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Perspectives: April 3, 2022

PERSPECTIVES

by Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.

April 3, 2022

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This is an exciting week, hope springs eternal as Opening Day approaches.

I’ve never attended an Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. One year I’ll have to take the plunge and go. Maybe next year, as I hope they will be raising the World Championship 2022 banner. That would be a delight to see!

I think the Yankees have as good of a shot as anyone for winning the World Series in 2022. Do I think they actually will? Who knows? October is a long way away. A long way. That being said, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Yankees will be World Champs in 2022.

I am expecting a lot of Yankees to have really good years. Among these are Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, and Josh Donaldson.

I have no idea what to predict for Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. I think they can both go boom or bust. I can see them each hitting 35+ homers and leading the championship charge. I can also see them playing in fewer than 120 games and being key reasons why the Yankees have a long and disappointing season.

I keep hearing that the Yankees are going to make Aaron Judge an extension offer before the season. Do they realize they are running out of time? Are they waiting until the last possible moment? It doesn’t exactly seem like they’re going to give Judge much time to consider the offer which doesn’t seem very fair as he is also focused on starting the season. It’s not like the Yankees didn’t know this was coming. Why wait to so close to the last possible moment?

If the Yankees don’t sign Judge, if they can’t agree, this is something they should have figured out months ago and traded him. Waiting until the last moment doesn’t usually go well… in anything.

If Judge goes to another team, I am okay with that. There is no rule that says the Yankees have to keep him or that he has to stay. If another team makes a better offer, he would be wise to take it. I would not go more than six years on his considering how often he’s injured. Five years would even be better. 6 years $190 million? That seems very generous to me.

I will not be mad at Aaron Judge if he leaves. That’s the game. That business.

I will be very frustrated with the Yankees for letting him go for nothing and for not knowing this was a possibility. They had years to figure this out. WE have also heard for years that the Yankees couldn’t acquire players X, Y, and Z ( and a host of others) because they’ll soon have to pay Aaron Judge.

I accurately predicted that D.J. LeMahieu wouldn’t have a good 2021 season. I expect him to rebound a bit this year. Mark this down in ink: .291/13/82. It’s better than last year, but he isn’t the player the Yankees thought he was when he was playing way above his career norms. Each year, he only gets older and further removed from those magical seasons. D.J. is a very good player, he’s just not the super elite player that so many thought he was.

I’m not buying the Nestor Cortes hype. I know, “He figured it out last year.” The history of baseball is filled with players who “figured it out” and then were never that player again.

I am concerned that Gerrit Cole isn’t going to be as dominant as the Yankees hope he will be… or better said, as dominant as they need him to be. He’ll be very good. I’m just not confident that he’ll be elite. I can see Cole having a 15-12, 3.25 season. That’s very good, in many ways, but it’s not dominant.

I will also remain skeptical about Luis Severino. I write this every year. I know he has all the talent in the world, but he hasn’t been healthy and/or effective since the first half of the 2018 season. That was a long time ago. A long long long time ago. It’s a huge leap, a huge hope, for the Yankees to believe that Severino will be able to log the innings necessary to be a viable #2 starter for a full season. This is a plan built on hope, not facts or logic. Could it happen? Of course. Will it? I think it’s highly unlikely.

Take a guess. How many innings has Luis Severino thrown since August 1, 2018?

Since August 1, 2018, over the last three and a half seasons, Luis Severino has thrown a grand total of 71.2 innings. Is it a good plan to assume that he will throw over 100 innings in 2022? I just don’t think so.

Aroldis Chapman will have a very good season. The Yankees only need about 60 innings out of him. He can still do that. He will be fine.

I see Jameson Taillon having a very good season. I think the Yankees will need starting pitching, but I also see them, somehow making it work with what they have. Crazier things have happened.

Some other positives in 2022 will be that Gleyber Torres hits better than .270 and clubs more than 25 homers. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will hit .301 and he just might lead the Yankees in hits. If they all stay healthy, the Yankees could have four players hitting over 40 homers (Donaldson, Judge, Stanton, and Gallo). Anthony Rizzo will hit more than 30 homers.

I wanted the Yankees to be in on Matt Olson (until the package became far too expensive), but… Anthony Rizzo will have a higher WAR in 2022 than Matt Olson.

Once the Yankees reach the playoffs, anything will be possible. If Luis Severino is healthy (and one has to ask, if he is pitching deep into October, how much will he even have left in the tank?) and if Gerrit Cole is strong, and just one other starter emerges, it could be Jamison Taillon or Jordan Montgomery, or a rookie, or a pitcher they acquire, the Yankees could go on a magical run. They key really is to just make the playoffs healthy and strong.

I think the 2022 Yankees will be fun to watch. This team is one that will rely a lot on its flexibility and deep bench. D.J. LeMahieu will play at least four positions, maybe more, in 2022. Isiah Kiner-Falefa will play every position except centerfield and catcher in 2022. Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge will all see time in centerfield in 2022. There will be a lot of moving parts. That will make it fun.

This is Aaron Boone’s chance to show his skills as a manager. If he can manage all of this well,. the Yankees will be fine and reach the post season. If not, he will show that the three-year extension was three years too long.

The other key for the 2022 Yankees will be for them to be fundamentally sound. Again, this reflects on the manager and coaches. If this team plays as it can, and should, it’ll be an enjoyable season.

If the Yankees can come out of the gate hot, and win a bunch of games early, that should set themselves up for a very good season. That’s also a key. Many wins early will take the pressure off the players and the manager. If the Yankees are playing .600 ball from the start, they won’t have to push a pitcher like Luis Severino as much. If the Yankees are behind because they’re a .500 team by late May, the pressure will increase to push players, fragile players, harder than they should and that won’t turn out well.

I think The Blue Jays will be the class of the American League East in 2022. I can see them winning over 100 games.

In spite of my concerns, I think the Yankees will finish in second place. I think 95 wins is possible, but I see the Yankees finishing slightly under that. I’ll predict 93 wins. Then the playoffs will come calling…

Let’s Go Yankees!

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