The Yankees are worth a record $ 7.01 billion dollars according to Sportico, making them 701 times more valuable than 50 years ago – when George M. Steinbrenner and friends paid $ 10 million for them (yes, exactly that .01 in the $ 7.01 billion there).
In terms of return, that’s certainly better than my Netflix stock.
Anyway, folks watching the Yankees’ offense lately may wonder about that valuation. On some nights, the lineup doesn’t look like it’s worth 50 cents – the change, not the singer.
It’s the entire organization that excites economic estimators, of course. But followers of the historic team may have another thought or two on their minds at the moment.
Sure, it’s a nice little squad, full of grit and gumption. It’s a team that defends, does little things and kills on days when it comes down to the bullpen – which explains the Yankees’ 7-5 record after their 5-3 win Wednesday at Detroit, and a share of first place despite all the lineup woes.
Whatever, this does not look anything like a true Yankees team. Their offense, 19th-best in 2021, will have to hustle to get there this season (they were 26th heading into Wednesday). It is very early, and spring was very short. Averages aren’t real yet. So there’s plenty of time, and even more reasons.
But still, it is with some local embarrassment I mention the former Bronx Bombers, heading into Wednesday, were 22nd in slugging percentage at .349, a utility infielder’s number. It’s way early, but they are below the Athletics, who gave away half their team, and the Pirates, who do that almost every winter.
It isn’t as if the Yankees aren’t trying. They have a 250 million payroll, which puts them into luxury-tax territory after saving their pennies and staying in cost-saving territory last year.
The pitching looks very good most days. They show heart. They just don’t hit enough.
One scout put it simply: “They need more contact, fewer strikeouts. They need guys who can hit. “
The Yankees let the shortstop and catching positions recede into 1960s territory, when those positions were manned by defensive stalwarts / complementary players. Ray Oyler and Ken Berry come to mind.
The Yankees acquired gloveman Isiah Kiner-Falefa for shortstop. He’s great, if surrounded by sluggers.
They are going with Gerrit Cole’s childhood friend and personal catcher Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. Higashioka teased with seven dingers in spring training, but is back to being a defense-first asset. Folks are clamoring for Jose Trevino, who brings enthusiasm.
It’s never a good sign when Yankees fans are pining for good cheer.
Of course they are just 10 games in, and there’s plenty of time for them to start hitting to the backs of their baseball cards. They can count on Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu, who played through a core injury last year. They aren’t quite the Core Four, but they should be fine.
It says here the key to the Yankees’ success will be three guys who could go either way – Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres and Joey Gallo. They’re the trio of truth – and they were a combined 0-for-6 Wednesday.
Donaldson is a former MVP with an injury history and a polarizing rep. The Twins wanted to cut bait soon after signing his $ 104 million contract – big money in the Twin Cities, either one of them.
Torres once looked like a budding superstar, but now appears plagued by slow legs and a slower bat. He’s going backward, and faster than Gary Sanchez ever did.
Gallo is yet another big talent who may not fit New York. The Yankees talked to the Padres about a trade for Gallo this spring, but are believed to have been seeking a return befitting his ability, not his recent achievements.
Ultimately, a trade may work best.
“New York is a challenge for him. It gets in his dome, ”said another scout.
The Yankees are all about analytics, not personalities, and nobody looks better on paper than Gallo (unless you peek at that batting average). The Yankees love his defense, baserunning and many other things. But he is hitting .121, even worse than the .150 he logged in The Bronx last year.
Gallo’s OPS is .377, Torres’ is .491 and Donaldson’s is .538. Add them up and they surpass Jose Ramirez. Maybe.
The Yankees’ front office, a consistent producer of winners for decades, had many chances to add weapons, but deferred at every turn.
They didn’t try for Carlos Correa. That’s because New Jersey’s own Anthony Volpe is their top prospect. But it may also be for Correa being an Astro, being close to Alex Rodriguez (word is, less so lately) or dissing iconic Yankee Derek Jeter (that was an admitted rare E). Throw in his right-handedness, and he never had a chance, not for a $ 330 million ask.
The Yankees seriously called on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien when they were down the road at a half a bill together for Texas, only flirted with Trevor Story and didn’t try at all for Javier Baez.
We know they needed to cut the cord with Sanchez for a year now. But since they were dealing with the Twins anyway, perhaps they could have snagged top hitting catcher Mitch Garver, who went to Texas, too.
Their baseball people loved Freddie Freeman, but that never got very far, either.
The Yankees went instead for the little things, and so far their lineup reflects that – it’s doing very little indeed.