Some might argue the discussion about the New York Yankees‘ “rotten” culture (though it can’t entirely be quantified?) has now gone stale. You might be right, but then what other explanation do you have for countless inexplicable regressions and consistent disappointing play from a World Series contender?
Bad luck? Sure, but that only lasts so long. And let’s not forget the Yankees imported a number of other players at this year’s trade deadline and last offseason in a series of moves that many believed would snap the team out of its funk … or at least somewhat help.
A shortened 2020 due to a global pandemic was brutal for all, and just about everyone’s gotten a pass for what may have (and likely did) adversely affect what was supposed to be a promising campaign.
But here we are in 2021. The Yankees were the favorites to win the American League. Yes, they’ve dealt with injuries, but all of their top names have been available for the entirety of the ride — something that hasn’t been the case since 2018.
And the results are unacceptable. They’ve been bouncing around between third and fourth place in the AL East for far too long. They blew a seven-game lead in the AL Wild Card race in 12 days this month.
The newest (supposed “impact”) acquisitions of Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo and Andrew Heaney have done a whole lot of nothing. That’s led us to wonder if the Yankees’ seemingly toxic culture played a paramount role in ruining Clint Frazier, who will not return to the team in 2021.
Did the Yankees’ weak culture ruin Clint Frazier?
Just look at the evidence before you. Heaney’s been one of the worst pitchers in MLB (he was never good, but he somehow got that much worse). Gallo is batting .162 with 72 strikeouts in 47 games. Rizzo has regressed on defense and is performing worse offensively with a better collection of hitters around him. It seems they caught Yankee-itis.
As for Frazier, the team says he’s dealing with dizziness/vision issues, but would it be insane to believe that’s a front for the relationship simply not working out and the Yankees excommunicating him, Jacoby Ellsbury style?
We’re not saying that actually happened, but it’s something worth pondering. After all, Frazier’s had his “issues” ever since arriving in New York back in 2016. Somehow, rumors suggesting he wanted the team to unretire Mickey Mantle’s No. 7 were widespread enough for him to have to address them. They were absolutely ridiculous and (to our knowledge) untrue.
Then came his horrific defensive performance against the Boston Red Sox in 2019, after which he purposefully dodged the media when the Yankees lost. Then a spat with Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay followed, which, while not Frazier’s fault, fell under the “unnecessary drama” category, further adding to his struggles to latch on with the team.
We’re sure we’re missing a few incidents in between, but it all came to a head in 2021, when Frazier was given the starting right field job in spring training … only to fumble it spectacularly. He batted .186 with a .633 OPS, was a liability on defense, and, in July, was one of the six WORST players in MLB according to fWAR.
It’s certainly worrisome that doctors and specialists can’t seem to get to the bottom of Frazier’s medical issue … but it’s also kind of … dare we say, unbelievable? The best healthcare out there can’t diagnose or pinpoint what’s wrong with him for almost over three months?
If you’re among those who aren’t buying the fact that Frazier’s extended absence is due to this mysterious ailment, then perhaps it’s time we discuss the Yankees’ culture being the main culprit?
Think about it. Almost nobody is held accountable, outside of a random Gary Sanchez benching from time to time. There’s no openness or candidness when it comes to controversial issues … or really anything! Every postgame response to the media is cookie-cutter diplomat-speak, devoid of any personality, like when manager Aaron Boone tried to convince Yankees fans that “the fight was there” after the team was outscored 22-4 in their final two games against the Indians over the weekend. And somehow, even that vote of confidence feels disingenuous. The support system in this clubhouse seems fraudulent and phony, which would lead a personality like Frazier to continuously falter without the proper guidance. If this team truly had a captain and a semblance of a disciplinarian as manager, the defensive gaffes, little league at-bats, lack of motivation, and part-time awareness would have at least improved with barely two weeks left in the season.
Perhaps Frazier needed a bit more tough love, explicit instruction, and/or big-brother guidance as opposed to phony reinforcement coupled with Brett Gardner breathing down his neck. We think many will be surprised when overarching changes are made in the offseason and more information comes to light about what had been going on within the Yankees’ clubhouse.
After all, Frazier had already been properly messed with by the team brass long before his latest issues.