The Yankees Have The Best Record In Baseball, But Stare At A Laundry List Of Problems To Address If They're Going To Win The World Series

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As I type this blog the Yankees are 51-27 on the year and boast the highest winning percentage in the game at .654. Maintaining that through June 22nd is great, but it essentially means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The 2022 team was 57-21 through 78 games, but finished the rest of the way playing .500 ball and limped into the playoffs before getting destroyed in the ALCS. While at times that team felt special, as the season progressed it became clear they were a giant step behind the superior team in the American League, the Houston Astros. 

This year that team to chase looks like the Baltimore Orioles. Shocker. They're loaded with young talent and don't have plans of going anywhere else for a long time. So far the two teams' matchups have gone in favor of the O's. While I'm sure for Orioles fans this is porn, I don't think a few meetings in the first half of a season should hold too much value. When they face off in late September and again in the postseason, I believe the Yankees will look a lot different. Recent games against the Red Sox, Orioles, and Braves have exposed their problems and given Cashman a lot of work to do to improve the team. Let's talk about them and get it all out there. I'm using this blog to vent. 

Where do we start? Well, the bullpen is obviously going to need a makeover. Right now who do you trust? Clay Holmes and Luke Weaver? That's even a stretch because of how both have looked lately, but for their full body of work this year those are your clear top two. People complain about Holmes because he doesn't strike guys out like a traditional closer. There's traffic on the bases when he's in there and when it doesn't go to plan, it's ugly. Would you feel better with guys like Clase, Helsley, or Mason Miller? No doubt, but there's not much better out there after that. He's in a bit of a slump right now, but has shown over the years he'll bounce back shortly. 

After Holmes and Weaver you've got Tommy Kahnle, who has thrown 9.1 IP this year, and Michael Tonkin, who was DFA'd three times before joining the Yankees. Both have looked good, but can you really trust them? Newcomer Yoendrys Gomez might be an answer for them, but he's not the savior. Ian Hamilton is currently hurt, but also hasn't resembled last year's dominant self. Caleb Ferguson, Tim Hill, and Phil Bickford currently round out the group. That's a bullpen with very little swing and miss, who pitch to contact and try to keep the ball on the ground. In big games you need to limit baserunners, especially if your catcher isn't going to throw anyone out. There's going to have to be a massive makeover with the pen for this team to be taken seriously. Scott Effross and Lou Trivino can help if their rehabs go well, but neither have pitched in over a year. There are some arms in the farm system who can be contributors like Clayton Beeter and Jack Neely, but the org will need outside help to right the ship. 

Speaking of throwing guys out, let's focus on another issue —catcher. Jose Trevino has held his own at the plate this year, but his defense continues to cost the team games. Once a platinum glove winning catcher back in 2022, Trevino has resorted to a turnstile on the bases. He cannot throw anyone out to save his life. 

Well-timed pitch outs don't even solve the problem. The Red Sox helped expose this on Sunday Night Baseball last week, and the Orioles kept up with the formula a few days ago. Last night the Braves never really had chances to execute, but I'm sure they'll take their chances over the next two days. Trevino boasts some of the worst arm speed and pop times from a catcher in the whole league. You will lose in the playoffs if his inability to control the running game continues. The thing is Trevino's bat has been good this year for his position, he frames at an exceptional level, and the pitchers love the way he calls a game. Those are qualities that help you stick around, but the running game problem needs to be solved quick. They will lose in the postseason if people are stealing on him like they have been. 

Offensively, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge are phenomenal, although Soto's numbers have dipped a bit since his arm injury. A little after that though, it's bleak. Once you get past competent bats in Alex Verdugo and Giancarlo Stanton you're looking at a 6-9 of Ben Rice, Gleyber Torres, Trevino/Wells, and DJ LeMahieu. Off the bench there's Oswaldo Cabrera, Trent Grisham, and Jahmai Jones. The guys listed below simply have to be better or face being replaced. You can't continue to have these players drag the ship down to the bottom of the ocean. 

