Lockout Brings Much-Needed Break from Yankees Baseball

Baseball has shut down and so has lack of positive offseason Yankees news

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I didn’t care about baseball. To be one of the fans you overhear at a game interpreting a simple rule wrong or asking where Derek Jeter is or getting overly excited about a ball that results in a lazy flyout. Sometimes I not only wonder what it would be like to be someone like that, but I actually wish I were someone like that. Someone who didn’t care about the results of a game and whose mood and daily life for the majority of each year weren’t impacted by a game they have no control over.

I have wondered this and wished this a lot over the last 12 baseball seasons. Over that time, I have watched …

The Yankees not include Eduardo Nunez in a deal for Cliff Lee, who would single-handedly swing the pivotal Game 3 of the ALCS …

The Yankees go into a season with the smoke-and-mirrors version of Freddy Garcia and a 38-year-old Bartolo Colon who hadn’t pitched in two years as 40 percent of their rotation …

Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin go a combined 10-for-79 as the Yankees scored six total runs in a four-game ALCS sweep …

Lyle Overbay play 142 games in a season, Vernon Wells 130, Chris Stewart 109, Eduardo Nunez 90, Jayson Niz 87 and Travis Hafner 82 …

The Yankees go into a season with one expected everyday regular under the age of 30 …

The Yankees go into the next season without one expected everyday regular under the age of 30 …

Go into a third straight season with only one expected everyday player under the age of 31 (Didi Gregorius at 26) and give 428 plate appearances to Stephen Drew (.201/.271/.381), 642 plate appearances to Chase Headley (.259/.324/.369) and 501 plate appearances to Jacoby Ellsbury (.257/.318/.345) …

Build an everyday outfield of Ellsbury (.263/.330/.374), Brett Gardner (.261/.351/.362) and Aaron Hicks (.217/.281/.336), who would hit a combined 24 home runs in 1,621 plate appearances …

Not take on Justin Verlander’s salary at the Aug. 31 deadline as he would single-handedly swing the ALCS by winning Games 2 and 6 …

Not part with Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar in a trade for Gerrit Cole who single-handedly swing the ALCS the following season with a Game 3 win only to eventually release Frazier for nothing and never play and have no plan for Andujar …

The Yankees’ ALDS Game 3 starter not know the start time of the pivotal game, suffer the worst home postseason loss in franchise history and have their first-year manager manage the team out of the postseason against their longtime rival …

The front office add no starting pitching at the trade deadline and then endure another ALCS loss when the bullpen was asked to pitch 31 of the 54 2/3 innings in the series …

The manager make the most obvious regrettable first-guess decision in history in Game 2 of the ALDS …

The front office go into the season with 40 percent of the rotation made up of arms that hadn’t pitched in two years due to injury and another 20 percent being an arm that hadn’t pitched in a year and a half due to suspension …

The front office think a team could be successful without any left-handed hitting in a lineup, let alone one that plays 81 games in a stadium with a 314-foot, right-field line …

A team that was the preseason favorite to win the American League end up winning finishing in fourth place in the division and fifth place in the AL and have their postseason end in one game be referred to as “a postseason contender” by the team’s general manager …

A manager who has proven to be in over his head in his position and incapable of making even the simplest in-game decisions, while also blatantly lying about his roster’s performance and exaggerating injury news to the media and fans get a new three-year contract with a fourth-year option …

An owner who has not increased the team’s payroll in 16 years despite the team’s exponential revenue growth openly speak about and vote to decrease the current luxury-tax threshold …

A team that has openly admitted it needs to get better, needs a true shortstop, a center fielder and starting pitching not sign a single free agent prior to lockout with all of the great starting pitching options no longer available, the only center field option no longer available and now just two shortstop options available.

Since the announcement of his new contract, I have spent the last nearly seven weeks talking myself into Aaron Boone with better players. All he needs is a better roster! Because that will prevent him from batting Gardner third, using Brooks Kriske (or now someone like him) in extra innings in Fenway Park and choosing Albert Abreu over his entire bullpen with the season literally on the line in Game 161 of the regular season. Just give him better players! Unfortunately, with the way the offseason had played out prior to the lockout, the idea of Boone with better players is turning from an idea into a dream, and a rather unrealistic dream at that.

There are two actual starting shortstop options remaining: Carlos Correa and Trevor Story. Correa is by far the better player, but he’s also a jerk (given his comments following the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and recent evaluation of Jeter’s career) who comes with a lot of baggage. Like CC Sabathia said on a recent episode of his podcast, Correa has set himself up to be A-Rod if he comes to the Yankees in terms of being a dividing figure in the clubhouse and being booed on the field, and I don’t know if that’s a 10-year commitment this Yankees front office wants to make.

