Perspectives: June 23, 2023
by Paul Semendinger
June 23, 2023
The Yankees are a mess. I know people can claim that they'll be okay once everyone is healthy. But, can anyone remember a time when everyone on the Yankees has been healthy? That's a serious question.
Expecting the Yankees, an old team with fragile players to have everyone healthy at the same time isn't realistic. It was a bad decision to design and build a team around so many older players who are so frequently injured without a legitimate back-up plan other than, "We'll sign a host of lifetime minor leaguers and hope one or two of them comes through."
Anthony Volpe is still batting under .200. There was a graphic during the game last night (I think was supposed to be encouraging) that read something like, "Volpe is batting .275 over his last 7 games." That is nothing more than a lame statistic from a small sample size.
Want some other similar stats?
Mario Mendoza (for whom the Mendoza Line is named) batted .198 in 1977, but he batted:
.278 vs left handed pitching
.286 as the 6th batter in the batting order
.333 with the bases loaded
.278 leading off an inning
.364 in the 5th inning
A note to the Yankees broadcast team - Please don't insult the fans with dumb statistics put there to try to prove a point.
We also keep seeing the stat about how many homers and stolen bases Volpe has, "the greatest season as a rookie since Alfonso Soriano!", but... overall, he is hitting .196. His on-base percentage is .273. His OPS+ is 76.
We keep hearing what a great base stealer he is. BUT, the Yankees stopped letting him run. Since May 14, he has all of two stolen bases.
The kid has struck out 84 times in 278 plate appearances.
Anthony Volpe, right now, is overmatched. The Yankees have no idea how to get him right. They're not helping him by having him in the Major Leagues right now.
I wanted them to just let him play, but they messed him up by moving him all over the batting order - expecting far too much from a kid with very limited experience above Single-A.
It is no surprise he's struggling. At all.
This is a problem the Yankees created. Again, it's been part of a bad plan.
Speaking of not helping a kid, how about Oswaldo Cabrera? The Yankees have recognized that he needs to be in the minor leagues to find his swing. They've sent him down twice now only to bring him right back up. Cabrera has played in all of two games in Triple-A.
That's not how to fix a player's swing. Swings don't get fixed on trips to the minors. The player actually needs time down there.
And, it's not like Cabrera was a standout minor leaguer anyway. His lifetime minor league average is .262 - hardly an indication of success at the big league level.
Before the Yankees signed DJ LeMahieu to his new deal, I said, many times, that he wouldn't age well. I should break out those articles and run them again.
If you recall, that off-season, re-signing DJ was the team's number one goal. They couldn't (and didn't) do anything until that was accomplished.
Now, a few years later, after a few disappointing seasons, people are surprised he's not very good and is injured on and off.
Really? Seeing this coming was as clear as day.
I have also said, a lot, that unless the Yankees are willing to spend in even bigger amounts, Aaron Judge's contract is going to be no different than A-Rod's with the Texas Rangers all those years ago. The contract will eat up too much of the money they have to spend.
For the Yankees this is because they refuse to spend past a certain point. If the team has too much tied up in one player and they won't get the necessary players to build with around him, having the superstar doesn't help the team get to the World Series.
I fear Judge will end his career as the greatest Yankee to never reach the World Series. That's not necessarily his fault.
Judge is now 31-years-old. He does not heal quickly. Throughout his career, really except for 2017 and 2021-2022, he has been a player who misses a lot of time. As he ages, that will not improve.
A few years ago, I compared Judge to the most similar players of his by age throughout baseball history as seen on Baseball-Reference. History shows that those players didn't age well. Judge may not as well. His best chance to win, the time when he'll be at his best, is right now.
But the Yankees punted when they made this roster and the results are clear all around.
Gerrit Cole, by the way, will be 33-years-old in September. He's no young stud. He's quickly approaching the time when he will be less effective.
CC Sabathia went from 15-6, 3.38 as a 31-year-old to 14-13, 4.78 as a 32-year-old, to 3-4, 5.28 at 33-years-old.
THIS year, right now, was the time the Yankees should have gone all-in.
