MLB News: The latest update on the 2021 postseason results

The New York Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox in their wild card match this past Tuesday night, ending their dream of a 28th World Champion for at least this season, but there is still a lot of baseball action for baseball fans as the postseason chugs along.

American League divisional series:

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox got to the AL divisional series by beating the New York Yankees in the wild card game. Both the Red  Sox and the Yankees had up and down seasons leading them to have the same 92-70 record. However, with the Sox having a better season record over the Yanks, they got the home-field advantage. On Tuesday night, the Red Sox ended the Yankees season with a 6-2 win.

The Tampa Bay Rays, for other than a short time, have led the AL East all season and dominated all of its AL East opponents finishing the season eight games ahead of both the Yankees and the Red Sox. Nine ahead of the Blue Jays and 48 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles that lost 110 games this season.

In the first game of the divisional series, the Tampa Bay Rays blew out the Red Sox 5-0. Shane McClanahan was dominant, holding the Red Sox scoreless. The Rays hit two home runs in the win. Veteran Nelson Cruz homered in the third inning, and the incredible Randy Arozarena made history with his home run. He became the fifth player to hit a homer in 19 consecutive postseason games. He also is the first to hit a homer and steal home in the same postseason game.

Game two played last night; the Red Sox bested the Rays by piling on the runs. At the end of the night, it was the Red Sox 14 and the Rays 6. The Sox knocked starting pitcher newbie Shane Baz out of the game. But that was better than the Sox ace Chris Sale; he was out of the game at the end of the first inning, giving up five earned runs. Tanner Houck for the Sox got the win with five innings of one-run ball. For the Sox, it was home run heaven. Bogaerts, Verdugo, Hernandez, Martinez, and Devers all hit long balls in the game.

The series is now tied at one game apiece in the five-game contest. Game three will be on Sunday at 4:07 pm EDT.

Houston Astros  vs. Chicago White Sox

On Sunday, the Houston Astros can claim their ticket to the Championship Series with a win over the White Sox as they have won the first two games against their northern foe.

In game one, Lance McCullers Jr. bested the White Sox Lance Lynn. The Astros got a few small ball runs, and then Michael Brantly got a two-run dinger helping the cause. Yordan Alverez sealed the deal with a solo shot for the Astro’s sixth run in the 6-1 win.

Thursday night’s game two was more of a contest as the White Sox scored 4 runs to the Astros 9. The White Sox struck first in the first inning, but the Astros got it back in the second. Tim Anderson of the Sox tied a baseball record getting 12 hits in his first five postseason games. However, the tide turned for the Sox when the Astros Yuli Guirrel got a two-run homer. Two-run homers followed that by both Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker.

AL Championship series:

The winner of the Tampa Bay Red Sox series will face the winner of the Houston Astros Chicago White Sox series on Friday, October 15th.

National League divisional series:

San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

When the Dodgers won the wild card from the St. Louis Cardinals, they created history by playing in the divisional series against the San Francisco Giants for the first time since they were the New York Giants in 1889. That year the Giants won the World Series by one game over the Boston Beaneaters.

Yesterday was game one against these two western rivals. The Giants scored two runs off the Dodger’s starting pitcher Walker Buehler and the game was over; the Dodgers didn’t know it at the time, but they remained scoreless off of the Giants pitching, the Giants shut them out 4-0. Game two will be tonight at 9:07 pm EDT at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Atlanta Braves vs. Milwaukee Brewers

As in previous years, the Atlanta Braves have been one of the most successful baseball teams.  The Braves led the NL East by 6.5 games ahead of Joe Girardi’s Philadelphia Phillies. The New York Yankees’ claim to fame is that they won 3 of 4 against the Braves and both games at the Braves home park.

The Braves are playing the Milwaukee Brewers in the divisional series. Game one was yesterday when the Brewers squeaked out a one-run lead in the 2-1 contest. Corbin Burns bested the Braves Charlie Morton. Rowdy Tellez’s two-run homer in the seventh inning sealed the deal for the Brewers. Game two is today at 5:07 pm EDT.

NL Championship series:

The San Francisco Los Angeles series winner will face the Atlanta Milwaukee series winner in the NL Championship Series on Saturday, October 16.

