If we really want to get to the root of the New York Yankees‘ problems, we can trace everything back to the 2017 offseason when general manager Brian Cashman decided to trade for reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
Sure, at the time it was really cool … but why was this a priority? Why inherit a $325 million contract for another power hitter? Hindsight is always 20/20, but forget about the money and lineup redundancy for a second.
From 2010-2017, Stanton played in 145 games or more just three times. He was frequently injured. And since coming to New York, more injuries have prevented him from playing the field. He’s now a permanent designated hitter who costs nearly $27 million per season.
Looking back, the class of free agents after the 2017 season was downright bad and the Yankees got hosed when the Pirates spurned them and traded Gerrit Cole to the Astros. But coming off an ALCS appearance and within just one game of the World Series, the Yankees needed to ensure they had pitching for years to come … not another expensive slugger.
Again, not a hot take! It’s conventional wisdom. It’s safe to say some of the discourse surrounding Stanton’s acquisition focused on that exact topic at the time.
And the complaints have grown since 2019. His inaugural 2018 season in the Bronx was awesome, but since then, regardless of the “numbers,” it’s been bad. Stanton’s crowning achievement is owning the Tampa Bay Rays in an ALDS loss.
The Giancarlo Stanton trade has been bad for the Yankees in so many ways.
Only box score hawks or baseball fans who don’t watch the Yankees daily probably think Stanton’s production is tolerable. It’s simply not. He’ll go on blistering streaks and then look like he was promoted from Single-A for weeks on end. He fails the eye test. That’s all there is to it.
Since the beginning of June, he has hit six home runs and a grand total of NINE extra-base hits.
It’s inexcusable. His swing plane and stance mean he can only hit balls directly over the middle of the plate. He cannot protect when there are two strikes. He’s fooled by off-speed pitches and is late on fastballs FAR too much for a supposed MVP-caliber player.
His strikeout percentage is in the bottom 17th percentile of the league and his whiff percentage is in the bottom FOUR percentile.
Oh, and did we mention he STILL can’t play defense?! Yup, we did!
The last time he played more than 72 games in the outfield was in 2017.
Now, it wouldn’t be a problem if Stanton was a threatening and productive designated hitter who was able to carry the team on any given night, especially on a day like Friday where the Yankees were down two key offensive players in Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela and were facing a soft-throwing left-handed pitcher in Eduardo Rodriguez.
Can’t do that, though. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and wasn’t even close to getting a hit.
Seriously. Not. Even. Close.
Fans could go off on just about any player on this roster, but Stanton has to take the cake at this point. His stats this year are buoyed by a hot streak from the end of April until the middle of May. The baseball season is six months long — not three weeks.
He has handicapped the Yankees from a financial standpoint and from a lineup flexibility standpoint. Manager Aaron Boone has fewer ways to get creative because Stanton is baked into the DH role every single night.
We apologize if we sound like a broken record, but each time there’s a moment in which fans get their hopes up for one of the Yankees’ star players to step up and deliver, they fail. An overwhelming majority of the time.
As for Stanton, it’s a shame it’s reached this point, but his big name, colossal contract, and high expectations put him in the crosshairs more than most. He’s a victim of his situation … which was brought on by Cashman.
This is a trade that should cost Cashman his job, but of course, it won’t. We’ll just head into another offseason and make questionable signings and trades in hopes of “getting over the hump.” This team needs a complete teardown or a total 180 in leadership in order to rid the stink of this lifeless roster.