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Growing Frustration

On Thursday night, the Yankees made folks across the fandom happy by calling up infielder Oswald Peraza, a move many felt was long overdue. People were abuzz and excited about seeing another youngster get his turn, following Oswaldo Cabrera who’s impressed with his versatility in the field since joining the Yankees. Then, Friday evening, the Yankees announced their lineup; notably absent was Oswald Peraza. Immediately, fans were once again abuzz, but not excited this time.

The immediate question this move prompted was why call up Peraza if he wasn’t going to start playing right away? It also makes me wonder why he was playing on Thursday evening before being called up, but that doesn’t matter as much anymore. Close to game time, Bryan Hoch relayed a quote from Aaron Boone (this is going to be a running theme in this post, so thanks to Bryan Hoch for helping me here):

Sure, no one wants to put undue expectations on a young player on a floundering team. But, again, what’s the point of calling him up if he’s not going to play? If it’s just “a great opportunity for him to get up here and be in this environment,” that’s a waste of a roster spot for the club and a waste of time for the player, who’d be better served playing every day. “Some opportunities” is absurd to say. He should be getting the opportunities. Hoch had something similar from Boone earlier in the evening:

Reading this made my eyes bug out and my head spin. It was paired with this:

I get that Boone–like any manager–isn’t going to throw one of his players under the bus. But it is clear that Isiah Kiner-Falefa is not a player the Yankees should be trotting out every day. By almost any measure, he’s one of the worst shortstops in baseball. “Everything [the Yankees are] doing right now” is losing a lot and blowing their division lead over the Rays and, yes, IKF is right in the middle of that, and is, frankly, one of the causes. The organization is either unwilling or unable to face the reality that IKF is not worthy of a starting spot on a team with playoff and championship aspirations; neither of those is a good thing. But the thing that got me the most, the thing that made me the most incensed?

No set plan? NO SET PLAN?! You called up one of your top infield prospects and don’t have a plan for how and when and where he’s going to play? This reflects so incredibly poorly on Boone, on Brian Cashman, and the organization as a whole. The thinking and decision-making processes of this team are mind-boggling and, at the very least, need some deep, deep examination in this offseason, if not completely overhauled.

By calling up a player, you’re signalling that you think he can help your team. Peraza was prized enough that he wasn’t dealt for Major League help at the trade deadline, yet he’s not good enough to take the place of one of the worst regulars in MLB this year?

This is remarkably confusing, as this entire season has been for the Yankees. But one thing is clear: I’m moving closer and closer to embracing the idea that the Yankees need wholesale changes in the front office and most of the dugout (Matt Blake seems fine).

On the VF314 twitter account, I’ve cautioned about the possible post-Cashman front office. Such a front office would likely be even more beholden to Hal Steinbrenner’s self-imposed and self-defeating austerity plan than Brian Cashman is. However, after more than 20 years in charge, it is probably time to move on. Something is flawed, maybe many things, in the way the Yankees go about their business now and a new process may be needed. Whatever it is now, it isn’t working the way it should. In the past, I’ve been very willing to the give Yankees–generally a smart and well-run organization–the benefit of the doubt. But I’m not nearly as willing to do that anymore when that benefit has been squandered over much of the last year or so.

I won’t go as far to say the Yankees don’t try to win, but there’s a difference between trying to win and trying to win a championship. The Yankees do the former, but they no longer seem to do the latter. That’s likely more an ownership problem than a front office problem. But at the end of the day, the Yankees haven’t won a championship since 2009 and have stagnated in their pursuit of one over and over again. Perhaps it’s time to let someone else try under ownership’s constraints instead of Brian Cashman.

2022 Storylines: Can Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit?

There is no doubt that the Yankees’ shortstop situation is not what any of us expected after the end of the 2021 season. But, it is what it is and it’s, apparently, what the organization wanted, for better or worse. So here we are, watching Isiah Kiner-Falefa man the position and bat at the bottom of the order.

Including early returns this year, IKF went into Saturday night’s game against the Orioles with a .666 career OPS. His career high was .689 in 2018, his debut year in the Majors. While the Yankees acquired him primarily for his defense, I’m sure there’s some hope that they can turn him around as a hitter, much like they did for Didi Gregorius and Luke Voit after him. So, is that possible?

An Obligatory Preseason Lineup Post

As obligatory as a post about the lineup, so is the following statement. Overall, lineup construction doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you really screw it up. We may not be Aaron Boone’s biggest fans here, but we know he’s not going to hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa leadoff and Aaron Judge ninth. Still, it’s a fun thing to muse about and when there isn’t any real action to dissect yet, it’s a good thought exercise.

This one in particular was brought on by the lineup the Yankees put out in their Spring Training matchup with the Blue Jays yesterday:

For one reason or another, one I couldn’t entirely place and really still can’t, I liked the top-6 of that lineup, not just the players, but the way they were ordered. I’d probably flip DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, however, and the addition of Anthony Rizzo would necessitate those previous two moving down. Putting Rizzo in there means it’s the full strength lineup. Here’s how I’d order them.

Breaking down the three newest Yankees

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As you surely know by now, the Yankees made a trade last night. In comes Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt. Out go Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. It’s a move that left my scratching my head, and one that has to precede another transaction or two. Right?

Anyway, while we wait for the other shoe to drop, let’s take a look at what each of the newest Yankees bring to the 2022 squad.

Josh Donaldson

The Yankees’ front office has a type: high exit velocities and good plate discipline. That’s exactly what Donaldson offers at the plate. In that regard, he’ll fit right in with the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joey Gallo.

Yankees acquire Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and Rortvedt from Twins for Sánchez and Urshela

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It’s official: the Yankees have acquired Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt from the Twins in exchange Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. A stunner, to put it lightly. It’s a move that feels like it must precede a couple of other transactions that remain to be seen.

The deal crosses off one task from the offseason to do list: get a shortstop. No, it’s not the one any of us wanted in Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. Kiner-Falefa is the stopgap shortstop until one of Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe are ready.

Additionally, as odd of a fit as it seems, Donaldson does offer a boost to the offense, which the team certainly needed after last year. How he’ll get along with Gerrit Cole remains to be seen. There are concerns about Donaldson’s age (36) and health, too.

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