Thursday, November 30 2023

Now, to be fair, what is Boone supposed to say? Our best offensive player, the guy we built the entire roster around, is injured for the foreseeable future. That means it’s extremely unlikely we win this division with an underwhelming group of declining veterans, unproven youngsters and journeymen grinders. Let’s pack it in and call it a day. See everybody in 2024.

That’s not how this works.

Projecting irrational positivity to the media is a fundamental part of Boone’s job, of any manager’s job. He was given a roster — a flawed one, even before Judge’s injury — by general manager Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office. Boone’s job is to make the best of that roster.

There is no way to determine how much blame for the offensive underperformance of fallen All-Stars like Giancarlo Stanton, DJ LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson belongs to Boone, the players themselves, or the front office’s unwavering faith in that aging, injury-prone core.

That’s kind of a pointless conversation at this point. The only way forward, as Boone said in as many words, is to soldier on Judge-less into an uncertain future and hope that the scuffling supporting cast gets its act together.

Because there is no knight on horseback waiting in the wings to save the day (though Oswald Peraza and his .923 OPS in Triple-A deserve another look at an everyday big-league role). For better or worse, these are the 2023 Yankees: a borderline elite run-prevention unit with a kiddie-pool-shallow lineup built around an injured MVP. Not a forsaken team by any means — and the impending return of huge free-agent signing Carlos Rodón should help matters — but one that must beat the odds until Judge’s return.

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