Past Perspectives (2017) - New Manager Aaron Boone
By Paul Semendinger
Originally Published - December 2, 2017
Republished - August 17, 2023
NOTE - After reposting the 10:00 article yesterday on the Yankees' coaching philosophy, I went back and re-read my article from when the Yankees first hired Aaron Boone. I figured this was also worth sharing again.
Aaron Boone has been named the manager of the Yankees. I want to be positive. But, my gut reaction is not one of optimism and I realize that that perspective isn’t fair.
No one, except for the Yankees’ management, knows what took place in the interviews. We weren’t there. I have to assume that Boone answered the questions extremely well. I have to assume that he brought ideas to the table that the other candidates did not. I have to assume that he presented himself as the man that can (and will) do the job. We have to assume… well, there is a lot we have to assume.
Aaron Boone is now the manager of the New York Yankees. He might be great. I hope he is great. The Yankees need him to be great. I wish him only the best.
All that being said, here are some of my perspectives on this announcement:
- Going back to my original gut reaction, I feel that this team, full of young players who have great futures, and on the cusp of a championship, needed a leader that has experience, at least at some level, managing and running a baseball team. Aaron Boone has none. I believe managing (and really most leadership positions) look easier from the outside. People often say, “I could do that,” but it is (very) different when you are the person who has to make the immediate decisions. We don’t know, and the Yankees don’t know, how Boone will handle any of this. New York is a tough place to manage. Managing the Yankees is the biggest managerial job in baseball. This will be a very tough road for a novice.
- Aaron Boone was interviewed on November 17. If he was such a great choice, and if he did so well in the interview, why did the Yankees wait two full weeks after the interview to offer him the position? Is it possible that the Yankees weren’t sold on Boone initially, but rushed to make an announcement because the organization seemed to lack direction and they needed a manager in place as they begin the chase for Ohtani? It seems that just a few days ago, there were reports that the first round interviews didn’t go well, that the Yankees were bringing in a new collection of manager candidates, and that the process might not even be finished by Christmas. What changed?
- In modern times, two Yankees infielders hit legendary playoff home runs against the Red Sox. Those two players are Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone. Bucky Dent managed the Yankees in 1989 and 1990. He was brought on during the 1989 season and managed the Yankees’ final 40 games. The Yankees went 18-22. Dent didn’t last the 1990 season. After 49 games (and an 18-31 record), he was fired.
- One HUGE difference between Dent’s history and Boone’s is that Bucky Dent had been managing somewhat successfully in the minor leagues before taking over the Yankees’ position. In fact, Dent’s hiring as manager of the Yankees made a lot of sense. He had been managing in the Yankee system since 1985. He managed two years at single-A (Fort Lauderdale) with a record on 157-122 (.562) and was in his third year managing the Yankees AAA affiliate (Columbus Clippers), with an overall record of 219-209 (.511) when he was brought up to New York to manage. Dent knew the system, he knew the players… Boone has none of that. As a manager he is an unknown entity to everyone in the system. No player has played for him. No one has seen how he handles in-game decisions. No one has seen how he handles the media when things go wrong. No one knows how he runs a clubhouse. There are a lot of unknowns. That scares me. I think this team needed someone who had experience as a leader in some capacity. This is a huge gamble.
- Not only has Aaron Boone never managed a team. This was the first time he was even ever interviewed to manage a team.
- Spring Training will be interesting. A lot of the Yankees’ success came from the little things that took place at Spring Training. The drills, the tone, the structure… all of that matters. I remember when Joe Girardi took over as manager and he made the time for the players to have a fun non-baseball activity together. I believe one year they went bowling, for example. Decisions like that were credited at the time with bringing the team together. Years before, after he made the famous “Flip-Play,” Derek Jeter noted that the Yankees practiced that very play every year in Spring Training. These things do come back. What will Aaron Boone’s camp look like? How will the decisions he makes in February and March impact the Yankees in August and September (let alone in October)?
- I have said all of this before, but it is all worth repeating. I have to assume that Aaron Boone knows a lot about analytics. That seems to be the new thing – “thinking managers.” But, a lot of “new” thinking is just recycled “old” thinking. By hiring a young manager with no previous managerial experience, some will write that the Yankees are paving a new path or joining the new trend. In actuality, this has been something the Yankees have done throughout their history – from the start. The following chart is of Yankees managers who were 45 years-old (or younger) and who had no big league managerial experience when they first took the job as Yankees manager.
The idea of hiring a young manager who understanding the “new baseball thinking of today” or who can “better relate to players” is as old as the game itself. This is not a new trend or a new way of thinking. It is, rather, how it has been done time and time and time again.
Also, very few of those managers above took over a team like this one that was supposed to win immediately:
Ralph Houk did in 1961 and won the World Series. He lasted three seasons. (Ralph Houk had previously managed the Yankees AAA franchise from 1955-57.)
Yogi Berra did in 1964 and took the team to the World Series. He lost the World Series and was fired. (Yogi had never managed or coached before.)
Dick Howser did in 1980 and took the team to the American League Championship Series. He lost the series and was fired. (Dick Howser had been a Major League coach for the Yankees.)
Gene Michael did in 1981 and he didn’t last the whole season. (Gene Michael had also been a Major League coach and a Minor League manager.)