Crossroads

For the twentieth anniversary of its landmark series, HBO launched a podcast celebrating Band of Brothers, the World War Two epic following paratroopers from their training to the end of the war in Europe. This past Thursday, the podcast discussed episode five of the series, titled Crossroads. In the beginning of the episode, the company is fighting at a literal crossroads. In the middle of the episode, the series’ defacto protagonist is at a ‘career’ crossroads as he gets promoted from company commander to a more executive position. At the end of the episode, the company is again at a literal crossroads, heading into the frozen, snowy hell that was the Battle of the Bulge. While the Yankees aren’t fighting fascism (though Yogi Berra was!) and Aaron Boone doesn’t hold a candle to Dick Winters, they, too, are at a crossroads. But do they know it?

When Aaron Boone says something like that, it makes you think…does he, do they, really know where the Yankees stand? Whatever this gap is, the Yankees are on the wrong side of it.

Other teams have passed them in terms of analytics and their application.

Other teams have passed them in their hirings on-field managers.

And that’s just external stuff. Internally, there are also issues with the Yankees and their operation. Their decision making needs to be evaluated. This goes for both process and results.

How is it that Luke Voit became a veritable ghost in the last month of the season?

What is it that leads to Aaron Boone’s often baffling bullpen decisions?

Why load manage to keep guys healthy in September and then not reap the benefits?

Why avoid playing the most complete lineup possible even once?

How did it take so long to move Gleyber Torres off of shortstop?

And, most importantly, why ignore the biggest advantage you have over the entire league: money?

The answers to these questions matter, sure, but whether or not the Yankees change anything up will determine which way they go down their current crossroads.

If they don’t change anything, the team is still likely to be good. This year was a worst case scenario for the offense and they still won 92 games thanks to great pitching. Of course, that didn’t get them very far. There’s nothing wrong with winning 92 games, sure, especially when the second wildcard exists as a backdoor to the playoffs. But is that really good enough? Maybe it is for the ownership and front office groups.

Whether or not it will, something should change. Maybe that’s going back to spending money again. Maybe it’s going a different route with a manager and coaching staff. Whatever it is, it needs to be done for 2022. Whatever it is, it needs to make sure 2021 doesn’t get a repeat performance.

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9 Comments

  1. H. Avis

    First, I wouldn’t call the Yankees pitching “great.” Overall, the ’21 staff performed reasonably well in a league where most teams had mediocre pitching staffs. You can’t compare the Yankee starters to what the Dodgers throw out day in and day out. Same goes for the Giants. However, currently, their relievers are probably close in quality to the Dodgers bullpen.

    Second, the Yankees have to show more faith in some of their top minor league players. Give the most talented farmhands a REAL shot at being regulars They keep turning to many over-the-hill ex-stars when there are cheaper, younger and more athletic alternatives in AA and AAA.

    Lastly, it is pretty clear that the organization is below average in its approach to drafting players – the historical record reveals such. No question, there has to be a major change in the Yankees scouting / player evaluation system.

  2. Terry from LA

    Spend the money. The Dodgers do it. Use the analytics. Get rid of Boone. He’s an idiot.

  3. sturkfeld

    i agree with broussard yankee. the yankees seem to have a very hard time developing minor league players. the pr machine has us believing the minor league rosters are full of upcoming stars. but that’s rarely the case. judge and maybe soriano have lived up to their minor league reviews. how often do we see a minor league pitcher make a difference in the majors. are we drafting inferior talent or just not developing it. it seems there needs to be some kind of minor league review. is the problem in the yankees frount office or on the field?

  4. dasit

    it’s easy to overthink this stuff. hal just needs to spend money, period.

  5. Broussard Yankee

    I would start with an evaluation of how the Yankees draft players. There were four players on the team whom the Yankees had drafted in the last fifteen years – Gardner, Judge, Wade, and Higashioka – and three from International free agency – Sanchez, Severino, and Loaisiga. How is it that the Yankees do so badly? Part of the Rays’ success is how well they draft, even with their bad positions in the draft.

    • UnnamedSource

      For what it is worth, Brett Gardner was drafted sixteen years ago; that is, in the 3rd round in 2005. Loaisiga was originally signed as an international free agent by the San Francisco Giants on 9/13/2012. Nestor Cortes, Jr. was drafted by the Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 draft, and he was signed by them on 7/12/2013. Jordan Montgomery was drafted by the Yankees in the 4th round of the 2014 draft and he signed on 6/16/2014.

    • dasit

      unlike the rays, who need to graduate a continuous flow of prospects, the yankees can afford to use prospects to acquire established players. they also have an underrated record of trading established players for prospects (torres, voit, frazier, green). they can and should work to improve, but apart from boone’s incompetence i don’t see the organization as a complete mess. if nevin doesn’t wave judge home maybe they win the game and go deep in the post-season and we’re not even having this discussion

  6. Thomas Stanley

    Just putting Aaron Boone’s name in the same sentence as Dick Winters is an abomination. Otherwise, excellent article and here’s hoping YankBrass reads your stuff.

  7. Bart

    Just looking for change we can believe in…

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