The Tuesday Discussion: Boone and Cashman?
October 25, 2022
We asked our writers if Aaron Boone and/or Brian Cashman should be back with the Yankees following another post season loss.
Here are their replies...
Lincoln Mitchell - The question of whether Boone and Cashman should return in 2023 depends a lot on what the goals of the organization are. If the goal is to field a top level baseball team with a decent chance of winning the World Series, then it is axiomatic that Boone and Cashman should not be back. It is tough to win a World Series with a manager who, despite being around baseball his whole life and coming from an esteemed baseball family, has about as much of a feel for the game as a well meaning middle aged man from a non-baseball country who volunteers to coach his child’s Little League team because hit town needs somebody to help out. Similarly, Cashman is clearly an elite late 20th century general manager, but the game has changed and he has not adapted. However, my sense is that the organization goal of the Yankees is to keep running the grift-promise a World Series winner, refuse to spend enough to deliver on that, lose in the playoffs, make excuses, raise ticket prices, repeat. Cashman and Boone seem comfortable with that setup so if the goal is to make money and keep the grift going, they should stay. My perspective is, as always, that of a fan, so I want to see them both move on to the next chapter in their professional lives.
Tim Kabel - Shockingly, I do not think Aaron Boone should be back next year. his baffling and disastrous decisions seem to have become more frequent and worse. He is completely unable to articulate himself, which was supposed to be his greatest strength. After five years of futility, there is no reasonable evidence to suggest he will improve at all.
I believe Brian Cashman will and should return. Many of the moves he made this season were good. Unfortunately, injuries derailed some of them. Scott Effross and Matt Carpenter would probably have been major contributors in the playoffs had they not been derailed by injury. If the Yankees re-sign Judge, they have the framework in place with some developing young talent to be a major power for years to come. They just need a manager who knows how to use the talent on the team.
Paul Semendinger - It was readily apparent, from the start, that Aaron Boone was not the right man for the job. You don't give a team on the cusp of greatness to a person with no leadership experience at any level and in any capacity whatsoever. The move made no sense at the time and it still makes no sense, because Aaron Boone continues to be a poor communicator and a manger who really has not grown into the position. He made the same mistakes he made in year one in year five. It's time for the Yankees to change the manager. It's been time for a long time now., The fact that the Yankees didn't already make a move was pure wishful thinking and stubbornness on their part. The Yankees want to be the smartest guy in the room, but they just are not.
Brian Cashman deserves a great deal of credit for the decades of better than .500 baseball and the many post seasons, but these Yankees were his vision. This was his plan. He asked us to trust him, and we did. And it didn't work. This is his team and he needs to take responsibility for it. Even good leaders need to go at a certain point, and while I'm not even convinced that Brian Cashman is a good GM any longer, even if he is, it's time for him to go. Aaron Boone was his hire. Cashman the guy who passed on Bryce Harper. He made the deal for IKF and Donaldson. He gave the long contract to Aaron Hicks. This is Cashman's team all the way. He always wanted to take full responsibility for the franchise. Well, now he does. This is his vision and his team. And this team has failed for a long time. The Yankees have won one World Series since 2001 and for this franchise and its fans, that is just not good enough. Not by a long shot. Not at all.
It is time to begin again with new leaders. The entire organization needs a reset. The old voices, across the board, need to go. As for Hal Steinbrenner, he needs to focus on building a winner, a true winner, the way winners are considered in New York. He needs to get the best players here. He needs to answer to the fans, not the corporate people. It is time for Hal Steinbrenner to build us a champion or it's time for him to sell the team. The fans have had enough. (I'm not a fan of booing, but Steinbrenner should listen to the boos, and the ones directed specifically at him, and realize that he created this. There needs to be a big change and that change begins at the top with the way Steinbrenner runs this franchise. It's time to go all in. It's time he addresses the fans and says, "They way we tried didn't work. I am so committed to winning that we're going to do whatever it takes to bring a World Championship to the Bronx. Look out baseball, the Yankees are back. You ain't seen nothing yet."
Ethan Semendinger - The short answer on both of these questions is "No". The medium answer is, "No. Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman should both not be coming back to the Yankees in 2023".
The longer answer is that the entire front office needs to have a serious revamp. There was a great tweet that I saw while browsing Twitter after Sunday night's Game 4 loss that examined the top positions in the Yankees and Astros front offices. Across the top 6 people in the Astros organization, the longest tenured was hired by the Astros in 2015. The shortest tenured Yankee front office person in a similar position was hired by the Yankees in 2007. It is not the most apt comparison as it considers Brian Cashman a 1986 hire when he was hired in his role as the GM in 1998. However, it does paint an interesting picture. It's time to get the old voices in the organization out of here.
