The 2023 New York Yankees' season went off the rails quickly and never got back on them, potentially educating Hal Steinbrenner on why the fans were so upset along the way.
Like every failing team these days, the Yankees received their own Athletic deep dive Wednesday in the wake of similar profiles of the high-spending Padres and Mets. In classic Yankees fashion, though, this one wasn't quite so salacious. Captain Aaron Judge was (fairly) buttoned up, casting more blame on the team's lack of depth, but not crossing any lines. Most anonymous sources reiterated only that the team's injuries sank them (though one personnel employee admitted he didn't see a fix in Aaron Hicks or Josh Donaldson, which is ironic considering the Orioles fixed Hicks immediately). There was no Tommy Pham-esque figure who departed midstream to rip the team's heart apart, which is a shame, because it feels like Harrison Bader could've been pretty good in that role.
With an audit still to come, Brendan Kuty and Chris Kirschner seem to expect the analytics department to receive the most demerits, though one other name kept coming up repeatedly in their piece: Eric Cressey, internet guru and the Yankees' "Director of Player Health & Performance." He was deservedly placed under the microscope, considering the Yankees neither stay healthy nor perform.
Rampant injuries were blamed throughout the analysis, with Cressey's name surfacing as a target of ire towards the conclusion (subscription required):
"The team could also examine their medical practices. Despite overhauling their strength and conditioning department in 2020, installing Eric Cressey as its leader, the Yankees have finished in the top 10 in injured list stints every year since 2017, according to Spotrac."- The Athletic
Yankees could fire strength coach Eric Cressey after another 2023 disaster
This profile certainly reads the same way the Dillon Lawson discussion did in the days preceding his firing. Sometimes, insiders just know.
While Cressey cannot be blamed for Judge's toe going wonky after being drilled into a concrete wall, that does not absolve him of scorn for the Yankees' thousands of soft-tissue issues for the sixth consecutive season.
Also, importantly ... where's he been? When does Cressey travel from Florida to the Bronx? When does his in-person work with the Bombers stop? When does it start? Spring-to-spring? No matter how ballyhooed Cressey's name is in the world of strength training, it seems like the Yankees could only benefit from having somebody more hands-on take charge. After all, following another disastrous season of bumps and bruises, there's nowhere to go but up for the program.
Aaron Boone's firing is treated, in this piece, like the scapegoat non-solution that it would currently seem to be. Dismissing Boone without also stealing the reins from Cashman would be a half-measure, and he would surely be replaced by a similar, Cashman-approved affable face. In all likelihood, both stay, but it really seems as if Cressey could go when the outside evaluators' axes come down. At this juncture, it's tough to argue a change is unnecessary.