As the Yankees point man when the team is gasping for air, Aaron Boone hears the footsteps behind him. It’s all so wrong, though.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone is not why the team sucks this year, even though he left the field last night to raucous chants of “fire Boone, fire Boone.”
He is, however, an easy target, and he may well be the scapegoat soon, or almost certainly at the end of the season when his three-year contract expires.
Unlike Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Principal Owner Hal Steinbrenner, who get to pick and choose when they meet with the media, Aaron Boone is out there pre-game, postgame, and any other time Yankees’ Media Director Michael Margolis sets him up for a one-on-one with a reporter.
Yankees Owner Gives The Kiss Of Death?
Ironically, Hal Steinbrenner emerged from his bunker to give a long-scheduled meet with the media earlier today. Kristie Ackert was there to cover the exchange for the New York Daily News.
Generally regarded as the “kiss of death” when applied to a manager, Steinbrenner, like his GM, sees no fault in how Aaron Boone has handled the team this year, choosing instead to put the Yankees players at the end of the gunsight.
As always, the charge was left hanging in the air, and there were no names named.
With last night’s unbelievable loss to the Angels as a backdrop to today’s press conference, Steinbrenner’s “endorsement” of Boone could not have come at a more meaningful time.
Yankees: Aaron Boone Has Not Played An Inning
Consider, for example, that with the Yankees carrying a four-run lead into the ninth inning, it cannot be argued Aaron Boone didn’t make the right move to bring in Aroldis Chapman in a non-save situation to nail the game down and not saving anything to chance.
Consider, too, that for Chapman’s 16 saves this season, he’s drawn a half-million-dollar check for each save, signed by Hal Steinbrenner, and merely for doing the job, he is paid to do.
Three consecutive walks followed by a grand-slam home run to tie the game is not how Chapman is supposed to perform – he lost the game for the Yankees – not Aaron Boone.
Boone Argues For The Defense
I wrote about it here, and readers responded with equal ire.
Here again, though, and while I’m not a fly on the wall in Brian Cashman’s wall, this decision, like all major strategic decisions with the Yankees, has Cashman’s fingerprints all over it.
True to form, Aaron Boone went out of his way to justify the logic behind withholding two key Yankees from the game, saying at one point:
“Oh yeah, today’s a tough one with all we’re going through as a club and obviously who he (Judge) is to our team,” Boone said on keeping him out. “But, you know, I also have to at times keep the big picture in mind.”
Aaron Boone takes direction well, but if you read the entire quote from Boone, its tone does not necessarily make us believe he doesn’t endorse the idea as well.
Still, it’s a stretch to think the idea of scheduled rest days originated with Aaron Boone.
And besides, isn’t it reasonable that he would have looked at the weather report for today, or one of his coaches would have told him of the likelihood of rain and the postponement of the game (which it has been).
Yankees Boone As A Lamb Among Lions?
This brings us to an area in which Boone must be held accountable with this question.
Has Aaron Boone ever challenged the Yankees’ hierarchy, including the exalted analytics gurus, not just Cashman – and if he were granted total control of everything game-related – would the Yankees have a better record than they do today?
My answer is that yes, Aaron Boone, if given the opportunity, with his communication skills, would get much more from his Yankees’ players if left alone to do the job.
Now, if you have any experience, as I do, of “bucking the boss,” most of the time, these things do not turn out well for the bucker.
Like most of us, Aaron Boone’s first obligation is to his family, so even this charge is off base.
Aaron Boone will not rank in the top five, or maybe even in the top ten of the Yankees’ best managers, though he does hold the distinction of being one with two back-to-back 100+ wins seasons on his resume.
As Hal Steinbrenner said this morning (paraphrasing), “who would have thought the Yankees would be where they are today when they first gathered in Tampa for Spring Training?”
Steinbrenner nailed it when he pointed to the players and not to Aaron Boone.
Steinbrenner’s allegiance to Brian Cashman as the team constructor is a problem, though. Although he did say he would exceed the luxury tax limit, Steinbrenner also said he would not do “anything rash” like his dad was noted for in his heyday.
Clearly, Hal Steinbrenner sees the separation from his dad as a matter of personal pride. With that intact as a prerequisite at the trade deadline, Yankees fans, including this one, will be struck by lightning before Steinbrenner makes good on that pledge.
Aaron Boone: The Soldier Marches On
Meanwhile, Aaron Boone will do the best he can with what he has, sitting from the dugout as his Yankees players hit into double plays (four last night!), fail to move runners up, score more than four runs, and fail to hit with runners in scoring position (RISP stat).
It’s not his fault, my friends.
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Mike Harrington He’s simply the face of the NY Yankees analytical department.
David Paseornek I understand your point after reading your article and a small part of me agrees but this isn’t the right guy to steer this broken ship.
Robert Rosado Herrand I blame the players more. Guys like Torres and Frazier have been horrible at the plate. Boone is in over his head he’s just a yes man for the analytic department
Osiris Diaz Players underachieving and a team with bad defense, base running, and all right-handed is not the manager fault
Keith Hernandez When have the NYY won titles with a heavy right-handed hitting lineup
Todd Barcodious Eckenfelder I don’t believe in single causation…..this is not just Boone’s fault…….everyone involved has some responsibility to this debacle of a season.
Frank Tedeschi It is mostly Cashman at fault but Boone has not prepared this team at all. Atrocious base running. Lack of hustle. Spotty defense. Fire them both
Jim Serine Boone was hired so Cashman can control him. When a team is bad, the boss is responsible. That is what happens in sports all the time. Boone is the manager so the buck stops with him.
Chuck Tanner We have too many Yankee fans who have been spoiled with the last 25 years and having only 3 managers and a team that’s always a playoff contender. They never went through the revolving door of managers and players. Boone needs this season of misfortune to prove he can bounce back if it’s this year great next year I’m good with that too. Also, can we stop saying “if George was here this would not happen”? If George was in charge you’d see a mess and players wouldn’t want to be here.
John Casale I don’t blame him for everything but as the manager, he is the most accountable
Sal Dantone Very well said! But I think Cashman.also should get his walking papers but then again changing horses in the middle of a race the percentages are not always favorable