There are less than two weeks left in the Yankees’ season. Thankfully.
1. In 12 days, the 2023 Yankees will no longer exist. It’s both happy, because this has been the most miserable Yankees season of my life, given the performance relative to expectations, and sad, because it sucks when the baseball season ends, even one as miserable as this.
I gave up on the Yankees long ago. The Sunday, Aug. 13 loss in Miami was the day I came to realization the season was officially over. The Yankees confirmed my realization by losing nine straight games.
2. I was starting to feel good about 2024 with the arrival of Jasson Dominguez, but that lasted eight games before the actually promising prospect was taken from us through at least next season’s All-Star break, and likely longer. Dominguez was and hopefully remains the real deal. He’s not Anthony Volpe, who you have twist numbers and narratives to feel good about. He’s not Oswald Peraza, who hopefully is building on his .849 OPS over his last 13 games, and he’s not Everson Pereira, whose inability to make contact is startling. Maybe Volpe will become the superstar he’s believed to be. Maybe Peraza and Pereira will continue their development into being everyday players for the Yankees. There was no maybe with Dominguez. There were no growing pains. He was every bit as good as advertised over the last four years, and would have opened the 2024 season as the Yankees’ 3-hitter and returned hope to a fan base starving for someone other than Aaron Judge to believe in in the batter’s box. Unfortunately, on March 28, 2024 in Houston, we will all have to pray a 1 through 4 of DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo Stanton that wasn’t good enough or healthy in 2023 will be good enough and healthy a year older in 2024.
3. I keep hearing “It’s crazy the Yankees are only six games out with 12 games to play!” It’s not crazy. This is what the six-team, three wild-card format was created to do: keep as many teams in the postseason picture for as long as possible (especially the team with the highest payroll in the AL and second-highest payroll in the majors). The Yankees are only “almost a playoff team” because 40 percent of the league gets into the playoffs, and sadly they aren’t in the Top 40 Percent of the league, a feat that seemed impossible of ever happening when the new playoff format was implemented.
4. Sometime in the next two to three weeks, the Yankees will hold their end-of-the-season press conference and explain why they didn’t win a championship for the 14th straight season. Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone will both undeservedly remain in their positions for 2024, the Yankees will do little to nothing to upgrade the roster over the winter, and expect fans to tune in beginning on Opening Day believing next season will end differently than the previous 14 simply because the Yankees are the Yankees, as if that means anything anymore.
5. The Yankees’ recent play and winning 14 of 20 assures Boone will be back for 2024. The Yankees needed to continue their bottoming out, finish in last place and end the consecutive-season winning streak for him to be removed as manager. Now that they have spent the last three weeks beating up on the Tigers, Pirates and Red Sox, are out of last place and above .500, there’s no doubt in my mind Boone will be back next season. We know Cashman is coming back. He has a lifetime contract. So where will the change come from to make sure a season like this doesn’t happen again? How about nowhere. There won’t be any change.
6. The players the Yankees could have gotten rid of have already been gotten rid of: Aaron Hicks, Josh Donaldson and Harrison Bader.
If you think Bader was bad as a Yankee (and he was painfully bad), well, Reds fans can’t be too happy with how he has played for their team. Bader is 5-for-31 and hitting .161/.235/.194 with Cincinnati. (Yes, that a .194 slugging percentage.) Bader was a below-league-average hitter with the Cardinals (99 OPS+), well below one as a Yankee (75 OPS+) and is an automatic out as a Red (18 OPS+). I’ll always remember Bader for his “No concern” comment when asked how concerned he was about the Yankees’ place in the standings after their loss to the Astros on August 6.
Donaldson has played seven games with the Brewers, and while he’s nowhere near the level of player the Yankees decided to take on $52 million for, he’s been better than he was as a Yankee, hitting .217/.357/.391. Donaldson already has a double with the Brewers, after hitting one in 120 plate appearances for the Yankees this season.
And then there’s Aaron Hicks. Hicks isn’t just playing well for the Orioles, he’s playing the best baseball of his career, hitting .288/.386/.452. Hicks had similar seasons with the Yankees five and six years ago, but those came during the days of the juiced baseball. What Hicks is doing now, for the veteran minimum, while the Yankees are paying him to play for the best team in baseball is sickening.
All three of these ex-Yankees may be playing in the postseason. Hicks and Donaldson definitely will be, and the Reds are tied for the final wild-card berth in the National League. Here’s to Hicks and Donaldson winning ALCS and NLCS MVP respectively and meeting in the World Series.
7. Congratulations to Carlos Rodon on giving the Yankees his second quality start of the season on Sunday in Pittsburgh! The Yankees have paid Rodon about $25 million of his $27 million for this season so far to receive two quality starts. The Yankees lost both of those starts and are 3-9 when Rodon takes the mound, but that’s just semantics.
8. Stanton has one multi-hit game in nearly a month, and he’s down to .193/.279/.431. He’s hitting .202/.289/.448 in his last 205 games and 843 plate appearances. He will be 34 for 2024 and is under contract for next season, the season after that, the season after that and the season after that. Rodon will still have a season left on his contract when Stanton is gone.
9. I have made a small fortune this season betting on the under in Yankees games, so when I saw this stat two days ago, it didn’t surprise me: The Yankees have been held hitless in 48.8 percent of innings this season. It made me laugh because when you watch the Yankees get no-hit through the first five innings of a game two to three times a week (like they did most recently on Sunday), it’s easy to understand just how horrible the offense is. But when it’s written it out that in half of their innings this season they have been no-hit, well, that really drives the point home.
10. The Yankees are six back with 12 to play. They essentially need to win every remaining game to possibly reach the postseason. If you think they can do that and have the Mariners or Rangers collapse (since the Yankees going 12-0 would mean 6-0 against the Blue Jays which would mean the Blue Jays have collapsed) then hats off to you. There’s a reason the Yankees have a 0.4 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, and it’s not because that scenario is likely.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers
is available as an ebook!