$324 million. That’s the amount of money that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman paid star pitcher Gerrit Cole in 2019 to wear pinstripes for the rest of his career. Cole was supposed to be the next Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina or CC Sabathia, a bona fide ace who could carry the Yankees to a World Series crown.
Nope, Cole was not that on Tuesday night, not even close. Cole lasted just two innings, giving up home runs to Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber before manager Aaron Boone went with an early hook on Cole. In 13 playoff innings with New York, Cole has now allowed nine earned runs, a disastrous number for someone of his caliber. The 6-2 loss to century long rival, the Red Sox, proves what we’ve known about the Yankees for a decade: the rest of the MLB has caught up to them.
Now, we’ve known that for the past 12 years since the Yankees were last crowned the kings of October in 2009, but for Boone, he apparently just found out last night.
"The league has closed the gap on us," Boone said. "We’ve got to get better in every aspect. Because it’s not just the Red Sox and the Astros now in our league. Look at our division, the Rays are a beast, Toronto, there’s some teams in the Central that are better and better, teams in the West that are better and better, teams that have closed the gap on us."
It’s quite the response from Boone, who, to his credit, has managed the Yankees to an average of 98 wins per season since he took over in 2018. But this is the Yankees. This was Ruth’s team. Then it was DiMaggio’s, Mantle’s, and Jeter’s. Those guys led their teams to championships, something that this current Yankee team is far from doing. The Rays and Red Sox have been the better franchises in the past decade and for good reason.
The Rays have taken an analytical approach under general manager Erik Neander, and it’s led to three straight playoff appearances and back-to-back AL East titles. Neander’s understudy, Chaim Bloom, became the Red Sox general manager in 2019. It’s no surprise to see the Red Sox have taken an analytical approach to the game, something that has brought the team back to life after an underwhelming 2020 season. Those teams get it. The Yankees, however, do not. And a lot of that falls on Cashman and Boone.
But regardless, the Yankees still spend big and should be better. The Yankees spent $203,319,863 million on their roster this season, per Spotrac. That trails only the Dodgers, who have seen their money go a long way, a 2020 World Series Championship in fact. While Boone may very well have coached his last game for New York, Aaron Judge came to his defense last night during his postgame press conference.
"There’s a lot of good answers for that besides being a great manager and leading this team the past couple of years, to winning over 100 games, his leadership skills being even-keeled through the ups and downs, the good times and bad times, that’s part of it," Judge said. "When you are the manager of this team and you wear the N.Y. and you wear these pinstripes, it’s a heavy burden.
"But a guy like Booney, man, he wears it with pride, shows up to work every day and gets us prepared the right way, keeps us motivated and gets on guys when he needs to. It’s been a pleasure the past couple of years to play for him and fight for him every single day. I could spend all night giving you reasons why he should still be the manager."
Boone knows his name could be on the chopping block and said last night that he is prepared for whatever comes in the offseason.
"Whatever does happen, I’m at peace with," Boone said. "I know that I can hold my head high."