When the 2018 season opened, the Yankees were already a postseason favorite on paper. There were few weaknesses in the lineup, at least nothing a little Brian Cashman magic couldn’t fix, and it appeared as if all the prospects were progressing the way they should. Then the games and injuries began piling up. Some players underperformed, and some prospects have made progress, but maybe not enough to be dependable in October. Then of course, there are the people that could, or should, be in pinstripes that aren’t.
When reading the scouting reports, keeping up with the box scores, and watching the games for the fans who are able to, there are glaring problems the team is facing right now which are secrets to no one. With the non-waiver trading deadline long gone, Cashman is going to need to get a little creative and look within if the Yankees will be contenders this postseason, or perhaps see it at all.
Justus Sheffield needs to be on the roster right now. Sheffield is the crown jewel of the Yankees’ minor league system, and one of the best rated prospects in baseball. As was reported at Inquisitr, the MLB website has Sheffield rated as the player currently in the minors that can have the greatest impact on a team this postseason. The Yankees can’t afford to to rely on J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn continuing to look like the second and third coming of Aaron Small. C.C. Sabathia was getting outs, but is on the DL as of today. Should anyone else in the rotation go down, there are serious problems. The only current option on the roster to start is Sonny Gray, and based on his numbers this season, he is not a viable option. Plus, with Aroldis Chapman looking hurt and Zach Britton taking a while to adjust, Sheffield would be a nice arm in the pen if nothing else.
Sonny Gray needs to be traded sooner rather than later. Gray has not panned out in New York to the point that he’s now a very expensive mop-up man toiling in the bullpen. At this point in the season, it isn’t just that he has been sporadically effective at best, it’s about him eating up a roster spot and having money tied up in him that could help elsewhere. NJ.com has been reporting that there is some interest in Gray from small market teams, and moving Gray makes room for Sheffield. Gray has talent and will be good somewhere else, but right now the most help he can be to the team is being dealt for roster space and prospects.
The Yankees need a healthy outfielder. Jacoby Ellsbury is not coming back this year, or maybe ever. Giancarlo Stanton has leg problems and is barely able to DH at this point. Aaron Judge is still two to three weeks out if his rehab progresses on schedule. Shane Robinson is a competent ballplayer, but he’s not the guy you need down the stretch. Popping Neil Walker into the lineup where he’s appeared a handful of times in his career is not the answer. Josh Donaldson and Curtis Granderson can be had in a swap, and while Donaldson is a bit pricey and has questionable health, Granderson could help immediately, as per the Inquisitr.
Miguel Andujar has to improve defensively right now. Andujar is putting up a great slash line offensively which is making him a serious Rookie of the Year contender, but his defense is statistically abysmal. He has committed the fifth most errors among all third basemen, and as reported by NJ.com, most metrics have him rated as the worst defensive infielder in baseball by a significant margin. Since the Yankees don’t really have time to bring in someone to play late inning defense for him until the 40-man roster expansion arrives, he has to improve in the field right now. When runs are at a premium, the Yankees can’t afford to give them away with errors.
Masahiro Tanaka has to be dependable. It’s not just about taking the ball every fifth day, it’s about being a solid No. 2 starter that can go deep in games every start. Tanaka was hot last postseason, but this regular season he’s been inconsistent and only offered a glimmer of what he has done in the past. He’s good, he can be brilliant for a moment, but right now the Yankees need him to be very good on a regular basis as baseball analyst Brendan Kuty stated in his column at NJ.com.
Whether Cashman will stand pat or not due to Hal Steinbrenner’s mandate to not take the payroll above the luxury tax cap, or believing that everything is going to work out fine when the team is healthy, remains to be seen. What is known is that analysts who follow the team every day have identified weaknesses that can be fixed and need to be fixed if the Yankees expect to be playing meaningful games in October.