Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Yankees Decide To Bring Back Boone

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone. Photo by Jason Schott.


After two weeks of speculation, since their season ended in the Wild Card Game loss to the Boston Red Sox, on whether the Yankees would bring back their manager - a time that saw them fire three coaches - they announced that Aaron Boone will be returning on a new three-year contract, with a team option for 2025.

Boone has been the Yankees manager for four seasons, and they have made the playoffs in each of them, including an appearance in the American League Championship Series in 2019. He has a record of 328-218, with an average of 98 wins per season.

Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement, "We have a person and manager in Aaron Boone who possesses the baseball acumen and widespread respect in our clubhouse to continue to guide us forward. As a team and as an organization, we must grow, evolve and improve. We need to get better. Period. I know Aaron fully embraces our expectations of success, and I look forward to drawing on his intelligence, instincts and leadership in pursuit of our next World Series championship."

The Yankees won 100 games in Boone's first season in 2018, and they came in second in the American League East to the 108-win Red Sox, who they lost to in the Division Series. 

The next season the Yankees ran away with the AL East and made it to the ALCS, where they lost to the Houston Astros. Since then, they have taken definite steps back.

The 2020 pandemic-shortened season saw the Yankees 33-27 and get a playoff spot in the expanded format. They beat the Cleveland Indians in the three-game play-in (unique only to last season) before losing to Tampa Bay in the Division Series.

This season saw the Yankees get off to a very slow start, and not really get going until August, when they worked their way into a playoff spot and won 13 straight games. 

They tailed off in September, with the one highlight being when they went up to Boston and swept the Red Sox in a weekend series in which Giancarlo Stanton hit three massive home runs. 

The Yankees followed that up by going 3-3 over the final six games, and Boston was able to tie them for the top wild card, and since they went 10-9 against the Yankees in the regular season, they got to host the one-game playoff. 

The Red Sox jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and never looked back, winning 6-2.

The Yankees barely put up a fight in that game, as they only threatened in the sixth inning, but third base coach Phil Nevin made the mistake of sending Aaron Judge to the plate on a Green Monster hit by Stanton, and he was thrown out at the plate. Nevin was one of the three coaches the Yankees fired last Thursday, along with hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere.

It was a fitting end to a season in which the Yankees played some of their worst baseball in years, marked by way too many strikeouts, poor defense, and inconsistent play.

The fact that the Yankees rewarded Boone after a season like this speaks volumes about what they think of their team, in that they think they're as good as their 92-70 record, and that they are still one of the top teams in the sport. 

The most revealing comment to this thinking was when Boone said the league has "closed the gap on them" - how is that possible when you haven't won a World Series in 12 years, and just one in 21 years? By comparison, the Red Sox have four championships (and on a path to five) since 2004, and San Francisco won those three in 2010, '12, and '14.

This also closes debate on whether the Yankees will finally move on from General Manager Brian Cashman, whose contract is up after next season. 

Even though he was the GM during the late 1990s dynasty, in recent years, he has put together a poorly-constructed, patchwork team so they can contend every year, as exhibited by sending tons of prospects for outfielder Joey Gallo and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. 

The World Series drought, nearly as long as the 15 years they went between the 1981 and 1996 titles, is on Cashman, as he has failed to ever have enough pitching in the playoffs, and aside from Judge, the "Baby Bombers," as well as supposed stud trade acquisitions like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres, have not panned out.

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