Perspectives: August 24, 2021
by Paul Semendinger
August 24, 2021
The Yankees have won ten games in a row. They also had a ten-game winning streak last year. This is the first time the Yankees have won ten consecutive games in two consecutive seasons since… Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris played together. That’s unbelievable.
Aaron Boone has seemed to have silenced his critics.
When a team wins, the manager looks like a genius. (When they lose, the manager often looks the opposite.) The Yankees are winning, winning often, winning well, and playing great baseball. All of those positive aspects reflect well (very well) on the manager.
As I see it, Boone deserves credit for at least two things, maybe three. First, he kept the team together and maintained positivity when things looked bad – read bad. When the Yankees were playing so poorly, his press conferences and comments that the team was “this close” and “getting there” and such were difficult to watch. But, you know what? He was correct. Good for Aaron Boone!
Secondly, his managing style has changed. The Yankees are not playing station-to-station baseball any longer. We’re not seeing players just hacking and swinging for the fences. The bullpen (in a time without Zack Britton or Aroldis Chapman being factors) has been managed extremely well. The Yankees are playing good, crisp, fundamentally sound baseball.
Third, and this is where I pause, if only for a brief moment, this Yankees team that has been winning has been doing it without some key members of the team. This includes Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, among others. Are the Yankees now winning because this new mix of players (the likes of Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez) is more athletic, quicker, more fundamentally sound than the starters? I have to wonder. I am sure than when they can return, the starters will be back in the lineup. Will that actually made the Yankees less strong defensively and will that hurt, rather than help, the team? I really don’t know. But it is something to think about. Effectively managing the return of the starters will be Aron Boone’s next big task. Can he do it?
Good, crisp, fundamentally sound baseball is fun to watch. It’s even more fun when it’s the Yankees doing this. It’s even more fun when the Yankees are doing this and winning.
For the record, if I were the manager, I would, of course, start Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres as soon as they’re healthy. They are the starters. My worry is that the mix the Yankees have now is working. And working well. Sometimes is the collective whole rather than the individual players. For this team, right now, at least, this seems to be the case.
Rougned Odor has been an excellent Yankee. An excellent Yankee. Aaron Boone has used him brilliantly. This was an outstanding pick-up by Brian Cashman. The Yankees got Odor for free. Amazing. His energy and enthusiasm has benefitted the club. Greatly.
When Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres come back, it will seem that Tyler Wade and Andrew Velazquez will be redundant. Who stays?
I wrote, a lot, that the Yankees needed lefty bats. They now, with Joey Gallo, Anthony Rizzo, Odor, Wade, and Velazquez (along with good ol’ Brett Gardner) have them in bulk. There always seems to be a lefty bat to go to off the bench. The bench is deeper. This gives Aaron Boone more flexibility and it changes the game for the opposing manager. No longer can the other team just bring in a right-handed relief bitcher to get Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, etc… out by throwing the same type of pitch to all of them. Lineup balance matters. The Yankees’ great play since they finally got lineup balance proves this. Why they ignored this for so long as these teams were built is baffling. This was something that was obvious and apparent for years. I am glad they finally addressed this. I am even more glad that the results have been so positive.
Per Katie Sharp (on Twitter): “The Yankees are now 39-34 (.534) against teams with a winning record. That’s 4th best in MLB and 2nd best in AL.” The Yankees are winning against the better teams – the best teams. Stats like that make me start to wonder if a World Series is possible…
I think it is.
Let’s go Yankees!
(Quick programming note – Coming on Monday Night at 9:00 p.m. will be a brand new weekly You Tube Yankees Program: The Start Spreading the News Yankees Show, which will be part of the NorthEast Streaming Sports Network. Please join me and E.J. Fagan as we talk Yankees baseball (and more).