The Yankees lost another second-half series, dropping two of three to the Mariners. The Yankees are now 6-8 since the All-Star break, having played one-game-over.-500 baseball since June 19.
1. The Yankees are a better team today than they were prior to the trade deadline. (At least I think they are.) They made necessary upgrades, but also puzzling decisions, and while they did everything they needed to do (add an outfielder, acquire a starting pitcher and get bullpen help), they kind of half-assed doing what they needed to do.
The move to acquire Andrew Benintendi marked the official end for Joey Gallo as a Yankee. All Yankees fans knew for a couple of months Gallo had played his way out of New York, but trading for Benintendi solidified the decision. All the Yankees needed to do was find a home for Gallo, and they did that in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.
2. Before leaving New York, Gallo spoke with Randy Miller about his time with the Yankees, and what he had to say was rather odd. Gallo talked as if he should have immunity from booing and criticism from Yankees fans: a fan base that has booed both Number 2 and Number 42.
“I don’t go out in the streets,” Gallo told Randy Miller. “I really don’t know want to show my face too much around here.”
I would know who Gallo is if I saw him walking down the street. I think a lot of casual Yankees fans and baseball fans know his name, but I don’t think they would necessarily know him walking down the street in Manhattan, and not every person is a baseball fan. Sure, he’s 6-foot-5, which would make him stick out, and yes, he has a rare haircut (which doesn’t help him hide), but I have a hard time believing most people in New York City would know who Joey Gallo is or care to see him on the street.
“In Texas I was playing every day, so it was a little easier to get on a streak,” Gallo said. “It’s a little tougher not playing every day trying to get that streak going, as well.”
Gallo’s memory must be as poor as hit bat-to-ball skills. When he was acquired by the Yankees, he served as the 2-hitter right away. He played in his 22 straight games to begin his Yankees tenure (and hit .152/.302/.367) and in 2021 played in 58 of a possible 61 games after being traded (hitting .160/.303/.404).
To start the 2022 season, he played in the Yankees’ first 21 games despite posting a .570 OPS. After a couple days off, he then played in the next 14 straight games, while posting a .620 OPS. He played in 21 games in April, 20 games in May, 22 games in June and 19 games in July. The Yankees gave him every opportunity to turn it around, kept forcing him in the lineup to let him turn it around, and he never did. For him to say he wasn’t an everyday player with the Yankees isn’t just wrong, it’s a lie.
“I don’t know how (the fans) usually are, but I don’t know how much tougher they can get,” Gallo said. “Pretty much every team we play, players from that team reached out to me to say, ‘Hey bro, keep your head up. Don’t listen to them.'”
Gallo claims to have grown up a Yankees fan. I don’t know how anyone could grow up claiming to be a Yankees fan and not know how the fan base acts. Alex Rodriguez won two MVPs as a Yankee and single-handedly carried the offense to a championship, and it didn’t matter. He was judged by each plate appearance. If he went 3-for-3 with three home runs, but struck out in his fourth at-bat with the tying run on base, he would get booed, and all he did in 12 years as a Yankee was post a 162-game average of 38 home runs, 117 RBIs and a .283/.378/.523 slash line. I don’t see A-Rod claiming the fans made him “feel like a piece of shit.”
“It makes me feel like a piece of shit, honestly,” Gallo said. “I do appreciate people reaching out, but it makes me feel like I’m a problem.”
Clearly, Gallo is sensitive, and this interview made it obvious why he failed as a Yankee. He was always going to be a hard player to accept with his all-or-nothing approach at the plate, but to tell Miller all of this less than a week after speaking in the past tense of his time with the Yankees while still a Yankee to Lindsey Adler, Gallo was never going to be able to handle adversity.
And sorry, Joey, but you were a problem. The Yankees gave up four prospects to acquire him, and he went from the Yankees’ 2-hitter to eventually being the 9-hitter, to becoming a platoon player to being benched. That’s a problem. He was supposed to be a high on-base guy who would hit 30-plus home runs and play Gold Glove defense. Instead, he was a low on-base guy, who stopped hitting home runs and played questionable defense.
