To classify the 2019 Major League Baseball Season as wacky would not be doing it justice. So, it was fitting as Yankees fans that after Jose Altuve ripped our guts out with his walk off 2 run homer off Aroldis Chapman to clinch the American League Pennant back on October 19 the wackiness would continue into the fall classic. For the 1st time ever the road team won all 7 games as the Nationals won their first World Series championship in their short existence. That championship victory brought another strange stat. It is the first time ever the New York Yankees have gone a decade without winning a title. Now as fans we sit and wait to see just how Brian Cashman will add to a great team to get the ever-elusive title # 28.
It’s Been so long since I have written (I hate adulting) so I’d like to again use bullets to break down my thoughts. Let’s start with the good. The Yankees won 103 games, won their 1st American League East crown since 2012, and made it to the ALCS.
New York has one of the best players in all of baseball in Aaron Judge who despite playing in 102 games hit 27 home runs.
The Yankees have a budding superstar in the 22-year-old Gleyber Torres who put up a .278/38 and 90 2019 campaign.
They have what was arguably the best free agent signing in team history in the ultra-clutch DJ LeMahieu who finished 2019 2nd in batting with a .327 average.
They have an ace pitcher under team control in Luis Severino coming off an injury shortened season.
James Paxton had a solid 1st season in pinstripes, (he went through a typical adjustment period early on) went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and seemed to show “ace” like traits in his game 5 ALCS start at Yankee Stadium when he beat Justin Verlander.
The Yanks have the playoff clutch Masahiro Tanaka on their pitching staff.
The Bombers have discovered a solid player in the late blooming 3B Gio Urshela who hit .314 with 21 homers, and smacked a team high 34 doubles.
The Yanks found a diamond in the rough in OF Mike Tauchman.
Aroldis Chapman was the reliever of the year and was dominant until he served up the gopher ball to Altuve (to his credit the entire org fall asleep at that moment). He extended his deal in lieu of opting out and will return on an essentially 3-year $48 million deal.
They have a strong reliever who could be the closer in Zach Britton. The pieces are there to take that next step toward a world championship.
They have already fired pitching coach Larry Rothschild who many fans thought was a big issue with this team.
Now to the bad.
Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. The 2019 Yankees lost 2336 total games missed to injuries. Far and away an MLB record. In his end of season press conference GM Brian Cashman addressed that this is something he and his staff will investigate. This becomes the biggest “DUH” in the history of mankind. Only Torres, LeMahieu, and Austin Romine did not spend time on the injured list in 2019. Giancarlo Stanton play in just 18 games during the regular season. He got healthy only to get injured again during the postseason. Aaron Judge again missed significant time (60 games). The Severino injury was crippling as many would argue if he had at least returned at the All Star break the Yankees may have won it all in 2019. Dellin Betances had a nagging injury to his lat, returned then blew out his achilles in fluky fashion. Didi Gregorius returned in June from his Tommy John surgery, and although showed some flashes was not the same guy. Miguel Andujar played in just 12 games. Luke Voit had a sports hernia injury. I could go on all day. The point is the Yankees will need consistent good health if they are going to bring home a title in 2020. Cashman has said they will use every available resource to correct this.
Aaron Hicks had Tommy John surgery. I am not the biggest Hicks guy, but Cashman extended him and then he too was hurt off and on again before succumbing to the elbow injury. Like it or not he is part of the core of this franchise. The earliest we will see him is June of 2020 like Didi in ‘19. Will he struggle like Gregorius? Will this cause the Yankees to bring back Brett Gardner? Or will they go with Tauchman until Hicks returns. This is part of the offseason questions for this club we will get into more this offseason.
Gary Sanchez. As has been pointed out ad nauseum I will never be the president of the Gary Sanchez fan club. Cashman said he is part of the long-term solution with the Yankees. Hell, NYYST teammate Beth Wellington blocked me on twitter when I asked Christian if he was ready to give up on Sanchez. Gary is going to be here. Cashman loves him so he is not going anywhere. Here is my issue with him. I don’t buy into the fat, and lazy argument. It’s to be honest a fat, and lazy argument. My beef with Gary is he doesn’t seem to want to evolve as a major league player. Since his insane 2016 when he burst on the scene hitting .299, he has hit .278, .186, and .232 and been hurt for stretches every year. I understand the rigors of a major league catcher. With his talent, and natural swing to right field there is no reason he can’t hit .250 to .260. Sanchez gets pull crazy in clutch situations and channels his inner pre 2009 A-Rod and constantly tries to hit 12 run homers. I get on Gary Sanchez because I see what Juan Soto did for Washington, and wonder why can’t Sanchez do this for the Yankees? Sanchez has such immense talent that he frustrates the crap out of me. He is an incredible talent hitting 105 homeruns in 372 career games. What’s even more maddening is we all have seen how teammate Aaron Judge has evolved as a ballplayer, and Sanchez can’t follow his example? Yes, the defense has improved, but the baseball IQ needs to significantly in my opinion.
The reliance on an opener due to all the pitching injuries was annoying. Yes, Chad Green was great in that role, but the Nationals and Astros showed us baseball teams still need good starting pitching to go to the promised land.
Players who generally didn’t help in 2019 include JA Happ who was resigned to a $17 million per year contract and went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA. Adam Ottavino had great stats overall but gradually wore down and was downright atrocious in the playoffs where he had an 8.10 ERA in 8 games. Lastly Domingo German had an incredible season yet is a terrible human being for hitting his girlfriend, so I put him in the negatives. The Yankees sure could have used him in the postseason, right?
The 2019 Yankees were fun to watch. The Next man up mentality was truly admirable. The “Gardy smashing the Dugout” was hysterical, yet the season cannot be looked upon as anything but a failure. Brian Cashman has work to do to get this team to where we all know it belongs…. World Series Champions.