Let me begin by saying that Aaron Boone knows infinitely more about baseball, and especially this Yankees team, more than I ever will. I cannot presume to have even a tiny fraction of the experience, knowledge, and understanding of the game, the players, the advanced stats, and the locker room that Boone has. While I have been critical at times on these pages, that criticism does come with the harsh reality that Boone is the expert and I'm just a writer. Of course, as writers, and fans, all we can do is look at games from a critical distance and comment on what we see...
Still, with all that being said, I have to wonder about the decision making sometimes.
On Thursday night, Neil Walker might have finally had his best night as a Yankee. Walker went 2 for 4 with two home runs - a multi-homer game! To boot, he hit one homer from each side of the plate. This seemed like it could be a big turning point moment for Walker. He has struggled most of the year. He's been a disappointment. And yet, due to a variety of factors, he's played a lot, even when not performing. I presume the idea has been that he would eventually come around (and he has been, in spurts, slowly).
But, after hitting two home runs, and helping the Yankees secure a victory, his reward, the very next right, was to be benched so that Luke Voit could get in the line-up. Luke Voit, the guy hitting .125 at game time.
I don't know. This just doesn't seem like the best decision. But, again, I have to defer to the manager. He knows much more about it than I do. But, I wan't the only one questioning this:
To make matters worse, when asked about this before the game, Aaron Boone seemed to indicate that he didn't talk to Walker to explain his reasoning and decision making.
All of this makes me perplexed. It is my understanding that Boone's great strength is his communication skills. How could a manager take a player out of the line-up after a big day and not, at least, take a moment to share his reasoning? It seems to be that any answer would do: "Hey, got to get ol' Luke some at bats...", "Your history against the pitcher isn't so good...", "I pulled Luke's name out of a hat, so I have to go with it...", "Luke brought me a pizza after the game so I'm rewarding him." I don't know. I think (almost) any reasoning would do. Aaron Boone, after all. is the manager. If I'm the player, I'd just like to know why I'm not playing...
In short, to just bench a guy, after a two-homer game, with no explanation makes little to no sense. Part of managing is communication and solid decision-making. This didn't seem like a great decision and the communication seems lacking at best. The decision also seems to contradict what Boone stated in the same interview posted above in regard to Zach Britton when he noted, "It's about trying to get him comfortable" (in regard to Britton's role on the team). I would think that Neil Walker would also need to be comfortable and understand his role as well, no?
(Yes, I know hindsight is 20/20. Voit had a bloop two-run single last night. I'm not arguing the results. That's silly and just total speculation. Anything can happen. I'm making a bigger point about overall decision making and communication. These, we were told, were the manager's strengths.
I also saw that after the game it was stated that Walker had some neck pains and such, but, again why wasn't the manager open about this before the game? Boone didn't have to tell the media that his player was hurt. All he needed to say was, "Neil and I talked, it's all good.")