The Yankees had a disappointing offseason and are entering 2022 with more questions than answers. Read to find out why the Bombers’ chase for 28 will have to wait another season.
The Current 2022 New York Yankees Will be Middling at Best
In 2021, the Yankees started off barely treading water as they found themselves 8 games out of the American League East lead and 4.5 back of the Wild Card around the All-Star break. The Yanks kicked it in gear around the trade deadline as they acquired All-Stars in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Joey Gallo.
They fell easily to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Wild Card game as their ace Gerrit Cole took the loss and didn’t last beyond the third inning.
The Yankees have added to their offense by bringing back Rizzo in addition to adding former most valuable player Josh Donaldson and utility guy Isiah Kiner-Falefa. However, this simply is not going to be enough to keep up in the AL East this season.
Yanks on the Ropes
Not yet five games into spring training, there are already concerns surrounding this year’s Yankee ball club. Namely the starting rotation. It’s headlined by Cole whose value speaks for itself, but other than that… there isn’t much to inspire confidence.
Left-handed Jordan Montgomery is listed as the team’s number two starter, and he’s struggling right at the outset of spring training in addition to having had Tommy John surgery back in 2018.
Behind him in the rotation is Luis Severino who’s thrown just 18 innings since the start of the 2019 season, as well as Nestor Cortes Jr. who had a solid 2021, but his experience is mostly as a relief pitcher. 2022 will be Cortes Jr.’s first full season as a starter.
The last man in the rotation is former Pittsburgh Pirate Jameson Taillon who went 8-6 with a 4.30 earned run average in his first season as a Yankee.
This isn’t a bad rotation but it’s not nearly enough to keep up with the talent and experience that the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays will be rolling with this season.
To compound their dilemma, newly acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has past beef with Cole which will have to be settled if this team wants to have any measure of success. Cole and Donaldson are both veterans whose leadership is paramount to the Yankees’ success this season.
On the offensive side things are better, but there were some serious missed opportunities that will likely come back to bite the Yankees this season. The Yanks missed out on every big name free agent this season, the most disappointing of which were shortstop Corey Seager and first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Aaron Judge is always a star-caliber player in right field, but his future with the Yankees is very questionable as he’ll be a free agent at the end of this season. The Yankees are still in talks with the All-Star right fielder but this has yet to lead to anything substantive that would keep Judge in pinstripes for the long-term.
Players like Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton are all reliable guys in the lineup, but the lineup alone can’t carry the weight for this team.
The Yankees’ glaring weakness is in the rotation. The best fix for this is to acquire either Frankie Montas or Sean Manaea from the Oakland Athletics. The A’s are starting a massive rebuild and have traded away or lost most of their big names, so this is the best well for the Yankees’ front office to tap into.
One good move the Yankees did make was trading away catcher Gary Sanchez. Sanchez’s bat has been ice cold for the past four seasons as he’s hit just .201 with a .299 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage since 2018. His defense was somehow even worse.
Now that the Yankees have gotten rid of him, they’re left with a dilemma at the backstop position. Right now it’s either Kyle Higashioka who hit .181 through 67 games last season, or 24 year old rookie Ben Rortvedt, who hit .169 through 39 games with Minnesota in 2021.
Catcher is a critically important position and the Yankees cannot have their two options behind the plate not being able to hit over .200. Yes, both their defensive abilities are probably way better than Sanchez’s, but you can’t have a position player just taking up a spot in your lineup because of their defense.
The Yankees need to trade for a catcher with better offensive prowess, and their best options for the short-term are either Dodgers’ backup Austin Barnes or Astros’ backup Jason Castro, both of whom have postseason experience and are better hitters than Higashioka and Rortvedt.
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