Now that we’re a little more than a week into the season, it’s time for the 2020 debut of the manager evaluation survey series. For a refresher, take a look back on the 2019 summary of the series from last fall.
It’s gotta be a good time to be Aaron Boone right now. The Yankees have the best record in baseball at 7-1 and are two games ahead of the Orioles (?!) in the division. With that, let’s do a quick roundup of Boone-related news before we jump into the polls:
The manager said it was difficult to send down Clint Frazier last week. “Clint’s ready to be an impact player in this league. There’s no doubt in my mind.” (NJ.com)
There’s been a slew of pitcher arm injuries around the league, Yankees included. Tommy Kahnle will have Tommy John surgery, as you know. Perhaps that’s why Boone avoided Zack Britton the other night in a save situation vs. the Orioles. (Bryan Hoch)
Boone took a little bit of heat for his bullpen management. The Britton example above was one example, though his postgame rationale clarified things. Additionally, instead of going to Kahnle in a tight game in Baltimore last week, he stretched Jonathan Loaisiga out for a third inning and got burned. Of course, we didn’t know Kahnle’s health situation at the time, so Boone sort of gets a reprieve. He also could have gone to Chad Green in that spot, for what it’s worth.
After James Paxton’s second lackluster start last night, Boone said that physically the starter is fine: “I feel like he’s healthy and I feel like he feels good”. After that, he danced around another question: Can Paxton compete without his typical velocity? Boone said: “I thought he competed tonight” and followed up with how he’ll continue to work on getting his mechanics back into shape. It’s a bizarre situation, to say the least. (YES)
It’s not clear when Aroldis Chapman will rejoin the Yankees even though he was cleared on Friday. Boone noted that he’ll throw a bullpen today. (Bryan Hoch)
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know that Monday mornings are for a review of Boone’s skillset as the Yankees’ manager. The idea was to get the fanbase’s perspective on Boone’s in-game decision making, his communication with the media, and his relationship with his players. Now, let’s reflect back on the voting from this season.
As with most managers, in-game strategy is often heavily scrutinized. And, because Boone had never managed before, there was plenty of concern about his ability to manage a game. Particularly, bullpen usage. Along with lineup construction, bullpen decisions are typically the easiest to judge a manager on.
Boone received solid ratings in this category throughout the season, though he was better regarded for his media and clubhouse skills. The verdict on his managing was also pretty volatile this season with a significant swings from week to week. Let’s highlight a few of those notable ups and downs.
Confidence in Boone’s decision-making gradually rose through the end of June, but took a steep decline down in our July 8th voting. That week’s polls came right at the All-Star break. And, at that time, the Yankees lost back-to-back games against the Rays, both by one run. There was frustration about Boone resting a number of players that series instead of trying to go for the kill. The team entered the break up 6.5 games on the Rays. Of course, as we saw all summer, the Yankees were very conscious of keeping everyone fresh.
After the team returned from the break, Boone’s strategy ratings recovered. Part of that certainly has to do with getting further away from that weekend series against the Rays, but it also helps that the week of July 22nd’s voting occurred after his famous “savages” tirade. Now, that rant certainly doesn’t affect strategy directly, but there was a spillover effect to some degree.
The goodwill from that episode didn’t last long. After dropping three of four to Boston and making some questionable bullpen moves vs. the Twins in a wild series in Minnesota, his strategy rating tanked. That dip was once again temporary though, as after the trade deadline and into late August, things remained pretty steady. Everything was pretty ho-hum in August as the Bombers’ built up a cushy division lead.
Things went topsy-turvy in September, however. The Yankees decidedly didn’t put the pedal to the medal for home field advantage. Boone played things carefully and rested key players down the stretch. The low of September was the week of the 16th’s voting, which came right after a 3-3 week against the lowly Blue Jays and Tigers. Additionally, Gary Sánchez strained his groin in that Detroit series in which Boone said he gave Gary the green light (he was probably just covering for his player, though). Also in that Tigers series — Chance Adams gave up a walk-off in a game which Aroldis Chapman didn’t pitch. All of that clearly frustrated everyone hoping for home field in the playoffs.
