Perspectives: Yankees Double Down on Boone
by Paul Semendinger
October 20, 2021
Well, there you have it.
Boone is back.
What’s the old saying? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result.
This is the way the Yankees of today run things.
They had a manager who had his team get worse, rather than better, year after year. They rewarded him with three more years. I would like to know what Aaron Boone has done that inspires such confidence in the Yankees’ GM and owner. The 2021 season was long, and unfun, and saw the Yankees play a terrible brand of baseball. And yet, they’re bringing back the manager who presided over all of this…a manager who watches the game by blowing bubbles. I guess that’s the new Yankees look. (It’s a look that I don’t like.)
What I have never heard, from any baseball analysist, player, coach, or manager are any words that indicate that Aaron Boone is a good manager. What team has ever said, “We know we have to be on the top of our game, Boone is in the other dugout?” (No one has.)
Joe Torre said words to the effect of, “Boone knows baseball, he comes from a baseball family.” That’s not saying he’s a good manager. A lot of guys know baseball who aren’t good managers.
And let’s be clear and specific, and direct, he is not a good manager.
The players seem to like him. The media likes him. It seems the front office and the owner love him, but he’s not a good manager. He’s just not.
In the four years he’s managed the Yankees, the Yankees have gotten further and further away from the World Series. As it looks today, the Yankees of 2022 just might be the fourth best team in the division. The man presiding over this will be Aaron Boone. He is going to be expected to bring the Yankees back.
But I have to ask, what player has thrived under Boone’s leadership? We’ve seen some players peak, for periods, but no Yankee (maybe other than Aron Judge) has sustained excellence throughout Boone’s tenure.
Of the team Boone inherited, what young players have blossomed? (None.)
We often see teams that seem to be two steps ahead of the Yankees. Under Boone, when have the Yankees ever been a step or two ahead of the competition? (It hasn’t happened.)
What is it that inspired the Yankees to bring him back?
I believe that this doubling down on Boone was for one purpose. It was for Brian Cashman to try to prove that he was correct when he hired Boone in the first place four years ago. He was wrong then, he’s even more wrong now. The hiring, and now the re-hiring of Boone stains Brian Cashman’s legacy.
There is something wrong when the fans seem to know more about a team than the owner and general manager. We’ve been paying attention. We have seen the product that has come as a result of Aaron Boone’s managerial style. It hasn’t been pretty. The Yankees with oodles of talent, have squeaked into the playoffs where they have flopped.
It’s clear to anyone who watches that Aaron Boone is not a very good manager. He’s not the manager for a team that has World Series hopes and ambitions. At all. He had four years to get the Yankees to the World Series. He never did. The Yankees of today are further away than the team he inherited. In that time, the Yankees brought in an MVP (Giancarlo Stanton) and a Cy Young Award Runner-Up (Gerrit Cole) and yet the teams seems not even close to being a champion today.
I think the Yankees just signed-up for at least three more frustrating seasons. Based upon their approach, they might even give Boone the fourth year. Why not? He might make it to the Wild Card game in some of those seasons.
By the way, before the spin comes that if he doesn’t perform, the Yankees will move on and fire him, I don’t believe that will happen. There is no indication, or history, to indicate that the Yankees would fire Boone during the next three seasons. The Yankees don’t buy out managers. They haven’t fired a manager during a season or contract since before Buck Showalter. We’re talking over thirty years. The last Yankees manager to be replaced during a season was Bucky Dent… in 1990.
The Yankees have made their statement. It’s is clear as day. The Yankees are telling us all, “We’re so pleased with the last four years that we’d like to continue on this path.”
It’s the wrong message. They doubled down.
The Yankees, once baseball’s proudest franchise, seems good with being good, not great. They’re okay with keeping the status quo.
That is their decision. It’s the wrong one and fans and writers and bloggers and podcasters and more have the right to complain, but what the Yankees have also said is “We are tone deaf.” They don’t hear the fans. They don’t see their frustration. Not yet. But they will.
There is this hope that the Yankees will open their wallets and spend big to really compete in 2022. I don’t that happening. The Yankees have indicated that they are pleased with the product they just delivered in 2021. They doubled down on that product.
The Yankees doubled down on mediocrity.
The 2022 Yankees won’t see any big names come storming in on big contracts. That’s just not the Yankees way any longer. We don’t see the team going all-in. We see them getting players (like Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, and Rougned Odor) only when the other team pays their salary. People forget, too, that the Marlins are on the hook for substantial amounts of money to pay Giancarlo Stanton’s contract.
And, I know that Brian Cashman had a press conference and he said that the Yankees will improve in a lot of areas, but, this is also the GM who said that the Yankees will operate like a “fully operational death star” and who once claimed that Bubba Crosby was the Yankees centerfielder. We have seen that it’s not always smart to take Brian Cashman’s media talking points as the truth. Yesterday Cashman also said that Aaron Boone would have been the biggest free agent this offseason if the Yankees didn’t keep him. Really? Fool me once, maybe. Fool me time and time again? No, it’s not happening.
Not since the 1960s and into the early 1970s, under Ralph Houk, when the team was clearly not good, and when the team has an ownership group that wasn’t focused on excellence, have the Yankees stuck with a manager this long who has failed to deliver a championship.
Success used to be the Yankees bottom line. It isn’t any longer. It’s just not. The Yankees want to be good, not great. They just retained a manager who will help to guarantee that.
As the Yankees begin to embark on what is sure to be a down period, the fans will leave in droves.
Look, quite simply, Yankee Stadium isn’t the easiest place to get to. There isn’t much atmosphere there. The new stadium doesn’t have the character or feel of the old one. As a Yankee fan, and a former (partial) season ticket plan (for years), the truth is that Yankee Stadium, as nice as it is, just isn’t a great place to watch a baseball game. It’s extremely expensive to attend a game there. The food isn’t great. The experience is lacking in many ways. This is especially true if one sits in the upper deck far removed from the field. Like so many decisions the Yankees have made this century, the stadium and its overall design just wasn’t a good one. Fans will overlook all of that if the product on the field is great. Moving forward, the product on the field just won’t be great.
Remember 1991 when the Stadium was empty? You’ll be seeing that again. Sooner than you think. There will be no compelling reason to watch an 87-win team playing for the hopes of a Wild Card year after year.
The Yankees have finally made the decision that will negatively impact their bottom line. Casual fans won’t go to the games. Many others won’t tune into the games. There’s no compelling reason to watch a team playing poor sloppy baseball. Fans like me, and probably you, will still care, but hordes of others won’t.
Maybe it’s about time. Maybe after three more years of uninspired and sloppy play the Yankees owner will get the message. But it’ll be too late. Aron Judge, should he remain, will be at the tail end of his productive years. Giancarlo Stanton too. And Gerrit Cole.
It didn’t have to be this way.
But it is.
The Yankees doubled down on a bad decision… and that just makes it worse.