All offseason long, we pondered why he hadn’t been extended after a largely-successful three-year tenure with 2019 standing as the crown jewel of muddling through tough waters to succeed, regardless of personnel.
2021, though? It’s been a whole different animal.
The captain of a season-long roller coaster, Boone seems to be blind to the fact that the effort often isn’t there, instead telling the media insightful things like, “The effort is there.” Whether you believe this remarkable inability for an entire team to find their footing is Boone’s fault or not, it’s impossible to claim he’s done an excellent job in pulling the team together and vaulting them out of a self-created rut.
His personnel decisions and in-game, knee-jerk reactions have always been subpar, though most of his beloved “rest days” seem preordained by the front office. When the heat is truly on, though, most observers come to realize he doesn’t do much to make the Yankees better outside of cheerleading them, an effort that rings particularly hollow when the team collectively can’t even begin to get off the mat.
So, presuming Boone’s contract is allowed to dissolve this offseason, where does the team go next? A gruff and aging disciplinarian? Probably not. It has to be someone who buys into the front office’s rest mandates and analytical bent. Some familiarity with the organization wouldn’t hurt, either.
With all that in mind, these three candidates stand out.
The Yankees could replace Aaron Boone with one of these 3 managerial candidates.
3. Joe Espada
The Yankees-Astros animosity in recent years has obscured the fact that there used to be a defined pipeline between the two teams.
Brian McCann was dealt to the ‘Stros for Albert Abreu when it became clear Gary Sanchez was going to take over the duties behind home plate. Someone else who may or may not show up on this list moved between the two teams, too. All the way back to Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens’ Texan exodus, these theoretically polar opposite franchises have been somewhat intertwined.
Consider bench coach Joe Espada, too, who was the Yankees’ third base coach from 2015 to 2017 and seemed to be a possible candidate for internal promotion after Joe Girardi’s departure, only to instead head to Houston that offseason as Alex Cora’s direct replacement as bench coach.
At the time — and I don’t know if I speak for everyone when I say this — promoting Espada felt sort of like flying too low. A 42-year-old third base coach with no managerial experience? Someone who only seems to be on the list for elevation because he’s already in the building? Then, the Yankees rendered all this criticism moot by hiring 44-year-old Aaron Boone, an objectively worse candidate.
Espada continues to garner rave reviews from those who work alongside him, from the Puerto Rican Winter League to the World Baseball Classic. He’s likely towards the front of the managerial line again this offseason, especially as the stink washes off Houston another year removed from a cheating scandal their “new” bench coach wasn’t even really a part of. Expect the Yankees to be involved in the bidding here.