Last Updated on December 4, 2023 at 7:28 am by John Allen
Captain Aaron Judge sent a blunt message to the team brass after the Yankees formally lost a playoff berth for the first time since 2016. He seems unhappy over the team’s state of affairs, which ultimately shattered all hopes for a title in the 2023 season.
“We got a lot to work on, a lot of things to change,” he told reporters after their 7-1 defeat to the Diamondbacks. “A lot of stuff going on around here that needs to be fixed.”
The Yankees slugger acknowledged the need for substantial improvements to aim for success in 2024 and promised to take up the matter with the Yankees’ top brass. Aaron Judge conveyed that the process of improvement wouldn’t be immediate, noting, according to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com, that they needed to start taking action as soon as the season concluded. He emphasized that they had a substantial amount of work ahead of them, including making necessary changes and addressing various issues within the team.
Aaron Judge’s blunt message
A season that commenced with hopes of winning the World Series will conclude next Sunday without any further progress. Rather than pursuing the franchise’s 28th championship, the Yankees, who currently hold a 78-77 record, will head into a pivotal offseason. Owner Hal Steinbrenner has pledged to conduct a thorough assessment of all facets of the team’s operation.
Aaron Judge acknowledged that not performing and failing to meet expectations during the regular season was a significant setback. He mentioned that there was a substantial amount of work ahead of them, including internal discussions and addressing various matters that needed resolution in preparation for the following year.
“I’ll tell you guys every year, if I’m not talking to you guys after a championship, it’s a failure,” Aaron Judge told. “When you don’t show up and produce and get kicked out like this in the regular season, that’s a big failure right there. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of internal talks, a lot of stuff we’ve got to get figured out.”
Aaron Judge also mentioned that there are several issues within the organization that require attention, but he chose not to delve into the details when pressed for specifics. Instead, he expressed his intention to keep such matters internal. However, he asserted his commitment to participating in discussions aimed at facilitating a turnaround during the upcoming offseason.
The Yankees slugger mentioned that he had some ideas for improvement, but he emphasized that it would require a collective effort from everyone in the organization. Aaron Judge indicated that they needed to engage in discussions with individuals at all levels within the organization, from the minor leagues to the top leadership. The captain recognized that there were numerous areas that required attention and enhancement, but he also highlighted the positive aspects, particularly the emergence of young talent. He believed that it was the right time to build upon these positives and establish a strong foundation for the future.
Aaron Judge chose not to provide further details on the issues he mentioned, preferring to keep them within the team. However, the Yankees’ problems are relatively straightforward to identify. In the 2023 season, they rank near the bottom in batting average, sitting second-to-last, and are 24th in runs scored, despite playing in a ballpark known for its home runs.
A bright spot amid the deluge
Aaron Judge stands out as one of the few bright spots in the lineup. He is one of just two players on the team with a batting average above .250 and the sole player to hit more than 30 home runs. This is particularly impressive considering he missed roughly a third of the season, and the team’s offensive struggles were evident during his absence.
Throughout the season, the Yankees spent a significant amount of time at the bottom of the AL East standings, only climbing to fourth place later on. This performance falls far short of expectations for a team that won 99 games, claimed the division title, and reached the ALCS in 2022.
Despite the disappointments, there were some positives in the Bronx this season. Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole had another outstanding year on the mound, and young players like Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Jasson Dominguez had opportunities to gain experience on the field. Now that the Yankees’ playoff hopes have faded, the main point of interest in the final week of the season will be whether they can avoid their first losing record since 1992.
Judge to play even after losing the playoff berth
The Yankees’ hopes of making the playoffs ended on Sunday, but Aaron Judge expressed his commitment to finishing the remainder of the season. Despite not being in peak physical condition after returning from a torn ligament in his right big toe in late July, the Yankees’ captain reaffirmed his determination to complete the final week of the season.
Aaron Judge stated his intention to continue playing despite the Yankees’ loss to the Diamondbacks, emphasizing his role as a team leader. He acknowledged that there had been discussions about potentially shutting him down, but he believed it was essential for him to be on the field. Aaron Judge recognized the importance of setting an example for the young players on the team, demonstrating the commitment to being present and available for his teammates. Therefore, he affirmed his determination to be out there and continue contributing.
Since his return, the reigning AL MVP has been in the starting lineup for 50 of the Yankees’ 55 games, and it appears that he has been gradually improving in terms of his health throughout the season.
When Aaron Judge made his comeback on July 28, the Yankees indicated that he had reached a point where playing with the toe injury didn’t pose a significant risk of aggravating it further, even though it may not fully heal until the offseason.
The slugger, who has posted impressive numbers with a .433 batting average and a 1.508 OPS in his last nine games, intends to continue playing until next Monday, which is the day after the regular season concludes.
Regarding the possibility of making changes to player deployment in the final seven games now that the Yankees are out of playoff contention, manager Aaron Boone did not rule out the idea.
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