ALCS Update after Game One: We still hate Aaron Boone

The Yankees dropped Game One of the 2022 American League Championship Series last night in predictable fashion - an offensive no show at the mercy of Justin Verlander, but more frustratingly, because of the bullpen mismanagement of manager Aaron Boone.  Thoughts below from some of our writers as we react to the moves Boone made not just last night, but throughout his Yankees tenure.

Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post


Aaron Boone has been the bane of our existence since the day he signed a contract to become the Yankees manager. I hate to bring up Girardi, because look at what the Phillies have done this season after firing the man, but Joe got ragged by fans for years about being “Clipboard Joe” and in his last season as Yankee manager he brought a rebuilding group of young players to within 1 game of the World Series. Aaron Boone, since then, has lost in the ALDS in 4, ALCS in 6, ALDS in 5, and the Wild Card game last season.

A common theme in a lot of these playoffs (outside of that asshole Aroldis Chapman giving up a homerun and smiling) has always been Aaron Boone’s mismanaging of the bullpen and trying to steal outs if he can. And guess what?? Sometimes he can. But the longer you walk a tightrope the more likely you are to fall, and that has happened to Boone quite a few times. Two examples that were brought up in the BBB group chat this morning, both from the 2019 ALCS against the ‘Stros, were bringing in JA Happ to immediately give up a bomb to Correa, and the other when he brought in Adam Ottavino who immediately gave up a bomb to George Springer.

Now, this season Aaron Boone doesn’t have the luxury that he has had in years past which is one of the most feared bullpens in the league. These are new faces to Yankees postseason baseball and Boone continues to make the same mistakes he has in years past. That’s not to say that the bullpen right now is trash, they still have some extremely good arms who can win us an ALCS and possible World Series. The problem is that Aaron Boone is Icarus, except he’s obsessed with flying extremely close to the sun. If our manager can learn to fly his wax wings a fair enough distance from the sun (be happy that Clarke Schmidt got the double play to get out of the jam and not try to get an extra inning of work out of him. Or maybe not bring in Frankie Montas, a starting pitcher returning from injury, out of the bullpen in a 2-run game), then the Yankees will still have a good chance to win the pennant.

 

I absolutely detest that we are having this same goddamn conversation again. Some things never change, and for us, the things that never change are only bad things. Aaron Boone things. Bullpen mis-management things. Punting winnable playoff games when your #4 starter has pitched to a 1-1 tie through four innings against the likely AL Cy Young Award winner.  But here we are.  Again.  Another season – one completely different than the one that preceded it – angling towards a similar ending, with the same mistakes and the same lingering frustrations going into the offseason.

I don’t want that to sound like I’ve given up on this series. I haven’t.  It’s one game.  Things are far from over.  But I can’t recall being as frustrated as I was watching that game last night simply because we were in it.  We had a chance to win.  Had a chance to steal away a game in Houston with the Astros’ ace on the mound.  And then Boone simply punted it all away because he didn’t want to use some of his better arms in a tie game, instead trying to steal outs from Clarke Schmidt and then throwing Frankie Montas, fresh off the IL, right into the fire to get burned.  It’s just so freaking infuriating.  When this clown was hired in 2018 I knew by midseason – that ugly stretch where they were getting pounded by Boston every time out – that this guy didn’t have what it took to lead this team to a title.  Was it an overreaction at the time?  Probably.  But in hindsight I was spot on.  And unless things change IMMEDIATELY, which is such a wildly unlikely thing to happen, this season is heading for yet another disappointing and early exit, and the man running the ship will be the one to blame.

 

There’s not much to say at this point. We have been watching Boone mismanage the bullpen for years, so we should be numb to it at this point. Yet, when it happens in Game 1 of the ALCS against one of your biggest rivals, it stings more than ever. Let’s hope the Yanks can overcome their manager to win this series.


Aaron Boone seems to have learned very little or nothing at all since he became Yankees manager. From his very first game as manager, he has been a below average in-game tactician, specifically in managing his bullpen. It has cost the Yankees games all year, it has cost them games already this postseason and it cost them again in ALCS game 1. In the midst of the most important game so far this season, we watched Boone essentially run auditions for his less used and frankly less good relief pitchers. 

In a tie game where the Yankees had the potential to  steal a huge win, Aaron Boone did what he often does, cost the Yankees a game with poor decision making. We watched Joe Girardi manage for a decade under the same front office leadership and he was a very good bullpen manager. With the same GM and front office in place, Boone has not at any point been average at his in-game decision making and apparently he hasn't learned anything during this time either. 

The Yankees cannot give away games to these Astros, Boone's decisions in game 1 were inexplicable and indefensible. From reinserting IKF at SS, continuing to bat the ice cold Josh Donaldson high in the order and then all of his bullpen choices, he was a massive detriment to what could have been a massive win early in a tough series. Now they are behind the 8 ball against the Astros again, and this manager, who hasn't yet learned his lessons, will have to manage his way out of it.



Is there anyone out there that wasn’t getting gray hairs watching last night’s game? Why on earth has Boone decided that Clarke Schmidt is his fireman in the playoffs? Schmidt, who has been either a starter or long relief his whole career, is obviously not cut out to be thrown in the fire. It didn’t work in Cleveland, and he looked somehow worse last night. I get that the Yankees are still a bit low on bullpen depth, but that doesn’t mean throwing out multiple guys in situations they’ve never experienced is the answer.


Aaron Boone certainly made some choices last night. Clarke Schmidt clearly didn’t have it and got lucky with the huge double play. So naturally you leave him in after the Gurriel home run until he lets up another. No words can justify going to a rusty Frankie Montas down only two over literally anyone else with a functioning arm. When Altuve, Alvarez, Bregman, and Tucker combine for zero hits you need to capitalize and the Yankees did not. Just win tonight and get home.


I have two “big mads” from last night. That list does not include Jameson Taillon. It doesn’t include IKF. It doesn’t include Aaron Judge and his quieter bat. And it doesn’t even include Clarke Schmidt (though I’ve had enough of him).

Public Enemy #1 for me? Josh Donaldson — I’ve never been more ashamed to share a last name with someone. You cannot come up with men on second and third, in the ALCS, with one out, and blow it. If you blow it infrequently, I’d shake it off (kind of like I did with Matt Carpenter). But JD blows it EVERY TIME. Runs in that spot could have brought the Yankees to a whole different outcome. If he’s in the lineup tonight, so help me… which brings me to…

My Public Enemy #2 after last night is Aaron Boone. Not sure why he played JD in the first place — and didn’t start Oswaldo Cabrera or even IKF at 3B. But the managing mistakes surrounding the pitching left me beyond fuming. Jamo could have given a little bit more. Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo German were nowhere to be found. Schmidt was not at all ready for that big stage situation, and while turning that double play was huge, it wasn’t enough. But I don’t blame Schmidt — I blame his manager who put him out there in the first place. When I saw Miguel Castro warming I mentally checked out. It was as though Boone purposely punted the game because it was Game 1. The only move I understood was leaving Wandy Peralta out of the equation, as he pitched in every game of the ALDS.

As far as tonight, Boone needs to let Sevy do his thing and stay out of the way, barring actual emergency (not perceived emergencies that left Clay Holmes out of game 3 of the ALDS). Yes, key bullpen pieces are missing, but Holmes, Loaisiga, German and Peralta are all available tonight. Boone needs to manage for today, because later in the series, there won’t be a tomorrow if he keeps this up.


 

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