Expectations for the most prominent team in sports, at least on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, are as high as you can go. Every season, the New York Yankees are expected to make it to the World Series. Twenty-seven championships will have fans boo you for anything that doesn’t give you an opportunity to win another World Series. Some fans considered the Yankees 2017 season a nice surprise, and feel they clicked a year arly, considering the team was really young and was a game away from advancing to the World Series.
While on the subject of the Yankees success, the last time they have been to a World Series, and when they won one, was 2009. The team starred Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, and other stars. Since then, the team has changed tremendously with those players retired now.
Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Yankees. Including this season, the Yankees have made the postseason six times since their last World Series appearance.
Many changes have been made, and the team looks almost completely different. There are only two players still on the Yankees roster, that were on the 2009 World Series roster. Those two players would be David Robertson and Brett Gardner. So, clearly, you can tell that there has been a ton of change since then. And it was needed. The team as getting old, and despite being extremely talented, it was time for a new generation to take over. And that is where the Yankees are now, as they are now in the beginning stages of the new generation Yankees ball club.
20 Best: Signing Masahiro Tanaka
Yankee fans have high expectations, sometimes too high. The team signed Masahiro Tanaka in a time where they needed a starting pitcher. And Tanaka has been pretty consistent his whole career.
Through five seasons with the Bronx Bombers, he’s never finished with a losing record, and his ERA sits around 3.60.
For a team that has had problems with their starting rotation, you have to be happy with how Tanaka has performed. He’s been able to play in a tough stadium with a lot of pressure but been able to be very successful. He’s the type of pitcher that may never get the credit he deserves.
19 Bad: Signing Brian McCann
If the Yankees could have signed Brian McCann 10 years earlier, it would have been a great signing. But considering McCann had already been playing in the MLB for nine years, he was a little bit older. The Yankees needed to find a replacement for Jorge Posada, and at the time they couldn’t find a permanent replacement for Posada. And at the time, that is what they should’ve been looking for.
McCann wasn’t as good of a defensive player then, and his bat was struggling. The Braves moved on at the perfect time, right when McCann’s numbers began to plummet.
18 Best: Trading For J.A. Happ
In the midst of the 2018 season, the Yankees pitching rotation seemed like an issue. Trailing far behind the Red Sox in the AL East, the only way to keep up with them was by improving their rotation. To do that, they traded for J.A. Happ, from the Toronto Blue Jays. Coming into the pressure, Happ has looked really good. While the Yankees couldn't win the AL East, Happ did his part
Happ has provided good pitching, winning ball games, and that's everything the Yankees need. In order to be a playoff contender, they needed to improve the rotation. With Happ as part of the rotation heading into the playoffs, the Yankees could hang deeper with other teams.
17 Bad: Signed Travis Hafner
For quite some time, Travis Hafner was one of the better power hitters in the MLB. Between 2004 and 2007, he was a solid hitter. But since then, his bat struggled until the end of his career.
So, to put into perspective, the Yankees signed Hafner six years after his prime. Not that they were expecting that type of production, but it was a lazy signing.
Hafner lasted one season, finishing with a .202 batting average. He was still hitting a solid amount of balls over the fence, but he finished with the second worst batting average of his career.
16 Best: Adding Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson In 2017
One way to improve a bullpen is trading for new relievers. In the summer of 2017, the Yankees acquired Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson from the Pittsburgh Pirates through a trade. Looking back at the trade, it really helped this bullpen. Frazier wasn’t too bad with the Yankees but now is with the Mets. Kahnle and Robertson are still with the team, part of one of the best bullpens in baseball. In a matter of one trade, the Yankees have immediately improved their bullpen. Kahnle is a hard throwing receiver that can pitch whenever, and Robertson is basically a closer who’s been used as a set-up man.
15 Bad: Traded Chad Qualls
Most fans probably didn’t even realize that Chad Qualls played for the Yankees. He pitched eight games for the Bombers, finishing with a 6.14 ERA. The 2012 season can be considered one the worst seasons of Qualls’ career. So, due to his struggles, the Yankees traded him right before the trade deadline. And instead, they acquired Casey McGehee from the Pirates.
