Tuesday Discussion: Are The Yankees Doomed?
June 27, 2023
This week we asked our writers:
If Aaron Judge is out for the season, do the Yankees have any realistic hope of reaching the playoffs? Is it time for the Yankees to be sellers and regroup for next year?
Here are their responses:
Lincoln Mitchell - It was time for the Yankees to be sellers even if Judge were coming back tomorrow. However, they need to target 2025 not next year. This is not a good core in search of supporting players, but a group of supporting players in search of a core.
*** Dale Mather - The Yankees don't have a realistic shot of making the playoffs. Although I always say pitching wins championships, the Yankees would have to gut the farm system to get players that won't contribute enough to get them into the playoffs. I mean Bellinger? We already know Ohtani won't be available and even if he is the Yankees won't land him. The last I read they were saying Judge would probably be back before the allstar game. If not they won't hold onto a playoff spot. If by some miracle they do, I would predict a one and done game. The Yankees would be best to see what happens with Judge and if the rotation can keep them close when Cortes and Rodon return. If they are still losing ground they should sell of over priced pieces and look to adding to the young talent instead of depleting depth just to sell tickets.
Paul Semendinger - If Judge is gone, the Yankees' hopes go with it. That's the realistic thought. Sure, anything can happen. But this has basically been an 85 win team over the last 162 games And that was WITH Judge for most of that. Without him? It's most likely over. Even if the Yankees make the playoffs, I do not see this as a team that can win a World Series.
It can be very difficult to face the facts that seem so apparent and to continue chasing an object that cannot be be attained. The Yankees need to face that reality now, immediately. It's time to look to build a better team for 2024. (I wrote about this extensively yesterday.)
Ed Botti - The very last thing this team needed has come to be. Since they won on the day he was injured (6/3/23) they have played 17 games without him, and are 7-10 in those games (as of today, 6/25/23).
Whether connected entirely to his injury or not, his teammates charged with picking up the slack have failed to do so offensively. In fact, two of the replacement players not counted on, Billy McKinney and Jake Bauers are the only ones actually stepping up, which is welcomed, but is not a good sign at all. Where are the guys cashing those huge checks?
Where have you gone Franchy Cordero?
Rizzo seems to have bounced back from taking a hit to his neck against San Diego at the end of May. I have liked his last 10 or so at bats. He has the hips out in front, his rotational swing seems leveled off and his hands are fast once again.
Under the current style of play with the current roster (sans Judge), this team will have a very difficult time putting up a solid second half, and unfortunately it is very possible that they do not make it to October.
Having said that, if they amend their offensive approach and utilize the skill sets actually possessed by the players on the roster, they may surprise a lot of people and make it to the playoffs by playing an aggressive style of ball and benching high salary dead wood, such as Donaldson (possible) DJ (not likely) and Stanton (no chance).
I do not like what I have seen from Volpe, and I do not think it is all his fault. I saw him play last season at Double-A Somerset, and his swing has changed. Now, he is upper cutting pitches and not taking as many pitches as was his calling card. Who’s to blame for that? As a result, he is getting tied up on high inside fastballs and either missing them, or popping them up. Last year (and this spring) he swung through the ball, he no longer is doing so.
If they do become sellers, I think it will be to improve 2023, not necessarily thinking of 2024 and beyond. I can see a scenario (because of his play and more importantly because of his contract status) where Gleyber Torres is moved to open up second base for Peraza (injured as we speak). If they do not plan on extending him past 2024, now is the time to move on and get something in return (if you trust the powers that be to do so).
If they do have enough to make a move in the standings over the final 85 games, one thing has to happen: They need a set lineup with players in batting spots best served for their skill sets. I do not have the actual stats (Suzyn mentioned it the other night), but it seems to me that the lineup is different on a daily basis. In fact, I have been told that they have line ups prepared games in advanced, which is silly. Let players get settled into roles, see who gets hot, and keep playing them. Stop talking about “Lanes” and just play the game smart and hard, and let the chips fall.
I do not see them as traditional sellers for one main reason: It will solidify the fact that Cashman has built (once again) an imbalanced team, with older retreads and reclamation projects, while their main competition is younger, healthier and more athletic. I do not see them ever admitting that for that reason and that reason alone, which is not good for the fans.
This weekend two deals came to mind. How would they be with Ezequiel Duran (.308 with 9 HRS-- traded for Gallo) and Benintendi (.283 with 34 runs scored - let to just walk away) playing every day in the Bronx?
Baseball is different than any other sport in one very significant way. If a single player’s absence from the line up is causing you to lose games like it does in basketball or even football, then you’ve built a bad baseball team.
We are all witnesses. Our eyes do not lie. Your move, Brian!
Cary Greene - Presently , I don't think the Yankees should remotely entertain being sellers because, as we are seeing this year and as we've seen recently in season's past, the regular season doesn't mean a lot. With the expanded playoffs, it's not that hard for a ball club to qualify for the playoffs. The Yankees actually right now, as we speak, are a playoff team., which is hard to believe but it's true.
As constructed, the current Yankee roster has a number of fatal flaws and I'm also not sure Cashman had the prospect capital necessary to pry useful pieces from non-contending teams, so Cashman's typical way of operating just isn't sustainable at this point for the Yankees. Cashman typically jettisons borderline or fringy prospects for stop-gap types that have little time remaining in whatever contracts they have on the table.
