Perspectives: These Yankees...
by Paul Semendinger
September 13, 2023
I have a lot to write about. Please forgive the few passages that are repeated from days ago. I felt they needed repeating (not every reader reads everything I write, and everything posted on this site, though they should).
Yesterday it was announced that the Mets (not the Yankees) signed one of the most respected baseball executives, David Stearns, to lead the club going forward. The Yankees, of course were a step (or many steps) behind.
The Mets have had a bad year, but they acted and addressed many of the problems in real time- they were decisive. The Mets traded away players at the trade deadline to rebuild their minor leagues. The Yankees punted. When the Yankees finally decided to move on from Harrison Bader, they received no minor league talent, because the Yankees waited until after the trade deadline to make that obvious move.
The Mets have now hired a man considered to be one of the best available leaders in the industry. The Yankees? Their big announcement was that they might, they just might, hire some outside people after the season (not now) to make some recommendations on what the Yankees might want to consider doing to help the club going forward. (By the time that process ends, will the Yankees be in any position to address the 2024 season or will more great organizational and positional talent be gone as well?)
Which team seems more proactive and serious? It is clear that it's the Mets. They address mistakes. The Yankees delay and delay and when their front office and manager prove not up to the task, they get extensions anyway. It seems there is accountability with the Mets. With the Yankees, it's "Hey, it's all good. The bad year was out of our control."
The Yankees will double down on their failed approach. It seems that Brian Cashman will stay as the general manager. It seems, also (amazingly), that Aron Boone will return as the manager. The Mets are moving forward. They Yankees are mired in the inability to make any positive moves to fix the mess they are in.
Regarding David Stearns, EJ Fagan wrote the following a few weeks ago:
The favorite: David Stearns
Stearns is a former hotshot GM who took over the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 as the youngest current GM just after his 30th birthday. His early tenure with the Brewers sounds like just what the Yankees need: he immediately fired most of the Brewers coaching staff, restructured the front office and turned over half the roster. The Brewers were transformed from a perennial loser to one of the top five teams in the National League since he was hired, despite being in a small market. They are one of baseball’s smartest teams.
Some team is going to hire Stearns soon and be very happy.
This was a huge missed opportunity by the Yankees.
How could EJ Fagan see this weeks ahead of the Yankees?
The Yankees, as they recently have been, remain in limbo. They have operated like this for years. The good clubs run circles around them.
The other day I wrote:
A few weeks ago, Hal Steinbrenner has said that the Yankees organization may be evaluated after the season. Why is he waiting until then? That evaluation process should have started already and it should be on-going. This is another flaw in the way the Yankees operate. Well-run organizations continually evaluate their processes, their employees, and the decisions they make. Smart organizations don't wait to address concerns. Why are the Yankees waiting? What will these analysts find out in October or November that they cannot figure out starting now. To use Brian Cashman's term - this is bad process.
I wish I wasn't proven correct about so much with these Yankees, but it isn't the fact that I can see these things (as can so many others), it's the fact that the Yankees seem blind to their own shortcomings.
A few weeks ago, when Brian Cashman addressed the media saying it's been a bad season. He said that no one saw this coming. Cashman was wrong. We all saw this coming. It didn't take a degree in rocket science to look at the Yankees' plan for 2023 and see that it was a flawed approach.
How can we see these things, but the Yankees can't? It is their job to know, understand, and address these problems. If they can't, they are telling us all, clearly, that they aren't up to their jobs.
And, I have bad news. This has been proven too many times and in too many ways these last many years.
The decision makers with the Yankees are not up to their jobs.
Yesterday we found out that Jonathan Loaisiga is injured again. It seems his season is over.
The Yankees are not winning a Wild Card. They should not be playing for that or even playing to keep their record of above .500 seasons intact. (In the end, who really cares about that anyway? The Yankees used to be about winning World Series. That's what matters. No one cares that the Yankees can have a better than .500 record in 2023. No one will say "Hey! They won 84 games! AWESOME! No writer will pen a book titled Dynasty II: The Better Than .500 Years.)
