Aaron Boone probably could hear "New York, New York" blaring over the loudspeakers at Petco Park on Friday night as the Rays taunted the Yankees with their song choices after their ALDS Game 5 victory.
But another Frank Sinatra standard could have been just as appropriate for Boone’s post-series dissection: "My Way."
As in the line "Regrets — I’ve had a few."
Does Boone have any regrets about the innovative and unsuccessful opener gambit he and the Yankees’ front office tried in Game 2, when they had 21-year-old phenom Deivi Garcia start and pitch one inning before handing the ball to veteran J.A. Happ?
He does not. Boone will go to the offseason knowing he did it his way (or more likely, the analytics department’s way) — even if the move backfired spectacularly when Happ gave up four runs on a pair of two-run homers in 2 2/3 innings, leading to a 7-5 defeat that changed the trajectory of the entire series.
"I don’t regret Game 2," Boone said after the Yankees’ 2-1 loss in Game 5. "I’m sure there’ll be people who take it to ‘if we just started a guy and went with him, we win the game.’ That’s kind of ridiculous. All over the league, things like this are done and done really effectively, and we’ve done them really effectively."
(Isn’t that kind of the well-everyone-is-doing-it defense? Your kids try that one all the time, no?)
The good news for Yankees fans is that they should get to see more in 2021 of Garcia, who burst on to the scene during the regular season and then was used for a total of one inning in the postseason.
The Yankees' rotation is in major flux heading into 2021.
After winning ALDS Game 1, Gerrit Cole showed his ace-ness in Game 5 (one run in 5 1/3 innings on three days’ rest).
Jordan Montgomery came up big in Game 4 (one run in four innings in his first postseason start).
So those two spots are set.
But with Happ, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka all slated to hit the free-agent market, the rest of the rotation could look very different next season.
There’s Garcia, who should start the season as one of the five starters but who might be on an innings limit after throwing just 35 1/3 in 2020.
There’s Domingo German, who was reinstated last week after serving a suspension for violating baseball’s domestic-violence policy. German, 28, was an 18-game winner in 2019.
Former Yankees ace Luis Severino, who had Tommy John surgery in late February, is expected back at midseason.
The Yankees also have a crew of young righthanders they like as rotation options. That includes 2017 No. 1 pick Clarke Schmidt, who made his big-league debut in 2020; Michael King, who made four starts this season, and the always-present Jonathan Loaisiga, who seems more likely to stay in a multi-inning bullpen role.
The free-agent market will be flush with starting pitchers, including quirky Reds ace Trevor Bauer, and Long Island’s own Marcus Stroman. Of course, the Yankees could simply re-sign Tanaka, Happ and/or Paxton if they want to stay in the family.
(Though Bauer and Cole are known to have had a rocky relationship as UCLA teammates, Bauer tweeted after Game 5: "Though it came in a loss, important to give @GerritCole45 props for that performance tonight. Anyone who is willing to come out on short rest to put his team on his back and try and win a must win playoff game has my respect. Great performance tonight.’’)
Tanaka is the most likely of the three to re-up. Paxton was injured for most of 2020 and Happ is 37 and might file a grievance over the Yankees seeming to manipulate his starts this season to keep a $17 million option for 2021 from vesting.
Unlike the Game 2 gambit, that Yankees contract maneuver with Happ — if that’s what they were doing — worked.
The Yankees didn’t think enough of Happ to give him the 10 starts he needed to vest the option, or to give him a postseason start. But they devised an entire plan for Game 2 to bypass Tanaka until Game 3, use their prized phenom in Garcia for only one inning and give some of the most important innings of the ALDS to Happ just to get a supposed platoon advantage against the Rays.
"I dissect everything, usually on a nightly basis," Boone said, "and will certainly look back and reflect on things. But I don’t have that many regrets."
Regrets? If they really think about it, the Yankees may end up having a few. Or one, at least.