There is no doubt that the New York Yankees are not the team they once were. But over the past few weeks, we have seen that their issues go far deeper than just poor play on the field. They are systematic.
I for one am always quick to blame manager Joe Girardi for the team’s struggles. Even though there have been questionable managerial decisions made by Girardi this season, he is hardly to blame for the Yankees’ fall from grace.
Injuries have also been used as an excuse. Key players have indeed missed time, which has led to offensive stagnation and a limited arsenal to work with in terms of mixing and matching.
With an aging team, depth becomes very important to maintaining success through tough stretches of injuries or general poor play. As we all know, older players are more prone to chronic injuries and elongated slumps as their health and skills erode.
The Yankees’ lack of depth (in the form of free agent help or major league ready prospects) has been the key factor in their demise so far this year. The fact that the team currently sits 5 ½ games back in the American League East is the fault of the front office.
In the past, Brian Cashman has been known for his savvy free agent moves as well as being able to spend the vast wealth of the franchise in a way that put a winning product on the field year after year an expanded the Yankee brand. Over the past few seasons, Cashman has clearly lost his touch as free agent acquisitions (such as Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner) have often fallen flat and discontent has run rampant throughout the organization.
Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, now the co-owners of the team after the death of their father, also don’t seem to have any sense of urgency about the direction of the franchise. Fan attendance has slipped as the team constantly is raising prices on everything from tickets to food (and their food choices are subpar compared to other stadiums in the league, including rival Citi Field).
Attendance is also down this year due to he team’s poor play and atrocious offensive output. The worst part? Management doesn’t seem to care.
Under George Steinbrenner, the Yankees were the organization that was the most committed to winning. This has fallen by the wayside, with no signs of a change of course.
If the Yankees hope to make the playoffs this year, they need to address their catching deficiency (which has become an offensive black hole in the lineup) as well as get some help at third base. While most of us believed Alex Rodriguez would be back shortly after the All-Star Break, recent reports warn that he may not return at all this season. If Brian Cashman so chooses, he may target third baseman Michael Young of the lowly Philadelphia Phillies.
The underbelly of the bullpen has also been a source of constant frustration. Joba Chamberlain (who has been essentially a joke this season) as well as Boone Logan, among others, have all been an unreliable bridge to David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. This is essential to correct if the Yankees hope to compete for the remainder of the season.
Without a serious recommitment to the success of this team by the front office, the Yankees will not only miss the playoffs, but will be relegated to second class status in Major League Baseball. That is not something I thought I’d say in my lifetime.