Is Boone losing his grip of managing Yankees?
No one said managing the Yankees was going to be easy.
First-year Yankees manager Aaron Boone was not raised as a fool. He has been around the game to know there would be ups and downs in managing a Major League Baseball team, especially a brand like the Yankees. He saw his father Bob Boone dealing with it as the manager of the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds.
Boone has had his ups and downs as a rookie manager. He has navigated the Yankees’ 9-9 mediocre start by having them play winning baseball overall this season, so that’s a plus for him. On the negative side, the Yankees have been looking up on the Boston Red Sox in the AL East standings all season long in a season of championship or bust.
After going through a flawless May, June and July, Boone is going through another crisis. It’s crazy to say that when the Yankees are 68-39, but they are 6 ½ games back of the first-place Boston Red Sox, and this is not what the Yankees fans signed up for when the season started.
To say Thursday night’s Yankees’ 15-7 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park was the worst loss of the season is an understatement. The Yankees pitching was terrible all around. Yankees starter CC Sabathia lasted only three innings on 77 pitches despite pitching to a 3-0 lead, which is troubling. The Red Sox were more than happy to pile it on and embarrass them to submission.
It was so bad that Didi Gregorius’ three-run home run in the first inning and Aaron Hicks’ solo home run in the second inning turned out to be a footnote in this game. Those home runs spurred the Yankees to a 4-0 lead to start the game.
Everything went wrong in the fourth inning when Sabathia inexplicably was out of the game after the Red Sox cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-2 on Steve Pearce’s one of his three home runs on the night in the third inning. It was an interesting move by Boone to take his starter out, and that move helped the Red Sox gain momentum in this game.
Yes, the Red Sox started to hit Sabathia hard. Yes, his pitch count was high. With that said, Boone should have taken his chances with his sage starter to pitch two more innings. If he can’t trust him for that, can he ever trust him when the going gets tough as the season goes on, especially in October?
One can say it was wise that Boone used a reliever to try to keep this game at 4-2. After all, the Yankees bullpen has been dynamite all season. But in this scenario, it was a move that reeks of a manager panicking and managing in fear. To use a reliever in the fourth inning does not make sense unless his starter was so bad, and if a starter is relieved early, it means a long reliever is out there to eat innings after an ineffective start by a starter.
Relievers are normally utilized in the middle of fifth inning to get one or two outs or they start bridging to the closer from the sixth inning.
If Boone is in panic mode for a game in August, how is he going to manage a game in the postseason or in September? This was awful managing right there.
The rookie Yankees manager compounded the problem by putting Jonathan Holder, who has struggled as of late since he has been overused, in the game to start the fourth inning. Not surprisingly, he struggled by walking Jackie Bradley Jr. and giving up a double to Mookie Betts that moved Bradley to third.
With the Red Sox trailing 4-3 after Bradley slid home after Holder threw to Miguel Andujar instead of running to home plate to tag him that would put Betts to third and Andrew Benintendi at first, Holder gave up a three-run home run to you guessed it, Pearce. The Red Sox took a 6-4 lead from there.
This was where one would think Boone would take his struggling pitcher out. Somehow, he inexplicably kept him there as he gave up a double to perhaps MVP favorite J.D. Martinez, who would score on Ian Kinsler’s single to make it a 7-4 game. Then, Kinsler stole second and scored on Eduardo Nunez’s double, extending the Red Sox lead to 8-4.
Holder was mercifully removed, but the damage was done, and the game was over for all intents and purposes. In the end, the Red Sox had an eight-run fourth inning that would give them a 10-4 lead.
The good thing about the Red Sox making this a blowout is Boone did not have to use his best relievers anymore. Instead, he was able to use Luis Cessa as the mopup guy from the fifth inning. It worked out well in that regard, but that means Cessa won’t be starting Saturday’s game. Now, the Yankees have to come up with a starter on Saturday. None of this would ever happen if Boone did not take Sabathia out early.
It wasn’t just this game that should make the Yankees worry about Boone. The Yankees young players have had lapse of concentration at times such as Gary Sanchez not hustling to first in making the final out in the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Rays on July 23, and this team does not field well. This is a team that does not fundamentally play well such as an outfielder struggling to find a cutoff guy or guys not being positioned at second to get the runner out or Holder having a brain cramp. This is a poor reflection on him.
If Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin had to get on Gleyber Torres for his lack of concentration such as failing to cover first base and failing to get to the ball by screaming at him in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, that is troubling. This should be Boone’s job to get on him. After all, he is the manager of the team.
The Yankees have lost games to inferior teams such as the Rays, Orioles and Blue Jays that they have no business losing to. That’s another strike on Boone.
Boone also seems to wait for a three-run home run rather than have his guys bunt, steal or hit-and-run. He has have to be more resourceful with the lineup.
Lately, Boone’s decisions is costing team games such as overusing the bullpen to the point they have struggled lately.
All of Boone’s mistakes add up, and it could be the downfall of the Yankees when all is said and done. A manager has to set the tone of winning games by being competent to lead and manage a game.
This is the byproduct of hiring a manager with no experience, not to mention hiring a manager that takes orders from Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
The pressure is on the first-year Yankees manager to make sure this team does not fall apart. He could use a good weekend like the Yankees taking three of four against the AL East division leaders at Fenway.
It won’t be easy, but then again, who said life as a Yankees manager would be easy?