When things start to fall apart, it becomes easy to start blaming the person who is ostensibly in charge of the daily management of the team. For the Yankees, that man is skipper Aaron Boone. With the failures in the playoffs, he will become the favorite scapegoat for any failures during this season, whether by fans or pundits.
I can hear you collectively shouting expletive-laden epithets at their screen as you read these words, but Boone is not the sole cause of the Yankees’ problems. Their issues run much deeper than a manager who has very little effect over the outcome of the game.
To head off some criticism, Boone has made a lot of mistakes as a Yankees manager. His media relations, especially during this playoff series, have not be great this year. Just look at how explained the absolute flop that was the third game of the ALCS.
That’s what we would call, not great, and that’s just one example. Unfortunately, there was nothing that he could say here that would actually make the situation much better in hindsight. Blaming him for all of the Yankees’ failures this season would be misplaced.
The main problem with the Yankees is the front office, and how they designed the roster. Notwithstanding the issues with Boone as the manager of the Yankees, it’s a good idea to explore how Brian Cashman and company have failed the team.
The Yankees’ roster construction is the primary issue. And that falls squarely at the feet of Cashman, owner Hal Steinbrenner, and the rest of the Yankees’ front office. Their choices have brought the Yankees to this point, where they were thoroughly outclassed by the Astros in a four-game stomping.
Instead of opening the pocketbook and paying for one of the extremely talented free agent shortstops, the Yankees instead chose to jettison Gio Urshela (and less consequentially, Gary Sánchez) and pick up Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson. These were not the optimal choices to gain as many wins as possible. Instead, the Yankees decided to act halfway between the Los Angeles Angels and the Texas Rangers: Spending some money, but not enough to make the truly impactful additions to the team. On at least one positive note, the trade for Jose Trevino has been a winner, and even if Frankie Montas went belly-up in the second half, fellow trade acquisition Lou Trivino helped the bullpen.
This is not a team with struggling financials. It’s the freaking Yankees. One of the most lucrative professional sports teams in the entire world. These penny-pinching ways are a disgrace. And what's worse? They did not even reinvest money well, as they took on $50 million and a contract commitment to Donaldson in 2023 as well to bring both him and the underwhelming Kiner-Falefa aboard.
This is not even getting into the odd midseason trades that this front office signed off on. Some of them certainly look good in hindsight (looking at you, Harrison Bader), but the rest are looking more iffy. Some of the problems with the trades have not been the front offices’ fault. Injuries can happen to anyone, especially pitchers. The Scott Effross Tommy John surgery can be somewhat chalked up to those circumstances.
On the other hand, the spate of injuries can be placed at least somewhat on the front office. They consciously made the choice to construct a roster that was built upon the backs of oft-injured players (Donaldson, Montas, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Luis Severino, etc.). These are good players, but their injury histories creates an untenable amount of risk for the Yankees. If things do not go exactly right, then they are up a creek without a paddle, and DJ LeMahieu entering that stage of his career made matters worse, too. For periods during this season and postseason, that is exactly what has happened.
This front office has made untenable choices in the name of some inane desire for frugality, and the Yankees consequently flailed in the playoffs. There should come a reckoning for the front office with the end of the season and the loss in the ALCS. Changes need to be made. Basing a roster on half-hearted frugality will not win a World Series, or even get you there. That is clear.