BBB Reactions to the humiliating ALCS loss to the Astros

The Yankees will be watching the World Series from their couches for the 13th consecutive season, Aaron Judge is a free agent with no guarantee of his return, the Yankees are the laughingstock of the league this week after playing an embarrassing 2004 Red Sox ALCS comeback montage as motivation from their own 3-0 ALCS deficit.  Oh yeah, and did we mention we lost to Houston AGAIN?  Things are very-bad, no-good in Yankeeland right now as we embark on another offseason of frustrations and questions about where things went so wrong.  The writers of the BBB each weigh in on the state of the team and the franchise as a whole.




Mary Grace Donaldson

I don’t know why it stings worse this time… oh wait, yes I do. 

It stings worse because it’s the Astros. It stings worse because it’s the third time since 2017 that the Yankees have faced these guys in the ALCS and have failed. It stings worse because we can’t blame trash cans anymore, they are just excuses. It stings worse because the Yankees got swept. It stings worse because the season in which Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs ended in failure and absolute disaster. It stings worse because I’m still remembering the May and June Yankees who were on pace to match the 1998 Yankees, the heroes I grew up with. It stings worse because we were riddled with injuries, again, but injuries are part of baseball and they’re a tired excuse. It stings worse because the offense just didn’t show up. And, it stings worse because the manager of the New York Yankees actually went up in front of the press and the public and tried to blame offensive woes on… the roof at Minute Maid Park. What?! I know we are all tired of “What would George do,” but I know what he’s doing. He’s rolling over in his mausoleum. 

I get it, folks from other cities look and say, “yOu’Re iN tHe pOsTsEaSoN eVeRy yEaR,” but this is still the Yankees. The Red Sox are irrelevant now and the Yankees need to figure out how to get the Astros out of their heads. I know a lot of folks blame Aaron Judge for this failure due to his parade of strikeouts, and he did not live up to expectations in the postseason at all. Of course, there is plenty of blame to place on Aaron Boone, roof excuses aside – he made some seriously questionable managerial decisions, starting with the Clarke Schmidt debacle in the ALDS. But the blame for the ALCS mess cannot be placed at one singular person’s feet; as my old man has said over the past few days, there is plenty of blame to go around. 

I’m finding optimism difficult right now, but there are a few areas of focus for the Yankees in the offseason that could, maybe, help avoid this situation again next year. Firstly, middle relief out of the bullpen was a problem from the minute Michael King exited that game with a season-ending injury. Losing both King and Chad Green was a big problem that plagued the Yankees through the playoffs – not to mention, Scott Effross, we hardly knew ye. While Wandy and Lasa pitched their hearts out throughout the postseason, it wasn’t enough (though not either of their faults). If middle relievers are still injured next year, someone new needs to come in. Oh, and Aroldis can just stay home. Secondly, the Home-Run-Or-Bust problem continues to be just that: a problem. It has been proven time and again that home run or K is not a strategy. Additionally, another starting pitcher should be in the mix. And finally, if I ever see Josh Donaldson in pinstripes again, you can count on a rant piece from me. 

To get back to Boone, I truly believe that he is not the sole problem with the Yankees’ organization. Regardless, I think the Yankees should look for a new manager for next season. We won’t know how much of a problem Boone really is, unless we can see the team without his (questionable) leadership. From a purely emotional standpoint and a less analytical one, someone needs to fire up the Yankees and make them afraid to lose. 

 

Gus Wetekamp 

The overarching theme of this Yankees "era" to me is "you did this to yourself." The Yankees chose not to seriously pursue Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, both of whom were on the doorstep of the Fall Classic this year, and not to mention Harper having one of the best offensive postseasons in major league history during this run. You chose to trade for Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, effectively ending the 2022 season before it even began and perhaps seriously hampering the off-season. You chose to give Aaron Hicks a lengthy and lucrative contract extension. You chose not to agree to terms with Aaron Judge before his contract expired, leaving you at the mercy of 29 other teams who will vie for his services.

The Yankees deserved to be unceremoniously swept away by the Astros, a better functioning organization in every way in 2022, and they'll deserve a lot worse if Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman remain in their current positions. Not only will this current drought of World Series appearances continue, I fear the over .500 streak that began back in 1993 will be in serious jeopardy in 2023 unless major changes are made.

 

Andrew Natalizio

I’m sick and tired of having these same conversations at the end of every season. I’m sick and tired of getting eliminated by the Houston Astros every time we make the ALCS.  I’m sick and tired of the team never doing enough in the preceding offseason to put themselves over-the-top, then not being good enough, then trying to validate their failure by saying October is a crapshoot and “if a few more things went our way we’d have had a real shot”. Enough. No more. I can’t do this anymore.

