Imagine you’re spending the week at Caesar’s Palace in the iconic Las Vegas, Nevada. You’ve had a wonderful week of great bets that consistently get you your money back, if not a little bit more. Lots of highs, and of course a handful of lows. Then Friday hits, and you place $1,000 on black at the roulette table, just for the thrill of taking that risk. It ends up landing on red, and you’ve lost that $1,000. After an entire week of solid bets and winnings, all that’s in your mind going back to your hotel room is that most recent loss of $1,000.
Now, take that same logic and apply it to the New York Yankees stretch under Joe Girardi. Girardi was the Yankees manager from 2008-2017. In those nine seasons as manager, he put together a record of 910-710 (.562 Win %), brought a ring back to the Bronx in ’09, and led one of the most exciting teams in recent memory — the 2017 team. Ultimately, despite that 2017 team’s fantastic run, he lost the locker room, as that was the last season he would manage the Bronx Bombers. Despite all his successes as skipper, the final year was what ownership remembered, and thus decided it was time to move on from Girardi.
Girardi was a fantastic manager for the Yankees in his own right, and will likely be a great leader for the Phillies as well. However, when its time, its time, and a vast majority of fans of the team saw this day coming. When the news broke, everyone began to wonder who could be the new guy that would replace someone as successful, as committed to winning as Girardi. There were ideas of either Raul Ibanez coming to manage his former team, or Carlos Beltran even. I was one of the people that would’ve loved to have seen Alex Rodriguez be given an opportunity as I feel like his knowledge and love for the game of baseball makes him one of the smarter people around the game today. Yet, one name that was continually being talked about was that of Yankees cult hero Aaron Boone.
Boone’s career wasn’t anything special, as ultimately the only year he spent with the Yankees as part of the 2003 season — 54 games to be exact. However, as every baseball fan knows, he will forever live in infamy in the eyes of Red Sox fans, as he notoriously came into game 7 of the ’03 ALCS versus Tim Wakefield in the bottom of the 11th inning, and the rest is history. He also had no managerial experience but impressed nonetheless in the interview and extensive talks between him and the front office.
While his career as a player was less than exciting — career OPS of .751, 93 wRC+, and 10.0 fWAR across 4,331 PA’s — his career as a manager is already looking to be on the road to great success and having his name in Yankees history. Boone’s first season managing the team in 2018 saw the Yankees not only acquire Giancarlo Stanton in what was seen as a fleece of all fleeces at the time — and I’d argue still — but also saw the team put together a very solid year. The Yankees went 100-62 in a very competitive AL East division, and players like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar shined bright in their first extensive big league showcase.
The future looked up for the Yankees, and the following season Aaron Boone would prove that he is truly one of the best managers in the sport of baseball, and should not be referred to solely as a “stop-gap” while the Yankees search for their “true” manager of the future.
In 2019, the Yankees went 103-59 and finish one home-run behind the Twins for the MLB record, with 306. Now, that is all the more impressive when one takes into account that the Yankees also broke another record that season — the most players sent to the IL in a single season. In ’19 30 players were sent to the IL, and of those players, it included Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, and Luke Voit amongst countless others. Simply put, Boone managed to lead a team without all its star power to a 103-59 record. There’s no denying that Boone is one of the more involved managers, and despite the fact many people think its just Cashman pulling the strings while Boone acts as a pretty face, he continually fights for his guys and defends his team.
The most notorious moment of Boone’s managerial career has to be when he rushed umpire Brennan Miller, after a horrendous strike three calls on Brett Gardner which then led to an ejection, and yelled various things that have since stuck with all Yankees fans. Phrases like “I feel bad for you”, “Tighten this s**t up”, and of course the infamous “My guys are f***ing savages in that box.” To see Boone show that much fire and emotion was a rare sight as usually he is very poised and doesn’t lose his cool. However, it shows that he is on his guys’ side and has their backs regardless of whatever happens.
The 2019 Manager of the Year award was narrowed down to three finalists, Rocco Baldelli of the Twins, Aaron Boone of the Yankees, and Kevin Cash of the Rays. Baldelli ended up edging out Boone by ten total points, but there was a massive amount of people that felt as if Boone was completely robbed. For him to have the third-best record in all of baseball, despite having so many injuries — and so frequently, speaks bounds. No disrespect to Baldelli, but if Kepler, Rosario, Polanco, Berrios, Odorizzi, and say, Nelson Cruz, was to miss as much time as the Yankees core did, that Twins team would have won 85 games.
Take it back to the 2017 offseason when the Yankees were amidst their first true “rebuild” in a long while, within the front office, and people were hesitant to support and endorse Boone as manager. Many people viewed him as a signing to, as mentioned, hold the team over for a year or two. Yet, here we are, with baseball on hold, but with a top-quality manager managing over a top-quality team.
While ultimately in baseball it is a game of taking risks, and the slightest changes can make all the difference in the world, the Boone signing is one that will show its quality and value for many years to come. Boone has played an integral role in the development of numerous key players on the team, as well as a key role in bringing Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole to New York. A very smart, savvy, and analytics-driven Yankees front office has found their man for the foreseeable future, and as a Yankees fan myself, I couldn’t ask for anyone better.
Take that same gambling analogy at the beginning, and view it as if when the Yankees signed Boone, while you lost that $1,000 Friday night, you woke up Saturday and hit the jackpot.