Here’s a tip for the New York Yankees, as they continue to search for a “stronger” complement to Aaron Boone: perhaps you don’t need to complement Boone’s nice-guy nature if you simply let him go?
Why supplement what’s not working instead of replacing it?
The Yankees took their first strong steps towards creating a different world on Thursday afternoon, dismissing hitting coach Marcus Thames, assistant hitting instructor P.J. Pilittere, and third base coach Phil Nevin. Nevin, known by casual fans for an excessive number of outs at the plate in 2021, fought back from extreme COVID sickness this season to accompany Boone and bring his patented toughness to the locker room.
For whatever reason, the blend didn’t work. When it came time to relieve Nevin of his services, Brian Cashman, not Boone, made the call.
Though it was assumed this coaching purge would be step one in seeing how Boone could caretake an all-new staff, some suspected the team might actually be trying to force him to leave of his own accord by gutting his group of his personal preferences.
Now, suddenly, the tide has turned again. Rumor has it the Yankees are entertaining an audition for another gruff voice in the locker room to counteract Boone’s nice-guy attitude. And all this has us thinking is … isn’t this a tacit acknowledgement that Boone’s style isn’t working?
If the team is actively scrambling to find a harsher voice to occasionally drown Boone out, why even keep Boone as the figurehead of a staff he didn’t choose?
Why are the Yankees looking for Aaron Boone’s “bad cop”?
The idea here, presumably, is that Boone will enter a locker room feud as the conflict-absolving “good cop” after a designated “angry guy” has already mucked things up. Won’t that be extremely transparent? Won’t players just get used to waiting through the tired act with glazed eyes until Boone enters the room to reassure them everything will be alright?
If the message isn’t working, won’t this stall tactic just dilute everything? And if Boone isn’t trusted to motivate, but rather just to paper over the motivational tactics with platitudes, why will this enhance the team’s readiness?
It’s easy for outsiders to say it looks as if the Yankees “aren’t trying” during their various sleepwalks, but wise fans know that’s not true. The team wants to win. The roster wasn’t good enough. Often, they looked unprepared. That falls on the instructional coaching and the “idea men” up above, not the spittle-launching screamers in the locker room.
Nevin was an inadequate third base coach, but there was no problem with his motivational voice in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Replacing him with an angry associate Boone doesn’t know as well or trust as much feels like a lateral move. As long as the same decision-makers are in charge of crafting the roster and honing their skills, nothing will change after an emotional fireworks display.