If you told me a month ago I’d be writing this before the season ended, I would’ve laughed. But the way this Yankee team is playing right now, it’s warranted. Hopefully they turn things around, and I’ll go back to thinking they actually have a chance to accomplish something in 2020. However, this blog isn’t about optimism for 2020. This is therapy for every Yankee fan trapped in the middle of the nightmare our team is putting us through right now. So here goes nothing.
Fire Boone & the entire coaching staff, hire Buck & Cone
Aaron Boone looked like a rookie manager in 2018, which makes sense because he was. He seemingly turned a corner last year, guiding a team with a record-breaking amount of injuries to a 103-win season. In 2020 though, Boone has looked absolutely lost.
He’s managing with absolutely no urgency. You’d think the Yankees have a 20-game division lead with the “we’ll get them tomorrow” strategy he employs. Nope, they’re on the verge of missing the expanded playoffs. Every player besides DJ, Voit & Clint has regressed. On top of that, the Yankees’ culture has become soft. We hand a four-run lead to our “high leverage” relievers, they fail miserably, and you’re blaming it on the stadium lights? Give me a break.
Unless the Yankees seriously turn it around, Boone needs to go. Bring back Buck Showalter as manager, make Coney the pitching coach, and create a coaching staff that knows what it takes to win.
Re-sign DJ & Tanaka, let everyone else walk
DJ LeMahieu must be re-signed at any cost. I don’t care that he’s 32, he’s been a constant presence in the Yankee lineup the past two seasons. Unless Cashman is looking to take a run at Lindor, Baez or Story in free agency a year from now and move Gleyber back to second (which I don’t see happening), there is no excuse to let DJ go.
Masahiro Tanaka is another Yankee that needs to be retained. I know he has a few terrible outings every year. But he’s made at least 24 starts in every season in pinstripes, and he pitches on another level in October. In 46 postseason innings, Tanaka has pitched to a 1.76 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. Pitchers like that don’t grow on trees.
Everyone else can go though. Don’t let Happ’s option vest, tell Gardy to call it a career, and don’t give Paxton anything besides potentially the qualifying offer.
Trade Gary & bring in a pair of catchers
Here’s the unfortunate truth on Gary Sanchez. He was a dominant player in 2016-17. Then, he was abysmal in an injury-filled 2018. We were all hoping that was a fluke, and it seemed like it was after his monster first half in 2019. Unfortunately, everything since then has been horrific. He’s struck out in 42% of his plate appearances this season and has an OPS of just .587. Sure, he’s capable of going on a tear every once in awhile. But is that worth the prolonged slumps, poor defense, and injuries? I’ve always supported Gary, and the “fat and lazy” narrative bothers me. He works hard. But it’s time to come to the conclusion that he’s just an unbelievably streaky player that isn’t the long-term solution.
I know nearly everyone wants J.T. Realmuto, and for good reason, he’s the best catcher in baseball. But I don’t see the Yankees paying the price for him. Besides, two of the Yankees’ last three first round picks have been catchers (Anthony Seigler in 2018 & Austin Wells in 2020.) I’d take a shot on a pair of catchers who are both capable defenders and can hit at the bottom of the order. James McCann is a free agent after this season. McCann enjoyed a breakout 2019, but was forced into a backup role after the White Sox signed Yasmani Grandal. Then, bring back our old friend Austin Romine to split the catching duties with McCann and see what kind of return Gary can get in a trade.
Acquire infield depth
If the Yankees do re-sign DJ like I suggested earlier, then he and Gleyber Torres will be the starting middle infielders in 2021. I know Gleyber has looked shaky at short this season, but I’ll cut him some slack. This is his first season as the full-time shortstop, and he didn’t even get a full Spring Training to prepare. If he’s still bad next year, then perhaps the Yankees look into one of Lindor/Story/Baez in free agency.
Although I want the Yankees to roll with DJ & Gleyber again in 2021, they need depth behind them. Tyler Wade & Thairo Estrada have shown they are not capable of being everyday players. If the Orioles don’t pick up his club option, Jose Iglesias could be a good fit to backup Gleyber at short. Tommy LaStella would also help bring a much-needed lefty contact bat to the Yankees. LaStella plays second and third, and would help create better matchups against tough right-handers.
Re-tool the bullpen
Tommy Kahnle just had Tommy John surgery, so if he pitches at all in 2021, it won’t be until late in the season. Ottavino has shown he’s not a high leverage reliever. I’m not the biggest fan of Aroldis Chapman, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere. Despite recent struggles, I still trust Britton and Green. Essentially, this team needs two relievers to replace Ottavino and Kahnle.
I’d trade Ottavino for whatever return we can get. He only has a year left on his contract, and he clearly doesn’t have the mental makeup to pitch in New York. Then, add two relievers to fill the void. Whether it be calling the Reds and asking about Archie Bradley, or signing a combination of Brad Hand, Ken Giles, Brandon Workman, Shane Greene, or Liam Hendriks, the Yankee bullpen needs some tweaking to get back to what it once was.
Move either Stanton or Frazier & sign Brantley
My last suggestion is by far my most unrealistic. Giancarlo Stanton is basically the definition of untradeable. However, if possible, see if you can eat some of his contract, package him with a few prospects, and get someone to take him off your hands. I don’t think it’s happening. More likely would be a Clint Frazier trade, but if they weren’t willing to move him for a bona fide #2 starter in Mike Clevinger, I’m not sure what they would trade him for. Maybe the Cubs make Kyle Hendricks available? I don’t want to trade Clint, but if you can get back a young, controllable starting pitcher, it’s something to be considered.
Michael Brantley would be a perfect addition to the Yankees’ lineup. A left-handed bat that hits for high average with some pop and doesn’t strike out? What a concept! I’m not sure how realistic Brantley would be if Stanton and Frazier are both in the fold, but a guy can dream.
That’s it for now. I hate talking about the offseason when we’re still in the middle of the season, but the way the Yankees are playing, I couldn’t bring myself to write about the team this week. Hopefully in a few weeks, we can all look back on this and laugh.