Then came the postseason. To no surprise, Boone scored highly on October 7th when the Yankees were up 2-0 on Minnesota. Things came crashing down a week later when the Yankees left Houston even at 1 win a piece in the ALCS. A lot of folks didn’t like that Boone pulled a seemingly strong Chad Green for Adam Ottavino in that Game 2 loss. Finally, in our voting last week after the Bombers were eliminated, Boone hit his season low in strategy rating. A lot of that, in all likelihood, is a result of disappointment and frustration and not so much on how Boone performed. But, Game 2’s loss was something of a turning point and he took some heat for it. Additionally, his lineup construction (i.e. Brett Gardner hitting third in Game 3) didn’t go over well.
Cumulatively, Boone ended the season with a 7.2 out of 10 strategy rating. Though we don’t have anything quantifiable to compare to from 2018, I think it’s safe to assume he took a step forward with his decisions from the dugout this season.
As a former broadcaster for ESPN, there were high expectations for Boone’s interactions with the media. Based on this season’s voting, Boone received plenty of plaudits for his communication with reporters.
From the beginning of this feature to early September, Boone’s media ratings gradually rose. There were a couple of peaks, most notably the “savages” week of July 22nd. He also had a little bit of a jump from June 17th to June 24th, which was not long after the Yankees had acquired Edwin Encarnación and demoted Clint Frazier. The skipper had to handle a number of questions pertaining to Frazier’s reporting window to Triple-A.
Boone didn’t take a hit in this category until September 16th’s voting, which I covered a bit in the prior subsection. That was an instance of what was viewed as poor managing spilling over to this category than anything else. Boone was pretty candid that week, as you may recall, particularly after the Adams vs. Chapman debate in the Detroit walk-off loss. You may recall that he wanted to save Chapman for a save situation. Obviously, that didn’t go over well, but he wasn’t deceptive with the media.
In the playoffs, and really just the ALCS, Boone’s media performance took a nosedive as the Yankees’ lost control of the series against Houston. In this instance, however, the voting didn’t necessarily just reflect that the Yankees as a whole were struggling. Rather, and maybe this is me editorializing a bit, but it didn’t appear that fans took too well to his explanation of his lineup. He didn’t come across very confident in his answer.
As a whole, Boone ended with a strong 8.4 out of 10 rating for his media interactions.
Here’s where Boone shines. As expected, too. Toward the end of Joe Girardi’s tenure, there were rumblings about his lack of connection with the clubhouse. Boone was supposed to be a 180 from that. Based on the voters’ perspective, he’s been excellent in this facet.
Now, the problem with grading Boone’s performance with the clubhouse is that it’s the most difficult one for an outsider to evaluate. There’s basically no insight into what goes on between those four walls.
That said, there are some lagging indicators of how Boone bonds with his players that anyone can see. And most obviously, the “savages” and subsequent responses from Boone’s players to the media said a lot. There weren’t many ebbs and flows in this category, but clearly the voting after the “savages” rant was a high water mark. The only real low was mid-September, after the Detroit/Toronto week that I’ve already discussed. And that was really just the spillover of a poor week of play hurting him. Same with the playoffs — it’s hard to imagine that he lost the clubhouse in the matter of a week of bad results against Houston.
Boone ended the season with an impressive 9.1 out of 10 rating for his handle on the Yankees’ clubhouse.
Thus concludes the manager evaluation series for 2019. It’ll return right before the regular season begins in 2020. Since there’s plenty of time between now and then, I’d appreciate any feedback on this weekly series in advance of 2020. Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments below and I’ll weigh them for the future.
At some point later this week or next, I’ll provide a more detailed analysis of this year in voting. For now, one more summary before we get to the polls:
This is it for our inaugural Manager Evaluation Survey series in 2019. Wish we had another week or two of it, but so it goes. Aaron Boone’s club was eliminated at the hands of a great Astros team in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday night. Now that we’ve had a day to stew on the series loss, it’s time for one last referendum on Boone’s abilities this year.
Recent Aaron Boone News:
After Game 4’s ugly and error-filled loss, the skipper was ready to “flush it” not longer after the final out. The Yankees rebounded with a win the next night even though things looked really bleak after Game 4. Perhaps Boone’s demeanor helped the club bounce back from not only a poorly played game, but also keep his players on task after the upsetting finish to CC Sabathia’s career.
Boone pushed Luis Severino in spite of a shaky outing, though it didn’t come back to bite the Yankees at all. In retrospect, it was good that he gave him some leeway. Eventually, Sevy was removed in the middle of the fifth inning for Chad Green, who escaped a jam.
