The Yankees have the worst record in the American League and the second-worst record in the majors. The preseason favorite in the AL, they are already five games back in the division. At 5-10 and currently riding a five-game losing streak, they are a disaster.
No one on the team has hit, and outside of Gerrit Cole and a few relievers, no one has pitched well either. Ultimately (Aaron Boone’s favorite word), it’s on the players to produce, but the manager deserves a lot of blame for the team’s start to the season.
Boone should have never been handed the keys to a win-now roster coming off a season in which they were one win away from the World Series. With no coaching or managerial experience at any level, Boone’s name was only an option because his 2003 ALCS home run, a home run which has done much more harm to the organization than it has good. Boone has yet to progress or evolve in his position, and following his decisions in the 2020 postseason, it was the perfect time for the Yankees to move on from him before their current championship window closed anymore with someone in way over his head managing the team.
The Yankees chose to bring back Boone and they chose to bring back essentially the same exact roster from 2020 (and 2019). A team that has failed to take the next step since their 2017 ALCS loss was viewed as “being close” by their manager after their postseasons losses in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Nothing changed from the Yankees in terms of roster and personnel in the offseason, and to no surprise, nothing has changed from a results standpoint.
Going back to Sept. 15, 2019, the Yankees are now 52-51 over their last 103 games, including the postseason. The team that went 5-15 over one-third of the shortened 2020 season has gone 5-10 over nearly the first 10 percent of the 2021 season. The same issues that ruined last season in October are ruining this season in April.
The Yankees have lost 10 of their first 15 games, but if you didn’t watch the losses or didn’t know the final score of the losses, you would never know the Yankees are the worst team in the AL by only watching Boone analyze his team in each of his postgame press conferences. Boone has always been a happy-go-lucky idiot. After the team’s 2020 ALDS loss to the Rays, he said he was proud of his team for their straight early postseason exit and second ALDS exit in three years with him at the helm. Being proud of the 2020 Yankees perfectly sums up Boone’s friend-first, manager-second, relaxed Southern California personality that has made these Yankees feel comfortable with losing and accepting of underachieving.
Boone has taken his fake positivity and ridiculous excuses to another level this season to defend his team. As the losses have mounted, he has taken more time to answer questions from the media with longer pauses as he digs deep into his treasure trove of bullshit to pull out runaround answers.
Let’s go through the Yankees’ 10 losses this season and the long list of excuses from a manager who thinks everything will be all right.
On Opening Day, the Yankees started the season with a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays after going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and leaving 10 on base. Being that it was the first game of the season, Boone wasn’t all that upset, never thinking on April 1 his team would be where it is on April 19.
“Credit them with executing some pitches in some situations,” Boone said of the Blue Jays’ pitching. “They made the pitches today. We just couldn’t break through with the big hit.”
Back on Opening Day, the Yankees just couldn’t break through with the big hit. Nineteen days and 14 games later and they’re still not breaking through.
Three days after the season-opening loss, the Yankees lost 3-1 to the Blue Jays. The Yankees offense had five hits and two walks.
“Obviously, today didn’t muster a lot,” Boone said of his offense. “Didn’t have a lot of great scoring opportunities. A little bit of a cold weekend … These guys will get it rolling, so I’m not too worried about it.”
During spring training, Boone let the media know Aaron Hicks would be his No. 3 hitter. No other team has to let the media know who will bat third for them, but that’s because other No. 3 hitters in the league are Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Juan Soto, Christian Yelich, Manny Machado, Freddie Freeman and Jose Abreu. Boone and the Yankees wanted the media and public to know about their idiotic decision before they found out the way you let your parents know you were at a party and there was drinking before they found out on their own.
Hicks went 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the first weekend of the season. Boone was asked about removing Hicks from the 3-hole.
“It’s one weekend,” Boone said in defense of Hicks. “I think up and down our lineup, Aaron included, it’s guys with a pretty good track record … Over the long haul, Aaron Hicks is going to be all right.”
That was two weeks and 12 games ago. Since then, Hicks has batted third in all but three games, batting fifth, first and sixth against the Blue Jays and Rays. He has hit .206/.270/.324 since the first weekend of the season and is hitting .174/.255/.261 overall. You could add Hicks’ batting average into the formula for OPS and he would still only be at .690, yet he continues to bat third for the preseason AL-favorite Yankees.
After a pair of wins over the lowly Orioles, the Yankees lost again, this time 4-3 to the Orioles in 11 innings for their third loss of the season to fall back to .500. The Yankees had 13 hits and two walks in the game, but only scored three runs. Aside from failing to hit with runners on again, the real story was Aaron Judge who wasn’t in the lineup. Was it just an unnecessary day off? Was Judge already hurt?
“I think it’s just been the general wear and tear of the first several days,” Boone said of Judge.
Wear and tear? On April 7? The season was seven days and five games old and Judge was already experiencing wear and tear.
The Yankees went to Tampa for the Rays’ home opener and after having Wednesday’s game off and a scheduled day off on Thursday, Judge still wasn’t in the lineup on Friday. He was indeed hurt. So much for the Eric Cressey offseason workout regimen of yoga and unconventional training methods. Judge lasted five games before missing two games due to injury.
