The Aaron Boone hiring shows Cashman’s priority in the manager search

(Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees will hire their former player and ESPN analyst Aaron Boone to manage the team 2018 and beyond. While the Yankees bringing in a new skipper is a big story in itself, the selection of Boone seems to be a bigger one. There are a lot of questions that people are asking but this is the main one: why Boone over more experienced candidates (or non-candidates)?  Why take a risk on a newcomer in managing?

The manager interview group featured names of diverse experience backgrounds. We got Aaron Boone, who does not have any managing or coaching experience and had been an ESPN analyst since 2010. There was Hensley Meulens, who has been coaching since 2003 and earned three World Series rings with the Giants (and also the Kingdom of Netherlands WBC team). Eric Wedge previously managed the Indians and Mariners. Rob Thomson was a loyal soldier of the Yanks for 28 years and was most recently the team’s bench coach. Chris Woodward has been coaching since 2012 and is currently the Dodgers’ third base coach. And, of course, Carlos Beltran just wrapped up his prolific career so he joined Boone as a candidate who does not have any coaching or managing experience.

While coaching experience is a nice — and many would say essential — asset for managerial candidates, based on these names that the Yankees interviewed, it was not a big priority to Cashman.

While most of us don’t know Boone personally, there is information out there that paint a portion of him as a person First, he is well-liked. Many who know him raved about the hiring once it was announced. He is supposedly a great communicator and that might have been one of the major reasons why Cashman wanted to interview him. This article by Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News shows how well he delivers the message to others. It is an incredible story:

Back in 2003, due to strokes in both my optic nerves, I became legally blind and considered retiring for good…Corsoe, though, convinced me to give spring training a try and I agreed. The first day I walked into the Reds clubhouse in Sarasota, I stood at the door and looked around.

Everything was dark and fuzzy. Faces were blurred. I didn’t recognize players who I had known for years. Boone noticed me standing at the door with a perplexed look on my face.

He approached me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I told him what had happened, that I was legally blind, and that he probably wouldn’t see me again, that I was going home, I was about to quit.

He grabbed me by my elbow and led me to his locker stool, pointed to it and said, “Sit down.” I sat. And Boone said, “I don’t ever want to hear you saw the word quit again. You love what you do and you are good at it. Everybody in this room will help you when you need it.”

That’s the kind of communicator he is, the kind of passionate and compassionate person he is. Writers and players are water and oil. They don’t often mix. And I wrote my share of critical things about Boone. But he took the time to change a writer’s life, to save a career.

It may be one anecdote but it is also incredible, isn’t it? One story isn’t everything but many have acclaimed Boone for his ability to communicate and connect with others, which is a huge leadership skill.  Cashman stated that the main reason why he did not bring Girardi back is because of his inability to communicate well with younger players.

Whether that’s valid or not, it seems like Cashman felt he found someone who can connect with the clubhouse well. When asked about what he looked for in the next manager, Cashman said “There’s no perfect person that checks every box … (Communication is) one attribute of many. Some have more weight that others … (We want someone) who’s willing to push back and have open discourse … I’m looking for the right person regardless of age.” Take that for what you will.

Other things? I would think it helps that Boone is experienced with media. Being a Yankee manager is a whole different animal because of all the media attention and scrutiny that one faces on daily basis. Lastly, we know that Boone was pretty much born, raised and lived with baseball his whole life. We’re not talking about your neighbor Brad who played in high school JV team and now has a part-time job teaching kids how to swing. Boone is a third generation MLB’er whose older brother, Bret, also played for an extensive amount of time. Here’s a good read on that aspect. I’m willing to bet that, for what he lacked in coaching experience, he backed himself up with baseball smarts that’s been ingrained in his head for a long time.

Besides that, what other factors are out there?  Qualifying managerial candidates are tricky. Guys like Meulens, Woodward, Beltran, etc. were given an interview because they also were known to have skills that Cashman looked for in the next Yankee manager. But what pushed Boone to the top?

For baseball players, you can evaluate a good amount of skills by watching them on the field. Coaches and managers? You gotta dig deeper, especially into their mind. The manager is not a flashy job. Acquiring Beltran as a player would be much more exciting than Boone as a player, but that’s not how it works this time. A frustrating part of the past few weeks for the fans is that they are not given much detailed description of the candidates’ skills – because how do you even write out a “manager candidate scouting report” a la the players’ ones?

