The Yankees’ End of Year Press Conferences: News & Notes

After this morning’s big Aaron Boone news, Brian Cashman took to the podium to give his annual end-of-the-season press conference. That was always how this was going to go. Make a managerial decision, then have the press conference. Makes sense.

Anyway, Cashman said a lot of interesting things today. That is pretty typical for him – I always like listening to him speak. I know the Yanks’ GM has his fair share of critics these days, but I find him to be pretty forthright and nuanced in his remarks. Sure, he is always going to have his standard talking points and non-answers, but he usually goes a level deeper than you’d expect. Today was no different. Here is a rundown of the most notable announcements, with a more detailed analysis of the day’s happenings to follow a bit later on:

  • On Aaron Boone: Obviously, Cashman and the Yankees feel that Aaron Boone is a part of the solution. Again, this is basic stuff. They just renewed the guy’s deal! He also noted that he thought Cashman would be the #1 target for other teams if he was let go by the Yankees, and defended the original decision to hire him back in 2017. All of this tracks, even if you disagree. The one area of frustration for me came when he said Boone is “growing” on the job, which is not exactly the vote of confidence you’d expect. I’m not sure that hiring an inexperienced manager was the way to go back then, but I digress.
  • On the 2021 Season: Like most of us, Cashman was very frustrated with the Yanks last year. He called them at times “unwatchable”, which is putting it kindly. He also noted that the team “went backwards in certain ways that we didn’t see coming“, which is an honest assessment. I fully expected the Yankees to be a juggernaut this year. Most of you probably did, too. And it was truly shocking to see why they failed to live up to those expectations – a middling-to-bad offense, namely. That said, it’s not so great to hear the GM admit that the team “didn’t see” it coming. Now, sports are unexpected, so I don’t want to be unfair, but still – it’s the front office’s job to see things coming. They get credit for DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela in 2019, etc. They saw those things when nobody else did. It’s only fair to hit them when they don’t, too. (Cashman, to his credit, took the blame.)
  • On the Future: I bring that up because of what followed. He said that the team is not as “athletic” or “contact-oriented” as it perhaps should be. Of course, the blame for that falls squarely on the shoulders of the front office and nobody else. It also tracks with the above comment. The Yankee offense fell behind because it wasn’t athletic enough and was very lopsided with right-handed power hitters who whiff a lot. A whole lot of fans saw that coming and have been levying that exact critique against the offense, so there’s that. Some other news related to the future:
  • On the Budget: Here, Cashman did what he always does: defended his boss and salary choices. He correctly noted that Hal Steinbrenner spends a lot of money, and pushed back on the standard fan criticism of the Yankees’ budgetary decisions. (He wouldn’t comment on the 2022 plans, which is both expected and fair given CBA negotiations.) Most frustratingly, he called the Dodgers a “unicorn” on this issue. If there should be a unicorn in baseball when it comes to spending, it should be the Yankees. It’s embarrassing otherwise, but you all know how I feel about this already. It’s a dead horse. No use beating it.
  • On Lingering Injuries: There wouldn’t be an end-of-season press conference without a major injury announcement. Today’s was Jameson Taillon, but it feels like the 500th consecutive year in which there has been a previously undisclosed major injury come to light here. Here is a rundown of Cashman’s updates on the injury front, from most-to-least severe:
    • Jameson Taillon: Last offseason’s big acquisition made it through the season without an injury – almost. As you all remember, he had a bit of an ankle injury the last two starts of the year, but he pitched through them. Turns out that makes him a serious gamer, because he’ll need ankle surgery on October 28. They say it will be five months before “game action”, which is somewhat vague. If “game action” means MLB game action, that puts his rehab in April and he’ll return some time in May. If it means MiLB rehab action, then the timeline is pushed back a month and he’s not back until June. It is a big bummer regardless.
    • DJ LeMahieu: The middle infielder had “core surgery” to address his sports hernia, which has an eight-week recovery time. He will likely be ready for Spring Training.
    • Aaron Hicks: He had wrist surgery and hopes to play winter ball this offseason. He should be ready for “baseball activity” in December or January, which means he’ll be ready to go for 2022, which will be nice. He is a very important piece for the Yankee offense.
    • Clint Frazier: He is still dealing with dizziness and foginess. I feel for the guy. Head injuries are no joke, and I’m really not sure he’ll ever return.
    • Luke Voit: Voit, if he’s still in pinstripes, will be ready to go for Spring Training.

