What To Do For 2024?
By Tamar Chalker
October 20, 2023
This off-season, I find myself with no real idea what I want to see the Yankees do to ensure 2024 isn’t a repeat of this year. In my younger years, the answer always seemed to lie with landing a big free agent or pulling off a surprise trade. Lately, however, that hasn’t worked for New York. Even before the season ended, Hal Steinbrenner was promising Yankee fans that significant changes would be made to avoid the catastrophe that was the 2023 season. The Yankees have done a lot of underperforming in the last decade, but this year they just barely managed to stay over .500 (and above the 5th place Red Sox). While Boston's dismal performance this year was expected, the Bronx Bombers were expected to still be playing today.
Given the disparity between what was expected and what came to pass, hearing that ownership was ready to make "big" changes was something a lot of Yankee fans wanted to hear, but are we going to see any? I think it was fair to say that most of us assumed that meant one (or both) Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman would be sent packing. The Yankees, however, wasted no time in announcing that they were both expected to stay with the team. Recently, however, Steinbrenner qualified his previous statement by saying, “We’re going to make some changes. Some may be more subtle than others. But I think we’ve uncovered certainly things we can do better.” Now, at first glance this is a wholly frustrating thing to hear from the ownership. The Yankees have pretty regularly underachieved their potential for the past decade with a few exceptions. Steinbrenner followed that up by saying that those changes could be personnel changes - but they might not be. Well, thanks, that's helpful, Hal. It's fair to say when I first read those comments, I rolled my eyes hard and prepared myself for an equally disappointing 2024. I don't typically like the idea of firing the manager/GM simply to shake things up and I'm not completely convinced that this season's failure rests squarely on Boone's shoulders. If Boone has been completely in control of this team and this was the result, then perhaps he should head back to the broadcast booth. Meanwhile, I do not think Cashman deserves much leeway. In the past, he was fairly adept at making a trade or signing that would get the fan base and the team excited. Taking a look back at the signings/trades the Yankees have done over the last few years, the results have often been underwhelming. Take Josh Donaldson or this first season of Carlos Rodon in pinstripes as just a couple of examples. Harrison Bader did some good for the Yankees, but was he worth Jordan Montgomery? I don’t know, but in the end neither one of them would be enough alone to make a difference. Steinbrenner was vague when pressed on what changes they may make, but honestly, I don't think he is wrong. “It could be practices. It could be the way people communicate when we bring a young minor leaguer up to the major league level, are the major league coaches talking enough to player development and vice versa. Are the major league coaches really getting into reading a lot of research because we do notes as these kids go from one level to the next, what’s being worked on, what the weaknesses are, what their strengths are.” There is a problem that goes deeper than merely personnel and injuries but lies in the culture they have created. Whether it is practice, communication issues, or, as Aaron Judge and others have indicated, problems with the Yankees' analytics department getting the team properly prepared, those things are going to need to be addressed if New York is going to perform as they should and bring another trophy back to the Bronx. The hard part of that, at least for fans, is those are changes we don’t see until the results start to come in. In today’s game, those things may actually count for more than just signing the best free agent.