Last Updated on October 4, 2023 at 12:13 am by John Allen
Following the Yankees’ official elimination from playoff contention for the first time since 2016 on Sunday, Aaron Judge delivered a candid message to the team’s leadership. He was dissatisfied with the team’s current state and openly recognized the necessity for significant enhancements to position the team for success in 2024.
“We got a lot to work on, a lot of things to change,” the Yankees’ slugger said. “A lot of stuff going on around here that needs to be fixed.”
The echoes of Aaron Judge’s remarks on Sunday, in which he labeled the Yankees’ season as a “significant letdown” and expressed the need for rectifications, continued to resonate in the Bronx on Monday. His friend and teammate Anthony Rizzo came forward to support Aaron Judge. LeMahieu also put his views repeating what his captain said.
Rizzo backed Aaron Judge’s frank talk
On Sunday, Aaron Judge pledged to engage in discussions with the Yankees’ top executives to address numerous concerns impacting the team. He underscored that the journey toward improvement would not yield immediate results, but emphasized the importance of commencing this process as soon as the season draws to a close, acknowledging the substantial amount of work ahead. This work encompasses implementing essential changes and resolving various internal team issues.
On Monday, prior to the Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Diamondbacks in their final home game of 2023, Anthony Rizzo reiterated what Aaron Judge said and remarked that one cannot simply assume that their performance this year is sufficient to carry into the next year to justify the need to fix Yankees issues.
“You can’t just sit here and say what we did this year is good enough to go into next year,’’ Rizzo said
Much like Aaron Judge’s statements on Sunday, Rizzo, along with a few teammates and Aaron Boone, acknowledged the necessity for improvements within the team but refrained from delving into the specifics.
Rizzo emphasized that the key to improvement “starts with the little things.” He mentioned that it wasn’t as if the personalities hadn’t meshed, and everyone had gotten along and pointed out that there had been no divide in there. However, he explained that over the course of the season, they simply hadn’t played well enough. He also mentioned that there was stuff behind that, which he believed they would be able to dissect further as they got into the offseason.
“You come in here and say, ‘Why wasn’t this clubhouse good enough?’” Rizzo said. “It’s not like the personalities didn’t mesh. We all got along. There was no divide in here. But over the course of the season, we just didn’t play well enough. There’s stuff behind that I think, as we get into the offseason even more, we’ll be able to dissect what didn’t go well.”
The first baseman stands as one of the pivotal offensive contributors who fell victim to health setbacks, having been sidelined due to post-concussion symptoms, which he is presently on the path to recovery. He anticipates a complete return to health during the offseason and intends to be prepared for a standard spring training. In the upcoming year, Rizzo will be one of the players the Yankees will rely upon to bounce back and make a strong resurgence.
LeMahieu’s call for reset
DJ LeMahieu is among the seasoned players who also possess a vested interest in shaping the team’s future. Following Aaron Judge’s lead, he commented that there were certainly matters that required attention. He expressed a desire for a reset on the season and conveyed uncertainty about the specific changes and direction that would be taken. However, he did convey enthusiasm about the future. He noted that some of the younger players showed promise, and he had confidence in the pitching staff, believing they had the necessary pieces for success.
The composition of the team may undergo alterations the next time the Yankees take the field in The Bronx.
Aaron Boone admits the need to discuss the issues
Following Aaron Judge’s outburst, Boone indicated that discussions would be held to position the team more favorably for the upcoming year.
The Yankees manager emphasized that they maintain accountability within the team, and he acknowledged the expectation of being in the postseason next week, which, unfortunately, did not materialize. Boone mentioned that they intend to pose some challenging questions and work on strengthening the team for the future.
The manager also pointed out that despite the team’s subpar performance, they also encountered their fair share of unfortunate circumstances.
According to Boone, injuries should not be underestimated. He mentioned that the Yankees faced challenges throughout the year, particularly in terms of starting rotation, where they had expected to be in a favorable position. However, it was a struggle due to issues with player health, returns from injuries, and subpar performances.
The extended periods during which Judge was sidelined, nearly two months due to a torn ligament in his right big toe, as well as Giancarlo Stanton’s absences, were also highlighted.
Boone referred to the 2019 season when the team was significantly affected by injuries. However, he emphasized that it shouldn’t be seen as an excuse and that it’s their responsibility to find solutions when faced with such situations.
Boone stated that there was no doubt they had to, to some extent, rely on the players who were absent that year. He expressed the belief that it wasn’t unreasonable to consider counting on those individuals and that it was reasonable to expect them to regain their form. He also noted that certain players needed to make changes and adjustments. Furthermore, he emphasized that they had to strengthen other aspects of the roster and the team. He concluded by saying that they had to make a multitude of sound decisions.
Apart from Aaron Judge, and the probable inclusion of Boone and general manager Brian Cashman, it remains uncertain which individuals will wield significant influence.
Rizzo acknowledged that the blame for the 2023 season should be placed on the players. He stated that they, as a group, hadn’t performed at a sufficient level, preventing them from competing in October. Rizzo anticipated that there would be numerous stories and finger-pointing, but he emphasized that he, personally, hadn’t fulfilled his role as a leader adequately. He admitted that his performance on the field had been subpar. Additionally, he noted that as a team, many players hadn’t reached their full potential.
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