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Aaron Boone, allegedly not a ‘puppet’

Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman each spoke to the media at Yankee Stadium this afternoon. Neither of them said too much that was interesting. Mostly just the same scripted, public relations answers that you generally hear from the Yankees. Boone’s session was especially dull, with the exception of one question from The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. Lindsey does a great job covering the Yankees, although I ultimately stopped paying for The Athletic because I can read my own blogs on here for free (just kidding, even I don’t read my own blogs).

This moment stuck out to me because Boone really seemed tripped up trying to answer it. He’s usually very calm and collected answering questions, but you could visibly see him fumbling for his answer here. Cashman was later asked a similar question, and he flatly denied the notion that Boone is a puppet.

Boone and Cashman have been taking a lot of heat in the past week, and rightfully so. This Yankees team was built to win a World Series, not lose in the Division Series. It’s obvious that Cashman and the front office have a large say in Boone’s decision making process. But that’s how all MLB teams operate in 2020. Gone are the days of analytics departments putting a lineup on a manager’s desk, only for him to crumple it up and throw it in the trash. Analytics factor into every club’s decision making process in some way, shape or form. So for any fans recommending the Yankees “abandon analytics,” remember that they just lost to the most analytically-driven team in baseball in the Tampa Bay Rays.

Deivi/Happ strategy

Cashman did admit today that since the rotation was not at full strength, they felt the Game 2 strategy was necessary to try and put the team in a better position to win. Fine, but where does common sense factor in? You’ve now burned a promising arm in Deivi Garcia after just one inning when the team is primed to play five games in five days. On top of that, the goal of starting Garcia was to trick the Rays into starting a lefty-heavy lineup. Well, they only started five lefties, rather than the seven they deployed against Masahiro Tanaka in Game 3. Now Happ, who hasn’t bought into the idea in the first place, is facing a balanced lineup and gets rocked. This was clearly something Boone and Cashman decided on together, but that begs the question – what decisions does Boone make on his own?

Ford over Clint?

Pinch-hitting Mike Ford twice in this series over Clint Frazier was unbelievably stupid in my eyes. Ford had a .496 OPS in 2020, and hadn’t gotten a hit since late August. Why in the world would he get at-bats in this series over Frazier? Did Boone become too obsessed with lefty/righty matchups? Or was there something coming from the front office suggesting Ford deserved a shot? Regardless of who’s call it was, it was these kind of decisions that made it look like the Yankees were trying to outsmart the Rays. They failed miserably.

Whether these dumb decisions are on Boone, Cashman or both, the bottom line is this: the Yankees need to do a far better job of putting their players in positions to succeed. They failed Deivi in Game 2. They failed Clint by not giving him an opportunity. And they failed their bullpen by expecting to get through five games in five days with three effective relievers.

The Yankees have the talent to win a championship. But their strategy and execution needs to be much better moving forward.