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!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Just One of Those Seasons...


Giancarlo Stanton (Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees are not a good team…

Aside from a rare Friday night victory, Yankee fans were dealt a double whammy yesterday. The Yankees announced the placement of Nestor Cortes, Jr on the 15-Day Injured List with a rotator cuff strain in his left pitching arm (days after placing Carlos Rodón on the Injured List), and that Luis Severino (ugh!) will make his next start on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. Most fans felt the team needed to bring in a pitcher and a left fielder before the August 1 deadline, and in retrospect, that need has been heavily underscored in the days following the deadline. 

Losing Nestor hurts. The Yankees’ playoff chances were in doubt before his loss, so the reinjury of Nestor’s rotator cuff moved the Yankees further away from the ability to compete for October.  

Continuing to start Luis Severino every fifth day has become a joke. The games he starts feel like losses before the first pitch is thrown and they generally are. In his last seven games, Sevy is 1-5 with an 11.71 ERA and 2.39 WHIP. The use of an opener on Wednesday did not help as Sevy gave up four earned runs on five hits in two innings of work, taking the loss and helping the Yankees to drop the three-game series to the Chicago White Sox. Expecting better results against the Atlanta Braves is not a prudent bet. I think I can speak for most fans when I say we have seen enough of Luis Severino in 2023.

Luis Severino (Photo Credit: Robert Sabo/NY Post)

An impending free agent, his chances of resigning with the Yankees are about as good as Aroldis Chapman’s were last off-season. I guess you could say that Sevy did not give up on his team like Chapman did, but regardless of whether Sevy’s ailments are physical or mental, 2023 is a lost season for him and he is not going to make a miraculous comeback. It is time to move on from Sevy and given how much I have liked the pitcher over the years, that is a tough but true realization. With Nestor moving to the Injured List, both Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito are in the Major League clubhouse. Yet, the Yankees continue to roll out Sevy every week for more losses.  I had expected Will Warren to make an impact for the Major League team sometime this season, but he is only 7-4 with a 4.27 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in nineteen starts this season in Triple-A. Still, I would probably rather see Warren take his lumps for the big-league club than watch Severino pitch again. Clayton Beeter seems like the only other minor league option, but he has fared worse at the Triple-A level (1-3, 6.25 ERA, 1.52 WHIP in six games). The righthanded pitchers are both 24 years of age. The Yankees need to rebuild their starting rotation next season behind Gerrit Cole and a hopefully healthy Carlos Rodón and it is important for the Yankees to find out what they have with the young pitchers like Warren and Beeter. I would rather see them grow at the Major League level now than be subjected to another Severino start. 

As for Nestor, they are saying surgery is not on the table. I hope that is truly the case. It would be disappointing for weeks or months to pass, only to find out that Nestor needs Tommy John surgery. Until he is determined to be fully healthy, it is hard to factor him as a primary rotation cog for 2024.  I am hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. I would love for the fears to be unfounded. The Nestor news was further aggravated by the disclosure that Frankie Montas will not pitch this season. There had been some hope we would see him toward the end of the season. Montas will go down as one of Brian Cashman’s worst trades despite several other strong recent contenders for the abysmal title. 

The Yankees have not faced a losing season since Buck Showalter’s first season as Yankees manager in 1992. They finished 76-86, tied for fourth place in the AL East. Currently, the Yankees are 60-56, alone in the AL East Cellar by one game.  A losing season is a possibility. The Yankees are four games out of the Wild Card chase and the gap between them and the current third Wild Card team, the Toronto Blue Jays, seems much greater than it is. The two outside teams ahead of the Yankees in pursuit of the Blue Jays, the Seattle Mariners, and the Boston Red Sox, have current win streaks of eight and three games, respectively.  They are doing what the Yankees have been unable to do…win consistently. Face it, the Yankees are not making the playoffs. Even if they did somehow manage to leapfrog the Red Sox, Mariners, and Blue Jays in the next month and a half, they would not make it far in the playoff rounds. I do not buy ‘anything can happen if they make the playoffs’ with this Yankees team. There will be no World Series parades in New York this year. 

