Aaron Boone bullied a reporter again on Sunday.
It has become one of the few things the Yankees manager does well.
“Save it with that question,” he snarled when asked if he still believes his team is championship-caliber.
This is not that big a deal on a scale of one to Savages. The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner — who dared point out the Bombers had lost two of three to the lowly Rockies in historic and miserable fashion — will be OK. And Boone is right in a vacuum. These things happen sometimes. But that does not make it any less telling in our eyes.
We see a guy who is lashing out — and has been lashing out — because he knows the score. General manager Brian Cashman screwed Boone with this shambolic roster. And if they do not pull a wild card bid out of their rear end? Cashman will walk Boone off the Starr Insurance plank. Former hitting coach Dillon Lawson was the warning shot. And we are already starting to see test balloons floated in Cashman-friendly precincts.
Boone should have been fired last October (along with Cashman) after the Yankees were pantsed by the Astros in the ALCS. Anyone with a brain knew they were headed nowhere. But owner Hal Steinbrenner did not realize this. Or he just did not care. So Cashman got a new four-year deal and Boone stayed put. Then the Yankees more or less ran it back, one Aaron Judge injury away from mediocrity. And here we are.
We will never truly know how good or bad a manager Boone is, because we will never know where his on-field and strategic authority ends and Cashman’s begins. But if this team misses the postseason, someone’s head will have to roll. And it sure as heck will not be Cashman’s.
Fair? Probably not. Boone did not saddle himself with a rash of injury-prone underachievers and Quadruple-A warm bodies. And he has not orchestrated 14 years of flawed team-building. But, to steal from Boone’s rant in the bowels of Coors Field, that is Major League Baseball for you.
We would still bet on the Yankees making the postseason this fall, even after this Denver debacle. They play too many bad teams over the next two-and-a-half months. A trade deadline transformation seems highly unlikely — they’re already playing the why-have-Cody-Bellinger-when-you-can-get-Randall-Grichuk game — but if Judge returns and a few guys get hot, the path to 88-90 wins and a bid is there.
Boone probably keeps his job if so. And slapping around the Twins in the wild card series would likely guarantee it. But anything short of that? Boone is going to take the fall. And he acts — and sounds — like a man who knows it. And is unsure he can do anything to change it.