The State of the State: New Jersey
July 18, 2023
A look at what’s happening on the New Jersey sports scene: Are the Yankees really dead in the water?
© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
‘Tis true. The New York Yankees just lost two out of three to baseball’s lowest of the low – the Colorado Rockies. Okay, so maybe the 2023 Colorado Rockies aren’t the A’s or Royals, but they’re not far off. They are, in fact, the worst team in the National League.
Heading into the season there was reason for optimism. Aaron Judge had been retained. Anthony Rizzo was brought in to bolster the lineup. And even Gerrit Cole was given some help in the form of various additions to the pitching staff. The Yankees never stand pat, and this offseason was certainly no exception.
The tides have turned, however, and the Yankees have been slowed by injuries and sideswiped by the steady Rays and surprise Orioles. Sitting in fourth place in the AL East, things suddenly don’t look so optimistic.
But are the Bronx Bombers really done? After all, it’s only July and last we checked, they’re still wearing pinstripes.
Why to like the Yankees to win the American League pennant (+1000)…
- There’s always the trade deadline and rarely do the New York Yankees just throw in the towel. That’s no guarantee, but if one had to bet on which team makes a big splash at the deadline, the Yankees are as good of a bet as any.
- Sean Casey has been given the job of hitting coach in New York. Casey can’t speed up Aaron Judge’s return, but perhaps he can build on the momentum the Yankees had the week prior to the All-Star break, where eight different players hit at least one home run, while five others had an OPS over .990.
- What if Judge returns? Lips are pretty sealed when it comes to saying an actual date, but the best news that came out of Colorado over the weekend was that Judge took batting practice and did some light running for the first time since his injury in early June.
- We’re only talking about the pennant – not the division. Yes, the Yankees are 9.0 games out of first place in the AL East, but they also have 50 wins. They don’t have to leapfrog the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays entirely, they just have to get into the postseason, where anything could happen. Surely that’s worth a wager at +1000.
Why not to like the Yankees to win the American League pennant (+1000)…
- It’s hard to like a team that’s grossly underachieved, and frankly, that’s exactly what the 2023 Yankees have done. It just feels like this isn’t the year in the Big Apple.
- Aaron Judge’s return is unknown. There’s no doubt that Judge’s return could give a major boost to the Yankees lackluster offense. There’s also no doubt that they’re likely not going anywhere without him. If the wait is too long, then so are the odds the Yankees can turn things around.
- While the pitching has been serviceable, thanks in large part to Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young-worthy season, the offense has been downright dreadful. The “bombers” rank 27th in MLB team batting average and 17th in total runs. That never cuts it in New York.
Richard DeMala’s pick: Texas Rangers to win the AL pennant (+450)