Woolgathering on a Wednesday: What Have the Yankees Done?
The 2021 season is over and while I’m upset about the loss last night, especially going out with a whimper from our bats* and ace pitcher, I am relieved that I can let go of all the annoyances from this season.
Well, I can almost get rid of the annoyances. But, not until I get this post done. I do need one complainer post. (Though, to be fair, this won’t be the only one…baseball doesn’t come back until February.)
What Have the Yankees Done?
You can’t learn from a mistake if you don’t acknowledge that a mistake was made. The Yankees have not only been living in a world where they are rejecting that they are making mistakes, but they are also doubling and tripling down on the mistakes. And, this isn’t a new revelation. This is something that every Yankees fan instinctively knows.
The “three-true-outcomes” approach to hitting can work…in short stints, when a majority of the line-up gets hot at the same time. Building around that approach leads to the volatility that we experienced this past season: great 13-game winning streaks and horrible stints of going 2-10.
Unfortunately, that type of approach at the plate does not- and has not- played well in short series. The Yankees in the postseason over the past 6 years (since 2015) have gone 2-2 in Wild Card games and have won just two series (Twins in 2019, Indians in 2017) while losing 4 series.
Since the 2010 World Series, 13 different teams have played (7 from the AL) in the final series of the season. The Yankees are not one of those teams. It’s been said before, but the 2010’s decade was the first with a Yankees victory since the 1980’s. It was the first without a Yankees appearance since the 1910’s.
Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t looked to be bucked any time soon.
Not only is the postseason more competitive (and longer) than it ever has been, but the Yankees are also playing to be content with making the playoffs given this. They didn’t play this last season with fire…up until the last game of the season. They weren’t built to win a World Series and they didn’t make moves to fix up the teams fatal flaws at the trade deadline.
Clay Holmes turned out to be a good move. Joey Gallo was a dumpster fire throughout September (why was he batting 4th yesterday?). Andrew Heaney was deserving of a DFA about a month before it happened.
The Yankees haven’t acquired a top-tier starting pitcher at a trade deadline since Sonny Gray…who they immediately ruined.
That leads me to my main point here:
The Yankees are either unwilling to change, or they’re content with status-quo work.
It took the Yankees 10 years to realize that Larry Rothschild was ruining their pitchers. (It took the Padres just over a season between 2020 and 2021 to do so.)
The Yankees have had the same scouting director (Damon Oppenheimer) since 2005. During which the Yankees farm is almost always ranked in the bottom-half of teams in the MLB.
Brian Cashman has been the teams general manager since 1998. He is the lonest tenured GM in baseball. The next GM on the list is Mike Rizzo (Washington Nationals). Rizzo was hired in 2009. That was when the Yankees won their most recent World Series. That feels like a lifetime ago.
(At a lesser extent, the Yankees have kept around Marcus Thames since 2016, he should be nearing the end of his tenure here too.)
The Yankees are struggling and they need to change the way they do things.
Do I have all the answers?
Well, yes. And I’m convinced that if the Yankees listened solely to me than they would be a much better team. They would also have a payroll close to $500 Million and have an outfield of Bryce Harper. (Obviously this is written in jest.)
Over this offseason, I will highlight the many ways in which I want this team to change. On the surface, you can get some of my basic plan now, though (in no particular order):
Bringing back Aaron Boone will put this franchise back when they’re ready to compete.
It’s time to change the message and “allow” (force) Brian Cashman out of the GM role.
Phil Nevin showed the epitome of this teams fundamental flaws yesterday. (A.K.A. The Yankees need quicker players.)
The Three-True-Outcomes wins over the course of a complete season…but it falls apart in the postseason against the best teams.
Free agency is not enough, trades need to be made. However, don’t neglect free agency!
The Yankees need a true pitching rotation again. They can’t go into a season with a starting rotation of injury-prone, underperforming, and lottery arms again. (Not everyone is going to be a miracle player like Nestor Cortes Jr.)
I haven’t watched a season as stressful, annoying, and constantly disappointing as the Yankees were this past year.
They can fix that. They can be exciting again.
2022 will be different…or so I can only hope.