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Tuesday Discussion: Doomed?

May 2, 2023

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This week we asked our writers to respond to the following:


Judging by what we have seen so far in 2023, following an uninspired second half of 2022, are the Yankees in trouble?


Here are their responses:


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Lincoln Mitchell - My sense is that the Yankees are largely the same team they were last year. hey are better than an average team, but not quite an elite one. They are injury prone, but so are most teams. Yankees fans have to recognize that all teams have injuries and top prospects, so if you build a strategy around being healthier and younger players breaking through, you are doing the bare minimum. The one major addition the Yankees made in the off-season was adding Carlos Rodon. There are two problems there. First, as much as I like Rodon he is also injury prone. Second, if they had Rodon last year, they would have done better and might have lost to the Astros in five, rather than four, games, but they would not have won the World Series.

In the big picture, the Yankees are in trouble because they are unable to solve problems. They let the same problems-like not having a respectable bench or a decent starting outfield fester, are unwilling to spend money to compete at the top level and are not great at developing prospects.


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Paul Semendinger - In a word, Yes.


The Yankees are not a very good team. In many regards, they're a bad team.


Their planning was so bad that on Sunday, they had a career minor league shortstop (Peraza) playing third base, a player who never played outfield before they were desperate last year (Cabrera) starting in right field, and a lifelong infielder (Kiner-Falefa) playing in centerfield.


Seven batters in the lineup on Sunday were hitting under .250 - and most don't project to be better. That's the point. There isn't a lot of hope that any of those players, except maybe Volpe can or will start to hit. Kinfer-Falefa? Hicks? Higiashioka? Those guys aren't hitters.


The Yankees put their eggs in the Aaron Judge basket. I wrote about this a lot. Yes, they needed to bring him back, but if they then were going to be tied to the luxury tax caps, they wouldn't be able to build a good enough team around him. Judge might be to the Yankees what A-Rod was to the Texas Rangers. (I have also written that, a lot.) The Yankees spent a fortune on Judge and that brought them to the luxury tax threshold they didn't want to surpass so they had to find ways to save money in other areas. This team is the result.


They've been a .500 team since June 30, 2022. Without big changes, it's unlikely to change. And unless, the Yankees change their philosophy (all winter we heard that they were unwilling to exceed the next luxury tax level), there is no chance they can bring in new talent at the trade deadline because they are right up against that next tier.


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Tamar Chalker - It’s too early to worry too much, but this certainly isn’t the start that was expected of them and the injuries are absolutely concerning.


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Mike Whiteman - I continue to believe there is good baseball to be had with the 2023 Yankees later this season. There is concern about a "1984 scenario" when a slow Yankee start and a blistering pace from another team puts the Yanks in a huge hole early.


The big difference now as opposed to 1984 are the Wild Card spots.


Right now, they feel like they are in freefall. They have to win the winnable games and stay as close as possible until the injured players start to filter back.


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Andy Singer - There are two ways to look at the beginning of this season. The first, and most popular opinion, is that this is a fatally flawed team whose flaws have shown themselves in their entirety early on here in the 2023 season, and it won't get much better.


However, I look at it from a slightly different perspective. Yes, the only word I can think of to describe the Yankees' recent play is: pathetic. No argument from me there. However, the law of averages generally prevails over long sample sizes. The other way to look at the start of this season is to say that everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, so the team can only look up from here.


The flaw with this roster, as I see it, is largely the same as the flaw that sank the team in 2022 (hint: it's not talent). This is an older roster with multiple key role players who are prone to injury both due to age and pre-existing conditions. The difference this year is that the next generation of highly touted prospects are on their way. By the season's second half, I can see a world in which injury-prone veterans mix with exciting young kids both on the bench and in key starting positions to form a formidable lineup that peaks at the right time.


Frankly, the Yankees of the season's first half in 2022 were one of the two best teams in baseball (like 2019), and could have competed with anyone in a 7-game series. That wasn't the team that played in the 2022 playoffs and it's not the team we've seen early in 2023. However, there is a lot of season left, and it is perfectly reasonable to expect reinforcements in the form of players returning from injury, young guys who breakout, and trade deadline acquisitions to help the Yankees perform better in the regular season AND peak at the end of the season as opposed to the beginning. As bad as the Yankees have been, they haven't been bad enough to tank their chances at the AL East or the playoffs. I'm concerned, but I'm not panicking yet.


