Steinbrenner Says Boone Was Yankees' Runaway Choice; Analytics Knowledge Key
Aaron Boone was formally introduced as the Yankees' new manager yesterday after he "clearly separated himself from the rest of the pack during the interview process," according to Mike Mazzeo of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner was "so impressed with Boone that he knew he and his family didn’t have to meet with him" in Tampa, as "was the original plan." Steinbrenner said, "There was a difference of opinion among the participants as to who their No. 2 or No. 3 choice was, but there was little to no difference as to who their No. 1 choice was. It wasn’t even close, in their words. When I get that kind of strong recommendation from my top people, I just didn’t see a need." Boone was the "fourth of six candidates to interview for the team’s managerial vacancy." During his interview, Boone "spoke with team brass for seven hours." Once the interview process ended, Yankees Senior VP & GM Brian Cashman and the rest of his staff "agreed that Boone was their guy." Cashman was said to be "intrigued by Boone after receiving several endorsements about the 12-year MLB veteran turned ESPN analyst." Steinbrenner had "expressed some trepidation about hiring someone with a lack of experience, but he trusted his baseball operations people" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/7).
DEFINING SUCCESS: ESPN.com's Andrew Marchand noted Steinbrenner "sounded decidedly old school" when asked how he would "define success over the length of Boone's three-year contract that includes a team option for a fourth season." Steinbrenner: "Winning world championships. I truly believe we have now in place, having not traded away the Judges and the Sanchezes and Severinos of the world, I really feel what we have up here now (in the majors) and what we got down below, we have a chance for a very good run and it is exciting. And I expect that we will have a very good run" (ESPN.com, 12/6). Boone said that a "'lifetime in baseball' prepared him for the challenge and admitted that such proximity to the game" as an ESPN analyst "'was pulling me' to consider pursuing such a transition back into uniform" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/7).
GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes Boone "won the hearts of everyone at Yankee Stadium" during his 40-minute press conference. Everyone was "mesmerized by his quiet confidence and calmness despite his blank resume." Boone was "honest, transparent and glib" and "certainly understanding of the apprehension of hiring a man for the most prestigious job in all of sports." Boone can "certainly work a room." Nightengale: "Now, let’s see how he can work a clubhouse, handle in-game strategy, appease a passionate fan base, charm a grizzled media corps, and satisfy an iconic franchise" (USA TODAY, 12/7). On Long Island, David Lennon writes Boone's unveiling "left us with a different vibe, one that we’re not quite sure how to process." Boone "performed as expected, deftly handling questions" from the media. He is a "bright baseball man," but in "listening to the way that everyone talked about his responsibilities, it sounded more like Boone was running for class president than the guy in charge of commanding a World Series favorite." Boone is "inheriting a young team that fell a game short of the World Series, and should be even better" in '18, yet Cashman "repeatedly talked about Boone as a speculative investment, like a mutual fund, which was the GM’s response to his lack of experience as either a manager or coach" (NEWSDAY, 12/7). MLB Network's Kevin Millar said "learning the whole gig" will be Boone's biggest challenge. Millar: "Building a relationship with Brian Cashman ... the metrics, all the kinds of things that we don't know" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 12/6).
PLAYERS' MANAGER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jared Diamond writes the Yankees' choice of Boone "defied conventional wisdom." As recently as last month, Steinbrenner "indicated that he would prefer a manager who rose through the coaching ranks." But Boone "sold the Yankees by focusing on the significance of developing strong interpersonal relationships with his players, a theme he returned to repeatedly" yesterday. The ability to "relate with players and earn the respect of the clubhouse have emerged as perhaps the most important characteristics for a manager." Boone’s stint in the broadcasting booth did "help his cause in a way." His responsibilities at ESPN "forced him to learn about the world of data analytics." Though numbers "didn’t interest him much as a player, he started to embrace the metrics and their place in the game in retirement, frequently discussing them fluently on television" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/7). CBS Sports Network's Adam Schein said every team in MLB "wants to find the next Dave Roberts or A.J. Hinch." Schein: "In the future, when clubs want to hire a smart manager in their 40s, who once played and embraces everything, you know what they're going to say? 'You need to hire the next Aaron Boone'" ("Time to Schein," CBSSN, 12/6).
WHAT A LUXURY: Steinbrenner said that the Yankees' desire to get under the $197M luxury-tax threshold next season "won't take them out of the free-agent market." Steinbrenner: "One thing my family has always done, when money is coming off payroll, wherever humanly possible, we’re gonna put it back into the club (and) not into our pockets. Certainly, we’ll get into the free-agent market" (N.Y. POST, 12/7).