The people that get to know the best fit to the organizations are the ones that interviewed them (in this case, probably Brian Cashman) and that is all the public is given. And, from what we know, it was an intense, grueling 5-6 hour-long interview that covered many aspects.

We all know that not everything Cashman touches turns to gold. This move comes with risk and a guy like Boone will be tested by well-tenured opposing managers during games. At the same time, we all know that Cashman’s moves have revived the franchise into heavy playoff favorites for years to come – not to mention that he has the experience of running this franchise for almost 20 years. While it does not validate hiring Boone a hundred percent, the recent success gives him a bigger credibility in making crucial moves like this. Right now, this is the gist: Cashman is a smart guy who knew what he was looking for – and probably had the most access of the managerial candidate information.

The Boone hire, as it goes for many other baseball moves, is not foolproof. At this point, we don’t know how the Aaron Boone era of the Yankees history will go. Brian Cashman, who now seems to have more authority on team decisions than he’s ever had, made the call. How it unfolds, your guess is as good as mine.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 18th, 2017

Record Last Week: 5-2 (43 RS, 21 RA)
Season Record: 82-67 (793 RS, 619 RA, 91-58 pythag. record) 3.0 GB in ALE, 6.0 GU on WC
Opponents This Week: vs. Twins (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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DotF: Keller pitches well again in Tampa’s win

Some notes before we get to one of the slower days in the minors since the short season leagues started up in late June:

  • Eric Longenhagen posted his updated top ten Yankees prospects list. All the usual names are at the top, and up-and-comer RHP Jorge Guzman makes an appearance too. “Guzman is sitting 96-100 with relative ease and showing slider feel,” says the write-up.
  • RHP Juan De Paula was named the Short Season NY-Penn League Pitcher of the Week. He struck out five in six no-hit innings during his start over the weekend. De Paula, who the Yankees picked up in the Ben Gamel trade, has a 3.60 ERA (3.45 FIP) in 40 innings this year.
  • Short Season Staten Island will have an All-Star this year after all. IF Jose Polonia was added to the roster, the NY-Penn League announced. Polonia, 21, it hitting .269/.361/.269 (97 wRC+) in 18 games and 61 plate appearances with Staten Island. Yeah.
  • And finally, make sure you check out Josh Norris’ feature on RHP Matt Sauer, this year’s second round pick. Sauer said he and the Yankees will get together in Instruction League to determine whether he should move forward with his slider or curveball, or both.

Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton both had scheduled off-days.

High-A Tampa (4-2 win over Florida)

  • SS Hoy Jun Park: 2-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — 9-for-31 (.290) in his last seven games … took him a few games to find his bearings after the promotion, but now he’s locked in
  • LF Trey Amburgey: 0-5, 1 K
  • CF Estevan Florial: 1-4, 2 K — he’s hit safely in eleven of 12 games with Tampa
  • 3B Angel Aguilar: 0-4, 1 K, 2 E (throwing, fielding)
  • RHP Brian Keller: 6 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 WP, 6/3 GB/FB — 66 of 96 pitches were strikes (69%), plus he picked a runner off first … 34/3 K/BB in his last four starts and 26 innings

[Read more…]

DotF: Andujar extends hitting streak in Trenton’s win

A few quick notes to start the night:

  • LHP Justus Sheffield made an appearance in this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (subs. req’d). “(Unless) he’s one of those dudes who takes a big command jump at some point, the questions about his long-term role aren’t really going to be answered until and unless he makes the majors and succeeds as a starter or doesn’t,” says the write-up.
  • In other Sheffield news, he was named the Double-A Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. He allowed two runs (one earned) in two starts and 13 innings last week while striking out ten.

