Yankees Thoughts: Offense Is Atrocious

The Yankees followed up their series win over the Rays by splitting four games against the lowly A’s at Yankee Stadium. It was a disappointing series in which the Yankees were shut out in the first game and left 13 runners on in the fourth game.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. The Yankees went 4-3 during their week-long homestead and that winning record was a disappointment. It was a disappointment because two of the three losses came against the A’s, and in those two losses the Yankees scored one run total. One run in 18 innings against the A’s, a team that is purposely fielding a team with the intention of losing.

To make matters worse, the Yankees only allowed five runs in those two games (two in the first and three in the second). Those have to be wins. They have to be wins because when the Orioles play the A’s this week in Baltimore, you can bet your ass they won’t be getting shut out by the A’s (like the Yankees did on Monday) and they won’t be leaving 13 runners on (like the Yankees did on Thursday).

2. Yes, the A’s are much improved from the team 112-loss team they were a year ago, but they are still on pace to lose 100 games this year. The biggest difference between last year’s A’s team and this year’s is that they have a bullpen, and a very good one. Mason Miller is awesome with his 104 mph fastball and unhittable slider. He got seven outs in the series and six were strikeouts, including two impressive ones of Juan Soto.

3. Soto went 0-for-4 on Monday and 1-for-4 with a walk on Thursday, and the Yankees lost both games. Howdoyoulikethat?! (John Sterling voice.) The Yankees are going to lose nearly every game Soto doesn’t carry them, and that includes against bad teams like the A’s. The 2023 Yankees Plus Juan Soto are a real thing.

They are a real thing because Aaron Judge continues to not be himself. Sure, he hit a first-inning, two-run home run on Wednesday, but he also needed a four-strike count to do so because of a balk call. He went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and hit into two double plays in the two losses. He’s hitting .186/.322/.371 on the season.

5. Giancarlo Stanton hit .136/.208/.182 in the seven-game homestand, striking out in a third of his at-bats. Despite his recent slide back into being the 2022-2023 version of himself he was promoted in the lineup from the fifth spot to the fourth spot because of how bad Anthony Rizzo has been.

Yes, Rizzo kind of came out of it with a pair of home runs in the A’s series, but again, like I wrote on Tuesday, it’s the A’s. I will gladly the take the offense since it’s hard to come by even with the household names the Yankees have, but let’s see what Rizzo does over the next week against the Brewers and Orioles before we decide he’s back.

Anthony Volpe has a .636 OPS since his four-hit game in Arizona on April 1 with 19 strikeouts to six walks in his regression back to being who he was last year.

6. Then there’s Gleyber Torres. (I will refrain from writing about Alex Verdugo, Jose Trevino, Austin Wells and Oswaldo Cabrera since my expectations for them are nothing.) I feel unwell when I watch Torres play baseball. When he’s not striking out on three pitches (like he does at least once a game), he’s getting thrown out on the bases (like he was on Thursday) or throwing balls away in the field (like he does a once a week). Torres isn’t a smart player, and right now he’s not a good player. It’s a dangerous combination to be relying on to hit in the middle of the order and play every day.

Torres is a losing player. He’s a disappointment. His entire game epitomizes the 2018-2023 Yankees (and going on 2024 Yankees). He’s on the Mount Rushmore of this Yankees’ core of disappointment along with Judge, Stanton and Aaron Boone with Brian Cashman chiseling the stone for this era. Torres has a .520 OPS. He has two RBIs. Yes, TWO RBIs. It’s the end of April. Tyler Nevin, who is a 27-year-old with a .631 career OPS matched Torres’ RBI total with one swing on Thursday. (It’s absolutely disgusting that Nestor Cortes let Nick Allen and his .545 career OPS and Nevin beat him on Thursday.)

