Why are Yankees letting Gleyber Torres ruin their ideal lineup?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees hits a RBI sacrifice fly in the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees hits a RBI sacrifice fly in the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on April 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

No Yankees star’s fall from grace has quite matched the downturn of Gleyber Torres. After a 2019 season that featured 38 home runs and a 2019 ALCS where he was the most trusted bat in a lineup of superstars, Torres’ trajectory rocketed downward.

It was the most uncharacteristic downfall of the many organizational failures that manifested themselves sometime between that Game 1 victory in Houston and the present day, where a once-feared lineup can’t come close to matching the pitching staff, suddenly the star of the show thanks to Matt Blake’s tutelage.

Not only does the lineup no longer produce even at half the level it once did, but there’s also no consistent core you can point to as “representing” the Bombers. On any given day, anyone could be riding the pine, and might see their role change/position switch to match the front office’s whims.

Some of that shifting, which reasonably seems to be throwing off the lineup’s overall momentum, can be attributed to Torres’ presence.

Though Torres leaving shortstop in the rearview mirror at the end of 2021 seemed to help his production perk up, his cold start to 2022 hasn’t held up that hypothesis.

Now, after benching Torres on Opening Day following a red-hot spring training, Aaron Boone has started him the next nine days with less-than-impressive results. Wedging an ineffective Torres into the lineup (again, after an Opening Day demotion) has led to disappearances by DJ LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson, who could use every rep possible as he struggles to get settled in a new environment.

After nearly 180 uninspiring post-2019 games, why are the Yankees rotating better players out of a confusing order just to continue to accommodate Torres?

Yankees keep rotating DJ LeMahieu out to play Gleyber Torres after benching Torres on Opening Day.

Again, the Yankees got it right on Opening Day, as painful a reminder of organizational failures as it was to see Torres on the bench.

After he found himself up in a key spot that day (of course he did) and delivered a sac fly, he’s started nine straight games and gone 5-for-31, capping the week with a hitless series in Baltimore. A hitless series. In Baltimore. A place where they pushed the wall back 50 feet just to compete with the Ghost of Torres, a haunting specter who hasn’t existed in three years.

Meanwhile, LeMahieu — who backslid in 2021 for tangible, core muscle-related reasons and still outperformed Torres — has gotten his groove back, going 8-for-29 with two doubles and a bomb to start the season. He’s been benched twice.

The Yankees clearly have prioritized a fluid roster without marrying players to roles, with one key caveat: Torres cannot play short. It’s the fly in the ointment, the ink splotch ruining an otherwise perfect page … it’s also not true, considering the Yankees built a roster that somehow forced them to use Torres at short in the seventh inning of a 0-0 game on Sunday (he promptly dropped a grounder).

Torres isn’t a shortstop, but sometimes in crunch time, he must be. The worst thing about 2021’s roster was forcing Torres to short, and we have to fix that, but also we still do it sometimes this year. Torres has struggled for two full years and has carried it over into a third, but he’s a priority over LeMahieu in Year 2 of an extension and Josh Donaldson, who costs over $20 million annually and had better get comfortable soon.

Oh, and the No. 1 area of collected upper-level minors depth is in the middle infield, where Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza and — to an extent — Anthony Volpe are just waiting.

If the Yankees could find a taker for Torres, he’d be gone by now, with only two years of control left to his name. It’s stunning we got here, but here’s yet another young Yankee who hasn’t justified the financial commitment of a second deal, especially with so many prospects nipping at his heels and so many veterans checking the lineup card daily to see if he’s displaced them.