2021 World Series:

The AL and NL Championship Series winners will face each other in the best of seven series starting on Tuesday, October 26th.

New York Yankees Analysis: Brian Cashman brilliant? Ah, not so much

Now that the New York Yankees have left the postseason far too early, once again, Yankees fans are again looking for people to blame. There are so many places to look it would make a house mouse dizzy. But looking back to before the 2021 season started on April 1, there were some questionable decisions made; some of those now stink big time.

First of all, we have to look at how those decisions were made. Other than how much would be spent, which is Hal Steinbrenner’s sole judgment, make no mistake about it, general manager Brian Cashman makes them, then, during the season, and now. Anyone that thinks differently doesn’t know how the Yankees operate. Sure there most likely are some discussions held, but Cashman holds the reins.

To further prove that almost all decisions are made by Cashman, you have to look at ownership. Nearly every Yankee fan has said at one point or the other, Hal Steinbrenner is not his father “The Boss,” George Steinbrenner. The father and son are nothing alike. George was every day in your face; you never wondered who ran the Yankees. He was up in his luxury box analyzing nearly every move the Yankees made, on and off the field. If a player made a bone head play on the field, he knew all too well that he might expect a visit from George in the clubhouse.

Hal, the son, is not that man no matter how much we want him to be. He controls the purse strings, and that’s about it. His style is totally different. He relies on Brian Cashman to handle almost everything. As a matter of fact, you will seldom see Hal at a game, never mind in the clubhouse. He isn’t the baseball man his father was. But, unfortunately, this is what Yankee fans have to live with. It also may be why the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since Mariano Rivera laid two single long stem red roses upon home plate in July of 2010.

Today let’s take a look at three decisions that Cashman made before the 2021 season that may have cost the Yankees another trip to the World Series. The Yankees not only haven’t won a World Series since 2009, but they also haven’t even played well enough to appear in one.

Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber, really?

It’s effortless to play Monday morning quarterback, but I’ve selected three decisions that were even questioned at the time. First, before the start of the season, the Yankees traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates to get Jameson Taillon and went out and acquired 2 time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, once one of the best pitchers in baseball. On the surface, they seemed like great add ons, considering they let several 2019 pitchers walk, including Masahiro Tanaka.

The problem from the beginning was that these two pitchers combined for only a few starts in the past two years, one suffering from two Tommy John surgeries and the other from shoulder problems. At the time, the organization promoted these moves as “low risk, high reward” moves. The risk was not getting to a Championship. Did the Yankees (Cashman) believe that either of these two pitchers could get 30 or more starts after pitching so little in the previous two seasons? Although Taillon almost made it, Kluber only pitched in half that many games.

It was not surprising that both of these pitchers had very slow starts to the season, even though they got better as the season progressed; just think if they had won more than 13 starts combined. Could the Yankees have won the division if they did?

Let’s have everyone play positions unfamiliar to them?

It didn’t necessarily start this way, but as the season progressed, the Yankees, more than any other team in baseball, had players playing in positions that they were not familiar with. Examples are natural right fielder Aaron Judge playing in center field, left fielder Giancarlo Stanton playing right field. Second baseman Rougned Odor was playing at third, Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu at first. None of these moves turned disastrous, but one glowing decision that turned out bad was keeping Gleyber Torres at short.

In recent years, the New York Yankees have a history of making a mistake and then sticking with it no matter how glaringly wrong it was. Think Gary Sanchez. But today, we are zeroing in on Gleyber Torres. When the Yankees let Didi Gregorious walk to the Phillies, they made second baseman Torres a shortstop. It didn’t work out. Nevertheless, they (Cashman) stuck with the decision again this year. Finally, after miserable failure at defense and behind the plate, they permanently moved him back to second base.

Brian Cashman could have resolved the problem before the season but didn’t. He could have gotten any number of free agent shortstops to fill the position, including Marcus Seimen, who has been a Yankees killer all season long. Seimen instead was picked up by the Blue Jays. With them, he has a 7.1 WAR with 45 home runs for the fourth-most in all of baseball and a batting average of .265 and 102 RBIs. Compare that to Torres with .08 WAR, 9 home runs, and 51 RBI.

