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Mudville: April 20, 2024 9:14 pm PDT

Why rock the boat when you can sail into the Sea of Postseason Mediocrity?

Why rock the boat when you are satisfied finishing eight games behind a team with about one-third of your payroll?

Why rock the boat when the owner is happy cashing big checks and always doing the opposite of what his father used to do?

Why rock the boat when the players are happy with the manager who does not fly off the handle at them when they make dumb mistakes and runs a country club spring training?

Why rock the boat when others in much lesser positions of power will take the fall for the team’s yearly failures?

Aaron Boone was gifted a three-year extension this week by the Yankees, that’s one year for each of Boone’s coaches who were fired after the season, including Boone’s close and personal friend Phil Nevin.

Hey, somebody had to pay for Boone and the Yankees’ failures.  It sure wasn’t going to be Aaron Boone or Brian Cashman.

Welcome to Boonedoggle.

I fully expected the Yankees to keep Boone as manager and they did because he plays the role of good soldier with Brian Cashman, who, make no mistake, runs every aspect of the Yankees and is in full control of the organization, top to bottom.

Cashman is Yankee Emperor.

The Yankees deserve Aaron Boone. Aaron Boone deserves the Yankees.

Ladies and gentlemen, Aaron Boone.

There has to be a body of numbers to produce a body of evidence.

This is a match made in Nerd Heaven for the Yankees. Boone will do what he is told. He is happy to have the job. He never says a word against management and is forever impressed with the Yankees “compete.’’

His postgame interviews are sure to put the media at ease… and asleep.

Now, yes, the fans are upset by Boone’s approach to the game, but the Yankees long ago stopped being concerned about how their fans view the product. What do they know? Just keep shelling out the big bucks.

And Hal Steinbrenner? He could not be bothered to even answer questions from the media on topics like why his team hasn’t been to the World Series in 12 years, while in that same time the arch-rival Red Sox have won a World Series, come back with a completely different team and won another World Series, have come back with pretty much a completely new team again and once again are knocking on the World Series door this season after dispatching the Yankees 6-2 in the wild card game, then taking care of the AL East Beast Rays in the Division Series and are now locking horns with the Astros, arch-enemy II of the Yankees in the ALCS.

Meanwhile, the Cashman/Boone Yankees have big holes to fill at catcher, shortstop, center field, left field, first base, and starting pitching.

The Baby Bombers that were sold to the Yankees fans as being the Next Generation of stars, have one Bomber in Aaron Judge. The rest have lost their way but that’s okay, as Boone will tell you, he loves the Yankees “compete.’’

Now they don’t compete by taking baseball basics to the field. You know, like strong secondary leads. They don’t compete by putting the ball in play. They don’t compete by hitting with runners in scoring position. They don’t compete by having their $324 million ace not show up for the biggest game of the year.

Come on now, his hammy was a little tight. He showed the same kind of guts out there as Curt Shilling showed in 2004, the Bloody Sock game, by taking the mound that day earlier this month at Fenway Park. Once Cole figures out a pitching world without Spider Tack he will be well on his way to a Cy Young Award.

Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees reacts against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning of the American League Wild Card game at Fenway Park on October 05, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Did I mention that the Yankees are going backwards under Cashman/Boone?

The Yankees won 103 regular season games in 2019, the last full season prior to 2021. In Boone’s first season they won 100 games. This past year, where Boone has done his best work yet to date, some would have you believe, the Yankees managed 92 wins. Those pesky Orioles, who won 52 games all season, beat the Yankees eight times, but that was just an aberration the Yankees will tell you.

The Yankees “compete’’ was so much better than the Orioles.

And when it comes to sailing into the postseason the Yankees keep falling off the boat. In Boone’s first year, they lost in the ALDS to the Red Sox in four games as the Red Sox went on to win the World Series. The next season the Yankees made it to the ALCS because they somehow managed to beat those oh-so-mighty Twins in the ALDS – and we all know how rough and tough the Twins can be in the postseason.

Once they got past the Twins, they lost in six games to the Astros in 2019 in the ALCS. The Astros are cheaters, you know.

Then in 2020 the Yankees could not get past Kevin Cash and his Rays in the ALDS, no ALCS for them in 2020, a short season where basically if your team had a pulse, Rob (Huckster) Manfred invited you to the postseason party.

