Last Updated on October 5, 2023 at 11:51 am by Michael Bennington
The New York Yankees are embarking on an unusually lengthy offseason, a usual departure from their typical playoff contention routine. It’s the first time since 2016 that the Bronx Bombers won’t be participating in postseason play. The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner and Brendan Kuty offered a detailed analysis of critical errors that resulted in the Yankees’ 2023 collapse. Let’s look at those key weak spots.
Yankees’ struggle has its origin in the spring training
The Yankees’ woes can be traced back to their spring training preparations. They never truly looked like legitimate World Series contenders. While injuries are often blamed as the primary culprit for their disappointing season, there were underlying issues plaguing the team right from the start. Despite the unfortunate injuries to key players such as Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees’ roster lacked the depth and balance essential for a championship-caliber team.
As they approach the offseason, it’s evident that the Yankees must confront these deficiencies and bridge the gap between themselves and the elite teams in baseball. This includes not only teams within their own division but also formidable franchises like the Braves, Astros, and Dodgers. But resolving the team’s problems presents a complex puzzle. Unlike their last playoff miss in 2016, the Yankees now face deeper-rooted issues within the organization.
Concerns revolve around the epidemic of injuries, a stagnation in player development, and the lack of success in recent trades. On the field, the Yankees’ roster appears entrenched in an outdated approach, prioritizing power-hitting, walks, and defensive shifts. The team’s lineup is heavily skewed toward right-handed hitters, and noticeable gaps exist. To compound matters, the team has substantial financial commitments to underperforming veterans. Although a resurgence from certain veterans would be a positive development, it wouldn’t serve as a panacea for the team’s persistent, long-term challenges.
The rotation brought down the Yankees
One of the most astonishing facets of the season revolved around the starting pitching staff’s underperformance. On paper, the Yankees boasted one of the most formidable rotations in baseball. However, injuries wreaked havoc on their plans, leaving only Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes healthy by Opening Day. The rotation encountered struggles throughout the season, with key starters like Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino, and Frankie Montas sidelined for extended periods. Ultimately, the Yankees ranked 20th in fWAR and 18th in ERA for starting pitching. As they approach the 2024 season, they grapple with numerous uncertainties surrounding their rotation and are likely to seek at least one starter during the offseason. The imperative to fortify the pitching staff is just as crucial as strengthening the offense.
Rookies belied expectations
Another intriguing aspect of the season centered around the performance of top prospect Anthony Volpe. Assessing his rookie campaign proves multifaceted; while he reached notable milestones such as 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, he encountered challenges at the plate, particularly against high fastballs, low breaking balls, and pitches on the outer part of the strike zone. Exhibiting an 81 OPS+, a .207 batting average, and a .283 on-base percentage, Volpe’s offensive output didn’t meet expectations, especially considering his role as the Yankees’ starting shortstop. While there were positive facets to his performance, there remains ample room for improvement, a prospect that the Yankees undoubtedly had in mind.
The potential return of Jasson Domínguez sparks intrigue as well. Domínguez, a highly heralded talent, endured an injury necessitating Tommy John surgery. Although he exhibited impressive skills during spring training, the timing and role of his comeback remain uncertain. The Yankees face decisions about how to incorporate him into the lineup, potentially in center field or left field, contingent on their offseason transactions. Patience is key with Domínguez, given his youthful age and the paramount importance of his long-term well-being. Relying on a 20-year-old as the savior for the upcoming season could pose challenges, underscoring the necessity for a meticulously constructed roster.
Players carrying high hopes failed to click
There’s a sense of doubt concerning the likelihood of Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Rodon making a resurgence in the next season. While the team might highlight their offseason efforts to improve, both players endured a tough 2023 campaign. Stanton, in particular, grappled with injury setbacks and a noticeable decline in bat speed, relegating him primarily to the designated hitter role. Rodón, once a dominant force, struggled with command issues. Their individual quests to rebuild the faith of the fanbase will be closely monitored.
Analogies are drawn to the previous era of the “Baby Bombers,” featuring figures like Judge, Torres, Sánchez, and others. While some of those individuals continued to excel, others failed to meet the lofty expectations set for them. Given the Yankees’ significant payroll, they can scarcely afford for their new generation of prospects to fall short.
To sum it up, the New York Yankees confront a pivotal offseason, poised to rectify their deficiencies and mount a resurgence to contention. Although injuries loomed large in their unsatisfying 2023 campaign, the organization must grapple with more profound internal challenges. The way forward might not be crystal clear, but through meticulous assessment and calculated maneuvers, the Yankees can set their sights on recapturing their stature as championship contenders.
Yankees enthusiasts are anxiously anticipating potential transformations within the organization. A comprehensive internal evaluation is on the horizon, and there is keen interest in whether it will result in observable alterations in key positions. General manager Brian Cashman, despite his lengthy tenure, should not be exempt from assessment. Manager Aaron Boone, with just one year remaining on his contract, faces an uncertain future. Questions may arise about the team’s head of training and strength and conditioning, Eric Cressey, considering the significant number of injuries. Mike Fishman, the assistant general manager and leader in analytics, could see aspects of his work undergo scrutiny. Even respected figures like scouting leader Damon Oppenheimer may find their processes under the microscope.
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