The New York Yankees cannot and should not bring back the same team in 2021

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

There are a lot of rumors already flying around about what the New York Yankees will do with the upcoming offseason. This year, the bombers went another year without making it to the World Series. They haven’t tasted a World Series in over a decade.

I listened to the words of Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner over the last week. They made their state of the union addresses following another failed Yankees season. One thing that some have mentioned is a possibility is that the Yankees bring back the same team.

Well, virtually the same team. Meaning the Yankees would resign DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka while doing nothing else. This strategy would fall in line with the belief that the Yankees have a WS caliber team right now.

I’m fully onboard and believe that the Yankees need to bring back DJ LeMahieu. It’s the talk about bringing back Tanaka where I draw the line. The bombers cannot simply bring back the same team they had in 2020. They need to shake things up if they want to win a World Series next year.

The Yankees’ Options

The most obvious option for me is that the Yankees need to upgrade the rotation. Tanaka is not going to come cheap especially considering the shallow free agent starting pitching market. That said, I would spend however much else is needed to sign Trevor Bauer.

The Yankees made a huge first step in signing Gerrit Cole last year. However, Cole can’t get it done by himself. That showed this year when Cole was the only starting pitcher who looked like he had a pulse for the Yankees in the playoffs.

If the Yankees are content with bringing back Tanaka and hoping the young guys fill out the rest of the rotation, they’ve already failed. They need to upgrade their pitching and there is a clear answer in Trevor Bauer.

If the bombers aren’t interested in making a free agent pitching splash, they need to look at JT Realmuto. Gary Sanchez was reportedly available at the trade deadline which shows that the Yankees are to the point of moving on.

If they do not want to invest into the rotation, they can upgrade the vital catching position. Realmuto is the best catcher in the game, and he would impact the Yankees on both sides of the ball.

No matter how you slice it, the Yankees need to shake things up. They have had a losing mentality for years and have failed to address problems when it forces the front office to be uncomfortable. Well, it’s time for the front office to get uncomfortable and it’s time to get the Yankees back to the World Series.

Will the New York Yankees try to win or protect feelings in the playoffs?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Last week, I published an article on the New York Yankees’ dilemma at the catchers position. Gary Sanchez has been God awful this year while Kyle Higashioka has thrived in his current role. The Yankees starters have also pitched better with Higashioka behind the plate.

Yesterday, the Yankees wrapped up their 2020 regular season. They finished as the fifth seed in the AL and will be taking on the Cleveland Indians starting tomorrow night. A player who hasn’t seen much time over the last week was Kyle Higashioka.

The Yankees had a lot to play for over the last week. They came extremely close to dropping all the way to the eighth seed in the playoffs. After being red hot, the Yankees played Higashioka in two games while Sanchez played seven.

In those seven games, Sanchez went a whopping 2-20 a plate with seven strikeouts. Sanchez finished the regular season hitting an astonishing .147 for the Yankees. Sanchez became the only player in Major League history to hit at least 10 home runs and fail to hit above .150 for the year.

What the Yankees should do?

The writing is on the wall for what the New York Yankees need to do. Kyle Higashioka is going to likely start tomorrow because Gerrit Cole is on the mound. When Higashioka catches the Yankees‘ ace, his ERA is nearly 3 runs lower than it is with Gary Sanchez behind the plate.

However, Higashioka needs to be behind the plate for game 2 as well and the rest of the playoffs. Gary Sanchez hasn’t earned a damn thing this year, and the Yankees need to be playing for wins here and not protecting their sensitive catcher.

The New York Yankees haven’t been to or won a World Series in a decade. They need to put their best team on the field, and that team does not include Gary Sanchez right now. Not from an offensive perspective and especially a defensive perspective.

The Yankees have said that the catching position will be decided on a day-to-day basis in the playoffs. In reality, it should be much more simple. If you want to keep Gary Sanchez as your starter in 2021, I completely get it, and it makes sense.

However, there is no reason and no argument for Sanchez getting any playing time during the playoffs. Unless Boone has a side bet where he needs one of his guys to strikeout, ground into a double play or have a passed ball/”wild pitch”, Kyle Higashioka needs to be the starter for the Yankees in the playoffs.

The New York Yankees played the J.A. Happ situation perfectly

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

One of the most pleasant surprises for the New York Yankees this year has been J.A. Happ. The expectations were not high for Happ given how bad he was during the 2019 season. Last year the Yankees‘ weakness was starting pitching.

Despite that being an obvious weakness, Happ didn’t start in the postseason because of how bad he was in 2019. 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA, a WHIP of 1.295, and giving up more than 30 home runs doesn’t earn you a spot in the postseason rotation.

Going into the shortened 2020 season, the Yankees were going to do everything they could to prevent Happ from vesting his option. No way did the Yankees want to be on the hook for $17 million in 2021 after what they had seen from Happ.

