Perspectives: Put A Fork In Them...
by Paul Semendinger
August 11, 2022
I know, I know... It's August 11. "The Yankees lead the Major Leagues in home runs."
I know, I know. "They're right there with the Astros for the best record in the league."
Let's be honest.
Can we be honest?
This team is playing nothing like a championship club.
Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees have:
- Lost the series 0-2 to the Houston Astros
- Won the series 2 of 3 vs the Baltimore Orioles
- Lost the series 0-2 to the New York Mets
- Won the series 3-1 against the Kansas City Royals
- Lost the series 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners
- Lost the series 0-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals
- Lost the series 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners
That's seven series... the Yankees have lost five of them. The two teams they Yankees defeated were the Orioles and the Royals. The better teams? They are beating the Yankees.
These are just facts.
Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees, are 7-13.
Since June 30, the Yankees are 13-21.
That's not just bad. It's very bad.
It's not just very bad.
It's a .382 winning percentage.
This isn't a small sample size.
It's just a fact.
Here's the big problem: We've seen this movie before. This is the same movie, the same performance, the same results, year-after-year for the last five seasons.
They're great. Then they're terrible.
There're terrible. Then they're great.
They cannot sustain the great play.
They cannot sustain the good play.
They fall into these deep ruts.
We have seen the Aaron Boone Yankees show flashes of brilliance for periods of time.
And then we see them come back to reality and become not just mediocre, but bad.
Great teams don't have bad months.
The Yankees have bad months, real bad months, every season.
And when they happens, the down periods seem to show how they'll perform in the post season.
Aaron Judge is having the greatest stretch of his career.
And he can't carry the club. Maybe it is because there isn't enough talent around him.
Judge's greatness isn't helping them win.
I wish it were otherwise.
I know everyone says, "Judge will be back next year. He has to be back. He is the Yankees. The Yankees are Judge. He's the next Jeter."
I don't think he's coming back.
I wish it were otherwise.
Can I ask a simple question?
If you owned the Yankees, and if your philosophy was to always stay under that luxury cap, would you bring Aaron Judge back at the years and dollars he is going to command?
I think that if most fans were being honest, they'd say, "No, I wouldn't give Aaron Judge ten years." I don't think most would give him eight.
Will Aaron Judge be a $35m to $40m player when he is 38 years old?
I just don't think so.
Will his salary at that time prevent the Yankees from acquiring needed players?
If the Yankees stay with the model they're following, yes.
Will fans in 2029 or 2030 be celebrating Aaron Judge's 2022 season and saying, "It's ok that we're not winning, Judge was great eight years ago"? No, they won't.
I would be surprised if Aaron Judge doesn't get a ten year offer from some team or even a few teams teams. I wouldn't give him ten years. No way. I wouldn't give Aaron Judge ten years unless I'd be willing to spend whatever it takes each year to bring in great talent to surround him. But that's not the way the Yankees operate any longer. If the Yankees go BIG on Aaron Judge, they'll go small in other areas. If they do that, they won't be putting put the best team out there. If they don't put the best team out there, they won't be winning World Series during the "Aaron Judge Era."
Years ago, as soon as it became clear that Steve Cohen was buying the Mets, I declared that it wouldn't be long before the Mets became New York's number one baseball team.
Steve Cohen has been very clear.
He wants to win.
The Yankees have also been very clear, they want to win, but the luxury tax means more.
I know, I know. I can see the comments already.
"The Yankees will be able to have a great team and pay Judge. The kids coming up are all future stars. The Yankees haven't had talent like this in the minor leagues for a long time."
I have been hearing about the next bunch of great young stars for decades. When I make the point that that hasn't really happened since the Jeter era, people reply, "Yes, but this batch of kids is different. These guys, this time, are the real deal."
Just like Clint Frazier was the real deal.
And Miguel Andujar.
And Jose Tabata.
And Gary Sanchez.
And Blake Rutherford.
And Slade Heathcott.
And Jesus Montero.
And Jorge Mateo.
And even Gleyber Torres.
On and on...
I do know that there were reports that the Yankees talked to the Nationals about Juan Soto and said the words "Anthony Volpe and Jasson Dominguez" and the Nationals said, "Yeah, we're not impressed."
That's not filling me with anticipation and hope for this next great core.
I know, "Aaron Judge is the next Derek Jeter." I get it.
But Derek Jeter won.
Jeter's teams won World Series.
I know the comments that will come, "Yes, but Jeter had better players around him." Yeah, I get it. But if we give Jeter credit for being a winner, if he had some ability to make everyone around him better, then, that same logic and line of thinking for Judge has to also be in play. The Aaron Judge Yankees are bereft of a World Championship.
Maybe Aaron Judge isn't the next Jeter.
Maybe the difference is the manager.
Maybe it wasn't Jeter, but it was Joe Torre.
I don't think the 2022 Yankees have a manager who can right the ship. As the Yankees lose and lose some more, we keep seeing questionable decisions. We're seeing poor base running, bad bullpen management. (We're seeing more of what we've seen these last five years...).
Aaron Boone has been the manager for a long time now. He has many strengths. He keeps the Yankees in it. The Yankees win a lot of games year-in and year-out. But, I don't recall any writer, anywhere, writing, "Aaron Boone is a brilliant baseball manager" or "Aaron Boone is a great strategist."
I do hear that he's a nice guy. I hear that the players like him. That's not nothing. But I don't believe that he has the ability to find the ways in games to help the Yankees get an edge. I think he has good game plans to put into place before the games. I don't think he has good game plans in the moment.
I'll go on record here. If I'm wrong (and I hope I'm wrong) I welcome all the comments telling me how wrong I was at the end of the year. I hope the Yankees win the World Series. I hope they win the next fifty World Series. But, logic tells me that the 2022 Yankees peaked early and the truer 2022 Yankees are the team we've been seeing these last few weeks. It was great while it lasted, but it didn't last. It was unsustainable. The 2022 Yankees were not as good as they looked early this season. They're not reaching the World Series this year.
The Yankees will make the playoffs. But they won't get past Houston, and they might not even make it through the first round.
Maybe I'm just being pessimistic.
But, I think I'm just looking at the big picture, and, unfortunately, being realistic.
I also think that this was their last chance.
I don't think it worked.
I wish it had.
I think the window closes after this year.
I think some tough years are on the horizon.
It was fun while it lasted...