This is a post that is sure to get some disagreement and discussion. But, it is an idea I thought of, and the more I consider it, the more sense it seems to make.
The Yankees' record before Monday night's Yankees game stood at 68-42. It's good, very good, in fact, but as I have pointed out numerous times, if you take away the (small sample size) period where the Yankees went 17-1 over an 18 game stretch, the Yankees' record for the rest of the season stands at only 51-41. A 51-41 record over a full season equates to just 90 wins. Take a moment and think about that. This Yankees team, a team that was supposed to contend for the World Series has played more like a 90 win team than a 100 win team for the vast majority of the season. (The 92 games where the Yankees have accrued the 51-41 record is 84% of this current season - NOT a small sample size.)
The Yankees' play this year, overall, has been uninspired. This has been discussed and noted all year on these (and other) pages. The defense has been sloppy. The fundamentals have not been present. There has been a general malaise to the team - a lack of hustle. The team has not done the "little things" that tend to win games. There has not been much (if any) "fire" from the manager. Aaron Boone seems passive. He seems unwilling to confront players. In fact, he seems to defer to them at times.
Aaron Boone has brought a different approach than his predecessor, Joe Girardi. But, while it seemed that Girardi was able to get his teams to over perform, to date, Boone's squad has under-performed.
As has been stated (probably too often) it seemed from the start that the game plan for the 2018 Yankees was to develop a team that was comfortable and happy. The organization wanted a squad that got along with the manager. That seems to have happened, but, it also seems that it happened at the expense of preparedness. This team has been caught napping at critical times. Other managers seem to out-manage Aaron Boone in key spots. Other teams seem to be a step ahead, often, if not always.
As I have shared, I just don't think this team was ready to begin the 2018 season. I don't think the fundamentals were stressed from the start. I don't think developing players who were going to play crisp baseball was the goal in Spring Training. There was a belief that high quality play would be a by-product of this new approach. I think this was a grave mistake.
Even after the horrible series in Boston, just finished, I don't see a sense of urgency. In many ways, Aaron Boone's reaction to the loses has been very similar to that of the Mets Manager Mickey Callaway: "We look good:" "We're on the verge;" "I see things to be optimistic about;" "This team has no quit;" etc... Callaway has been greatly criticized for this "it's all-good" approach. Boone's approach isn't that much different, if it is even different at all.
I think Aaron Boone has a bright future as a manager. He knows the game. He has potential. His approach could be a great way to bring a team together. Boone could be great with a team that is building toward the future. This wasn't supposed to be the case with the 2018 Yankees. The fans were told that this team was a World Series contender - and that Aaron Boone was the man who would get the team to that level. We were told that there wouldn't be a learning curve. He was ready. He was smart. He announced games and he has a baseball family. His dad was even a manager! (The fact that Bob Boone's lifetime managerial record was 371-444, though, wasn't ever really discussed. Bob Boone never managed a first place team. In six years as a manager, he finished 2nd once, 3rd once, and 5th four times.)
I also think that while Aaron Boone has a future as a manager, that future might not be with a "win now" club, like the Yankees. As Boone and the Yankees have found out (and as anyone who has ever coached knows), the game is a lot different from the sidelines. It was a unique approach to trust a championship caliber club to a manager who had never even coached, in any capacity, at any level. It was bold move.
I don't think it worked.
No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it seems to me that the Yankees should critically look at this season and make some hard decisions. First, they have to determine if Boone's approach this year was the best. I don't think it was. Next, they have to ask themselves if Aaron Boone has the temperament, skills, ability, and demeanor to get the most out of this squad of players. The answer there might also be no. It is very tough to change one's approach. I don't know if Boone could come to camp next year as a task master. Leaders have to be true to who they are.
Maybe the Yankees need to go a different direction in 2019...
Now, before comments come that state that the Yankees just might still win the World Series this year (and they might), an important point needs to be made. The Yankees have made decisions about their manager's future before the end of a season quite recently. In fact, it was just last year. When asked if Joe Girardi would have returned as manager even if the Yankees had won the World Series, the answer given by the organization was, "No." The Yankees decided last year that, no matter the outcome, that Joe Girardi was not the man to manage the 2018 Yankees. I suggest they consider the same for 2019. Maybe Aaron Boone isn't the right guy for this job either.
This team needs a manager who will focus on the fundamentals and preparation. The Yankees need a manager who knows how to take under-performing teams (and yes, teams full of young talent) and get the most out of them. The Yankees need a manager who other managers are going to respect for his knowledge, know-how, and strategy. They need a manager that won't be out-managed. They need a manager that has won, that knows how to win, and that would bring immediate credibility to the team. They need a manager who will not be intimidated by the New York media and who knows how to win in this city. This manager I am suggesting for the job also has unfinished business in New York. It would be a given that this manager would out work every other manager in the game. He'd have a team that was always ready, always a step ahead, and always focused. He's been doing this with his teams for a long time. This man is widely considered to be one of baseball's smartest and most knowledgeable individuals. He knows the game inside and out - maybe better than anyone. (And to boot, for a period he was also an announcer.)
Believe it or not, that man will probably be available this off-season. And that man is not Joe Girardi (though, I believe Girardi would have this team in a better place this year and I would also welcome him back).
At the conclusion of the 2018 season, it seems that the Baltimore Orioles will tear down their current structure and begin a re-build from the top down. The GM seems to be on borrowed time - as does their manager. There is a great deal of speculation that Buck Showalter will not be renewed for the 2019 season. His contract ends at the end of this season and the Orioles will seemingly go in a new direction...
A solution, maybe THE solution, for the 2019 Yankees, to immediately right the ship, to immediately bring all of the intangibles that have been missing this year, is to bring Buck Showalter back to the Bronx. If he's available, Buck Showalter should be managing in the Bronx.
Now that would be a BOLD move. It would be a daring move. And it's also the move that I think would get the 2019 Yankees back to their winning ways.
Bring Back Buck.