However, Happ has surprised everyone this season with his pitching. So far this year he’s pitched to a 3.25 ERA and a 2-2 record. However, if you take out his first two starts, Happ has pitched to an ERA of 1.93 which is absolutely incredible.

The Yankees got the best of both

The Yankees re-signed Happ after he looked great for them in the 2018 season. The market was fierce so the Yankees had to give Happ a 2 year deal at $17 million per year with a vesting third year option. The Yankees were hoping for the best of Happ, but only for two years.

Well, with the shortened season, it looks like they are going to get their wish. Happ is pitching the best the Yankees could have hoped for, and his option doesn’t appear likely to vest. Happ needed ten starts or 61.1 innings pitched. Happ is at eight starts and 44.1 innings pitched right now.

With the amount of games left, Happ will only get one more regular season start with the Yankees. Thus, his option is not going to vest and he will be a free agent after this year. The third Yankees starting pitcher that will hit the market this offseason (James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka).

The Yankees have played this perfectly. Happ is pitching at his best, and the bombers know that they won’t be on the hook for $17 million. Happ’s pitching is good enough to get him another 1-2 year deal with someone, but it won’t be for $17 million, and it won’t be with the Yankees.

The biggest start of Gerrit Cole’s Yankees career comes tonight

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

When the New York Yankees agreed to a record deal with star pitcher Gerrit Cole back in December, expectations were set astronomically high for the right hander’s first year in pinstripes. Granted, Cole had been arguably the best pitcher in the AL over the last two years.

The Yankees were craving a World Series title, having gone their first decade without a championship since the early 1900’s. Cole was seen as the missing piece that would put the Yankees over the top and bring a title back to the Bronx.

Well, so far it hasn’t been smooth sailing. While Cole has shown flashes of his dominant self, he’s struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark. He’s allowed a MLB leading 13 home runs in just nine starts this year.

Overall, Cole’s numbers are not terrible as he’s pitched to a 4-3 record with a 3.63 ERA and a WHIP of 1.096. Still, we have yet to really see that signature Yankees moment for Gerrit Cole. He has his chance tonight.

Inside Cole’s Crucial Yankees Start

Over the past month, the Yankees have been horrendous. They’ve gone from a first place team to a team that was on the verge of falling to fourth. The team hot on their trail is the Baltimore Orioles, who come to the Bronx tonight.

Cole’s last start came against the Orioles where he looked sensational for five innings. However, he completely hit a wall in the sixth and the Orioles plated five runs. Cole has his chance to get this one back for the Yankees.

After losing five straight, the Yankees finally beat the Blue Jays last night. It was a complete win as the offense looked good, Deivi Garcia looked good, and the bullpen looked good. It felt like it could be a turning moment for the Yankees.

Tonight needs to be the night the Yankees keep it going. They have Cole on the mound, and it’s the biggest start of his young Yankees career. He needs to come out and dominate so the bombers can keep the ball rolling. Perhaps a hot streak could be right around the corner.

 

Yankees’ Gary Sanchez doesn’t think he should be benched

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

I’m not sure that there’s anyone more unpopular right now with the New York Yankees than Gary Sanchez. Well, maybe Aaron Boone takes the cake there, but they are in a heated battle for the most disliked among the fans.

Sanchez has all the talent in the world, yet he’s arguably been the worst catcher in baseball this year by a long shot. Sanchez has been pitiful defensively, and shockingly, he’s been better defensively than he’s been offensively.

The Yankees catcher is batting .125 on the season with 7 home runs and 15 RBIs. In 118 plate appearances this year, Sanchez has struck out an astonishing 49 times. He’s been so bad that Yankees manager Aaron Boone decided to bench him. A decision Sanchez didn’t agree with.

Yankees Internal Drama?

In a Zoom call, the Yankees catcher stated, “I wanted to keep playing, I’m always ready to play and I wanted to keep playing to find a way out of it. But he (Boone) came and told me (I was being benched).”

It was clear based on the tone that Sanchez was not happy about having his chance taken away. However, what were the Yankees supposed to do. I’m going to be honest in saying Gary Sanchez has sucked this year. There is no way around it.

The Yankees catcher did state that it’s been difficult on him personally. Sanchez told reporters, “It’s been tough for me not to be able to get the rhythm… A lot of our teammates have been down for a while with injuries, and not to be able to contribute and help the team. It’s been hard.”

While the Yankees have been spiraling out of control, they have desperately needed Sanchez to step up, but he has completely failed. In his first game back following the benching, Sanchez went 0-4 with a strikeout showing no improvement whatsoever.

I’m honestly at a loss with Gary Sanchez. There are some people who are saying the Yankees shouldn’t move on until he plays a full season in 2021. I would remind those folks that he’s hit under .200 since 2018 so these struggles are not something new.

While the Yankees catcher believes he should be given the time to figure things out, I think the bombers need to look elsewhere after this season is over. I wish they could move on now to be honest with you.