Yankees: The “buck” stops with Boone!
Yankees manager Aaron Boone may be a rookie, but he’s responsible for the decisions on the field, and their consequences. His recent judgments or should I say guesswork must call into question his ability to manage the bullpen or even the club.
I like Aaron Boone. I liked him as a Yankees player. I liked him as a baseball analyst. I enjoy his personality and how he conducted himself on camera and in his public life over the years.
However, I do not think he is capable or belongs at the helm of any MLB club, especially these New York Yankees. Why, might you ask? He lacks experience — pure and simple.
On Sunday, I wrote a piece articulating Boone’s bullpen blunders in game three of the Blue Jays’ series. Basically, I placed the blame on Mr. Boone for the Yanks bullpen failures in that contest.
Many of my readers agreed, and some did not, but almost all of them that commented took the position that Boone deserves a pass because he is the “new guy” and we need to accept some “rookie” mistakes. I am not sure that the Yankees ownership share that concept. I’m not sure that the Yankees’ ownership share that concept. I certainly don’t.
Again, I am laying the blame of the Yanks loss in game four of the series squarely on Boone’s shoulders. As the title states, “The buck stops with him.”
With two out, in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Yankees up by a run, David “Houdini” Robertson is on the mound. Robertson got the nickname “Houdini” because of his propensity to put runners on base and then find ways to get out of trouble.
Up to the dish comes slugger Josh Donaldson. Off to a slow start to begin the new season (a .154 BA with zero home runs and one RBI), Robertson nodded towards first base. Boone must have had a plan because you don’t walk the right-handed hitting Donaldson to face a switch-hitting Smoak, especially coming off a two-run homer just one inning earlier.
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Taking a quick look at Smoak’s splits via FanGraphs, it’s clear to see the 31-year-old is a much more potent hitter from the left side of the plate (113 home runs and 314 RBI in 2201 career at-bats as compared to 33 dingers and 111 RBI in 926 at-bats).
Obviously, Boone agreed to intentional pass because he was going to summon closer Aroldis Chapman for the four-out save, right? I mean, that’s why Chappy’s the highest-paid closer of all-time.
Wrong! As Boone told the NY Daily News following his club’s 7-4 defeat:
"“It was the matchup that we determined we prefer with Robbie,” Boone reasoned. “We liked him better against Smoak and I think he felt better with that matchup. You have to tip your cap, Smoak worked a heck of an at-bat, fouled off some really tough pitches and then finally got one and he ends up having a huge day against us, obviously. We were comfortable with the matchup, but didn’t get it done today.”"
Considering Donaldson’s ailing shoulder which has zapped his power and relegated him to a DH, Smoak’s scorching stick and the fact that Chapman would turn Smoak around at the dish, forcing Smoak to hit from his weaker side, Boone should have overruled Robertson’s request.
It’s a tough call to go against the wishes of a veteran pitcher, one that deserves some privilege to pick and choose his opposition. However, a manager with some experience, one sure of all the factors in play, would have likely told D-Rob, no.
Hindsight is 50/50, yeah, yeah, but critical in-game decisions like these need to be mapped out long in advance. It was clear to see Boone did no such thing, instead, going on feel and gut instinct, which is traditionally reserved for players.
Next: Is Brandon Drury a star in the making?
Managing a baseball team at this level is a tough job. Doing so in New York is even harder, but leading a championship caliber baseball team with high expectations in the Bronx, with zero experience may be the hardest job in all of baseball.