NEW YORK -- Amid a nine-game losing streak that has seen the Yankees fall from the bubble of postseason contention to playoff long shots, the organization has been forced to take stock of what exactly has gone wrong in the Bronx.
That responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of general manager Brian Cashman, the head of the baseball operations department, who addressed the media on Wednesday night and fully admitted that the 2023 season has not panned out the way the Yankees intended.
“It’s been a disaster this season, and yes, definitely a shock,” Cashman said. “Certainly, I don't think anybody on our side of the fence, from our player group, coaches, manager, or even outside the organization, would have predicted this.”
On Opening Day, the Yankees had the highest projected odds of making the postseason of any team in the American League, per FanGraphs, at 81.2 percent -- better even than the reigning World Series champion Astros. Now, with six weeks remaining in the regular season, New York sits more than 10 games back in the AL Wild Card chase, even with the expanded playoffs.
Though the Yankees are not mathematically eliminated from contention, Cashman acknowledged the “bad spot” they are in, with FanGraphs giving them less than a 1 percent chance of playing baseball past Oct. 1. It would be the first time the Yankees missed the playoffs since 2016.
So what went wrong?
“We're going to evaluate it all, clearly. Unfortunately, we're going to have some time to do that,” Cashman said. “But I’d say everybody's had a little bit of a hand in it from top to bottom, and it's our job to find out where. Obviously that's what we're going to be tasked with. I certainly met with [Yankees managing general partner] Hal Steinbrenner on several occasions already, and this is not something we're accustomed to or used to. There's definitely going to be a lot of internal assessments going on.”
While Cashman didn’t divulge what those assessments will entail specifically, he noted that his group will have to be “objective” while taking a hard look at every part of the operation, adding “that’s what losing teams do.”
“It has a number of different buckets,” Cashman said. “You got the injury bucket to evaluate, if they could have been prevented or not. You got the unexpected poor performance bucket. And then everything else, whether it's development, analytics, performance science, whatever. So there's a lot of different buckets that are going to get evaluated.”
At five games below .500, the Yankees (60-65) have been in last place in the AL East for more than a month and are threatening to end a season there for the first time since 1990. New York has not finished with a record below .500 since ‘92, a 30-year streak that ranks second in Major League history.
Despite the Yankees’ struggles, Cashman does not think they have given up on this year, a sentiment that has been echoed by manager Aaron Boone and players in the clubhouse throughout the skid.
“The fight is there. The care is there. The intent is there. Being a part of this organization for quite some time, I do know the difference,” Cashman said. “… Putting yourself into a player's seat, if they're at the plate, for instance, they do not want to fail, or if they're on the mound, they do not want to fail, either. And they're all collectively trying to do the best they possibly can to stop what's happening to us, or what’s occurring now for a sustained period of time.”
Whether that’s the start of a committed push toward 2024 remains to be seen, but Cashman made it clear that the Yankees have no one to blame but themselves.
“If the die is cast, so be it. We are what our record says we are, and we're certainly not proud of it,” Cashman said. “It's been a disaster of a season. We're embarrassed by it. But there's still time on the clock for us to find a way to turn it around while we're still active, and then learn as much as we possibly can about the players that are out there and use that in our decision-making process moving forward.”