The New York Yankees are in limbo mode and might be in search of a shakeup this offseason. But what might that consist of?
The 2020 season has been kind to several teams including the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Baltimore Orioles. They are all given a shot to compete for the World Series due to a shortened schedule with rosters that are not World Series ready. The New York Yankees are apart of the other group— those who have not had a pleasant 2020 season. They were heavy favorites to win the World Series, but currently sit around the .500 level and may have to make a push to even make the playoffs.
There is no question that the Yankees may shake things up this offseason in hopes to turn the team around. But who is the first person to not make the cut for the 2021 season?
The first member that should get the ax is not Aaron Boone or Brian Cashman, but hitting coach Marcus Thames. The average OPS in baseball in 2019 was .758 and seven Yankees currently are above average, three of which are currently on the IL (Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela).
Notable players that are hitting well below the average are Mike Tauchman (.647), Gleyber Torres (.646), Brett Gardner (.604), Gary Sanchez (.566), and Mike Ford (.500). Shortened season or not, the Yankees will not have much success with those numbers and Thames should be held accountable for those struggles.
One of the most promising Yankee sluggers was Sanchez, who holds an abysmal .181 average since Thames became the hitting coach in 2018, compared to his average between 2016 and 2017 at .288. Although it may not be entirely Thames’ fault for Sanchez’s struggles, the numbers are too coincidental to consider. Sanchez has proven that he can be a lethal hitter, and with a new hitting coach, 2021 should be his last shot to prove it with the Yankees.
Another coaching change should consist of the Yankees not picking up Aaron Boone’s option for 2021. There is no question that Boone has had the toughest job in baseball of managing the most injured team since 2019. The roster is not good and mainly comprises of minor league hitters. The bullpen has underperformed and blown so many leads, even when Boone made the right decision to bring in whatever pitcher was needed.
Boone cannot hit, run or field for his players, so that’s all up to them and their respective coaches to find the success on the field. What Boone should be able to do is tell it like it is.
The Yankees lost 2-1 to Toronto on Tuesday night, with the only two Toronto runs coming on a two-run home run by Jonathan Davis. From Boone’s perspective, the Yankees did a lot of “good things” in that game. Besides pitching, what part was good? Loading the bases with no outs to only score one run? Not stranding a single player on base over the last three innings because no players reached base?
Frankly enough, that is not what the players need to hear. They’re all Major League players that need to know the truth and would rather hear the honesty from their manager. When you’re not winning, there seems to be no sense of urgency, but winning only five out of 20 games will never cut it. Groups of players, whether its offense or defense, need to know what the deal is.
Yes, Brian Cashman should be fired as well. Not only was he inactive on this year’s Trade Deadline, but did not pull off a move last season either when the Yankees could use some extra weapons. He is also responsible for creating the roster that is on the field. They’re not producing wins, which is his responsibility.
The second thing the Yankees have to avoid is looking at the free-agent market as the solution to their problems. Trevor Bauer might help the Yankees’ pitching staff, but there is no way they jeopardize the locker room chemistry, especially with Bauer’s story of Gerrit Cole from their days at UCLA.
Not only will the free-agent market be relatively weak, but many players’ values will be hurt due to the shortened season, which may result in them re-signing with their current teams on one-year, prove-it contracts. Some players will still be able to get big contracts from other teams.
It’s also not to say that the Yankees should not go out and sign a player off the market, but they should not look at signing two or three top tier free agents. Worse comes to worst, try to re-sign the current upcoming free agents.
DJ LeMahieu must be back on the team for the 2021 season. He is a reliable leadoff hitter that is one of the only Yankees that does not take the approach of swinging for the fences and can get on base. There is no prospect in the minors that has the potential to replace him, and the current backup second basemen in Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada are nowhere close to LeMahieu’s levels on offense or defense.
Masahiro Tanaka is also a prime candidate that should be given a new contract. He’s been one of the most consistent Yankee pitchers and arguably the ace of the rotation once the postseason comes along. Combined with Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, the Yankees can have a dominant 1-2-3 punch in the rotation for the next several seasons.
Finally, the Yankees must be more cautious about what their players are doing during the offseason. The team does not need to focus on the 100m sprint, but the marathon. We all know Stanton can hit a baseball 475 ft., but building more muscle will not guarantee more success.
If the Yankees are the most injured team for two seasons in a row with two different training staff, it is not just a staffing problem. The players must be held responsible for the consistent muscle injuries that take place. After all, several players can’t even complete a 60-game season healthy.
The Yankees might have their hands full this offseason with big decisions. It may result in no firings and the team hoping that they can recover in time for the 2021 season and look forward to playing 162 games. Ownership may decide that the 2020 season was just an odd season that should be overlooked.
On the other hand, if the Yankees want to achieve success, they are going to need a different look for next season, whether it’s new management, players, or routines. What is in place now is not made for winning titles.