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  • Derek McAdam

This Yankee’s Off-Season Actions Are An Encouraging Sign For 2024

By Derek McAdam

February 14, 2024

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After a 2023 season in which the New York Yankees finished only one game above .500, several players took to the off-season in hopes of improving their approach to the game. Giancarlo Stanton shed some weight in order to become more elusive in his mid-30s, but Carlos Rodon also put in the extra work to help himself bounce back after an abysmal first season in the Bronx last year, which was filled with a couple of IL stints and underwhelming starts.


Rodon reported to Tampa in early January, which is five to six weeks ahead of when pitchers and catchers must report for their first Spring Training workout (Feb. 15). Rodon said that he wants to get back to his form from the 2021 and ’22 seasons, which is why he reported to Tampa ahead of schedule. Several reports also stated that Rodon lost some weight during the off-season, which may be a tactic used by several Yankees in hopes of cutting down on the injuries. Obviously, only time will tell if losing the weight translates to success.


For the Yankees, this is an encouraging sign to see. Not only was Rodon riddled with injuries last season, but when he was on the mound, he was not productive. In 14 starts, he pitched 64.1 innings and delivered a 6.85 ERA. It was not a great start for someone who was in the first year of a six-year deal that pays $27 million per season.


Rodon also had a couple of attitude flair-ups last year. After getting shelled in Kansas City, pitching coach Matt Blake came out to the mound to try and calm Rodon down. However, Rodon turned his back on Blake and failed to record a single out while giving up eight runs. It was definitely a disrespectful act, but there’s two things to keep in mind: Rodon apologized to Blake the following day and the pair were able to move on. But this was also a crucial start for Rodon, even though it wouldn’t change the Yankees’ hopes of making the playoffs. He wanted to at least make a good impression to carry a good start over into the new season, but it turned out to be an absolute disaster.


The incident I had more of an issue with came in Anaheim, when Rodon blew a kiss to a crowd full of Yankee fans that booed the southpaw after giving up six runs in 4.1 innings. It was his third start with the Yankees, and he was just coming off a poor start in Colorado several days earlier. However, no matter what city the Yankees play in, they are guaranteed to bring a pack of fans to the visiting stadiums. When the players are playing well, fans will be on their side. If they’re playing bad, they’ll turn against them. But if you’re playing bad and make a gesture like Rodon did, it’s a hole that will just continue to go deeper. The fans are entitled to boo their own players. I’m sure it was an act of frustration from Rodon, but it’s an incident that cannot happen again.


While it doesn’t seem like the biggest deal to some, Rodon reporting to Tampa several weeks early is a nice way to start the season. It shows that he truly does care about improving himself and helping the Yankees work towards a World Series victory. This is definitely a good start to win some of the Yankee fans over. However, I would be curious to know exactly what Rodon has been working on over the past few weeks.


David Cone has said that Rodon needs to develop a “Plan B” that he can go to if his fastball-slider combination is not working, which is absolutely correct. Rodon is now 31 years old, and has already seen declines in his fastball’s velocity. Yankee fans have seen pitchers in the past, specifically CC Sabathia, whose fastball velocity declined and they had to develop a new style of pitching. It took Sabathia a couple of years to find his new game, but he actually managed to have a couple of decent seasons to close out his career.


Hopefully, Rodon and the Yankees coaches are already on top of this. His fastball still has good velocity, but it’s better if he’s ahead of the game in adding at least one new pitch to his arsenal. It’s not to say that he can’t throw these pitches, but he throws either a fastball or slider nearly 90% of the time. He also threw a curveball 6% of the time last season and a changeup 4%. Even throwing one of these pitches at a higher rate could be extremely beneficial to his game.


While it would be nice if Rodon could add one of these pitches more frequently to his roster sometime this season, I hope it’s at least something he’s working on throughout the season. The Yankees will have Rodon for another four years after 2024, so they should already be planning for the long run. I have optimism that Rodon can turn his Yankee career around, since there’s plenty of time to do so. And what he’s done so far is very encouraging to see.


If Rodon can return to his ’21 or ’22 form, the Yankees will gladly take it. The big thing that they’d like to see out of Rodon is that he can stay healthy throughout the season and give them five or six innings each night. He’s not the ace of the squad, but he’s getting paid to be the No. 2 guy behind Gerrit Cole. The expectations will be running high for Rodon, and for the entire Yankee team, this upcoming season.


20 comments

20 Comments


Mike Whiteman
Feb 15

I'm optimistic about Rodon in 2024. He seems motivated and cares about doing well. We've got no other choice :)

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etbkarate
Feb 14

I am not holding my breath on Rodon. If he pitches below a 4.00 ERA, I will be pleasantly surprised. Nothing in his background tells me anything different. Plus, as you mentioned, it appears that he has thin skin, which is never good in NYC. I like Cone, but the more I listen to him, the more I think he is full of it and just saying things to please his YES and ESPN bosses. Put it this way, he didn't pitch the way he is now talking about pitching.

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Melfman1
Melfman1
Feb 14

Ughhh… just read that Effross needed back surgery in December and now won’t be available until the summer. The 2022 trade deadline moves continue to haunt us. I wonder if that is why Lou Trevino reported to Spring Training. Could a move to the 60 day IL for Effross be imminent, followed by a contract for Trevino? I think so.

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zx11c3macky
zx11c3macky
Feb 14
Replying to

You guessed it.

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Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 14

Incidents like the "blowing a kiss" and "turning his back on Blake" can be chalked up to "heat of the moment" actions. All players, in all sports, who commit "heat of the moment" actions are extremely tough competitors. So when these things happen in the "heat of the moment", they get a pass from me, and they are completely forgiven. You WANT players on your club, especially pitchers, who are that intense and who are tough competitors. Over all, it will pay off in the long run in great dominant performances down the road.

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etbkarate
Feb 15
Replying to

At 31 years old, he should know better, "heat" or no heat. I see an attitude problem with him, plus he's just not very good. He is average. I want better than average.

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cpogo0502
Feb 14

Anyone want to chime in on whether or not Rodon is a $27 million per year pitcher? I think this is another of Cashman's misadventures similar to Jacoby Ellsbury. I truly hope I'm wrong, for the Yankees' sake.

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etbkarate
Feb 15
Replying to

Was he injured all of 2016-2020 when his ERA was 4.39 combine in 395 innings? He is just an average lefty that found a sucker and cashed in. Good for him, not for us.

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