I’ve been really trying to avoid writing this article. The sample size was just too small for me. I just kept waiting for them to go on an absolute tear and win, like, 16 of 17. Because they’re good enough to do it. They really are. There’s a reason FanGraphs gave the Yankees a freaking 91.3% chance to make the playoffs before the season started and the second-best World Series odds (17.5%). The roster should be really good. But, alas, they’re just not.
But, I’m finally writing an article to say this: the Yankees are not okay. It’s not just a small sample size anymore. They’re 73-65 since the beginning of 2020’s weird, short season. Now, I agree 2020 isn’t the best marker of this team’s talents, as they elected to basically rest Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the playoffs, but it’s still not great to see.
Last night’s 11-8 heartbreaking loss was a culmination of all the disappointment the team has had this year. Despite a seven-run first, they were only able to tack on one more run over the next eight innings, keeping the Angels in the game. Then, Aroldis Chapman – who I wondered if he was going to give up a run all year after his dominant start – continued his absolutely putrid run as he walked the bases loaded and allowed a game-tying grand slam to Jared Walsh. Before I continue, there are absolutely zero reasons that Chapman should’ve been in to face Walsh. Chapman isn’t one of those guys who is usually able to “figure it out” as a game goes on. If he can’t throw his fastball for strikes – which he couldn’t last night – he’s either going to throw a ball, or he’s going to force his slider into the strike zone a la Game 6 2019 ALCS and it’s going to be crushed. I understand Boone’s desire to have a lefty in to face Walsh – who has a 157 wRC+ against righties vs 66 against lefties – but lucky for him, he had already gotten Lucas Luetge up and warming. Obviously, Boone did make the move to bring in Luetge after the Walsh slam and he proceeded to allow three runs to give the Angels the lead, but there was still no reason for him not to be the one facing Walsh.
I don’t really have words for the crushing feeling of waiting up until 1 AM to see your team blow a game to the team Kristian Lloyd roots for, and then being @‘d in the Diamond Digest discord AND on Twitter by Mr. Lloyd, but it’s definitely negative.
But enough of the early hours of July 1, it’s now actually July 1, and the Yankees need to take a long look at where they are. So, let’s look take the long look at the roster that the Yankees need to, right now.
There’s not nothing, but there’s not a ton.
- Gerrit Cole, despite being slammed by the Red Sox, still seems to be a pretty damn good pitcher without Spider Tack. Is he a top-three pitcher in the game? Maybe not. But he stills throws 100 consistently with some devastating breaking pitches and had three pretty great tack-less outings (he was never caught so maybe they were ALL tack-less). To this point in the year, he has a 2.66 ERA, 2.94 FIP, 2.86 xFIP, and a 2.79 SIERA.
- Aaron Judge is freaking awesome and should be a Yankee for life. This Mike Petriello tweet sums up how great Judge is pretty well.
- Giancarlo Stanton hits the cover off the ball consistently to the tune of a career-high 59.7% hard-hit percentage.
- Gary Sánchez is back. His .239/.347/.495 splits despite a putrid stretch are amazing, and he’s just 2 points behind his career-high full season wRC+ of 131. His defense remains an issue, but the bat is really really real.
- Jonathan Loaisiga is absolutely amazing and has easily been the team’s best reliever. He has a 2.32 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, and 2.92 SIERA while striking out 23.4% of batters compared to 5.4% walking, and inducing a ground ball on 65.8% of BBE, which ranks 12th in baseball (minimum 50 PA).
- Jordan Montgomery continues to be a safe, reliable part of the rotation as he has a 4.06 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, and 4.03 SIERA.
- Nestor Cortes Jr is fun, I guess.
- Lucas Luetge is a really good story.
- The Yankees farm system as a whole has had a fabulous minor league season so far – especially bats like Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Hoy-Jun Park.
