Before we get started … is anyone, right now, actively working to make the 2022 New York Yankees‘ season better rather than ruin it?
Giancarlo Stanton ended 2021 with positive momentum. Gerrit Cole didn’t, but he’s theoretically on a mission from God to prove his worth. DJ LeMahieu’s gotten healthy. So had Jonathan Loaisiga. Joey Gallo, Lifelong Yankee Fan, doesn’t want to go down as a two-month joke.
But, beyond that, there isn’t a lot that looks better now than when the sun set on 2021. Even Aaron Judge, entering his final year before free agency, has probably had his brainpower unwittingly split between helping his team and helping himself.
Seriously, please, can someone extend this man? Even by accident? Like, can some fan prank him into at least believing he’s signed an extension before the season gets started?
Now that the CBA talks between MLB and the MLBPA have at least some version of momentum behind them, the concerns of early December have moved from the rearview to the windshield for Yankee fans.
There might be a season after all, and it might be between 150-162 games. In that case, the Yankees are going to have to work on being better than the fourth-best team in their own rough-and-tumble division, and us fans can get right back to blaming the people who let us down before MLB locked down.
With a free agency frenzy on our horizon — all packed into just a few weeks! — it’s time to remember the fearsome foursome that’s threatening to ruin the 2022 season, whenever it begins.
These 4 people have teamed up to ruin the 2022 Yankees season.
4. Aroldis Chapman (in a Contract Year)
Either he’ll be spectacular while looking for a new deal, which will force the Yankees to overpay him once again, or he’ll continue his 2021 backward momentum and be a fickle question mark at the end of every hard-fought Yankee game! Who’s to say which one is more likely?
We’re to say. It’s the failure one.
Just below the collective failure of the vaunted offense, Aroldis Chapman and Chad Green are likely the two most responsible men for the wins that were ticked off our ledger at the last possible moment. Is it fair to blame the bullpen? Not entirely. Is it easy and accurate? Absolutely! More so than any other Yankees team in recent history, the 2021 team lost a stunning amount of victories that already felt banked, thanks in large part to Green’s overuse and propensity for the long ball, as well as Chapman’s unique ability to completely lose any semblance of ability about three or four times per month during the summer.
When Green struggles, he looks like he’s operating at 85%. When Chapman struggles, he looks like he’s been Space Jammed.
Entering 2022, Chapman will be 34 years old and will no longer be the unmatched flamethrower he was when the Yankees traded for him under dubious circumstances. When 2021 began, he looked as comfortable as ever, actually, defying the odds with a new splitter that seemed like it was from another planet. It had worked! Chapman had reinvented himself! He really was a pitcher and not a thrower! Except…
April and May went ridiculously well; Chapman struck out 20 batters in eight shutout innings in the season-opening month, then allowed just a single earned run (on a homer) in 12 May outings. Nobody’s perfect, but Chapman was close.
Until … he suffered … some sort of nebulous finger injury that never really resolved itself? His June was catastrophic. He went from Randy Johnson to Randy Jackson. His 11.42 ERA in 11 games that month carried into July’s still-bad 4.00 ERA as he tried to reset himself nearly from scratch in the middle of a season. It was everything we’ve grown used to from Chapman in recent seasons ratcheted up to 1.000. Of course, he’ll never be Mariano Rivera, but the least the “greatest modern closer” could be is generally meltdown-proof. Nope. And now he’s another year older.
Chapman ended 2021 with a home ERA of 4.71 with 26 walks in 28.1 innings in the Bronx. Odds are, if you paid to see Aroldis Chapman in 2021, he didn’t show up. So what’s he planning for the encore?