You thought Girardi took It with him… you were wrong.
With one pitch, the Yankees went from a glorious 3-1 series victory to devastating tie. Just a few millimeters difference and Smoak’s bat misses. But that’s what fast balls do; they jump off the bats of power hitters.
Do you know what binders do? They lie. Not outright lies but lies of omission. Binder said that D-Rob owns him in head-to-head battles. Binder also said that Josh Donaldson is always to be feared. Binder did not say how Donaldson hits when injured. He did not say that reborn Justin Smoak is different than old Justin Smoak. Binder, you snake.
One series is in the books and, hopefully, Aaron Boone has learned to manage the binder. He was hammered in the press for it. But it was a mistake probably that had to happen.
It’s tempting to lean on the numbers. It doesn’t take guts. Yes, analytics is an important weapon. But so are the eyes. Aaron Boone, of a proud baseball legacy and a successful career analyzing the game, has good eyes. He also has guts.
Boone will learn the courage to trust his eyes. He knew Donaldson was uncomfortable in prior AB’s. He knew Robinson’s past dominance of Smoak was not as relevant. He knew that Smoak is a large man that has harnessed his gifts. And he also knew he was hot.
We all had this information. Fans in Toronto had this information. If you were watching the YES broadcast, you even heard David Cone proclaim it from the booth. Boone, however, did not give himself permission to act on the information. Instead, he pinned his pitcher down with no margin of error against a dangerous hitter.
Boone defended the move. He tried to share the blame with Binder. But reporters can’t grill Binder. He is not available for comment. So next time Binder calls out, Boone will know to Trust but Verify. ‘Yes, the numbers quantify the past,’ he’ll say. ‘But I see a dynamic match-up in front of me. I will act accordingly.’
Averages are compiled by healthy and established players. Outliers are for everything else. That Donaldson AB would’ve been a great opportunity for Robertson to strike. As Boone now knows, he’ll need to prioritize his players’ experience as well as his own.
The front office did not weigh the numbers for their hire of Boone. Because he hasn’t managed before, there aren’t any. The Yankees saw Boone break the backs of their rival with one swing in ’03. They heard him break down games for years since. They acted on the confidence their eyes gave them. Now he must do the same.