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The Tuesday Discussion: Who To Manage in 2022 (and Beyond)?

For this week’s Tuesday Discussion, we posed the following to our writers:

Aaron Boone’s contract is up at the end of the year.

If you were the GM, would you be planning to bring him back on another contract?

If not, who would your dream candidate be to manage the Yankees beginning in 2022?

Here are their responses:

Ed Botti – Aaron Boone has not been terrible, he has a .525 winning percentage, winning 100 and 103 games in his first 2 seasons.

Changing a manager means bringing in someone that has attributes that the current manager does not have. Boone is a lifetime baseball man. Third generation baseball pedigree. He knows the game as well as anyone that would be brought in to replace him. What I feel he lacks is true leadership ability. But I can be completely wrong. None of us are in that locker room, so we really do not know what he says or does to motivate and lead his team.

All we know is what we see on TV and hear in press conferences.

They do appear flat, especially during 2020 and now 2021. The appearance of being flat could and probably is a direct result of the style of play we are seeing (sans the terrible base running).

Is that Boone’s fault? Or is Boone just doing what he is told? I believe he is doing what he is being told (confirmed in my recent interview with Ron Blomberg). He did not play the way his team plays. His father did not manage this way, and I have been told his Grandfather was a grinder and a hardnosed player. So, for Aaron Boone to manage in a manner consistent with a 180 degree turn from everything he knows, makes no sense to me.

I am not sure that any manager that comes in will actually be allowed to manage each game as he sees fit, under the current system in place.

So, if a change in the field manager is made, I believe it should be made by the executive that (hopefully) replaces Brian Cashman.

Before anyone attacks me, I have given Cashman credit here many times. I Just believe it is time for a new philosophy and system.

I have been in the Brian Sabean camp for some time. I would replace Cashman with Sabean, and let Sabean make that decision. He may very well decide to keep Boone.

I was hopeful in 2015 that he would replace Cashman. Hal saw things differently, I guess.

If you recall, he drafted or signed as amateurs Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, J.T. Snow, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. Not too bad!

He was a Yankee scout and executive from 1985-1992.

He went to San Francisco and the rest is history, building a World Championship team that won 3 in 5 years, and all after Barry Bonds retired. Yes, he is 64 years old. But, take a look at what Lou Lamoriello is doing with the Islanders at 78 years old.

Candidates? He has a strong relationship/history with Don Mattingly who has a mutual option for 2022 with the Marlins. Willie Randolph might be an option, although he is a little old for the rigors of the everyday field manager job. Willie should have been a candidate a long time ago. Luis Sojo and Mike Aldrete have experience and could be candidates as well. If Chris Chambliss wasn’t 72 years old, I’d throw his name in the ring as well. He is a true leader.

I have always been a Showalter fan, but I don’t think he is interested in managing again.

If they want a tough, no nonsense manager, who will lock horns with every other manager, has great experience, is a great teacher, has won as a player and minor league manager and will use his player personnel to the fullest, unfairly black balled Wally Backman fits that bill to a “T”.

If players can get a second chance, why not a manager?

But, it all has to start at the GM being sent out to pasture. 23 years is long enough.

As Bruce Buffer (UFC ring announcer) would say “It’s Time”!!

***

Paul Semendinger – I never understood the Aaron Boone hiring. Never. Never will, either. Except if the Yankees just wanted someone who would do whatever the GM or owners wanted.

It was foolish to give a baseball team on the cusp of greatness to a guy who never managed and never coached. Ever. Anywhere. Not even Little League.

It made no sense.

If the Yankees were in a rebuilding stage, a hiring like that might make sense, but to give a team that close to greatness to a complete unknown was just foolish. It just was.

And, it didn’t work out.

At all.

The Yankees came close a few times, but for the last few years they have been heading in the wrong direction.

And the blame for that goes to a lot of people: The Steinbrenners for their insistence that the luxury threshold is a hard cap, to Brian Cashman for constructing a flawed team (I happen to believe that if he had a freer hand, he would have built a better team), and to the manager.

The things that Aaron Boone can control: the team’s energy and drive, their focus, the fundamentals on the field, and the daily line-up construction, have all been sub-par. That’s just a reality. I wish it weren’t so. But it is.

Boone took a great core, got them a few 100-win seasons, brought them to the brink, and was out-managed in the big moments each year.

Since then, it has been a regression.

Boone took the great core he was given and he wasn’t able to get them over the finish line.

I’m sad to say that I don’t think that 2022 will be any better. I see the team heading into a down period as the core gets older, more frail (if that’s even possible), and as the Yankees wait for the next young core to emerge. (I’m not sure if any of the current Yankees will even be part of the next great Yankees team or era.)

I would love to say that Buck Showalter or Don Mattingly could come in and turn it all around, but at this point, the window has just about closed. I think the time for the miracle fix has passed.

As the Yankees prepare for 2022 and beyond, they will need a manager who is a teacher, an instructor, a strategist, and a motivator. Aaron Boone might be a lot of things, but I don’t see him as any of those things. The Boone era has been one with lackadaisical play, a team that often plays in a disinterested fashion, and a team that is poor on the base paths and in the field. Fundamentals and energy have not been this team’s strong suits.

The Yankees need a new direction. They also need a manager who knows how to succeed with a young core, because the future of the team is the players who aren’t yet Yankees.

Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelens is a guy who deserves consideration. He his highly regarded, has coached at the big league level for a long time, and is deserving of a shot. Since he will be inheriting a team in transition, I don’t think the 2022 Yankees will have the expectation of being a World Series team, he’ll be able to grow with the team. By the time the Yankees are in line to be a winner again, he will just about hitting his stride.

***

Michael Saffer – Aaron Boone is doing the job he is allowed to do, and arguably the job he was hired to do. He and Brian Cashman follow the analytics for each decision. Unless the Yankees shift their approach it doesn’t matter who manages the team. However, if I can dream, I’d like to see Buck Showalter come back. He has unfinished business in NY. Listening to him talk on the YES Network reminds me of just how brilliant he is.

***

Chris O’Connor – If I am the GM, assuming this year continues to be frustrating and inconsistent, it would be difficult for me to justify bringing back Aaron Boone. Boone did manage the team to back to back 100 win seasons in 2018 and 2019, but it is becoming clearer now (if it was not already) that that was more because of the strength of the roster rather than any managerial impact. While 2019 was a magical season that saw numerous players have career years out of nowhere, the Yankees went just 33-27 in 2020 and are struggling to be above .500 as we near the midpoint of 2021. Boone has oversaw that regression despite bringing back nearly the entire roster in both seasons. What has Boone done to really justify bringing him back? The Yankees have been one of the worst teams when it comes to basic fundamentals (defense, baserunning, anything involving small-ball) for years now and while the roster construction has not helped, it sure does not seem like Boone and co. are doing anything to help out there. In the playoffs, Boone has made numerous important missteps. Leaving in Severino to get shellacked by Boston in game 3 of the 2018 ALDS comes to mind as does the lapse in communication between the coaching staff and J.A. Happ in game 2 of the 2020 ALDS. Things have seemingly just gotten stale with the team and a major shakeup is needed. If the Yankees do not turn things around in 2021 and go on a deep postseason run, I would not bring back Aaron Boone.

As for my ideal candidate, it would still be someone in the mold of Boone. It would have to be some fluent in analytics with great communication; being a former player is not a necessity but would certainly be a plus. I do not think Boone’s philosophy is a problem, I just feel like a change is sometimes needed for the sake of change. Sam Fuld of the Phillies strikes me as a great candidate in this way, but the Yankees need to conduct a thorough search.

***

Patrick Gunn – I would not plan on bringing back Aaron Boone to manage another season. Boone helped lead the Yankees through an injury-riddled 2019 season, but the past two seasons have not been as impressive. Yes, Brian Cashman bears more of the responsibility for the roster underperforming, and the players absolutely deserve some blame as well. But Boone has not improved enough as a tactician within the modern game to push this team to greater heights.

As far as 2022 goes, I think the Yankees should consider Tony Peña. He did a fantastic job as the Yankees’ Bench Coach under Girardi and also managed the 2013 Dominican Republic team to win the World Baseball Classic. He’s a baseball lifer who deserves another shot. Aside from him, I think the Yankees should look at a wide pool of diverse candidates to rejuvenate the team. Keeping around coaches like Marcus Thames and Matt Blake would also help, but the Yankees should highly consider moving on from Aaron Boone if the Bombers continue to play mediocre baseball.

***

Mike Whiteman – At this point I’d say I’d wait out the season before any decision on Aaron Boone. If the season trends as it has recently, manager is one of a number of important decisions that will need to be made. If the team turns it around. I suspect the manager will be a significant part of it.

So, that’s a big “I don’t know” from me at this point.

***

Ethan Semendinger – In listening to the Michael Kay show yesterday, Kay along with Rosenberg and La Greca brought up a good point: if Boone gets fired midseason (or doesn’t get a new contract after the season) it is highly unlikely that Brian Cashman and the Front Office bring in anyone other than another mouthpiece. However, it must be said that the Yankees front office personnel above Cashman should seriously consider keeping him from trying to also play manager. In short, it hasn’t brought much success.

A point I heard yesterday from Kay+Two was that the Yankees players should be “kissing the backside” of Aaron Boone because he has kept them from taking the brunt of the New York media. However, this is a flawed way of being a manager. You can’t shelter adults from scary situations. It makes them soft. It makes them weak. What the Yankees need is to bring in somebody who can give the players tough love. This will make them strong. This will sort-out the weak. (In addition the Yankees also need to bring in players who have flare.)

Think of it like this: growing up everybody knew what kid (or kids) had the ‘cool parents’. They were always the first to do something “adult”- watching rated R movies, staying up past 9, playing M-rated video games, etc.- and they obviously never did anything wrong in the parents eyes. Then, one day, they lost their popularity out of the blue because everybody else could do the same thing. They were no longer the spectacle, but they were now boring because their whole personality was getting away with things. That’s the Yankees. They were a great team of hitting monster home runs and were the team to watch. Now its gotten old and we see that other teams are built with better overall foundations. Unfortunately, this is what the pairing of Cashman and Boone have done to the Yankees.

In my dream world, I think Aaron Boone should be let go after the season. Who to replace him is another question, in which many good names could be available: Hensley Meulens, Don Mattingly, Robby Thompson, Willie Randolph, and yes Buck Showalter. And, when these guys come in, the Yankees have to tell Cashman to back-off and let them do their thing.

#AaronBoone

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