A promising season that started with four straight series wins will come to a merciful end this weekend. Although the New York Yankees still have one more week of baseball to play, the 27-time World Series champion will be watching the playoffs from home for the first time since 2016. For MLB betting enthusiasts, the Yankees' poor performance has been a surprising letdown, affecting odds and expectations alike.
The writing has been on the wall for these Yankees since dropping nine consecutive games in August. But after being officially eliminated from postseason action on Saturday, New York captain Aaron Judge said out loud what every Yankees fan already knew. This season has been a "big failure."
"When you don't show up and you don't produce and you get kicked out like this in the regular season, that's a big failure right there," Judge said on Sunday.
"We got a lot of work to do, a lot of internal talks, a lot of stuff we gotta get figured out and get right for next year," added the five-time All-Star.
The Yankees were riding high on June 3 and were ten games above .500. However, Judge tore a ligament in his big right toe the next day against the Los Angeles Dodgers. New York - which had lost Anthony Rizzo a week earlier in a violent collision at first base - lost 52 of their next 94 games and will finish the season hoping to avoid their first losing record in over three decades.
Rizzo has not played since August 2 because of post-concussion symptoms. The first baseman signed a two-year, $40 million deal last winter and is itching to start preparations for next year.
"I think we just ran out of time to come back, but I'm definitely feeling back to myself," Rizzo said on Sunday. "I'm feeling a lot clearer and pretty strong."
The 34-year-old slugger has yet to be cleared from his concussion symptoms but is looking forward to arriving at spring training fully healthy. The three-time All-Star batted .244 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs before missing the season's final two months. He believes the players are responsible for the Yankees' disappointing season.
"Put it on us players," Rizzo said. "We didn't play well enough as a whole. We didn't do
Veteran infielder DJ LeMahieu, who struggled mightily at the plate during the first half of the season, remains optimistic about the Yankees' future despite much-needed changes.
"There are definitely things that need to be addressed," LeMahieu said. "I just want a reset on the season. I don't know what the changes are and I don't know what the direction is, but I am excited about the future, that's for sure. Some of the younger guys are good and our pitching staff is great. I know we have the pieces."
LeMahieu agrees with Rizzo that New York has the talent to win the American League East Division next season. But the 35-year-old admitted that this past season had been challenging and frustrating.
"What could go wrong has kind of gone wrong," said LeMahieu. "We just haven't put it all together collectively at the same time. It's been a frustrating year. I think the most frustrating part of this year is we know we're good enough to be where we want to be, we just haven't done it."
A big question that has yet to be answered is the future of Yankees manager Aaron Boone. The sixth-year skipper has won nearly 59% of regular season games but is just 14-17 in five postseason trips. However, Boone isn't worried about his job security since it's not his decision.
"I don't worry about it," the 50-year-old said. "I'm completely comfortable with who I am and the things I can control. My job, in my mind, is doing everything to head into the offseason to prepare to put us in a better position to try and compete for a championship. That's what the goal is and until they take that away, that's my focus."
Boone has one more year left on a three-year contract he signed after the 2021 season. In his first two years at the helm, he guided the Bronx Bombers to back-to-back 100-win seasons and felt his team was hampered by unfortunate circumstances this season.
"I don't think you can discount injuries," Boone said. "I think, going in, from a starting rotation standpoint, we'd be in a really good spot. It's been a struggle all year, whether it's keeping guys healthy, getting guys back or down performances."
Prized free-agent acquisition Carlos Rodon missed the first three months of the season with various injuries. Rodon inked a six-year, $162 million contract but has posted a pitiful 3-7 record and an ugly 5.74 ERA in 13 games this season. The two-time All-Star said that this year's team has not performed up to the Yankees' standards.
"It's pretty disappointing," said Rodon. "We view ourselves as a championship club and this year we underperformed massively. It just has not been good."
Although the Yankees have numerous issues to address this coming offseason, Judge is prepared to take a leading role in helping New York reclaim its status as a championship contender.
"I got some ideas," Judge said. "But it's gonna take all of us. It's going to be talking with everyone in the organization, all the way down through the minor league stuff, all the way up to the top. There's a lot of stuff we gotta work on and improve, but there's a lot of bright spots that we've seen with these young guys coming up. This is the time to build on that and start building that next foundation."
For the sake of the Yankees and their pursuit of the franchise's 28th title next year, let's hope Judge is correct.