What makes this mistake all the more glaring is that Cashman could have passed on Corey Kluber, held onto Masahiro Tanaka, and acquired Semien for about the same cost to the franchise.  For more on the future of the Yankee shortstop read this ESM article from fellow writer Alex Wilson.

Bad boy, Frazier the Yankee’s red hope?

The decision to make Clint Frazier the starting left fielder is a little more difficult to dissect. Although some of this decision probably was due to Frazier being nominated for a Gold Glove award, which was a mistake that surprised most Yankees fans, making a few great diving catches does not deserve a Gold Glove nomination.

Frazier was an immediate fan favorite with his floppy red hair and slanted cute smile, but the fact of the matter is that he was never a fit for the Yankees. His attractive look never matched his cry-baby personality. Frazier had bad luck early in his career by crashing headfirst into an outfield wall and getting a concussion. But facts are facts, Frazier has never played in more than 69 games in his five years with the Yankees. Frazier should have been traded years ago. Instead, he got the left-field starting job. He played okay for a while but eventually was replaced by Brett Gardner and others.

Frazier, who was once heralded for his quick bat, that bat has never delivered results. This season he could only hit five home runs and a miserable .186 batting average. His WAR is -1.4, far worse than Torres. Then as July approached, mysterious dizziness and vision problems cropped up that had never been fully explained. Is it due to his earlier concussion or the start of the Ellsbury effect? Whatever the case, he never played another game in the 2021 season, and this writer believes you will never see him in Yankee pinstripes again.

One mistake finally corrected

For far too many years, the New York Yankee lineup has been either totally or heavily right-handed. This scenario makes it much easier for opposing managers to set up their rotation. This season at the trade deadline, Cashman finally fixed the problem by acquiring lefties Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. Gallo, the home run hitter (39), will be with the Yankees in 2022. Rizzo will be a free agent, and only time will tell if Cashman offers him a contract.

In 2020 the Yankees traded away lefty Mike Tauchman. If Rizzo is not rehired, it will leave only Rougned Odor and Tyler Wade as lefties available to the lineup as many feel that veteran Brett Gardner may have seen his last season with the Yankees. The Yankees realizing their mistake must keep the righty/lefty lineup in place going forward.

 

 

Will the Yankees sign a world-class shortstop or wait for their stud prospect?

anthony volpe, yankees

The New York Yankees are heading into the off-season in desperate need of a new shortstop. With the Gleyber Torres experiment coming to an end, the front office will need to find a supplement, as they utilized starting third baseman Gio Urshela at the spot last year for the second half.

They could carry a lineup that starts DJ LeMahieu at first base, letting Anthony Rizzo walk in free agency, but he was an integral part of the team’s success toward the end of the season, despite being knocked out of the playoffs in the Wild Card game. Theoretically, LeMahieu could start at first, giving Gleyber the second base spot, Urshela at shortstop, and leaving third base as the lone opening.

Alternatively, they could shift LeMahieu to third base permanently and retain Rizzo as a starting first baseman for the foreseeable future. Considering Rizzo hit .248 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs this season, the Yankees could view him as a potential force moving forward. He only spent half the year with the Yankees, if not much less, so a full season in pinstripes could do him well.

The Yankees could go big at SS:

There is a scenario where the Yankees want to spend big money on a free agent shortstop, and there are several big names on the market. Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor story, Javier Baez, and Freddy Galvis will all be available, but it is unlikely the Bombers open up their checkbook on a monster contract.

Typically, you’d see the team target a player like Carlos Correa in the past, but he’s likely going to earn a massive contract after hitting .279 with 26 homers and 92 RBIs this season at just 26-years-old.

Preferably, the team wants to hold the position over until youngster Anthony Volpe is ready to take on the major leagues. In single A-ball with Tampa, Volpe earned 199 at-bats this season, tallying 12 homers and hitting .302. His abilities seem to be phenomenal, and he’s also a strong fielder capable of playing at multiple positions, with his priority being SS. He committed just six errors over 313.2 innings this season in Tampa.

Volpe is likely one or two seasons away from making his MLB debut, so the Yankees only need a short-term solution. Moving Urshela over to shortstop and putting DJ at third base might be a solid move, but they would hate to move Gio from his natural spot where he dominates defensively.