This past year, Boone’s Yankees almost didn’t make the party, finishing one game ahead of the young and up and coming Blue Jays. They got the wild card game they wanted in Boston against the Red Sox and were quickly dispatched, thanks in part to Aaron Judge being thrown out at home on a blast from Giancarlo Stanton that landed high off the Green Monster, bounded past left-fielder Alex Verdugo and was scooped up by hustling centerfielder Kiké Hernandez who skipped a throw to shortstop Xander Bogaerts – who threw a strike home.

It was all Phil Nevin’s fault.

So, the Yankees were dispatched by their arch-rival yet again. But man, did the Yankees show compete.

If it were only up to compete, the Yankees would still be playing postseason games.

Screenshot image shows New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman giving an online interview on Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

In the autopsy of the season, Cashman admitted it was not the right move to expect Gleyber Torres to play a top-notch shortstop, something that was said in this space from the time the move was made and Didi Gregorius was shown the door a few years ago.

But that’s okay, analytic based GMs like Cashman need to have numbers behind their test tube players before making those final statements and now Cashman knows Gleyber is better off at second base. That’s good. A few weeks ago, I said the Yankees would have an interest in free agent Javy Baez at shortstop. His baserunning skills would help too.

Gary Sanchez, meanwhile, would have been better off somewhere else years ago, and so would have the Yankees, but again, for analytic based GMs like Cashman, there has to be a body of numbers to produce a body of evidence.

He could not tell that simply from Sanchez’ lackluster approach to the job of being a major league catcher. You mean when the pitcher throws a wild pitch I have to sprint to get the baseball? You mean I’m supposed to move my body and block those passed balls? Hey, I’m too busy framing the pitch. You know, framing, that’s what you guys wanted me to do. You wanted me to change my lifelong approach to catching so we could steal a few more strikes.

That’s worked out great.

Who would have thought the baserunners would take advantage of Sanchez’ lazy approach to catching? For analytic-based GMs like Cashman there had to be a body of evidence before decisions can be made.

And by the way, did you hear, Clint Frazier has legendary bat speed? Poor Clint can’t find his way onto the field, but yep, the bat speed is legendary. And Aaron Hicks, well worth the seven-year $70 million contract with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate is here to help keep the Yankees lineup balanced.

Oh, you have to play in games, too. Is that how it works?  Well, Jacoby Ellsbury, I mean Aaron Hicks will be back soon. He’s a riveting player and just wait until you see his “compete.’’

Yes, it was a mistake this season that the Yankees built a bear of a team to think an all right-handed lineup would do ultimate damage at Yankee Stadium, a ballpark that loves lefty hitters.

Are you sure Babe Ruth was lefty?

Mickey Mantle hit right-handed though….. Oh yeah, that’s right, he hit lefty too, I forgot. Roger Who?

Aaron Hicks #31 of the New York Yankees reacts after fouling a ball off his foot against the Washington Nationals at Yankee Stadium on May 09, 2021 in in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

That “righties can hit home runs to right field thing too” didn’t exactly work out the way the Yankee nerds told Cashman it would work out. In fact, the Yankees were 46-35 at home this season, a .568 winning percentage. The last time the Yankees played a full schedule in 2019 they were 57-24 in the House That Ruth Built, a .704 winning percentage.

But the “compete’’ at home this year was sure something to behold.

And once Cashman & Co. realized the obvious that they needed a left-handed bat at Yankee Stadium they went to Hal Steinbrenner to get the job done, sparing no expense to bring the always dangerous left-handed bat of Rougned Odor to the Bronx.

Yes, Odor was coming from a team that can’t play baseball, the Rangers, but that didn’t matter. Coming to the Yankees would light up the lineup! And just because he stuck out 178 times his last full season in 2019, does not mean he was a whiff machine. Those 100 strikeouts as a Yankee over 322 at-bats this season produced a mighty .202/.286/.379 slash line.


If Odor wasn’t the answer, Cash and Hal had one more Rangers trick up their sleeve to get a much needed lefty power bat in the lineup at the trade deadline.

Do you believe they were able to land the one and only Joey Gallo? What a steal!

