- Senior writer ESPN Magazine/ESPN.com
- Analyst/reporter ESPN television
- Author of “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty”
Though the wait continues within the Yankees’ organization for owner Hal Steinbrenner to dictate the direction of the team in a fluid situation, he seems inclined to keep Aaron Boone as manager, industry sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney.
“He likes (Boone), and I don’t think he blames him for what happened,” said one source.
During a season generally viewed as a disappointment, Steinbrenner cited underachieving player performance as the primary reason for the team’s struggles. There also has been of heavy social media criticism of Boone from some Yankees fans.
But at the moment, Boone does not have a contract for the 2022 season. Some within the franchise privately complain about Boone, with the common refrains being that Boone should more bluntly assess team performance to the media when the Yankees play poorly, and that his bullpen choices too often don’t work out.
In Boone’s four seasons as manager, the Yankees are 328-218, averaging 98 wins in the three full seasons, and have made the playoffs every year. They were eliminated in the American League Wild Card Game this year, by the Red Sox, and have not advanced beyond the League Championship Series under Boone — which is not a small matter for a fan base that hasn’t shared a World Series title since 2009.
The organization may also weigh changes to the coaching staff.
The decision of whether Boone remains with the Yankees isn’t necessarily Steinbrenner’s alone. Boone’s contract with the team is set to expire within hours after the World Series, meaning that he could become a free agent in the managerial market at a time when a lot of front-office executives believe there is a dearth of experienced, attractive candidates. If Boone’s contract with the Yankees expires, it’s possible other teams will be interested in speaking with him.
For example: The San Diego Padres fired Jayce Tingler as their manager last week, and they are expected to hire someone who has managed in the big leagues before. Some of the names their leadership is asking about include Braves third base coach Ron Washington — who was a finalist for the San Diego job when Tingler was hired — and Bruce Bochy, Brad Ausmus, Buck Showalter and Jeff Banister. As the unofficial canvassing has progressed, a source reports, one staffer has asked questions about Boone’s status and whether he could be considered by the Padres.
The Yankees’ pedigree has generally served other candidates – Don Mattingly, for example, or Joe Girardi – because there is a presumption that they wield useful experience in handling probing questions from reporters, and with being the public face of a private company throughout a season.
If the Yankees choose to let Boone’s contract expire and pick a new manager, rival officials believe they will consider Astros bench coach Joe Espada, among others. Espada coached for the Yankees before moving to the Astros in 2018.
The commissioner’s office warns teams against making major announcements during the postseason out of concern that attention will be drawn away from the on-going games. It’s possible the Yankees won’t announce a resolution publicly resolved until there is a break in the playoff schedule.
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