Yankees are better overall team but Red Sox superiorly managed

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Yankees entered the All-Star break 4.5 games behind the reigning division champion Red Sox. So what do the Bombers need to do to avoid the dreaded Wild Card Game?

The Yankees start the second half of the season trailing the Red Sox by 4.5 games. They are a Wild Card team at the moment, and that is unacceptable. The Yanks must focus all their efforts on winning the AL East to avoid having to win a one-game playoff to advance.

While it is true that the Yankees and the Red Sox have nine head-to-head games remaining, that may not be deciding factor in the divisional race. The two teams finished 5-4 in their first nine contests with the Yanks getting the edge, but that translates to just a one-game difference in the standings.

Everyone within the Yankee organization refuses to admit it, but the Bombers have dug themselves a hole against a very good Red Sox team and now have their work cut out to win their first division title since 2012 — even if they are a better overall club than the Sox.

Without boring you with a ton of stats, I will say the offenses are evenly matched with a slight edge to the Yankees. The Red Sox clearly have the better starting pitching while the Yanks have a far superior bullpen.

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Both teams have rookie managers, but Alex Cora is the reason the Sox lead the division. From his days as a bench coach, Cora has more experience than Aaron Boone, and it shows as Cora has yet to blunder away as many games as Boone.

What the Yankees must do to capture the AL East

They may again be the Bronx Bombers, but they absolutely need to acquire at least one quality starter — an ace, to slot behind Luis Severino. GM Brian Cashman will have to ante up and pay whatever is necessary. There is a price that even the obstinate Mets cannot say no to.

Considering the sluggish state of the Yankee rotation, there is no such thing as overpaying right now. I firmly believe Cashman will succeed to plug that hole, even if it costs a boatload of prospects.

Why, may you ask, am I so confident?

Brian Cashman is the most successful GM in MLB history. No other GM even comes close to his overwhelming record with the Yankees, that spans from 1998 through today. From the beginning, he guided the Bombers to nine straight division titles, then again in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Now in his 21st season as GM, he has already carved out 16 playoff appearances, six AL Pennants and four World Series Championships. The Yankees have played at a .583 clip and averaged over 90 wins per season during his tenure.

Brian Cashman has never had a losing season, and no other GM, dead or alive can make that claim.

Despite his consistent success, Cashman has constantly been criticized and never received any real credit as the GM who oversees the most celebrated sports dynasty in history. Most of his critics, predominantly from the Baseball Writers of America, argued that Cash inherited a team built to win and he simply went along “for the ride.”

Those same critics never acknowledged Cashman for the many “pieces” he added to the Yankees during his tenure because they claim he had an almost limitless supply of money from George Steinbrenner that allowed him to sign the best and most expensive free agents as soon as they became available. Many baseball writers labeled that as “buying championships.”

Brian Cashman has built this exciting young Yankees team while remaining competitive and bringing the club’s payroll under the all-important luxury tax threshold. It’s an astonishing feat for a general manager in any sport.

The Steinbrenner’s were so impressed with his vast successes, they allowed Cashman to dump long-time manager Joe Girardi and then rewarded Cash with his own lucrative five-year contract.

The owners gave Cashman total control of baseball operations. That is how a totally inexperienced Aaron Boone became manager of a Yankees team with extremely high expectations.

After coming within one win of a trip to the World Series last year, Cashman acquired baseball’s most expensive player, Giancarlo Stanton, and his long-term contract. Make no mistake about it; Cashman is competing with himself and the 1998 Yankees. He is, as we say in poker, “all in.”

Anything less than a trip to the World Series this season will be considered a failure by almost everyone in and around the game. Cashman will not let that happen so prepare yourself for a blockbuster trade for that ace pitcher.

However, the Yanks must tighten the leash on their manager, Aaron Boone. The team cannot afford any more “rookie mistakes” due to rotation or bullpen blunders, like the one from last week, when Boone’s inexperience and stubbornness were clear to all.

Leaving in C.C. Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and then Chad Green too long in their respective games is inexcusable at this point in the season. The Yankee manager should know these pitchers’ limits by now, as the team simply cannot afford to throw any more games away.

Allowing Kyle Higashioka to face Orioles closer Zach Britton in the ninth inning, with only one out and a man on third, with the game on the line was amateur hour.

Boone’s early season insistence on a strategy of using some of the team’s relievers for multiple innings was a disaster. Relievers like Chad Green and Dellin Betances were utterly overwhelming their opponents when used for just a single inning of work.

We all know what happens when Green is pushed to go multiple innings — more often than not it ends in disaster.

With everyone available in the ‘pen during the final game with Cleveland before the break — the game and winning the series on the line, Boone returned to his old habits, sending Green out for a second inning of work where he blew the game. Deja Vu!

Brian Cashman hired Boone because he wanted someone that was excellent with the press and a good communicator with players, but most critical, someone he could have absolute control over — something no experienced manager would ever agree to. Apparently, Cashman needs to exert that control over Boone, sooner rather than later.

Next: Giants like prospect Albert Abreu but for who?

So that’s it. We can all sit back because a major trade will come — one that will put at least another ace in pinstripes, and we will see a much more disciplined Aaron Boone in the second half. Brian Cashman is on a mission with this amazingly talented team, and I do not believe he can or will be stopped.