One move that drew plenty of ire: using Adam Ottavino to open the seventh inning. He walked George Springer and allowed a hit-and-run single to José Altuve before getting removed. Zack Britton wasn’t able to wiggle out without allowing the inherited runs to score.
Before the game, Boone told the media that Giancarlo Stanton would probably have been on the injured list if it were the regular season. Still, the manager said he was available to pinch hit, but did not use him.
Boone started Aaron Hicks for the first time in the postseason.
Game 4 decision-making:
We finally saw the bullpen wear down at this point. Chad Green, who had been nails, entered in the sixth for Masahiro Tanaka, but struggled and gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Correa. Boone had little choice but to constantly go to a small subset of relievers, which got even smaller because…
…Ottavino failed to get an out in this one, again. The skipper went to him for the eighth when down 6-3. Now, he didn’t get much help because of a DJ LeMahieu error, but still.
Stanton was in the same boat as Game 3.
Boone moved up Hicks to the three-hole. He remained in the heart of the lineup the rest of the series.
Game 5 decision-making:
The manager finally penciled in Stanton to the starting lineup, though the slugger went hitless. He benched Edwin Encarnación in his place.
In the top of the sixth, Boone visited James Paxton on the mound with one on, two out, and the Yankees ahead 4-1. Paxton was adamantly wanted to stay in and Boone obliged. The crowd was fired up and I have to imagine the team was too. The lefty got the final out, though it was a little scary — Robinson Chirinos flew out to the wall.
After that, Boone used Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman to seal the victory and force a Game 6 in Houston.
Game 6 decision-making:
Chad Green opened and allowed a three-run homer to Yuli Gurriel in the first inning. Not ideal for a bullpen game! But, Boone did steal four shutout frames from JA Happ and Luis Cessa.
A day after returning to the lineup, Boone sat Stanton for EE in this one.
Should Boone have ordered Aroldis Chapman to intentionally walk Altuve in the bottom of the ninth with Jake Marisnick on deck?
Here’s Boone’s post game press conference following elimination:
Tough loss last night, to say the least. Last night’s loss to even the ALCS at one a piece ended right around one in the morning, so if you missed it, make sure you catch up with Steven’s recap. Now, on to our regular Monday morning feature, which is slightly different this week.
At the recommendation of one commenter last week, I’m no longer going to show voting results from the previous week until after the current polls. Obviously, scroll all the way down if you must, but perhaps this will help avoid some bias from seeing prior results.
2019 Regular Season Record: 103-58 (AL East Champions!) ALCS: Yankees tied with Astros in best-of-seven series, 1-1 Upcoming: Games 3, 4, and 5 at home vs. Houston on Tuesday through Thursday. Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) in Houston on Saturday and Sunday.
Recent Aaron Boone News:
Boone hopes that Giancarlo Stanton will be able to return to the starting lineup for Tuesday’s Game 3 in the Bronx. He suffered a quad strain in Game 1.
Game 1 decision-making:
In Game 1’s win, Aaron Boone gave Masahiro Tanaka the hook after six innings. Tanaka had faced the minimum, not allowed a run, and only threw 68 pitches. In spite of Tanaka’s dominance, Boone didn’t hesitate to avoid his starter facing the Astros lineup a third time through.
Another key decision from the series opener: Boone penciled in Gleyber Torres in the three-hole. That was Brett Gardner’s spot for all of the ALDS, and the Yankees didn’t tweak the lineup at all that series. Nonetheless, it paid off on Saturday as Torres drove in five runs.
Game 2 decision-making:
Boone had a very quick hook for James Paxton in Game 2. Down 1-0 with runners on first and second and one out in the third, Boone summoned Chad Green in relief. Green got Alex Bregman to line out and Yordan Álvarez to pop out to escape.
The skipper lifted Green after two scoreless frames for Adam Ottavino with one out and nobody on in the fifth. Houston’s top of the order was due up, and George Springer hit the first pitch out to tie it up. Green seemingly had more in the tank and hadn’t yet gotten to the second time through the order. Perhaps the first move to backfire on Boone this postseason.
Ottavino ran into some bad luck trouble after the Springer dinger. Michael Brantley reached base on a strikeout that went to the backstop and José Altuve hit an infield single. Otto did strike out Bregman looking, and then Boone lifted him for Tommy Kahnle againt Álvarez. Kahnle punched out the rookie swinging. He also pitched a clean sixth and seventh.
