Maybe the New York Yankees are cursed for the time being. The playoff futility this team has experienced (for the most part) from 2001-2020 has been well-documented.
Then again, the expectations are higher in New York. What’s futility here is all-time success in, say, Cleveland.
That’s beside the point. The fact of the matter is that the Yankees have a payroll in excess of $200 million and have been a World Series contender ever since the 2017 team made a surprise run to the ALCS.
They’ve gotten punked in the postseason ever since their 2009 World Series win. In the 11 years since, they’ve made it to the ALCS four times, missed the playoffs altogether three times, were bumped in the ALDS three times, and lost the Wild Card Game once. That’d be acceptable for a small market team with limited resources. Not a $5 billion behemoth.
But this is the reality, and the 2021 version of this team is massively underachieving halfway through the season. And nobody has answers.
General manager Brian Cashman, who’s supposed to have maybe at least one answer, can’t seem to pinpoint the problem, which could mean one thing: perhaps he’s the problem.
Is Brian Cashman the one holding the New York Yankees back?
OK, it’s not a manager problem. Let’s play along with that for a moment. The players aren’t performing. They’ll come around because they’re “talented” and the organization knows “what they’re capable of.” Partially true.
Regardless of how a team is built, you cannot expect the same results over and over. There are regressions. In the case of the Yankees, you can’t expect them, for four straight years, to bludgeon their opponents to death with home runs. Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. Nothing is perfect. Things will go wrong.
Well, we’re witnessing a massive, unforeseen, inexplicable regression from a number of players in 2021, but guess what? That’s because Cashman has decided to continue rolling with the same philosophy.
Home runs. Relentless at-bats. Dominant bullpen. All those things are still there in some capacity, but they’ve been less prominent this year and can’t be relied upon to last from Game 1 to Game 162.
You know what helps in between the lines? A balanced lineup. Not a full right-handed cast of hitters when you have a 314-foot short porch in right field. What else? Good defense. Yup, that saves runs when your lineup isn’t exactly tip-top. Same goes for deep starting pitching, something the Yankees haven’t had since … can we remember off the top of our head? How about some fundamentals?! Running the bases. Lifting the ball in the air or hitting to the opposite side of the infield with one out. Speed helps too! There’s … one player who can run effectively.
You know whose fault that is? Brian Cashman’s.
Say all you want about Aaron Boone being a poor motivator or that his decisions in tight spots hurt the Yankees more than they help them. You might be right. But every deficiency we’re witnessing on the 2021 Yankees (aside from the fact almost everyone’s had a tough time hitting) is a symptom of how Cashman built this roster.
Fans wanted a lefty bat (or two!) this offseason. They wanted someone more reliable to take over No. 2 duties behind Gerrit Cole than Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. They knew Domingo German wouldn’t be as good as the organization was hoping. Many knew trading Clint Frazier after his promising 2020 and Mike Tauchman after 2019 would’ve helped net them more integral pieces to avoid this mess.
None of that happened. And now we’re here. Doing what Cashman’s doing — simply hoping the team plays better at some point.