For better or worse, the Yankees will be running it back with Aaron Boone after extending his contract through 2024, with an option for 2025. At this point it is no secret that Boone’s presence in the dugout has become a divisive issue among fans, and based on Yankee twitter this morning, it can most definitely be looked at as an unpopular move. While I am no fan of Boones myself, I will choose to look on the bright side and acknowledge that he does bring some good qualities to the table (a .600 winning percentage is nothing to scoff at) despite an increasingly tiring sense of optimism and questionable bullpen management. Below we will look at some of the pros and cons that come with this move.
Naturally, how a manager is viewed by his players is among the most important things in terms of analyzing the job they have done. For the Yankees, there is no one more important than their best player and de-facto captain, Aaron Judge, who gave Boone a ringing endorsement after being eliminated from the playoffs. Judge capped off his lengthy rundown of how much he respects Boone by saying "I could spend all night giving you reasons why he should still be the manager." Hearing this from Judge, whose words carry the most weight of any Yankee certainly makes it seem that inside the clubhouse Boone is still well respected and liked.
Of course, the flip side to Boone being so well liked is that he may be a little too soft. One of the main reasons Joe Girardi was let go 4 years ago is because he was deemed to be too hard on the players at times, particularly Gary Sanchez who at the time was a budding superstar. Several Yankee beat writers reported last week that the Yankees may be in the market for a coach with some more fire, as a compliment to Boone. This was a role filled by Phil Nevin for the first 4 years of Boones tenure but he was among the coaches let go over the recent days. The first question that comes to mind is why? Why does our manager need someone who can compliment him with more intensity? Are there no candidates for the New York Yankees managerial position that can be respected by players, good with the media, and yet also hold his ground and let the guys know when they are not getting the job done? I for one have a hard time believing that. Alex Cora for example is regarded as perhaps the best clubhouse manager in the game (cheater, but still true) and yet just last night was seen yelling at Eduardo Rodriguez when he thought his celebration was out of line. There are just too many times throughout the long season where the Yankees look lifeless and Boone says the same old stuff to the media. While of course, we can not see what goes on behind closed doors, it is hard to envision him ever ripping into the players like Joe Girardi or past managers would.
The main defense of Boone would be that he simply has one at such a high rate it would be hard to let him go. While I think this could have been a legitimate argument after his first 2 seasons, we now have 2 consecutive seasons of drastic underperforming from the team as a whole. If not for the expanded playoffs a year ago, the Yankees would have been watching the playoffs from home like they are now (wild card loss is not a playoff berth in my book). In 2018 and 2019 Boone navigated injuries and inconsistent pitching to 100 win seasons. However they ran into two buzzsaws in the playoffs with the Red Sox and Astros (may have been cheating). While there may have been times it felt like the Yankees were winning in spite of Boone, there is no denying the results he got during these tumultuous seasons. However the last two seasons have been filled with mediocrity and the fact of the matter is that Aaron Boone has never gone as deep into the playoffs as Joe Girardi did with this group, despite adding all world talents in Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole.
Ultimately I am disappointed with the return of Aaron Boone. While the Yankees are certainly not mediocre like some fans would suggest, they certainly seem to have plateaued as a good but not great team despite having all the promise in the world as recently as 2 years ago. I think this was an opportunity to get a new voice in the room with a little more passion and fire. With that being said, Aaron Boone is not what will make or break this team next season or those that come after it. If Hal Steinbrenner is willing to spend the money and allow Brian Cashman to fill the many holes on this roster, I think the Yankees will contend for a title next year. Unfortunately, the Rays and Red Sox aren't going anywhere, the Blue Jays will likely lose one of Marcus Semien or Robbie Ray but will still be a force next year and the Orioles have the best farm system in baseball by many accounts. The rest of the AL East will keep coming and it's up to Hal and Cashman to give Boone the right pieces to make it work. And if all those things happen and we still lose, it is time to move on.