As the Yankees chase this one last (meaningless) hope, finishing over .500, player after player is breaking down. We hear and see examples of players who are ailing being placed in the lineup game after game. This makes no sense. At all. The 2023 season is over. Wins mean nothing now. The Yankees should be protecting their players, not pushing them harder.
There is no reason to push Clarke Schmidt any longer. He's exceed his innings for the year. He should be shut down. Clarke Schmidt needs to be protected. His season should be over.
There is no point, also, to have Aaron Judge continue to play on his bad toe. I keep hearing that he is fine, but he is batting .211 since his return to the lineup. Judge is not a .211 hitter (if he is, the Yankees are in worse trouble than we think). It's clear that Aaron Judge isn't 100%. A 100% Aaron Judge does not bat .211. There's no need to push him any longer. It's over. 2023 is over. The Yankees need to look to next year. Aaron Judge should not be playing any more games in 2023.
The fact that the Yankees cannot see this is, in itself, a huge problem.
Ethan and I attended the US Open this year. We went on the first night. It was great. I don't follow tennis, but it was so much fun to be part of this huge event.
At the end of a match, the winning player signs three tennis balls and hits them into the crowd so some fans get a very special souvenir. I talk, a lot, about the little things baseball can do, or more specifically, the Yankees can do, to connect more with the fans.
The Yankees should copy this practice. Wouldn't it be great to see players sign baseballs during the seventh inning stretch (or whenever) and throw the balls into the stands for some lucky fans?
Making the games better experiences for the fans is not difficult. This is a practice that should be started immediately. It is simple and it would be wonderful.
I watched the finals with Novak Djokovic (on TV) on Sunday. It was great fun. I love watching a world class athlete perform at his (or her) best. On that first day, in person, Ethan and I watched Coco Gauff win her first match of the US Open.
I loved when the Yankees dominated the sport of baseball. I enjoy watching great teams and great players being great. Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Lionel Messi, Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, on and on... It is a true thrill for me to see the best being the best.
I miss the Yankees being part of that discussion.
I miss the Yankees striving to be the best.
Today, the Yankees strive to be just above .500. If they finish there, they'll say that in the end, the season was a success. "No one has matched our success in better slightly above mediocre for so so long."
There are many reasons why I don't watch a lot of football, but in the early 1980s, I became a Jets fan. I don't follow them closely any longer, but I've always kept track on the periphery. With Aaron Rodgers, one of the greats in the game, as the quarterback, the 2023 season looked like it might be special. I was ready to invest emotionally in the 2023 Jets (knowing that the Jets always break their fans' hearts). It looked like it was going to be a fun season.
I am still in shock and utter disbelief that Rodgers' season ended on his first ever drive as the quarterback of the Jets.
I'm not confident, at all, in Zack Wilson.
If I were the Jets, I'd make a call to Tom Brady. "Come lead us to the Super Bowl..."
All that being said, the fact that the Jets won, in overtime on a punt return being brought back for a touchdown was amazing. It was so so so exciting!
Unfortunately, that was probably 2023's best moment for them.
On Sunday, the Yankees were no-hit into the eleventh inning. I keep reading that the Yankees weren't no-hit. That's correct. Technically a no-hitter has to be a complete game - no matter how many innings it goes, but, give me a break. For all intents and purposes, the Yankees were no-hit. In my book, it was a no-hitter. Winning that game was nothing special.
So the Yankees finally called-up Estevan Florial. Talk about a player they have disrespected for a long long time. If I were Florial, I would be chomping at the bit to sign with another club with the hopes that I become a quality player. So many forget that he is still young and was once the Yankees prized prospect.
I hope Florial becomes a star for some other franchise. The Yankees' approach with him was terrible.
There are only 17 games left in the 2023 season for the Yankees. Then will come a long off-season of discontent. I'm not confident, at all, that the Yankees will do what needs to be done to fix this club. This winter, they'll talk big. They'll explain how things are changing. And when Spring Training rolls around, we'll see Brian Cashman walking around the complex, Aaron Boone blowing bubbles, and we'll hear how Giancarlo Stanton is in the best shape of his life.
Then we'll watch another season of uninspiring boring baseball and wonder what became of the sport's finest franchise.