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Rich Mancuso

Mancuso: More Questions Await These Yankees

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So the Yankees season ended Tuesday night and it was sooner than expected. The Red Sox and Astros have shown they are the premiere teams in the American League. So it goes as 100 regular season wins is in the books for a Yankees team that set many records in 2018.

But those wins did not amount to success. Of course not, the Yankees failed to be the last team standing and when they are not, that amounts to a failure. 

A record number of home runs does not mean you can win it all in October. The Yankees also discovered how a dependence on the home run ball will not get you deep into October. And it won’t work against teams like the Red Sox and Astros because they were built to play baseball the right way.

They hit, get on base, hit and run, steal, and sacrifice. Baseball fundamentals the Yankees don’t do, not to mention their situational hitting was inconsistent.  GM Brian Cashman alluded to a lineup that was star studded but made inconsistent contact and failed to do damage. Of course, that means not hitting in the clutch and those flaws were evident in four games against Boston in the ALDS.

And there are those defensive issues that need to be addressed.

The Yankees came up short. Brian Cashman made that known, so did his manager Aaron Boone at their exit press conference with the media at Yankee Stadium Friday afternoon. There is work to be done and a lot for 2019.

Then there is Didi Gregorius. Tommy John surgery for the shortstop and the job for Cashman and owner Hal Steinbrenner got more difficult. And this is significant because there is a shortstop/third baseman that will be shopping around for a team.

Yes, Manny Machado, who is viewed by many to be a top three player in the game. Well he can fill the void and eventually take over. He does not depend on the home run ball to get on base. Machado produces at the plate, on the field, and will command a lot of money.

Perhaps more money than the Yankees can spend? Forget that, they will spend. Machado can be obtained  if the Dodgers can’t afford him or don’t make a play for his return.

What about Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray? And a roster of many that Brian Cashman and his staff will have to analyze? That process begins soon and by the end of this month, a clearer picture as to who stays, who goes, and who to obtain to make their team better will come more into focus.

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And the Yankees need to be better, no questions about that, if they want to be two of the last teams standing in the American League next October.

“We’re optimistic that he’ll be back at some point during the season,” manager Aaron Boone said. But the question is, when will Gregorius be ready to return? Tommy John surgery to a position player is not as difficult to recover from as it is with a pitcher that throws a fastball at 97 or higher.

Regardless, the absence of Gregorius will have an impact, There is

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that uncertain time period as to how long of an absence this will be. You know Machado will be on the Yankees radar and they could always play Gleyber Torres at second base.

The injury gave the Yankees another significant decision.  This was unexpected for Brian Cashman and company, though the Yankees did catch everyone off guard on this one. The explanation was that Gregorius had been playing with a soreness in the right ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. The injury was sustained during the AL Division Series last week up at Fenway Park.   

Gregorius has been dealing with this issue for awhile now. Cashman said the Yankees knew it was simply a matter of time before it got worse when they acquired Gregorius from the Diamondbacks in a three-player deal on December 14, 2015.

“We lost our shortstop for a certain period of time,” Cashman said. “There are never guarantees.” And the Yankees had their share of injuries, but that had nothing to do with their lack of coming up big when they had to produce.

There will be upgrades to the roster. Boone and his coaching staff will return and they guaranteed that analytics will continue to play a role in what they do, which in itself is another issue.

“Unfortunately, we did not perform at a capable level,” said Cashman  “Feel bad our fans were let down and we let ourselves down.” The manager admitted he would have made a better decision with the use of CC Sabathia on the mound in that final game that ended the Yankees season Tuesday night in the Bronx.

That don’t matter because Boone and Cashman know that this loyal base of Yankees fans only want to be the last team standing, the rallying cry for Yankees baseball. And remember that Brian Cashman is not worried about job security because there is the unlimited endorsement from those in command.

“His last name is Steinbrenner,” he said. “And they’ve acted accordingly.” They will do more this off season and with that strategy, “To be the best club,” as Brian Cashman said.

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