Aaron Boone And Communication
by Paul Semendinger
August 30, 2023
I have been speculating that Aaron Boone doesn't communicate well with his players. I've thought this for a long time. When I hear him answer questions about his players, he says things like, "Yeah, we'll talk it over in a few days," or "No, I haven't talked about that yet, but I plan to." I have been hearing comments like that for years, but I haven't been keeping track of them. (It is too bad there isn't a baseball-reference-type site that archives the content of every manager interview.)
My own eyes never see Aaron Boone with his players during games. I don't see him as a coach talking to his players, going over strategy, technique, or whatever. I don't even see the manager and his players joking around. I also never hear stories from players saying things like, "Well, Boone told me that I need to..." or "I knew I would have to explain my decision when I went into Boone's office." I cannot recall any stories like that coming from a Yankees player, ever, during the Boone era.
Throughout my life as a fan, I have seen and read otherwise with other managers. I see managers talking with players. I read stories of the tutelage they provide. I have read of players saying things like, "I missed that sign and I knew (the manager) would talk to me about it." I never hear stories like that about the current Yankees under Aaron Boone. We see players make bad decisions all the time and I never hear about any accountability. The only thing we see is that player returning to the field and playing the next day as if nothing happened.
I also know that before Boone came in, we saw many instances of Joe Girardi communicating with his players. I saw him, through television coverages, and in stories, teaching, instructing, and communicating. One of the reasons, it was said, that he was let go, was that he was a tough task-master on catcher Gary Sanchez. (Of note - Sanchez's career went the wrong way after Girardi left and Boone's gentler (hands-off?) approach became the norm.)
We also saw, just this year, Anthony Rizzo struggle through the after-effects of a collision that involved trauma to his head. He played for nine weeks, the manager seemed out of touch with his struggles. A good communicator would have seen this much earlier (really, immediately, but I'm trying to give Aaron Boone the benefit of the doubt here). We also saw a player, Domingo German, break down with issues related to alcohol. Was Mr. Boone keeping a close eye on this player? Were the outbursts a surprise? Again, maybe, but I never read or heard that Aaron Boone went out of his way to communicate with that player. We also know that Jose Trevino played half a season with an injured wrist - one so bad that it needed season-ending surgery. Again, there were no reports that indicated that Aaron Boone was keeping a close eye on this. These are just three examples of many over the last six years where the manager has not seemed to be on top of situations regarding his players.
A few weeks ago, a report came that Tommy Kahnle shaves his body after a bad performance. Everyone (players, fans, the media) seemed to know about that... everyone except the manager, the one person in the locker room with the players. Wouldn't Aaron Boone know this? Wouldn't someone who knows his players be in touch?
Yesterday, Harrison Bader was placed on waivers. He didn't get called into the manager's office to hear the news. Instead he found out by watching TV.
When something like this happens, at least on some teams, the player is told by the manager. Again, this is how, in the way I have read and understood the game for decades. The manager, the supposed father-figure, tells the player the bad news.
(And readers, please don't argue that that's not how it's done today. We do know, because it is the only example I have seen of Boone's communication style, that when player makes the team out of Spring Training, in a practice I also don't like, that rather than Aaron Boone making the experience immediately positive, he scares the player into thinking he's going to the minor leagues. Boone also has the process filmed and then put on social media - a practice, again, that I think is the complete opposite of professional, fair, reasonable, or fun. It's not fun to get called into the boss' office to be told bad news. The "Ha Ha, We Tricked You" is fun for the power players in the room, not the employee. Put yourself in that situation, and I'm confident you'll agree.)
I decided to make this article a recuring one, one that I'll visit time and again when I hear comments from players, coaches, the manager, or even the GM, that I feel demonstrate poor communication - which I believe is also a big problem with the way the Yankees operate. The team has seemed dysfunctional, on many levels, including communication, for a long time. This will be the "clearinghouse" for audio, video, and articles that support my contention.
I welcome readers to share links to comments that support this theory. But because I want this to be a true study, I also welcome readers to share articles and such that disprove my theory. Let's make this an informal place where we collect the evidence to support or disprove my theory that communications with the Yankees are poor.
The only rule is that the comments need to be specific. I understand that Aaron Judge may have made a comment about how he likes playing for Aaron Boone. That's fine. It is great to be the best employee and have the boss leave you alone. That is a leadership approach, but it does not demonstrate good communication. What I'm looking for here are examples of the communication from the Yankees manager to and with his players. I'd like to see players telling of how the manager talked or worked with them. I'd like to hear the manager stating how he talked to a player. On and on...
I'd also love for my theory to be proven incorrect, but I sense that it won't be.
(Please put links in the comments and I'll upload them here to our "data base)
Here's the start:
HARRISON BADER (Poor Communication - Placed on Waivers, Learned Through TV)