Perspectives: The Biggest Weekend (and more)
by Paul Semendinger
September 2, 2022
Well, here we are. We're at a place no one (well, many) didn't think was possible. The Yankees stand on the precipice (well, almost) of doom or (possible) relief.
If the Rays sweep the Yankees, the Yankees lead in the division will be a mere two games in the loss column. If the Yankees sweep, they'll again have some breathing room, and the fact that they would have defeated the Rays in the biggest series of the year should give them confidence going forward. It won't be over (not by a long shot), but a sweep by the Yankees would make clinching the division seem much more likely.
Here are some big thoughts, little thoughts, other thoughts, and what not...
Here's a recap, in short, of where the Yankees and the Rays were on the second day of each month this year...
On May 2, the Yankees were on pace to win 120 games. The Rays were in third place, 4 games out.
On June 2, the Yankees were on pace to win 114 games. The Rays were in third place, 6 games out.
On July 2, the Yankees were on pace to win 119 games. The Rays were in fourth place 15.5 games out.
On August 2, the Yankees were on pace to win 108 games. The Rays were in third place, 15 games out.
On September 2, the Yankees are on pace to win 98 games. The Rays are in second place 6 games out.
Looking at that, one can see what a disaster August was for the Yankees. It was bad. It was terrible. It was a disaster. Do people (or teams) survive disasters? Of course. Will the Yankees? Only time will tell.
The Yankees have finally called-up Oswald Peraza. He is eligible for the postseason. This will be interesting to see how this plays out.
The Yankees should play him everyday. They need to see what he can bring to a club that has been playing terrible baseball for a long time. I am not confident that they will do this because of the team's propensity to stick with veterans. The time to play him in less pressured situations was weeks ago when the Yankees had a more substantial lead. Now they need him to help them win important ballgames.
This could be a watershed off-season for the Yankees. It's conceivable that Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew Benintendi, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Jameson Taillon will not return. It's conceivable to Gleyber Torres is traded. The 2023 Yankees could look a lot differently than this year's team. The Yankees need to know what they have in Peraza by giving him a good look in September to help them plan for this coming winter. Again, the time to bring him up was actually weeks ago. The Yankees waited, as they often seem to do. The Yankees are slow to move. I believe this costs them in so many ways.
It's obvious the Yankees do not believe in Estevan Florial. I hope he is traded so he can get a chance with another club. He never had the chance, for an extended period, to show what he can do at the MLB level. for the Yankees. In many games, he didn't play so that Aaron Hicks or Marwin Gonzalez could play. That was just poor decision making by the Yankees. Gonzalez isn't even an outfielder. At the same time that Florial was 1-for20 on the season ("He can't hit!"), Gonzalez went through a 0-19 stretch ("He is a veteran presence, he knows how to play the game."). Just before Florial was called up, Aaron Hicks had gone through an 0-32 slump ("He's showing good pitch recognition, the hits will come.")
There was no good reason to not give Florial a chance so that two players at the tail ends of their careers, who have proven to be what they are (players who were not performing and who have not performed well for years), could get playing time.
Florial might have done worse, if that's even possible. But, he's 24-years-old and he, at least, might have a future. If Gonzalez is a Yankee in 2023, something went very wrong. I suspect Aaron Hicks also won't be back. Those players played while Florial was kept in the minors and while he sat the bench in the Major Leagues. That just a bad job by the Yankees.
Again, if Hicks or Gonzalez were hitting or doing other things to help the Yankees win, there would have been a logical reason to not play Florial. But they weren't helping the Yankees win, and were parts of the reasons why the team had been playing bad baseball since the end of June.
Again, I hope the Yankees don't make the same mistake now with Peraza just to let Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Josh Donaldson get more at bats.
The Yankees will be throwing Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt, and Frankie Montas against the Rays this weekend. I'm sure, deep in his heart, Brian Cashman wishes he had Jordan Montgomery around. He'll be pitching tonight as well, but for the St. Louis Cardinals.
I'm sure there are lots of Yankees apologists that are rooting against Monty. I'm rooting for him. I hope he pitches a no-hitter.
I am reading that the Yankees are considering giving Brian Cashman a five-year contract extension. Already - as in before the season even ends. Yikes. Really? I've most often been a Brian Cashman defender, but at what point does he have to take responsibility for the fact that the Yankees have won one World Series since 2001. These last 22 seasons, seasons with just one World Championship, is one of the worst periods in Yankees history. Brian Cashman is the architect of all of this. It's his team. If the Yankees extend him without winning the World Series, it send a loud message that not winning is just fine with the owners. For a team like the Yankees, that's a horrible message to send.
Quick research... please correct if my information is wrong:
Longest periods in Yankees History with no World Series titles:
1903-1922: 19 years (The Yankees won their first World Series in 1923)
1963-1976: 13 years (The Yankees won the 1962 and 1977 World Series)
1979-1995: 16 years (The Yankees won the 1978 and 1996 World Series)
2010-2022(?): 12 years (The Yankees last won a World Series in 2009)
Longest period in Yankees history with one World Series title:
1903-1926: 23 years (The Yankees won the World Series in 1923)
1963-1977: 14 years (The Yankees won the World Series in 1977)
1979-1996 (or 1978 to 1995): 17 years (The Yankees won the World Series in 1996 (or 1978).)
2001-2022(?): 21 years (2009 was the only World Series victory)
Seeing the above, doesn't it make sense to hold off on a contract extension for Brian Cashman until after the season? Let's see what happens first.
If the Yankees blow the division, there is no way they can bring Aaron Boone back...right?
Joe Maddon is widely considered one of the smartest and most innovative managers in baseball. He's one of the most respected managers in the game. He did wonders with the Rays and the Cubs. He's available. If managers are difference makers, and they must be or there wouldn't be managers, wouldn't Joe Maddon make sense for the Yankees - especially if the Yankees fall short again this year?
A-Rod has a ridiculous Tweet where he says he'd like to come back to the Yankees to try to hit #700 and/or stay ahead of Albert Pujols. It's one of the most ridiculous things I've seen. It's just bizarre. He starts the tweet by smoking a cigar. Some (former) players would do better if they just stayed quiet. A-Rod is one of them. (See below.)
Buckle up for a big weekend.
This should be a wild ride...
Let's Go Yankees!