The Yankees should have sold at the deadline. Standing pat was the worst thing they could have done. Either go for it or reload for next season. The Yankees chose to do neither. Now, we are faced with possibly the worst Yankees team in thirty-one years and a grim outlook for next season. What will it take for Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner to take action to restore the team to World Series contending status? If it takes a losing season to make it happen, so be it. Hal needs to take the necessary action to ensure the Yankees can compete with the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox in the coming years. Baltimore looks to be a very dominant team with their pipeline of young, growing star players. Hal has apparently made the decision to retain Brian Cashman, which I think is a mistake. It is time for new blood in the front office. Assistant GM and analytics nerd Michael Fishman is done. The Yankees need a new head nerd and a new manager if Cashman is not going anywhere. Well, they would need those two positions replaced even if Cashman was exiting. The point is the Yankees need to stop doing what they have always done and try a new, fresh innovative approach to help lead the team to successful results. I would love to see what the brightest available minds in baseball could do with the Yankees’ vast resources. 

Hal, your move.

So long, Deivi

In a surprise move, the Yankees designated RHP Deivi Garcia for assignment on Monday to make room for Jonathan Loáisiga. Garcia was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox and re-assigned to their Triple-A club. It is a sad Yankees ending for a pitcher that once held so much promise. Glad to see Loáisiga’s return but genuinely sorry it came at Deivi’s expense. Albert Abreu seemed like a better candidate for dismissal.  


Deivi Garcia (Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

With the number of talented minor league players that need to be placed on the 40-man roster this winter or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, it was fairly obvious that Garcia would not survive his place on the roster come November. Yet, I did not expect the ending to happen so quickly.  The Yankees must have believed he offered no hope for this season since they were willing to let him go. At the very least, if the Yankees knew Garcia was not in their future plans, they should have dealt him at the deadline for a low-level minor leaguer. If Garcia finds success in Chicago, the Yankees’ mishandling of the pitcher will be forever magnified. It reminds me of New York Mets starter Jose Quintana who played out a minor league contract with the Yankees in 2011 and signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox. Quintana proved the Yankees misjudged his talent. Hopefully, for Deivi’s sake, he can do the same. 

As always, Go Yankees!  

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!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Yankees: Losing Optimism...


Aaron Judge (Photo Credit: Jessie Alcheh/AP)

Failure is the common theme of the 2023 New York Yankees…

I will say that I went into the MLB Trade Deadline thinking the Yankees would do nothing, so I guess from that standpoint, they met my expectations. Sure, they picked up a couple of relievers, but the bullpen was a minor need compared to the bigger problems with the current roster construction.   

I must admit that it would have been more appealing if the Yankees had sent a certain general manager to Texas instead of the green stuff for this trade:

Texas Rangers traded RHP Spencer Howard to New York Yankees for Cash

Meanwhile, the AL East Rivals, all of them, improved in the days leading up to the deadline and are better teams than they were last week.  The notable trades were:

Baltimore Orioles acquired veteran right-hander Jack Flaherty from the St Louis Cardinals; the Tampa Bay Rays acquired right-hander Aaron Civale from the Cleveland Guardians; the Toronto Blue Jays acquired right-handed flamethrowing reliever Jordan Hicks and shortstop Paul DeJong from the St Louis Cardinals in separate deals; and the Boston Red Sox acquired third baseman Luis Urias from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Meanwhile, the big acquisitions for the Yankees were relievers Keynan Middleton from the Chicago White Sox and Spencer Howard from the Texas Rangers. To get Middleton, the Yankees gave up High-A reliever Juan Carela.  I so wish the cost of Spencer Howard was Brian “Cash” Cashman. 

Middleton is the only one of the two newcomers who provide immediate help for the bullpen. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the third round of the 2013 Draft, Middleton has pitched in the Majors for the Angels, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks. He signed with the White Sox as a free agent in January 2023. This season, the 29-year-old Middleton has appeared in 39 games for the White Sox. He is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA, 47 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings, and two saves. He has given up seven home runs and has walked sixteen batters.  He represents a better option than the recently demoted Ron Marinaccio, but I cannot really find any reason to believe the Yankees are better today than they were yesterday.

Keynan Middleton (Photo Credit: Eileen T Meslar/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Spencer Howard is a project. He was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The 27-year-old righty has only appeared in three Major League games for the Rangers this season. He is 0-0 with a 10.80 ERA (four runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings). The Rangers had acquired Howard, along with two other minor leaguers, in a 2021 trade deadline deal with the Phillies that most notably sent starting pitcher Kyle Gibson to the City of Brotherly Love. Maybe the Yankees think they can unlock the promise that Howard once held. 

Spencer Howard (Photo Credit: Elias Valverde II/Staff Photographer, Dallas Morning News)

So, Middleton is essentially the only acquisition obtained to help the Yankees achieve the last Wild Card slot despite the shortcomings in left field, the loss of a true third baseman, and horrific starting pitching by Luis Severino and Domingo German (excluding his nine innings of perfection). 

