BOSTON — Fasten your strait jackets. Bounce off the walls a couple times, make sure the rubber is sound.
Because the Yankees’ only path forward — in all honesty and no matter how painful it seems — is to keep doing the same thing over and over and hope for a different result. They have to embrace Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Really, there’s really no other option. Just look at the American League East standings after the Yankees’ latest “worst loss of the year” candidate, a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.
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Winning the division is all but out of the question with the Yankees nine games back of the first-place Red Sox. But the Wild Card? Just 3 1/2 games separated manager Aaron Boone’s club from the second spot, and with 64 games remaining, that’s not exactly crossing the Atlantic in a paddle boat. It’s doable.
But now isn’t the time for major changes, no matter how tempting they might be with the trade deadline looming Friday.
Now isn’t the time to dream of that one big deal that will make foes fear the pinstripes again.
Because this team has too many warts and they can’t all be treated externally. You saw each of them Sunday and through the four-game set that the Yankees lost, 3-1.
If it wasn’t the starting pitching (Domingo German nearly threw a no-hitter!), it was the bullpen (Jonathan Loaisiga blowing it Sunday and Brooks Kriske and Chad Green double-teaming for Thursday’s disaster). And if it wasn’t the defense (though they did make three errors to Boston’s zero), it was the bats (outscored 19-12).
“Definitely seems like over the last month (or) month a and half that we’ve had some really tough ones that we’ve had to get past or get through,” Boone said.
Well, they’re going to have to get through more as a group because the only answer now is for them to hope that they can perform like they’ve been expecting all season. There’s just not enough on the trade market to help them.
An honest assessment of the Yankees’ roster and discovers more holes than they have fingers to plug them with.
They need a new center fielder, an upgrade in left field, a left-handed bat or two (preferably ones that are contact-oriented), at least one starting pitcher since you can’t rely on the returns of Luis Severino or Corey Kluber, and a bullpen piece (or pieces) with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Chad Green taking turns going on the fritz, Darren O’Day (60-day injured list) basically done for the regular season and Justin Wilson a wreck.
Not to mention, Red Sox manager Alex Cora thought so little of the threat the struggling Giancarlo Stanton posed Sunday that he brought in a lefty to face him with the bases loaded and struck him out.
It’s all too much, and it’s not worth surrendering the top prospects (thinking Anthony Volpe or Jasson Dominguez) that it might to pry away a Max Scherzer from the Nationals if that means they’re still going to have problems in too many other areas.
Think about 2016, the last time the Yankees missed the playoffs. Back then, general manager Brian Cashman said he didn’t complete a trade with the White Sox for ace Chris Sale that would have decimated their prospect base because he said the Yankees weren’t “one piece away” from contention. Fast forward to now, and here the Yankees are again, far from one or even two weapons being enough to make a sizable difference.
“It’s like you find yourself on the top of the world and all of a sudden you’re free falling and you fall fast,” German said.
The right-hander was talking about the helpless feeling he had watching the Yankees blow his masterful start. But German might as well have been talking about how it’s felt for fans watching his team go 51-47 after taking World Series dreams into Opening Day.
But the Yankees will be getting Aaron Judge back from the COVID-19 injured list this week, and a marginal upgrade or two (Starling Marte? Max Kepler? Kyle Gibson?) could certainly keep the Yankees in contention for the Wild Card.
And the way to do that without also mortgaging the future is to hope their current group can keep pace. Just follow the street signs to insanity.
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