Aaron Boone is the Yankees manager in 2024, and by making the move early, the discussion turns to what counts – building a winning team.
Say what you will about Aaron Boone, but he never had an at-bat in a lineup that finished next to last in batting average, 25th in runs scored, and 27th in on-base percentage.
Aaron Boone also had nothing to do with the Yankees scoring runs when they had an opportunity 29% of the time, while the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles led the league at 35%.
Boone also had nothing to do with the Yankees placing 38 players on the Injured List during the season (third highest in the majors) or enduring 2158 days of idleness by these players.
Moreover, the Yankees’ search for a left fielder has lasted all offseason.
But you have to go back to 2018 for the last time they had a true everyday player at the position. And even in that season, Brett Gardner started just 101 games in left field.
Aaron Boone – The Good With The Bad
Okay, so you want to say the “face” of the Yankees would be vastly improved with (say) Don Mattingly at the helm instead of Aaron Boone. Okay, and that the hissy-fits Boone throws on the field that resulted in a league-leading seven ejections for arguing balls and strikes with an umpire is an embarrassment to the Yankees franchise – and that, as a minimum, Boone should be forced to watch the video of each one at home with his kids and family.
Or that Aaron Boone still hasn’t picked up on the knack of handling his bullpen in a game that has transformed itself during his tenure as a manager with an ever-increasing reliance on a team’s construction of their bullpen as an omen for success or failure throughout a 162 game season.
Okay, but remember this. When managing a team with only one starter (Gerrit Cole) consistently pitching into and beyond the sixth and seventh innings, you are forced to work a team that will use a minimum of four relievers in a game.
Further, the odds of at least one of those relievers having a “bad day” increase exponentially every time the bullpen coach answers the phone to bring in another arm.
The fact is there is nothing sure about baseball. Aaron Boone, together with Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake, can assemble a fool-proof plan on any given day for the use of their bullpen, only to find that the flow of the game renders it useless because unbeknownst to them, Reliever C had a stormy night’s sleep at the hotel, even though Relievers A, B, and D performed adequately.
Aaron Boone is not alone in this crapshoot.
The Yankees Spotlight Is Where It Belongs
Any manager in the major leagues is only as good (or bad) as the 26 players in their dugout on any given night. They pore over the roster, looking at the myriad of analytics that assault them from above, but knowing that hunches and a “feel” for the game will determine their fate, as well as the future of their team.
It’s a game of Russian Roulette, and Aaron Boone is not exempted from playing.
On the other hand, Yankees GM Brian Cashman has an infinite playing field. He has the choice among 600 players currently on major league rosters and thousands of players in the minor leagues to construct a roster.
Cashman has the “power of the purse” behind him, too, and he can give or take some of that money to hire or fire players of his choice on a moment’s notice.
When things go well, the GM is the toast of the town, and he can command a record-setting $10 million-a-year contract like the one David Stearns just signed with the New York Mets.
But this scenario does not seem to apply to Brian Cashman, as he continues to occupy the seat next to Yankees majority owner Hal Steinbrenner without any sense of accountability.
So be it. But let’s be clear about one thing. Cashman’s Yellow Brick Road extends only to Steinbrenner, no one else, and certainly not to Yankees fans.
We can and should hold Cashman accountable as he works to assemble a roster that is younger and more athletic than his current team because that’s the only way the Yankees can compete in a division that splashes itself with the marvels of youth and enthusiasm that is so lacking in recent Yankees teams.
Indeed, the spotlight is where it belongs, not on Aaron Boone but on Brian Cashman from here forward to Opening Day in 2024.