To be real, it feels like the Yankees have punted the season. If the goal was to toss in the white towel, the Yankees should have been more aggressive in trading the players on the roster with expiring contracts. The corporate-speak is the expectation the current players can and will perform better, but they have proven throughout most of the season that the Yankees are what they are…the last-place club in the AL East. 

I am disappointed in the Yankees. The front office is not transparent and to an outside observer, there does not appear to be a clear and distinct plan for future success. As they say, you cannot keep doing the same things expecting different results. At this point, I am ready for the kids. Time to bring up RHP Randy Vásquez, infielder Oswald Peraza, utilityman Oswaldo Cabrera, and outfielder Everson Pereira. Heck, may as well promote catcher Austin Wells, now 24, despite his limited Triple-A experience. If the Yankees are going to lose, they need to at least make it exciting for us. 2017 was a fun season despite the season-ending playoff loss to the Cheaters. I think I miss the fun of the 2017 season more today than ever before. I am not pining for the return of Manager Joe Girardi despite the dissatisfaction with current Manager Aaron Boone. It is more about the fun the players had on the field.  We felt it as fans. 

2017 Yankees

I do not know the future of the organization. The Baltimore Orioles will likely win the American League East and have the talented youth infusion to keep the team among the league’s best for the next five years. The Rays are the Rays and will continue to maximize the performance of their players through superior use of analytics (a much better understanding of how to equate the statistics into on-the-field performance), and the Blue Jays will eventually figure it out. The Blue Jays have the money to explode if everything comes together for them. Boston is Boston. They find a way to win every few years. The Yankees appear to be a dysfunctional organization. Why? They have the financial strength to hire baseball’s brightest minds, yet Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner rewards the guys he likes.  There is no accountability for performance. The only way for the organization to change is for Hal Steinbrenner to change. He is 53, makes a good living courtesy of the Yankees, and is not motivated to win championships.  That may be unfair. I am sure he wants to win championships because it brings more money into the organization, but he lacks the passion and the zeal for success like his father did. His father was certainly not perfect (I doubt the 1990s Dynasty Years would have occurred if George Steinbrenner had not been suspended earlier in the decade to allow Gene “Stick” Michael to build the championship teams), but Hal has been a reluctant Yankee all his life. As a young man, he was seemingly uninterested in an active role with the Yankees. George was attempting to build his succession plan through his sons-in-law, first Joe Molloy and then Steve Swindal, until divorces thwarted those plans. Hank seemed more interested in the family’s horses. After Hank’s failure as the face of the franchise forced Hal to take the more active lead role, I felt the strong-willed Hank remained a good counterbalance to Hal’s conservative nature. As co-Managing General Partners, Hank was the only one who could potentially overrule Hal with the support of his sisters. Hank’s untimely death removed a strong voice in the owner’s room.  I am sure the two Steinbrenner sisters, Jennifer, and Jessica, have voiced their opinions in closed-door meetings, but they have never publicly shown the strength of those opinions and I am not sure how much they challenge their younger brother.   

The Steinbrenner Family: Jennifer, Jessica, George's wife Joan (deceased), Hal, and Hank (deceased)

I am not sure what the future holds for Hal Steinbrenner’s Yankees. Eventually, he will turn over the team to younger family members unless the Steinbrenner Family makes the unlikely decision to sell the team.  The potential future Steinbrenner owners include Stephen Swindal, Jr, Robert Molloy, Hank’s two children, George Michael Steinbrenner IV and Julia Steinbrenner, and Hal’s daughter, Katherine Steinbrenner. I would be lying if I said I was not partial to George M. Steinbrenner IV for name value alone.  With his interest in Indy Car Racing, I am sure the Boss’s namesake shares his grandfather’s passion for competitiveness. 

George Michael Steinbrenner IV

Until the younger Steinbrenner children are ready to ascend to the throne, Hal needs to figure this out. He must find a plan to rebuild the team and restore the faith and confidence in the fanbase. Brian Cashman may be a nice guy, a smart man, but it is time for a change. Hiring the brightest minds in the industry should start with the general manager’s chair. The only disadvantage with Cashman joining another organization is that he knows how to play Hal Steinbrenner.  Otherwise, I do not think any fan would really care where Cashman draws his next paycheck.  If Cashman goes, the coaching staff and the analytics department need to follow.  Find the best people, the smartest and most innovative minds, for the jobs to lead the most storied franchise in baseball history.  The time for change is upon us.  Try something new, get different, i.e., better, results.

Hal, give us a reason to cheer again.

As always, Go Yankees!