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The Yankees have accepted mediocrity from the top down

After the New York Yankees were swept by the Boston Red Sox once again at Fenway Park this past weekend, I significantly lowered my expectations for this team. I’ll always watch. It’s impossible for me not to. But I’ve dropped the expectations this team would go on a run. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

I went to Monday’s game which also sucked. They got a nice win Tuesday. But last night? That was something else.

After two rain delays, the Yankees carried an 8-4 lead into the 9th inning. Aroldis Chapman needed just five batters to erase that lead.

I’m done with Chapman. He’s burned us too many times. After posting a 0.00 ERA in April and a 0.75 ERA in May, it ballooned to 11.42 in June. The guy makes $17 million to be a mentally weak loser. I can’t bear to watch another season end with him on the mound.

Owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke to the media this morning. I’m sure he was thrilled that it ended up being just hours after the worst loss of the season. I expected nothing of substance, just the same scripted PR BS we get from Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman all the time.

And that is precisely what we got! Let’s dive in to what he said.

Vote of confidence for Boone

I feel like a broken record saying this, but I don’t expect Boone to be fired mid-season. The last time the Yankees fired a manager mid-season was Bucky Dent in 1990, George’s nineteenth managerial change in 17 seasons. Hal isn’t the same as his dad. Which is fine!

I don’t expect Hal to be George. The constant knee-jerk reactions were not always effective; in fact, mostly ineffective. But why does Boone deserve a massive vote of confidence with the team underperforming like this?

Does firing Boone fix the problem? No. But at this point it’s clear, he’s not the right guy to manage this team. He’s doing a bad job, and somebody else deserves a chance. Hey, at least the players apparently respect him!!

I’m not asking for Hal to be his dad. That volatile style of ownership often didn’t work. It wasn’t until The Boss was suspended that Stick Michael was able to build the 90’s dynasty. But you could never doubt how much George cared. I’m not entirely sure Hal does.

The Luxury Tax

I don’t totally buy into the “Hal is cheap” narrative. The Yankees have ranked at the top of MLB’s payroll list for decades now. He signed off on Giancarlo Stanton, he signed off on Gerrit Cole. He’s not cheap. However, it’s infuriating that the Yankees are treating the luxury tax like a hard cap. And what’s worse, they’re so disingenuous about it it’s disgusting.

Let me get this straight. The Yankees’ plan has been to get under the luxury tax for months now. Corey Kluber & Jameson Taillon were their rotation moves while letting Masahiro Tanaka walk. They traded Adam Ottavino to the rival Red Sox to get his $9 million off the books. Rougned Odor was acquired literally because he was free. Cashman trusted Brett Gardner, Tyler Wade, and Mike Ford as his bench despite having a lineup full of injury-prone players. This all happened with the luxury tax in mind. But they’re going to abandon their plan because this team sucks?

I’d love to see them throw money and prospects at the problem this trade deadline. It just won’t happen. Cashman stood pat the last two deadlines with Yankees teams that were a piece or two away. How many players would he need to acquire this deadline for this team to legitimately contend? More than one or two, that’s for sure.

I’m not asking Hal to spend $300 million in payroll. But could he really not have spent $230 million on this team to fill some holes that are coming back to bite them right now? Or kept salary on par with the $250 million or so it was last season? Everything they’ve done the last nine months shows they aren’t going over the luxury tax threshold this season. For Cashman and Hal to keep teasing that they might is an absolute joke.

Cashman’s ultimate job security

I don’t think Cashman is a bad GM. But I’ll never understand how he has this much job security. One championship in 20 years, yet his last name might as well be Steinbrenner at this point.

I agree, the players need to be better. But why is the guy who put together the group of players absolved of all blame?

Cashman got a ton of credit for his quick retool from selling in 2016 to ALCS Game 7 in 2017. Rightfully so. But that crop of players hasn’t exactly developed the way we all once imagined.

I still have hope for Torres but he’s regressed significantly the past two seasons. Frazier is a disgrace. Sheffield was traded for James Paxton, who gave us a great 2019 and nothing in 2020. McKinney was traded for JA Happ, the ultimate loser.

I won’t act like every Cashman move has been terrible. Aaron Judge is great, albeit one of Cashman’s only good draft picks of the last decade. Gary Sanchez has found his stroke again. Luke Voit and Gio Urshela were diamonds in the rough. Jonathan Loaisiga and Chad Green are lockdown relievers. Cashman has acquired some talented players. But his overall roster construction is horrible.

He’s paying $30 million for two relievers in Chapman and Zack Britton. Chapman has been a nightmare for the last month and Britton has hardly pitched in 2021. I like Stanton, but his contract is brutal for a full-time DH. The lineup is full of one-dimensional right-handed hitters when the team plays at Yankee Stadium, a notoriously lefty-friendly ballpark. Most guys can’t field their positions all that well. The team has no speed and lacks depth. It’s mind-numbing how many holes this roster has while also being the second-most expensive in all of baseball. This deserves ultimate job security?

Now what?

I’ll still watch every game because I can’t not. Watching Yankees baseball is what I do. But I’ve dropped all expectations from this team. If they go on a run and get to the playoffs, great. If not, hopefully they hit rock bottom and clean house because I can’t handle running this thing back in 2022. We’ll see what happens.

To talk anything Yankees baseball, comment below or tweet me @ncostanzo24.