Yankees: Changes NYY must make after Memorial Day loss to Rays

Hitting coach Marcus Thames #62 of the New York Yankees looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 24, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Hitting coach Marcus Thames #62 of the New York Yankees looks on during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 24, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Say what you will about George Steinbrenner — well, don’t actually, it’s probably frustrating to read — but he would not have let the Yankees get punked by the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays in back-to-back series (back-to-back years, actually) without taking a discernible step towards changing things.

Should the Yankees fire their manager, who seems to breed complacency? That’s certainly an outsider’s opinion. Even if you believe Boone to be a weak link, though, you must acknowledge there’s no chance the team dismisses him before the end of the season when his contract expires.

Should Marcus Thames, the team’s hitting coach, be fired? Eh … it really doesn’t seem like their philosophy is at fault here, unless Thames showed up with a “Men in Black” memory wiper before the season and told the whole roster to forget how to hit.

Then again … there must be some form of helpful adjustment. And if there is, hasn’t Thames proven he can’t find it?

Regardless of what the change is, it’s getting late early out here, and the Bombers cannot wait any longer for a shakeup.

After “racing” out to a 28-19 record and an excellent recovery from a 6-11 start (despite not hitting at all during most of that stretch), New York is now 29-25, 5.5 games back of the Rays, and facing six more home games against Tampa Bay and the Boston Red Sox.

These are supposed to be the ones that are easier to win, being at home and all. When the Yankees head to the stadium on Tuesday night, they simply have to look a little different. If the same lineup walks out to the field, those claiming Hal Steinbrenner is more than happy to punt this full season to get under the luxury tax would be proven right.

The Yankees need to make these changes before Tuesday’s game vs the Rays.

As unfair as it feels to fire Thames over this stretch, what has he done to justify his performance? Who can he point to who’s maintained their 2019 levels of production or improved upon them? Even Gio Urshela is beginning to backslide. Gleyber Torres has two homers entering June. DJ LeMahieu has lost his spark, and no one is helping him find it.

When an entire team is lifeless, something needs to change.

Beyond a coaching shuffle, a promotion of hard-hitting first baseman Chris Gittens is past due. Mike Ford provides very little punch. Rougned Odor at second base has been a spark plug, but those burn out if used too often. If LeMahieu is going to hit .260 with very little power, that’s not a starting first baseman in this league, either. Sorry to all the fans we’ve offended with that statement, but it’s true.

Gittens doesn’t have to play everyday. But why has soft-tossing Nestor Cortes Jr., tired from soaking up innings on Sunday, earned a roster spot and Gittens hasn’t? The pitching is not the problem. This team cannot hit, and hasn’t hit, and will not hit, barring alterations.

Third in this list, but the team’s top priority? Make a trade for a lefty bat NOW. Don’t wait for the deadline. Feel like you might have to overpay to accomplish your task. Joey Gallo’s power bat in this lineup, which so rarely goes yard anymore, wouldn’t provide a little something? The Tampa Bay Rays strike out more often than any other team in the league, and they are killing you in every aspect. Upgrade the Brett Gardner spot and do it now. Whichever available outfielder you intend to add, don’t delay. This roster cannot wait until the end of July.

Monday’s loss marked four games of two runs or fewer in a row for the Yankees for the first time since 1971. Change as much of the personnel as you can. Time is no longer on your side.