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BOSTON — When did it reach the tipping point for you?
Was it Gerrit Cole’s very first pitch of the steamy afternoon, clobbered over the Green Monster by Kiké Hernandez?
Was it the Houdini-like escape work of Red Sox reliever Garrett Whitlock — plucked from the Yankees last winter when they left the right-hander unprotected in the Rule 5 draft — as he struck out DJ LeMahieu and retired Aaron Judge on a pop out to first to strand three Yankees runners in the top of the seventh inning?
Was it the throwing error by Gleyber Torres, his defense regressing just as his offense showed signs of life, in the third? How about Xander Bogaerts’ high double to left field, with an expected batting average of .030, that Miguel Andujar couldn’t handle?
Regardless of when you arrived, this absolute masterpiece of ugly baseball, the Yankees’ 9-2 loss to the Red Sox Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park surely got you there by the end, to the tune of Bosox fans chanting, “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!”
And it’s time for the patient-to-a-fault Yankees to act, if not by firing people then at least by demoting them. By sending a message to this group that what’s going on is unacceptable.
When you factor in the makeup of this team, who’s performing and who isn’t and what internal replacements reside, this recommendation makes the most sense:
Aaron Boone, asked about shaking things up with a roster move, said, “We can’t wait and look around for a magic move to make us better.” Asked specifically about an internal move, Boone said, “We’re obviously always talking about those kinds of things.”
Back in fourth place in the American League East, 0-6 against the Red Sox this season, the Yankees (40-37) again exhibited a glass jaw, entering New England on a 7-2 upswing, losing a pair of close games and then suffering Sunday’s blowout. It’s just a terrible look, compounded by the reality that the Yankees exhibited similar streakiness during the 2020 COVID-shortened schedule.
I’m already on record that Boone, Brian Cashman and hitting coach Marcus Thames deserve the opportunity to work their way out of this mess, and when they get “popped in the mouth,” as Boone said Sunday, working their way out of it involves a shake-up. If Hal Steinbrenner deserves credit for not overreacting as his late father often did, one can be guilty of underreacting, too.
Hence some roster turnover, with the trade deadline a month-plus away and this team’s effort to date not really meriting a huge, win-now deal. Frazier, having lost his everyday outfield job to Andujar, stands as the top candidate by virtue of his highly disappointing .634 OPS and his alarmingly worsening defense in the outfield. Then again, Andujar merely edges Frazier with a .647 OPS and his outfield inexperience shows itself as consistently as the Yankees’ overall inconsistency (a correlation exists), so you could make a case for him, too.
To call up the 23-year-old Florial, who went 3-for-6 Sunday to raise his Triple-A OPS to .734 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, would be committing to start him most days in center field, which might very well be a good plan. What do the Yankees have to lose? Save Brett Gardner for the occasional start, defense and pinch running. The 25-year-old Park, a lefty hitter like Florial, could be more of a jack of all trades, balancing the lineup and offering some defensive versatility. He has played at second base, third base, shortstop and center field and owns an extremely impressive 1.134 OPS.
Cole, asked to explain his team’s roller-coaster nature, offered, “It seems to be something slightly different every time, but the common theme is that we don’t get the job done.” Agreed. So now it’s time to try to do the job differently. Because these guys are running out of time, ideas and, worst of all, relevance.
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