Let’s just be blunt and up-front: there is not much good to say about 2023 Yankees baseball on June 19th. Before we get into specifics, we must first take the time to observe a trend across Major League Baseball in which the Yankees are a part of.
Yankees Baseball: A Startling Trend
At the time this article is being written, the top 5 payrolls in MLB are all in 3rd place or below. The New York Mets, the biggest spender on their payroll, is the lowest in the standings of the top 5 payrolls, and a sub .500 team. The Yankees on the other hand, are tied with the Dodgers with the best records of the top 5 payrolls (39-33). In fact, you will not find a 1st place team anywhere on the top payrolls list until you reach the Atlanta Braves at number 9.
What important lessons do we learn from this? Well, a few. Firstly: the Yankees are among the best records of teams in their economic class. Second: winning is not about spending money, it’s about spending money smartly. Third, and most importantly, the Yankees, along with the entire upper economic class in MLB, is mediocre and underachieving almost all expectations. The Yankees are not unique in their struggles, but that does not change the fact that they are disappointing so far this season.
Yankees Baseball: The Injury Plague
The story of the 2023 Yankees by mid June is the story of injuries. The two most significant of these injuries are Aaron Judge and Carlos Rodon. The captain Aaron Judge has been missing in action since injuring his toe while running through a wall at Dodger Stadium. Without him, the Yankees have a losing record this season, and the teams on-base-percentage is among the bottom 3 in all of MLB. There is currently no time table set for his return, therefore, no time table for the current on-field nightmare to end. It is very clear at this point, Aaron Judge elevates every one of his teammates, including former MVP and NL home-run leader, Giancarlo Stanton. The heart and soul that Aaron Judge provides is immeasurable, and leaves the Yankees floundering without it.
Carlos Rodon is a ghost. He could look life Fabio, or biker gang member with a braided beard and a Mohawk and no one would have any clue. His injury has deprived him of ever throwing a single pitch in pinstripes, therefore leaving him absolutely invisible. Rodon’s disappearance isn’t only hurtful because of the money that is being wasted, but because it throws such a wrench into the starting rotation. The Yankee rotation going into the season had depended on Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon as a deadly 1-2 punch. Instead, the Yankees are constantly flustered trying to fit together the puzzle pieces that is the starting rotation.
Let’s be even more honest, the real question is why is the Yankees baseball training staff yet again failing to keep our most important players healthy?
Yankees Baseball: What To Do With Anthony Volpe?
Now to address the elephant in the room: Anthony Volpe. Volpe is cursed with burden of being hyped up beyond the point of realistic expectation. As a result, Yankee fans have put way too much expectation on the young athlete. He is currently not hitting well nor fielding well. Here is the triggering part that many will disagree with: the Yankees cannot by any means send him down to the Minor Leagues. Yes, I believed that he was brought up too early, but it does not matter. He is here, Yankees baseball has committed to him, and we are all past the point of no return.
Volpe has nothing to gain by going to Triple-A. He has already proven to have surpassed the minors, and sending him down will only destroy his confidence even more. He needs to make his mistakes at the big league level and therefore adjust to the big league level without the fear of being sent down. Likewise, the Yankees themselves have nothing to gain from sending him down either because that leaves them without a shortstop yet again. There is no need for Peraza to be the bandaid when both he and the Yankees know very well that he will not be the long term solution. Yankees made their decision, they must stick with it.
Side note, no other Yankee prospect besides Aaron Judge has performed at the level of expectation. This makes you wonder how good Jasson Dominguez truly is, and if he is worth trading at this point in time.
Final Thoughts on Yankees Baseball
The most disappointing part of all, is that despite being in 3rd place and struggling offensively and defensively, the Yankees will likely clinch a Wildcard spot. Once they do, all of us Yankees baseball fans will have no choice but to believe in false hope that we can be the 2022 Phillies and make a miracle run out of the wildcard and into the World Series.
It is not unheard of, even the World Series winning Washington Nationals entered the playoffs as a wildcard in 2019, and were only able to advance out of the first round due to a sloppy error by the Milwaukee Brewers. If the Yankees can be the next team to pull of the unlikely-yet-possible feat, GM Brian Cashman will be a hero. If not, it will be another disappointing year.
Is it all over for Yankees baseball? Let us know your thoughts on Yankees baseball in the comments below!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images