About the Off-Season: The Land of Make Believe
By Tim Kabel
December 5, 2022
We have all been theorizing for quite some time about what the Yankees will do, might do, should do, and won't do. The Winter Meetings are upon us. They officially began yesterday. I have written a few articles about the direction I think would be best for this team. Hopefully, we will know in a few days what the Yankees will actually do. There's really no point speculating further as that would be like beating a dead horse. Let's have some fun and speculate about what would happen if the Yankee did nothing.
For the purposes of this article, I will assume the role of the late, great Mr. Rogers. I will be taking us to the Land of Make Believe, which will not be presided over by King Friday the 13th but instead, by King Yankee Fan the First. In this Land of Make Believe, the Yankees will do nothing. They will not alter the roster they currently have in any way. There will be no signings or trades. They will not beef up the lineup or the pitching staff.
In this scenario, Aaron Judge would be on another team. Right field would most likely be manned by Oswaldo Cabrera. Left field would be the province of Aaron Hicks, who now attributes his disappointing 2022 season to his conditioning program the year before. It turns out that Hicks, in our new world, believes he lost too much weight in his attempt to become the second coming of Rickey Henderson. He has vowed to come in as something other than a lean, mean, fighting machine. He plans to bulk up. Essentially, he bulks up a bit too much and will come into the season resembling the late John Candy patrolling the outfield.
Josh Donaldson will resume flailing away haplessly at pitches he can clearly no longer hit and then staring at his bat as if it somehow became a piece of piece of Swiss cheese. He will probably become more disgruntled and cantankerous as he slips further into the twilight of his career. Imagine good old Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace playing third base; that's about what we will have. Also, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa will be the starting shortstop, causing Aaron Boone to develop new metrics to prove he is the best shortstop in the history of the game. Gleyber Torres will remain at second base and without Judge in the lineup, will presumably become even more streaky and unreliable.
The team that I depict in the Land of Make Believe would be dreadful. Domingo German will be the fifth starter. The bullpen will be solid but not spectacular. Aaron Boone will be left looking frustrated and overwhelmed, lashing out at reporters, and providing no comprehensible answers to anything. In other words, at least in regard to some of his answers to direct questions, it will be exactly the same as ever.
Let's just accept the facts. This Land of Make Believe stinks. Could these things happen? Could the team I presented actually be the one that takes the field next year? Yes. It is highly unlikely but, it could happen. Remember, Boone is loyal to his veterans. He envisioned Kiner-Falefa and Donaldson as exceptional choices as starters in the infield. He played Hicks when most reasonable managers would not have. After Hicks gave up on the ball on Derek Jeter night, rather than banning him from the lineup, Boone resumed playing him just a few days later. So, the Land of Make Believe could become reality.
Let's hope the Yankees do not go with the status quo. If they re-sign Judge, acquire a left fielder, and add a starting pitcher, the team would be extremely competitive. Removing Donaldson and Hicks, trading Torres, and injecting youth into the lineup by playing Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe on a regular basis could then just about put the final touches on creating a championship caliber team. The final piece would be upgrading the bullpen, which could be accomplished through the trade of Torres.
It is great to visit the Land of Make Believe but, when you realize what the Yankees would look like by doing nothing, it makes you realize how important the Winter Meetings and the next few months will be for the future success of this team.
The Yankees do not need to totally revamp the team. This is not a rebuilding situation. They have some of the key pieces for a successful future available to them in Cabrera, Volpe, and Peraza. Re-signing Judge has been their stated goal all along. Signing someone to play left field, such as Andrew Benintendi or Masataka Yoshida is a reasonable and affordable move. There are excellent starting pitchers available whom they could acquire. The Yankees don't need to make many moves but, they need to make a few good moves. Doing nothing, as I detailed in the Land of Make Believe would be a disaster.
The difference between doing nothing and making three or four quality moves is enormous. I suspect the Yankees will make those moves and King Fuster the First will reign over a time of great joy and prosperity.