Saturday, December 2, 2017

Aaron Boone, Manager, New York Yankees...


And Then There Was One…

Although no official announcement has been made, the Yankees have an agreement in place with Aaron Boone to serve as the successor for former Yankees Manager Joe Girardi. 

I am surprised. Since he retired, Boone has served as a broadcaster with ESPN. He has not managed or coached at any level. I have not heard a single complaint about Boone’s personality or baseball knowledge, but like Michael Kay said, it’s handing the keys of a Lamborghini to someone who just got their driver’s license.  The Yankees job is the best in Baseball. The Yankees are the most storied, most prestigious team in the most powerful city in America. Expectations entering the 2017 season were fairly low, but the team finished the season a single game away from the World Series. Needless to say, expectations will be substantially higher as we enter the 2018 season. No pressure, Boonie!

I do not dislike the choice of Boone and had previously said I’d be okay with him as manager if Hensley Meulens was not selected. But Boone does need a very strong supporting cast (i.e., coaching staff). We know that pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be returning and he is perhaps one of the greatest components of the coaching staff but bench coach will be very critical. After not being selected as manager, Rob Thomson left the Yankees organization after 28 years and will become bench coach for inexperienced manager Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia. I’ve already heard Eric Wedge’s name mentioned as a possible bench coach for Boone (Wedge managed Boone in Cleveland after Boone left the Yankees). I continue to preach Al Pedrique. No one has the level of relationships with the young Baby Bombers like Pedrique does. He is an experienced successful manager. Granted, his managerial success has largely been in the Minor Leagues, but he knows how to run a game to win. He did manage the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004 for 83 games after Bob Brenly (who had managed the D-Backs over the Yankees in the 2001 World Series) was fired. Pedrique’s MLB managerial record is an uninspiring 22-61 but it’s not his fault. He was trying to do the best he could with a team that had gotten a World Series manager fired. Pedrique later served as bench coach for the Houston Astros and we all know that he won a Triple A championship with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in 2016.

In retrospect, It appears the Yankees had no plan when Girardi was dismissed. At the time Girardi was told his services were done, I had felt that GM Brian Cashman had a clear idea whom he wanted to occupy the manager’s chair. The Boone choice shows that he most likely did not enter the equation until he aced his interview with Cashman. Of course, he had to get his foot in the door for the interview so he was obviously on Cashman’s mind but most likely wasn’t the clear choice when this thing started. 

Credit:  Patrick E McCarthy 
I remember being a little upset when Boone suffered the knee injury in a pickup basketball game in January 2004 which ended his season and his Yankees career. It set in motion the trade which brought Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx. No disrespect to those of you who love A-Rod but that’s one trade I wish never would have happened. But from a character-standpoint, Boone was honest with the team about the injury which caused the forfeiture of his 2004 contract (receiving only $917,533 in termination pay on the $5.75 million deal). I am sure that earned him brownie points with Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner.

As for Hensley Meulens, he will return to the San Francisco Giants to become bench coach for Manager Bruce Bochy. I really hope that he gets an opportunity to manage in the not-so-distant future. For all we know, he could very well be Bochy’s replacement if the present Giants manager decides to step down in the next few years. I was very impressed with Meulens and I feel that he’ll be an outstanding manager one day.

Carlos Beltran didn’t get the job since the leap from player to manager with no break was viewed as too much, but I hope that Beltran gets another opportunity to serve within the Yankees organization. Like Meulens, he has the potential to be a great manager one day.  For now, it would be great to have him on the coaching staff. If not, his presence in the front office and/or as a spring training instructor would be invaluable.  

Welcome back to the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone! We hope your learning curve is small and the team prospers under your leadership. Feel free to go ahead and hit another one out of the park for us.

Credit:  Allen Kee, Getty Images
The Hidden Ball Trick…

We know the Yankees tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players prior to last evening’s deadline, but a number of MLB players were not so fortunate.  

A name that jumped out at me without looking at the entire list was Ryan Goins of the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not so much about the player’s ability but rather he is the one who pulled off the sneaky hidden ball trick to record an out on Todd Frazier at second base back in September. In 2017, he hit 9 homers and 62 RBI’s in 143 games with a .237 batting average. Not a great player but he’s been pesky over his career. I guess he was unable to pull off a hidden ball trick on Toronto to entice them to extend his Blue Jays career.  

