Aaron Boone has emerged from a mostly uninspiring collection of candidates to be the next manager of the New York Yankees. In Boone, the Yankees have the man they believe will fulfill the vision set forth by general manager Brian Cashman and the front office staff. This is not to say Boone does not have his own ideas, but the notion that this team is run by the manager is now long gone.
Selecting a manager with zero coaching experience is a risky proposition, which puts a large target on Cashman's back should the experiment backfire. Boone's "baseball lifer" label - the combination of his time growing up as the son and grandson of MLB veterans, his own 12 years on the field and the eight years as an ESPN baseball analyst - was enough to convince Cashman his new manager could handle in-game scenarios.
This is a new age of baseball managers, one in which the skippers are molded by the front office to carry out the analytical process on the field. The perception from teams employing this new methodology is that their manager must be able to communicate effectively on multiple levels with young players, be approachable to the media and understand the basis of baseball analytics while applying them to the game on a daily basis. Based on numerous statements from many around the game, Boone does possess these abilities.
A good deal of the inexperience talk surrounding Boone could be uttered about any first-time manager. Everyone has to start somewhere, but generally speaking, we climb some sort of ladder to reach pinnacle roles within an organization. We learn from performing tasks in various parts of a hierarchy. Not Boone; he will acquire coaching and managing techniques as they come at him.
The new baseball manager is no longer perceived to be the man truly affecting the outcomes of baseball games. The plan comes from the front office and, in some cases, so does the lineup card. It's the manager's sole responsibility to put the players into the spots that have been predetermined by the analytical team.
How many times, and when, a manager strays from the guide is important. Under what circumstances is the manager allowed to divert from the pages of statistics? Will he be lambasted by the front office, especially if moves contrary to the analytics deliver poor results? We saw the tensions between former Yankees manager Joe Girardi and the front office in recent seasons, and ultimately it led to the club declining to renew his contract.
Some will suggest that Cashman has selected a puppet to do his bidding, but I do believe him to an extent when he says that he wants his manager to be willing and able to convey differing opinions. The question here is what experience does Boone lean on to back up his theories? Boone cannot reflect on anything he has ever done as a coach, let alone a manager, to convince Cashman that his suggestions will work. Virtually anything Boone conveys will be derived from a playing career that ended eight years ago and his time watching the game in the television booth.
The argument that Boone simply has to guide an extremely young and talented team to not beat itself carries some weight. However, because the core of the group is young and still impressionable, it will be incumbent upon Boone to, at the very least, nurture the players. Again, this would seemingly be the strong suit of someone that has at least been in the situation as a coach.
Maybe this is where the bench coach and the rest of the coaching staff comes into play. It is unknown at this time if Boone or Cashman will be selecting the new manager's right hand man and others to round out the staff (probably the latter). At the least, the bench coach should be someone with an extensive coaching (and preferably managing) background. The bench coach must carry substantial experience in an effort to facilitate what will be a seemingly sharp learning curve for Boone as he gets up to speed with his day-to-day responsibilities.
The intent here is not to bash Boone, or the even selection. It is what it is. Boone may thrive and guide the Yankees to their 28th World Series title. The review here simply sets forth what can be envisioned as an uphill path with obstacles along the way. We understand that Boone will be working from a manual of sorts, but he will still be the face of the decisions made on a daily basis.
What remains to be seen is how much weight Boone's input carries in the beginning and if his influence will grow in time. Boone will ultimately be judged on his ability to cultivate a group of budding talents into superstars, wins and a World Series ring. If Boone succeeds, Cashman will look like a genius. If not, both could be out of jobs at the same time.