One Bad Week
by James Vlietstra
August 8, 2023
I have been a Yankees fan for almost 40 years. I’ve seen plenty of embarrassing moments both on and off the field. This past week seemed especially horrendous. I am not necessarily directly referring to on field play, but more of a general organizational mindset that was repeatedly on display.
A week ago, we were anxiously awaiting and debating what would be the best route to approach the trade deadline. No matter which side you fell, buy or sell, it was unanimously agreed that standing pat while the competition improved would be the worst course of action. Other than acquiring a pair of relief arms, that’s exactly what they did.
So, instead of improving a team that has played .500 ball over the last 200 or so regular season games, they stayed as is. They had the opportunity to trade several impending free agents to bring back some level of prospect in a seller's market. They didn’t do that either.
In a typical year, the Yankees protect 4-6 rule 5 eligible players. They have 120-130 such players this year. There’s usually 6-8 that they trade at the deadline so as to not risk losing for nothing. This year only Juan Carela was moved. Here’s a short list of players that will require a decision along with their MLB Pipeline Yankees rank:
Jasson Dominguez (1), Austin Wells (2), Clayton Beeter (13), Elijah Dunham (16), Matt Sauer (20), Edgar Barclay (29), and Jared Serna (30). Additionally, these players have had breakout seasons: Agustin Ramirez, Aaron Palensky, Ryan Anderson, Christopher Familia, and Brandon Lockridge.
They can’t protect them all.
So, as I was trying to process the repercussions of the failed trade deadline, news came down about the Anthony Rizzo debacle. He started the season red hot, well above league average. Then, he had a collision at first base with Fernando Tatis Jr. All of a sudden he looked lost at the plate. It took the team two full months to finally place him on the IL with concussion symptoms. Do they not see him every day? How could they have missed this?
The next day, it was Domingo German. A potential trade piece from two days prior, he was placed on the Restricted List for a drunken tirade he had in the clubhouse. This was the point when I started looking up synonyms for pathetic…. inept, pitiful, lousy… yes, all good descriptions of their deco on making.
However, the week wasn’t over yet. These last two I’m going to link together. Friday’s and Sunday’s starters. During the offseason, the Yankees picked up Luis Severino’s option and signed Carlos Rodon to a lucrative free agent contract. They both missed significant time to start the season with injuries. Their current ERAs are 7.74 (LS) and 7.33 (CR).
That’s about as bad a week from a management standpoint that they’ve had in a really long time. Every decision they seem to make is wrong. I’m going to add a bonus one that’s going to be ongoing. After 2020, DJ LeMahieu was a free agent. It was expected that he’d sign a 4 year $80M contract. Cashman wanted to lower the AAV so instead of $20M a year, he gave him $15M a year for 6 years, saving luxury tax fees. Well, that’s fine and good if he’s productive, but in theory he should have gotten $20 in 21,22,23&24 and the extra $10 was for agreeing to deferred payments. If he becomes a liability, they should eat the last 2 plus years and consider the contract a success. However, that’s not how they do business. He’ll have a roster spot long after he’s an effective player.