This is certainly an interesting predicament for the Yankees this upcoming off-season. What do you think they will do? Sign a free agent or hold over the position for the next few seasons as they wait for Volpe to reach the MLB? Comment here!

Yankees: YES’ Michael Kay defends Aaron Boone and implies front office is the problem

The New York Yankees’ 6-2 loss in the Wild Card game to the Boston Red Sox is still being talked about in the city and the country. Of course, the media is not an exception, and the coverage doesn’t stop because the game signaled the end of the Yankees’ season.

Even YES Network’s Michael Kay has strong opinions about what happened on the 2021 campaign for the Yankees, a year filled with disappointments, COVID-19 outbreaks, injuries, and all kinds of obstacles.

Speaking on the Rich Eisen Show (link to NJ Advance Media articl here), Kay referred to the future of Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone. Understandably, he has been under a lot of heat recently because of some of his decisions, his bullpen management, lineup construction, and, to some, his passivity.

Will the Yankees change the manager?

Some fans feel the Yankees need a change at the managerial position. Here is what Kay thinks about that:

“Do they sacrifice Boone to the baseball fan gods to give them something? If they did that, I think it would be disingenuous. He is doing the bidding of the front office. There are scripts that are written that he of course can deviate from somewhat, but it’s essentially from up top the way this game is played by the Yankees. So, if they get rid of Boone, and that’s what Yankees fans seem to want when they call into my show, if you get Boone 2.0, what difference does it make? Boone’s a great guy, he represents the organization very well. I think if they go with something different, like a (Bruce) Bochy, or a (Mike) Scioscia, or a (Buck) Showalter, then I think that indicates a seismic change, because there’s no way any of those three guys take that job and are still allowing the front office to be as influential on their decisions. I think they want information, those guys, but they’re going to make the final decision.”

If the Yankees decide to end their working relationship with Boone (his contract is up after the season, so technically, they don’t have to fire him), it’s highly unlikely they go to an old school manager like Showalter or Scioscia.

“So I think that’s what they have to decide. It’s not Brian (Cashman) that’s going to decide it. It’s going to be Hal Steinbrenner and his family. Is it time to change? They’ve won one title in 20 years. So I’m not quite sure what’s going down because I think that Brian Cashman thinks that Aaron Boone does a great job. And for what Brian wants in a manager, Aaron is doing exactly what he’s supposed to do. So maybe the information that Aaron is getting isn’t as good. That’s something to consider.”

Yankees’ third base coach explains controversial decision to send Aaron Judge home

New York Yankees, Phil Nevins

The New York Yankees were eliminated in Tuesday’s Wild Card game at the hands of their biggest rivals, the Boston Red Sox. They lost 6-2 at Fenway Park, in a game in which the Yankees’ offense went missing yet again. Gerrit Cole couldn’t complete three innings, and besides Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, the bats couldn’t get much going.

There was a pivotal play in the sixth inning, though. With one out, Rizzo belted a solo home run that brought the score closer, 3-1. Aaron Judge got on base via infield single, and that’s when Red Sox manager Alex Cora took out Nate Eovaldi, his starter, who had been dealing.

Stanton came to the plate and hit one off the Green Monster. With Judge’s sprint speed only slightly above-average, Boston outfielders’ knowledge of their home park and how the ball bounces off the Monster, and the 114.9-mph blast, it made sense to hold Judge at third.

Yankees’ third base coach Phil Nevin waited a long time, perhaps too much, and sent him home when he was almost at third base. He was called out on a beautiful defensive play by the Red Sox that included quickness and precision from Kike Hernandez and Xander Bogaerts.

A costly mistake by the Yankees’ coach

Had Nevin held Judge, the Yankees would have had men on the corners and one out, down two runs. The outlook could have been different.

Former Yankees’ star Alex Rodriguez said on ESPN: “You don’t have to overthink that one. I’m surprised of the magnitude of that mistake [by Nevin] in this situation.”

Nevin talked to the New York Post and fought back: “The guy has never been in that situation, but thinks he has a good idea of what baseball is in that spot and he’s wrong. He’s never been in that position.”

