by Paul Semendinger
July 6, 2021
Over the last many years, I have been pretty clear about my concerns with the direction the Yankees have taken and the way the team has been going. I have noted and said these things from the start of the Aaron Boone Era. My concerns, in short, have mostly been the following:
Giving a team with immediate championship aspirations to a novice manager
Surrounding that manager with a coaching staff also primarily of novices
Not building a team culture of winning by bringing in veteran players and leaders who have won in the past
A refusal by the ownership of spending the necessary money to acquire the necessary talent to build around the current stars and address the needs on the roster
The lack of any balance in the lineup (too right-handed, too many hitters with the same hitting approach)
The lack of quality left-handed starting pitching (great Yankees teams have been built of left-handed starting and left-handed hitting)
The total lack of fundamentals
The lack of “hustle” or “energy” – a general lethargy on the field – an acceptance of this and an acceptance (seemingly) or making excuses for losing. (“We had good at bats,” “We’re right there.” Etc…)
I’ve written it all before (a million times).
The 2021 Yankees have a 42-41 record. To me, this signifies that the 2021 season is over. There is no reason to be optimistic for a turn-around of any kind. The Yankees do not have the talent on the field, they have not been able to acquire difference-making players for many years, and the owner is not willing to go over the luxury cap to address the needs.
The Yankees have 79 games left this year. To reach just 90 wins, they’d have to go 48-31. That’s .607 ball.
In 2021, they are playing at a .506 clip. In 2020, they played at a .550 clip. In September 2019, they played at a .560 clip In August 2019, they played .700 ball. In July 2019, they played at a .560 clip.
In short, since, July 1, 2019, they’ve had just one sustained period (August 2019) when they have played baseball at a winning percentage high enough to get them to just 90 wins this year. I don’t think 90 wins gets the Yankees into the post season.
There is no compelling evidence that this year’s Yankees can suddenly turn a switch on and play at a high rate for the next three months. These players have not done that (except in the month of August 2019) for three years now.
That is the sad reality. It’s not pessimism. It’s the cold reality.
Can they turn it around? Sure. Anything is possible. Is it at all likely or probable based on their roster, management, and recent play dating back to 2019.? No.
I wish this weren’t so.
As such, I think it is time that the Yankees face the reality that this collection of players, this management style, and such, didn’t work. At all.
It’s time to face that reality.
If I owned the Yankees, this is how I’d address the team going forward. (I lay out this plan with a heavy heart because I wish it were otherwise and we all talking and writing about the exciting pennant race to come.)
I believe Brian Cashman is an outstanding GM. I don’t know how much the luxury cap threshold has tied his hands, but it did and it has. No matter. The GM has to answer for the product on the field. Cashman has not built a World Series winner since 2009 – a year the Yankees broke the bank to win it all. He has found some quality players on the cheap, but not enough of them. For most, they have been short-term successes, but nothing sustained. The pitchers he has brought in have almost all failed or under performed. The prospects have not reached their potentials. Critical in-season needs have been not addressed.
In addition to all of that, he hired a manager and coaching staff with little to no experience. This is a a staff that was unable to win, put out a quality product on the field that plays good fundamental baseball, and that builds up the young talent. The rests are the results.
In short, the Yankees Mission Statement is to win. There has not been enough of that these last 12 years. It’s time for a new approach. It’s time for the Yankees to find a new General Manager – one with a track record of success and one with a new vision.
Brian Cashman has been great. I would give him a spot in Monument Park. It is just time for a change.
As the owner, and I know this next move isn’t fair to Brian Cashman, but I realize the mistakes I have made by holding firm on spending. I see what this has cost me and my fans. I tell the new GM that I’m no longer going to be bound by the luxury tax cap(s). I announce to him (or her) that the austerity days are over and that the Yankees number one objective is to win. I open the coffers, but, not necessarily immediately. I don’t think there is a quick fix for this team any longer. Those days passed. It’s time, right now, for the Yankees to rebuild.
I call a press conference and announce to the media and the fans that a new day has dawned. I explain how the approach I went with made sense in many ways, but that it didn’t work in practice. I explain that the Yankees should always ben winners, but that in order to get them there, the fans need to be patient we work toward building the next great teams. I promise that the 2022 Yankees will be fun, young, and energetic and that they’ll be expected to play a high quality of baseball, but that I cannot promise that they’ll win immediately. I tell the fans that might be a few years away. I ask for patience noting my appreciation that the fans have already been very patient with me. I also publicly thank and praise Brian Cashman for his outstanding career. (He has been great.)
I tell the new GM that he (or she) must bring in a manager with a track record of success in building teams that play good, crisp, fundamentally sound baseball. I also want a manager that has a history of developing young talent.
I tell the new GM that the team, currently, is in “sell-mode.” It’s time to rid the current Yankees of the players who are not winners or who will not be contributors on the next dynasty. In this, no one is untouchable. No one. It’s time to build again, brand new, with a new core – much as the Yankees did in the early 1990s. If a player doesn’t project as being part of the next great Yankees era, he would be available. (Sadly, I cannot think of any player on the current roster, other than Gleyber Torres who fits this profile. If money isn’t an object, Aaron Judge could stay, as the face of the franchise, but otherwise, who do you keep with the hopes that he’ll still be playing high quality baseball in two to three years?) The goal would be to trade the Yankees best players for high quality young players who are a year or just a few years away. My new GM is tasked with this huge responsibility.
I immediately slash ticket prices and also implement better customer service/fan appreciation programs. I note that the Yankees fans have been loyal to this team and product even as we have charged exorbitant prices and provided less than great customer service and a lack of champions for more than a decade. “We’re in it together,” I tell the fans.
Do I see much of the above happening?
Realistically, I don’t.
It’s what I would do.
With a new approach, I think the Yankees’ tomorrows can be very bright. Without that new approach, I think we’re in a situation that cannot be fixed.
For this current club, the window has closed. I don’t see this team, as constructed, competing next year.
It’s time to open the window for a new club, a new approach, and a new vision.