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 loss to Columbus)

  • LF Tyler Wade & CF Dustin Fowler: both 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 K — now 11-for-28 (.383) with two doubles and two triples in nine rehab games
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-3, 1 K
  • SS Gleyber Torres: 0-3, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) — now 5-for-24 (.208) in seven Triple-A games
  • RHP Domingo German: 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 12/3 GB/FB — 60 of 95 pitches were strikes (63%) … he’s allowed five runs in two of this three Triple-A starts
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 23 of 35 pitches were strikes (66%) … 37 strikeouts and zero (!) walks in 26 innings so far

[Read more…]

Game 31: Continue Winnin’

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

This road trip, in risk of sounding like a broken record, has gone pretty well for the Yankees. They could make it perfect with a win tonight before they head back to the Bronx for a four-game series against the Astros this weekend. With this streak, Yankees have already gone on the best 30-game start since 2010, when they also went 21-9. A victory tonight would make it their best since 2003. There have been a lot of good Yankees team from that time period so having that hot of a start this year is pretty neat.

Here is the Reds squadron and here’s the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  9. P C.C. Sabathia

Seeing some scattered thunderstorms in the Cincy forecasts tonight. I don’t know how severe the rain might get but hope not big enough to affect the game status. This game is not on YES Network – it will a FOX national broadcast game so make sure to tune in there to watch it. It’s a 7:05 pm EST start so I hope you’re ready to watch it as soon as you read this.

Tanaka solid, offense blasts four home runs to beat the White Sox 9-1

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

I’m still in the high from that ridiculous Aaron Judge home run. But anyways, the formula was simple for this win — good pitching and good hitting got it done. Masahiro Tanaka didn’t have his best stuff but he grinded out a nice 7 IP, 1 ER outing while the offense hit four out of the park en route to a 9-1 victory.

Welcome to the gun show

Unlike last night, the Yankee bats raked from the beginning. Brett Gardner began the bottom of first with a double and Chase Headley followed it up with a casual, 426-feet two-run home run. How hot is Headley right now? Sure, that was the only hit he had tonight (bust!) but he’s hitting an unreal .396/.500/.646 in 58 PA in 2017. I don’t know when WAR gets updated on Fangraphs, but I’d imagine he’s close to the top.

While that was all for the first inning, the beat went on in the second. Aaron Judge led off with a single and Bird hit a double into left-center to make it runners on second and third. Austin Romine, who came into the game hitting .333/.414/.542, squibbed a single up to the middle to drive Judge in. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with an RBI ground out to make it 4-0 Yankees.

For the next two innings, the Yankee bats went quiet against 2010 1st round draft pick Dylan Covey. The bottom of fifth started unceremoniously as Gardner struck out and Headley grounded out to make it two quick outs. However, Matt Holliday and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back singles to give Starlin Castro something to work with. And boy, Castro worked it alright. He hit a three-run home run into the visitor’s bullpen to give New York at 7-1 lead.

Two pitches after Castro’s home run, Judge put a charge on a hanging breaking ball and, well, destroyed it. Just watch:

Per Baseball Savant, that home run traveled for 448 ft with an exit velocity of 115.5 mph. I wouldn’t be surprised if that actually traveled further. That distance is A-Rod territory right there. At some point in his career, Judge will probably outdo that home run, which is exciting to think about. Oh yeah, that home run put the Yankees to a 8-1 lead and Covey exited after the frame ended.

Joining the dinger party later on was Aaron Hicks. As a pinch-hitter, against the tall righty Michael Ynoa (who I vividly remember as the top 2008 IFA signee), Hicks lined one just over the short porch for a solo home run. That was as cheap as a Yankee Stadium cheapie could get but hey, I’ve said it before: you play at the Yankee Stadium, you play by Yankee Stadium rules. Hicks’ hot bat probably caught your attention as well. The man is hitting .296/.444/.778 after tonight, which is quite Giambi-in-prime-esque.

#TANAK

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Tanaka’s final line is as follows: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Looks like a pretty swell start, right? It was not as easy as the numbers suggest. He had runners in scoring position three out of those seven innings and, to the White Sox hitters’ credit, they squared up the balls well at times, especially Jose Abreu, who had three hits off Tanaka tonight (including two doubles). However, Tanaka remained cool and calm and got out of the jams mostly unscathed. The only major blemish was the RBI double allowed to Abreu in the fourth inning to score Tim Anderson, which was the only run Chicago scored tonight.

Brooks Baseball had Tanaka’s fastball velocity as usual (topping out at 93.5 instead of going up to 96-97 like we saw in past two starts) and indicated that his splitter was working tonight. He got eight whiffs out of that pitch (29.6% rate). I mean look, how can you throw it any better than he did it right here?

