Aaron Boone looks disconnected, analytics behind Yankees’ turmoil

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The Yankees have finally found success after experiencing a deeper slump this season than many had anticipated. However, their manager seems to be disconnected and unable to say if the team could end up above .500.

The Yankees’ 5-4 victory over the Astros on Saturday marked their fifth win in six games following disappointing stretches of 2-12 and 14-29. Although they are almost certainly out of playoff contention, sitting 8 1/2 games behind with 26 games remaining, this recent upswing has increased their chances of avoiding their first losing season since 1992.

With a current record of 67-69, the Yankees have an opportunity to restore some pride by finishing the season with a 14-12 record to achieve a .500 season at 81-81, or even going 15-12 to reach 82 wins and maintain their streak of 31 consecutive winning seasons.

While most fans see that as a reasonable objective for September, manager Aaron Boone didn’t delve into that topic when questioned before Saturday’s game at Minute Maid Park.

Boone stated that he didn’t view the situation in that manner. He acknowledged that he’s asked about it often and was aware of their record at 66-69. While expressing a desire to finish the season strongly, he emphasized that there were still four weeks left. Boone’s primary focus was on making sure the team remained adequately prepared, competing effectively, and maintaining a strong competitive stance. Perhaps, he is constrained to look ahead.

Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman are at a Yankees training season.
Torry

Insider claims Yankees’ focus on analytics ruined their roster

Hal Steinbrenner, after witnessing the Yankees’ disappointing last-place finish with a hefty $278 million payroll, has finally acknowledged underlying issues within the organization. While this hasn’t led to a change in Brian Cashman’s role as the longstanding GM, Hal has taken steps by hiring a consulting firm to thoroughly assess the components of Cashman’s analytics department.

One of Hal’s primary concerns is understanding the real significance of metrics like exit velocity for hitters, especially when it doesn’t consistently translate into hitting success (as seen with Giancarlo Stanton). Similarly, he questions the value of pitchers’ velocity if they struggle with control. This scrutiny extends to how the Yankees, and many other teams, invest significant sums in analytics tools that measure various aspects like pitcher velocity and spin rates and hitter bat speed. Hal is left wondering about the tangible benefits of these investments when fundamental aspects of the game, such as teaching pitchers to pitch effectively and helping hitters develop selectivity, are overlooked.

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Brian Cashman, in his pursuit of analytics-driven decision-making, has veered away from the core principles instilled by Gene Michael regarding team construction. These principles include prioritizing left-handed hitters suited for Yankee Stadium, cultivating disciplined and selective hitters with high on-base percentages, ensuring above-average defense at all positions, and fostering a strong focus on fundamental skills. Unfortunately, the 2023 Yankees do not align with these principles. They have featured just one left-handed hitter for most of the season, rank poorly in key offensive categories like on-base percentage (26th in MLB), hits, batting average (.228), and doubles, and exhibit deficiencies in run scoring and baserunning.

Rectifying the issues created by Cashman’s analytics-centric approach will be a complex task, requiring time and an infusion of talent from the farm system rather than relying solely on high-priced, long-term free-agent signings. The Yankees’ player development department has faced similar challenges, struggling with a preoccupation with velocity over the fundamentals of baseball. Addressing these systemic concerns will be essential to rebuilding the team effectively.

Glimmers of hope for the Yankees

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Twitter-@YankeeWRLD

Hal Steinbrenner made significant moves last week to address concerns within the Yankees’ organization. He announced plans to enlist an external company to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of Brian Cashman’s analytics and baseball operations departments. Simultaneously, Hal took proactive steps by calling up the Yankees’ top two prospects, Jasson Dominguez, a switch-hitting center fielder, and Austin Wells, a left-handed-hitting catcher. These moves coincided with the team’s decisions to waive center fielder Harrison Bader and release third baseman Josh Donaldson, both of whom represented disappointing outcomes from Cashman’s acquisitions.

While it remains uncertain how the young prospects will perform, the Yankees’ season has been deemed a disaster by Cashman, prompting Hal to provide them with a month of major league experience. This decision not only offers the prospects a valuable opportunity but also provides Yankee fans with a glimpse of the team’s future. Dominguez, in particular, has been highly touted as a promising talent, often compared to Bernie Williams, the switch-hitting center fielder from the Gene Michael era. Despite a challenging start at Double-A Somerset, Dominguez made significant progress midseason, earning a promotion to Triple-A Scranton, where he excelled with a .419 batting average and 10 RBIs in his first nine games. His debut in the majors was nothing short of impressive, as he hit a two-run homer off Astros’ pitcher Justin Verlander in his very first at-bat on Friday night.

Regarding Austin Wells, who was selected in the first round of the 2020 draft by the Yankees, scouts generally concur that his potent hitting abilities, evidenced by his 16 home runs in 96 minor league games this season, are ready for the major leagues. However, they also acknowledge that his skills as a catcher require further refinement. It’s reasonable to assume that, from Hal’s perspective, fans would prefer to witness a young, left-handed power-hitting catcher in action over Ben Rortvedt, who has struggled with a .113 batting average and has been heavily promoted by Cashman’s analytics department.

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Discussing left-handed hitters in the Yankees’ system, there is a 24-year-old catcher/first baseman named Ben Rice. He is currently enjoying a breakout season at Double-A Somerset, boasting a .332 batting average and a 1.080 OPS as of Friday. Scouts are becoming increasingly interested in his performance. Rice was selected in the 12th round of the 2021 draft from Dartmouth and initially missed the first six weeks of the season due to an oblique injury. According to one scout, “I have a favorable opinion of him. This season, he has demonstrated power. While he’s a capable catcher, his arm strength is not particularly strong. Nevertheless, he possesses strong hitting abilities and exhibits good discipline at the plate. I can envision him joining the Yankees at some point next year, potentially serving as a backup catcher, first baseman, and designated hitter.”

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The Yankees’ top prospect, Spencer Jones, is a sizable corner outfielder standing at 6-6 and weighing 235 pounds. However, he currently exhibits some of the same issues that are afflicting the Yankees at the moment. Jones is not particularly agile, and he strikes out significantly more often than he draws walks. As previously mentioned, the Yankees are in a transitional phase, and it will require some time for them to return to the mold established by Gene Michael. Although it may not be apparent to him yet, Hal Steinbrenner will soon need to confront the idea of absorbing the remaining years of Giancarlo Stanton’s contract. The team cannot persist with Stanton, who embodies many of the team’s current problems, occupying a prominent spot in the lineup.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Aaron Boone looks disconnected, analytics behind Yankees’ turmoil

  1. Boone is exactly right to concentrate on process. Prepare correctly and results take care of themselves. No manager is going to say our goal is to finish above. 500.

  2. I am 88 years old. Have been at or watched Yankee games since I was 6 years old. Have seen everything except a no-hitter. Have watched since Joe D. Been to Spring training games, from 1982ctp.1991.On a Yankee cruise in 1985. Gene Michael was great scout and General Manager. Cashman learned from him and had the advantage of taking over teams that Michael had won with. I don’t know about Analytics, but since I hear about them, it seems that is where the problem is. The Babe. Joe D.,Ted Williams, Hank Aaron probably never heard of that word and look how they did so great!!! Give Cashman his walking papers and teach basics of the game. Even Judge has changed his stance. His left foot in the batters box is further away from the plate, and he often iifts his right hand off the bat as he swings. He is right handed so how does he control the full swing? That’s my question.

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