This season began with tempered expectations after the team refused to make any of the power-shifting big moves of the George Steinbrenner era. With a dynamic free agent class - plus multiple other high-end trade targets - available to us, we sat back and made minor moves to upgrade the defense and ship out some of the Baby Bombers who never amounted to much.  The big marquee move of the winter was trading Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt.  Rortvedt immediately got hurt, which prompted a second trade for Jose Trevino, while Donaldson and IKF flopped all year.  The Yankees expected former MVP-level offense out of Donaldson and that simply never happened.  The Yankees expected Gold Glove-caliber defense out of Kiner-Falefa, and he was a bottom-10 defensive shortstop all year long while Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza never exactly got their shot.  Aaron Judge wasn’t extended before the season and now we risk losing him in free agency.  Meanwhile, players that almost made too much sense for the Yankees - Matt Olson and Carlos Correa, among others - went to Atlanta and Minnesota, respectively. The Yankees pivoted off Olson and got Rizzo, which was a good add, but by Opening Day, nobody thought this team had what it took to win a title.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Yankees won 52 out of their first 70 games and looked like world beaters.  But it was all smoke and mirrors.  The inevitable injuries and regressions happened, and while Aaron Judge played at an MVP pace all year en route to breaking the American League home run record, it never felt like enough.  Trade deadline acquisitions underperformed or got hurt as well.  Boone continued to make the same tactical mistakes that have plagued him since his rookie managerial campaign. After getting a scare from both Tampa and Toronto in the AL East race towards the end of the season, the Yankees struggled to get by the upstart Guardians in the ALDS and were flattened in a four-game sweep to the Astros.

99 regular season wins aside, the results in the ALCS should never have been a surprise to anyone.  The Yankees led the Astros for ZERO INNINGS during the regular season, including one game in which they were no-hit. They were never on Houston’s level, and any thought to the contrary was simply pie-in-the-sky thinking. Brian Cashman and Co. talked about “championships not championship”, but they’ve been a step (or seven) behind the Astros every single year over that stretch.

This front office and this manager allowed it all to play out.  There hasn’t been an urgency to win a title for over a decade now, despite this team claiming they are World Series or bust every season.  And so going into this offseason, particularly with rumors that Cashman and Boone will return in 2023, I really don’t know how I can invest myself in this team fully again. They don’t seem committed to doing whatever it takes to win a championship, and as a fan, that’s a damn-near impossible pill to swallow.  If they don’t care about anything other than profits, why should I care going forward?  This lost season was a wakeup call for me, and it’s going to take earth-shifting moves or changes in philosophy to get my full buy-in next year. Otherwise, 2023 will end in similar fashion to 2022 and every early postseason elimination before it.

 

Matt Luzz “Luigi” 

For me, the word I keep using to describe how I am feeling is numb. In the five years of the Aaron Boone/Baby Bomber/whatever you want to call this era, the Yankees have failed to reach where good ole’ Binder Joe brought them to: Game 7 of the ALCS. Now the New York Yankees ultimate goal should not be “reach Game 7 of ALCS and lose,” yet, maybe it should be because you have to start somewhere. 

This may sound dramatic, but it feels like the Yankees are the laughingstock of baseball right now. It is bad enough we got swept, but to hear the excuses from the exit velo to the roof, to hear they FaceTimed f****** Big Papi and showed them the Red Sox 3-0 comeback in ‘04. I have never, in my 20 years of being a Yankees fan, been more embarrassed to be a fan of this organization. A once proud franchise that only concerned itself with the ultimate goal of winning a championship, has turned into a Fortune 500 company that wants to be just good enough every year and nothing more. Steinbrenner should sell the team, Cashman and Boone should both be gone, but we all know that is very unlikely, and all three will be here for the foreseeable future. It is truly sickening. 

 

Maxx Hotton 

An actor is only as good as his script or as bad. Aaron Boone always knows his lines, sticking to the hand and keeping everyone in their lanes, even if circumstances change. The wealth of analytic tools is an incredible resource for teams, but Boone has shown his inability to adapt. In year five, it's painfully apparent that Aaron is the same manager that took the job in 2018, unwilling or unable to learn from his mistakes as a manager. As much as Boone gets the first line of criticism, their GM, Brian Cashman, is just as guilty. Always trying to outsmart the rest of baseball, one of the most outstanding talent evaluators just a few short years ago has proven he is unable or unwilling to build a winning team in today's age. Instead of going with the "can't miss" moves in free agency and trade market, he decides that the reclamation projects are the fix the team needs. His prospect hugging is admirable; the patience with these young players can work…..if you play them. There is no reason that IKF should have played past the all-star break over the Oswaldo Cabreras and Oswald Perazas of the world. Like Boone, if Cashman continues on this path, there is little hope of change for the club. 