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James Vlietstra - Really it’s got nothing to do with 2022 at all. The injury bug has taken its toll on the team and the replacement player levels are not very impressive.


Aaron Judge was replaced by Franchy Cordero.

Giancarlo Stanton was replaced by Willie Calhoun.

Harrison Bader was replaced by IKF.


All of those injuries mean Aaron Hicks is playing more than anticipated.


On the pitching end, starters Frankie Montas, Luis Severino, and Carlos Rodon have been out making them rely on Clarke Schmidt more than they should.


In the bullpen, Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Loasiga have been hurt which has caused the overuse of other key arms.


A return to health or a continuing injection of youthful prospects is what it needed for the Yankees to rebound to where we all believe they should be. Continuing to run out AAAA outfielders that were supposed to be in Scranton is not the answer.


17 comments

17 Comments


Cary Greene
Cary Greene
May 02, 2023

My apologies to all as I was unable to make the deadline to respond here, but here's my take:


Are the Yankees in Trouble?

May 2nd Thoughts, by Cary Greene


It’s said that ships don’t sink because of the water around them, but rather - because water gets in them. Looking at the Yankees remaining strength of schedule, which according to Tankathon is the fourth hardest in MLB, we can agree that the water around the Yankees ship throughout the remaining portion of their 2023 regular season voyage will certainly be choppy. That said, a well made ballclub should be able to remain competitive and thus avoid taking on too much water or worse yet - sinking into the murk…


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jjw49
May 02, 2023

It's time for Cashman to be fired...................... forget revisionist history dating back to 1978.... sure anything can happen but this isn't the team to come roaring back this year. As lifelong Yankee fan I'm frankly pissed off that Cashman gets a pass from the back pages. Cashman put this team together and as fans we are all in Yankee abyss today because of him... Last night you saw "Bonehead Boone "at his worst. It's time to clean house in the Bronx... plain and simple!

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 02, 2023

In trouble, yes. Doomed, no. The Yankees are 8.5 GB of the Rays, 1.5 GB of the third Wild Card slot. Seven games with the Rays are coming up. Let's see where we are on the night of May 14.


If the Rays games go badly, we're looking at 1978 for hope. The alte kakers here remember that the Yankees fell 14.5 GB of the Red Sox, but the poor play was due to injuries. In mid-June, the players started coming back, one pitcher had a phenomenal year (IIRC, Guidry started off 5-0 then, just like Cole now), and the Yankees roared back to win everything. In theory, the Yankees' second half could be as good as their first h…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
May 03, 2023
Replying to

Where's this year's Ken Clay? Oh, right, he doesn't exist, or if he does, he's at SWB. Would I rather have 1978 Gossage than 1978 Holmes, sure. Would I rather have 1978 Lyle than 2023 Peralta, uh no. '78 was Lyle's "Cy Onara" year. Again, it's not about individuals but about the bullpen as a whole. I realize you want Gossage and Lyle to be all and end all, but they aren't. ERA+ for 2023 projects MUCH better for the 2023 pen. ETA: The '78 troika had total WAR of 3.3, the '23 quintet project to a total WAR of 6.5. Again, that's over nearly the same number of total innings.


As for Tidrow, if you look at the stats…

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yankeesblog
May 02, 2023

Its hard to see a good ending for this season. The Yankees placed too many bets on injury-prone players staying healthy while not providing adequate depth in case their expectations were not fulfilled. They also failed to address the obvious roster holes and proved unwilling to move on from sunk costs (Donaldson, Hicks) for the purposes of staying under the last CBT tax threshold. Its not reasonable to expect two rookies and one quasi-rookie to pick up the slack for the injured and under performing veterans. Volpe will be fine but he's not going to provide and upgrade over IKF and replace missing production from other guys at the same time. Peraza can't be expected to hit that much and Cabrera…


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yankeerudy
May 02, 2023

Yes, yes. A thousand times, yes. There will be no major trading deadline acquisitions, not if the salary cap is any indication.

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Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
May 02, 2023
Replying to

We agree.

That's the rub.

They didn't get the needed players this off-season because of the restrictions they put on themselves. That's why there is no help, unless they break their own rule and keep that rule broken - or else they'll have the same off-season next winter.

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