Aaron Boone is twisting in the wind

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With radio silence on Wednesday, it looks like the Yankees are going to continue to drag out the fate of manager Aaron Boone, at least officially, through the weekend. MLB prefers teams make their postseason announcements on days without playoff games going on.  Monday is the next scheduled day without a playoff game, but will the Yankees have sorted through their issues by then?

Really, the decision on Boone’s future as the Yankees manager should not have been that hard to decide. Managing partner Hal Steinbrenner has made it clear he likes Boone and in July, when the Yankees were spiraling, he said he didn’t think that was the fault of the manager or coaching staff. At that time, he made it clear it was on the players.

So, what has changed? Boone’s contract expired and the Bombers were hammered by their fans for their exit in the Wild Card at the hands of their hated rivals in Boston. Now the manager and Yankees fans have been waiting for over a week.

That indicates that the Yankees brass, including Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman, are doing a deeper dive into the direction of the organization. This is just two years after they made what they thought were significant changes. They fired long-time pitching coach Larry Rothschild, promoted Carlos Mendoza to bench coach and rebuilt their strength, conditioning and training staff.

Boone and the coaching staff are left hanging right now because of things that were not under their control. Sure, there are some bullpen management and pinch-hit questions about Boone’s in-game managing. But the final grade for Boone this year has to be a B, because of the roster he was dealt and the obstacles — including the MLB’s decision to enforce the sticky stuff rules midseason — the Yankees had to overcome just to get to the playoffs.

After hearing player after player say they want to play for Boone, realizing the age of the screaming and yelling manager is over and knowing that the willingness to cooperate with the front office is the ultimate skill that GMs look for these days, it’s hard to believe there will be a drastic change in on-field leadership. Even if they do let Boone walk, they will find a similar type of manager.

There are limited moves they can make without pointing the finger at and making changes in the front office, which obviously is not something GMs like to do too often. Cashman has a year remaining on his contract and Steinbrenner has shown confidence in him.

The Yankees were built on power hitters and to overwhelm their opponents with offense, but finished seventh in the American League in OPS (.729), 10th in runs scored (711) and were fourth in strikeouts (1482). That has fans calling for the heads of hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere, but these are the same hitting coaches that had the Yankees leading the league in OPS in 2020 and runs scored in 2019.

In his second year as the Yankees pitching coach, Matt Blake has the Bombers’ staff second overall in the league in ERA (3.66) and WHIP (1.21). Mendoza took over last spring when Boone had surgery to implant a pace-maker and was praised repeatedly by Cashman for his ability to handle the in-game decisions and the players. Third base coach Phil Nevin has drawn criticism for sending Aaron Judge, who was thrown out at home in the Wild Card Game, and for the Yankees’ 50 outs on the bases this season, including an AL-leading 22 outs at home plate. The Yankees, however, were struggling to score runs most of 2021, so Nevin’s aggressiveness there can be understood.

Hopefully, this long wait means the Yankees’ decision-makers are taking a deeper look at what went wrong, including the decision-making process.  For example, the roster construction, heavily right-handed and streaky, basically dictates how the Yankees play and led to their roller-coaster-like offense. So at the trade deadline, seemingly looking at just the numbers, the Yankees went out and got Joey Gallo, a lefty hitter to diversify the lineup and bragged about his on-base percentage. Except, he is also a streaky hitter who strikes out a lot, which the team’s scouts were worried about. Gallo basically gave the Bombers the same type of roller coaster hitter from the other side.

Like most successful teams in baseball, the Yankees have built a large analytics department to help make their decisions. But how that information is interpreted and translated on the field has to be examined.

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