New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman admitted the obvious Wednesday.
Speaking with reporters while the team was on a nine-game losing streak, its longest since 1982, Cashman responded to the first question by calling this season "a disaster" and questioning whether anyone could've seen it coming.
"It's been a disaster, this season," he said. "It's definitely a shock. Certainly, I don't think anybody on our side of the fence, from our player group, from our coaches, our manager or even outside the organization, would've predicted this."
The team's season is all but over, given that it's 9.5 games back from the third AL wild-card spot. The nine-game losing streak included sweeps at the hands of the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox.
The streak finally ended Wednesday, with a blowout 9-1 win over the Washington Nationals. Yankees star Aaron Judge hit three home runs in the contest, marking the first three-homer game of his career. With the victory, the Yankees improved to 61-65.
So much has gone wrong for a team that a major projection system viewed as the best team in baseball before the season, from injuries to underperformance to plain bad luck. And there have been some embarrassing missteps along the way.
Cashman said that New York will take the time it usually spends in the playoffs to evaluate what went wrong this year and that he has already had several meetings with chairman Hal Steinbrenner:
"Well, we're gonna evaluate it all, clearly. Unfortunately, we're gonna have some time to do that. But let's 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 up to and tasked with. I certainly met with 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 here."
The Yankees haven't finished below .500 since 1992 and are obviously on pace for that. Even when they last missed the playoffs in 2016, they got something out of it by trading names such as Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller for significant prospects. They didn't do that this season, with deals to add relievers Keynan Middleton and Spencer Howard representing their only trade-deadline moves.
The big question now is if there is any reason to hope the Yankees will be better next season. They might be healthier, yes, but that's never a guarantee when everyone will be a year older. If they don't improve, the seats might get hot for both Cashman and manager Aaron Boone.
Cashman at least promised that the issue hasn't been a lack of trying among players:
"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 when you're bad ... I can just tell you, putting yourself into a player's seat, if they're at the plate, for instance, they do not want to fail. 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 to stop what's happening to us or is occurring now for a sustained period of time."