Gleyber Torres: .221/.300/.341 — OPS+ 81

DJ LeMahieu (19 games): .194/.292/.194 — OPS+ 42

Oswaldo Cabrera: .231/.272/.341 — OPS+ 72

Anthony Rizzo: .223/.289/.341 — OPS+ 78

The lineup consists of two generational hitters, two league average bats in Volpe and Verdugo, a resurgent power hitter in Stanton who could get hurt or nose dive at any moment, and then a breeze of a bottom half of the order. That my friends, isn't necessarily a gauntlet to navigate as an opposing pitcher. 


Gleyber's performance has been beyond unacceptable. Coming off back to back very productive seasons, his numbers have plummeted in his contract year. I think the pressure of playing for a big deal has gotten to him and caused him to spiral. He had a short instance of this when his name came up in trade rumors two years ago for Pablo Lopez. To me, Gleyber is a guy who mentally needs job security to excel. This lineup desperately needs him to figure his shit out. 

In terms of reinforcements from the minors, The Martian Jasson Dominguez wasn't really being considered for a promotion unless an injury to the outfield came about. We nearly had that with Judge against the Orioles, but that turned out to be nothing. If it was a serious injury though, Dominguez wouldn't have been an option since he's sidelined eight weeks with a moderate oblique strain. Besides him, the internal options are thin. Ben Rice has played in four games, his stats are meaningless right now as he tries to replace Rizzo. I'm hopeful he becomes a contributor based on how he hit in the minors the last two years so we'll see. Jorbit Vivas is a guy I'd keep an eye on to possibly help out the infield if Gleyber's groin issue becomes more serious. He had an impactful spring, but had his development cut short after fracturing an orbital bone. I like his game and think he'd be a fun option if it came to that. 

Realistically though, there's no savior coming up from the farm anytime soon. Forget Spencer Jones, that's a 2025 discussion. Dominguez is months away if that opportunity presents itself. If the offense is going to improve it's going to have to be Gleyber waking up, DJ finding his extra base hit power miraculously, and/or Cashman getting to work. 

Everyone and their mother has brought up 1B/3B Ryan McMahon from the Rockies. Joel Sherman mentioned Alex Bregman today as an intriguing possibility. Fan fiction has wondered about Pete Alonso (never happening). There's a few options out there, but it'll depend on how aggressive Cashman wants to be. Considering the potential here, and the fact that Cole just came back and looks good, they better be ultra aggressive. We can't be having Jahmai Jones hitting 5th like last night. 

If there's one area of the team I don't have concerns about right now it's the starting pitching. While Carlos Rodon did snap the group's 4+ inning streak in every start this year, overall he's been very good, even if his strikeout numbers are nowhere near what they used to be. Nestor's resurgence has been a pleasant surprise, and at home he's as good as it gets. Cole is back and building up to full strength. Luis Gil has been fantastic (I'm living under the assumption the Orioles picked up a tip on him). Marcus Stroman has been solid as well, although his limited strikeout stuff and slow delivery doesn't pair well with Trevino's inability to control a running game. Worth noting his FIP is nearly two runs above his ERA, so regression could be coming. Overall, that's a good starting five without Clarke Schmidt, who was excellent in his first 11 starts before being sidelined with an injury. As long as the rotation holds up, I think he'll be used as a multi-inning guy out of the pen when he returns in August. That's the kind of wrinkle that can help solve a big area of concern. 

So while the Yankees have this shiny best record in baseball still, they clearly have GIANT issues to address if they're going to be taken seriously as a World Series contender. Right now the Orioles are simply better than them. Sure they have pitching issues of their own, but that offense is a motherfucker. With a tell on Gil or not, they jumped all over him. Once they get to your pen they abuse it. They run like hell and swing free 1-9. You could play devil's advocate and say a bunch of the Yankees' games with them have been close this year, but at the end of the day that team has built up a ton of confidence to give them zero fear when they play New York. 

Brian Cashman, get to work now.