Now, I don't necessarily mean they should completely clean house. Though, by hiring a new manager and by hiring a new general manager I would hope that the Yankees would bring in people that would bring in their own people. Maybe, just maybe, the systems that worked in the 1990s and early 2000s don't work in the 2020s. Think of it this way: if you were building a computer, would you want to use parts from 2007? Even if those were the best parts available then, they're not as good as what we produce now. If you were building a house, do you want a kitchen from 2004 or a kitchen from 2022?
Andy Singer - have much, much more on these questions (and more) coming on Friday. However, my answers to these two questions are the same as they were last season:
1. There is no good reason to retain Aaron Boone as manager. While there are surely things he does behind the scenes that are positive qualities for a big league manager, and multiple insiders note that he's one of the nicest guys in the pro game, he has shown absolutely no growth as an in-game manager. If anything, Boone has regressed with his ability to make decisions in-game. Brian Cashman stated at last year's end of season press conference that he wanted to give Boone a more flexible lineup. Cashman did that, and Boone was unable to effectively manage pieces when it counted most. Worst of all, signs abound that certain members of the team are beginning to turn on Boone publicly. It's time for the Yankees to finally make the right decision by changing the guy walking out from the dugout for each pitching change.
2. For all the complaints, I still think Cashman is the right man for the job. Cashman effectively remade the roster in the offseason and at the trade deadline, adding contact-oriented bats, significantly improving the team's defense, and he has assembled a top-5 pitching staff in all of baseball. By my count, no less than 6 critical members of the team were hurt and unable to play heading into the playoffs. Good leadership admits when they're wrong, and Cashman did that last offseason. My biggest gripes with Cashman from an organizational perspective are as follows: 1.) The decision to extend Aaron Boone's tenure in pinstripes (I can't help but feel that ownership is involved here). 2.) Hesitancy to be aggressive with promotions when prospects bang on the door. 3.) Reliance on older veterans without internal depth to protect against injury. I expect some changes with at least 2/3 this offseason. I don't personally see a better option than Cashman available to the Yankees right now. For those that want Cashman gone, be careful what you wish for. One needs only to look at the Red Sox to see what happens when young hotshots overhaul an organization overnight.
At the end of the day, while the Yankees need a new direction in the dugout, the biggest change needs to be made at the highest office on River Avenue in the Bronx. Hal Steinbrenner handcuffs the Yankees with his arbitrary reliance on the luxury tax thresholds for Yankee budgets rather than legitimate operating budgets that reflect the enormous revenue the team generates every year. A couple of high-priced players, often hired more to maintain appearances by ownership, should not cause bargain bin hunting elsewhere. Steinbrenner and his cronies have enough money; time to share the wealth.
Mike Whiteman -
Aaron Boone has managed four full seasons for the Yankees, and they have won 90+ games each year. There is a narrative that the Yankees do this in spite of Boone's "inept" management.
Except that it's not that easy. Of the thirty MLB franchises, exactly two other teams have won 90 games each season the Yankees did - the Dodgers and the Astros. So, this to me is still a significant accomplishment. And not just anyone can do it, because they haven't. The past two full-season World Series Champions (Nationals, Braves) were wild-card or wild card caliber teams that got hot and went on mad postseason runs. This year, we see the Phillies, the eleventh best team in baseball, are representing the NL in the World Series, and are on such a roll they could win it all. While I wouldn't characterize the MLB postseason as a total crapshoot, there is clearly a fate element that is part of it. There is also a planning piece, and that's where Brian Cashman comes in. He made numerous moves that helped spur the team to their torrid start then added pieces that many of us fans and followers were pleased with at the trade deadline. When I hear assessments of "clueless" and "culture of failure" describing the Yankees now I wonder how things got so bad in less than three months.
Then, all of the trade deadline pieces with the exception of reliever Lou Trivino got injured and missed the postseason. DJ LeMahieu also got injured and missed the postseason. The bats went cold. The bullpen was decimated, and had to be rebuilt on the fly. Yet the Yanks righted the ship to win the division, likely the best division in MLB. In the playoffs they avoided the fate of an early playoff exit that other seemingly better managed 100+ win teams could not. The sweep in the ALCS was horribly disappointing, but three of the four losses were tight games that could have gone either way, and certainly could have been different outcomes if the Yankees had more parts of the team they designed. Now, the management isn't perfect. The 2022 postseason wasn't Boone's best work. He seemed unsure and inconsistent at times. I wish this would be addressed in a tangible way, and I think an experienced coaching staff would be a good step. We all get frustrated when the Yanks are in on the big guys like Stanton and Cole, and out on guys like Harper and Machado who we think would make so much to be in Pinstripes. They have struggled with integrating youth into the team. I'm frustrated too, but I don't endorse a tear down that many call for. This is a veteran team, but not an old team. Per MLB.com, the Yanks' top five prospects' ETA is 2023 or 2024. Even with the many deadline deals the Yanks have made the past two years, youth is coming. For those calling for a total rebuild, remember that roster reconstruction is rarely a straight line. Phillies fans are elated with the team's turnaround this year, but it's their first playoff berth after an arduous eight year rebuild with many starts and stops. There were a lot of miserable Phils' fans for years. I know. I listened to them complain. A lot of them weren't too happy with Bryce Harper at first, but they love him now :) I don't think they are that far away from the promised land. So, I'd like to see the Yanks keep Cashman and Boone. In very general terms, I'd like to see them re-sign Aaron Judge to a deal beneficial to both sides, improve what worked in 2022 (pitching, defense), address the situational hitting, integrate some youth, and take another shot at it in 2023.
