Brian Cashman has made his selection. Aaron Boone is the New York Yankees 35th manager. What was behind the decision and what happens now?
Seemingly, Brian Cashman has gone out of his way to select Aaron Boone, the dark horse among the candidates interviewed, to be the 35th manager of the New York Yankees. Risky choices can sometimes reap high rewards. Yankees fans can only hope that’s the case here.
While Cashman’s track record of late has been virtually impeccable—Baseball America named him their MLB Executive of the Year—his choice of Boone opens up a vast area of attack that begins here and will probably extend through the 2018 season. How deep the dissension with Boone gets is dependent solely on the Yankees position in the standings as the season progresses.
For the moment, the most glaring aspect of Cashman’s choice is that Boone comes to the Yankees with zero coaching experience at any level of professional baseball.
Cashman goes all in with Aaron Boone
For that reason alone, it can reasonably be said that Cashman is using up most of the collateral he’s assembled with the Yankee’s organization and fans, leaving himself open to criticism from day one. After all, this was the most significant decision Cashman has had to make in his decade-long tenure with the Yankees, and his legacy will always trace back to Aaron Boone, and not Tommy Kahnle or David Robertson.
Enough on Cashman, though, as this is really about Boone, who fulfills the primary quality Cashman was looking for as a communicator. You don’t work for ESPN as an analyst if you are not verbally literate.
Boone will make himself available to his coaches and players, and he will “handle” the media. He’s an upbeat guy who, as I learned in a phone conversation with him this past summer, believes wholeheartedly in seeing a player’s “upside,” especially when things aren’t going well.
Boone has played the game and comes from a family with a long history of involvement in the game. He’s a third-generation player whose father (Bob), grandfather (Roy), and older brother (Bret) also played in the majors.
Much like Joe Girardi, Boone has an understanding of how hard the game is. With that, Boone should be able to convey empathy, though not sympathy, to players who need buttressing and guidance over the course of the long baseball season. If Boone can’t deliver that style of managing, he’ll be history in a New York minute.
Also in play is how much of the leash Cashman extends to Boone during his first season. Boone will not, for example, be extended the privilege of choosing his coaching staff, and Boone will be expected to fit himself in with a roster of coaches with long resumes highlighting their experience in the big leagues.
Undoubtedly, if it hasn’t come up already, there will charges that Boone is Cashman’s puppet, and that King Cashman is further expanding his Yankees kingdom. It’s possible, but that will depend more on Boone as he navigates his way through his various duties as manager over time.
Boone is built to navigate the matrix
Boone is smart, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be coming on like gangbusters when he officially assumes his role. Instead, it’s more likely we’ll see Boone laid back absorbing the vast learning curve he’s taking on, trying to fly under the radar as much as he can.
He will recognize Cashman as a man who carries a lot of weight and baseball savvy of his own. He will respect that in Cashman and pick his brain every chance he gets, rather than embarrass himself in a futile and unwise power struggle, at least initially.
In the end, both men are putting themselves out there. Cashman could have gone with a more conventional pick like Hensley Muelens or Rob Thomson. And Boone could have said thanks but no thanks, I’m not ready. But both men, to their credit, pulled the trigger and said, let’s go for it.
For that, we get to see a new era in Yankees history being ushered in, one that is filled with uncertainty but also the promise of hope.