Saturday, October 16, 2021

A MUST READ ON THE STATE OF THE NEW YORK YANKEES



Time to discuss what went wrong and what needs to be fixed. The Yankees frustrated me this year, just like everybody. Well, I've been thinking about it long and hard as you will see.

When the goal is to win the World Series, this will now make 5 consecutive failed post-seasons. 2017 was a great success, yet we were so close to beating the Astros and going to the Series. Had the Astros not cheated, I believe Yanks would have won that championship. 

2018 was just a magical year by Boston and they outplayed us. 2019 again with the loss to Houston with Altuve using a buzzer and cheating his way to a walk-off homer off Chapman. After those seasons, it was clear we needed an ace to win the big games for us in October, so Cole was signed. 



2020 was all screwed up from COVID, but Yanks still made it past Cleveland and to the ALDS game 5 vs. Tampa. Cole was lined up and pitched well, but couldn’t go deep. Yanks had a 2-1 lead into the 8th and then Chapman gave up the 2-run HR and the season was over. Devastating. 

So 2021 was supposed to be a year where the Yanks and Cole finally got things right. What went wrong? A lot. Let’s review.

Yanks Must Fire Boone

Before I discuss players, I want to make my pitch that Yanks need to get a new Manager. Seems like they are going to bring Boone back however. I am not so sure I would. Everyone says that it’s the players, not the Manager, but that implies that Manager of a team is irrelevant. No doubt, the players deserve a lot of the blame in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the Manager is irrelevant. As bad as Yankees hit this season (not Boone’s fault), Boone made terrible in-game decisions all season long. 


I am telling you that his managerial decisions in the bullpen alone, probably cost the Yankees 5 to 10 games in the standings. Yes, as bad as they hit, I truly believe with the right Manager, this team would have won 100 games this year. At some point, I may go back and give you a list of the games and his bad decisions. There were a stretch of games in July when he continued to leave Chapman in games where the Yanks had leads long after it was obvious that Chapman was going to blow the save. We had other options available in the bullpen to win those games, but Boone stubbornly allowed Chapman to fully blow these games, as if to try to force him to recover from his pitching slump. Every game is valuable. With 1 more win, Yanks would have had homefield in that Wild Card game, so wasting these games proves immensely costly. One example is below, but trust me, there were 5 to 10 of these:

--June 30th vs. Angels: 


Yanks led 8-4 in the 9th after scoring 7 in the first inning off Ohtani. Chapman walks the lead off batter, then after a forceout, walks the next 2 batters to load the bases. Boone leaves Chapman in. Anyone in the world watching knew what was going to happen. Chapman proceeds to give up a game tying Grand Slam to Jared Walsh. Chapman is pulled (too late) and Luetge replaced him and he walked the first batter, then gave up a single sending the go ahead run to 3B. After a strikeout for the 2nd out, he gives up a 2-run single to Luis Rengifo and Angels take a 10-8 lead and win 11-8.

--July 4th vs Mets: Yanks led 5-4 going to the 7th of a 7-inning game. Despite Chapman’s meltdown vs. the Angels 4 days earlier, he comes in for the save and immediately gives up the game-tying HR to Pete Alonso, then puts the go ahead run on base by hitting Conforto. After a walk to McNeil, Chapman is pulled and replaced by Luetge, who promptly allows a single and (after a strikeout) a go-ahead double to Jose Peraza to essentially win the game (Yanks didn’t score in the bottom of the 7th). Mets win 11-5 with 7 runs in the 7th inning.



There were a series of games where Andrew Heaney was amazingly bad, yet Boone kept going to him. Even when he was pulled as a starter, there were close games where Heaney was relied upon for big outs (and, of course, he failed). This led to several losses that I pin directly on Boone. He didn’t trade for Heaney, but he did decide to use him in big spots when we had other options. That’s on him.

Cashman did a Terrible Job this Year

I am not sure I am ready to fire Brian Cashman, but if he were fired, I would not be able to say he did not deserve it. He really screwed up in constructing this team in 2021. While Cole was great in 2020 and did his job in the 2020 postseason, Yanks needed to improve the other starters and their offense. Let’s look at what Cashman did, none of which worked:

Starters: 



Cashman staked his entire offseason attempt to improve our starters by signing Cory Kluber and Jameson Taillon. I won’t quibble over Taillon because it was low risk an he was not being counted on as a #2 starter, but relying upon Kluber was a very bad decision. It was too unlikely that he would stay healthy and he did not. He had a good start (and a no-hitter), but got injured and was a shell of himself upon return from the injury. So, while other top starters moved all around the league in the offseason and trade deadline (Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Charlie Morton, Jose Berrios, Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish to name a few).


