Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Sean Casey has heard the grousing about Aaron Boone's lack of managerial experience and knows that some wonder why the Yankees would hire someone who's never been in the dugout cauldron. Especially for a job at the very pinnacle of the baseball industry.
But Casey, who was Boone's teammate on the Cincinnati Reds from 1998-2003 and was one of his best friends there, has what he considers the perfect rejoinder: Boone may not have been a manager, but he's got the kind of perspective few others have enjoyed. And Casey is not just referring to Boone's lifetime in baseball, thanks to his grandfather, Ray, and father Bob, both playing in the Majors.
"Boonie's been an All-Star. He's been a hero. He's been a backup and he's been in camp where he's trying to make a club," Casey, now an analyst for the MLB Network, said in a telephone interview. "So when a guy says to him, 'Hey, why am I not starting tonight?' he knows what to say.
"He knows what that guy is feeling. You want to talk about experience? He has that over 12 seasons (as a player)."
Consider this: Boone's most famous moment as a player, his clutch, winning homer for the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series, came in a game he didn't even start.
Boone, a trade-deadline acquisition for the Yanks that year, did not exactly light up the American League after an All-Star first half in Cincinnati. He struggled in the playoffs and Joe Torre started Enrique Wilson at third base in the pivotal game against the Red Sox, not Boone.
Some might've sulked after an ego slap like that. But Boone came into the game as a pinch-runner for Ruben Sierra in the eighth inning and launched himself into October history by homering off Tim Wakefield in the 11th.
"Listen," says Casey, "there are guys who have managed before who haven't had any of those experiences. Are they more qualified than Aaron Boone?"
Of course, Boone ultimately will be judged on how the Yankees play under his watch. If the club is good, there won't be much chatter about the experience Boone doesn't have.
Still, there's likely to be some sort of learning curve and even Boone's friends admit that. While Casey said Boone's work in the ESPN booth has kept him current in the game, Casey also said he thought the Yanks would give his pal an experienced bench coach. That will help as Boone learns to navigate the complexities of in-game managing.
Casey and Boone became teammates when the Reds sent Dave Burba to Cleveland for Casey near the end of spring training in 1998. They became fast friends, so much so that Casey said the only time he ever cried in his career over a teammate getting traded was when the Yanks sent prospects Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning to Cincy for Boone.
"My wife said, 'What's wrong?' I said, 'Boonie got traded,'" Casey recalled. "It's one of those moments that hit me hard, in the heart. My locker mate, my buddy, he was leaving."
Grinding through the long season was more bearable hanging with Boone, Casey said. "That doesn't come around every day," he added.
Casey saw parts of Boone's introductory press conference Wednesday and one moment stood out: During his opening remarks, Boone turned toward team executives, including Yanks' GM Brian Cashman, and vowed, "You'll get all I've got."
"I got the chills watching that," Casey said. "That is the guy the Yankees will get to know. There won't be any stones left unturned with Aaron Boone. He'll be prepared. The staff will be prepared. He'll be fair. He'll be honest. He's what you want in a big-league manager." He'll also find ways to convince the players "he's got their back," Casey said. "He'll find a way to give everyone what they need.
"As a player, you know the process is the most important thing, not the results. Results come from a good process. If they (the players) know they are getting what they need to be the best they can be every day, your results will be there."