How many of you went to sleep with the Yankees up 7-4 and the bullpen seemingly locking things down? Or during the second rain delay, fully expecting the game to be called at five innings? I envy you all. Much better than staying up past 1 o’clock in the morning to watch that abominable loss.
Hal Steinbrenner is going to speak to the media this morning, and as I noted yesterday, don’t expect him to say anything that will satisfy the masses. He’ll probably state his frustration, reiterate his belief in the current group, but note that this is unacceptable. A bunch of words that won’t do much of anything. Bleh.
So, I have thoughts, rambling ones at that. I don’t know if they are coherent as I’m operating on five-ish hours of sleep, but let’s get to’em.
If Hal Steinbrenner insists that the Yankees can win without paying the luxury tax, then he needs to overhaul the team’s front office. Brian Cashman is a Hall of Fame GM, but tasking him with winning a World Series without paying the luxury tax just isn’t his cup of tea. This is the fourth decade he’s been the team’s GM, and times have changed quite a bit. He’s done a pretty good job of adapting! But if Hal remains adamant about keeping payroll below $210 million, maybe hiring someone in the mold of Chaim Bloom is his best bet. Gross. I absolutely hate it. However, if those are the constraints the Hal wants, sticking with the current front office probably doesn’t work.
The Yankees are 74-66 since last year, which is an 85 win pace over a full 162. And since that 103-win 2019 campaign, Cashman has made a number of moves that clearly are payroll-slashing motivated:
- Letting Didi Gregorius walk
- Letting Masahiro Tanaka walk
- Trading Adam Ottavino to a rival for salary relief
- Trading prospects for Rougned Odor, who costs nothing towards the luxury tax threshold
I probably forgot others, but I’m tired and not thinking 100 percent clearly after a late night yesterday.
Now, the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole in the midst of that, but Cashman had to do a bunch of things that hurt the roster elsewhere to make it work. He couldn’t bolster middle infield depth with Gregorius gone, he had to roll the dice on Corey Kluber this yea, and he had to hand a bounce-back candidate reliever to a direct competitor, among other things. I don’t think Cashman wanted to do any of this, but he had little choice. Asking him to act in this manner when his front office counterparts are “better” at austerity just doesn’t make sense.
Plus, there are other things that don’t reflect well on Cashman over the last few years. He’s had failure after failure in terms of trading for starting pitching. Whether that’s Sonny Gray, Nate Eovaldi, and now potentially Jameson Taillon (among others), it’s not good. Additionally, Cashman has allocated massive amounts of payroll to the bullpen, which hampers his ability to round out the roster elsewhere. And lastly, he hired Aaron Boone. That decision was simply too cute by half. Seems like a nice guy and all, but Boone was a curious choice from day one. There’s no way he should return as manager in 2022.
Again, to make it abundantly clear: in no way do I want the Yankees to continue down this path of avoiding the luxury tax. I’m in full agreement with what Bobby tweeted out a few days ago.
i wrote about this extensively for @RiverAveBlues back in 2018, but remember: NYY payroll levels have remained constant for almost two decades *in real dollars*, which means that payroll has gone down https://t.co/AzHFFgm8g9— bobby (@mr_bobloblaw) June 28, 2021
It just doesn’t seem like the Yankees are ever going to act like the mid-aughts franchise again though. With that in mind, a revamped front office could be in order. That probably means a series of more unpopular moves — trading Aaron Judge would be an absolute embarrassment — but that’s the type of move “smart” teams make nowadays, and Hal clearly wants to be “smart”.
The front office has done a poor job at fringes of the 40-man roster. While there are larger issues at stake, it’s also worth noting that there have been some not-so-great decisions made on the back-end of the 40-man roster over the last couple of seasons.
This was no more obvious than in the Red Sox series last weekend, when Rule 5 draftee Garrett Whitlock absolutely eviscerated the Yankees’ lineup. Meanwhile, Brooks Kriske and Albert Abreu have hung around the 40-man to do what exactly over the last couple of years?
Meanwhile, the Yankees held on to Mike Ford entirely too long while moving on from depth at more premium positions in Mike Tauchman and Thairo Estrada. Not saying Tauchman or Estrada are anything special, but keeping a first base only hitter whose claim to fame is raking in the juiced-ball 2019 campaign looks pretty bad.
The amount of players to regress this season is alarming. I don’t know who or what to blame, but seeing so many players take steps back in 2021 reflects poorly on the entire organization. From coaching to player development to the players themselves, it’s bad.
Three players, all supposed to be important to the 2021 club, come to mind: Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Deivi García. All of gotten notably worse.
Even with three hits in his last two games (none hit particularly well, by the way), Torres is at .242/.325/.313 (82 wRC+) this year. His defense has been bad. The glove has always been a concern, but that his bat has evaporated is the real killer here. His power is gone.
Frazier’s at .186/.317/.317 (83 wRC+) and has had a ton of poor at-bats. Not to mention that his fielding has been bad after what was a revelation in 2020. He deserved the starting left fielder role entering the year, and now, he doesn’t belong in the lineup.
Deivi has a 17.4 percent walk rate in Triple-A this year after making huge strides with control in 2020. The Yankees really could have used his arm once Kluber went down or with Domingo Germán struggling currently, but now, García isn’t a real option.
As the saying goes, development isn’t always linear. It just doesn’t bode well when three guys who were supposed to be important contributors to the 2021 major league team become unplayable! I mean, there’s a case for Torres and Frazier to join García in Scranton right now. The problem is that the Yankees alternatives to those two aren’t great. Are we sure that Hoy Jun Park or Trey Amburgey provide a boost? Do we want to see more Tyler Wade? Can Miguel Andújar really play left field? Is there any hope for Brett Gardner? Oof.
It’s past time to make a change on this roster. People like to say that you shouldn’t make a change just for the sake of it, but really, what more do the Yankees have to lose? Their dignity? That’s already gone. They keep trotting out the same roster and expect to turn things around. Doesn’t look like that’s happening!
I know I already stated that players like Park or Amburgey are unlikely to actually help. That was Cashman’s commentary recently, too. But again, the Yankees have already lost their dignity. Would it be so bad to cut Odor loose and put Park or Amburgey in his place?
Internal options aside, the Yankees can’t wait until the trade deadline if they want to salvage their season. The wait-and-see approach will result in the team having to be sellers as presently constituted. Then again, maybe that’s for the best.