The New York Yankees were knocked out of the postseason by their longtime rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in the AL wild-card game, and everyone is wondering if the Yanks intend to fire manager Aaron Boone in the offseason.
Even Boone speculated on his future in the postgame press conference. Under his leadership, the Yankees never advanced beyond the ALCS.
“Haven’t had any conversations about my contract with anyone, so we’ll see,” said Boone. “I love being here. I love going to work with this group of players.”
Boone was hired to lead the Yankees to their first World Series win since 2009, but it’s been a string of disappointing Octobers. In four seasons as the Yankees’ skipper, Boone compiled a 328-218 record with just one AL East title in 2009.
During Boone’s first season in 2018, the Yankees were knocked out of the ALDS by the Red Sox. In 2019, the Yankees were eliminated in the ALCS by the Houston Astros. During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Yankees were picked off in the ALDS by the Tampa Bay Rays. This season, the Red Sox knocked out the Yanks in the wild card.
The Yankees now have a 12-year gap since their last World Series appearance. That includes the pre-Babe Ruth era between 1903 and 1920, and also includes the dismal 1980s at the peak of “the Boss” hysteria under owner George Steinbrenner between 1982 and 1995.
Judge vote of confidence
Despite the inability to deliver a World Series berth for the Yankees top brass, the team loves Boone, who’s a players’ coach.
Slugger Aaron Judge backed up his manager and hopes to play for Boone next season if the Yankees don’t fire him.
“There’s a lot of good answers for that besides being a great manager and leading this team the past couple of years, to winning over 100 games, his leadership skills, being even-keeled through the ups and downs, the good times and bad times, that’s part of it,” said Judge. “When you are the manager of this team and you wear the N-Y and you wear these pinstripes, it’s a heavy burden. But a guy like Boone wears it with pride, shows up to work every day and gets us prepared the right way, keeps us motivated, and gets on guys when he needs to. It’s been a pleasure the past couple of years to play for him and fight for him every single day. I could spend all night giving you reasons why he should still be the manager.”
“Whatever does happen, I’m at peace with,” said Boone. “I know that I can hold my head high.”
There could be a bit of saving grace because everyone knows the Astros cheated in 2019. The Yankees were knocked out by those cheating Astros in the 2019 ALCS, which squandered their shot at securing a spot in the World Series.
Next skipper: Cone or Espada?
If Hal Steinbrenner decides to fire Boone, then who will become the Yankees’ next manager?
Personally, I’m a fan of Joe Maddon, who currently coaches the Los Angeles Angels. Maddon won a World Series with the Cubs, but wanted to take a job close to where he grew up in SoCal. He’s not going anywhere, especially with a talented player like Shohei Ohtani on his roster.
In his book titled “Full Count,” David Cone indicated he’d love a shot at coaching some day. The former Yankees hurler is currently an announcer for the YES Network.
The Yankees could tap a current bench coach or third-base coach from another team to become their next manager. Mark Kotsay, the third-base coach from the Oakland A’s, will be on the shortlist of managerial candidates in the offseason. There are also three bench coaches who could get their first manager gig next season, including Don Kelly from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Joe Espada from the Houston Astros, and Matt Quatraro from the Tampa Rays.
Espada used to be the Yankees’ third-base coach under Joe Girardi, so he’s one of the front runners for the job.
If this were the 1970s or early 1980s, the Boss would rehire a former manager. He hired/fired Billy Martin so many times you lost track. How about a retread with former skippers Buck Showalter or Joe Girardi? The Yankees needed a change after Girardi’s approach grew stale in the locker room, and they hired Boone despite his lack of experience. Showalter is a no-nonsense micromanager, but he might be too outdated for a manager in the 2020s.
Aaron f-ing Boone
Boone is a part of baseball royalty as a third-generation player and manager. He had a short stint with the Yankees as a player in 2003. Boone only played a single season in pinstripes, but solidified his status as Yankee for life with a clutch walk-off home run to defeat the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
In New England, he’s known as “Aaron F—ing Boone,” to put it bluntly.