The injuries that have decimated the Yankees’ line-up are legion. What words best describes the complete devastation of the club? A plethora of injuries? Doomsday? Worst case scenario? Unprecedented?
Nightmare? Horror show? Disaster?
But, besides looking at adjectives… what also has to be acknowledged is that the story of this team, the 2019 Yankees, has now changed – significantly.
For example, some obvious narratives that were predicated to play out in 2019 were:
Is Aaron Boone an effective manager? Can Boone win with a team as talented as the 2019 Yankees? Can the Yankees, under Aaron Boone, play good, solid, fundamental baseball and complete for a World Series?
Were the Yankees correct in passing over Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Patrick Corbin and the like? How would the fact that the Yankees passed on such talent impact on their 2019 season?
Would the 2019 Yankees set the Major League record for home runs in a single season?
How great could the 2019 Yankees be?
Now the big question is:
Can any organization survive and compete when, for all intents and purposes, 8/9ths of it’s projected starting line-up is injured for significant time – and all simultaneously? The catcher (Sanchez), first baseman (Bird), shortstop(s) (Gregorius, Tulowitzki), third baseman (Andujar), left fielder (Stanton), center fielder (Hicks), right fielder (Judge), and well as their top starting pitcher (Severino) and #2 bullpen arm (Betances) are all injured – right now – together, at the same time. Has any team ever faced a situation like this? I can’t imagine it has!
If the Yankees can stay at .500 during this difficult period, they have to get a lot of credit. A ton of credit. If Aaron Boone can keep the club winning during this time, while basically playing a team of projected back-ups/minor leaguers/replacement players (absent Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, and Brett Gardner…and maybe D.J. LeMahieu), it will speak to his ability as a manager.
The same would be true for Brian Cashman as the builder of the team. For if they survive this period and stay competitive, it will speak, loudly, to the tremendous depth the Cashman was able to acquire.
People who read my perspectives know that I was in the “GET HARPER!, GET CORBIN!, GET GET GET” camp. I have also been in the “I’m not sure Aaron Boone is the right guy to manage this team” camp. Finally, while I think Brian Cashman has been an outstanding General Manager, I was also getting frustrated with his (or ownership’s) desire to cut costs and not play big. I was excited for 2019, but also fearful that the Yankees would be a sloppy team that under performed and didn’t quite get to the promised land while Bryce Harper was winning an MVP in Philadelphia and Patrick Corbin was striking out more than 200 batters (and pitching more than 200 innings)… (My off-season plan centered on Gleyber Torres at shortstop and Scooter Gennett at second base. My plan was absent of Manny Machado.)
My initial hopes were that the Judge/Harper/Stanton Yankees pounded opponents into oblivion. I wanted to see five homers each game. I wanted the Yankees to win 15-3 every game in 2019. I thought it was possible. It would have been fun.
But there is also one thing I will always be – honest. I have a place here where I can opine on the Yankees. Thousands and thousands of people read my words. I take my responsibility here very seriously. I do my best to be fair, and reasonable, but I also tell it as I see it. I’m a Yankees fan who wants them to win.
But, I am also not afraid to admit when I am wrong.
Would the 2019 Yankees be better off with Harper or Corbin or Machado… maybe, in fact, probably. Would I have preferred them to have a different manager? Absolutely.
But might they, right now, have big a chance to prove me wrong, yes. Absolutely!
For example, if the Yankees had Bryce Harper, Clint Frazier most likely would have played the last two weeks. Maybe the Yankees knew that Frazier would be this good. And if he is… then, maybe they didn’t need Harper. Ever.
And if the Yankees stay competitive, that has to speak volumes for the manager. No manager should win under these circumstances. If the Yankees win, what other conclusion can there be but that Aaron Boone knows what he’s doing?
Here’s the big thing. I LOVE the Yankees more than I like being correct.
I hope they win. I hope the Yankees keep it together. I hope Domingo German pitches great. I hope Mike Tauchman keeps hitting bombs. I hope Gio Urshela’s tremendous fielding plays occur every game…
This team, this shell of a team, just got fun. It’s fun to root for a team against all the odds. The Yankees just became the underdogs. They have re-written the script…and because of this, they have become very compelling.
This isn’t the way I hoped it would be… but it is what it is now.
Let’s go Yankees. Win, win, and win some more. Make the magic happen.
If it means a compelling season full of excitement, I’ll be happy to be wrong.
Thrilled, in fact!
Let’s go Yankees!