The Yankees have lost three of five at home, lost a bat they can’t afford to lose for the next six weeks and found out their big, offseason free-agent starter signing is headed for tests on his back. It’s hard to feel good about this team right now.
1. When Hal Steinbrenner signed Carlos Rodon, he said his Yankees “weren’t done” with their offseason. He lied.
The Yankees were done. They brought back Aaron Judge and signed Rodon. The only other move they made was bringing back old friend Tommy Kahnle. They chose to not address left field. They chose to not move on from Aaron Hicks or Josh Donaldson or Isiah Kiner-Falefa. They chose to not add starting pitching depth to the organization to protect a fragile rotation and refill the depth they depleted to trade for broken-down arms last July. They chose to not address their bench even with a roster littered with oft-injured players.
2. Less than three weeks into the season and Rodon hasn’t thrown a pitch and neither has Kahnle, and Frankie Montas likely won’t throw another one for the Yankees. Luis Severino is on the injured list again, as are IL frequenters Harrison Bader, Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton. Bader hasn’t played a game this season, Donaldson was unplayable before he became literally unplayable and the Yankees continued their unnecessary rest plan for Stanton to keep him healthy, and once again, it worked about as well as using the 2004 ALCS as a motivational tactic for the 2022 ALCS.
3. Hicks has been even worse than imagined, as has Kiner-Falefa. The bench the Yankees chose to ignore has a career negative-2.0 WAR Willie Calhoun on it, a player who Aaron Boone pinch hit with instead of DJ LeMahieu on Friday night. The limited starting pitching depth the Yankees entered the season with is now part of the actual rotation and filling in about as well as could be expected.
4. If only the Yankees could have seen this coming. If only they could have known players with injured pasts would get injured. If only they could have predicted bad baseball players would continue to be bad baseball players. If only they could have been aware of any of this, maybe they could have prevented all of this.
5. This being playing with a lineup that has at least three automatic outs each night. This being playing with a rotation featuring one starter who has made three career starts, one who has a 6.16 ERA and 1.696 WHIP in eight career starts and another who has allowed 72 home runs in 378 2/3 innings as a starter.
6. Following a day off on Monday, the Yankees were beat rather easily by a crappy Angels team that just got beat up by an even worse Red Sox team over the weekend. The Yankees were lifeless at the plate, foolish on the basepaths and Clarke Schmidt continued to sabotage any future he may think he has a starter in the majors. It was the kind of game the Yankees gave us in July, August and September of last season.
7. Unfortunately, it’s hard not to envision a lot more of these games coming. Prior to the loss to the Angels, it was announced that Rodon will have tests done on his back. The same pitcher who initially said when going on the IL that if it were the ALDS he would be pitching. Do they let pitchers pitch in the postseason who needs to have tests done on their back following bullpen sessions?
8. Along with the Rodon news, the Yankees announced Stanton would be out for six weeks with a hamstring issue. The same hamstring issues he had in the 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons. The best-case scenario is a Memorial Day return, and the worst-case scenario is a repeat of 2019 when he played 18 games and took himself out of the lineup in that postseason.
9. There’s not much to feel good about with this team right now. This season feels like a continuation of last season, and that’s because it is. Saying “It’s early” or calling the team’s injuries “bad luck” is completely disregarding everything this team and organization has done (or hasn’t done) as a group over the last few years. This season, like the recent others that preceded it, was once again set up as a massive parlay, from both injury and performance standpoints. I have seen how this story ends and it’s going to take a lot of change and unexpected production for this version to not end the same way the others have.
10. The Yankees aren’t bad. They’re 10-7. But to get there, they have needed Gerrit Cole to have the best four-game stretch of his career, Franchy Cordero to save the day a few times and a favorable early-season schedule. Thinking this team can pull the same Replacement Yankees miracle the 2019 team did to weather this injury storm isn’t just wishful thinking, it’s foolish. But that’s all Yankees fans can do right now is think foolishly that this team won’t get buried by the Rays trying to runaway before the end of the first month of the season. Think that this team with this makeshift lineup and this makeshift rotation can stay afloat until the always-injured players return. If they return.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!