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  • James Vlietstra

The End Of The Yankees As We Know Them

by James Vlietstra

August 21, 2023

***

My, how the mighty has fallen. The New York Yankees entered the season as a favorite to not only make it to the playoffs, but to advance deep into the postseason. A playoff spot seemed all but guaranteed. Extending their streak of 30 straight years of finishing above .500 was just a formality. This was supposed to be a great year, so many, myself included, said and believed.

Well, I, for one, was completely wrong. It isn’t going to be a matter of will they finish above .500, but more likely will they even get to 75 wins?


The Yankees' record at the August 1st trade deadline was 55-52. That’s when they decided to stand pat with the team they had while all of the other teams fighting for the playoffs improved. So now, on August 19, they sit at 60-63 and are in the middle of a free fall.

For those of you that are too young to remember, the first 15 years under George Steinbrenner ownership was chaotic to say the least. Tenures of managers and general managers were typically a year to year endeavor. But the team was mostly successful.


Steinbrenner took over in 1973. Beginning in 1974, the Yankees were better than .500 every single year, except 1982, until 1989. In that time, they went to four World Series, winning two of them.


Beginning in 1989 and lasting to 1992, the Yankees went through a four-year stretch where they finished below .500 each year. Steinbrenner was suspended in that time and Gene Michael took control of the team and brought with it stability.

The mission statement became “Championship or Bust” every year. Thus began a stretch of unprecedented success. Beginning in 1996, they won four championships over the course of five years. They routinely battled late into the postseason. Although at some point they became stagnant and complacent and they couldn’t break through to win another championship until 2009.


The Yankees have only won one World Series over the span of the last 23 years. That’s the worst such streak in franchise history since they only won one over their first 24 years in existence (1903-1926).

2022 saw record revenue in MLB. According to Forbes, it was $10.8B. Statista said that the Yankees portion was $657M. 2023 is on pace to surpass those totals. Through 63 home games, the Yankees have averaged 41,564 fans in attendance per games. That’s second overall to the Dodgers. (I expect a drastic drop in attendance over the final dozen games or so of the season with games against the Tigers, Brewers, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks, and the fact that the Yankees are not fielding a competitive team.

The only thing left to look forward to this year, unless they finally decide to promote some of their prospects, is the nostalgic celebration of the 1998 team at Old Timers Day. I’ll hit more on that in a moment.

Blemishes are easily overlooked when a team is winning. Currently they are not, so every error is glaring. The Yankees had been flag bearer when it comes to tradition and celebrating history. But even that has changed. Recently, ads have been added to their uniforms. Since the inception of the YES Network, Yankees games had been easy to watch. Now every day fans need to look at a different platform. Prime, FOX, Apple, TBS, Peacock, FS1, ESPN and MLB Network have all had exclusive rights to games. I understand expanding partnerships but they need to understand that these leads to confusion and upsets the fanbase.


Another spot they have recently failed was only having one Hall of Fame player represented last year at the Old Timers Day celebration. The most storied franchise should bring back the best players. They have plenty to pick from: Reggie, Winfield, Boggs, Henderson, Raines, Gossage, Kaat, Niekro, Mussina, along with Jeter, Rivera, and Torre. More and more, the Yankees seem to move away from the traditions that brought us to the team.

Other players I’d love to see at Old Timer's Day are Art Schallock (DiMaggio's last remaining teammate), Matsui, Dent, Clemens, Righetti, A-Rod, Piniella, Nettles, Gibbs, Gardner, Sheldon, Downing, Daley, Shantz, Monroe, James, Hunter, Skizas, Kubek, and Bobby Richardson, the 1960 WS MVP who turned 88 on Saturday. Several of these players have not returned to the Stadium in a very long time and they should while they can.

I didn’t write many 1998 alumni names because I expect most of them will be there as the 25th anniversary of that historic team is acknowledged. Here’s a quick comparison of that team to this one:


1998

C Posada 115 OPS+

1B Martinez 124 OPS+

2B Knoblauch 102 OPS+

SS Jeter 127 OPS+

3B Brosius 121 OPS+

LF Curtis 90 OPS+

CF Williams 160 OPS+

RF O’Neill 130 OPS+

DH Strawberry 132 OPS+

DH Raines 107 OPS+

C Girardi 85 OPS+

LF Spencer 236 OPS+

Pettitte 16-11

Wells 18-4

Come 20-7

Irabu 13-9

Hernandez 12-4

Mendoza 10-2

Rivera 36 saves

Stanton 4-1

Nelson 5-3

Lloyd 3-0

2023

C Higashioka 76 OPS+

1B Rizzo 96 OPS+

2B Torres 111 OPS+

SS Volpe 88 OPS+

3B LeMahieu 92 OPS+

LF Kiner Falefa 92 OPS+

CF Bader 87 OPS+

RF Judge 182 OPS+

DH Stanton 97 OPS+

LF Bauers 98 OPS+

OF Cabrera 60 OPS+

C Trevino 58 OPS+

3B Donaldson 77 OPS+

OF Hicks 47 OPS+

LF McKinney 103 OPS+

Cole 10-3

Schmidt 8-7

German 5-7

Severino 2-8

Brito 4-6

Cortes 5-2

Holmes 16 saves

King 3-5

Abreu 2-2

Peralta 3-2

It's not even a comparison. Maybe Torres gets the nod at second. O’Neill actually has a higher WAR than Judge because he was healthy all year. Cole would make the rotation as a second or third starter. The 1998 team was assembled as a bunch of really good players that gelled into the greatest team. The 2023 team has a bunch of number 4 outfielders and some washed up players along with 2 superstars.

So how did this 2023 team get assembled? Many of their recent deals have been short sighted. Hicks and LeMahieu got more years at lower AAV to save luxury tax but the last three years of the contracts need to be eaten. Instead of non tendering Gary Sanchez, they gave him a contract and then traded him for Donaldson along with the $50M left on his contract.

They didn’t realize that the Marlins were in the beginning of a fire sale and took on almost all of Stanton’s contract but then wanted to operate within the constraints of a budget which made them pass on players like Harper and Machado. They traded all of their depth in deals for players like Gallo and Montas. They waited to sign Judge until the last possible moment.

Typically a long term contract is productive in the front end and more risky towards the rear end. The Carlos Rodon contract looks risky from start to finish.


To further frustrate the fans, the Yankees currently have the 12th worst record in baseball. Normally, this would reward them with their best first round pick since selecting Derek Jeter number six overall in 1992. However, according to Spotrac, their 2023 payroll is well above the payroll limit of $233 Million plus the $40 Million first penalty which is, in addition to a monetary penalty, a drop in 10 spots in next year’s amateur draft. That is, of course, unless they play so poorly that they drop to the bottom six places. That’s a realistic possibility with the way they are currently playing. In fact, that should almost be a goal.

How do they actually fix the team? I’m not a big fan of complaining about problems without presenting solutions. It’s taken the team several years to get here, it’s not a one year turn around. So if Cashman and his front office aren’t up for the challenge, then bring in a new regime. This includes a field manager, analytics team, and scouting staff overhaul.

This is going to take a few years to right the ship. Hopefully they can use this information to convince the two notable players with no trade clauses to waive them in order to play with a contender next year. LeMahieu and Stanton are the two players. Even if they have to eat a chunk of the salary, the team is better without them.

They have a core of talent in the upper levels of the minors that have nothing left to prove there. Bring them up and evaluate if they are the ones to restore the franchise to greatness. Wells, Peraza, Pereira, Dominguez, Sweeney, Ramirez, Fitts, Thorpe, Beeter, Barclay,Hampton and others could all be candidates to replace the current squad within the near future. At worst, their promotions would inject energy into the clubhouse. The time is now!

13 comments

13 Comments


cpogo0502
Aug 21, 2023

Inertia is preventing the needed bold moves. I'd love to see Stanton et.al. traded and the young players brought up and evaluated. However, my guess is that Cashman will convince Hal that we can win with this team as is. Then, nothing will be done. I pray I am wrong.

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bbcfan64
Aug 22, 2023
Replying to

Unfortunately you’re probably right

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Aug 21, 2023

First thing that needs to be done is that analytics has to be made a supplementary part of the puzzle, not a dominant part. That also means getting rid of any coaches, or executives who still want to do things the Analytical way. Analytics and sports labs can still tell me what pitches this guy throws best, or how to make them better, or when a batter's mechanics is wrong, but that doesn't help to teach these guys pitch sequence or, what pitch or area a batter should be looking to hit, and what to lay off.


The next Manager, needs to work together with the front office, not work for the front office. He also needs his own coaches.


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bbcfan64
Aug 22, 2023
Replying to

I agree

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yankeesblog
Aug 21, 2023

No contending team wants Stanton or DJ

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bbcfan64
Aug 22, 2023
Replying to

Theres definitely a market. Even if they have to attach a few rule 5 players.

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jjw49
Aug 21, 2023

The Yankees have lost their way and your approach to right the ship makes too much sense. The time is now and I don't believe the owner will take the necessary steps! Best move he could make would be to hire David Stearns as GM imo!

Like
bbcfan64
Aug 22, 2023
Replying to

George was often was too quick to pull the trigger. Hal is the opposite

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