New York Yankees on the Wrong Side of the Equation
They had their $324 million man on the mound for the one game that would catapult their storied franchise into the 2021 playoffs and on their way to World Series victory number 28. Then the game happened. The 2021 season is over for the New York Yankees and their roster that consumes the second highest payroll in baseball.
The Wild Card game wasn't exactly the goal that Hal Steinbrenner had for his franchise this year. But baseball can be a cruel game. If Giancarlo Stanton hits that baseball a fraction of a millimeter differently in the 6th inning on Tuesday, that game is tied and there may have been a different result. But he didn't and there wasn't. That is what baseball does. It is extremely humbling.
Are the New York Yankees better than the American League regular season champion Tampa Bay Rays? On paper, probably but paper never played the game. The Rays are playing the game better than most these days and spending about half or less than the top teams, like the Yankees. How can Tampa Bay do that? Obviously it is an organizational strategy and it's working but it can't work for everyone.
Where do the Yankees go from here? Should they try to replicate the Rays strategy? First of all, Tampa Bay hasn't won a World Series yet and that is the Bronx Bombers ultimate objective. They have 27 of them. Secondly, with contracts like Gerrit Cole's and Giancarlo Stanton's you can't replicate what is going with the Rays. The Tampa Bay franchise doesn't let their modest fanbase get too attached to players. They sell winning. Popular players are often sent packing to acquire desired and less expensive talent for their ultimate objective of just winning games.
So, maybe the Tampa Bay Rays are on to something but until it culminates in a championship ring, the people in Pinstripes aren't interested. What are the moves that will win #28 for baseball's most historic franchise? A change in manager could be the answer but I don't see it. Brian Cashman likes Aaron Boone and for good reason. People complain about Boone's bullpen usage but very honestly, that is the way that the game is played today.
You can get into the Yankees fundamentals. However, many of the complaints were about general things that happen, like errors by Gleyber Torres playing shortstop. Torres was playing out of position and never felt comfortable there. What was Boone supposed to do about that? Yes, 3rd base Phil Nevin should have never sent Aaron Judge in a crucial situation in a Wild Card game but is a guy making a poor split second strategical decision Boone's fault?
This team is constructed to live and die by the long ball, many teams are today. I do think that they need to add a player or two with some on-base percentage and speed to the top of the line-up to make their 1-9 less on dimensional. A speedy center fielder that gets on base would be a nice addition. Realistically, I do not think they can afford to keep free agent first baseman, Anthony Rizzo. There are too many other needs. Also I think that is where they are going to have to put DJ Lemahieu now that Gleyber is back at second. Maybe the Cashman adds a high profile shortstop live Trea Turner to his infield.
The starting pitching isn't terrific but it is solid. Severino and German coming back next year will give Cashman a solid starting five. Jameson Tailon made some awesome progress this year and Jordan Montgomery continues to develop. The bullpen was heading into the playoffs in the best shape of the season and may have been one of the strongest of all of the playoff teams. Sometimes there are no easy answers. A fraction of millimeter can send your season in a million directions.