3. I’m not mad at Gallo for failing as a Yankee, and I don’t dislike him either. The Yankees knew the type of player they were getting when they acquired him, and any dip in production was going to be an issue, let alone a catastrophic dip. It’s not Gallo’s fault Brian Cashman gave up four prospects to acquire him and then had to give up three more prospects to trade for Benintendi to take the place of Gallo. It’s not Gallo’s fault he became a Yankee, got to play every day and kept on playing even when it was clear his ability to do the things he was supposed to do was gone. He didn’t have a no-trade clause to veto the trade and he didn’t force his way to the Yankees like Giancarlo Stanton (who told the Marlins he would only accept a trade to the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers or Cardinals). Gallo being a Yankee and arguably the worst everyday Yankees of all time is completely on the Yankees.
Maybe Gallo will reclaim what made the Yankees want to acquire him in Los Angeles. He gets a fresh start in a new place on a great team with a fan base that will allow him to walk the streets of the surrounding beach towns and won’t boo him endlessly in his home stadium. (I know this because I’m married to one of those fans.)
4. I tweeted a few weeks ago that Benintendi was a hard pass for me. But if it meant the end of Gallo as a Yankee, then OK. It did mean the end for Gallo as a Yankee, but it also meant a still-cluttered lineup because of the Yankees’ pledge to play Josh Donaldson no matter what, leaving Matt Carpenter, the team’s second- or third-best hitter as the odd man out.
Aaron Boone has showed us time and again that he will play Donaldson no matter what and no matter what hand the starting pitcher uses to throw with, even though Donaldson can’t hit lefties or righties. Donaldson has done everything to prove he’s washed up and undeserving of everyday playing time other than to actually say the words, and the only reason he continues to play is because the Yankees are paying him $24 million this season and next.
As a Yankee, Benintendi has been Gallo. Through seven games, he’s 1-for-20 with six strikeouts and eight walks. He’s Gallo without the occasional home run, which actually makes him worse than Gallo. Boone has hit Benintendi first, third, fifth and sixth so far. And he has had to because Stanton is injured and because the other options to hit in the Top 6 in the lineup are much, much worse like Aaron Hicks, who has a .332 OPS over the last two weeks (his last hit came in the Subway Series nine days ago), or Isiah Kiner-Falefa, whose plan at the plate is to swing at the first or second pitch of his at-bat and hope the ground ball he hits finds a hole.
5. The Yankees needed a starting pitcher and they got one in Frankie Montas. Not the one they should have gotten in Luis Castillo, but Montas is still good (but not great) and instead of getting a true No. 1-2 type, the Yankees got a No. 2-3 type. Which is fine if Luis Severino returns this season and returns as a starter. But that’s not exactly a sure-thing given that the Yankees moved Severino to the 60-day injured list, and given his injury history since spring training 2019.
The Yankees added two relievers in Scott Effross from the Cubs and Lou Trivino from the A’s. Both are better options with more career success than Lucas Luetge (who was just out of the majors for six years) and Albert Abreu (who was just cut by the Royals earlier this season), so why is it that neither was allowed to start a clean inning in the Yankees’ 8-6 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday? Why is it that Boone went to both Luetge and Abreu for multiple innings in that game with both pitchers allowing a run in their second inning of work. Luetge gave up the go-ahead (and eventual game-winning run), and Abreu gave up the insurance run.
The Yankees could have traded for Juan Soto, Castillo and Josh Hader, and Boone would find a way to screw it up. Trading for second-tier options only allows him to screw things up easier. Between his lineup choices (like continuing to play and bat Donaldson in the Top 5 and sit Carpenter) and wildly idiotic bullpen decisiosn, if the Yankees’ offense or the Astros aren’t the reason why the Yankees’ season ends without a championship, Boone will be.