Nevin then explained his thought process: “I know what it looks like. I know what the situation is. I know what kind of third-base coach I am. I made a play to win the game. It didn’t work out. It was a great baseball play on their side. In a big moment, it didn’t go our way. … I was in the right position, made the right read [and] had conviction in my send. But I get it. I get why people are upset and people are mad.”

Joey Gallo popped out to end the threat and the Yankees could only score again in the ninth on a Stanton’s solo homer. That was it.

CC Sabathia torches Yankees for losing in Wild Card to ‘different’ Red Sox team

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

The New York Yankees will be watching the postseason from their couches the rest of the way after a disappointing defeat to the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card game.

Despite having their primary core of players and starter/ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, the Yankees really never stood a chance against Boston, who were clearly more inspired, attacking the Bombers in various different ways to throw off their game.

Not having DJ LeMahieu available and Cole struggling to finish the year certainly spelled trouble, but there is no excuse for the team to perform so poorly. In fact, after essentially turning over the majority of the roster, Boston managed to piece together another team capable of pushing deep into the playoffs. Former Yankee, CC Sabathia, had choice words for a team that didn’t even stand a chance.

“Our core lost to a team in ’18 that’s not even the same Red Sox … Mookie (Betts), Jackie Bradley, (Andrew) Benintendi … they traded all them,” Sabathia said on his R2C2 podcast. “We still have the same core. We come back to Boston four years later and lost to a completely different core … What the f— are we doing wrong?”

Sabathia asks what the Yankees are doing wrong, and I think it is fair to point to management and a consistent string of injuries throughout the year. The Yankees have been unable to avoid the injury bug the past few seasons, with LeMahieu suffering a sports hernia at the end of the season and Luke Voit hitting the 60-day injured list with a knee issue. The team never really gained back Domingo German, and Luis Severino was just starting to get into the groove of things.

Moving forward, the Yankees need a legitimate shortstop instead of pulling Gio Urshela from his third base spot. They will likely target a few options in free agency, including Corey Seager and potentially Carlos Correa. If they can add another high-quality defender with above-average offensive talents, the Yankees will be in good shape, especially since they have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the foreseeable future.

The team might be inclined to go hunting for another starting pitcher as well, which might require them to push past the luxury tax threshold as they seek continuity.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge: “We didn’t complete our mission”

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Today out of habit, I went to the New York Yankees pitching probables; nothing was there. It’s still sinking in that the Yankees 2021 baseball season is over. What seemed like a season that would last forever because it was a 162 game season, not a 60 game one, now is over too quickly. Yankee fans yearned to be the postseason, beat the Tampa Bay Rays, go on to a Championship series and win it all for our 28th World Championship now, face disappointment and a long offseason of discontent. Yet, Yankee faithful are still hopeful we can win it all next year.

If you’re a true Yankee fan, that’s what you do; you put it all behind you and yearn for baseball to start again in the spring with new hopes, dreams, and aspirations. After the loss to the Red Sox in the wild card, slugger Aaron Judge said it best: “We didn’t complete our mission.” The somber Judge said he rests a lot of that on his shoulders, examining what he could have done better and why the season didn’t go as expected. Several other players like Brett Gardner echoed the same.

Judge, for his part, is accepting too much of the blame; he and fellow slugger Giancarlo Stanton both carried this team on their shoulders for much of the season and are the only reason they got to the winner take all wild card game in the first place. But even they failed to get the Yankees into the divisional series and beyond.

Many things went wrong this past season, some from lack of player and pitching performance, yet others caused by injuries and the ugly Covid virus. How much blame to attribute to each of those situations is hard to quantify. However, we can all agree that the 2021 New York Yankees had no consistency to the season, with playing really well at times, but more than often, not playing well.

The Yankees now have until spring training to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. There will be many questions to be answered as detailed here. For true fans, the season may be over, but there will be much to discuss over the next several months, including a new MLB/MLBPA collective bargaining agreement, which surely will be a bunch of fun unless it delays the new season or there is a strike.