- The Yankees acquired Tim Locastro as I wrote this – a speedy outfielder best known for his uncanny ability to be hit by pitches (36 in 480 career PA) – so they’re clearly back.
- Gleyber Torres has forgotten how to hit home runs (six in his last 112 games).
- Clint Frazier has forgotten how to do basically anything on a baseball field (-0.8 fWAR)
- DJ LeMahieu has, unsurprisingly, regressed (103 wRC+).
- Gio Urshela’s bat has regressed (108 wRC+, OBP down to .315).
- $34-million man Gerrit Cole can only throw to Kyle Higashioka, and since Stanton can’t play the outfield, the Yankees are forced to bench their third-best hitter.
- Brett Gardner is the everyday center fielder for the Yankees.
- Miguel Andujar has “earned” the everyday left fielder spot over Clint Frazier despite being worth 0.0 fWAR.
- Jameson Taillon has been bad (5.43 ERA, 4.75 FIP, 4.51 xFIP, 4.12 SIERA – not the worst peripherals though).
- Michael King is currently starting every fifth day.
- Rougned Odor is employed by the Yankees.
- So is Tyler Wade.
- Corey Kluber was good but then he, unsurprisingly, got injured and won’t be back until September.
- Luis Severino suffered a setback in his rehab.
- The Yankees still employ Domingo German who, in addition to being an absolutely atrocious human being, has forgotten how to pitch (9.98 ERA in his past four starts).
- The Yankees still employ Aroldis Chapman who, in addition to being an absolutely atrocious human being, has forgotten how to throw strikes, exhibited best by this graphic that my good friend and noted Red Sox fan John Principe was kind enough to share in the DD discord at 12:58 AM last night.
Luke Voit hasn’t done enough in ’21 to garner a take, but is a very good hitter, which is nice*
I’m not going to say the world is ending and that the Yankees need to blow everything up and conduct a rebuild. They’re nowhere near being a “bad” team. Sure, New York has only brought one championship home in my lifetime, but they haven’t had a losing season since I was negative-10 years old. The fact that my idea of watching a “bad” baseball team is the 2013 Yankees – who won 85 games and weren’t eliminated from the playoffs until September 25 – is ridiculous. So, no, this Yankees team isn’t bad and isn’t in need of a blow-up, but trading some pieces as they did in 2016 like Chapman and Zack Britton – both players making a lot of money at a position that it is dumb to spend a lot of money on – wouldn’t be the stupidest thing. The big move will come next offseason when the Yankees are expected to be in the market for a shortstop. If they do land one of the big fish, one of Urshela, Voit, Torres, or LeMahieu has to go.
But at the same time, barring the squad going on a tear in the next month, there’s no reason for them to be buyers for 2021. That’s not to say they should stand pat; if there’s a player a la Joey Gallo, Ketel Marte, or Bryan Reynolds (???) who is available and could be in their future plans (or, I guess, Tim Locastro), the Yankees should be all over it. But, there’s no reason for them to be in the market for rentals who want to test FA.
The Yankees are far from a tear-down, but if they do end up missing the playoffs, big changes better be in store. Clearly, Aaron Boone and his staff (besides Matt Blake) will not return with a playoff miss and gone with them better be Hal Steinbrenner’s refusal to go over the luxury tax. People used to complain that the Yankees “buy their championships.” MAKE THEM COMPLAIN ABOUT IT AGAIN. If the Yankees miss the playoffs and don’t make a 2009-like splash in free agency, Hal Steinbrenner deserves the brunt of the blame.
Maybe the Yankees will be fine this year. Maybe they’ll finish the final 82 games of the year on an absolute tear and win the division and this will all be moot. I don’t think that’s necessarily an insane possibility. But, the more time goes on and they remain hovering around .500, the less likely that becomes.
Stanton said it best after last night’s implosion: “At the end of the day, if we don’t turn up ‘W’s,’ you can talk f–king until you’re blue in the face.”
Featured Photo: Yahoo! Sports