6. The Yankees’ deadline moves made sense, until they traded Jordan Montgomery. Since trading Montgomery, it has come out that the Yankees have been looking to move Montgomery for a few years now. I’m not the biggest Montgomery fan, but why? Does this organization have a secret dearth of starting pitching? Because when the Yankees lost one starting pitcher to injury (Severino) it forced Domingo German who flat-out sucks into the rotation. When they traded for Montas, it meant the end of German in the rotation, but trading Montgomery means German stays in the rotation.
The Yankees traded the promising JP Sears to acquire Montas (let’s hope this isn’t a Sonny Gray or James Paxton situation), don’t seem inclined to give Clarke Schmidt an extended look as a starter, Deivi Garcia is back in Double-A, Luis Gil is out for the year, and the team’s highest-ranking pitching prospect now is a soon-to-be 23-year-old in High-A. (For context, Severino was in the majors when he was 21.) The Yankees don’t have the luxury of being able to trade away reliable, major-league starting pitching, even if that pitcher recently got rocked by the A’s and Royals.
7. The return for Montgomery is what makes the move even more puzzling. Harrison Bader, when healthy, isn’t good. Yes, he plays a Gold Glove center field, but he has no bat. If the goal is to have an all-glove, no-bat center fielder, well, Jackie Bradley, who also can hit, was just released by the Red Sox, and won’t cost a middle-of-the-rotation arm.
Bader also needs his feet to play a Gold Glove center field and he’s currently on the 60-day IL with plantar fasciitis with the possibility he could miss the rest of the season. So the Yankees gave up their current No. 3-4 starter for an injured defense-first outfielder with a career .729 OPS.
It gets worse.
8. If Bader returns, he’s going to play as the Yankees have decided having four or maybe five major-league caliber bats in the lineup will help them overcome the Astros in the postseason. Bader playing means the lineup becomes extremely top heavy. Add in the Yankees’ need to play Kiner-Falefa at short and Donaldson at third, and that leaves the DH spot for Stanton, sends Carpenter and his Barry Bonds-like season to the bench and means one of either DJ LeMahieu or Gleyber Torres won’t play. The ramifications of the Montgomery trade are as bad as the actual trade itself. It’s a deal that made no sense when it happened and makes even less sense as I dissect it. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. If Bader doesn’t return in 2022, it will be like the Yankees traded Montgomery for nothing, and that’s actually better than Bader not coming back in 2022, because his presence will make the Yankees’ lineup even more of a clusterfuck with yet another all-glove, no-bat player in it.
9. Not only do the Yankees have a lack of starting pitching, their current starting pitching isn’t very good. The Mariners are fighting for a wild-card berth with an anemic offense and that offense just put up 17 runs on the Yankees in a three-game series. Nestor Cortes is the only reliable starter right now, and Gerrit Cole is about as reliable as German after blowing a three-run lead to the Orioles, allowing five runs to the Royals and giving up six first-inning runs to the Mariners in his last three starts. The Yankees’ starting pitching is a problem and they just traded away a guy who has the same ERA and a better walks-per-nine percentage than the pitcher who they will give the ball to in Game 1 of the postseason.
10. The Yankees might be an outstanding 70-36, but they are 21-20 since June 19. (It s been a while since I heard YES compare them to the 1998 Yankees.) They are barely above .500 for the last quarter of the season, a stretch in which they played 25 games against the A’s, Guardians, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Orioles and Royals. They have been trending in the wrong direction since June 19, but even more so since the All-Star break as they have lost seven of 10 to teams not from Kansas City.
Even though the Yankees’ loss-column lead over the Blue Jays is now just 10 games, it’s still insurmountable. If the Yankees continue to play the .500 baseball they have played for the last seven weeks for their remaining 56 games, the Blue Jays will need to 39-18 just to tie them. The division is still as over as it was back in mid-June. It would be nice if the Yankee started playing like they did in mid-June.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!