The Tuesday Discussion: Hopes for the Rest of 2023
September 5, 2023
This week we asked our writers to share their hopes for the Yankees for the remainder of the 2023 season.
Here are their responses:
Lincoln Mitchell - During the remaining few weeks of the season, I am hoping to see two things. First, I would like to see at least two of the younger players perform well. Anthony Volpe is already in the midst of a sneakily excellent season (more on that in a column after the season), but I hope that one of the other young players hits well enough to give us some hope going into 2024. The most likely candidate to achieve that is Jason Dominguez, but it would be fine if Oswald Peraza or one of the other youngsters broke through as well. The second thing for which I am hoping is for somehow it to become fun again to be a Yankees fan. I know the team cannot win the World Series every year, and that sometimes the Yankees will field bad teams. However, this year not only has the team been bad, but the experience of being a Yankees fan has been unpleasant. We have been talked down to and insulted by ownership and forced to watch players, managers and general managers that are well past their prime and not particularly likable. The best way to make a team likable is to win, but there are other ways. Fun players, cheaper tickets and a harder to define better vibe would all help.
James Vlietstra - My thoughts on this has actually changed quite a bit in the last week or two.
If they had kept trotting out their lineup filled with cheap reserves and number four outfielders, I would have been thrilled to lose every game and finished with their best draft position in over 30 years, a potential superstar game changer.
But now since they finally called up some of their prospects, I want to see them succeed. I would love to see them catch fire and make an unprecedented comeback and reach the playoffs on a hot streak that continues through October.
However, if this happens, all the changes that fans want to see top to bottom is unlikely to occur.
Realistically, I see the youth movement injecting enough energy and excitement into the team to get back within a couple of games of the playoffs but falling just short. Crowds will continue to pour into Yankees Stadium enough so that heads will not roll and there’s plenty of optimism about the 2024 team.
It looks like Anthony Volpe is going to go to the wire against Gunnar Henderson for the ROY Award and the bonus draft pick attached to it.
Derek McAdam - While I’d love to see the Yankees get a Wild Card spot, it seems to be out of reach by this point, although it is not impossible. For the last month of the season, I’d like to continue to see the younger players play as often as they can. Brian Cashman’s farm system has struggled to create prospects over the past 15 years, with a couple of exceptions. Of course, not all of these young guys will end up being Major League-caliber players, but I think it’s worth it that the Yankees give them a chance to try and prove that they can compete at the highest level.
Paul Semendinger - I'd like to see Anthony Volpe continue to mature as a player and a leader. I'd like to see him learn better hitting fundamentals and stop always swinging from the heels. I'd like Jasson Dominguez to prove he's the real deal. I'd like the other kids to play every day.
I'd like the Yankees to realize that it's time to move on from Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone, no matter how they finish. Change is good for a line up (as we're seeing) and an organization. The Yankees have had a lot of stability in management for a long time, too long. Fresh ideas are needed. My fear is that a good or great September will allow them to call the end of 2023 a success and to keep the structures in place which I do not believe is a good thing.
Tim Kabel - I am hoping that the Yankees finish, at least at .500, if not slightly above by the end of the season. I also hope that they develop the young players to the point where they are ready to contribute on a regular and consistent basis at the beginning of next season. I would like to have a clear idea about which rolls can be filled by the young players in 2024, and where the team still needs to make acquisitions.
Mike Whiteman - First and foremost, I want the season to end not with "thank goodness this is over" but with "I can't wait until Spring Training 2024". Here are some steps to get there: 1. I'd like to see the young guys get lots of playing time - Dominguez, Pereira, and Peraza should be full-timers at their positions. Austin Wells should get plenty of time behind the plate and at DH when feasible. Let's also see some Oswaldo Cabrera floating around too.
2. Keep Mike King in the rotation. I wouldn't stretch him out any more than he already is - five innings max, six if really, really, efficient. If it works out, a Cole-Rodon-Cortes-Schmidt-King rotation is a good place to start the offseason. 3. I'd like to see some of the players who have struggled or been hurt finish well. It would be good to see Rodon string together some good outings, LeMahieu continue his good second half, and it would be great if Rizzo could play a week or two (per doctor's approval of course) at the end of the year. I would think finishing strong could help all of them and their outlook before going into the long offseason. 4. I still want to win as many games as possible. Now I'm a realist and understand that the chances of making up eight or so games in the standings and leaping over four teams to pick up the last playoff spot isn't likely. That being said, this is a team coming off a streak of five consecutive (full) seasons of 90+ wins, and the message to the kids needs to be clear: you are here to win. You are going to be a big part of it. You will be put into important games and situations this month, and expected to perform. In the end, I don't think the journey back to the American League elite has to be that long. If a couple of these young players pan out, and some smart offseason moves happen, we can start 2024 at a pretty good place.
Andy Singer - I have a few hopes and desires for the remainder of the season:
Both for the Yankees' sake and my own selfishness, I'd like for Jasson Dominguez to announce his arrival in the Major Leagues definitively, something he's well on his way to doing. Obviously for the Yankees, having Dominguez and Volpe ready as good big league ballplayers next year is huge for their chances to compete. However, I have remained very high on Dominguez even as many claimed he was overhyped after scouting the stat line. Every bit of video and in-person analysis of Dominguez told me that his abilities were "for real." I want him to prove the haters wrong, and I haven't budged him out of my Top-2 Yankee prospects since his signing.
I want Mike King to prove me wrong. My gut tells me it's a really bad idea to stretch him out into a starter, and I have significant worries about his elbow holding up even through next year under a starter's workload. However, he can clearly get guys out over multiple innings, and I think he has the stuff and pitchability to work through a lineup multiple times. I think he's a 4+ WAR pitcher even if he's a 5-and-dive guy IF he can stay healthy. If he can make the rest of his starts this season and get into the 100-110 inning range on the year, he's got a shot to be a permanent member of the rotation next year.
I want Austin Wells to prove me wrong. I have said since he was drafted that he's not a catcher, and nothing he's done as a minor leaguer makes me think otherwise. Preliminarily, I don't think he's a good receiver behind the plate based on my limited looks this past weekend. However, he's getting rave reviews on his communication and gameplanning with pitchers. If pitchers prove to be comfortable with him enough that he catches 3-4 games per week and either DH's or plays 1B on the other days, that's a huge win. I think Wells has enough left-handed pop that if he catches even part-time, he'll be a very valuable player.
I want the Yankees to win, a lot. Just because the Wild Card is basically out of reach doesn't mean that the Yankees shouldn't try to win a ton of games, like they did in 2016 after Sanchez's call-up. If they can do that, I think that they can prove that the Baby Bombers Part II has arrived, much like the team's play after Sanchez's call-up in 2016 signaled.
I want the Yankees to prove that they're serious about digging through the organization to find improvements in some very tangible ways - just making Aaron Boone a scapegoat isn't enough, and September proof that the farm system really is performing quite well (as I've been saying for years) isn't enough to prove that the organization doesn't need some change. I would have moved forward with a new GM in addition to a new manager, but I think Cashman has proved over the years that he is capable of change, and he gets one chance to prove it again (but the leash deserves to be short). To the contrary of the popular handwringing over analytics, the problem isn't statistical analysis, as every good team in baseball uses analytical concepts in every facet of decision making, but the fact that the Yankees' analysts are clearly bad analysts! I think Mike Fishman and his staff should be on a very hot seat, and I would not be surprised if there is real turnover in that area of Yankee operations.