Cleaning House Is the Yankees’ Best Option
By Derek McAdam
October 28, 2022
The 2022 New York Yankees season will be seen by most fans as a failure, and those fans are absolutely right. The Yankees battled from a 2-1 deficit in the Cleveland series to win Games 4 and 5 to move on to Houston, only to be swept in a series that was not even competitive. The Astros have continuously had the Yankees’ number in the post-season, and by now, many Yankee fans (and the New York media) have had enough of the shenanigans.
Hal Steinbrenner announced Wednesday that Aaron Boone will return to manage the team in 2023, calling the five-year skipper a “very good manager.” The owner has said that there have been not yet been any discussions with GM Brian Cashman, whose five-year contract is expiring. Pitching coach Matt Blake has also expressed his desire to return to the staff next year.
While I thought Blake did a good job at his position, there are not many others that I can say the same for. That’s why the best solution for the team going forward would be to clean house, beginning with Cashman and working down to Boone and his coaching staff. Yes, I understand that this is an unlikely situation, and yes, I understand that Steinbrenner considers making the post-season successful, but that’s what the Yankees have to do if they want to have a successful team.
Starting with Cashman, the long-time Yankee GM has made some extremely questionable decisions over the past few seasons, but there were several moves this year that made me scratch my head. The first move was taking on Josh Donaldson’s contract in order to acquire Isiah Kiner-Falefa to play shortstop. Donaldson provided a nice glove at third, but his post-season performance, particularly against the Astros, was absolutely abysmal. The Yankees currently have one year left of team control for Donaldson and Kiner-Falefa, and might have to eat some of Donaldson’s contract to trade him away.
The second questionable decision Cashman made this season was trading for Frankie Montas. Yankee fans are still having doubts regarding Oakland starters after the Sonny Gray disaster a few years back, and rightfully so. Montas had one good start for the Yankees this season, and was only able to go five innings before being pulled due to a high pitch count. After missing out on Luis Castillo, who managed to shut the Yankees down in his starts with Cincinnati and Seattle, the Yankees gave up two top 10 prospects for Montas, who is only under team control for the 2023 season. There’s plenty more Cashman failures over the years, but let’s just focus on what happened in 2022.
Next up, Boone. Why was it that the only time Boone ever managed to get animated was when he was arguing balls and strikes with the umpires? Why wasn’t there any animation over watching players not hustle down the line or make bad base-running mistakes? And how many times did fans have to hear that a specific player or the team was close to breaking out of a slump day-after-day?
Boone made some crucial mistakes during the playoffs, but the one decision that trumps every on-field move was showing the Yankee team the failures of the 2004 Yankees in the ALCS. Not only was Boone showing the Yankees the team’s personal failure, but the failure came against the team’s biggest rival, who went on the win the World Series and break an 86-year curse. Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay described the decision as “tone deaf,” which sums it up very well. Derek Jeter also questioned Boone’s decision, while Mariano Rivera says the Yankees should move on from Boone.
The biggest question mark this off-season is whether or not Aaron Judge decides to stay with the Yankees or leave in free agency. I have been a firm believer that Judge’s decision may ultimately hang on whether or not Boone is the manager next season. Judge immediately shifted his focus to free agency after the Yankees’ Game 4 loss to Houston, which may be a sign that Yankee fans may not see him again in pinstripes.
Next up is Dillon Lawson, the first year hitting coach for the Yankees. The Yankees have been known to go through extended slumps throughout the season in which they struggle to score runs, but it seemed as if the team was in a slump for nearly two months at one point. The Yankees came out of the All-Star Break cold, and in August had one of their worst statistical months ever. At the time, I thought Boone and some of his staff were not too far from being relieved of their duties in hopes of turning the season around and avoiding an entire collapse. But they were saved just in time.
What bugged me the most about Lawson was the inability to make changes in the ALCS after striking out 30 times over the first two games. When asked what the team would change after Game 2, Lawson said the team was not going to change its approach to hitting. Nearly everyone knows the saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” That saying has a lot of truth to it. But Lawson took the opposite approach, which was, “If it IS broke, don’t fix it.” The Yankees continue to rely on the sentiment that the home run ball will propel them through the playoffs. I’ve yet to see proof of this approach working, because it simply doesn’t work.
This team needs changes. Letting Cashman find a new job is not going to fix all the team’s problems. There can be a perfect team assembled by a GM, but if the team cannot be managed properly, the assembled team does no good. Changes need to be made all around if the team wants to succeed.