Last night marked the disappointing end for the 2022 New York Yankees season, ending in another embarrassing postseason loss to the Houston Astros.
At this point, it is becoming increasingly difficult to call the Astros a rival since a rivalry usually means two somewhat evenly matched sides trading blows; instead, this has been a pure domination in every sense of the word. It is becoming increasingly clear that major changes need to happen.
For the Yankees, that starts at the top of the house.
The Roster Issues
For the Yankees, the buck stops with Brian Cashman. While he does deserve praise for his Yankees tenure, it’s clear that the Yankees have hit their ceiling. The organizational philosophy appears broken and sometimes changes need to happen. This postseason, the Yankees were once again plagued by their offense completely disappearing. IKF, Oswaldo Cabrera, Matt Carpenter, both catchers and Josh Donaldson were automatic outs.
But besides their struggles, there weren’t many other options for the Yankees. Starting with Carpenter, it was probably unfair to throw a player into a lineup against the Astros’ pitchers after missing the entire second-half of the season. However, the Yankees had no other options. The top hitter left off the roster was Marwin Gonzalez. Not exactly an impact bat.
Meanwhile, trading for Josh Donaldson and IKF looks terrible in hindsight. Yes, the pitching was way better without Gary Sanchez behind the plate but Gio Urshela hit .285 this season with only 2 fewer home runs while still grading as an above average third baseman. Maybe no other trade offers existed for Sanchez but even cutting him would have been less costly than Donaldson’s contract.
As for IKF, it’s pretty clear he isn’t capable of handling shortstop. After a season of fans questioning his ability to play the position, the Yankees sent him out there against Cleveland, just to pull him at the first signs of trouble. The only backup shortstop on the roster in the ALDS who could replace him…you guessed it, Marwin Gonzalez!
Yes, this team was pretty devastated by injuries. Besides Carpenter, they lost Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu, but it’s not like either player is exactly known for staying healthy. Instead, the Yankees ran out the second oldest roster in baseball and just hoped for the best.
The Organization Philosophy
The Yankees are one of many teams that now lives by the home run or bust philosophy. Yes, teams that hit more home runs in the playoffs are more likely to win that game. However, most teams don’t have spots in their lineups of unproductive at-bats.
Particularly Game 1 in Houston, while hitting back-to-back, Donaldson and Carpenter struck out 7 times in 8 at-bats, stranding 8 runners on-base. Meanwhile, Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado, the Astros’ 8 and 9 hitters went 3 for 6 with 2 runs and an RBI.
For the Yankees, it’s rumored that Cashman and the analytics team sets the lineup. Meanwhile, Aaron Boone is responsible for in-game decisions, while relying on analytics. Most playoff teams use analytics, however, it’s fair to wonder if the Yankees are using the right ones.
Passing on a big-named shortstop potentially cost the team a World Series appearance this season. Maybe Carlos Correa or Corey Seager would have also struggled this October. But having them on the roster would have solidified shortstop and left the Yankees either keeping LeMahieu at third base or hanging on to Gio Urshela and moving Sanchez elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the Astros also decided to pass on signing a shortstop. But instead of finding a “stop-gap” the team trusted Jeremy Pena, who had a great rookie campaign and won ALCS MVP. The Yankees also have two highly touted shortstop prospects. Despite getting called up late in the season, the Yankees didn’t trust Oswald Peraza down the stretch, letting him stay on the bench until suddenly being thrown into the lineup once IKF struggled…just to get pulled again.
The Yankees roster is clearly good enough to be competitive over 162 games. But once the bright lights of the postseason shine, the team shrinks to the moment. They barely escaped a Cleveland team with a significantly lower payroll and were totally outmatched by Houston. At some point, running back the same roster and expecting a different result is insanity.
Last season, Phil Nevin and Marcus Thames were the scapegoats. 2020 was the covid-season. 2019 was Larry Rothschild and 2017 was Joe Girardi. At some point, the Yankees need to take a long look in the mirror and understand that the philosophy is broken and a new voice is needed.
Instead, it feels likely that a Brian Cashman extension is coming. Just don’t be surprised when 2023 feels a lot like 2022.