McGehee was even worse. He played in 22 games, finished with a home run, six RBIs and a 1.151 batting average. Despite a good 2014 season, his career really fell apart. But the Yankees lost out simply because Qualls had another solid three seasons after being traded.
14 Best: Drafted Gary Sanchez
Different fans may have different opinions, but at the end of the day, drafting Gary Sanchez was a smart move. The Yankees needed a replacement for Jorge Posada, and although some fans are frustrated with Sanchez’s effort, he’s important to this team.
It’s really hard to beat a bat like Sanchez when talking about hitters behind the plate.
Sanchez definitely had a down year in 2018, as he's battied under .200, but finished the past two seasons with at least a .270 batting average and 20 home runs. If Sanchez can get back on track, he can become one of the best catchers in the MLB.
13 Bad: Let Hiroki Kuroda Leave For Japan
Like we stated, many players are underappreciated in New York because of how high expectations are for players. Hiroki Kuroda only played seven seasons in the MLB, including three with the Yankees, before taking off to finish his career in Japan. The Yankees would've probably avoided signing him to a big deal, considering his age at the time. Japan wasn't paying him much either, as he took a pretty big pay cut to play back there.
But, Kuroda was an ace. Through three seasons he finished with a 38-33 record, 3.44 ERA, pitching 620 innings. He was a solid starter that because the Yankees didn’t want to pay, but they let him move on to play for Japan.
12 Best: Signed Miguel Andujar
With Aaron Judge out, a hot bat is what the Yankees needed this season. Although it may not be Judge, Miguel Andujar has been a great addition for possibly the best lineup in baseball, or at least one of them.
In his rookie season, he hit 27 home runs and drove in 92 runs. On top of that, his batting average nearly hit the .300 mark at .297.
The Yankees have felt so comfortable with him, that they moved on from Brandon Drury. Drury could potentially start elsewhere, but with how well Andujar is playing, it’s hard to give him any playing time.
11 Bad: Traded Carlos Beltran
Before the Yankees really saw those stars emerge in the past two seasons, Carlos Beltran was one of the power hitters on the team. Fans were excited to see Beltran play with the Yankees, after playing with the Mets for seven seasons. And it’s crazy to think about it, but Beltran played nearly three seasons with the Bronx Bombers. And he was dominant.
At the time, the Yankees may have begun to realize what they had. They traded away one of their best hitters at the time to the Texas Rangers, in hopes that the young stars’ bats would come to life.
10 Best: Traded For Aaron Hicks
A solid move made that went under the radar took place when the Yankees traded for Aaron Hicks. The Yankees sent catcher Ryan Murphy to acquire the 26-year old outfielder and considering the talent around him, acquiring Hicks was a big move.
Hicks’s prime has really been as a Yankee, especially this season. He’s showing a lot of power, and being a lot more patient. Already, Hicks has almost double the number of walks he’s had in his best seasons this year. Hopefully, the Yankees will stay smart and keep him, because he’s been a really good addition, especially with the injuries the team has faced.
9 Bad: Signed Kevin Youkilis
An outsider came in, as Kevin Youkilis showed some love for the Yankees for the first time in his career. During the darkest days of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, he signed with the Yankees in the last season of his career.
When he was in the prime of his career, if you told Red Sox fans that Youkilis would end up finishing his career as a Yankee, they would have thought you were crazy.
Even Youkilis may think so. He struggled at the plate, recording his lowest batting average in his career with a .219. It was a bad signing, but an even worse way for Youkilis to end his career.
8 Best: Acquired Didi Gregorius
Filling in the shoes of Derek Jeter may have been one of the hardest things to do in a professional baseball player’s career. Jeter set expectations of how players should be on and off the field. He became more than just a Yankee player, but a role model for New York. When he retired, the organization stated that they were in no rush to replace Jeter.
