Perspectives: There Is Hope (Right?)
by Paul Semendinger
October 16, 2022
If the Yankees win tonight. If they win. Then, they just have to win tomorrow night to advance to the ALCS.
All is not lost. Yet. There is hope. Right?
Is it worse to get a lead and blow it, or is it worse to just watch your team lose from the start?
We hear, a lot, about Aaron Boone's regular season success as the Yankees' manager:
"The first manager to ever go to the playoffs in his first five seasons..."
"He was won 100 games twice..."
Just for the record, as a post season manager, right now, Aaron Boone owns a lifetime record of 12 wins and 13 losses.
In post season series', Boone's Yankees are 3-4.
There is a lot to question about the Yankees right now. A lot.
To be fair, things happen. Games happen. Situations happen. Things are not always black and white. The easy answer isn't always the right answer. And sometimes the right decision just doesn't work out.
But it sure does seem like the Yankees continually put themselves in situations where bad things can happen. The moves the manager and front office make often defy reason and logic.
The Yankee decision making continues to bewilder me.
Oswald Peraza was left off the playoff roster. Why? Is it that he's too young? It can't be that, Oswaldo Cabrera is on the roster. They are both rookies brought up at the end of the 2022 season. Sure, Cabrera played more, but it was only because the Yankees glued Peraza (the one who is supposedly the higher ranked prospect and the one who is considered one of the jewels of the system) to the bench for long periods. I kept arguing in August and September to let Peraza play. That was the time to see what he could do. The fact that the Yankees didn't play him was an opportunity lost. It's now gone forever. They'll now head into next year knowing far less about the player. More, they never gained the confidence that he was good enough to even make the ALDS roster. As a result, the guy who is considered the best fielding shortstop in the system doesn't play.
In all of this, the Yankees sent a clear message to Peraza, again, one of the crown jewels of the system, "We don't trust you."
Maybe Peraza was left off the roster because the Yankees wanted to have some experienced outfielders on the roster to replace Oswaldo Cabrera defensively late in close games. Okay. Maybe that's the reason. If so, then why wasn't Aaron Hicks in left field in the ninth inning last night?
Further, why is Aaron Hicks on the roster if not to pinch hit for a player like Tim Locastro (Game 2) and/or to replace Oswaldo Cabrera defensively (Game 3)? It's clear that the manager has lost faith in Aaron Hicks. (Some of us might say it's about two years too late, but...) Why, then, do I worry that tonight, in a big spot, Aaron Hicks will be in the game and asked to deliver?
This is the thing - the Yankees don't really have a philosophy or a game plan. They make it up, consistently, as they go. Good teams, smart teams, have a plan, a philosophy. The Yankees change things from game to game, often seemingly for no reason or not based on what happened before.
Was Peraza left off the roster because the Yankees don't feel a young kid should be thrust into high-stakes games or pressure situations? Okay, but then why was Oswaldo Cabrera positioned in the heart of the batting order at the start of this series?
In short, where is the logic? Where is the consistency? It seems that the rationale for one decision doesn't hold for the next one. We see this time and time and time again. We've seen this for years - ever since Aaron Boone took over the Yankees.
We see the Yankees, so often, so very reluctant to trust their young kids in many spots during the season. Other teams take their young talent and put them out there. The Yankees do so only very reluctantly. The Yankees seem almost frightened to let their kids play.
They also, often, because of this, put the kids into situations where they'll fail. They move them up and down from the big leagues to the minors. They shuttle them in and out of the lineup. They are in, they are out. They're up and then they're down. It's no wonder many of the young kids struggle. It's no wonder the Yankees don't seem to produce young position players. (The kids get the message, loud and clearly - "We don't trust you.")
It's no coincidence that no young player has thrived over time under this approach. None.
Great leaders build up their employees and give them confidence. There is a consistency to the approach. The Yankees don't seem to do this. They don't inspire confidence in their young players. They all seem to get a very short leash. The message is always very clear, "We don't really trust you." It's challenging for players to gain confidence in an environment like that. And then, after not trusting them all year, they're thrust into the biggest moments.
"Hey Clarke Schmidt, you have never been trusted with the game on the line before, now close out this playoff game."
And we're surprised when they fail?
This from Joel Sherman of the NY Post, "At the most critical moment of this Yankees season, the only thing Clay Holmes threw Saturday night was his manager under the bus."
Clay Holmes said that he could pitch last night. Aaron Boone said differently. Boone said, Holmes could only be used in an emergency.
I think this is a very fair question for Mr. Boone to have to answer, "If the situation he brought Clarke Schmidt into last night wasn't an emergency, what is?"
The Yankees, until last night, had never lost a post season game with a lead of multiple runs heading into the ninth inning.
"Well, the odds are that it would happen someday."
PAY THE MAN!
Aaron Judge is 1-for-12 in this series. He had a big home run last night. But that's all he has done in this series. He has struck out in 8 of his 12 at bats. I'm sorry. Aaron Judge is a great player. BUT, 1-for-12 isn't great, even if the one hit was a majestic home run.
If Aaron Judge hits 48 homers next year, will you be pleased? That's one homer every twelve at bats. Not bad, right? What if he hits .083 in the process? That's also what he's hitting. One for twelve. What if he strikes out 376 times next year? That's the rate in which he is striking out in this series.
Mr. Judge must play big tonight. The team needs him. Big time. It is time for Judge to demonstrate clearly, from the first pitch until the last, that he is a superstar. This is his moment.
The Yankees were winning last night. All looked great, until it didn't, but, looking at it all closer, they had only five hits. Just five. Three of the hits were homers which made things look better than they were. The Yankees had only two other hits.
More often than not, if you get only five hits, you're not going to win many games.
The Guardians last night had 15 hits.
In the Phillies series, Bryce Harper had three homers. He batted .435. He could have been a Yankee. I said it at the time and often since. He should have been a Yankee. If ever the stars aligned for a superstar to come to the Bronx, they all did on Bryce Harper.
As I also said, the Yankees will regret, forever, the fact that they didn't even try to get him. They didn't even try. That's the worst part.
They didn't even try!
If the Yankees lose tonight or tomorrow night. And if they win 101 games next year in the regular season, will you have any faith that the playoffs next year will turn out any differently?
Gerrit Cole came up BIG in Game One. Can he do it again? He has to. The bullpen is basically empty. It's all on Cole.
All is not lost. A win tonight brings a game tomorrow. They can do it. The Yankees were the better team in 2022, remember?
Remember when I said that the Guardians would be a tough opponent?
Let's Go Yankees!