Where there is smoke, there is fire. But for the 2023 Yankees, the smoke of September may blur the front office from the necessary changes this offseason.
The recent call-ups — especially Jasson Domínguez — have provided a spark to this team that has not been seen all season. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games on the backs of young prospects injecting life into a stagnant and stale offense. It has been so pleasant to watch the Yankees the last week compared to the slog that has been the majority of the season.
It didn’t take long for Domínguez to make his mark, blasting a home run in his first at-bat. Following that was Austin Wells and his luscious mouth sweater picking up his first major league hit. That game in Houston felt too good to be true. It was a seemingly perfect start to a plan that was only put into place because the Yankees completely fell off the table after the Trade Deadline. The arrival of the youth movement was a welcome sight, one that was highly anticipated by fans the moment it was rumored. It has kept the fanbase engaged and hopeful. This is exactly what the Yankees wanted and therein lies the problem.
This organization must be thrilled because these young players have provided the perfect distraction for the many failures that have plagued the Yankees all season. With a favorable schedule in front of them, the perfect excuse is forming to hold onto the members of this organization who got the Yankees in this mess. I’m sure the wheels are already turning in the Bronx; a spin cycle to push a narrative that one solid month is enough to save particular jobs. This organization is the king of deflection and this would be their best act yet.
It puts the fans in a tough spot. We would never root against our players, particularly young prospects trying to make a name for themselves. We want them to excel and we want to watch winning baseball, but at what cost? No one had Domínguez potentially saving Aaron Boone’s job on their 2023 Yankees bingo card, but that is the direction we are headed toward. I can practically hear the press conference now:
“Look, our organization is fine. Injuries played a role, and a tough stretch where players didn’t play how we know they can play got us here. We are confident that this group can turn it around, just look at what happened in September”
Fans are not in the business of looking for excuses to keep underperforming front-office members around. It is Hal Steinbrenner’s job to parse through the noise and make tough decisions. I originally was going to make a plea to the fans to not let rookie home runs, DJ LeMahieu’s resurgence, or Giancarlo Stanton milestones distract us from how bad this season has been. But that statement would be misplaced because that plea should be to Hal. For us fans, we have seen enough bad baseball that we can enjoy a semblance of athleticism and winning on the field.
You get the sense that Hal does not want to fire Boone or GM Brian Cashman (who’s position is even safer given his recent four-year deal), despite his comments about a full top-to-bottom review of the Yankees’ operations. I’m both enjoying this winning stretch and preparing for what lies ahead. For now, the heat is off this team and the smokescreen is in full effect — just how the Yankees want it. Tread carefully.