Aaron Boone's first task as Yankees manager: build the perfect coaching staff
NEW YORK -- With the introductions and formalities out of the way, it is now, officially, time for Aaron Boone to get to work as manager of the New York Yankees.
He already has, though, in a way. Boone cited building relationships with his players as the most important immediate aspect (and long-term one, too) of his job, and such, he has reached out to some of the younger crew already, and re-established communication with those he already knows well.
"I've reached out to a lot. I've texted with a lot of them. I've spoken with a handful," Boone said Wednesday following his introductory press conference. "I know some guys pretty well, and some just a bit from (being in broadcasting). I think what's really exciting to me is the people I'm getting to be a part of this with and will be able to impact, and I can promise you we will have great relationships with our players. Whether we're giving them affirmations or corrections, they'll know that it's coming from someone they can trust. In the end, they'll know that we're always going to do what's best for the New York Yankees."
That "we" Boone refers to is his coaching staff, the assembly of which is now the next task.
The entirety of the Yankees' staff from 2017 saw their contracts end last year, but the organization knows for sure where three of them stand: They've retained pitching coach Larry Rothschild, and know they've lost bench coach Rob Thomson, who took the same job under Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia, and third base/infield coach Joe Espada, who is now A.J. Hinch's bench coach in Houston.
That leaves quite a few spots open and some new blood sure to be brought in, but much as it wasn't necessarily a pre-requisite in the managerial search that brought Boone back to the Bronx, certain experience levels won't necessarily be mandatory for the members of Boone's first staff.
"Experience is valuable, but it's not the be-all, end-all pre-requisite," Boone said. "I want smart next to me, and I want confident next to me, whether they have experience or not, and I expect my staff to be great with connecting with players and having an impact on them."
The Yankees have one coach signed for 2018, announcing earlier this week that pitching coach Larry Rothschild will return, so there is already some experience on the staff -- and Rothschild's comes in the form of both being a Yankees coach and a former Major League manager.
"I think that we want the best coaches that we can possibly find to surround him with, and I'd say to the fact that I just hired a manager without actual managing experience, I do take great comfort in having Larry Rothschild done that," Cashman said. "I think he's one of the best pitching coaches in the game, he's served under some of the best managers in the game and he's a former manager, so I think he has a lot to offer."
The Yankees could retain more coaches from Joe Girardi's staff, but they will have two openings at bench coach and third base/infield coach for sure.
There are several names in play, though, and both Boone and Cashman hope to finalize the ones who will show up in Tampa this February sometime soon.
"We're going to collaborate with Aaron about who we have within the company that we would recommend for him to consider, and then he has names to ask us to consider," Cashman said. "We've got interviews already lined up for that, and then, collectively, we'll put together the best team that fits him and us as we move into 2018."
"We have a lot of people we're talking to and a lot of moving parts, but hopefully we'll have it done in a week or two," Boone added, "and once we have our staff in order, it's all about starting to gear up for Spring Training, starting to plan so we can hit the ground running."
One name that likely won't be considered, though, is Aaron's father, Bob Boone, who managed parts of six seasons with the Reds and Royals and currently works in the Nationals' front office.
"I respect him greatly. He's someone that I lean on, and he'll be someone I talk to often and counsels me often," the new skipper said, "but I don't see him being on our staff anytime soon."
Whoever does end up on the staff, though, will be integral not only to the Yankees players, but to Boone's development as a skipper.
"The last few years, I've gotten to do the entire postseason on radio, and I've found myself looking at things in my head through a manager's lens, really thinking about game plans," Boone said. "In-game, there will obviously be some things I'm green on, but I feel pretty comfortable that's something that will come in short order as I get the mechanics of things down. And, part of that is surrounding myself with an outstanding coaching staff, because it's certainly not all about me."
They'll also have to share the greenhorn skipper's managerial philosophy, which is simply this: Find out how to get the most out of each individual, and if you do, team success will follow.
"Obviously I'm going to be judged on wins and losses in the end, and with the Yankees, we're always chasing championships," Boone said, "but I think I'll be someone who isn't chasing after wins every day. I want to get locked into the process, and by doing that, I think we have a chance to get the best out of our players. We have so many guys in or not yet in the prime of their careers, and I want to impact them by helping to make then better players. I believe that with our talent, our farm system and our resources, championships will come if we're getting the most out of our guys."