Brian Cashman, during his multiple state-of-the-team addresses throughout the Yankees’ turbulent 2021 season, reinforced his belief publicly that manager Aaron Boone wasn’t the cause for the team’s roller coaster season.
The Yankees general manager again doubled down on that mindset on Monday, speaking with reporters after the team announced it had brought Boone back on a new three-year deal.
“I think when I turned back to the summer I would reiterate that I thought Boone was part of the solution and not the problem,” Cashman said. “He’s a great baseball mind, comes from a great family that has a history in this industry for quite some time.”
Despite a 92-70 finish and a lifeless exit in the Wild Card Game against the rival Red Sox, Cashman and the front office elected to offer Boone a new deal, when his initial expiring contract left the team with an opportunity for a clean break and a new direction. But ultimately, Cashman and company felt that the traits that initially made Boone an attractive candidate prior to the 2018 season still held true for them four seasons later, despite the team failing to make it as far as Joe Girardi’s final season as manager in 2017.
“His ability to connect, communicate, to be open minded, he’s had a lot of success here despite our postseason ultimate results,” Cashman said. “Our big goal happens to be a world championship, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t goals getting accomplished or things to be proud of along the way.”
Boone turned in back-to-back 100-win seasons to begin his Yankee tenure, but the team has taken a step back in recent years, particularly in 2021, when the offense sputtered and another early playoff exit led to relentless rumblings about Boone’s future with the team. But based on Cashman’s comments during Monday’s press conference, it doesn’t seem like there was ever too much doubt that the Yanks wanted Boone back in the fold for 2022 and beyond.
“If he was entering the free agent market, I believe he’d be the number one managerial candidate in baseball,” Cashman said. “And we’d be going into the market looking for someone like him.
“I think there’s a great deal of respect for what Aaron Boone brings to the table…when we actually got together after a little bit of time and delay, we had a conference call discussing all things, and all parties involved were 110 percent on board and aligned with that.”
Hal Steinbrenner also put the bulk of the blame on the players for the frustrating 2021 season, and the challenge for him and Cashman will now be to improve the roster for Boone. By sticking with Boone and their sentiments from during the season, the front office now puts the onus on themselves to get their manager a better roster to put him in a position to succeed.
“I think a manager is only as good as the players he’s got, and I think Aaron’s pretty damn good at his position,” Cashman said. “As I’ve talked to players on this club, we need to demand excellence from them in all categories…and I also need to find many great teammates to surround them with, whether it’s big names or small names.”
Boone faced criticism throughout the season for bullpen decisions and lineup construction, in addition to a relentless optimism in a season where it was often tough to find positives, but Cashman brings Boone back without a list of areas to improve. The Yankees feel they have their guy, and showed it by committing to him once again.
“I don’t have any specific category ‘You’ve got to be better here.’ I really don’t,” Cashman said. “The managing position in Major League Baseball is very difficult…he knows how to navigate it, and he’s not afraid of it either.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1