It’s been a rough second half so far for the Yankees, and naturally much criticism has been directed at the man at the helm, Aaron Boone. While I’m normally skeptical about such criticism, I freely admit that Boone’s handling of the Yankees over this recent stretch has left a lot to be desired. One such aspect in particular is lineup construction.
Writing up the lineup is, along with pitching and defensive substitutions, one of the most obvious ways in which managers can impact the outcome of a given game. With that in mind, here’s the starting lineup that Aaron Boone trotted out on Sunday against the Red Sox:
Yes, it’s true that the Yankees have been plagued by injuries. I know that the Yankees have precious little catching depth, and that we’re going to see copious amounts of Romine and Kyle Higashioka going forward. On top of that, Stanton’s sore hamstring is enough justification to keep him from manning right field.
There’s simply no excuse, however, for running out Voit and Robinson in the same lineup. Starting Voit instead of Greg Bird once in a while, or putting Robinson in right field to rest Stanton’s legs, is fine on an occasional basis. Doing both at the same time, however, dramatically shortens an already struggling Yankee lineup. It’s tantamount to punting a game in favor of health, and with the Athletics surging, the Yankees are in no position to rest on their laurels.
Of course there’s more to managing than writing up the lineup card. I freely admit that I have no idea what Boone is like in terms of people skills — he might be a clubhouse guru, or he might rule with an iron fist. That’s for reporters with clubhouse access to observe and decide. What we as fans can see and judge Boone by are his managerial decisions, such as lineups. That said, lineups are one of the most impactful jobs that a manager has. Boone’s lineup on Sunday fails to inspire confidence.
The good news is that Boone’s lineup on Monday against the White Sox was far more palatable. It looked like this:
I miss Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez as much as the next guy, but the lineup above is an entirely competent one in its own right. That’s good news, as the Yankees are going to have to find a way to be competent without those two stars. For that to happen, Boone has to be careful and calculating about when and where he allocates rest days for his regulars. Boone may point to injuries as the cause of the Yankees’ struggles, but pity will not win him games. He, and the Yankees, will have to win with who they have.