Yankees fans jeer Kiner-Falefa due to Cashman’s failure, claims radio host

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and ex-utility star Isiah Kiner-Falefa
Sara Molnick
Friday December 29, 2023

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Isaiah Kiner-Falefa has seized the opportunity to serve as a constant reminder to the New York Yankees and their fanbase about the considerable void he fills. This comes in light of his recent decision to join the Toronto Blue Jays, a formidable rival in the AL East, marking a significant move that unfolds over the next two years.

Despite being a native Hawaiian and a Yankees enthusiast during his upbringing, Kiner-Falefa’s stint in New York lasted merely two seasons. Brandon Tierney, the host at WFAN, emphasized that Kiner-Falefa, though underappreciated, proved to be a valuable player. This sentiment was expressed in the aftermath of reports revealing Kiner-Falefa’s $15 million deal.

Cashman source of Kiner-Falefa’s Yankees woes

Yankees utility player Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Tierney wrote on X that IKF had faced a considerable amount of misguided criticism for what he was not. He suggested that if general manager Brian Cashman had assembled a more robust roster, IKF would have been widely acknowledged and valued for his true qualities—a versatile, team-first gamer who consistently made contact and possessed decent speed. Tierney emphasized that there is always a place for a player of such caliber.

“IKF took a lot of misguided heat for what he wasn’t,” Tierney wrote on X. “If (general manager Brian) Cashman had constructed a better roster, he would have been greatly appreciated for what he is/was: a versatile, team-first gamer who put the ball in play with decent wheels. There’s always room for that type of player.”

Although Kiner-Falefa’s performance at Yankee Stadium didn’t result in explosive offensive numbers (maintaining an average of .253 with an 81 OPS+ over two seasons), his true strengths were concealed in his exceptional fielding skills and unwavering determination. In the previous year alone, he showcased his versatility by effortlessly transitioning between six different positions, navigating seamlessly from the outfield to the infield. Additionally, with a strikeout rate approximately at 20%, his reliable ability to make contact with the ball remained remarkably consistent—an invaluable attribute, to say the least.

Despite harboring a sense of “unfinished business” with the Yankees and expressing a desire to return, it became evident that the Blue Jays, recognizing the potential to deploy him regularly at third base, were more determined to secure his services—especially with Matt Chapman entering free agency.

Yankees utility star Isiah Kiner-Falefa at Yankee Stadium

Challenges forced Kiner-Falefa to improve

Kiner-Falefa conveyed to Max Goodman of NJ Advance Media in October that the challenges he faced in his first year significantly compelled him to elevate his performance to a new level. He expressed a deep appreciation for playing in that environment, emphasizing that the fans played a crucial role in bringing out the best in him. According to him, the unique pressure exerted by the fans was an invaluable factor that contributed to his growth. Kiner-Falefa noted that without that particular pressure, substantial personal development would not have been possible.

“I really feel like all the crap I got in my first year really made me reach to a different level,” he told.

In March 2022, the New York Yankees secured the services of Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson, and Ben Rortvedt through a trade with the Minnesota Twins, exchanging Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela.

Tierney appears to suggest that Kiner-Falefa bore the brunt of blame for the Yankees’ challenges during his tenure, which included missing the playoffs and finishing with an 82-80 record last season. However, the underlying reality is that Cashman was responsible for assembling a flawed roster, a fact that is now prompting the need to seek out a new utility player.

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