The Yankees’ 2023 campaign was pretty uninspiring in wake of their ALCS run last year, and now we’re all sitting on our couches watching other teams in the MLB postseason. Even though it wasn’t the most successful for teams in the AL East — none won a single playoff game, even the 101-win Baltimore Orioles — it’s still hard to watch October ball when you know the ceiling for your team could have been much higher and was higher before the start of the season.
Alas, we are where we are. It’s time to reflect on what happened this year, which includes evaluating the players, the management (coming soon), and the manager.
If you were to go up to a Yankees fan, you would probably hear some mixed opinions on Aaron Boone. Some might say that it’s not his fault he has to manage a team with some very obvious errors. Others would say that, even though there are errors in the roster and how the team is operated, it’s still his call as to whether or not certain guys get playing time. He’s certainly a divisive figure around the fanbase. But even though the fans have clamored time and time again for him to be released from his position, he’s going to be around for next season, per the most recent reports.
So, how would one go about evaluating his performance?
First, I think it’s important to note that I do not believe he’s entirely at fault for the Yankees’ poor performance over the course of this season. It’s the first time in his six years at the helm that the team has missed the postseason, though they did (barely) manage to find a way to extend their winning-record streak to 31 seasons. It remained their worst season since 1992, and for the most part, they were a joyless, abysmal snore of a watch more often than not.
There were some injuries that infected the New York lineup, most notably Aaron Judge. The captain has spoken in favor of Boone, saying that he has a good grip on the clubhouse and is honest with every player, no matter how tenured you are. There were also lots of players who didn’t perform at a high level either, which Boone can’t control. He can try and help, of course, but sometimes, it requires a fresh start for them to get things back into gear. Due to various maladies and slumps, the veteran combination of Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader, DJ LeMahieu, and others failed to hit the ball consistently or at all, which isn’t good for anyone.
There were some occasions when Boone could have done things better. His bullpen management was questionable at times (which hasn’t been an uncommon thing over his tenure as manager), and there were some lineup decisions that raised some eyebrows. That being said, it felt as if lots of his decisions were made because his hand was forced, whether it be by management or sheer necessity. This was not a very well-rounded roster to lead by any stretch.
So, did Boone make some errors? Of course, he did. He’s by no means a perfect manager, as others seem more capable of getting more out of their players than him. There were plenty of times when he would speak on issues and repeat the same things he said the day prior. It got repetitive, and when the Yankees are losing so lifelessly while mixing in some sloppy baseball here and there, that doesn’t cut it. Still, it’s hard to place tons of blame on Boone, considering the things he had to navigate around yet again as the manager. Whether it was injuries or just flat-out underperformance, he had his work cut out for him.
The hope at this point is that the deep evaluation of how the front office works will give Boone the tools to work as freely as possible and more tools to succeed, especially in the postseason because that’s the time that matters the most.