The American League Championship Series ending was as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning. It felt like my stomach knew exactly what was going to happen as far back as July. In this piece, we will explore the complexity of frustration that hovers over the heads and lingers in the air between the decision making powers at be: owner and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, General Manager Brian Cashman, and Manager Aaron Boone leading to the complex Yankees frustrations.
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Yankees Frustrations: From The Top Down
Hal Steinbrenner’s first season in control of the Yankees was 2009, having being granted to his position in November of 2008. Since then, the Yankees have been a top 3 payroll in all of MLB in 13 out of 14 seasons (including 2022). 6 of those seasons (including the World Series winning 2009), the Yankees had the absolute top payroll. Also, during this time span, only three times has a top 3 payroll team won the World Series (‘09 Yankees, ’18 Red Sox, ’20 Dodgers). The latest stat includes 2022, since both the Phillies and Astros are outside of the top 3 in payroll.
This information tells us two very important pieces of information: first, there is no corelation between winning the World Series and being a top 3 payroll team, in other words, spending does not equal a championship. Secondly, Hal Steinbrenner is in no way being a cheap spender.
Hal Steinbrenner and his spending are not the problem with the New York Yankees. The problem, however, is the people below him who are not spending his money wisely enough. This becomes especially irritating when the Tampa Bay Rays maintain jaw-dropping low payroll yet continue to have greater playoff success than the Yankees since 2009. Fun fact, the Rays made it to the 2008 World Series with the second lowest payroll in MLB. The Yankees budget has proven worthless when not spent correctly.
Yankees Frustrations: The Defense of Aaron Boone
It genuinely does not seem that fans have seen Aaron Boone’s true talent as a baseball mind because he is restricted by the powers above him. Aaron Boone is a 3rd generation baseball player, so the game is practically rooted in his DNA. It seems hard to believe that someone with his background truly believes that Isiah Kiner-Falefa is one of the best shortstops in baseball; or that Clark Schmidt should have pitched the 6th inning of game 1 of the ALCS; or that Lou Trivino should have pitched over Jonathan Loaisiga in relief of Gerrit Cole in a tie game.
It is reasonable to assume that Aaron Boone says and makes those decisions because there are charts and graphs given to him instructing him to do so, even if it likely goes against his gut. Meanwhile, multiple Aaron Boone rants at umpires shows he cares for his team. If you ask me, the only thing Aaron Boone is guilty of, is doing the job he was hired to do.
The Next Yankees Frustrations: Who Runs the Show
So if the culprit of Yankee playoff failure is not the owner nor the manager, than there is only one sector left to discuss: Brian Cashman and the front office. Let’s make something clear, the Yankees have won 394 games in Aaron Boones 4 full seasons as Yankee manager (short season 2020 not being counted). Allow me to rephrase: with the exception of the Covid-19 shortened season, Aaron Boone has won at least 100 games in his first two seasons, and has never finished a full season with less than 92 wins.
This level of consistency is nothing short of admirable that other teams would die for. Make no mistake about it, Cashman and his front office put together very good baseball teams. However, they are not putting together championship teams. This is why his struggles specifically are that of a playoff failure, and not season failure.
We do know the Yankees are a very analytically driven team, as are most teams. However, it appears that the numbers/charts/graphs consistently manifest themselves over a sample size of 162 games, and not in short series’. So the question must be asked: what numbers do the Houston Astros have that the Yankees do not? Hal, should be asking the analytics department that very question as well as "why should I trust you to give me better results next year?" After all, this is the group who misuses Hal’s money, and feeds the manager critical information that they expect him to use.
Next, ownership should ask Brian Cashman: "why should I trust you to rebuild this team?" From the outside looking in, he does not appear to be the right architect for this project. Cashman already rebuilt the Yankees from the ground up beginning in 2016, and it did not bring a championship. In fact, only one "Baby Bomber" lived up to his hype Aaron Judge. All the rest have underachieved, some even traded. As of the end of the 2022 ALCS, the 2016 rebuild window has officially closed. Would you trust the current regime to build the next Yankees roster?
Sound off on your Yankees frustrations in the comments below!
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