Brutal huh? What felt like a magical year for seven months ended in about the worst way possible. The biggest Yankee killer of this half decade crushing a walk off homer in our very own house of horrors. It hurt just to type that. Anyway, the 2019 season is over, and here are five thoughts that I have.
I may get called a hater, and maybe this is harsh. But Didi Gregorius kind of sums up the Yankees early post season exit. He is the definition of a good but not great player. He’s above average, but has never done anything elite. He’s never hit .300, won a gold glove or hit 30 homers. He’s never made an all-star team . This year, Didi Slashed .238/.276/.313, which was well below the league average. Yes, he’s a solid defender. Yes, he’s had some big moments. But Didi Gregorius is not a championship level infielder. Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu are.
If you watch this team day in and day out, you can see the difference. Didi did an admirable job taking over for Derek Jeter, and he really seems like a great guy. But the Yankees need championship level talent at every position. Thanks Didi, and good luck.
I know, captain obvious here. He throws 100 mph, is in the prime of his career, and is an absolute horse in an era where horses are disappearing from our game. The Yankees drafted Cole in 2008 and tried to trade for him in 2018, so we know they think very highly of him. They have absolutely no excuse not to sign this guy. $260 million over seven or eight years should be enough to get this done. Patrick Corbin, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper all had some small weaknesses that you could nit pick and justify not signing. Cole has none of these. He is about to win the Cy Young award, and the World Series. Additionally, you are pulling him off of your biggest competitor.
Stealing Cole from the Astros could be a 20 game swing in the standings.
Rethink the pitching philosophy
The Yankees have essentially had the best bullpen in baseball for the past 40 years. From Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage in the 1970’s, to the Mariano crew in the 90’s, all the way up to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, etc., the Yanks have always prioritized the bullpen, and it certainly gives them an advantage on most days. However, relying on the bullpen to get 15-plus outs for multiple days in a row simply doesn’t work. Tommy Kahnle and Britton were on absolute fumes in Game 6.
This quote from Britton himself is very telling, via Sports Illustrated: “Bullpenning is—the Nationals are in the World Series, and look at their rotation,” said Britton. “These guys (Houston) are in the World Series. I think starters are still the way to go. If you have a great bullpen, that helps, but having four or five guys in the rotation who can give you innings, I think, is still the formula to win.”
The key word here is innings. The Yankees don’t need a rotation as strong as Washington’s or Houston’s, but at the very least they need more innings. Three and four inning starts simply won’t get it done. A strong lineup is the most important part of any team, followed by starting pitching and then bullpen. The Yankees are elite in number one and number three, but average at number two. The Yankees won the two games that their starters were able to complete six innings, and lost the other four. Throughout this series, you’d probably be surprised to hear that the Yankees:
Scored more runs than Houston
Had a better starter’s ERA
Had a better Bullpen ERA
Hit for a higher average overall
Hit for a higher average with runners in scoring position
Hit more home runs
The only thing Houston did better was get more innings out of their starters. And that was the difference.
Overhaul the training staff
Thirty-nine Injured List stints by 30 different players.
The Yankees literally broke the IL record this year. The Yankees won 103 games. It’s not outrageous to say the Yanks probably break the record for wins in a season with a healthy roster. I’m sorry but, the Yankees legitimately got nothing from Dellin Betances, Luis Severino, and Giancarlo Stanton. They missed two months of Judge. If these guys play the whole year, the Yankees might make a run at the record of 116 regular season wins set by the 2001 Mariners.
Time to shake up the medical staff. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Whatever the medical staff is doing isn’t working. Too many preventable soft tissue injuries. Too many instances involving a mis diagnosis. It’s not like all of our players got hit by pitches. Most of these injuries are avoidable. Stretch. Work on flexibility. This wasn’t a big coincidence, it was a total season long failure by the Yankees medical team. Bring in someone better.
Commit to Gio Urshela as the third baseman of the future
The summer of Miggy was fun last year, but this is no a brainer. Gio actually hit better than Miggy did in 2018 and is roughly a million times better in the field. The Yankees can’t go back to taking a gamble on every play at third after seeing the other side this year. I can’t go back to holding my breath on every throw across the diamond when we have a guy that makes every play and can also hit .300. Trade Miggy for a starter, keep him as a backup, whatever. Do not pull Gio from third.
The reason this stings so much is that there really is only one team capable of beating the Yankees in a playoff series. The Twins hit 307 regular season home runs and the Yankees embarrassed them. The Dodgers were supposed to be the class of the NL and the Yankees almost swept them on the road with half the roster on the shelf in August. I think the Yankees would have cruised past the Nationals with home field. (So does pretty much everyone else.) The Yankees need to find a way to topple Houston. They have every other team on lockdown.
Re-sign Aroldis Chapman if he opts out. Don’t let Saturday night fool you, Chappy is still a top three closer in baseball and will be for at least the next two years.
Gleyber Torres is an absolute superstar and already looks like a Hall of Fame talent. Lock him up forever.
I am so sick of hearing about how young the roster is and how bright the future is. This group has now blown three straight chances to go to a World Series. They’re not that young. They probably have 2-3 more years as an elite team and then will start to decline. The clock is officially ticking on this group.
If the Red Sox trade Mookie Betts, the Yanks will be obviously be heavy division favorites. However the Astros aren’t going anywhere.
In Game 6, Marvin Hudson missed 20 calls. Fourteen of those went against the Yankees. It feels like we’re getting used to this and accepting it. We shouldn’t. A robot wouldn’t have missed 20 calls in one game. Sheesh. Aaron Judge has had more balls outside the zone called strikes than any player in baseball over the past three years. Everyone laughed at Boone’s savages rant, but he had a point. Ten years ago, this would be seen as making excuses/being a cry baby. But now there is data to back it up. Most people hate the Yankees, and that really is fine. But it’s unfair and unprofessional for umpires to share that hatred.