the best north of the border.

Final note…

I hope Bryan Van Dusen (@Bryan_TGP on X, formerly Twitter) writes his annual Game Plan for The Greedy Pinstripes blog. It is a piece that I look forward to every year, and I think the upcoming offseason is the biggest challenge the Yankees have faced in many years. Bryan puts so much thought into his plans, and I would like to see how he feels the Yankees can return to their winning ways sooner than later.

Bryan, this is your call out. 

As always, Go Yankees!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)