Houston, we have a plethora of problems, and I’m not counting Jose Altuve.
I’m not even counting our bullpen woes.
I’m not even counting the fact we just cannot win in Minute Maid Park.
All of these are problems, yes, but not one of these has fans pulling their hair out like the 12 problems I’m referring to — the problems that have fans questioning if they’re watching the New York Yankees or toddlers still learning the fundamentals of the game of baseball.
Twelve is the number of errors the Yankees have committed in their 12 games this season — that’s 12 errors in 12 games, and this doesn’t include the mental mistakes, baserunning blunders, or miscues on plays that don’t show as errors on the scorecard, but should have been executed.
Yes, the season is in the early going, but according to Baseball Reference, the Yankees are currently ranked 14th in errors out of the 15 American League teams, and are ranked 13th in fielding percentage. This is still with the acquisitions of stellar fielders in DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela. This is also primarily without one of their worst defenders on the field in Miguel Andujar.
To put it simply: the Yankees are playing sloppy baseball.
The law of averages would tell you this will turn around and the Yankees will most likely end up in the middle of the pack just as they did last year, ranking 18th in defensive metrics, an MLB average defensive team (according to FanGraph). As of now, though, the middle of the pack looks well far off. If they continue to play this way, they may be able to muscle their way to victories against bad teams, but a team like the Astros will take advantage of the 31 outs you give them. There are only 27 outs needed, to be clear.
The sloppy play has the Twitter world demanding answers and asking for Boone’s head. The manager is obviously to blame, right? They are lazy, lack focus, and are not prepared to play. They take on the demeanor of their coach and are simply following suit. Although this makes some sense and a manager certainly has to take the heat for his team’s performance, at what point do we stop blaming the manager and start holding the players accountable?
These are big leaguers, after all. These are athletes making bad throws, professionals getting picked off bases, veterans not running out bunts, and proven relievers blowing games. Yes, the lack of focus may start with a manager, but the execution on the field starts with the players. We as fans tend to forget this. We blow past the fact the player didn’t execute and instead take out the pitchforks for the guy who inserted him into the lineup. Zack Britton, with a k, is an excellent reliever on the back of his baseball card. All Boone can do is listen to the nerds in the tunnel and see the stats on his card. He is supposed to do his job. When he doesn’t, it’s as if Boone should have known. Britton is to blame. Boone is not.
The players in that locker room will tell you they need to do a better job. They are not ignorant to their performance thus far, but sometimes I wonder if they are also a little too reliant on their raw talent, leaning on what feel like weightless words from Boone, “We’re close to turning a corner”, instead of just busting through the wall. The talent for big things is there, but the focus on the little things is not. This is where the coach is to blame, but it’s also where the players need to be coachable.
It’s a similar faux pas from last year. There just seems to be no urgency from these players, and there is only so much a manager can do. At some point these guys need to look in the mirror and realize just how special they are, but unless they go out and do the not so special things well, the things that don’t light up the back of the baseball card, no corner shall be turned.
At the start of the season, I highlighted three key areas the Yankees needed to improve upon to win a championship and one of those was to play good defense. The others were to stay healthy and for Gary Sanchez to rake. Gary has been raking, but now he joins the long list of Yankees on the injured list so, double whammy, my key areas of “health” and “Sanchez” aren’t exactly working out. This is out of their control now.
That leaves us with defense. And defense can be controlled.
They can control the mental mistakes, the blunders, the errors. They can control the effort they put out on the field. The bad news is they have not been doing that. However, the good news is they can change that. You can’t change the injuries. You can change the efforts. Mistakes can be corrected, and I believe they will be. This team is too good and too special to not be great, and it’s too early to throw in the towel on what could be for this team. It’s 12 games. It’s early. The weather still hasn’t quite turned yet.
And for us fans, we’re hopeful the old cliche is true: April showers bring May flowers.
Or in the Yankees case, April errors bring May… gold glovers? That was bad. I tried.
Perhaps those changes start tonight. But even if they do, we know us skeptical fans will still question their weekend resurgence. Is it because it’s the White Sox? Or did we actually turn this phantom corner Boone keeps talking about?
I guess that question will be answered next week when those white “sox” turn red.