There’s been very little for New York Yankees fans to complain about in 2022. The team has the best record in baseball and is set up nicely to make a World Series run.
But many fans will tell you that this has been a long time coming and that the bumps in the road in both 2020 and 2021 should’ve never happened. Blame the pandemic, blame unforeseen regressions, blame a faux Red Sox ALCS run, whatever you want. There were a ton of factors that slowed down this version of the Yankees the last few years.
Though general manager Brian Cashman has built this team and is responsible for so much of the good — Clay Holmes, Nestor Cortes, Jose Trevino, Anthony Rizzo, the list goes on — he’s also fully accountable for keeping a number of others on the roster for far too long, which contributed to the Yankees falling short the two previous years.
And all it takes is a quick glance around MLB. How? Well, the Yankees let go a number of players this offseason and conducted a bit of a re-tool. The results have been inarguable. But it’s also left many asking, “Why did it take this long?”
Within the last year, the Yankees rid themselves (rightfully) of Jackson (Clint) Frazier, Gary Sánchez, Gio Urshela, Rougned Odor, Brett Gardner, Luke Voit, Brooks Kriske and Nick Nelson, among others. The result? Resounding success.
Now, some of those guys still deserve to be here, or at least would’ve had roles if they’d stayed. Urshela, Voit and Gardner didn’t necessarily do anything to be run out of town, but it’s clear Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gal … well, not him … were the proper upgrades that helped take the team to the next level.
Brian Cashman should’ve had the Yankees achieving this success sooner
But why were the rest employed as long as they were? Frazier, who was picked up by the Cubs, was designated for assignment back in June. Sánchez, to no surprise, has been his usual below-average self and owns one of the worst batting averages in the league over the last year. So does Odor. Nelson has been even worse with the Phillies. Kriske is in Japan. Voit (please don’t kick my butt!) is not doing much with an expanded role in San Diego (though we will still argue he should’ve been used as a DH down the stretch last year).
Don’t you DARE forget Jay Bruce was on the 2021 roster for 10 games before Yankees fans forced him into retirement!
How about 2020? When Mike Ford appeared in half the season’s games only to register a 38 OPS+? When Jonathan Holder had a 4.98 ERA and 1.66 WHIP across 18 games? Nelson and Kriske were on that roster, too, wasting away and getting shelled! We’ll perhaps never forget the James Paxton trade, either, because the year prior the Yankees were unwilling to trade Justus Sheffield for Manny Machado, but instead did so for an oft-injured lefty in Paxton.
We can Captain Hindsight this all day, but the fans were right all along. The roster construction in 2020 and 2021 was (inexplicably) not good enough and the team allowed bad players to continue playing poorly for reasons unknown. And that’s on Cashman.
Being content with how 2018 and 2019 panned out — great regular seasons but colossal playoff failures — seemed to have been the prevailing thought here. “OK, we were close. It’ll just ‘turn around’ at some point, won’t it?” One pitcher in Gerrit Cole wasn’t going to turn around all the misfortune. Everyone knew that.
Anyway, it’s genuinely exciting to be here this late in July. But with the trade deadline approaching, the time to be aggressive is now. And fans remain rightfully concerned, because the Yankees hardly are. If the roster isn’t upgraded, though, there’s going to be trouble if New York’s immediate rivals (Toronto, Houston, Tampa) make changes. Any upgrade by those teams is a double loss for the Yankees.
For example, WHY is Domingo Germán still here?! Please replace him at the trade deadline.