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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 8/18/23

The evidence makes it hard to believe in the Yankees; a former farmhand criticizes the Yankees’ MiLB approach; another look at how woeful the offense is; Vásquez optioned

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ALDS Game 3 - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Athletic | Chris Kirschner: It’s not like the Yankees can come out and say “we’re sunk,” so there is a lot of Lasso-esque chatter about belief and believing. But as Kirschner points out, outside of AL Cy Young frontrunner Gerrit Cole and Aaron Judge, who’s somehow playing on a bum foot, there just aren’t many players on the roster giving anyone a reason to believe. As he puts it, “a large reason the Yankees are a sub-.500 ballclub is because they have more players on their roster performing dramatically below their level of expectations and just a handful of players exceeding theirs.”

Sports Illustrated | Nick Selbe: File this one away as an interesting story, if nothing else. Former Yankee farmhand Ben Ruta, whom the club drafted in the 30th round in 2016, appeared on a podcast Wednesday and discussed what he perceived as a drastic shift in the club’s minor league approach from 2018 onward. Ruta recounts a minor league “game” developed in 2020 wherein a batter could win by either drawing a walk or having a high exit velocity, but not by getting a base hit at a lower exit velo.

The timing seems convenient, in terms of this story only coming out now when the club is struggling, and it is worth pointing out that Ruta hasn’t been with the organization in almost three years and both technology and processes can can change in a hurry. But to be fair, the Yankees’ recent record of converting prospects into quality big leaguers is pretty rough.

Joe Sheehan Newsletter: In the aftermath of the Yankees’ being on the wrong end of a one-hit, 5-0 shutout against the Braves Wednesday, the former BP co-founder and SI writer Sheehan took a brief look at the offense. As of his writing, the 2023 version of the Yankees has the fourth-worst wRC+ since 1995. The club’s batting average, passé stat though it is, is on pace to be the worst in over half a century, since 1968. These outcomes, Sheehan posits, are the result of “reasonable-in-the-moment-choices” by Brian Cashman. Nonetheless, he also argues that since Cashman made them, he should be “playing for his job this winter.”

Sports Illustrated | Matthew Postins: A former Yankee found himself a new home on Thursday. Lefty Richard Bleier, who made his major league debut with New York in 2016, signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs and is reporting to their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. With the Cubbies only 2.5 games back in the NL Central, Bleier is one phone call away from pitching in a pennant race.

Finally, in more Yankees-related news, New York optioned Randy Vásquez back to Triple-A on Thursday.

I don’t have much to say other than it sure seems like he’s a more viable option in the rotation than at least one hurler New York keeps sending out every fifth day. Andrés made the case here that it’s time for the Yankees to be thinking about 2024. They will reportedly at least get Carlos Rodón back from the IL on Tuesday, but an extended look at Vásquez, who has pitched pretty well in extremely limited innings in the bigs in 2023, would seem to make sense.