Readers of an earlier post today got me thinking, and they may be onto something. It’s not Boone; it’s the Yankees brass pushing his buttons.
The Yankees strategy in Game 2 of the ADLS was filled with controversial moves and decisions, along with pre-game decisions that might have had an even greater impact on the game itself.
The purported “fake out” of the Rays sending rookie Deivi Garcia out as the quasi starter, bringing in J.A. Happ in an unfamiliar situation earlier than he or anyone else anticipated, and starting Gary Sanchez over Kyle Higashioka, all make for media fodder with Aaron Boone taking the heat.
Initially, I concurred, writing a column earlier today, placing Boone as the scapegoat for faulty decisions that resulted in a loss to the Rays, allowing them to tie the ALDS at a game apiece.
Readers Just Might Know Better
All afternoon though, a barrage of reader’s comments have indicated the genuine chance that Brian Cashman and his “state of the art” analytics staff are the real movers behind the scenes, leaving Boone out to dry to answer his “critics” in the media.
A few even suggested that Aaron Boone is being set up for replacement as the Yankees manager if – well – you can guess the rest.
In the previous column, I mentioned that Boone violated a cardinal rule all managers seek to follow. That is, you never put one of your players in a situation where chances are he’s going to fail.
You do this for the Yankees team, but you also do it for your players. Aaron Boone, if nothing else, is in this for the players in his clubhouse.
He is meticulous, almost to a fault, as in the case of Gary Sanchez, in backing his players, even when support is questionable.
Never mind that Deivi Garcia was inserted as the phantom Game 2 starter disguised as an “opener.”
Instead, it’s better to concentrate on Happ’s appearance in the second inning of the game and recall that of Happ’s more than 300 games over 14 years, only 26 times has he been called on to pitch in relief.
The stat boys can get on their horse, but I would bet the house Happ has never appeared in a game he was not starting that early in a game.
Yankees Brass – Are They Responsible Here As Well?
There’s more, though, and another question is why Gary Sanchez was given the start over Higashioka. The results don’t matter (0-4, three strikeouts, 0-2 with men on base, and a passed ball) as much as what went into the initial decision to alter the Yankees lineup after a win Tuesday night.
It can be argued that Sanchez was a major influence on the Yankees decision to fire Joe Girardi.
Yankees fans recall Joe Girardi standing toe-to-toe with Sanchez in the Yankees dugout with YES cameras red light on, spewing words that spelled laziness and indifference to blocking balls in the dirt from Luis Severino, which happens to be his bread-and-butter pitch.
The thinking among Yankees fans is Aaron Boone is being hung out to dry unless, of course, the Yankees go all the way to capture #28 following a decade long drought.
Nor is Boone Joe Torre, who inherited the team of destiny that swept through the 90s with the fierce intensity of an F-22 Raptor landing on the sparse landing strip of an aircraft carrier.
Boone is what he is, an ESPN analyst plucked out of what was becoming a comfort zone to the fire of New York, and more significantly, the New York Yankees.
Yankees: If This Is Cashman’s Team – Then What?
Brian Cashman may have thought he completed his job as GM when he brought his self-proclaimed White Whale, Gerrit Cole, to be the Yankees staff’s ace.
But when you look at it, this is the same Yankees team who, as Aaron Judge so honestly decided after last year, has been a “failing” team in the only season that matters – the playoffs. And he’s sick of it, too.
Where this goes from here is anyone’s guess. Readers have generally soured on Aaron Boone, and few would raise Cain if he were dismissed after this season.
No matter how you look at it, though, Aaron Boone is not the crux of the Yankees problems.
Instead, he is merely the face of those same problems, thrust out daily much like the White House Press Secretary to defend decisions she has had no part in making.
The Yankees and their fans are challenged to recall the days of the Baby Bombers, the players who were hyped to be those who would replace the Core Five, leading the Yankees to the next generation of dominance.
Ranked among teams by age, the Yankees finished an inglorious sixth with an average age of 30. Time is wasting, and Brian Cashman knows it, lest he is on the hot seat in the perpetual New York merry-go-round.
In the midst of the ALDS and (hopefully) what is yet to come, we don’t need to further dwell on this. It’s a discussion more appropriate for the offseason.
If indeed, Aaron Boone has descended to the role of a puppet for Cashman and his ever-expanding ego, so be it.
Game 3 is hours away, and none of the Yankees clubhouse’s 28 players have anything to do with this.
It always comes down to the players, not the suits in the front office, which is reason to believe this Yankees team’s resilience will prove to be enough to scramble through the bushes to secure that elusive 28th World Championship this year.
Stay tuned, though; this is certainly a theme we’ll want to follow in the coming weeks and months.