Opinion: No matter the manager, the Yankees need to figure out how to win
|Photo credit: Washington Post|
On Tuesday, October 19, 2021, the news that the entirety of the Yankees fan base was awaiting came down from on high in the Bronx: the fate of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, with his contract up for renewal.
Boone is, in fact, returning to the squad not only in 2022, but for a three-year deal with a club option in year four. While Yankees Twitter erupted with rage, there is another perspective to take here. Since Boone took the reins of the Yankees in 2018, he’s led the squad to the postseason every year. He won 100 games in 2018 and 2019 and 90 in 2021 (2020 left out here as only 60 games were played). Were we not talking about the New York Yankees here, those results would ring excellently for most other MLB teams.
The standards, of course, are higher for the Yankees. It’s World Series or Bust. And whether or not you’re a Boone fan, you cannot deny the fact that the Yankees haven’t reached that goal with Boone driving the bus. At the same time… you also cannot deny the fact that the Yankees haven’t reached that goal since 2009, long before Boone came to town.
Joe Girardi was able to get a win out of the 2009 Yankees, but the ‘09 group had a significantly different makeup and chemistry than the 2021 Yankees (or the 2020, 2019, 2018, or 2017 Yankees… or the 2016 and 2014 Yankees which never even made the postseason). Which can lead to the conclusion that… Boone can stay, because the issue isn’t the manager.
Firstly, the Yankees have been plagued by injuries in 2019, 2020 and 2021, not to mention the fact that they were slammed by COVID-19 in 2021 -- and that situation is certainly not the fault of Boone. While both injuries and COVID can sound like excuses, figuring out how to keep players healthy isn’t a player or manager issue (unless either players play while injured and the manager is aware of the injury thereby making it worse).
More importantly, the Yankees need a serious attitude adjustment in 2022. Whether or not Boone is the man to change said attitude does not matter. The members of the squad need to want to win more than anything else, and be afraid to lose. The manager cannot play the games for the team.
What does that look like? It looks like Gleyber Torres hustling to first base every time he goes to first base. It looks like more “small ball,” less “HR or bust” and fewer strikeouts -- an issue that was present prior to Boone’s tenure and is still ever-present during his tenure. It looks like the knowledge that every game matters, even in April. It looks like Gerrit Cole figuring out what went wrong in the Wild Card game -- Boone actually stopped the bleeding in that situation when he took Cole out of the game. It looks like Gary Sanchez allowing fewer passed balls. It looks like Joey Gallo hitting more sac flies and fewer strikeouts. It looks like Aroldis Chapman showing more consistency. The list truly goes on.
Regardless of how long the list of individual or collective Yankee issues is, most of them are present as a result of the players, and not their manager. Boone can help his players, Boone can know his players well enough to know when they’ve had enough and come out of games, Boone can feel out situations. But the bottom line is that he cannot play the games. And for situations that would most likely exist regardless of manager, Boone does not deserve to lose his job.
Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson