New York Yankee fans over the past week have been trying to swallow a bitter pill, another early exit to the postseason. First, they lost the wild card game against their traditional rivals, the Boston Red Sox. Now they have to sit back and watch teams they really don’t like advance to World Series play. The Yankees have now not even played in a World Series contest since 2009. Twelve years of pain, and Yankee fans want answers.
The blame game is in full swing, with some blaming the underperforming players, the coaches, the manager, and even the front office and the analytics department. But without a doubt to the most significant debate has been if Aaron Boone should be fired now that his contract will be over at the end of the World Series.
Opinions vary widely, but I think one thing is for sure with the highest payroll in baseball since they last won the Championship, something is not working. The team also didn’t win another World Championship after 2009 when Joe Girardi was still manager. I have constantly believed that there is some problem in the analytics department on how they use the analytics what they have to interrupt. How they convey it to the manager, and then they don’t give the manager the ability to override those when his gut sees something different happening that day or on the field when a decision has to be made.
I have heard (no proof) that at times more than a dozen people in the front office sit around a table and decide that day’s lineup. That is just wrong if true. No one has a better handle on how the club or individual players are playing than the manager; based on what is happening that day, analytics are based over time and do not necessarily pertain to what would happen on a particular day or game.
Obviously, the New York Yankees hired a manager they thought would be open to or at least accept front office rule. The Yankees would never hire a manager like Billy Martin, who would want complete control over what happens on the field. Maybe that is what is wrong.
In this writer’s opinion, the New York Yankees need a shakeup. Deceased owner George Steinbrenner would never stand for all this nonsense that has kept the team from winning it all. Hal is not his father’s son, he is not the same baseball man he was, and he depends on his organization to operate the club, with his contribution being that of allocating the funds he wants to spend. You have to remember Boone did not acquire the players he has to perform with; the front office and general manager Brian Cashman did that.
I nevertheless don’t think that Aaron Boone is the best manager for the job, as he and his coaches have failed to motivate a team of mostly quality players. This season Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton performed to expectations. However, the rest of the team underperformed for the most part, and I hold Boone primarily responsible for that. When a player in the cleanup spot (or any other spot) is not performing, Boone needs to bark and throw the analytics out. I also don’t believe he has used his bullpen to the best of their abilities.
The Yankees have been saddled with injuries and Covid related issues at times in the season, but so has every other team. They have been more than lucky to have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton healthy for a complete season. If the Tampa Bay Rays operate on a shoestring budget and get faceless players and motivate them to be at their best, the Yankees should also be able to do it. Their front office and manager operate to a higher standard, and it’s that simple.
Getting back to if Aaron Boone should be replaced. I don’t think it makes a difference who has field control if the front office makes all the decisions and passes them down to the manager to follow. The Yankees need a strong manager with complete knowledge of baseball and how to use both analytics and his gut to get the best out of his team.
Recently, Michael Kay, Buster Olney, Bryan Hoch, and others say that the Yankees organization is “leaning toward” keeping both Cashman and Boone. Some have pointed out that if he leaves, the Yankees he is under consideration as the new manager of the San Diego Padres. We will know sooner than later, as no changes to the team will be made before we hear the final decision on management changes.
I conducted a very short poll across Facebook Yankees groups to get the pulse on Yankees fans and if they thought Boone should go. This was a very unscientific poll and only involved 139 responses, but all groups had similar percentages. I gave those groups three options. 1. Boone stinks and should be let go. 2. Boone has done a great job; keep him. 3. I’m not sure as I don’t know how much he is responsible for. Here is how the poll turned out. He should go 36.25%, great job, 7%, not sure 56.75%. I would imagine that the percentages would be similar among a larger number of responses; if not, I will update this article.
EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for America Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.