Meanwhile, this sportswriter will cover all the essential upcoming games in the remainder of the postseason, but folks, it isn’t fun for a lifelong New York Yankee fan. Last night was a reminder of how long and tedious baseball is when you have no team to root for. Thanks for following me this season and every season. Thanks for the compliments, and even the disagreements, I take them all to heart. It’s undoubtedly been a roller coaster ride. Worth it? Of course, I’m a Yankee fan just like you.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

New York Yankee Analysis: Big questions the Yankees must answer by March 31, 2022

The New York Yankee season is over, falling short of another World Series win. The “Boss” George Steinbrenner, if alive, would say it’s another failed season. If you consider not winning the World Series failing, then he is correct. But there is a lot to be said about getting to a wild card berth, win or not. Many other AL teams can’t say that. But the one with the biggest payroll; more is expected of them. The Yankees have not had a losing season since 1992. But the last World Series they won was in 2009.

Manager Joe Girardi won the 2009 World Series. But after not repeating for the next eight years and amongst complaints about being too strict, the Yankees moved on from Girardi and hired Aaron Boone.  Boone has been mostly successful in bringing the team to 100 wins, 103 wins, 33 wins in a short season, and 92 wins this year. But, regardless of that success, he has never gotten the team beyond late-season failures.

With each passing year, New York Yankee fans, even the most ardent fans, have become less patient waiting for the Yankees to win. Some fans have given up and moved on to other teams and even other sports. This isn’t good for business and baseball, although a game is a business. Principle owner Hal Steinbrenner and company have to figure out how to turn this team around. Yankee stadium never had a sell-out crowd this season. That is lost dollars, lots of them.

After a very inconsistent season that certainly cost them a trip to the World Series, the New York Yankees have many questions that must be answered before they try this all over again. And this year, there are more questions to be addressed than usual. So let’s have at it.

Renew Aaron Boone’s contract?

In 2018 Aaron Boone was hired as the new Yankee manager on a four-year contract that was over last night. So the Yankee organization has to decide whether to renew his contract or move on from the one-time manager.

When Boone was hired, many Yankee fans said, “Aaron who?”. Boone was never a great baseball player and had never managed even a minor league team. Others have learned to dislike him; still, others think he has done a good job. Most managers in baseball were catchers who seemed to have a better understanding of all baseball operations—Boone, who spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds primarily as a third baseman.

Boone will receive most of the blame for this poor season, although much of that blame can be placed on the hitters themselves, as Boone can’t hit for the hitters or pitch for the pitchers. Many fans question his decisions and his lack of holding bad players responsible for their play. Boone, with his style, constantly praises the team when they lose. An excellent example of that is his praise of Gerrit Cole after last night’s wild-card loss saying he threw some good pitches.

However, one must be cautious in blaming Boone. Many believe that Boone was hired to be a mouthpiece for Brian Cashman, the Yankee front office, making the significant decisions and Boone following them, only to be allowed to make minor decisions on the field during games. However, even those skeptical of that theory admit that the Yankee office and analytics department have too much influence over how the games are played.

Examine the organizational philosophy?

With so many questions unanswered about why this team can’t win big year after year, is it time to examine how the whole organization is run? Under the present philosophy, whether Boone is brought back or not, they would only hire another yes man that would be subject to the highly analytics-based front office.

All baseball teams receive the same analytics; it differs in how they are communicated and how they are executed. A manager who uses those stats exclusively and ignores what he sees on the field or who is hot and who is not will lose a lot of games. Analytics are a guide, not a user manual.

Should the Yankees hire a Bruce Bochi, Buck Showalter, or the like, it would require an entire shakeup of how the organization runs. Neither of these guys are yes men and would be challenging to work with under the present makeup. But it’s fair to mention that Bochi’s management style has brought the San Francisco Giants to win 107 games this season for the most in baseball and with less talent than the Yankees.

Brian Cashman will have much to do with if the Yankees are willing to examine themselves. Cashman is the driving force for how the Yankees perform. But many times in the past, Cashman has been slow to act. Lingering questions with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez are examples of that. Last season he failed to act to improve the team. This year got two lefties to balance the lineup that fans have been screaming about for years.

Exceed the luxury tax threshold?

Do the Yankees need to exceed the luxury tax threshold to win finally. No!. Spending a lot of money has not helped them much. Better run and better-managed teams have gone further season after season. The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays have done it on about 30% of the Yankees payroll.

Extend Aaron Judge’s contract?