Credit:  Associated Press
Another name that surprised me was first baseman Matt Adams. Adams, the former St Louis Cardinal who was acquired by Atlanta to fill in during Freddie Freeman’s time on the DL last year, was non-tendered by the Braves. I didn’t expect Adams to be part of the 2018 Braves Roster but I thought he had some value as a trade candidate for an organization that was recently stripped of multiple international prospects. Instead, he’ll hit the open market to find a new home. I’d take a flyer on him as a potential hedge for the health of Greg Bird.

This year, I hope the Yankees can reach deals with their arbitration-eligible players before their scheduled hearings. I’d hate to see a repeat performance of last year’s contentious  hearing between Dellin Betances and the Yankees that brought ugly remarks by Yankees President Randy Levine. The fade by Betances last season supported the Yankees position but last year’s hearing did nothing to help the confidence of the pitcher (hurting his psyche more than anything).  

Well, yesterday was a busy start to the new month. The Yankees have their manager and team officials are probably headed to Los Angeles to meet with the agents for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani who was officially posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters yesterday. Representatives for both the San Francisco Giants and St Louis Cardinals have met with Giancarlo Stanton in Los Angeles so we could see a trade of the big slugger to either the Giants or Cards by early next week. Unlike November, December should prove to be a wild and exciting ride.

Go Yankees!

Is Aaron Boone A Bad Choice?

Aaron Boone, celebrating being named the new Yankees manager. 2003? No idea what you're talking about.

After the news broke of Aaron Boone's hiring, I didn't feel the need to write about it. I shared my opinions, but was able to do so in 240 characters or less. It boiled down to "I like his youth and the fact he's been around the game his entire life, but concerned about his lack of experience." But after reading some of the reactions to this hire I can't help but add my two cents.

For starters, I like that Aaron has been around the game his entire life. No, I don't just mean he's played since he could barely walk. And no, I don't mean his dad was the manager for his town's high school baseball team. See, the day Aaron was born, his father Bob was getting ready to start the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day game against the Mets (just for kicks I want to say he got a hit and a walk in the game). Aaron's grandfather was also a former Major Leaguer, having a career batting average of .275 over his 13-year career. And Aaron's brother, Bret, had a nice little 14-year career in the big leagues as well.

Aaron Boone has literally been around Major League Baseball his entire life.

While Aaron Boone has no coaching experience, at least at the professional level, I think it's safe to say he has as much... if not more... general baseball knowledge (at the professional level, mind you) than many of the other MLB managers.

So let's not talk about Boone as if he's a total noob.

By the way, at the GM Meetings, Hal Steinbrenner said “My concern about a candidate like that would just be the lack of managerial experience, but even more important, coaching experience of any kind. That would be a concern of mine. It might be less of a concern for Cash.”

I'm willing to assume that Hal gives Cashman plenty of rope. That Brian is allowed to make some decisions that fly in the face of what Steinbrenner wants. But if you think Cashman was able to hire Boone as the team's manager without Hal okaying it, you're out of your mind. We're not talking about the CEO of Walmart not signing off on the hiring of an assistant manager at their store in Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa. The manager for the Yankees is a position that Hal is going to have to sign off on, as it's not only a huge position to fill for the team, but it's unlikely that Aaron is going to make around $45,000 a year like the average assistant manager at Walmart.

Hal Steinbrenner was clearly concerned about a candidates experience, or equivalent experience in the game, and Aaron Boone has more "equivalent experience" in MLB that anyone.

If Boone got the job over guys like Joe Maddon, Terry Francona, and Bruce Bochy, then I'd totally understand being upset. Hell, I'd be upset right there with you. Those are arguably the top three managers in baseball. But those guys were not available. Out of the people available for the managing position, the only guys that you can say are "proven" or successful, and were available, were John Farrell and Dusty Baker. And I don't think anybody wanted either of those men.

So what's the problem with Aaron Boone?

You know what I think it is? I think it's the fact that so many people that cover the Yankees, and in the media in general, love controversy. Negativity is so much more popular than positivity. It amazes me, but it's absolutely true, that negative things written about the Yankees get so much more attention that the positive things written about them. Hell, you can probably say that about any subject. And that's really sad.

Look, I'm not head over heels in love with the hiring of Aaron Boone. I wouldn't have been head over heels in love with them hiring Hensley Meulens, either. Out of the six candidates, I wouldn't have been in love with any of those hires. How can you be in love with something that would carry so many questions? But there's one thing I can tell you with absolutely certainty...

Brian Cashman knows more about what is best for the Yankees than I do. In fact, I'm willing to bet he knows more about what is best for the Yankees than anybody. That doesn't mean he'll always make the right decision, but it is the most well-informed and in line with what the team needs than any of us could make.