Instead, they punted. ("Get a left fielder? Come on. Why would we get a quality Major leaguer for that spot?")
I did a similar comparison to the one I did on Judge related to Giancarlo Stanton at that same time. It showed that most of the similar players to him were basically done or close to it.
He's showing that those statistics were very predictive in his case as well.
The next great hope, Jasson Dominguez, is batting .198 in Double-A.
He hit .159 in the Arizona Fall League at the end of last season.
Do people really believe he is going to be an impact player in the bigs this year?
I hear, "Well, he's young for the level he is playing at." Okay. I'll buy it. But, if he comes to the Major Leagues this year, or next, or even the year after, won't be still be very young compared to the competition?
If that's the reason he's not doing well, it isn't going to change if he moves up in the next several years.
By the time he is ready to be an impact player, if he even will be, Judge might be 35-years-old and way past his prime.
The new plan with Harrison Bader, I'm reading, is to take away his aggressiveness.
I get the big idea, but unfortunately, this is the player the Yankees got. They got a guy who goes all out - that's where his value comes from. That's why the fans love him. Now they're telling him to slow down a bit. "Be less good, Harrison."
Yeah, that'll work.
Last night's game was a disaster. If it was on one of the pay services, would the Yankees have refunded the fans' money?
The bigger question is why would people pay extra money to watch the Yankees on some pay-for-TV service?
The Yankees are not a fun team to watch right now. That's just the fact.
The following Yankees are hitting under .250 this year: Harrison Bader, Willie Calhoun, IKF, Jake Bauers, D.J. LeMahieu, Kyle Higashioka, Jose Trevino, Greg Allen, Anthony Volpe, Giancarlo Stanton, Oswaldo Cabrera, Franchie Cordero, and Josh Donaldson.
Hal Steinbrenner wonders why Yankees fans are frustrated.
I wonder why he wonders about that.
He also says he doesn't listen to sports radio, read the papers, or read blogs. Okay. That's fine, but shouldn't he at least be curious why fans are upset and concerned?
He can't have it both ways. He can't say, "I care about putting a product on the field that the fans care about" and, at the same time, say that he doesn't listen to the fans.
Brendan Kuty wrote an article to Steinbrenner explaining why the fans are upset, but, it's behind a paywall.
"Here is why the Yankees fans are frustrated. But, unless you pay more money, you can't know."
SSTN has been around since 2017. We have published well upwards of 7,500 free articles to our readers. I don't have an exact count.
While so much of sports media goes behind paywalls and they expect people to continually pay more and more money to simply get the coverage they got for free even just a year or a few years ago, we continue to provide TONS (more than any other Yankees site, by far) of free content to our readers.
And we never ask for a dime. We do this because we love writing and talking about the Yankees.
And because we respect the fans.
The more Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone state that the team is close and that good play is right around the corner and all of that nonsense, the more out of touch, they sound.
At the same time I hear that it's more and more difficult to win the World Series today, I read fans congratulating the Yankees because they make the playoffs every year.
Doesn't getting into the playoffs make it EASIER to win a World Series? You have to be in it to win it. If you're not in the playoffs, you can't reach the World Series.
The 1954 Yankees won 103 games and didn't get a playoff birth. They finished in second. Back then you finished in first place and were in the World Series or you were out. Only the best team in the league got in. That hasn't been the Yankees for a long time.
The Yankees have been first in the AL East only twice (2019 and 2022) since the start of the 2013 season. They have never had the best record in the American League in any of those years.
As such, it is easier for the Yankees to reach the World Series because they have had a chance due to making the expanded playoffs.
If this were the 1950s, they would have gone home every year at season's end since 2012.
Also, as the playoffs expand and expand, it becomes less and less impressive to make it into the playoffs.
In 2023, that's the big hope right now for the Yankees. "RIGHT NOW, THE YANKEES ARE AHEAD FOR THE FINAL WILD CARD SPOT!!!!"
Forgive me if that doesn't enthuse me.
Over the Yankees last 162 games, they are 85-77. This is hardly inspiring.
Do the Yankees seem like they are on the path to get better, stay the same, or get even worse?
Let's Go Yankees.