By Paul Semendinger
August 23, 2023
Aaron Boone might be the nicest man in the world. He might, one day, be a great manager of a baseball team. But, he isn't a good manager today and he hasn't been a very good manager for the Yankees.
Hiring Aaron Boone might have been Brian Cashman's biggest mistake. It might be the decision that costs him his job and his legacy. Imagine how secure Cashman's legacy would been if the Yankees won just one World Series since Joe Girardi wasn't brough back after the 2017 season. Remember, Girardi took the Yankees to within one game of the World Series that year. Imagine how much different the narratives about the Yankees would be if they won just one World Series these last six years. But, of course, that hasn't happened. Worse, the Yankees are drifting farther and farther away from championships, success, and even relevancy. The manager for this entire slide has been Aaron Boone.
What I will never understand is if the Yankees' goal is to win the World Series (and it should be), why they hired Aaron Boone to be the manager in the first place in 2018. That decision will never make sense to me. Boone had no experience as a leader. He never coached. He never managed. All the Yankees could do in hiring Boone was guess and hope and speculate that he'd be able to lead the Yankees to the promised land.
He hasn't, of course.
If the Yankees were so high on his leadership skills and his potential as a manager, they should have hired him as a coach for the big league team, or, better yet, as a manager for a minor league team. Just as teams grow their players, they should also be growing their leaders. Like so many before him, if he has the skills, Aaron Boone could have gained experience and know-how as he climbed the organizational managerial ladder.
But the Yankees didn't do that. They knew better. They were smarter than everyone else. They hired a man who not only never led before, they hired a man that no other team had even interviewed to be a manager. This wasn't just a long shot, it was the long shot of long shots. The Yankees hired as their manager a guy who had never managed anything and who no other baseball club even considered for that role.
Often times when you think you're the smartest person in the room, you aren't. Unfortunately, especially as of late, the Yankees' decision makers seem to prove this on a daily basis. (It is amazing that the only change they made to their coaching staff this year was to follow that same approach and hire as their hitting coach a guy, who like Boone had never coached before. It can't be a surprise that that approach hasn't worked, can it?)
Aaron Boone was hired for the 2018 season and was thrust right into one of the most demanding jobs in all of sports. He became the Yankees manager at the exact time that the Yankees were on the precipice of greatness. He didn't get them there. Today, they seem farther away from greatest than in decades.
Some people like to credit Aaron Boone for his early success. In the regular season, the Yankees were very good in Boone's first years (but, to be fair, Boone's inexperience also got in the way of the Yankees being able to find post season glory).
I have a different perspective. It is my belief that the first few years that a person takes over a leadership role, the results, both good and bad, are often due to the frameworks, expectations, and culture that had been in place from the regime before. It takes time to be able to establish one's own culture.
The following are the Yankees' records under Aaron Boone's leadership:
2018: 100-62 (.617), Postseason: 2-3 (Lost Division Series)
2019: 103-59 (.635), Postseason: 5-4 (Lost Championship Series)
2020: 33-27 (.550), Postseason: 4-3 (Lost Division Series)
2021: 92-70 (.567), Postseason: 0-1 (Lost Wild Card Game)
2022: 99-63 (.611), Postseason: 3-6 (Lost Championship Series)
2023: 60-65 (.480)
I submit that we started to see the real impact of Aaron Boone's leadership in 2020. The Yankees played .550 ball that year. They haven't been very good since.
I know some will say, "The Yankees won 99 games last year," and to be fair, they did, but I think even the biggest Boone supporter would agree that the second half of 2022 was UGLY. The Yankees had a remarkable run to begin the 2022 season. Unfortunately, that was the outlier. That was not the norm. Those three months were not indicative of the greater body of Aaron Boone's overall work.
In short, since 2020, other than the three month period from April through June 2022 where the Yankees were remarkable, they really haven't been that impressive.
Since the start of the 2020 season, the Yankees are 284- 225 (.557). Over a full season, a .555 winning percentage equates to 90 wins - hardly a top team, and often a level that even with expanded playoffs won't always get teams into the postseason.
Bit, if we take away the first three months of 2022, the outlier period, the Yankees are 228-204 (.527).
If we take that winning percentage (.527) and round up, a .530 winning percentage over a full baseball season is 86 wins.
Take away Boone's first two years, where, if nothing else, since he was new, his influence, logically, was less than it is today (the longer one is a leader, the more the organization reflects his leadership), and we see that the Yankees have, as their manager, a person, who at best, is leading an also-ran.
86 wins isn't good enough, but that's what they Yankees have been. Fans have seen this for a long time. Aaron Boone's first two years hid the fact from some, but to others, we saw this a long time ago - from the start.
This is what the Yankees have it's who they are. One might think that the Yankees would have done better considering that since Aaron Boone has been the manager, they traded for the previous year's National League Most Valuable Player (Giancarlo Stanton, 2018), signed the American League's Runner-Up for the Cy Young Award (Gerrit Cole 2020), and had the A.L.'s MVP (Aaron Judge) last year. That's a lot of talent for a team that, at best, is a 90-win club, and more accurately, has played like an 86-win team.
Aaron Boone might someday be a great manager. He isn't one yet. And, even with his years of experience, he has not proven that he knows what to do to fix a team in crisis. His lineup decisions are erratic and the answers he gives to the media are often baffling. Sadly, Aaron Boone, still seems way over his head.
With Aaron Boone, the Yankees took a huge gamble. They took a man not ready to lead a championship team and expected him to defy reason and succeed. It was bound not to work. The longer he remains in the position, unfortunately, the clearer this becomes.
Sure, some of the blame for the Yankees' terrible 2023 season, and their lack of success during this entire era falls on Brian Cashman for the bad roster he created. That's also is big part of this. But it is the manager who has to take responsibility for the daily performance of the team and Aaron Boone is proving that he wasn't and isn't up to the task.
The Yankees and their fans deserve better.