Yankees Thoughts: Expect Team to ‘Run it Back’ with Roster in 2022

Not much maneuverability with Yankees' roster this offseason

It’s been almost a week since the end of the Yankees’ season and it sucks.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. The Yankees’ season has been over for six days and it seems like 60 days. It’s bad enough the Yankees were eliminated by the Red Sox for the second time in four postseasons and the third straight time since 2004, but now it’s miserable having to watch the Red Sox (who continue to overachieve) play the Rays (who were absolutely screwed over in Game 3 of the ALDS) and the Astros (who are one win away from their fifth straight ALCS and would already be in it if Dusty Baker had called me for advice on whether or not to pitch Yimi Garcia) play the White Sox (who are comically proving why the AL Central shouldn’t get an automatic postseason berth). There isn’t a good answer on who to root for in the American League, so I guess the National League it is.

2. On CC Sabathia’s most recent podcast, he gave an outstanding summary of the difference between the Yankees and Red Sox:

“Our core lost to a team in 2018 that is not even the same Red Sox. They went on to win the World Series with Mookie, Jackie Bradley, Benintendi. They traded all them dudes. We still got the same core. We come back to Boston fucking three years later and lose to a fucking completely different core of players that they have raised up in three years. How does that happen? What the fuck are we doing wrong and they’re doing right that in a three-year span they win the World Series and then a completely different core whoop our ass in the fucking wild-card game?”

3. The Yankees’ remaining position players from 2017 are Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks. Judge was the team’s best player this season, Sanchez was on the bench for the team’s elimination game for a second straight season, Gardner was forced into an everyday role (yet again) because of injuries (to Hicks and Clint Frazier) and Hicks once again missed the majority of the season. The Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton, called up Gleyber Torres and traded for Luke Voit in 2018. They signed DJ LeMahieu and Gio Urshela emerged in 2019. That’s the “core.” Some of them were injured and most of them underperformed yet again.

4. The roster has to change. After the team’s wild-card loss, Gardner mentioned having the chance to “run it back” with the same roster in 2022. That can’t be an option and shouldn’t even be a thought. This team hasn’t been good enough to win for four straight seasons (not including 2017 since that was an unexpected postseason run) and they’re not even close. They aren’t getting to the World Series and losing because they’re short a starter or a big bat. They’re not one player away. They’re a-lot-of-the-roster away. No matter what Aaron Boone idiotically says about “how the league has closed the gap on the Yankees.” There has always been a gap for his Yankees.

5. The problem is while it shouldn’t be an option or a thought, “running it back” is most likely what the Yankees do. There’s only so much that can change on the roster due to contracts and value, but the parts that are changeable need to change. Judge isn’t going anywhere. Stanton still has 37 years left on his contract. LeMahieu is signed through 2026. Hicks was given a seven-year deal in 2019. (If the Yankees have the opportunity to move Hicks, they need to do it no matter the return.) That leaves Torres (who you can’t trade right now because his value is so low), Gallo, (who the Yankees have under contract for next year) and Urshela.

6. Barring an unforeseen trade, the Yankees are going to keep the 24-year-old Torres and play him at second base and see if the player from 2018-2019 and the player he was the final month of the season can return. In the most important regular-season games without LeMahieu, they did bat him leadoff after all. The Yankees love Gallo. They love his “true outcome” hitting profile and his defense. They didn’t finally successfully trade for him just to let him go after two months of him. That leaves Urshela. He’s cheap, which the Yankees love, but I think it’s time to move on.

7. Unfortunately, I think Sanchez has played his last game as a Yankee. Sitting on the bench in a win-or-go-home postseason game for the second straight year was likely the end. The Yankees (or their manager) thinking it’s best to play Kyle Higashioka who hit the equivalent of a great NL-hitting pitcher over the last few months of the season will always be puzzling. Even though I’m a Sanchez fan, and even though he had the third-highest OPS among AL catchers in what was “another down year,” at this point I hope the Yankees move on from him. Make Higashioka the starter or sign some limited-skill free agent and let the fans see how enjoyable that is. I hope Sanchez ends up somewhere like San Diego, grows out a beard and hits 35-plus home runs in helping the Padres win the World Series.

8. I thought this team’s ceiling was an ALDS appearance. Another one-and-done postseason series exit. And maybe, just maybe if everything fell into place and they got a lucky bounce here or there they could squeeze out an ALCS appearance. Their ceiling ended up being the wild-card game, and clinching their appearance in it came down to the final at-bat in the final game of the regular season.

9. Every day I sign online, I pray I see some version of the phrase: Source: Yankees expected to move on from Boone. I haven’t seen it yet and the longer it goes without me seeing it, I fear I won’t see it. The Mets announced they were moving on from Luis Rojas the day after the season ended. We’re on Day 6 over here and nothing. I understand Boone’s contract hasn’t technically expired, but if the Yankees were going to move on from him, there would be some sort of report or leak by now I would think. This seems like the type of decision that has already been made, so there shouldn’t be a hold up. Either announce you’re moving on or announce an extension.

10. If the Yankees bring back Boone, it will be an awful decision and a worse decision than when they hired him originally. He has done nothing to prove he deserves the job he was wrongfully given. Continuing to employ him as manager would compound the mistake the Yankees made nearly four years ago. If he’s around to give an end-of-the-season press conference, which should be any day now then you know he’s coming back. If only Brian Cashman gives one then the Yankees have made the right decision and the first step in fixing the team and getting back to the World Series.

Subscribe to the Keefe To The City Podcast. New episode after every game during the season.

My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!