This may be the most challenging question to address in this off-season. If the Yankees offer Judge a contract, it will be huge. The question is do the Yankees want to spend that much, and if they do, how badly will it tie their hands on solving the other team’s needs.

Judge turns 30 next year, and based on his injury record, signing a long-term contract with him is risky at best. This season is the first season he has been healthy since 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, he played in only 243 games.  So the question remains how much and for how long. It is doubtful that the Yankees will go more than six years, even though Judge has said he wants to retire a Yankee, according to Bryan Hock.

Aaron Judge’s value is at its highest and could draw the most if the Yankees were willing to trade him. The Yankees could get a quality pitcher, a shortstop, and a few choice prospects for him. However, whether an extension could be agreed upon would most likely be a Derek Jeter-like situation, taking less than he is worth.

How to fix the Yankee outfield?

During this season, the Yankees have had either a drought or glut in the outfield. Aaron Judge is a solid right fielder, and Joey Gallo will be with the team in left field through 2022. However, the Yankees don’t have a true centerfielder with any kind of future. Brett Gardner has been adequate in the position, but it becomes more doubtful that the 38-year-old will return each year. In addition, Aaron Hicks (yes, remember him?) has yet to prove he can stay healthy.

If they fix that, they still have Tyler Wade and Giancarlo Stanton options to add to the mix and give days off.

Obtain a real shortstop?

There is still the ongoing question about Gleybe Torre’s worth to the team. Late this season, the Yankees finally realized they made a mistake trying to make Gleyber Torres a shortstop. Torres is no longer a 22-year-old with a bright future; he has become tarnished goods. He will turn 25 in December and is coming off of two back-to-back poor seasons on defense and offense. The Yankees, to a degree, have overlooked his poor defense because he led the team in 2019 with 38 home runs, but since then, he has only 12 long balls.  What the Yankees should be most concerned about is his lack of growth.

The Yankees have moved Torres to second, where he has played better but not by much. That pushed a Gold Glove second baseman DJ LeMahieu, into being a utility player. Unfortunately, LeMahieu’s performance has not been as good since the move.  While the Yankees have one of baseball’s top prospects, Anthony Volpe, he probably won’t be big team ready for another year or two. With Torre’s continued poor play, the Yankees should at least inquire about options in free agency this offseason.

What to do with the catcher situation?

Oh boy, this question yet again. Gary Sanchez has been one of the most controversial Yankee players since he became the Yankees lead catcher in 2017. That was a year that was pretty good for the young man. But since then, he has not duplicated that performance and has often been criticized for his performance behind at backstop. He continues to be a less-than-average defender and has had a poor batting average.

Last year, he had a disastrous season, hitting only .147 and losing his starting status in favor of backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, a better defender. Sanchez is still around because when he is hot, he can hit the long ball and has a rocket of an arm preventing many stolen bases. He has hit more this year with an average of .204 but still strikes out too much. With the other questions facing the Yankees, it is doubtful they will move Sanchez.

What to do with the loose ends?

The Yankees have two obvious loose ends. One is whether to renew a contract with first baseman Anthony Rizzo and, if they do, what they will do with Luke Voit. I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke Voit is not with the Yankees next season. He could be used in a trade. With the glut at DH, his use to the club is limited. He also has not been able to stay healthy while with the Yankees.  If the Yankees choose to replace Gleyber Torres at short, he too will become a trading piece.

How to reinforce the pitching staff?

The New York Yankees certainly need to beef up the pitching staff. Jameson Taillon is under contract through 2022 and is arbitration-eligible as of today. Also, as of today, Corey Kluber is a free agent.  That leaves Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery as the Yankees starting rotation. The organization will have to examine what place Luis Severino and Domingo German have going forward and if they need to replace Kluber if he doesn’t sign with the Yankees.

At the beginning of the season, the Yankees had one of the strongest bullpens in baseball. Unfortunately, as the season progressed, they lost much of their strength. Set up man Zack Britton underwent Tommy John surgery to keep him out until at least the end of the 2022 season. Justin Wilson and the Yankee’s best long reliever Luis Cessa went to the Reds in a salary dump. Darren O’Day, the sidearmer, had a shoulder injury followed by a hamstring strain that kept him away from the team for the rest of the season.

