Yankees facing big point of 2022 season

Yankees facing big point of 2022 season

We know how good the Yankees have been so far this season, at least when they’re not playing their personal Bogey Men, which means the Astros. The Yankees lost two more to the Astros at Minute Maid Park coming out of the All-Star break on Thursday, the way they lost the last two games of the 2017 American League Championship Series there and the way they lost Game 6 of the ’19 ALCS.

But the Yankees still come into the weekend having the best record in baseball, though not by a lot — two games ahead of the Astros in the loss column as the two teams fight for best record in the AL, and tied at 30 losses with the Dodgers. The Yankees are still running away with things in the AL East and probably will continue to do that. Just not running away from the world.

There was this idea a month or so ago that the Yankees’ only real competition was against history, how they matched up with great Yankees teams of the past. And maybe by the end of this season, we’re going to be having that exact same conversation about them. Just not right now, because the Yankees have reminded us over the past couple of weeks just how long the season is, no matter how much you’ve mostly steamrolled the competition so far.

The Yankees are really good. Maybe great in the end. Everybody can see that. But what we don’t know right know is what Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is seeing, and just how good he thinks the 2022 team he’s built really is.

We’ve already seen how brilliantly the Yankees were built for the half-season that’s already been played. We may find out, come September, how well it was built for a full regular season. What Cashman is going to have to decide by the Trade Deadline is what kind of Yankees team he sees in October, when the money is thrown on the table as the Yankees will try to not just make it back to the Fall Classic, but win their first World Series since 2009.

The last time the Yankees were this long between Fall Classic appearances was between 1981 and 1996, when Derek Jeter showed up at the old Stadium and Joe Torre’s Yankees began to shake down old thunder and old glory. It began the process of winning four World Series in five years and nearly winning six and showing how well they stood in there against history, and the very best Yankee teams of them all, and not just for one half-season.

Are these Yankees good enough to be great, go through the Astros — finally — if they have to and maybe the Dodgers in an old-school Yankees-Dodgers Series? We’re going to find out. First, we’re going to find out if Cashman sees the 64-30 record that the Yankees take into Baltimore as nothing more than a first-half first draft of Yankees history.

Do the Yankees really go for Juan Soto and face the prospect of perhaps having — yikes four contracts whose total value exceeds $300 million (Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, at least if Judge stays and get paid in New York) on the same team? Do the Yankees try to build one of those NBA super teams, even seeing what has happened to that concept in pro basketball lately, primarily with the Brooklyn Nets? Do the Yankees, at least symbolically, really throw the money on the table now with Soto?

The Yankees are still loaded, and deep, and dangerous. On Thursday, in both games of the doubleheader they lost, the Yankees tied Game 1 in the ninth inning, and then brought the potential tying run to the plate in a Game 2 they were losing, 7-2, going into the ninth. All season long, there hasn’t been a more relentless ninth-inning team in the game than the Yankees. Even when they end up losing, it seems they always give themselves a late-inning chance to win.

But they also lost two of three to the Reds before the break. They finish their season series with the Houston Bogey Men having lost five of seven.

“The narrative’s not going to change till you beat [the Astros] in the playoffs, if that day comes,’’ manager Aaron Boone said on Thursday. “We beat them four out of six last year and where did that get us? I understand it’s a big story in the season we’re in. It’s not going to matter till October. If we happen to come back here in October, we’re going to show up. We’re going to expect to win.”

We are more than two months from baseball’s October season. For now, the only season that matters to Yankees fans is the one between now and the Trade Deadline. Do they really go for Soto, even knowing they’re going to have to pay Judge after the season to keep him? Or has Cashman only had eyes for Luis Castillo all along?

Again: We know how good the Yankees have been. But how good does Cashman think they are?

We’re about to find out. Quickly.

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