The Yankees season has come to a close, and it was once again they have been beaten by the Houston Astros.
Unless you want to talk about a retractable roof, there are no excuses this time. No cheating allegations to fall back on. The Astros have lost George Springer, Carlos Correa and Gerrit Cole and the gap between Houston and New York has widened. It’s even worse when you consider that Cole joined the Yankees.
Based on Hal Steinbrenner’s comments, it seems like Aaron Boone will be back. That should be a surprise to no one. His contract was up after the 2021 season, and he was re-signed after a loss to the Red Sox in the Wild Card game. There was just no way that they would fire him after making the ALCS.
Brian Cashman’s contract expired with the conclusion of the 2022 season, and there hasn’t been any word on whether he is returning or not. However, it would be a surprise to see him leave.
Let’s get into some of the faults in the Yankees organizational philosophy. There are two that stand out when looking at the two World Series teams.
The first one is right in plain sight, and many fans have voiced this over the course of the postseason. Bryce Harper should be a Yankee. When Brian Cashman was asked about Harper in the 2018-2019 offseason, he said the Yankees have six outfielders and cited players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks and Jackson Frazier. That choice has not aged well.
Brian Cashman indicated that Bryce Harper isn’t a fit for the #Yankees. Said the team already has six outfielders and that playing Harper at first base isn’t realistic.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 10, 2018
Even if I were to concede that point, there was another potential hall of fame player on the market that offseason in Manny Machado. But the Yankees really liked Miguel Andujar, a free-swinging hitter who was always a bad defensive third baseman.
This also falls on Hal Steinbrenner, who at the end of the day has to give the green light for long contracts like Harper received.
The Phillies not only have spent on Harper, but they have also signed impact players like Kyle Schwarber, Nicholas Castellanos and JT Realmuto.
The lack of willingness to spend on the best available players showed up once again in the 2021-2022 offseason, which brings me to the other issue.
Everyone knew the Yankees had a need at shortstop. The team started three different players at shortstop in the ALCS. The team’s addition in the offseason was Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was supposed to be a shortstop. To put it into perspective, the Texas Rangers traded away Kiner-Falefa to the Twins because they signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. The Twins then traded Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson to the Yankees to free up money so they could sign Carlos Correa. Maybe the fact that Kiner-Falefa was passed over twice should have been a sign.
But the next part of this is possibly the worst. Kiner-Falefa was billed as a stop-gap. That would have been fine if the Yankees had actually treated him like one. Oswald Peraza, one of the top shortstop prospects that made the Yankees avoid signing someone like Correa, did not get playing time even after extended playing time in AAA.
If you want to tell me that he wasn’t going to light the world on fire offensively, that’s not the point. We all know that Kiner-Falefa’s defense was one of his main critiques, specifically his tendency to mess up routine plays. Peraza was billed as a great defensive prospect, and he showed that in his time in the big leagues, specifically in game two of the ALCS. Even if Peraza hit for around a 90 wRC+, he would have been an upgrade overall.
The Astros started Jeremy Pena all year, and he has been an impact player for them. The Phillies are starting Bryson Stott as well. The Yankees shot themselves in the foot by not giving Peraza more playing time and at least finding out what they had before it was too late.
The Yankees met their demise in part due to a defensive mishap by Kiner-Falefa in game 4 of the ALCS. As we wait to hear what is happening with Cashman, the frustrations of many Yankee fans will be illuminated as the World Series goes on.
Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/Associated Press