New York Yankees 2023: An Embarrassing Clown Show of Epic Proportions
The New York Yankees of yesteryears are long gone. In an era defined by lucrative contracts, player performances are at an all-time low. 2023 has taken the cake for bad performances from experienced veterans, who either cannot stop injuries from happening or are slumping. Some are in the worst category – a mixture of both. That is not to say that all the blame lies on players.
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The front office carries as much responsibility, if not more, as the athletes that make up the organization. After Brian Cashman failed the offseason, 2023 was bound to start the disastrous way it did.
New York Yankees Struggle to Start the Season
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The Yankees barely made it to the start of the season with their captain signed to a shiny new contract. If Brian Cashman had it his way, the GM would probably not have had Aaron Judge in pinstripes anymore. Nevertheless, All-Rise made it back to Opening Day in one piece, ready to take on the league as the reigning AL MVP.
But their fortunes turned for the worse early on when players failed to perform. Many reasoned it to be a slow start to the season but unfortunately, a few months in, their display still left much to be desired. Many attributed a lack of talent to the team’s troubles because Cashman had failed to make any major moves after the 2022 season. But there was another reason for early troubles – good old injuries.
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Early Injuries Plague the Bombers
Athletes and injuries have a love/hate relationship because while they can’t always be controlled, one must contend with the losses that they bring. Before the 2023 regular season even started, Carlos Rodon, Giancarlo Stanton, and Harrison Bader, among others, were out of the lineup. While a few players on the IL were to be expected, fans felt as if all of the Yankees’ powerhouses had failed them.
Injury-prone players do no favors to any team, no matter how talented they may truly be. Luis Severino exited the roster on Opening Day and he hasn’t truly been back since. Even Nestor Cortes Jr. has left the lineup with a left rotator cuff strain. Their pitching troubles also had to do with Domingo German, who left for alcohol abuse rehab soon after throwing a perfect game.
Then there was Bader, who seemed to spend more time away from the field than in Pinstripes, even though he shone brightly when he managed to stay healthy. But it was Aaron Judge who seemed to truly carry the team with his powerful presence in the clubhouse as well as the field. Even if it led to injuries here and there.
Aaron Judge Carries the Yankees With Some Fantastic Form
Although the Pinstripes’ offense has been brutally mild this season, the one saving grace has been the Yankees captain. Although of course, he had struggles, for the most part, he has received praise from fans for his performance. From breaking the Toronto Blue Jays’ maple leaf when critics accused him of cheating to topping the MLB Home Run Leaders chart once again, the reigning AL MVP was on a hot streak of success.
Even though he went on the 10-day IL for hip strain when he made an awkward dive to third base at the beginning of May, things didn’t look too bad. But then came the fateful June 3rd game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Aaron Judge Suffers Injury and the Yankees Collapse
It was the second game in a three-game series against the Boys in Blue when the Yankees captain ran to the edge of Dodger Stadium to make a catch. He smashed into the bullpen gate, his right foot hitting the concrete below, but he caught the ball. Judge’s momentum forced him to protect himself by throwing his arms out but his upper body was mostly okay. The trouble was in his toe as he limped away from the gate, stealing a home run.
Judge did not play another game for two months, with off-season surgery being thrown around as an idea. The captain was injured and the club couldn’t take it. In his absence that no one knew would end for sure, the club collapsed. The offense was one of the worst the Yankees had produced in decades, even if the defense fought on bravely.
The Bronx Bombers went into a steady decline, from fourth in the AL East to last, a position they hadn’t ended the season in since 1990. Owner Hal Steinbrenner made some senseless and ludicrous comments about how he was confused by the fans’ reactions. They predicted the season a failure but Steinbrenner was loathe to give up hope since it wasn’t even the halfway point in the season.
But even with all this, the Yankees’ troubles weren’t over yet.
Anthony Rizzo Hitting Slump: Did the Yankees Miss a Concussion for 2 Months?
Just before Judge’s serious toe injury, old Yankees reliable Anthony Rizzo had a frightening collision with San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 29th. Although the first baseman exited the game early for precautionary reasons, it was declared nothing too serious at the time. But even though the Yankees said they would continue to monitor him, they failed to guess the reason behind Rizzo’s sudden downfall of performance for two months.
Rizzo reportedly felt as if he was hungover during the day, without ever having drunk alcohol. He also had vision problems that simply refused to get better. So after more than two months of a terribly slumping Rizzo, the team decided to do something about it. The result was the conclusion that he had a concussion, most likely from the Tatis incident.
Bronx fans cursed the club for their poor player management but in any case, Rizzo was out. Players had been injured left and right, so what was one more?
Why Did the Yankees Fire Dillon Lawson? Was the Anthony Volpe Chicken Parm Fiasco the Last Straw?
In parting ways with Dillon Lawson, Brian Cashman did something he had never done before. In his more than 25 years of tenure, the GM had been inclined to maintain the status quo rather than shake things up in the middle of the season. But just before the All-Star game, the Yankees announced that Lawson would no longer serve as hitting coach. It may also have had something to do with Anthony Volpe.
During the Subway Series, the Yankees rookie had a noticeably new stance at Citi Field. Volpe later credited a dinner talk with a major leaguer-to-be, Austin Wells. They had been going over the shortstop’s batting stance to figure out a way to beat the slump over a homemade dinner of chicken parmesan.
It didn’t solve all of Volpe’s problems, sure, but his stats after that meal improved significantly. To the Yankees, it was enraging and embarrassing to think that a man paid for that specific job couldn’t find a solution. Instead, a couple of rookies had done it, with fans forever labeling the incident the ‘chicken parm story.’ Dillon Lawson didn’t stand a chance.
Yankees Hit Bottom of AL East as Historic Losing Streak Diminishes Playoff Hopes
While the Yankees have faced troubles plenty of times in the last few decades or so, no season has been quite as bad as 2023. On the wrong side of history, the team’s losing record and constant occupation of the last place in the AL East has been a topic of constant worry. Although August 2022 saw the team losing six series in a row, the Bronx Bombers beat that record with eight.
But the farm system can only do so much to a machine that refuses to be well-oiled with a powerful roster.
Why Didn’t Brian Cashman Make Moves at the Trade Deadline?
Aside from trading Aaron Hicks earlier in the season, Brian Cashman made no big moves as July end approached. He stubbornly insisted that the current team they had was good enough. Even if they weren’t quite what he had had in mind. But instead of strengthening the outfield and the struggling offense, Cashman did absolutely nothing.
The trade deadline came and went, with no significant improvements to the roster. He apparently learned his lesson later in the season, finally releasing the severely underperforming Josh Donaldson. The team also put the struggling Harrison Bader on waivers. But at a time when clubs look to strengthen themselves via bold moves, Cashman naively believed in his current team.
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Waving the White Flag for 2023 and Calling Up Promising Youngsters
Baby Bombers’ era is here. For a team that has made winning look easy in the past, it is realizing just how hard it actually is. There are no more legends to uphold the Yankees’ name. They are in need of a completely new direction. Oswaldo Peraza, Everson Pereira, and Anthony Volpe were already wearing Pinstripes. But now, Jasson Dominguez and Austin Wells have also arrived on the scene.
With their help, the Yankees recently swept the Houston Astros for the first time since 2013. They are making their powerful presence felt. While many believe 2023 is done for, maybe the youth movement can revive future years.
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When will the 13-year World Series drought end? Only time will tell.