About the Off-Season. It's a Long Way to Feb...
About the Off-Season. It's a Long Way to February. It's a Long Way to Go
By Tim Kabel
October 5, 2023
As the playoffs begin, the Yankees will not be participating. Instead, they began a series of meetings this week. The purpose of these meetings is to determine what went wrong this season and what needs to be done to avoid the same fiasco next year. Speaking for all Yankee fans, I would like to say something to Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, and everyone else who will be at the meeting. In the words of Oliver Hardy, "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten us into."
Apparently, the independent analysis of this disaster of a season that was promised by Hal Steinbrenner will not occur. There will not be a squadron of experts scrutinizing everything with a magnifying glass. Instead, Hal and his minions will form their own think tank and review the mistakes of this season and the past to determine what should be done. That is somewhat disappointing but, my biggest concern was that if they waited for a team of independent analysts to review the way they do things, it would be March before the results were in, and next year would be another lost season. Therefore don't really have a problem with self-analysis.
I do have a problem with the notion that Aaron Boone is seemingly not in jeopardy of losing his job. Apparently, Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman view Boone as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. In my mind, having Aaron Boone as part of the committee to determine what needs to be done to fix the Yankees would be comparable to having Mrs. O'Leary's cow as part of the cleanup committee after the Chicago Fire of 1871. I think If the Yankees start out with the mindset that Boone needs to return as manager, they are already off on the wrong foot. I know Boone has his supporters, but I don't believe the Yankees will ever win a World Series with him as the manager. Every year of his tenure was slightly different, but they all ended in disappointment and failure. He has had six years. In the words of Popeye, "that's all I can stand; I can't stands no more."
A lot of what we hear and read about the Yankees' plans is simply speculation. Writers and broadcasters need to produce something. They can't just write or say, "I know nothing", in the words of Sergeant Schultz. If they did that, they wouldn't have jobs. However, until we get the official word from the Yankees regarding Boone's status, we really don't know anything. Is it possible and perhaps even likely that Boone will be given one more chance? Unfortunately, it is.
I believe that if the Yankees retain Boone, the rest of the moves that they will make might not matter as much. I don't think he will win regardless of the team they have. Remember in 2022, they got off to a phenomenal start and then faded before eventually being eliminated via a sweep by the Houston Astros in the playoffs. I would like to see the Yankees hire Don Mattingly as the manager and name his old mentor, manager, and friend, Buck Showalter as his bench coach. Mattingly and Showalter would bring a little bit more of an old school approach to the dugout. I think that is needed.
A great deal has been written and said about analytics and the Yankees' use of them.
Analytics, and the use of statistics are here to stay. That is a reality. However, it needs to be one tool in the toolbox, not the only tool. The Yankees have treated analytics in the past few years the way most restaurants have treated pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice is lovely, but every year, right around September 1st, it saturates our lives. You can't go into a coffee shop, restaurant, or just about anywhere else without being accosted with pumpkin spice coffee, donuts, bagels, candles, air fresheners and myriad other products. It is everywhere, and it doesn't go away until Christmas.
Another example of how the Yankees treat analytics would be the phenomenon of blackening food. The late, great chef Paul Prudhomme started the process, and he was the master of it. In fact, his blackened redfish became so popular that there could only be one order of it per table at his restaurant, and the poor redfish was practically driven into extinction. Well, blackened red fish led to blackened steaks, blackened tuna, blackened swordfish, and blackened just about everything else. Unfortunately, there was a fine line between blackening and burning, which many cooks could not distinguish or navigate, leading to an unpleasant dining experience for many.
Apparently, the Yankees treat analytics the same way as the trends of pumpkin spice and food blackening. They applied analytics to virtually every situation and flooded their players with all sorts of information, some of which was not very useful. It was recently reported that Oswaldo Cabrera felt overwhelmed by the amount of information that was being provided to him. Oswald Peraza made similar comments. While veteran players may be able to filter out some of this flood of data, younger players may not feel comfortable doing so. This is where a manager who could actually communicate with his players, particularly the young ones, would be a good idea.
As Hal Steinbrenner and his minions begin dissecting the recent failures of the franchise, I hope they are at least open to the notion of getting a new voice in the manager's office. That would be a big part of cleaning house and making changes. Abraham Lincoln knew that the only way to change the success rate of the army was to change the general. Getting seven new corporals and a new lieutenant here or there isn't going to help if the general is still leading the army in the wrong direction.