I really don’t know what type of commitments they want to make. One would think the Yankees would be all about big-money, short-term deals, like the one Max Scherzer signed with the Mets, but the Yankees were reportedly not even involved in talks for Scherzer. How is that even possible? How is it possible that the Yankees weren’t interested in the best available free-agent pitcher and arguably the best pitcher in the game who would only cost money, something they make more of than any other team?

Not only were the Yankees not in on Scherzer, but they let the reigning Cy Young winner in Robbie Ray sign with the Mariners on what I think is a favorable contract for the Mariners. They watched Kevin Gausman sign with the Blue Jays, and even Jon Gray (who the Yankees once drafted and have always been connected to) was signed by the Rangers. The Rangers also signed two of the available shortstops in Corey Seager (who was my No. 1 choice for the Yankees to sign) and Marcus Semien. The Rangers mean business this winter. The Yankees mean … I don’t know what the Yankees mean.

It keeps me up at night to think the Yankees will sign either Correa or Story (I think they would be more inclined to sign Story since he will be cheaper and they were connected to him in July) and then call it an offseason. This team isn’t a shortstop away from a championship. They are many, many pieces away from that.

If the old adage holds true that you want to build up the middle, then the Yankees’ current middle is Gary Sanchez, (whose name made headlines this week just for being tendered a contract), Gleyber Torres (who was removed from shortstop and is now being forced to second base, which removes the three-time Gold Glove DJ LeMahieu from the position), no one at shortstop and Aaron Hicks (who has played 145 games in the last three years and in that time has suffered a back injury, a hamstring injury and has had his throwing elbow and left wrist both surgically repaired). That’s the Yankees’ middle: Sanchez, Torres, no one and Hicks. World Series here they come! “Postseason contender!” as Brian Cashman called them in his end-of-the-season press conference.

Both Correa and Story make the Yankees much better simply because they’re breathing and the Yankees don’t currently have an actual shortstop on their roster. That sentence reads like a joke, but it’s far from a joke. However, they need a whole lot more than one of those two. Aside from LeMahieu, they essentially need an entire infield since I have given up on Torres, whose mere presence is screwing up the infield alignment, and they need someone who can be trusted to play a full season in the outfield whose name isn’t Brett Gardner.

On top of that, they need starting pitching. They have Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery. Luis Severino has pitched 27 2/3 innings since the end of 2018. Corey Kluber is now a Ray. Jameson Taillon is recovering from ankle surgery. Domingo German flat-out sucks. Clarke Schmidt is always hurt and has put 31 baserunners on in 12 2/3 innings in the majors. In six months, Deivi Garcia went from looking like the future of the rotation to having a future in an independent league. Michael King is a reliever.

Scherzer is a Met, Ray is a Mariner, Gausman is a Blue Jay and Gray is a Ranger. The Yankees didn’t want to go to a second year for Justin Verlander (just like they didn’t want to take on his salary in 2017), so he’s back with the Astros. Eduardo Rodriguez went to the Tigers, Steven Matz to the Cardinals, Noah Syndergaaard to the Angels and Alex Wood back to the Giants. Even Alex Cobb (who signed with the Angels) or a reunion with James Paxton (who went to the Red Sox) would have been viable options. The Yankees signed none of them.

I really hope there’s a multi-player return trade coming before Opening Day because that seems like the only way the Yankees improve their roster. The remaining free-agent pitchers all might as well be J.A. Happ (who happens to also be a free agent) because there’s no one left who will improve the rotation. And unless the Yankees are going to sign Correa and Freddie Freeman, there’s nothing left in free agency to get excited about.

Still wearing his uniform long after the wild-card loss to the Red Sox, Gardner said, “There’s a lot of uncertain, uncharted waters with this team heading into the offseason … Hopefully we’ll have a chance to run it back.”

Well, he may just get his chance. Whenever the lockout ends, the Yankees will still be the same team they were after that loss. The same roster that has never good enough to win in the postseason and is now not even good enough to get into the actual postseason and play a series. The same franchise that hasn’t been good enough and hasn’t tried to be good enough for the last 12 years.

No one knows when this lockout will end. Next week? Next month? The month after that? After spring training was supposed to start? After the regular season was supposed to start? A break for baseball means a break from the Yankees, and that’s somehow become a welcome relief.


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