Aaron Boone is confident his team is not derailed, and recent scuffles with his players are nothing more than a hiccup. No reason to doubt him.
Aaron Boone has two consecutive 100-win seasons behind him, and neither one came easy. Last year, the Yankees set a major league record with thirty players taking separate trips to the Injured List, and from the looks of it, this year is proving to be no different.
The lineup card Boone draws up each night is never complete without a trip through the clubhouse or a meeting with his coaches to learn who’s going (tonight) and who can’t go.
A three-game layoff imposed by MLB postponing the Subway Series with the Mets due to at least two players or coaches testing positive for COVID-19 may or may not prove to be a blessing.
But one thing Aaron Boone does know is that whenever the Yankees do play their next game, he will be drawing a line through the names of Giancarlo Stanton, Tommy Kahnle, DJ LeMahieu, Zack Britton, James Paxton, Luis Avilan, backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, and Gleyber Torres.
Aaron Boone Wading Through Familiar Territory
This is not unfamiliar territory for Aaron Boone, and The Replacements are still major league ready players who would find themselves as regular’s in the lineup of most teams.
The trade deadline looms ahead in nine days, and typically Brian Cashman is keeping things close to his vest if trades are in the making. Or if he intends to follow last season’s pattern – essentially telling Aaron Boone: “Deal with it, we’re good enough to win”.
A three-game sweep earlier this week by the Tampa Bay Rays in the Yankees home ballpark, together with the realization by the Yankees that “these guys are good” didn’t help, leaving the Bombers in first place by a mere .007 percentage points.
Aaron Boone: The Man With The Golden Tongue
Dogfights with opposing teams, Aaron Boone, are used to coping with by trade. Scuffles with his players, however, is something new.
The “disagreement” between Boone and Yankees ace Gerrit Cole involved Cole’s anger at being lifted in a tie game with two outs in the seventh inning of an eventual Yankees’ loss, was reported on in detail in yesterday’s column.
Aaron Judge, who is due to come off the IL today and would be playing tonight save for a postponement, was not as vocal as Cole, but the message was the same – put me in coach, I’m ready to play.
Judge did not understand why he was placed on the IL in the first place, telling the Yankees at one point he was 100%.
Glaring at Boone and the Yankee front office sat Aaron Judge as one of the hottest hitters in the league (.290, 9HR, 20RBI, and a whopping 191 OPS+ (meaning his value was higher than 91% of the players in the league.
As always, though, the Yankees have the final word, and Aaron Boone is left with little recourse but to follow through with the plan. His job is to protect the financial investment the team has in both players, especially Gerrit Cole, and to play for tomorrow as much as for today.
No Harm, No Foul
Still, this is a first for Aaron Boone, who is not used to being called out by his players, especially when words reach the back pages of New York newspapers.
With Cole, however, it’s still part of the getting to know you phase of their relationship. Boone and Cole spent some time playing catch in each other’s back yard during the three-month lull, but nothing reaches the level of game-time competition.
A consummate professional himself, Aaron Boone put things in perspective with regards to Cole:
Aaron Boone: Ready For Anything In A See-Saw Season
And so it is in this see-saw, be ready for anything, 2020 season. Look around, and there is comfort everywhere with teams facing hurdles well beyond those the Yankees are dealing with.
The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, are trying to play 43 games in 34 days as of yesterday, and the Miami Marlins entry on the daily transaction wire is still louder and longer than any other team as they try to field a team previously decimated by the virus.
When Aaron Boone was plucked from the ESPN TV booth, the top of his resume boasted an uncanny ability to communicate. Nothing has changed, it’s only that the stakes have gotten higher. If he says, “We got this,” – they do.