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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: The 2021 New York Yankees

A week ago today, the New York Yankees 2021 season ended at the hands of the rival Boston Red Sox. It was a complete and total failure as is any season that doesn’t end in a parade down the Canyon of Heroes. Watching the Red Sox advance to the ALCS last night makes it even worse. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few positives to take out of this season as we look ahead to 2022. Yet, there are still a lot of things that need to be addressed before the team steps onto George M. Steinbrenner Field in February. Here is a recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2021 New York Yankees. The Good Luis Severino looks healthy Luis Severino finally stepped foot on a Major League mound on September 21st against the Texas Rangers for the first time since the 2019 Postseason. He only appeared in 5 games (four regular season, one postseason), but only allowed one run across 7.1 innings. While I’m hesitant to rely on a pitcher fresh off Tommy John Surgery, Sevy just looked different than Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon did when they returned, albeit in a relief role. I’m cautiously optimistic about his return to the rotation in 2022. Which brings me to my next point… Do the Yankees actually have rotation depth? When is the last time the Yankees could say this entering an offseason? Even with Corey Kluber and Andrew Heaney (See ya!) hitting free agency, the Yankees have 6 starters under contract for next season without including guys from the Minor Leagues like Luis Gil and (perhaps?) Deivi Garcia. As it stands, the Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, Nestor Cortes, and Domingo German all under contract for 2022. Not only that, the pitching staff led the American League in ERA this year, and is not losing any relievers either. Say what you want about the coaching staff (and trust me there is more on that to come), but Matt Blake is exempt from all hate. This is not to say the Yankees shouldn’t go out and add another starter, but it doesn’t feel desperate like in years past.  Imitating the Rays Bullpen Imitation is the best form of flattery and why wouldn’t the Yankees imitate the Rays? They seemingly can’t beat them, so try to be more like them, but with deep pockets. The Yankees totally revamped their bullpen between Opening Day and the trade deadline, swapping Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa along with the injured Zack Britton and Darren O’Day for Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Joely Rodriguez. That is really when the bullpen seemed to take off. Jonathan Loaisiga was great all year. Chad Green was mostly solid despite a few costly homers. Aroldis Chapman rebounded from a rough patch to post a solid season. But it was the unheralded, inexpensive guys like the aforementioned acquisitions and minor league free agent Lucas Luetge who really made the difference for the Yankees bullpen. This team finally had strike throwers out of the bullpen as opposed to more guys like Chapman who can make you want to pull your hair out if they aren’t on their A Game on a given night. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton stayed healthy This is basically the only positive for the Yankee offense, but it was something viewed as an x-factor not too long ago. Stanton spent about two weeks in May on the IL with a quad strain, and Judge missed 12 days to the COVID IL. All told, the two combined for 287 games played, a .280 batting average, 74 homers, and 195 RBIs. The RBIs seem quite low, but then again the Yanks didn’t exactly set a high bar for On-Base Percentage this season. All told, the Yankees new program to keep them healthy under Eric Cressey has yielded fantastic early returns which is an exciting prospect for 2022 and beyond. Staying under the luxury tax For the 2021 season, this was a bad thing. You are the New York Yankees, act like it and maybe you wouldn’t be watching the Red Sox play in the ALDS. Heck, maybe you’d have won the AL East. But for the 2022 season, this could mean a busy, money spending offseason is ahead. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after this season, and there has long been speculation that the upcoming CBA could have significantly higher luxury tax thresholds. That bodes well for the Yankees to perhaps extend Aaron Judge and add some significant bats to a lineup that desperately needs them. It almost feels like a given that the Yankees will land one of the premier shortstops on the market, someone who they can move to third base if and when Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza take over shortstop duties. The team could also look for reinforcements in center field, catcher, and first base this offseason. Getting more athletic Better late than never I suppose? The Yankees finally realized that going station to station on base hits isn’t the best way to score runs, and trotting bad fielders out isn’t a great way to prevent them. Adding Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo helped alleviate that, especially defensively. Offensively, Rizzo was good, not great. Gallo on the other hand was far from stellar. Rizzo is now a free agent, but let’s hope this realization wasn’t just a two month trial. Better yet, the Yankees have placed an emphasis on base stealing in the minors, an art that has essentially been lost on this team since Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner headed the lineup. Hopefully that carries over into this offseason’s acquisitions. The Bad DJ LeMahieu Admittedly, DJ was not BAD this year. We would sign up for .268/.349 from most of our lineup. The problem is his slugging percentage was .362. Say what you want about DJ, but calling him washed after one bad year is shortsighted. The last time he failed to hit .300 was in 2018. He’s hit .307 since even with the down year this year. My hunch is that DJ was playing through his injury for a lot of the season and it sapped his power. Offseason surgery should remedy that and hopefully he’s more like 2019-2020 DJ. The rest of the infield DJ got his own […]

Yankees

Will This Red Sox Win Wake The NYY Organization up? @YankeesScoop

The Yankees have a ton of things to consider in the offseason. You have to wonder if the Red Sox winning the ALDS against the Rays encourages them to shake up the organization. Will be interesting to see if Hal has the dignity and emotional investment in this team needed to make changes. Surely losing to your division rival during what was supposed to be a rebuild phase for them has to bother Hal? Will this encourage the Yankee organization to spend or will it prove to them that their payroll amount isn’t too little? Hal Steinbrenner has said time and time again after losing that this team has not failed. Despite not winning an AL Pennant since 2009. With a payroll among the highest in baseball. Yankees fired Girardi “because he wasn’t nice enough to players” according to those with insider knowledge. The Yankees hired Boone who has been the guy they wanted. He’s not critical of his players at all. Which seems to be part of the problem. Managers like Alex Cora and Kevin Cash are extremely critical of their players when they do not perform up to their abilities. So was A.J. Hinch. As much as fans and myself sometimes blame Aaron Boone, he isn’t the main problem. While I can’t defend him because I believe he does need to go for the sake of change. The problem lies within the deeper roots of the organization. The analytic department and Brian Cashman need to get the majority of flack. How is it this team had such a righty dominant lineup in the beginning of the year? How is it our shifting is so bad? When teams like the Rays seem to shift against us perfectly. How is it our lineup is made mostly of power hitters with no balance? Didn’t they realize you can’t expect solo home-runs to win a ballgame? And yet the Blue Jays also had 40 more home runs than the Yankees. I get the hate on batting average but, it’s what the Yankees need to value more. The Yankees have lots of explaining to do. Its time they come out and make a statement that differs from their usual “We will always put a competitive team on the field”. Its time for serious change. Fans want to see organizational changes. This simply isn’t working, they are supposed to better than this. They are the New York Yankees after all. Sadly other teams have realized they are no longer something to fear. They are FAR from the “fully operational death star” they think they are.