It's time this kind of operating and this kind of thinking come to an end. Trading potentially valuable pieces while trying to find temporary solutions isn't going to win a World Series title.
With that said, I think the Yankees should turn internally for solutions at this juncture of the season. We're a little bit over a month away. It's time to find out if players like Estevan Florial can help.
Meanwhile, it's unfortunately that the team can't just shed Brian Cashman and bring in a real baseball guy, then begin laying down a serious plan for rebuilding but at the same time, getting Rodon healthy could definitely help this year's team. They also could use a closer and some more left-handed pop, but it seems unlikely that the Yankees have the assets necessary to address the glaring flaws in Cashman's roster construction.
We shall see how this all transpires, but keep in mind the Blue Jays are charging hard and the Yankees need to be able to create some separation from competitors in the near and not too distant future. .
Once in the playoffs, anything can happen. Therefore, achieving a playoffs birth is the main goal from here on out. The Yankees have had ample time to see what they have, but they haven't used the time very wisely as they haven't really taken a very close look at some of the options currently in the system.
Cashman doesn't typically promote younger players unless he absolutely has to. It's likely that the Yankees will have to win in spite of whatever moves he makes. I'm not sure it's possible, but I hope some of the internal talent can translate. It's been a number of years and we're still waiting. I do think it's time to give some of the kids a shot.
Mike Whiteman - First of all, if Aaron Judge is out for a long time, this is clearly a big deal and very bad news. Frankly, if he misses a lot of time and just comes back in say September I'm a bit skeptical of his ability to get back into the shape needed to carry the offense, and carry the offense is what we've clearly seen the team needs him to do for sustained success.
While losing Judge is a clear setback, the question about selling isn't quite as clear. As of today (Sunday), the Yankees are positioned for a playoff spot. I've said this before, but the Yanks have gotten to this point playing the hardest schedule in the game. So, they are not quite the dumpster fire they are made out to be - there are a number of teams that wouldn't mind being where the Yankees are today. There are upcoming opportunities in the schedule as the team finally gets a healthy dose of last place teams - three games each against Oakland, St. Louis, Colorado, and Kansas City before the end of July. They have to take advantage of this and I think they can even in their reduced offensive capacity.
So, as of today I'm all in. Despite the injuries they have the fourth best record in the American League. They are on track to add perhaps the best July addition in MLB this year - Carlos Rodon. There are no thoughts of a sell off.
James Vlietstra - If Aaron Judge is out for the rest of the year, the Yankees still have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.
However, you can be a seller at the trade deadline without sending up the white flag. The 2016 team saw a vast improvement in the second half after trading away Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Carlos Beltran. The 2012 Red Sox moved a quarter billion dollars to the Dodgers at the trade deadline and were able to regroup during the offseason and spend their money more wisely and were able to rebound the following year and win the World Series.
The 2023 Yankees has lots of flaws but they also have assets. If they were to trade away some of their assets, they would be putting themselves in a better position to win a World Series. Definitely next year and beyond, but possibly this year too.
In order to be a seller, you have to have players that other teams want and then make them available.
For this exercise, we will pretend that the frost office has been given the green light to sell from Hal and the players with No Trade Clause agree to waive them for a chance to win.
The bullpen is by far the best in the league and they would have a bidding war on several of their best relievers.
Starters: Would anyone take on Cole’s $200M remaining? Unlikely. But Luis Severino is a pending free agent that could help down the stretch. Nestor Cortes still has two years of control and could get a nice return.
The Yankees have two defensive first catchers that make near the league minimum. Would anyone need one?
Would anyone want 3 1/2 years of LeMahieu? What if the Yanks eat half of the remaining $53M? More likely IKF and his $3M left. Or Torres for a year and a half of control.
Harrison Bader, if healthy, could fetch a decent haul in return as he’s playing for a new contract.
Could you get anyone to take Stanton if the Yankees offer to pay $100 of the $145 remaining on his contract
Along with trading some Rule 5 eligible players for compensation picks, they could have a busy trade deadline.
So let’s take a quick second to see what are the internal options for their replacement and does it make the team potentially better moving forward?
Ben Rortvedt and Austin Wells could actually be improvements at catcher. Same for Oswald Peraza in the infield.
Replacing Harrison Bader and pitchers would be more of an offseason endeavor, but in the meantime they have lots of young options in the minors I’d like to give an opportunity to like Andres Chaparro, Edgar Barclay, and others.
Moving players now would give the Yankees a lot of payroll flexibility for next year (until they sign someone else to clog it up).
Derek McAdam - I do believe that Aaron Judge is the heart and soul of this team, especially offensively. However, I do believe that this pitching staff will be able to carry this team to the playoffs.
If the Yankees can get a little more help from their offense, they should be just fine. The optimistic side of me is saying that the Yankees are going through a bad offensive slide.
The good news, however, is that they just won four of six games against the Mariners and Rangers. That’s a start.
With that being said, maybe the homestead was the force that turns the ship around. Maybe acquiring a player or two at the deadline can help them out some more.
Hopefully, Judge can return this season. However, everything is still up in the air.