When Aaron Boone was asked about his team's scant run production last weekend in Boston, he seemed prepared for it — after all, he's been watching what everybody else has been watching. With Aaron Judge out indefinitely with a foot injury suffered by slamming against a bullpen gate in Los Angeles on June 3, the New York Yankees' lineup has gone silent.
In the past 18 days, the Yankees rank 22nd among 30 teams in home runs, last in runs scored, last in batting average (.198), last in on-base percentage (.258) and 27th in slugging percentage. But Boone lifted his lineup card and referred to the names it contained. Giancarlo Stanton. DJ LeMahieu. Anthony Rizzo. Josh Donaldson. These are players fully capable of doing damage, Boone said, rejecting what he referred to as the Judge "storyline," that the team can only succeed with its biggest star.
To buy into this, he added, would be "an excuse."
"We've got plenty of guys capable of putting up big runs," Boone said Sunday. "I know it's going to be the story every day until we start banging away. But we've got more than capable people to get it done. We just got to get a little more consistent right now."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has walked the same party line. On Monday, Cashman denied seeking outside reinforcements to replace Judge.
"Ultimately, we've just got to wait for him to get back," he said. "In the meantime, we've definitely got a lot of guys that are more than capable of doing great things for us. We just need that. We're missing it right now, but it'll come around."
But at some point, Cashman must decide whether he believes the lineup needs help — and he can lean on 26 years of experience as Yankees GM to make an informed decision. If he does, he might look back to one of the best and most proactive moves of his career, in June 2000, when the Yankees — who had won the World Series in three of the four previous seasons — looked old, with a sterile offense.