Ed Botti -
In the past I have given Boone the benefit of the doubt and taken a position that he is told what to do and we really do not know what type of manager he is. Letting the loss in the ALCS set in, and removing any emotion from my answer I have the following assessment.
His handling of the pitching staff, communication issues with his players, lack of hustle amongst his players, babying his players, undefined roles for his position players, lack of effective game planning, and an inconsistent batting order game after game lead me to the conclusion that he is not up to the task of managing the New York Yankees in 2023 and beyond.
A change is warranted.
Next, after nearly two and one half decades as General Manager, I look at his performance in two stages.
Stage 1- Assuming control of the team with the Core Four still in place. The Core Four were signed and developed under Gene Michael and Brian Sabean. They won in 1998, 1999, and 2000. They came very close in 2001, and frankly blew it in 2003. The Core Four were gone after the 2014 season.
Stage 2- Building a team and organization after the Core Four had retired. This is the red flag for the GM. Beginning in the 2015 season and concluding with the last out of the 2022 ALCS, Brian Cashman has failed to build a team close to what he had inherited.
During the period of 2000 through 2009, with the Core Four in place, he added numerous free agents and traded for numerous players. Many of which were non effective or the Pinstripes simply were too heavy for them. Both of these factors could and should have been evaluated more effectively. He won 1 World Series with the Core Four in place.
During the period of 1998 to 2022 his minor league system has developed a less than expected amount of solid and legitimate major leaguers. Of course it did yield some, most notably Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and Jordan Montgomery, as of late. Nick Johnson going back to his early years. Many Rule 5 drafts were bungled, he made terrible free agent signings, he made poor trades, and has a continued (almost stubborn) reliance on analytics. All have put this team in a difficult position heading into 2023 and beyond.
He leaked the contract proposal of Aaron Judge, he acquired players that do not fit, he jumped the gun in 2018 and signed Stanton instead of waiting one year and signing Bryce Harper. He extended Aaron Hicks for 7 years. His system is devoid of serious starting pitching prospects and always has been (where are Chance Adams and Deivi Garcia today?). When given the opportunity he was out hustled for pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole (when he was a Pirate) and even Josh Beckett (let’s not forget he was a key to the Championship Starting rotations in Florida and later in Boston). Instead he brought in players such as Carl Pavano, Sonny Gray, Michael Pineda, Javier Vasquez (twice), Kei Igawa, Jeff Weaver, Frankie Montas, Kevin Brown…..on and on and on. Not to mention he ruined Joba Chamberlain. His rebuild of 2016-- trading away Chapman, Beltran, Miller, and McCann resulted in almost nothing.
Of course he has made good moves, it would be unfair and inaccurate to say otherwise, I always gave him credit for that. But 24 years is long enough. And the good has not outweighed the bad, in my opinion.
He hired a broadcaster with absolutely zero coaching or managing experience as his Manager (ignoring the fact that Rob Thompson was in the organization for 28 or so years—he interviewed him and didn’t hire him). I’d really like to know what Thomson said or did that compelled him to select Boone over Thomson.
He unceremoniously did not extend Joe Torre or Joe Girardi and said the organization needed a new direction and voice, each time. Maybe so, who am I to say?
Well, now he is the voice that needs to be replaced and a new direction needs to be found.
He should be respectfully thanked for his loyalty and service, but he should not be offered a contract extension as General Manager of the New York Yankees. An entire new group of deal makers and talent evaluators and talent development personnel should be brought in to move this team forward, and to utilize the team’s deep financial resources to their maximum potential.
Again, as I stated above, I am removing all emotion associated with the 2022 ALCS. This is strictly based on my evaluation of past performance over an extended period of time, and comparing that to their peers.
The down side to this is that the General Partner does not have the wherewithal to make the moves needed. It’s funny, I always hear Hal Steinbrenner talk about his partners, bond holders and banks when discussing investment opportunities into talent. For the life of me, like him or not, I cannot recall his father ever uttering those words a single time.
That is a major problem, and one I do not see going away anytime soon. I may be wrong, but I believe when spring training starts in February 2023, we will have the same management group involved.
I hope I am wrong.