This might seem trivial, but I really believe that Cashman’s refusal to give up on this guy, cost us 4 or 5 games at least. When Voit was injured at the start of the season, Yanks had to decide how to fill 1B. It was my feeling that they should let Tyler Wade play 2B and use DJ at 1B. Instead, Yanks kept DJ at 2B and tried to fill in with shitty 1B. First, it was Jay Bruce who got 10 games of .118 hitting before he gave up, but then Ford continued to get AB despite it being clear that all he could do is strike out. There were a lot of 1-run games in April and early May where Ford was 0 for 4 with 3 K’s. 1 good AB from Wade in those games could have been the difference. The Ford experiment went on for WAY TOO long. This was Cashman’s doing. He is responsible for that. For hit .133 in his 22 games before being cut.
Yanks Offense: In a year where Yanks were finally relatively healthy for the first time in a long time, the offense was terrible. Look at the drop off in 2021 in offense:

2017 858 runs 2nd in MLB 5.30 runs per game

2018 851 runs 2nd in MLB 5.25 runs per game

2019 943 runs 1st in MLB 5.82 runs per game

2020 315 runs 4th in MLB 5.25 runs per game

2021 711 runs 19th in MLB 4.38 runs per game


This can only be described as pathetic, which is what the offense was for most of the season. Judge and Stanton were healthy and both had very good seasons. But everyone else underperformed. Gleyber and DJ had very poor years and Urshela never looked like the player that his .314 in 2019 and .298 in 2020. Strikeouts are a major problem for this team. They struck out 28% of their AB. So when we needed reinforcements at the trade deadline, we needed to get players that put the ball in play. Oakland, for example, traded for Starling Marte, who hit .305 for Miami, then hit .308 after being traded to Oakland. He puts the ball in play. Plays good defense in CF. Has speed (43 SB this season).



Gallo and Rizzo: The trade for Gallo, particular, was HORRIBLE. Gallo was exactly what Yanks did not need. Another guy that strikes out a lot. Gallo had a few big hits for us, but essentially struck out almost 50% of his AB. Now, we are stuck with him for next season, although I would non-tender him and not pay him $10M.

So with the offense broken and with no moves to really fix it (I suppose Rizzo helped a little bit… I am less concerned about the Rizzo trade because he is a free agent and it does not impact us for 2022… although I still don’t think it was worth giving away the prospects), Cashman failed Yankee fans in 2021. Nobody can try to argue he did a good job.

And so you're wondering, "Hey Douglas, how do we fix this in 2022?" Glad you asked.

One of Cashman’s problems, in his defense, is that Yanks were trying to stay under the luxury tax. When you stay under the tax for one year, you reset and then pay a lower tax in future years. Hopefully, this means that now that the Yanks have reset, they will be back to spending this offseason. While I am reluctant to use spending on free agents as a means of trying to win a championship, I don’t think the Yanks have a choice now. They have Cole for big money and Judge and Stanton in their primes, so they are a win-now team. Trying to build for the future is not an option for them and we all know that. But the team has major flaws, mainly on offense, that need to be fixed. Here is what I would do? I warn you, it’s expensive:



Sign Corey Seager to play Shortstop: Seager is young (27) and plays good SS. He is lefty, which is crucial. Its clear Yanks will add a SS and Carlos Correa hopefully is not an option. Seager looks like the guy. Seager hit .306 this year with a .394 OBP. Only strikes out about 20% of the time, which is pretty good these days in MLB. He is a clutch player with many big hits for LAD in their 2020 WS run. He is a winner. Get him.



Sign Freddie Freeman to play 1B: If Yanks added Freeman and Seager, the offense would take an immediate and dramatic upturn. 2 lefties and positions that we have basically open, no offense to Luke Voit. I love Voit, but he is injured too much, he is a righty, and he strikes out too much. Freeman stays on the field. He has barely missed a game the past 4 years. He hits .300 and 30 HR every year. He will be very hard to pry away from the Braves, but with money, anything is possible.

Sign Starling Marte to play CF: The third and final portion of my plan is Marte. Yanks need this type of athleticism and speed. We cannot rely upon Hicks coming back and being healthy and cannot keep going to Gardner to bail us out in CF. Marte is a real CF. He is a perfect fit for the Yanks.

These three signing will come at a high price, but we all know Yanks can afford it. They pay a lower tax now that they were under the threshold this year. So spend the money and fix the team.... read this Cashman... READ IT!  This would immediately take Yanks from 19th in Runs to likely into the Top 3 if not 1st. If you add these 3 guys to Judge and Stanton, and get DJ back to his 2019-2020 self, it will be a world of difference.

I will have more thoughts on the Yankees in the next coming days to help bring some stability and strategy to this team. Look for it here at Bleeding Yankee Blue!




--Douglas Solomon
BYB Guest Writer

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