At some point Torres will hit a three-run home run … I think. He will, right? He has to. If he’s going to play every day and get 600-plus plate appearances, at some point he will run into one. And everyone will think it’s the turning point of his season. He may even hit two home runs in a week (what a concept), but don’t let him fool you. This is the same player that came to 2020 spring training 2.0 out of shape, played his way off shortstop in 2021, had the worst OPS in the majors for a six-week stretch in 2022 and tricked everyone into thinking the Yankees should keep him for 2024 because he hit 25 home runs in 2023. Now as an impending free agent he’s playing himself into a prove-it deal instead of a nine-figure deal because he’s completely abandoned any semblance of having a plan at the plate to go along with the worst Baseball IQ in the league when he’s in the field or on the bases.

If you’re holding out hope the 2018-19 Torres is going to return at some point, that’s only going to happen if the juiced baseball of those two seasons returns as well. Otherwise, this is who Torres is.

7. “It’s one of those games where you get all those opportunities,” Boone said after Thursday’s one-run performance. “Ultimately, you want to create that traffic, but you have to deliver on it and we were not able to do that tonight.”

It wasn’t just Thursday night the Yankees weren’t able to deliver on it. They scored one run on Thursday. They were shut out on Monday. They were shut out on Saturday. They scored one run last Monday in Toronto. This isn’t a one-time thing with the Yankees leaving everyone on base and not scoring. This is a common occurrence. It’s becoming expected. The Yankees have been shut out four times already this season. For as bad as the 2023 team was, at this point last year, they hadn’t been shut out a single time yet. They weren’t shut out for a fourth time until their 89th game on July 7. It’s April 26.

8. The Yankees are 17-2 when they score three runs. Three runs. That’s all they need to win to have an 89 percent chance of winning, and yet, they have failed to do that in 27 percent of their games. At least once a series (outside of the Astros series), they are completely stifled.

It’s not as though it’s a surprise. The 2023 Yankees offense was a monumental disaster, and this year they are only marginally better. That margin is Soto. The other eight bats are essentially the same with the only other difference being Verdugo. He’s been coming around somewhat over the last few days, but he may as well be Aaron Hicks aside from those few days.

I have zero confidence in Torres or Verdugo doing anything at the plate, and no one should be counting on Trevino, Wells or Cabrera for offense. Whatever they give you is a bonus. Judge, Stanton and Rizzo have to hit. It’s that simple. Soto is always going to be fine, and Volpe will give enough as a sophomore. It’s the heart of the order, the 3-4-5 hitters that can’t continue toe be as bad as they have been.

9. “Its a tough one because of the chances to really grab this game a couple of times,” Boone said about Thursday. “We were not able to get through.”

What happened on Thursday is going to happen at times over 162 games. But with the Yankees, through 27 games, it has happened too often, just like it did it in 2023 and half of 2022 and all of 2021. I don’t expect the Yankees to win every game. Even in a great season, they will lose 62 times. I do expect them to beat the A’s though, especially at home. I do expect them to win games started by JP Sears (who entered Monday’s game with nine strikeouts total in four starts and then struck out seven Yankees over six shutout innings) and Alex Wood (who entered Thursday’s game with the worst ERA of any pitcher in baseball). I expect the trio of Judge, Stanton and Rizzo to do more, much more than they have this season.

10. I watched the Brewers-Orioles series a couple of weekends ago and the Yankees will be “up against it” (to use a common Boone phrase) for the next seven games. They won’t be facing Sears or Wood this coming week (not that they hit either of those two anyway). The Yankees’ pitching will be facing dynamic, potent lineups that are going to feast on the Yankees’ anemic bullpen arms if given the opportunity. 

The Yankees’ offense has to show up starting on Friday night. The season is a month old. The soapbox for the “It’s early!” crowd has been put away until next year. If the offense doesn’t show up, a bad weekend against the Brewers while the Orioles are hosting the A’s coupled with a bad four games in Baltimore next week will allow the Orioles to create separation in the division and run away and hide with it for the rest of the summer. Every game of the season is important. This next week is even more important.