Immediately following the defeat of the New York Yankees by the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card game, MLB analysts began to write about whether GM Brian Cashman would extend manager Aaron Boone’s contract.
At first blush, the team’s underperformance during the regular season, its failure to move beyond the Wild Card game in the playoffs after qualifying on the last day of the season, and severe criticism of Boone’s decision making and abilities in the media led many to believe that the skipper might not be rehired.
However, rumors began to surface after a few days that the Yankees organization was leaning towards retaining Boone.
To the disappointment of many, if not most, fans, the Yanks soon announced that Boone received a three-year extension to manage the club.
Following the announcement, Cashman gave his reasons for continuing with Boone and said Boone would have been the No. 1 candidate in the managerial market this offseason.
Rumors were already circulating that he might be interviewed for the San Diego Padres manager position after the team fired Jayce Tingler. Who knows if these rumors were true?
Well, surprise, surprise. It turns out that the Padres were interested in hiring the manager of the Oakland Athletics, Bob Melvin, instead. This came out of nowhere since the Athletics had picked up Melvin’s option for the 2022 season in June. What a bombshell!
Also, it was puzzling that the Athletics asked for no compensation to permit the Padres to hire Melvin. Since the Athletics’ skipper was already making $3.5 million annually, one of the highest salaries among managers in MLB, the team seemed simply happy not to have to pay the large (for them) salary.
Some claim Melvin had become disillusioned that Oakland was trying to reduce its roster payroll any way it could, including trading away its star players. Assuming he communicated his consternation with the club’s decision to cut its payroll, the Athletics may have been concerned about his attitude moving forward as they sought to decrease expenses across the board.
Obviously, despite what Cashman was spinning, it is clear that the Padres did not have their sights set exclusively on Boone after all. This might have been true for other clubs, too.
To be fair, we don’t know whether Cashman contacted Oakland for permission to speak to Melvin to see whether he might be interested in managing the Bombers.
Most disturbing, though, is that Cashman and the Yankees could have hired one of the best managers in baseball, and, for some reason, chose to re-up with their in-house options well ahead of schedule instead of further pursuing any conversations. Too bad. Besides a somewhat high salary, it would not have cost the Yanks anything to sign him. But who cares about the higher salary when you are acquiring one of the top field generals in MLB?
Yankees lost out on Bob Melvin’s outstanding record as a manager
As we have written before, Melvin has considerably more managerial experience than Boone, and he has been more successful than the Yankee skipper.
Melvin was manager of the Seattle Mariners in 2003 and 2004. He then managed the Arizona Diamondbacks and received the NL Manager of the Year award in 2007. The Diamondbacks dismissed him in the middle of the 2009 season because they wanted to move in a new direction.
Melvin, who turned 60 at the end of October, had been the manager of the Athletics since mid-2011. He was selected as the AL Manager of the Year twice during that time, in 2012 and 2018.
During the 2018 season, the Athletics were picked by observers to finish last in the AL West. Instead, Oakland won 97 games and reached the Wild Card Game to end a three-year absence from the postseason.
Melvin had an 853-764 (.528) record operating in the small Oakland market with limited resources. His overall record across 18 seasons managing the Mariners, Diamondbacks, and A’s is 1,346-1,272 (.514).
Under Melvin’s skillful leadership, the Athletics made the playoffs six times during his 11 years as the Athletics’ skipper. Oakland players seemed to enjoy playing for Melvin.
What could he have accomplished had he managed a big-market team like the Bombers? Well, we are about to find out, as he now takes over the ascendant and willing-to-spend Padres (and not the Yanks).
The failure of GM Brian Cashman not to pursue Melvin and to rehire Boone instead is a colossal blunder and should anger Yankee fans. It is hard to root for the Yanks when the team passes on a rare opportunity to significantly improve its critical managerial position and odds for future success.