The 2017 Yankees will forever be one of my favorite chapters of the franchise. The “baby bombers” thrived in the underdog role which no Yankees team is ever granted. The trip to Game 7 to the ALCS, defying all odds, and overcoming elimination multiple times is an exciting chapter I will always harp back to.
But that was when I thought it was the beginning to the next Yankees dynasty, not the apex of this core.
We can’t keep on re-reading that chapter of the book hoping for a different ending. It is time for change, no matter how painful it will be.
Today as we sit postmortem of the 2021 New York Yankees, the story feels all too similar.
On paper, the 2021 Yankees were supposed to have a season to remember. As were the 2020 Yankees, and the 2019 Yankees and the 2018 Yankees. I think you see the trend.
Instead in each of those seasons, the final out was not one which left them celebrating on the field and with champagne flowing through their hair, burning their eyes. No.
The Yankees’ season ended in a predictable fashion: With a collection of shortcomings and mistakes that sends them into the long winter burdened with the weight of failure and humiliation.
So where do they go from here?
To answer that, we first have to examine the glaring problems the franchise faces. And trust me there’s quite a few.
For a $207 million payroll, who are the great players?
Yankees broadcast tv play by play announcer Michael Kay put it perfectly when he asked the open ended question of who the great players are on the Yankees roster?
Outside of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the only guys who showed up through 162 game season and the wild card game, show me the great players. Better yet, show me the great athletes.
38 year old Brett Gardner should not be the fastest everyday player and starting CF.
24 year old SS/2B Gleyber Torres shouldn’t be a liability in the field and at the plate, continuing to regress rather than progress.
Gary Sanchez has regressed exponentially since his rookie season where he was once the most feared hitter in the league. Now he can’t go a game without striking out and allowing balls to hit the backstop.
DJ LeMahieu was abysmal this season and we are not yet sure if we can attribute that to injury or father time. Either way he is locked in til age 37, so enjoy.
Gio Urshela is a fine player and probably underrated, but he isn’t a corner stone piece. Neither is Luke Voit.
These are the players the Yankees have been locked into for the last few seasons and some going forward. The idea that they were ever great or far and away better than the rest of the league was just a false narrative.
They thought they were the Dodgers of the east coast, in reality they were a false prophet.
Who Stays and Who Goes?
I hate this portion of the conversation because I’d be lying if I acted like I wasn’t emotionally attached to guys on this team. But the reality is this is a results league and if you’re underperforming and hurting the title aspirations you have to go.
Gary Sanchez- Goodbye
I have been a loyal supporter of Sanchez through his peak and his extremely low valleys. It has bene two and a half years since Sanchez’s bat outweighed his lackluster defense. The once brilliant offensive player is a thing of the past and the Yankees have given him year to once again unlock it. He has failed to do so.
In the Yankees last two elimination games Sanchez was on the bench. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know then I don’t know what else to say.
The Yankees need to become more contact oriented and defensive minded. Sanchez provides neither at this stage and needs to be replaced. There will be a sacrifice in power from the position, but they can make that up elsewhere.
I’ll admit trading Sanchez now isn’t selling high so maybe they keep him around. But to enter the season with the keys automatically given to Sanchez to navigate the season would be malpractice. If nothing else they need to have someone that is going to push him to be better because Higashioka isn’t the answer either.
Luke Voit/Anthony Rizzo- Make your choice and commit to it.
If you have two starters then you have none. The Yankees can go into the season with Voit as their first baseman and be thrilled. Or they can resign Rizzo, which I’d prefer, and trade Voit. Either way they have an answer for the position, but under no circumstance can you have both on roster.
2B, 3B, SS: Stay put, but you could add depth
The rest of the infield is a crapshoot. You have LeMahieu, Urshela, Torres returning under contract. Also Tyler Wade who proved his worth this season. The issue is none of them are shortstops by trade.
Torres thrived back at second base so I would assume that he is locked in there.
So does Urshela become the full time shortstop? His glove is good enough but he hasn’t played that position for a full season so maybe it is a risk.
That leaves LeMahieu at 3rd base, his secondary position but that is where he slots in best now that Torres is unable to handle shortstop.
Or do the Yankees go big game hunting and land SS Carlos Corea or Corey Seager and simply move off one of their current guys? It is an option but maybe not a likely one. The Yankees have two SS prospects, one who was the AA MVP this year and another who is regarded as the best SS prospect in baseball. With them a year away, why lock into Corea or Seager for huge money and long years?
OF Questions: Trade Gallo? Move Injury Prone Hicks to the bench?
The outfield is crowded but is it really?
Judge, Stanton, Joey Gallo, Aaron Hicks will be the 4 main outfielders on roster. Judge and Stanton are locks and will never be moved.
Gallo is interesting considering it will be his final year under contract and he underperformed this year. Maybe the Yankees pack him out of here in hopes of a speedster or contact guy? The Yankees have enough power hitters who strikeout, see Judge, Stanton and Sanchez if he remains.
Gallo is expendable, especially if Rizzo is brought back as the left handed hitter. I doubt the Yankees pay him in a year to capitalize on his value and get a return for the power bat.
Aaron Hicks is in the middle of a 7 year deal yet he has never been able to stay on the field long enough to show his worth. Another injured season and he is entering Jacoby Elsbury territory. In fact Elsbury has played more games in 4 season with the Yankees than Hicks has in 6 seasons. That is in a word troubling.
I think the Yankees need to consider making Hicks the 4th outfielder since he is unreliable. Snagging a guy with speed and athleticism should be a main focus for the Yankees.
Gardner should be gone but knowing Cashman, he will find a way back onto the roster and somehow starting postseason games.
Views from the dugout: Move on from Boone for David Cone, Buck Showalter
I think Boone is gone. It might not even be his fault, but he will be made the sacrificial lamb because the fan base is calling for blood. Whether or not they bring in another talking head who will just take the front offices requests and spit out those is a question they really should analyze before moving on from Boone.
Personally I want them to grab David Cone from the broadcast booth and make him the manager. Cone understands analytics but more than anything relates to being a ball player. He will be the perfect blend of fiery old school manager with new school analytics. He also likes to have fun but can be serious. I think the dugout needs that sense of life and energy injected into its veins.
There is a chance the heavily analytics trusted team just runs this one back assuming all these players won’t have career worst years. But a shake up is likely and I believe necessary.
Going into the offseason the Yankees can go in many directions. It is clear there is one that is off limits and that is backwards as they reminisce on what could’ve been after 2017. If they continue to hold onto the past, 2017 will truly be the apex of a team that simple underachieved, not the beginning of the next era.