That takes us through Cashman’s press conference, or at least the biggest and newsiest items here. Aaron Boone also spoke, but he had nothing really new or substantive to add, so I don’t think you missed much on that front. As I noted, we’ll analyze all of this and put it into the context of the Boone extension a bit later on.

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12 Comments

  1. Dani

    I feel bad for Clint. I hope that the docs can figure this one out and that it won’t bother him for the rest of his life.

  2. Alex

    If Hicks is “a very important piece for the Yankees offense” moving forward, then they are so screwed. He’s a rapidly declining player who offers no positive value offensively outside of taking walks and whose defense is even getting worse.

    Team needs to cut bait and move on. Be willing to eat as much money as it takes to move him off the roster. Red Sox have outright cut players with more guaranteed $’s left.

  3. Let’s see them follow through next season by becoming more ‘athletic’ with ‘better contact’ at the plate, then I will believe it.

    Moving Gallo would clearly be an indication because he’s never going to change his approach and intentionally working deep counts when you can’t make contact with 2 strikes (he K’d over 60% of the time with a 2 strike count) just makes absolutely no sense.

    His approach should be to hunt the 1st pitch in or near the strike zone that he can handle and drive it-the only time walks should factor in is if the pitcher isn’t finding the zone at all.

    Sanchez also needs to go unless he starts focusing on making contact and going with the pitch, how difficult is it to see what Judge does up there and take the same approach? Sanchez won’t hit .280 that way but he also won’t hit .147, .201, or any other number near, as Kenny Singleton always said, ‘on the Interstate’

  4. MikeD

    Taillon surgery wasn’t a surprise. We knew he was headed for surgery. What was a surprise was how long his rehab will take. Five months is significant. If there’s a positive, his innings really ramped up in 2021 after a couple seasons off. Missing maybe four of five starts in 2022 after the big ramp up in 2021 might dividends. Also, Cashman seemed to imply that LeMahieu’s injury was bothering him all season long and impacted his overall play. At least that’s an explanation for the significant drop off one year to the next.

    I thought it was obvious that the Yankees would go in on Cole a couple seasons back. He filled an obvious need. They have an obvious need at SS. They reset the tax. They will be in play for one of the top names.

  5. dasit

    respect for admitting they were unwatchable. it wasn’t just the mediocre results, it was mind-numbingly boring baseball until the trade deadline

  6. The Taillon injury news SHOULD push them to sign a solid starting pitcher in the offseason but alas, they won’t. We’ll end up signing someone like Barry Zito or Dontrelle Willis trying to make a comeback.

  7. Really would suck if DJLM’s injury was nagging him all season and that was the reason for the downturn in performance. It would suck because if it WAS the reason and he “battled through it” then shame on him and the training staff. Eight week recovery time? That’s it? Imagine the impact a healthy DJLM would have had in the final 2 months of the season? We’ll never know for sure of course, but man that would be awful.

    If this is the end of Clint’s career man, what a shitty way to go out. Poor guy finally turned it around and was looking like a real core piece of this team. Head injuries are nothing to mess with like you said, so good for him to not try and BS his way into more playing time.

  8. The Original Drew

    What an embarrassing statement from Cashman on the payroll.

    It’s 100% fair to question if Hal wants to win at all costs. After everything today it makes me really have to question whether it is worth it be a fan of this franchise.

    • Not sure I can ever see myself rooting for another AL team, but I gotta say the Padres were pretty fun to watch and root for this past year!

    • Brian

      Compare payroll since 2005 with ticket prices over the same horizon. Enough said.

  9. Terry from LA

    So they feel that Thames and Nevin were the problem after all! Who knew? They’re still unwatchable. Hal is a joke, a cheap joke at that.

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