When they first were involved with a three-way trade that helped them land Didi Gregorius, most fans didn’t think it would work out. He was struggling defensively and at the plate. But in 2018, he became a fan favorite. With his post-game tweets and great play, fans began to love him.
7 Bad: Let Go Of Curtis Granderson
The idea of moving on from Curtis Granderson could make sense, but it also doesn’t. Granderson missed over 100 games in his final season with the Yankees, so the team decided it was best to move forward without him. But, that was after he hit 40 home runs in back to back seasons previously.
Granderson was in the prime of his career, and an injury shouldn’t force a team to move on. He never hit 40 home runs again in his career, but he did show power with the Mets, hitting 30 home runs in 2016. The Yankees may have been able to get him for cheap, and brought back a power hitter.
6 Best: Trade For Giancarlo Stanton
MLB fans were shocked when the news broke that the Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. It led to some resentment from Marlins fans directed towards Derek Jeter, and some more love from Yankees fans. Jeter had some influence on the decision, which did not sit well with Marlins fans.
At first, Stanton struggled. Following a slow start, he improved.
Stanton is what makes that Yankees lineup so dangerous. You add a guy that can hit 50 home runs in a season, along with another guy that can do the same and it frightens pitchers. Not to mention, Stanton had one of the better seasons in his career.
5 Bad: Signed Jacoby Ellsbury
One of the worst signings in MLB history was when the Yankees signed Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year deal worth $153 million. In this instance, the Red Sox got a nice laugh. Despite his 2011 season when Ellsbury actually looked like a star, he did not deserve this contract. Maybe the Yankees thought that 2013 would be what the future looks like, and they decided to jump the ball. But even if, they could have got away with signing him for cheaper.
Ellsbury hasn’t even played in 2018 due to injuries. The only season that you could argue Ellsbury lived up to his contract was his first year in pinstripes in 2014.
4 Best: Traded Aroldis Chapman, Then Re-Signed Him
Sometimes, trading star players can be beneficial. In one of the greatest trades in Yankees history, they traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for Gleyber Torres. At the time, it seemed like a bad move. Looking back at it now, Yankees fans can do nothing but smirk.
Chapman ended up re-signing with the Yankees the following offseason, despite winning a World Series with the Cubs. Torres became the starting second baseman and has a lot of potential to be a key bat in the lineup. At the end of this trade, they lost one star and ended up gaining two. Smart move by the Yankees.
3 Bad: Parted Ways With Joe Girardi
Fans were not happy when the Yankees won only one road game in the 2017 playoffs, considering they were up three games to two against the Astros in the ALCS. Girardi and the Yankees parted ways following the 2017 season, despite all the progress that was made by a young team that just couldn’t get it done on the road.
His replacement became Aaron Boone, former Yankees third baseman.
Boone is known for a heroic home run that sent the Yankees to the World Series in 2003. Unfortunately, that home run is history for Yankees fans. Boone’s inability to allow his team to overcome injuries and his use of the bullpen has made him a divisive figure in the Bronx.
2 Best: Drafted Aaron Judge
Drafted with the 32nd overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, the New York Yankees selected a star in Aaron Judge. Everyone was worried that this team couldn’t succeed without Derek Jeter and that there would never be another Jeter. And while there will never be another Jeter, there is an Aaron Judge.
Judge has a similar personality that works well with Yankee fans. And on top of that, he’s a hell of a hitter. Unlike Jeter, Judge has a lot of power and is a great defender in the outfield. Judge is the key piece that the Yankees needed, that will help lead them to their next World Series.
1 Bad: Moved On From Robinson Cano
Yes, the Yankees saved a ton of money by moving on from Robinson Cano. But at the time, that was their star player. It took a few years until Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton took over. The Yankees would probably stay content with their decision, considering Cano hasn’t played as well lately. But if they could have given him a massive three-year deal to play it out, it may have benefited them. It’s better than paying $153 million for a backup.
Cano was a special player and worked perfectly with Jeter. Maybe that is why the Yankees felt it was time for him to go too.