The Yankees lost to the Rays 10-5. Corey Kluber was lit up by a Rays offense that had only managed to score nine runs in their previous three games against a mediocre-at-best Red Sox pitching staff. The Rays had nine innings in less than four innings against the Yankees.
Kluber lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. The two-time Cy Young winner was supposed to be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter until the return of Luis Severino and he had gotten 19 outs through two starts as a Yankee. Boone didn’t see any issue with his starter putting seven runners on base in 2 1/3 innings.
“I thought stuff-wise he was good,” Boone said of Kluber’s performance.
The next day the Yankees lost to the Rays again, this time 4-0. Boone went to the “muster” well in this postgame press conference, using one of his most popular buzz words.
“Just couldn’t muster enough,” Boone said of his team’s no-run, five-hit performance. “Obviously, as a group, gotta start getting it rolling … As a group we’ve struggled a little bit to catch our stride where we’re obviously going to get to.”
“Muster,” “obviously,” “ultimately,” “ramp,” “banging,” “traffic,” “lanes.” These are all Boone buzz words, and he used “obviously” twice in this answer, essentially saying his offense is going to get to where it should be as if just wearing pinstripes would magically make them productive.
The Yankees did everything they could to get swept by the Rays in Tampa, but managed to win a 10-inning game to stop their three-game losing streak. Two days later, they would start a new losing streak, a streak that is still alive.
On April 13, the Blue Jays blasted Jameson Taillon for five runs on eight hits and a walk in only 3 2/3 innings. The offense put up only three runs of support for their starter and the team fell one game below .500.
“Hitting is hard,” Boone responded to a question about his offense’s lack of production. “It’s a game of failure. We haven’t collectively strung really good at-bats together like we are capable of yet.”
As for Taillon’s forgettable outing?
“Stuff-wise, I thought he was fine,” Boone said about his starting pitcher allowing nine baserunners in 3 1/3 innings.
The next day, Boone decided to give DJ LeMahieu and Giancarlo Stanton both the day off, despite having an actual day off the following day. Stanton had already been given the third game of the season off, so he was being given a second game in the team’s first 12 games off. (Reminder: he only bats and doesn’t play the field.) The Yankees lost 5-4 on a Bo Bichette walk-off home run.
Kluber was bad again, going only four innings and allowing three earned runs and eight baserunners. Boone didn’t see a problem.
“Kluber, I still think is close,” Boone said. “I thought the stuff was fine.”
Kluber has given the Yankees 10 1/3 innings over three starts with a 6.10 ERA and 7.16 FIP. What exactly is he close to doing? Retiring midseason like Jay Bruce?
Losers of two straight, the Yankees were back home on April 16 for a three-game series with the Rays. The Yankees chose to go with an opener in the series opener, opting to use the hittable Nick Nelson. Three batters into the game, the Yankees were down two runs and hadn’t recorded an out in an eventual 8-2 loss.
“We’re going to be successful,” Boone said, once again sure things would magically fix themselves. “We just gotta start playing better. Period.”
In the middle of their second three-game losing streak of the young season, Boone decided to hold a team meeting. Unfortunately, he didn’t look at the Rays’ rotation for the weekend, choosing to address the team the night before they would face Tyler Glasnow.
Glasnow would allow one run over five innings and the Rays would beat the Yankees 6-3. The Yankees had five hits.
“Hitting’s a tough game,” Boone said. “Especially now more so than ever.”
Bryan Hoch of Yankees.com and MLB.com then had an odd exchange with Boone.
Hoch: “Tampa Bay has really had the upper hand in this rivalry, not just this year, but the last few years.”
Boone: “Last year.”
Hoch: “5-17 that’s dating back to September 2019.”
Boone wasn’t aware of the Rays’ domination of the Yankees. He also wasn’t aware that Montgomery didn’t pitch very well, allowing two home runs.
“I thought he threw the ball well,” Boone said. “Obviously, two mistakes that cost him with the long ball.”
On Sunday with Gerrit Cole pitching, the Yankees would certainly end the four-game losing streak. Wrong. The Yankees blew their first lead in four days and lost 3-2 to get swept by the Rays and increase the losing streak to five straight.
“Bad series,” Boone said. “Just gotta get better. Period.”
For the second time in as many days, Boone used “period” to finish a statement, yet the team isn’t getting better. Maybe he should have said, “Just gotta get better. Ellipses.” When asked about changing the lineup to change things up, Boone simply didn’t answer the question. Why would he change the lineup? It’s the same lineup he was “proud” limped to a 33-27 record and first-round exit in 2020. Essentially, the same lineup that hit .214/.289/.383 in the 2019 ALCS and .214/.295/.321 in the 2018 ALDS.
If Boone were doing everything he could to win and the team were still losing then it would be solely on the players. But he isn’t. Giving unnecessary days off for everyday players in the first two weeks of the season, batting Hicks third and Rougned Odor and Brett Gardner ahead of Gary Sanchez or Gio Urshela, and sitting Clint Frazier in half the games isn’t doing everything you can to win.
There are simple, easy things Boone could to that would make him lesser part of the problem. Telling the truth about his team’s embarrassing performance would be a good start.
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