The Yankees are smack in the middle of trying to gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Come Sunday, Aaron Boone will have more headaches to deal with…
The Yankees and all other teams on their way to the postseason (thankfully) won’t have this problem to deal with come next season. But come Sunday, you’ll see the Yankee’s dugout occupied with as man as fifteen new players, all wearing the Pinstripes. That’s the day when MLB rules say teams can expand their roster to as many as forty players. They don’t have to, but they can.
Traditionally, the call-up is for players who have excelled this year in the Yankees farm system. It’s their reward – commonly called their “cup of coffee” in the major leagues. It’s their chance to shine, showing how far they have progressed this season, with an eye towards an invite to Spring Training next February.
Yankees Traffic Director: Aaron Boone
In order to achieve that progression, however, they need at-bats, innings pitched – playing time. For teams out of the race, managers will find it easy to accommodate those needs. But for someone like Aaron Boone, things get really complicated when it’s time to draw up a lineup. If these players play, a regular must sit, introducing a potential “scrimmage” of sorts within the clubhouse for playing time.
So far, Boone has been a magician in providing rest for his regular position players. His goal is to keep them fresh physically and mentally for the postseason. But the question arises – how much rest does DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, Gio Urshela need before they get stale from too much rest. Just try to tell Torres he can’t play today because we need to take a look at Player X.
General Manager Brian Cashman can help be limiting the number of players he brings up. Or at least, he can stagger the call-ups providing Aaron Boone some relief. Given the Yankees presence in the pennant chase, it wouldn’t be surprising if he limits the total call-ups to three or four max.
Taking a guess, Deivi Garcia (bullpen help), Clint Frazier (he deserves it), and Ryan McBroom, a power-hitting first baseman who has been raking all year, will be the chosen ones to begin. Others may follow, but it all depends.
But the main thrust of what will occur on Sunday is that Boone is going to be using his communication skills to the max. To avoid any friction, Boone needs to communicate individually with each of his players. This means advising them of a pre-set plan – this is how many at-bats you can expect to get this week.
A team meeting where he starts with an “Everyone needs to understand” speech will not do it. Game situations trump everything, but at least this provides a framework to stay within.
Discontents will be noted by Cashman, who is building his catalog of notes for offseason trades. Conversely, those who put the team ahead of themselves will receive a Gold Star on the Yankees resume.
Relief Is On The Way
Thankfully, both MLB and the Player’s Association realized it is a situation that needs correction. So, beginning next season, rosters on September 1st can only be expanded to 28 players. In return for that, the players receive a 26th man throughout the regular and postseasons.
As always, it comes down to dollars and cents. The owners have ever balked about pension time awarded to players called up in September.
And the players, of course, wanted that extra job at the major league level. In the process, everyone screws the younger and hungry players. Who’s not surprised?
Back to the present, though. The Yankees already have enough depth to cover, what is it now, 29 different players who have resided on the Injured List this year.
Home field advantage in the postseason (current standings here) is paramount to everything the Yankees are playing for now. The Yankees clubhouse, as it stands, is unified and ready for the charge, even after slogging through 140 games already.
It’s Aaron Boone’s, and to a lesser extent, Brian Cashman’s charge to ensure the boat doesn’t get rocked needlessly when the call-ups arrive this Sunday. Yankee Stadium is where the Yankees need to be in October…