The New York Yankees have fallen into some April woes, as they hold a 5-10 record in the first few weeks of the season. This is their worst 15 game start since 1997, however ending that season 96–66.
A combination of lackadaisical play, sloppy defense, inconsistent offense, and key injuries are all the perfect equation for this nightmare. Now for many, this blog is going to be an "overreaction". Will things get better when guys like Voit, Britton, and Severino return? Yes, absolutely, but we need to accomplish basic baseball here. The team is unwatchable and it's embarrassing.
"But we are only a couple of weeks in, the offense we click, the team will figure it out, they will make the playoffs"
Blah, blah, blah blah, blah. Jomboy stated it perfectly. These issues aren't new, and they aren't getting solved. This team is supposed to be the epitome of first-class success. It has been over a decade since the Bronx Bombers won a World Series, let alone make one. We shouldn't be cheering for winning 100 games or making the playoffs. There should be no reason whatsoever that they should ever be at the bottom of the American League, let alone the MLB. So what gives? How can the Yankees turn things around?
Step 1 - Accountability and Leadership
What happened to the firey Aaron Boone cursing out umpires talking about the team's "savageness in the box"? Listen there is no doubt that Boone can manage this team, and has what it takes to win, but he may feel too comfortable with his job. He has made the playoffs all three seasons and put together back-back seasons of 100-plus victories. His 2019 team started 6-9, but turned around and won 103 at the end.
It is unfair to compare the past brass with the present, but there seems to be a sense of urgency and anger. Now, this is only what we see from what is in front of us. We don't know what is taking place inside the clubhouse, nor the conversations that are being had internally, but from the eye of the fan, the team looks plain out flat.
Aaron Judge needs to assume the captain role and light a fire under everyone's asses. Gerritt Cole can't do it all, but he should be tearing into the starting pitchers. The bullpen has been formidable, but they are getting overworked already. Father Time, aka Brett Gardner, is the only guy who has a Yankees World Series ring. He has seen the transformation from the "Core Four" to the "Baby Bombers". There is a reason why he is still on the team. Maybe CC Sabathia needs to come back for a good old pep talk?
There needs to be a spark somewhere. The dugout is dry and boring, the team has no positive ups or energy. We need a good old fashion Boone ejection, Gardy slamming bats, and a new signal of hope (i.e. thumbs down, toe-night show, etc.) to help jumpstart this sluggish team.
Step 2 -Cleaning up the mechanics
I mean, where to begin? The team flat-out can't bat. Once considered an offense juggernaut, is now are easy outs with maybe four hits a game? New York's batting average is down to .210, one point above the AL worst. Don't even get me started about how many baserunners they leave on too. Besides to irrelevant offense, the defense has been sloppy. The outfield is having a hard time with basic plays, and Torress is showing his struggles at shortstop.
The lineup and defensive alignment need a major shakeup as well. Let's start with the outfield dramatics. Clint Frazier has been granted the "starting left fielder" title all winter, and now he has a slow start and is toyed around. Fine, I understand, but what is the excuse for Aaron Hicks? He bobbled two easy plays in the field and is hitting an abysmal .160 average. You can't be batting Hicks in the middle of the lineup with a .236 OPS. Why is he batting third, let alone why does he have so much room for error? Might as well get Tauchman and Gardner more reps to see who has what it takes to be the "everyday starter".
DJ is getting a lot of pressure on him, but in my mind wouldn't it make sense to have him at short and Torres back to his natural second base position? Would that be impossible? I like Gleybar, I think he is the future, but things need to get figured out ASAP in terms of defensive ability.
In terms of the lineup, DJ is without a doubt the team's best and most consistent hitter, making him the sparkplug of the offense, and he should bat leadoff. Judge at two seems like a good fit, but he needs to hit for more contact to combine with his power. Moving Gio to three would make the most sense in my opinion. Urshela has a combination of contact, power, and can take a walk. Stanton is landlocked at the cleanup spot, while the bottom of the lineup just needs to perform and get contact.
DJ LeMahieu - 1B
Aaron Judge - RF
Gio Ursehla - 3B
Giancarlo Stanton - DH
Gleybar Torress - SS
Gary Sanchez / Kyle Higashioka- C
Rougned Odor - 2B
Brett Gardner / Mike Tauchman - CF
Clint Frazier - LF
Step 3 - Internal promotions
Deivi Garcia showed much promise last season, while also being put on a high stage in the playoffs. His ERA was slightly high, but he did have 33 strikeouts in 6 games. He possessed a cool and calm demeanor. Is he an every-week starter right now? Maybe. But why not try him in the bullpen? The same goes for Mike King, who has performed well in his two bulk performances this season but continues to get sent back to the alternative site. Why are Nick Nelson, Lucas Luetge, and Luis Cessa still are options, especially how taxed the bullpen is with our lack of quality starting performances.
With the departure of Jay Bruce, why not give Derek Dietrich a tryout? With Bruce's retirement, the Yankees should utilize Mike Ford at first base and slide DJ back to second. It would provide a "hefty-lefty" bat in the lineup as well. However, Boone confirmed the plan is to commit to using LeMahieu at first, and Odor at second until Voit's return. Sigh.
How about Miguel Andujar? Once a ROY candidate to now not even part of the team's consideration in the near future. He can't be worse than Odor or Wade, no?
While the current formula clearly isn't working, and the team refuses to look outside, why not look at what you got?
Step 4 - "The Final Straw"
If steps 1-4 don't work by June, then it's time for a shakeup. No more BS, no more "we'll get them next year", the clock is ticking and the window is closing. The Dodgers shelled out for a win-now and they achieved that. We shouldn't have to waste a year of Cole and the window of affordable contracts to lose yet again.
Reset some clocks. The Aaron Boone era should be ended. No time for BS, no reason to wait to the end of the season. Move forward and win some damn ball games. His replacement, I don't know, a placeholder if you will, but someone who people would listen to. I like Marcus Thames or Phil Nevins, but that's just an opinion.
It is also time for ownership to suck it up and ditch the tax threshold. This is a double-edged sword. Listen, I get it from a business standpoint. You don't want to go over the $210 million dollar tax threshold. You need to operate a franchise in a fiscally conservative matter as well. However, we aren't a small market team. We aren't a poverty franchise. The New York Yankees are worth over $5 billion dollars, and they generate hundreds of millions of dollars, COVID times or not. This team should be shelling out to win. No more excuses, no more "we'll get 'em next year". No. It should be Championship or bust every, single, season.
If we aren't going to utilize our youth, then it's time to ship them off. The team should be filled with the league's best. I've seen some different scenarios thrown around and here are some that I think would provide a great spark. Would it be risky trading away team-controlled players for talent? Yes. But then the Yankees could flip the narrative, win a World Series, and sign these players after the season. Again, all just a "final-straw" concept, so take this with a grain of salt.
Per Baseball Trade Values Simulator
There are some available unsigned free agents that could make an immediate impact. How about Shane Greene? The former Yankee and All-Star is still available and could be a nice component to a strong bullpen. Another former Yank, David Robertson, could also be an option. The more depth the better in my opinion, especially with the uncertainties of Kluber/Taillon/German. Cole Hamels, Rick Porcello, and Jeff Samardzija are still looking for jobs too. Jedd Gyorko could offer some infield versatility and Josh Reddick is a solid defensive outfielder.
Neither here nor there. All of this comes from the emotions of a fan. I am no sports journalist, nor a baseball expert. I am frustrated and tired of seeing this team fall short of expectations. If the Yankees could look at steps 1-3 before even considering 4, and turn the corner, then I will feel better. However, if the season is a total flop, then a full implode needs to occur.