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Reality Check

Ed Botti

Photo AP

As we sat back and observed the lack of pre – lock out maneuvers made by the Yankee brain trust, the reasonable reaction was that it is early, they are just seeing how things “progress with the CBA”, I thought to myself a couple of hundred times.

When the lock out was settled, I ended an article here on SSTN by stating “let the flood gates open”, with respect to the moves and transactions this team would make in a truncated approach to the 2022 season.

Well I don’t know if we can look back now and actually say the “flood gates opened”. No, it appears more along the lines springing a leak in a bathroom faucet or a slow anti-freeze leak in your 67 GTO.

The right side of my brain looks at the makeup of the roster and the improvements and moves made by many other teams and gets a little disappointed, maybe even angry, and might I even say “jealous”.

The left side of my brain then calms me down, and I think to myself “why are you surprised, why are you disappointed, angry or even jealous”?

The reality check here is that I knew last year, when they barely showed up for the “play in “ game and it mercilessly ended a very disappointing and uninspiring season, that unless real change was made, 2022 was destined to be more of the same.

Real change was needed. Not spare change. We got spare change.

Yes, I Know they made some moves, and some that I like. I have no issue getting rid of Gio and adding Donaldson. I am very glad they retained Rizzo. Both good players.

But let’s keep this in perspective.

Photo Getty Images

The poster child for the failure(s) of this team, Gary Sanchez, was relieved of his duties as a Yankee. All is well, right?

Not quite.

I for one, never put all of the failures of the Yankees on one player. I get it, he regressed defensively, he struck out way too much, he was very streaky, and he showed signs of an indifferent attitude on the field. All of that is true. I for one, wanted to move on from Gary after 2018.

The obvious choice in the winter of 2018 into the spring of 2019 was JT Realmuto. That didn’t happen, and the Phillies jumped in and signed the best all-around catcher to a 5 Year contract.

We can debate why that happened all day long. The fact is, they passed on him.

Instead, once again we got the status quo. We got the annual motivational speech from Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone, telling us how great he looks in spring training, how he is refocused, “yada yada yada” as Jerry Seinfeld would say!.

These two would have been great pitchmen for the “ShamWow”.

All you had to do was watch him play for a week or so, and it was obvious; what he once had when he had Joe Girardi and Tony Pena demanding he play a certain way, was gone. His confidence was shattered, and it impacted his on field performance. Sadly, it didn’t have to be that way.

Some athletes need a strong voice to drive them. Look back at how George Young and Bill Parcells handled the great Lawrence Taylor, and you’ll see all you need to know about how to effectively manage and lead.

We don’t even have to go back that far, look at how Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein handled all of the personalities on the Cubs.

Gary didn’t have that same level of leadership and guidance which he needed, and now he is gone.

Ditto for Clint Frazier.

They definitely had their issues, both on and off the field. But, could things have been better for them with proper leadership? I think so.

But let’s be realistic here, they had many more holes to fill than just a new catcher in 2022. And by the way, even though they got rid of Sanchez, did they really replace him? I don’t think so.

The real change that was needed was once again over looked. I am not going to spend 2,000 words and 5 minutes of your Sunday morning bashing Brian Cashman. I have done enough of that. It doesn’t matter what I think. I doesn’t matter what the record was last season, and it doesn’t matter that they again were out played by a team with 1/3 of their payroll.

None of that seems to matter, and I have grown used to it.

The reality is that as long as they continue to generate revenue, which they always will do, this leadership group will be satisfied and content.

Yes, we will hear from Cashman or even Hal Steinbrenner, Randy Levine or Lonn Trost every so often, telling us how the performance on the field is “unacceptable”. Then take a few more softball questions from the media outlets they allow to ask questions (Michael Kay, Bob Lorenz and David Cone on YES) and move on and continue to try and fool us.

The following players all switched teams this off season, do you think any of them would have looked good in pinstripes?

Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Starling Marte, Nick Castellanos, Tucker Barnhart, Carlos Rodón, Kris Bryant, Adam Frazier, Trevor Story, Aaron Loup, Kyle Schwarber, Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Freddie Freeman, Max Scherzer, Corey Seager and Kenley Jansen.

Just to name a few.

It seems that lately, the Yankees seem to settle. They know with the expanded playoff format, all they have to do is throw their gloves on the field, and in most years we will have a wild card playoff team. And they know most of their fans will be filled with hope, false hope or not, hope.

Hope and optimism; two great things to sell.

Unfortunately, it won’t be enough and they will have their obligatory year end solemn press conference promising us all how next year will be different, but not telling us how.

Then, about a month later, the emails and ads for season ticket sales start to pour in.

When next year rolls around just about four + months later, they dangle hope and optimism at us again, and the sales pitch starts all over.

Photo Mike Stobe

Well, it is next year. Does anything look much different? When I say different, I am not talking about adding Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and losing Gio Urshela, Gary Sánchez, Luke Voit and Corey Kluber. What I mean by different, is this teams philosophy and approach to fielding a championship caliber team.

We have gone 172 days now since the 6-2 playoff loss to the Red Sox. Do you think every possible solution to solving the weaknesses of the 2021 Yankees had been seriously considered or contemplated and did anything of real materiality get done?

I don’t. No matter how many times Cashman or Boone go on the TV or radio selling us that it has, it hasn’t.

In that same amount of time, we have seen the Mets, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants, Dodgers, Braves, Tigers, White Sox, Padres, Giants, Angels and even the Rockies all make significant moves, while they sat back and added Kiner – Falefa and an ageing Donaldson.

It is just not the way it’s done if you really want to win a World Series.

What this team needed to do was take a long hard and honest look at their entire operation, and make improvements. Improvements more essential and impactful than superficial moves and shattering of glass ceilings.

Real Change. Not loose change.

So, as we enter the 2nd half of spring training 2022 we still have Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo penciled in as 2/3 of the starting outfield. They have no starting catcher. They are still too heavily right handed. They have the same starting rotation (less Corey Kluber) as they did when 2021 ended. They do not have a true leadoff hitter. The bull pen was not improved and no replacement for All-Star Zack Britton was acquired.

Where did they improve? How did they close the gap between themselves and the Red Sox, Blue Jays and the best of the lot, Rays?

What have they done to instill any hope in the fan base that 2022 is going to be better and different than the lackluster performances of 2020 and 2021?

As far as I am concerned, they simply put a band aid on a serious wound, wrapped it up, and put it on the shelf with a price tag on it.

Just enough to get us hoping and buying. They know they are did not build a championship caliber team. They will spend the next 6 plus months telling us how much they believe in this team, and how they are confident they will turn it around, and we will sit back and watch an inconsistent offense and an average pitching staff night after night, pumping up the Nielsen ratings enough to keep them happy, and us filled with hope that somehow the 1978 Yankee turnaround happens in 2022.

How many teams are going to be intimidated by the rotation of Cole, Severino, Taillon, Montgomery and Cortes, Jr?

This is not a re-build, they are selling the 2022 Yankees to us as a championship caliber team, which they are not.

It is actually shocking that they did not improve their starting rotation. Nothing whatsoever. Yet, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Rodón, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and Max Scherzer, amongst others all found new homes for 2022.

The days of doing everything humanely possible to win appears to be a thing of the past.

Long gone are the days of acquiring the defending Cy Young winner (Roger Clemens) following a season where they went 114 – 48 and won another 11 games on their way to a dominant World Series title.

Gone are the days of adding a Rafael Soriano when you already have the greatest closer in the history of the game.

The philosophy, and I am sorry folks, but the objectives of this franchise have changed.

I am not good with that.

That is not the Yankee way.

I hope I am wrong, but the 2022 Yankees look an awful lot like the 2021 Yankees, and I do not expect them to do anything more than they did in 2021.


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