It’s no secret that the Yankees are struggling. Between the struggles of most of their trade acquisitions and the lack of scoring, it’s been hard to watch this once mighty team flounder in the month of August. Can they turn it around? Absolutely, but our optimism isn’t high with more reasons than one or two. Let’s tackle what’s been ongoing for longer than we care to realize…
- Aaron Boone is a coddler, not a disciplinarian. We only see accountability if the player’s OPS falls below .650 or multiple egregious errors happen on the field the same day, but even an “elite guy” deserves the hammer once in awhile when they slack. Everyone know’s Boone is there because he’s a subordinate puppet for the front office too. People are quick to defend him because it’s not him whiffing at pitches, but it’s his job to have his team motivated and prepared for what they’ll see on the field each day. It’s not happening. Any monkey can get this talented on paper team 90 plus wins, but guiding them through the postseason is what separates a good manager from a great one.
- Cashman is not as good a GM as we think. A good GM’s job is to put a winning product on the field without using money as a constant crutch (that’s why the Dodger’s Andrew Friedman is a genius since his Rays days). Sure, he finds some diamonds in the rough with good bats, but they carry a shortish shelf life. Voit, Hicks, Urshela, IKF, and Benintendi are either full flops or unsustained success stories. He’s also had a bad habit of picking up elite guys 10 years too late (Encarnacion, Berkman, Pudge, Ichiro, Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, Youkilis, Holliday, McCutchen, anyone?) He has little success at acquiring and developing quality starters too. Most of all, the farm system rarely produces stars for them while teams like the Rays and Guardians poop out an ace starter or solid bat seemingly every year. That’s all on Cashman. I know Michael Kay has gone on record to say Cashman would get a job next day if he got fired, but it’s time to visit the possibility of a new face in this modern game and not let old success get in the way.
- Ownership is also to blame. Hal Steinbrenner is nothing like his dad and runs the team like a business rather than a juggernaut Baseball club. He allows just enough moves to be made on the surface to appease the fan base, but not enough to prove he’s in it to win it at all costs. He also refuses to be the man who ends this phony Yankee mystique tradition of clean cut, stoic stars with minimal personality compared to the rest of the league. The stifling of individuality is a very possible reason prospects and player imports don’t realize their full potential consistently enough and makes most of the current Yankees boring to watch many a time. They need to change the culture and this would go a long way to getting there.
- The Pitching has skin in the game as well. Sure, we get pristine outings at times, but we also get starts with 4-5 runs given up in the 1st or 5th innings alone. Those blowups takes the crowd out of the game very fast and the lineup even faster. When your ace unravels in a way you’d expect from a back end guy and your prized acquisition can’t throw a clean 1st inning, it gets late very early.
- And of course, the hitters. We are all getting tired of players swinging at ball 4 and constantly taking pitches when the pitcher is clearly locked in the zone. Patience at the plate is fine, but waiting for “your pitch” is a luxury one can’t afford when being pelted with strikes as the likelihood of seeing said pitch decreases when the hitter is behind the count. Patience is beneficial when the hitter is the one locked in, or the pitcher has trouble finding the strike zone. Most of all is the refusal to adapt with situational hitting. Swinging for the fences behind in the count with 2 outs is terrible, and even worse when slumping. Not bunting or not half swinging into shift gaps is also frustrating. Screw the pride, take the free hit. They are professionals after all, right?
Yes, yes, Yankee fans are spoiled and should be grateful they see the dance every year. Thing is, this team has too much money and resources to NOT be in the mix every year but need to improve the formula for long term viability. Going to the playoffs means nothing in the face of watching a vanilla/boring team play their way to a swift playoff exit every other year. It’s time to stop following the definition of insanity and try a new formula.
So in short, the problem is everywhere. If this team is bounced quickly again, wholesale changes are needed. The Yankees need to stop assuming they can be this way just because of their brand. Baseball is changing almost every year. Nobody wants to hear about the 27 titles anymore and it makes a player no more likely to join them nowadays. The nostalgia does nothing in a “what have you done for me lately” sports world.