Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Boston Red Sox are Losers...


Photo Credit: David J Phillip, AP

Win or go home, Boston chooses the latter…

The Boston Red Sox are home for the holidays, and it is a fantastic feeling. Sure, it is a little difficult to watch the Houston Astros celebrate another return to the World Series, but for one series, they were the lesser of two evils. My only hope now is the National League (either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Atlanta Braves…most likely the latter) crush the ‘Stros in the Fall Classic.

It would have been more difficult to watch the Red Sox advance to the World Series. It is bad enough they have won more World Series this century than the Yankees. On paper, the Yankees were a much better team this season. But sadly, the game is not played on paper and the Red Sox, as disgusting as it is to say, were better than the Yankees in 2021. It is funny that Red Sox fans were chanting ‘Yankees Suck’ during the ALCS. They could not have even celebrated their place in the American League Championship Series without letting the Yankees seep into their minds.

By the time the Yankees announced Manager Aaron Boone had signed a new contract this week to return for three more years, I had reconciled myself to the fact he was coming back. I cannot really say that I like the move but it had become ‘expected’ to me. He seems like he would be a great guy to have a beer with and discuss the intricate details of the game of baseball, but, after four seasons, he has not proven to be an elite manager. If anything, he has regressed. His decisions cost the team multiple games this year, a season when one more victory would have secured home field advantage for the ill-fated Wild Card game or more success against the Baltimore Orioles could have yielded the division crown. I get why the Yankees Universe is upset about Boone, however, there is nothing we can do about it. It is not like Hal Steinbrenner is going to yield to the pressure and force Boone to resign. He is here and we need to make the most of it. He is the manager of our favorite team and as such, he needs our support. If you cannot support Boone, go join the Mets fan base. I hear there are plenty of vacancies to fill.

Photo Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran, North

I remain convinced the Yankees need an extraordinarily strong bench coach, and someone who can challenge Boone’s ideas. He does not need buddies on the coaching staff…he needs guys who can make the team better with singular and collaborative focus. I have seen a few comments that current bench coach Carlos Mendez and Boone are too much alike. That is exactly what the Yankees do NOT need. For awhile after the regular season, I thought Buck Showalter was the frontrunner for the vacant San Diego Padres managerial position, but it no longer is the case. Buck would be an ideal bench coach for the Yankees. He has the right experience, confidence and temperament to be a tremendous sounding board for Boone. Not sure he would take that type of role, but he would be an excellent fit, in my opinion. A good inexperienced option would be someone like former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. His fire and determination would be a nice counter-balance for the more laid back and jovial Boone. No question Boone needs someone who will challenge his decisions. He may be the final word for in-game strategies but it is critical that he knows and understands the 360˚ view for any choice. Boone’s knowledge of baseball is advanced, having grown up in a baseball family, but there’s room for improvement with his managerial skills.

I am hopeful the Yankees make the right choices for Boone’s catching staff. They have done an excellent job with the pitching instructors they have brought into the organization over the last couple of years, including current pitching coach Matt Blake. They have reinvented hitting education in the minor league system with Dillon Lawson and others. Eric Cressey, on the health and conditioning side of the house, seems to be making a difference. Despite the team injuries this year, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton remained healthy at the same time for the first time in forever. The hope is for the continued innovative hires for the Major League coaching staff to join the holdovers.

If the right coaches are hired and Boone can show maximization of the talent on his roster, he can regain the support of the fan base. Just win, baby. That is the key ingredient. While Boone has many detractors, I do not feel the fan base dislikes the man. They simply doubt his ability to lead and bring the Yankees back to their rightful place in the game’s most important final series of the year. If he wins, all can be forgiven.

Did I mention the Red Sox are losers and headed home to Fenway Park to clear out their lockers? It was poetic justice that former Yankee Adam Ottavino was on the mound when the Astros broke open a tight game with three runs in the eighth inning during last night’s clincher. Ottavino was GM Brian Cashman’s “poison pill” to ensure the Red Sox would not be successful…wink, wink.

Photo Credit: Tony Gutierrez, AP

The Dodgers have been exceptionally good when their backs are to the wall, yet I am skeptical of their ability to overcome the 3-2 deficit in the NLCS, especially with the series’ return to Atlanta for the final game(s). Losing Justin Turner at such a critical time weakens the team despite their depth. The Dodgers have also announced Max Scherzer will be unable to make the Game 6 start due to a “dead arm”. I fully expect the Atlanta Braves to advance to the World Series to play the Astros, and it could happen as soon as tonight. For the Braves, it would be redemption for the many years they have come so close, only to falter. Even though I want the Dodgers to win, I will fully support the Braves in the World Series if they advance. A Braves championship over the Astros would be justice.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is predicting the Yankees will sign Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Robbie Ray. I think I have cooled on Seager for no other reason than his days at shortstop are numbered, and he will require a move to third base sooner than later. I get the concerns about his defensive skills, but he is a talented player. I guess if you believe Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe can be Major League elite at shortstop within the next two years, it makes sense. I am not convinced Peraza and/or Volpe will be great until they prove they can at the Major League level. This is the reason I would much prefer to remove the potential doubt, and sign the better, younger (and understandably more expensive) Carlos Correa despite his role in banging the trash cans. Correa is so talented on both sides of the ball, and he is one of those guys who can make those around him better. Ray makes total sense to me. The Yankees have long admired the pitcher, and with Jameson Taillon scheduled to be delayed next season due to off-season surgery, they could use a guy like Ray to follow staff ace Gerrit Cole. I want to see a strong return by Luis Severino; however, he carries much risk for no other reason than he has not pitched much the last few seasons. I would not want to place the pressure that he must perform for the Yankees to be successful. Remove the pressure, and let Sevy contribute whatever he can in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery. Someone like Ray could be the staff’s workhorse, along with Jordan Montgomery, behind Cole.

Photo Credit: Mark Brown, Getty Images

I hope the Yankees do not go the ‘lipstick on a pig’ route to sign Andrelton Simmons. I want one of the top three available shortstops (Correa, Seager, and Colorado’s Trevor Story) fielding questions from the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits in Tampa next spring.  I am less concerned about pitching and trust one of the younger arms (Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, Luis Medina, Deivi Garcia, etc.) will be ready for a breakout. The sad tale of Garrett Whitlock (lost to the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft) is proof positive that tremendous talent only needs opportunity. I would gladly take Robbie Ray or even the San Francisco Giants’ Kevin Gausman but clearly shortstop, first base, center field and catching are the higher areas of need. Gary Sanchez is the strongest ‘in need of a change of scenery’ candidate on the roster, but with no in-house options currently, they need to find a solid replacement. I have long supported Sanchez despite his struggles but at this point, it does seem he will never be the player we once thought he would be. I had really hoped catching coordinator Tanner Swanson could get through to Gary and help him realize his full potential. However, not everything is possible in this world. I am ready and prepared for change.

I am anxious to get the World Series behind us so that the Yankees can start building for a better, stronger and more successful 2022 season.

As always, Go Yankees!

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