Yankees: The REAL reason why the team is struggling
Analysts are offering various explanations as to why the Yankees are playing well below expectations at the beginning of this new season. However, I know the REAL reason why the club has been performing below its capabilities.
Like all Yankees fans, I am quite disappointed in the performance of the club thus far this season. In addition to the extremely high hopes brought on by the outstanding player personnel Brian Cashman assembled during the offseason, the team was gifted an easy schedule to begin the 2019 season.
However, as we have seen, the Yanks have floundered against less competitive teams and have lost their series’ against the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Chicago White Sox. The talented Houston Astros, to top it off, took three straight games from the Bronx Bombers. So much for sending a message.
The Yanks are on the wrong side of history. The club has lost its first three home series of the season for the first time since 1982. Placing this in a broader perspective, this is only the second time in the past 100 seasons that the Yanks have “earned” this distinction.
Possible reasons for losing
There are several possible explanations as to why the Yanks have stumbled so severely out of the starting blocks. First, according to some pundits, the team is a “warm” weather club, and most of the games thus far have been played in cool and cold weather. If this is true, let’s hope that summer is right around the corner.
Second, Yankees base runners have made several costly errors on the base paths, from being picked off first and other bags (wake up guys, this is no longer Spring Training) to making mental mistakes on the base paths.
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Third, the starting pitching has not been consistent at all. Too few starters have failed to shut down rallies and have gone late into the game. We knew that the starting pitching might be a problem, but we also hoped it would be at least good enough for the team to make it to the World Series. After all, the starters have the best bullpen in baseball to back them up.
Fourth, the vaulted bullpen has been surprisingly mediocre. Good performances, the few that have taken place thus far, have been largely overshadowed by an inability to close out games. Unfortunately, no one is sure whether the Yanks will be able to get enough base hits and home runs to win games if this trend continues.
Fifth, some observers have questioned whether Aaron Boone is ready for prime time and if he knows how to inspire his club. Others feel that Boone cannot keep individual players focused, thereby leading to throwing and fielding errors, mistakes on the base paths, and a general lack of hitting when needed most.
Too many injuries thus far
Clearly, the Yankees have suffered more severe injuries to more front-line players than any other club during this young season. After all, how can you expect to win with backups for outstanding players like Didi Gregorius, Miguel Andujar, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Dellin Betances, Jordon Montgomery, and Luis Severino?
These are all terrific ballplayers who are regular starters and key personnel on the club when they are healthy. Also, Troy Tulowitzki was being counted on to play an essential role in the club, but he, too, went down with a significant injury.
Then there is Jacoby Ellsbury and Greg Bird. Well, let’s not go there.
Nevertheless, Yankees fans can rightfully expect that the club will play a lot better once these players return from the IL. At that point, other clubs and opposing pitchers will be in for a rude awakening.
In fact, one can even argue that it is impressive that the Yanks have won as many games as they have thus far in the season, given how many valuable players have been injured and for how long.
The REAL reason
It is tempting and convenient to point to the numerous injuries the Yanks have sustained thus far as the primary reason as to why the team has played poorly at the start of the 2019 season.
However, this may be a symptom of a much larger problem. I would argue that we need to dive deeper into why so many players have been injured out the gate.
A brief review of the players and their injuries provide an essential clue: Gary Sanchez, left calf strain; Troy Tulowitzki, left calf strain; Giancarlo Stanton, left biceps strain; Aaron Hicks, lower back strain; Miguel Andujar, right labrum tear; Dellin Betances, right shoulder impingement; and Luis Severino, right shoulder inflammation.
At least in the early going, the team has become the New York Strain, Tear, Impingement, and Inflammation Yankees.
In my view, the REAL reason the Yankees have played poorly and have so many key players on the I.L. is because of a lack of conditioning. While I have no hard data to back this claim up, I very much fear that the Yanks, overall, have not been receiving sufficient conditioning throughout the 12-month calendar year.
As die-hard Yankees fans, we should ask whether and to what extent are the players being required or at least strongly encouraged to stay in top shape during the offseason? We also should ask how much conditioning the players are getting during Spring Training?
Finally, we should question whether the stretching that the players do before the start of a game is enough to avoid injury. Perhaps other exercises should be required in addition to traditional stretching.
I am not a physician. But I am at least smart enough to know that such a spate of injuries taking place at the beginning of the season is hugely unusual and raises many red flags.
Isn’t it strange that so many players are experiencing the kinds of injuries that probably could have been avoided if they had proper conditioning during the offseason, Spring Training, and especially prior to a game during the regular season?
Perhaps more than ever, baseball players must remain in tip-top shape throughout the entire year if they hope to perform at their best during the competitive regular season in the summer.
After all, most players are paid quite well, and they owe it to their ball club and their fans to put themselves in a position to perform at their very best. The body is not a light that can be turned on and off without losing its brightness.
What do you think? Is this the REAL reason why the Yanks are off to such a terrible start? I actually hope this is not the REAL reason, but I strongly suspect that it is.
The good news, of course, is that this situation can be corrected immediately, leading to fewer injuries, key players spending more time on the diamond instead of the I.L., and greater team success on the field.