Yankees Thoughts: No Season Without Juan Soto

The Yankees won their eighth straight and swept the six-game season series against the Twins with an 8-5 win. But if Juan Soto’s forearm issue is season-ending, nothing else matters.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. When the rain delay ended on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, YES showed a zoomed out view of the field. You could clearly make out the four umpires standing around home plate conversing, and then a few pinstriped uniforms began to take the field.

I first spotted Alex Verdugo’s number 24. That’s odd, I thought, since Verdugo didn’t start the game and was being given a day off. He must be going in for Trent Grisham? But the Yankees are holding a three-run lead with four innings to go. If Grisham is going to play, wouldn’t now be the time you would want him in there for his defense?

I then spotted Aaron Judge’s number 99. OK, Judge is fine.

And then I saw Grisham.

2. My heart sank. Unless Juan Soto was clinging to a clubhouse toilet with diarrhea, him coming out of the game was never going to mean anything good. A guy who plays every inning of every game every day doesn’t come out of the lineup unless he’s sick … or injured. Before I could say anything, my wife turned to me and asked, “Where’s Soto?”

3. It wasn’t long after the game resumed the Yankees announced, “Juan Soto left tonight’s game due to left forearm discomfort.”

There has never been discomfort in a baseball player’s throwing arm that has led to something good. It’s highly unlikely Soto visits a doctor on Friday, has imaging and tests done and is in the lineup and batting second at night against the Dodgers. The odds of that happening are relatively the same as Anthony Rizzo barreling a ball this weekend.

4. What was taking place on the field over the remaining four innings of the Yankees’ 8-5 win over the Twins became meaningless. Sure, a win is a win, but every Yankee, Yankees employee and fan would gladly trade a slew of losses for the health of Soto. The postgame show became more important than the actual game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Thursday’s postgame show was higher rated than any Yankees game this season.

In typical Aaron Boone fashion, the manager downplayed the absence of Soto for the final four innings and the idea that he could have a season-ending injury.

“It’s just something that’s been bothering him for the last week or so,” Boone said. “He’s been getting treatment on it. It hasn’t really affected him in his baseball stuff, throwing or swinging or anything.”

Yankees vice president of media relation Jason Zillo interrupted Boone to include information about Soto, including him needing to be evaluated by the team doctor and trainers — information that Boone conveniently left out.

5. So Soto has been dealing with forearm discomfort for a week and has been getting treatment, but now after a week of treatment he’s going for imaging on Friday? That means whatever the issue is, it hasn’t gotten better and has possibly gotten worse. The idea he came out after the rain delay as a precaution is the typical bullshit Boone and the Yankees have been spewing about injuries for his entire tenure.

Boone and Soto went on to say that with the rain delay, the team didn’t want to risk Soto’s arm being hot for the game then going cold during the delay then needing to be heated up again, as if his left arm is a 30 pack of beer the team is trying to avoid skunking.

6. “We all decided to not start getting warmed up again after an hour sitting down here,” Soto said. “We didn’t want to risk anything like that, so we just decided to stop.”

It doesn’t really matter that Soto says it doesn’t hurt when he throws or bats. Pitchers throw pitches at their normal velocity after tearing their elbow all the time. What matters is that Soto’s left arm hurts enough that at least a week ago he reported it to the training staff, for a week he has been receiving treatment on it, on Thursday the team doctor had to evaluate him and he eventually came out of a non-lopsided game for the first time all season, and is now going to have imaging and tests done on Friday.

7. “I actually just woke up one day, felt the tightness and discomfort in my forearm,” Soto said. “We’ve been working on it, and we’ve been trying to get away with it and it hasn’t gone out.”

There is absolutely no way what was said after the game by Soto or Boone or what we know about his arm at this moment can be viewed as positive. Because again, throwing arm discomfort is never a positive for a position player or pitcher. Until Soto or Boone or the Yankees announce that all testing came back negative and that he’s healthy, it’s impossible to think anything but the worst.

8. It will also be impossible to feel good about this season moving forward if Soto’s injury is worse than the Yankees are letting on (which has been a six-plus-year trend with Yankees injuries) and he’s done for the season. The Yankees are 45-19 with a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL East. But they did that with Soto. Without Soto, it’s the same core, the same group of guys that missed the playoffs last year, were embarrassed by the Astros the year before and have been chasing a championship drought for this entire era. I know how the story ends for these Yankees without Soto. If Soto ends up going down, the season unfortunately will go down with him. We have six years of games, performance and data that say as much.

9. In the middle of all the Soto-related questions, someone threw out a “What did you think of Stroman tonight?” to Boone. Unless Stroman discovered the cure for cancer in the clubhouse after throwing 4 2/3 miserable innings, no one gives a fuck about how the manager views Stroman’s lousy outing. The only current event about the 2024 Yankees that matters is what happens at whichever doctor’s office Soto is visiting on Friday.

10. Friday night is the first game of the first Yankees-Dodgers series at the Stadium in eight years, a potential World Series preview with the two must star-studded teams in the game. It was supposed to be an awesome, drama-packed weekend, including an at-home rivalry for me against my wife. Instead, I could care less about the games right now. All I care about is knowing the status of Soto and the state of his left forearm. Without him, there’s no season.