The future of the Yankees hangs in the balance over the next four weeks

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 27: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning at Fenway Park on June 27, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 27: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning at Fenway Park on June 27, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

How many more media sessions is it going to take? We’ve already seen New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman take the podium about three times more than he’s needed to throughout the first three months of the season. We see manager Aaron Boone every night. On Thursday, we saw owner Hal Steinbrenner, who had a lot to say.

It was revealed late on Wednesday night that Steinbrenner would be speaking to the media on Thursday morning. At that point, it looked like the Yankees were cruising to a victory, up 8-4 and heading out of a second rain delay to finish things off. The win on Tuesday night helped the team buy some time too. Two in a row? This’ll be a much easier chat. Whew.

Not quite! Aroldis Chapman blew the four-run lead, Lucas Luetge gave up three more runs for good measure, and the Yankees lost 11-8 in the ninth. Right back to everything crashing down, just like on Monday.

That prompted a much more critical presser than we were expecting because the pressure was immediately back on. Now we’re here wondering what the future holds for this team.

When will we know? Probably in four weeks. The trade deadline is July 31. The Yankees have a little less than a month to make up the proper ground and convince Cashman and Steinbrenner that they should buy, exceed the luxury tax threshold, and go for it this year and in 2022.

If not, we might be looking at 2016 hybrid sale, or even worse, a more significant teardown, which, while doubtful, cannot be ruled out given so many open-ended situations in the next couple offseasons.

The future of the Yankees hinges on the next month of play.

Steinbrenner is not going to spend another dime if this play continues for another 3-4 weeks. He refused to spend this offseason when it was clear the Yankees needed an additional piece (or three) after their disappointing 2020. If that’s the case, what makes us think management will keep this current roster largely intact? For what? To miss the playoffs outright, not capitalize on any assets, and have more and more fans raging in the streets?

And if this team can’t turn it around, why would the Yankees feel this same cast (plus another player or two) could make a deep run in 2022? They’ve someone fallen even further behind after bringing Gerrit Cole to town. They’re on track to waste his best years.

As for the rest of the roster? Decisions need to be made on Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, two of the most important pieces. They’re both free agents after 2022. So is Aroldis Chapman. So is Zack Britton. Expect Luis Severino to be gone, too, if he can’t stay healthy or turn it around. Chad Green and Jameson Taillon will be free agents as well.

Then you’re looking at the Yankees having to build around … Cole, DJ LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. Those guys aren’t going anywhere, mostly because they’re untradeable, with the exception of Cole, but we’d be shocked if he was moved.

As for a few other key players, Gio Urshela and Jordan Montgomery are here through 2023 while Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazer and Luke Voit are here through 2024. It couldn’t be more obvious that this team’s premier window was 2020-2022 based on the expensive contracts, the cost-effective ones, and the players about to reach free agency/considerable paydays. It was all lined up.

Until the roster decided to play .500 ball through the first half of the season, falling 8.5 games behind the Red Sox and 5.5 games behind the Rays. They can surely turn it around. Bigger comebacks have happened. The problem with this version of the Yankees is that there’s no indication they can get back on track.

This once-upon-a-time high-powered offense helped the Yankees mask so many deficiencies: the poor starting rotation, questionable managerial decisions, bad defense, head-scratching baserunning, and even a shaky bullpen from time to time. When the offense isn’t producing AND, more importantly, isn’t delivering clutch at-bats, all of those issues rise to the surface.

Now, people are realizing more and more often that Taillon and Domingo German are … bad. A large sect of the fan base wants Aaron Boone fired. You’ve never heard more complaints about a baseball team’s fundamentals in your life. You’ve never heard a fan base break down the specific and troubling aspects of a team’s offense with so much passion.

The Yankees have one month to help management diagnose what this roster will look like for the second half of the season, for 2022, and for 2023. The troubling spot that they’re entrenched in at the moment almost feels comical, but this is the reality.

There are nine games left against the Mets, Mariners and Astros, all of whom are playoff contenders, before the break. Then they’ll face the Red Sox eight times, the Phillies twice and the Rays three times immediately out of the break and before the deadline.

Giancarlo Stanton said it best: “This sh-t needs to stop.” And it needs to now or else it could completely alter the foreseeable future of Yankees baseball.