In the top of the seventh with nobody on and two out against Verlander, Cameron Maybin walked. If Boone was going to pinch hit Stanton, that seemed like an opportunity to do so.
Boone called on Aaron Hicks for the first time in the 10th. He pinch hit for Cameron Maybin to lead off the frame against righty sidearmer Joe Smith. Hicks grounded out sharply to first.
After Zack Britton pitched the eighth and Aroldis Chapman exhausted 25 pitches in the ninth, Boone turned to CC Sabathia to start off extra innings. The vet retired his only hitter: Michael Brantley. Looks like he’s a LOOGY option now.
After CC came Jonathan Loaisiga, who had a rough one. He walked the only two batters he faced and ceded to JA Happ against Álvarez. Happ struck him out and induced a fly ball against Yuli Gurriel to wiggle out of the jam. Unfortunately, it ended in the bottom of the 11th when Carlos Correa launched Happ’s first pitch into the seats for the walk off.
Please take a moment to vote in the three polls below:
To see last week’s voting results, click read more below.
Pretty great start to the postseason, huh? Hopefully the Yankees can take care of business tonight which would give them four days of rest before the ALCS begins on Saturday.
As I mentioned in last week’s edition of this feature, we’ve finally gotten a better look at Aaron Boone’s in-game strategy. The Yankees pretty much coasted through September, and Boone’s only real responsibility was to get the team healthy and well rested for October. Now that the playoffs have begun, the importance of his lineup and bullpen usage is pivotal. Looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks about how he’s done with that in this week’s strategy poll question. Before we get to that, let’s summarize where Boone’s club stands.
2019 Regular Season Record: 103-58 (AL East Champions!) ALDS: Yankees lead best-of-five series against Twins, 2-0. Upcoming: Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) at Minnesota on Monday and Tuesday. Game 5 (if necessary) at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
Recent Aaron Boone News:
First and foremost:
Aaron Boone gave his speech to the team yesterday. The message?
“The next play is the most important, all the time. You can't be held back by a mistake, you can’t let your guard down because you're having some success. The next play is too damn important.”#yankees#alds
Bobby called for Boone to bat Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton back-to-back this postseason, but the skipper didn’t oblige. It certainly hasn’t stopped the Yankees from producing as they’ve scored 18 runs in two games. Somewhat surprisingly, this comes with Brett Gardner manning the three-hole.
Boone’s relied heavily on his bullpen in the first two games of the series.
In game one, Boone had a number of pivotal decisions to make:
In the fifth inning, the manager let James Paxton face the Twins’ top of the order for the third time. With a runner on second, one out, and the Yankees ahead 3-2, he struck out Mitch Garver. Then, Jorge Polanco tied the game with a single to left field. That was it for Paxton.
Boone summoned Adam Ottavino to face Nelson Cruz right after the Polanco hit. Otto walked him and his night was done.
Enter Tommy Kahnle, who escaped the fifth unscathed. The Yankees took a 5-3 lead in the bottom half of the inning, but Kahnle surrendered a solo homer to Miguel Sanó to make it 5-4. He stayed in for two more batters before getting pulled with one on and one out.
Chad Green recorded the last two outs of the sixth inning. The Yankees tacked on two in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-4.
Somewhat surprisingly, Boone elected not to have Green pitch another inning in spite of him being accustomed to multi-inning outings. Instead, Zack Britton pitched a clean seventh inning.
Since the Yankees made it 10-4 right after that, we didn’t have to see how Boone would handle the 8th. Would he have gone another inning for Britton if it was a three-run game? Boone said yes in the postgame. But with the big lead, he used JA Happ who pitched a scoreless eight.
Aroldis Chapman closed the win with a six-run lead in the ninth.
In game two, he probably could have let Masahiro Tanaka pitch longer than five innings considering the team’s 8-1 lead. But, no harm, no foul.
One more game two anecdote: in the pregame presser, Boone talked about how Didi Gregorius may just need one hit to break out of his funk. Well, perhaps the manager was prophetic. Didi hit that awesome grand slam later that day. But more importantly, it just goes to show how much faith he has in his players, even when they’re struggling.
Speaking of Voit, Boone chose to pencil in Edwin Encarnación over Voit as the starting designated hitter. EE’s health was in question before the series, but he’s put an end to any concern with his strong performance thus far.