In 58 games as a Yankee, Gallo struck out 88 times, giving him the most strikeouts in the world in 2021 with 213. But at least he produced a .160/.303/.404 slash line for the Yankees. He could not manage a sacrifice fly for the Yankees, but hey… he does have two over his career in 2,401 plate appearances.

Baseball or Bust stumbled across that statistic during the season and still can’t believe it’s true.

At least now Cashman has all those numbers in his toolbox when he starts building the 2022 Yankees. For analytic-based GMs like Cashman you have to have a base of numbers to work with and that’s a good thing now. The Yankees also acquired lefty Anthony Rizzo in a trade and he did perform, and what I like too was that he showed leadership in the field, especially in those never-ending Matt Blake “hands over mouth” pitching meetings on the mound. Rizzo always seemed to have something worthy to say after the pitching coach left and since leadership from within was a problem for the Yankees, that was a good thing.

We will see if the free agent comes back to the Yankees.

The biggest question facing the Yankees now that we know that Boone will be here for at least another three years, and perhaps the Yankees will run into a World Series appearance over that time, is this: Is Gerrit Cole really as bad as he looks in big games?

The disappearing act in the wild card game was pitiful.

Joey Gallo #13 of the New York Yankees in the dugout during a game against the Los Angeles Angels in the eighth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 01, 2021 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Cole now has had two seasons and two catchers as a Yankee (he clearly was not a fan of Gary Sanchez catching) so perhaps he can figure some things out. It seems to me that Cole needs a mentor that he can rely upon to point him in the right direction. Do the Yankees have such a person in their organization?

They have lots of numbers, lots of gadgets, lots of excuses, lots of nerds, but do they have that strong voice that has been there, done that, available to help Cole? That would be nice.

While we are at it, how about a base-running coach with some authority. It was sickening to watch Gleyber Torres strike out and see the ball go all the way to the backstop late in the year and he did not hustle to first base and was thrown out. This was not the worst part. The first base coach immediately turned away and went into the dugout. Boone did not get in his grill. Brett Gardner did, but that’s not his job, that’s Boone’s job. Now it seems Cashman wants to have some tough guy coaches to help Mr. Nice Guy Aaron Boone do his job.

It’s about time, but the best managers find a way to be nice when needed and in charge when needed. Alex Cora did not waste any time getting in E-Rod’s face when his left-hander pointed to his wrist a la Carlos Correa pointing to his wrist after a home run in the ALCS Tuesday night.

The game needs to be played a certain way. It’s more than liking your players “compete.’’ It’s getting the most out of your players. Boone, who never managed, now has four years under his belt and another three on the horizon.

For the Yankees to get better, he must get better. Whether Yankee fans like it or not, he is the manager for years to come. Hal Steinbrenner could not even be bothered to take questions on the decision. Cashman said a whole bunch of Cashman things and Boone, of course, let us all know recently that the rest of league has closed the gap on the Yankees.

Yes, they have caught up and lapped them for quite some time. In fact, since 2003, the Yankees have as many World Championships as the Marlins – one.

There is no sense whining about how a once proud franchise has lost its way. The people in charge of the Yankees and Hal the Owner think everything is going along just great.

Don’t be silly, fans, the Yankees championship supply chain isn’t broken.

They are in perfect position for No. 28 with just a few breaks and a few changes, that is essentially the word that came down from on high this week.

The Yankees are right there and almost certainly more playoff teams will be added to the Manfred Playoff Tournament, so they will get their chance to excel. All they have to do is start winning postseason series. Win a wild card game. Then win an ALDS. Then win an ALCS.

Make it to the World Series and anything can happen.

Just do a better job of putting the ball in play, running the bases, playing defense, coming up big on the mound and upgrading at four to five positions. That’s all it will take. Easy.

The forever manager and forever GM are comfortably set. Now get the job done.

45+ years, columnist at NY Post for the last 23 years prior to joining BallNine. Elected to the NY Baseball Hall of Fame. Former SportsTalk Host (KFMB), ESPN’s First Take and Cold Pizza contributor. Frequent guest on radio shows and podcasts nationwide. Author of seven books. Seen in episode 10 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” (the one with Dennis Rodman). First baseball interview he conducted was with Thurman Munson. Now you know why he is America’s Most Beloved Sportswriter.

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