The Yankees had a disappointing end to their 2018 season, which included quite a few struggles from their rookie manager Aaron Boone.
To many, the Yankees 2018 season would be seen as a failure. While the Bombers broke a number of records (including the all-time single-season team home run record) and made it to the division series for a second straight year, the season felt quite unfulfilling, to say the least. Aaron Boone managed the club to win 100 games, which is another milestone this year’s team reached, is no simple feat, considering the Yankees haven’t accomplished it since the 2009 World Series Champion club.
The 2018 squad, however, has quite a bit of difference from the championship team, beginning with the manager.
After an emotional and controversial breakup with former manager Joe Girardi, the Yankees hired 2003 ALCS hero Aaron Boone to take over the as the new skipper. A hire that would be under an intense microscope, to say the least, Aaron Boone’s first year as Yankee manager was certainly a roller coaster ride. Allow us to recap:
The Yankees season got off to a very mediocre start, starting off the season at 9-9, while Boston was screeching hot. The questions of new addition Giancarlo Stanton’s ability to perform in New York were swirling and the Bronx faithful were looking for a spark. From time to time, managers will ignite a fire in their club, by way of comments in the media, team meetings or even benching a player for lack of production.
The spark or fire ignitor, however, came from a different source in eventual Rookie of the Year finalist Gleyber Torres. Arriving on April 22 to a 10-9 ballclub already 6.5 games out of first, Gleyber’s energy and timely hitting pushed the team to an 18-10 start after April. After being in an early hole, the Yankees went on to finish a strong first half to the season and with Vegas retracting their preseason predictions and giving the Yankees the highest odds to win the World Series, most whispers about Aaron Boone’s managerial ability were silent.
As most teams do, the Yankees came back down to earth, and while seeing ace Luis Severino go through senseless struggles, a fractured Aaron Judge wrist, and streaky play all around, the Yankees grabbed J.A Happ, Zach Britton, and Luke Voit at the trade deadline to try and revitalize the team
All solid additions, with Voit obviously being the surprise of the batch, but there was still seemingly something off about the team. Was it Gary Sanchez’s DL stints and lack of hustle? Or the lack of a consistent presence in the lineup with Judge out? Maybe. But Romine filled in sufficiently for Gary and the Yankees went out an acquired former MVP Andrew McCutchen to take outfield reps. While he’s no Aaron Judge, he performed adequately in pinstripes.
Perhaps the missing component was their leader, or supposed leader; Aaron Boone. Hiding in the shadows of the April-May splurge, the Pinstripe skipper allowed fans to mount up frustration with the team trending downwards. Boone’s issues were as follows:
The constant misusage of the bullpen. Zach Britton was brought in to be a big moment, set up or closer guy and we saw him enter games where the Yankees were either being blown out or vice versa. Aroldis Chapman saw way too much time between appearances. If he was injured, it took way too long for him to take his DL stint and get healthy. Even in the beginning of the season, guys like Chasen Shreve were brought in during high leverage situations while sitting on what was considered the deepest bullpen in baseball; even before the Britton trade.
The losing lineups. When the Red Sox are the best team in baseball, the Yankees can’t afford to send out lineups with Shane Robinson starting. Especially on back to back days. Especially against the Red Sox. A pennant chance in the AL East is a no days off task and the Yankees eventually let this catch up with them. Part of this is on Cashman, but next year we need to see more consistent winning lineups.
The strategizing of game development was simply not there. The Yankees never pushed the buttons on the base paths, the small game or with runners in scoring position, or on base in general. This comes in practice. Same goes for the poor defense the Yankees exhibited. To be a championship team, you have to do all the little things. Boone has to get the guys in better positions to win games.
Lastly, controlling the team morale will be huge next year for Boone. Setting the tone as the leader of the clubhouse and establishing a culture is something all great managers do and it was nowhere to be found this year. Hopefully, the culture develops in 2019.
The Bombers eventually won the wildcard game against the Oakland Athletics but lost to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox in four games in the ALDS. Not only was it a quick exit, but the Yankees were embarrassed, being blown out and watching the Sox celebrate in the Bronx. Of course, the abrupt exit was icing on the cake to the consistent disappointment theme, piling on with the injuries and lack of production from key guys.
The Yankees tragic end to the 2018 season was by no means ALL on the shoulders of Boone. Many factors led to the early playoff exit this year and managing a team to 100 wins and a wildcard win after losing your best player for most of the second half is not to be overlooked. Girardi’s first year as manager only saw 92 wins and no playoff appearance. However, Boone’s bullpen management, lineups, and overall strategy are going to have to raise up a level if the Yankees are going to chase a ring come 2019.