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Yankees Perspectives: September 12, 2018

The Yankees lost to the Twins last night. That is bound to happen eventually. They had won nine games in a row against Minnesota. Teams lose games. But, this team does seem to lose ugly more than most “great” teams I have watched over the years.

Here are some of my perspectives:

The television coverage on YES the last two nights has been outstanding! John Flaherty and Al Leiter make a fantastic team. They spend the broadcast talking baseball and it is wonderful to hear. Batter after batter they discuss what the teams are trying to do, what the players might be thinking, and more. Listeners get a real (and honest) inside look into the game. Flaherty and Leiter make predictions and speculations based upon their own vast experiences and then go back to discuss why they believed what they did even when they guessed incorrectly or situations turned out differently than they had thought. The focus is on baseball and it really works. As they plan going forward, I hope this is a team that YES plans to have working together many more times next year.

The information regarding Aaron Judge and his injury seems to change by the minute. One report seems to indicate that he is feeling better, then another one says that the injury still hurts and that he’s only a 4 out of 10 in recovering. It sure seems that the Yankees, from the top down, have not handled this well. They announced that the injury wasn’t severe and that he’d be back within three weeks. Because of this (and the luxury tax), the Yankees failed to acquire a quality replacement for weeks, and, as a result, played a worse than replacement level player in Judge’s absence – during a pennant race. Now, with just a few weeks to go in the season, with their star still hurting, it seems the Yankees are trying to rush him back. I hope they know what they are doing. How often in sports do we see players rushed back only to get hurt worse and longer? In my book, if Aaron Judge is still hurting, shut him down.

Watching this team perform with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded, is extremely frustrating. They just, time and again, don’t get the job done. It really seems to me that the whole Yankees’ strategy is to draw walks and swing for the fences. When that works, it’s great. But, we are seeing, time and again, that it doesn’t work often enough. (I believe this all goes back to a lack of focus and preparations on the fundamentals from the very start.) The Yankees are seduced by the idea of home runs, but there is more to hitting and more to baseball than the long ball.

The Yankees might set baseball’s All-Time Single Season Home Run Record. That’s fun, kind of, but I like winning more. (The top five teams for home runs in a single season are (1) 1997 Mariners, (2) 2005 Rangers, (3) 1996 Orioles, (4) 2010 Blue Jays, (5) 2016 Orioles. What do they have in common? To my point, none won the World Series. None of these teams even appeared in the World Series. Three of these five teams didn’t even reach the post season. In fact, one has to go all the way down to 10th place on the list, the 2009 Yankees (tied with the 1999 Mariners and 2000 Blue Jays), to find an all-time leading team in homers that went to a World Series. (Yes, the 2009 Yankees did win that series.) What this all tells me is that there is more to baseball than the long ball. Hitting a lot of home runs, alone, does not translate into success. In fact, 8 of the top 12 teams in home runs for a single season failed to reach the post season at all.)

A lot has been said about Aaron Boone’s bullpen management this year – especially once the Yankees stopped dominating early in the season. As the season has worn on, his bullpen management has been critiqued more and more. Game after game we see decisions that seem to defy reason. Last night, Sonny Gray was left in well past the point of him being effective. This allowed the game to get out of hand early. What was worse was that Jonathan Loaisiga, coming off an injury, and with a history of arm troubles, was left in the game to throw 47 pitches in just 1.1 innings.

A very knowledgeable Yankees fan said the following to me the other day, “Aaron Boone has taken a great team and made them very good.”

Remember all the talk about the Yankees being the second best team in baseball?They’re not. The Astros now are.

Don’t look now, but the Oakland A’s are within two games of the Yankees for the Wild Card lead and the home field game. (Although, I don’t think home field matters all that much, if at all.)

It is my recollection that one of the reasons given, or at least speculated on, for not bringing Joe Girardi back was that he was not the right manager for a young and up-coming team (in spite of all the success he had with young and up-coming teams). It was speculated that his intense approach wouldn’t be good for young players and their development. This leads me to ask the question – Which young players on the Yankees (who also played for Girardi) have taken steps forward this year? Which players are poised to build off their strong 2018 season heading into next year? It seems to me that there are more question marks going forward than exclamation points. I don’t think that was the game plan when the Yankees let Girardi go… Even if the Yankees weren’t going to go to the World Series, this was supposed to be a building year. Has it been?

Along similar lines, it was also speculated that Joe Girardi was too intense of a leader and the team couldn’t relax and have fun under his leadership. This makes me ask – which team seemed to be having more fun, and were more enjoyable to watch, the 2017 Yankees or the 2018 Yankees?

#AaronBoone #AaronJudge #JoeGirardi

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