Despite having the second best record in baseball, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone’s ability to manage the team is being called into question by more than just disgruntled fans. Boone has his supporters to be sure, but the list of critics with valid concerns is growing, and making poor managerial choices that lead to losses is not doing him any favors. A perfect example of what his critics are talking about was his decision-making process in the Yankees last game against the Florida Marlins in which a two-run sixth inning lead turned into a “dumpster fire,” according to NJ Advance Media.
The Yankees two-run lead evaporated on a pair of infield hits chased down with a homer to left. The game quickly spiraled out of control as Chance Adams, who just came up from AAA, surrendered four more runs in under two innings of work. The rationale Boone gave for what the press cited as “surrendering the game” was that he needed starter Lance Lynn to go deep so the bullpen could get rest. He said he had guys to go to if the game was close, but didn’t. The press readily pointed out his answer made no sense.
“We would have gone to (Chad) Green if it would have got to one (run down) or better, but what we’re getting ready to come up against and not wanting to go too much to our high-leverage guys, we tried squeezing a couple innings out of Chance.”
The problem beat writers such as Randy Miller at NJ.com had with this is that his answer is nonsense. Even with closer Aroldis Chapman on the 10-day DL, and David Robertson possibly having a sore shoulder, the Yankees had Zach Britton and Dellin Betances to throw the last two innings. With Lynn through five successfully, Tommy Kahnle and A.J. Cole could have pitched in the sixth and seventh innings instead of coming in for the eighth and ninth. Boone’s goal was to save the bullpen, but he used three relievers anyway, and not in a way that made any sense.
There was no need to push Lynn or save the bullpen as the Yankees follow the game up with a day off. Furthermore, what the Yankees have coming up after that is the MLB worst Baltimore Orioles who are 51 games under 0.500. It’s not like the Red Sox or Astros are coming to town. Beyond that, the Yankees are carrying 13 pitchers instead of the usual 12, so if anything, the bullpen is stocked and ready to be used. Again, the analysts point out, his answer does not make sense.
It’s not just that one incident, however. Everyone is trying to figure out why Greg Bird is still in the lineup at first with a 0.202 batting average. This is a player Boone has admitted is disappointing him in an interview at YES Network. He does have options to replace Bird, but instead, he has been allowing him to struggle through one of the worst slumps in baseball this year while trying to secure a spot in the playoffs. Again, even the Yankees’ own commentators, such as Ken Singleton, are wondering how much longer he keeps penciling him in.
While everyone is quick to point out that Boone as a rookie manager doesn’t have as much say as his predecessors Joe Girardi and Joe Torre had over personnel moves, he is the guy filling out the lineup card, and if the pieces he has don’t work, he needs to ask for new pieces. Injuries have plagued the Yankees, but they are a team built to withstand that and keep rolling. He has been given solid replacement pieces, and regularly, he has been called out in the press for not using them effectively, such as making Neil Walker his right fielder with zero experience at the position.
Then there are the questions surrounding what his reasoning is for putting Sonny Gray, statistically the Yankees worst starter all year as can be seen at Baseball Reference, back in the rotation now, with a wildcard spot still on the line. Every manager has their critics, and in the spotlight that is New York there are plenty of critics, but popular opinion indicates that Boone has not been very effective despite the team’s excellent record. Injuries or not, it is believed the AL East race should be closer than it is.
What analysts and fans are wondering, however, is how much better the Yankees record could be if Boone didn’t surrender so many games by making poor managerial choices. They argue the team is good in spite of his management style, not because of it. Whether those critics are right or wrong will be seen as the season winds to a close.