(Full disclosure. I am a New York Yankees fan, and what you are about to read is highly opinionated. I don’t often get to write as a pure fanboy these days, so thanks to our leader for allowing me the space to do so.)
The New York Yankees season came to an end in the Bronx Tuesday night. Though they tried their hardest, and made it exciting as only the Bombers can, they fell just short of forcing a Game 5.
The Yankees finished 100-62, which left a lot of fans saying you can’t complain. Well, in the age of the Internet, that’s the furthest from the truth.
Look, I’m not a gloom and doom Yankees fan. It’s always sunny in the Bronx. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see room for improvement. Let’s take a look at a few things we learned this season.
Aaron Judge is as much an MVP as anyone in the league
I’m not saying he will win it, and with the injury, I’m not saying he deserves it. But what we learned about Aaron Judge in 2018 is that he is no fluke. His importance to this Yankees lineup is greater than anyone else.
The Yankees had a hard enough time scoring runs as it was this season, but when he was out of the lineup, it was hard to watch. He bats in the two-hole, and that spot in the lineup has become just as valuable as the leadoff hitter in the days of analytic baseball. And in a Yankees lineup that has batters No. 1 through 9 hitting double-digit home runs, the first three hitters are all table setters.
Giancarlo Stanton did his best Postseason A-Rod impression
I was against the boo-ers at the beginning of the season. And I am against the people cashing it in on Stanton because of this disaster of a postseason. That said, it was absolutely horrendous.
It sure started out well, didn’t it? That icer of a moonshot against the A’s was what Yankees fans wanted to see from Stanton. It didn’t escalate, however. A 4-for-18 playoff series against the Sox is bad enough on paper, but the sight test made it worse. He looked lost at the plate (the seven strikeouts, most in big situations, show that) and all four hits were singles, and not very convincing ones at that.
This is Giancarlo Stanton. I think he gets a pass on the hate mail in his first postseason of his career with the other problems that occurred, but his A-Rod-esque debut will surely be remembered all offseason.
Aaron Boone made my blood boil
I was vocal the second they made the hire about being against it. I don’t like Boone as the manager for this team. That said, despite the bonehead moves he made this postseason, he’s nowhere near the only one to blame.
Now, that said, those moves were boneheaded. In my opinion, he shows no feel for the game. The Luis Severino debacle was just that, a train wreck from the get go. Short warmups, he clearly didn’t have it, and then the Lance Lynn move. You don’t warm up, sit down, warm up a starter for bullpen work. That’s just not how they operate.
He didn’t bunt with Brett Gardner in Game 1, and got away with it because the wild pitch advanced the the runners with no outs allowing the Yankees to chip away at that lead (of course, Stanton struck out with bases loaded and no outs). That’s opinion on my end, I know the art of the bunt is not always well received with a slugging lineup and is a dying talent in the days of launch angle. But come on, it’s Brett Gardner.
Yes, the Yankees won 100 games, but the Red Sox won 108. Alex Cora is not a genius. He just makes some right moves and essentially stayed out of his own way. Boone’s errors were obvious to the casual spectator, which is what makes them infinitely worse.
On top of that, part of the reason Joe Girardi was let go were the rumors he lost the players for speaking down to them, in particular, Gary Sanchez. Anyone who follows my writing knows I’ve never been a Sanchez fan and his regression this season shows why. Little has to do with his bat, but more with what seemed like a lack of any fire for the game.
Let’s hope this was a learning curve, but I’m personally not convinced it was.
The Rothschild Era has to close
Trivia time: Name the last Yankees pitcher to improve and reach their potential under pitching coach Larry Rothschild. I’ll hang up and listen.
That’s right, there is none. Luis Severino is walking the tightrope between permanent fixture at the top if the rotation to becoming Postseason David Price. But it’s not just Severino or Rothschild, it goes way back.
I can’t remember a Yankees pitcher since Andy Pettitte reaching their potential. And I’m just talking based on prospect rankings by us writers, I’m talking just watching. Manny Banuelos, Andrew Brackman, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy... the list goes on. Some of these names, Hughes and Kennedy in particular, had good seasons, but did anyone think they were ever “good pitchers”. The kind of guy that you want in your rotation for years to come a la Andy Pettitte type of pitchers. I know those guys are a dime a dozen, but come on, it’s been too long.
The youth gone wild (Skid Row references are always good, folks)
This is what the Yankees faithful have been waiting for, and it looks pretty good. We’ve already discussed Aaron Judge and Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres should finish pretty close to each other in the Rookie of the Year rankings. Hopefully names like Chance Adams (skeptical) and Justus Sheffield (hopeful with a degree of concern) are ready for the next wave.
But why was Andujar riding the pine in Game 4? I get it from the start. C.C. Sabathia is a ground ball guy and Neil Walker is both a switch-hitter in case the Red Sox started bullpenning and better in the field. But C.C. wasn’t in too long was he? I mean at the very least, two on, no out in the bottom of the ninth and you send Stanton up? What happened was no worse than putting one of your best hitters from start to finish in that spot.
That move alone leads to an offseason of questions. Do the Yankees not have faith in Andujar for the future? Whatever the case is, these Yankees are young, they are good, and they are on the brink of something special with a few right moves this winter.