The Yankees preseason scouting reports painted a glowing picture of the team, but almost none of it proved to be true as the season unfolded.
In the aftermath of the Yankees’ failure to earn their 28th World Championship for the 13th straight year, many of us are drawn to assign the blame collectively and individually to players, coaches, and the front office, and not necessarily in that order.
But it’s not like anything snuck up on us or came out of the woodwork about this Yankees team to cause a late-season collapse or a combination of events that couldn’t have been predicted.
No, we were warned about this Yankees team on day one of the season, and little has changed since then.
The Yankees Are Built To Win (3/31/2021)
The scouting reports about the Yankees all said essentially the same thing. They would win the AL East by outlasting the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto was a year away, the Red Sox were in a rebuilding stage and of no consequence, and the Orioles would show up to play 162 games.
Las Vegas oddsmakers, always eager to entice bettor’s money on the Yankees, had them facing the Dodgers in the World Series, and that was that.
But when you take a closer look at scouting reports breaking the Yankees down by position, a far different and more revealing picture emerged.
Because the scouting reports did not differ much, I’ve selected one written by Erik Boland that was published on March 31, 2021, by NJ.com.
Except, now we know none of those things (save for Montgomery’s stellar season) happened, and when the time came for Brian Cashman to pick up the slack, the best he could do was Andrew Heaney.
Boland then went on to look at the Yankees outfield, and right away, two of his main entries as regulars, Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks, became no-shows for the entire season. No mention was made suggesting that Giancarlo Stanton could and should play the field, and Aaron Judge was tagged with the usual “if he can stay healthy” caveat.
Later, we would find Brett Gardner playing out of position in centerfield while showing up to play every day on 37-year-old legs, and an impotent Joey Gallo hitting behind Judge and Stanton as a paper tiger.
That didn’t work out so well either, as LeMahieu looked like a shell of himself compared to his previous two seasons, and Torres eventually, and finally, convinced the Yankees brass he was not, and nor will he ever be, a major league shortstop.
Boland also found solace in the Yankees’ bullpen, describing it as ” among the strongest — if not the strongest — in the game.”
Except, that is, for the fact that three of the prominent relievers he discussed – Zack Britton, Darren O’Day, and Justin Wilson – were injured or traded away, and none were a factor in the Yankee’s season.
Between Aaron Boone and Cashman, the Yankees did make a recovery, finding the talented core of Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes, and Wandy Peralta to replace the loss, but that came too late to supplement the team’s performance in the first half.
Boone Will Take The Fall, But The Fault Lies Elsewhere
In sum, what we have here is a failure to digest and understand that while the Yankees were a team that had bodies and reputable names to fill each slot on their roster, everything had to go perfectly, or else.
We now know that it didn’t go perfectly for the Yankees, but we also know they were the last to recognize and react to what surrounded a team that was no better than .500 on the Fourth of July.
Two seven-game losing streaks between a thirteen-game winning streak should have told the Yankees something as well. Streakiness over 162 games and six months wins nothing in baseball, and that the win streak hurt more than it helped by giving the team and fans false hope that the “real” Yankees had finally sprouted.
Today, we know that the real Yankees were not put to bed by the Boston Red Sox as much as they put themselves there.
Gerritt Cole had a horrible start – no two ways about it – and except for Judge and Stanton shooting bullets all over Fenway, the rest of the team never showed up.
If I had taken the time to read through that March scouting report yesterday instead of this morning, I might have realized the Yankees were a paper tiger from day one, and they had no business playing with the likes of the Rays, White Sox, and yes, the Boston Red Sox.
It all made sense back then, but as the season unfolded and pieces of that scouting report were shattered, the front office stood still while Boone and his players stood by as the call for help went unheeded.
We’ll never know the inner thinking of Cashman and his brain trust as the season began to disassemble or why Aaron Boone was never allowed to pilot his own ship.
But sure as hell, Boone will take the fall, and that one act alone will tell us all we need to know about the state of the Yankees’ franchise this morning.
Stuck In A Quagmire Of Deceit And Greed
Together, Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and Randy Levine’s actions behind the scenes are a gutless, pious, stagnant, and foolhardy team that has lost their way, and most significantly, the way of the New York Yankees.
For fans of the Yankees, it’s the equivalent of Mets fans who were stuck in the quagmire built and destroyed by the Wilpons and their succession of lackeys (Sandy Alderson, Brodie VanWagenen, et al.) – with the sole hope that Steinbrenner will eventually become bored with the whole thing, and sell the team.
There’s enough about the Yankees to retain me as a fan of the team. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Urshela, and DJ LeMahieu are stand-up players, and I remain captivated by their athleticism and what they do on a ball diamond.
But as for the rest of it…