Unfortunately, you could fire them all, and it won't matter until Hal changes the standards for this franchise. He complains that they expend more than 27-28 teams annually in the MLB, but he does not recognize how you spend. He is OK with just being competitive and profitable because if not, how can you justify spending as much as they do without even a sniff of a ring? A fish rots from the head, and the buck stops at Hal. He can change the whole direction of the organization in a minute by setting the standards of championships or bust with real consequences if they continue to fail, as Cashman has for 13 years, and Boone has for five years. We don't need him to go full George on this team, but a little backbone would bring back the Evil Empire and not just some knock off SpaceBalls franchise. 


Matt Graziano

The Yankees regular seasons are officially irrelevant. Since this era of Yankees baseball commenced, the pattern has been clear: win 90+ games, hit a bunch of home runs, then sputter out and fall short in the playoffs. Another defining trait of this era is the unwillingness of the GM and ownership to get aggressive in pursuit of clear upgrades and difference makers on the field. The Yankees practically had Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in their laps and declined to pursue either of them. In 2017, they held onto prospects instead of getting aggressive on Justin Verlander, a move that is still haunting them today. In 2018/2019 it was Gerrit Cole, while the Yankees held firm on Miguel Andujar and Clint Jackson Frazier.

During this time the Yankees sought out cheaper options like JA Happ, Andrew Heaney, Sonny Gray etc, none of which brought the Yankees to where they say they still wish to go each year: a World Series title. For a team that spends $200+ million each year, they have gotten cheap when it counts and only improved around the margins. They have declined to go for blood when those that could put them over the top are available. Instead, they appear to be satisfied with being pretty good each year, being entertaining in the regular season and winning some playoff games before calling it a year. This has Yankee fans frustrated and for this year, about as collectively mad as I can remember following a season.

The Yankees have not closed the gap on the Houston Astros. It has in fact gotten larger, and the Yankees have not been able to produce an answer as to why. The Astros have seen big names come and go and kept right on going and competing at an extremely high level. They have produced pitching that the Yankees have not been able to solve and dominated the Yankees all regular season before this year's playoffs. If the Yankees hope to slay this demon anytime soon, they must figure out a way to hit the power pitching the Astros deliver. The Yankees got swept in a series where their pitching was solid, and they held Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez to six hits in four games. The gap between these teams has not closed, and if the Yankees don't get honest with themselves, it will only get bigger.

The statuses of Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone are what everyone wants to know about. Although the fans desperately want change here, I'm skeptical it will happen. What we most hope for is that Brian Cashman and his front office can identify the holes in the Yankees roster and that ownership will authorize the spending and moves necessary to fix them. If that sort of important self-evaluation does not happen, the next few Yankee seasons will probably seem very familiar. 


Alex Weir

Remember how excited we were after the 2017 season? Even with the disappointment of losing in Game 7, the Yankees managed to overperform to the max and give us one of the most fun teams we had seen in years. Since then, though? It seems like they find a way to hit what we thought would be rock bottom every year. 2018 was understandable; the Red Sox were an unstoppable machine. However, 2019? The Altuve homer. 2020? The Mike Brosseau homer. 2021? Losing the Wild Card Game to Boston. And now 2022? Getting swept by the Astros. It never ends.

Now, of course, I’m not saying the Yankees should have won the World Series every year; 15 different teams have won the World Series in the last 21 years, since 2001. It’s hard to win the World Series! That’s not the issue here. The issue is that the Yankees have been facing the exact same problems every year since 2019: lack of offense, poor bullpen management, and just simply being outplayed by the other team. And every year, it’s another excuse. It’s another reason why they lost. There has never been any accountability within the front office of this team, no matter what happens. They’ve been trying to claim that they are trying to build a World Series caliber team for years, but every season it always feels like something is missing. When was the last time we went into a season feeling like we could legitimately win it all?

The fact is, there are so many problems with this team, from their home run heavy approach, streaky hitting, lack of player development, and front office mentality. I don’t want to go off on a tangent naming everything, because we could be here all day. But the Yankees need to make major changes this offseason, because if they don’t, we will be riding this carousel year after year after year, watching them win 95-100 games every year only to be embarrassed in the playoffs again and again.


 

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