After tonight’s start, Tanaka’s ERA sunk from 8.36 to 6.00. Regression to normalcy! The first few starts were not ideal but he will be just fine.

Leftovers

Bryan Mitchell came in to relieve Tanaka to start the eighth inning and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings. It is also his 26th birthday so, happy birthday to that guy. Tommy Layne came in the ninth with one out to get some work in and got the last two to close it out.

Tonight was one of those games where it just clicked well for the offense — each hitter in the starting lineup got a hit. I’ll take games like this any day.

Box score, WPA graph and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score and updated standings from ESPN and WPA graph from Fangraphs.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have a day-off tomorrow and will travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series vs. the Pirates. New York is now 10-5 after a 9-1 homestand. Time to get the beat going on the road.

Life After A-Rod

(Drew Hallowell/Getty)
(Drew Hallowell/Getty)

Way back when Mariano Rivera left the Yankees, I was writing for another site and had previously written about life after Mo. However discomforting it may have been to be without the world’s greatest security blanket (aside from my actual security blanket from childhood, of course), I felt a sense of optimism going forward. The Yankees had survived a year without him with Rafael Soriano closing and had David Robertson waiting to take over for Mr. Untuck. As it turns out, things have been A-OK in the closer department for the Yankees since Rivera left. Ironically, that stability has come in the form of many different pitchers, which serves to highlight Mariano’s consistency. Now, we’re left with a similar vacancy with Alex Rodriguez‘s release/retirement hybrid. Though I’ve hardly begun to process what it means to me as a fan that A-Rod will no longer be on my favorite team, it’s time already to look forward to 2017 and beyond without him. Nothing made that clearer than Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge arriving with authority yesterday, each collecting two hits and a home run in their Bronx and big league debuts.

Regardless of our attachments to A-Rod, at the end of the day, he was a roster spot and a position to the Yankees–the designated hitter. For the rest of the year, it looks like that spot will be filled by some combination of Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez, presumably with Mark Teixeira taking a few games in when he needs a blow at first base, provided, of course, by Tyler Austin. The use of McCann and Sanchez in some sort of catcher/DH rotation makes sense: both have good bats and it’s worthwhile to pace Sanchez’s arrival, rather than just throwing him into things right away. How this bodes for next year, especially given Austin Romine‘s general competence as a backup this year, is another interesting angle.

(NY Daily News)
(NY Daily News)

Mike touched on the idea of three catchers in a mailbag about two weeks ago, and with Rodriguez leaving, the idea of three catchers in 2017 makes a lot more sense now. And given that Austin Romine has seen time at first base this year, it gives the Yankees some flexibility that a three catcher roster would normally prohibit. How could the Yankees manage their three catchers, as wall as the (expected to be) returning Greg Bird at first base? Let’s take a look.

On the average week in MLB, a team will likely have one of Monday or Thursday off. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s a week when the Yankees have a Monday off and have night games, with the exceptions of Saturday and Sunday. They could go with a simple every-other-day rotation, alternating McCann and Sanchez at C/DH from Tuesday-Saturday with Romine going on Sunday, allowing Joe Girardi to play to the matchups for the DH spot. Tough lefty? Go with Sanchez. Tough righty? Go with McCann.  Alternatively, they could catch in chunks: McCann on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sanchez Thursday and Friday, Romine on Saturday, and one of McCann or Sanchez on Sunday. If Bird needs a day off or a half day off, Romine could slip over to first with Bird sitting or DHing, putting one of McCann or Sanchez on the bench.

Brian McCann

Assuming Brian McCann is on the team next year, he is going to be the centerpiece of the offense with Rodriguez, Tex, and Carlos Beltran gone. Gary Sanchez is going to be a big part of bolstering and supporting the lineup and getting each player rest will be crucial to continued offensive success. Additionally, while the defensive outlook for Sanchez is better than it initially was, it’s doubtful he’ll be as skilled as McCann in the immediate future–despite his proficiency at throwing out runners–and breaking him in gradually may help that development.

Alex Rodriguez was a complex person and player whom I’ll miss dearly. It was a joy to watch him play for my favorite team over the last twelve years. However, despite that feeling, the Yankees are well-positioned to creatively replace him and his production at DH.