In a major disappointment this season for the bullpen, on July 31st Tommy Kahnle revealed that had a partially torn UCL and required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees outrighted him and he choose free agency. Just days afterward he signed a new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees picked up a few arms at the trade deadline, Andrew Heaney proved useless. These losses and moves left the bullpen short of components and overworked.

Not knowing if Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, or Clarke Schmidt will be ready for the big time in 2022, the Yankees may have to go shopping to bolster the starting rotation and the bullpen. Unfortunately, any moves they make may have to wait until the end of spring training, when they can further evaluate their options.

 

Yankees have massive decision with Aaron Boone, but he’s not fretting it

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees were knocked out of the postseason in a disappointing performance against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday evening. Losing 6–2, starting pitcher and ace Gerrit Cole only lasted 2.0 innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs. At one point, Cole muttered the words “I’m out” as he proceeded to allow two men on base before Clay Holmes came in and finished off the 3rd inning.

Whether it be a byproduct of poor coaching or execution from the players, the Yankee should’ve never been in the situation, to begin with, as they lost strings of games that forced them to compete in the Wild Card. At the very least, they should’ve had home-field advantage instead of giving Boston an opportunity to win at home and tantalize a streaky Yankees team.

However, the Bombers have a few big decisions to make this off-season, and one boils down to skipper Aaron Boone, as his contract is up after the year concludes.

“I haven’t had any conversations about [my contract] with anyone, so we’ll see,” Boone said after the loss. “I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players.”

Of course, Boone would prefer to stay as the field manager for the Yanks, but given how poorly they performed at times this season and the amount of money they’re spending on some of their bigger players, they simply might want to go in a different option.

Boone mentioned after the game how the rest of the league has caught up to the Yankees, which is an interesting statement considering they haven’t won a World Series in over a decade and just missed the postseason.

“The league has closed the gap on us,” Boone said. “We’ve got to get better in every aspect. Because it’s not just the Red Sox and the Astros now in our league. Look at our division, the Rays are a beast, Toronto, there’s some teams in the Central that are better and better, teams in the West that are better and better, teams that have closed the gap on us.”

When you’re spending hundreds of millions on personnel, you must produce more than 92 wins in a season, and general manager Brian Cashman must understand that reality. If it were up to me, the Yankees would move on from Boone, but that’s a conversation the front office will have in the coming weeks.

Do you think the Yankees should get rid of Boone and bringing in a new manager? Comment here!

What does the future have in store for Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone? ‘Whatever happens, I’m at peace with’

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees’ rocky 2021 season, one filled with disappointment, crushing losses, COVID outbreaks, and other crucial injuries, ended on Tuesday night in a fitting way: with a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, ace Gerrit Cole struggling, and the offense once again failing to come through.

“Guys are crushed,” Yankees manager Boone said, per ABC News. “Tonight was another tough one to take. We have been through a lot of wars with guys in that room, and we have a lot of scars. … When it ends so abruptly, the ending is really cruel.”

Boone said something that raised many eyebrows: “The league has closed the gap on us. We’ve got to get better in every aspect. Because it’s not just the Red Sox and the Astros now in our league. Look at our division, the Rays are a beast, Toronto, there’s some teams in the Central that are better and better, teams in the West that are better and better, teams that have closed the gap on us.”

It’s shocking because there needs to be a gap for other teams to “close”. That “gap” doesn’t exist because the Yankees haven’t looked like the undisputed team to beat in the American League come playoffs time for quite a while now.

The Yankees haven’t taken the next step

Last night represented Boone’s fourth straight playoff exit, and one has to wonder if the organization will bring him back or if both sides are going to part ways.

Boone’s deal expires in 2021, so if the Yankees want to bring him back, it will have to be under a new deal. If, on the other hand, they decide to look elsewhere to fill the manager position, they won’t have to fire him, since his contract is up.

“I haven’t had any conversations about [my contract] with anyone, so we’ll see,” Boone said after the loss. “I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players.”

He has a 328-218 record with the Yankees over four years, but he hasn’t been able to take the next step, and some of his in-game decisions, lineup building, and bullpen management are starting to annoy more than a few fans.

“Whatever does happen, I’m at peace with,” Boone said. “I know that I can hold my head high.”