Is Aaron Boone Yankees’ ‘cardboard cutout’ manager?

Aaron Boone

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In 2023, Yankees manager Aaron Boone will be under the watchful eyes of fans and analysts more than anyone else. He has been in charge of the Yankees for five years and won two AL East titles, which are the only ones the team has won in the last ten years. Aaron Boone’s Yankees have never come in lower than second place and have never been left out of the playoffs during those two years. Aaron Boone’s winning percentage of .603 is the fifth-best of all time among the 211 men with at least 700 games.

However, with Aaron Boone, Yankees fans feel a sense of someone being unsuccessful with the team but successful with its top brass. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman thinks he is just a cardboard cutout and only implements what the Yankees’ top brass wants him to do. According to him:

“The idea that Boone, for example, is just a cardboard cutout agreeing to whatever his bosses want is extreme. However, I do wonder whether he is putting up enough of a roadblock when he perceives something is wrong or perhaps he is part of a groupthink that wasted time (and perhaps more) by insisting Gary Sanchez was a championship catcher and Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa were championship shortstops. Because this is really about championships.”

Aaron Boone is in his sixth year as manager, so he should have enough weight to speak up if he doesn’t think Kiner-Falefa should be the shortstop or Josh Donaldson should be the third baseman or Aaron Hicks should be the left fielder, or whatever else he thinks is stopping the Yankees from doing well during the long season and having as few holes as possible so they can make it through October.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone slams table during a press conference.

Because it is also the second year of Aaron Boone’s new three-year contract. Even though the Yankees have only had four managers in the last 30 years, which is the opposite of what George Steinbrenner did, Aaron Boone is the Yankees player most likely to get in trouble this season. Hal Steinbrenner won’t be getting fired by himself. This off-season, Brian Cashman got a four-year contract extension. Even if the players get booed at home, they will still get paid.

Sherman says that Hal Steinbrenner and Cashman like and respect Aaron Boone so much that they will let him have another postseason where the Yankees beat the Guardians but then lost to the Astros in five games and everyone talked about how close they were to the promised title. But at some point, the leaders will use the “a new voice was needed” card to drown out the noise.

Aaron Boone has some similarities with the Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who was a hero in both 2003 and 2004 ALCS between the Yankees and the Red Sox. His 632 percent winning rate is second best. And, unlike Boone, his Dodgers did win a World Series, though it was in the short 2020 COVID season.

Roberts’ Dodgers have finished first six times in seven years. But they have won at least 104 regular-season games four times—setting or tying the franchise record for wins in each of the last three full years (2019, 2021, and 2022), including 111 last season—and have never won the World Series.


Most people remember Roberts’ time as a manager because the team didn’t do well in the playoffs and the public and media branded him just a functionary who carried out the wishes of an analytically crazy front office.

It is really hard to win a championship. Just look at how well the Dodgers have done even before Roberts became their manager. Since 2000, they have made the playoffs every year, first with Don Mattingly and then with Roberts. In the last ten years, they have had five of the ten best-winning percentages in a single season in MLB. They have won 73 more regular-season games than the Yankees, who are in second place with 858 wins. They have been the best team in the sport.

But the fans can’t wait. The Yankees haven’t won a championship in 13 years, and that number keeps going up. The upcoming season will be hard because the playoffs are not a sure thing, even though six teams from each league are getting in and Aaron Boone’s Yankees have a franchise-record payroll of almost $290 million for luxury-tax purposes.

The AL East is the best division in the major leagues. The Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays have very strong teams. The Orioles have a lot of ups and downs because they have a lot of young, but real, talent. You can make me believe that the Orioles will win 75 games or that they will win 90 games. Their farm system has enough talent that if they are in contention.

Aaron Boone’s team needs to get to the top of this division, and then put together four weeks of great play in the playoffs. It is a dangerous path. This is why the manager is the first batter in this nine-man lineup of the Yankees under the most pressure going into spring training.

Both Aaron Boone, Cashman share the responsibility

One thing to remember is that Cashman has never built a bad team in his 25 years at GM. There are no last-place finishes like the Red Sox have, which means no high draft picks. But Cashman needs a championship like the Warriors’ last year. That would be the icing on the cake.

Cashman’s first three Yankees teams, from 1998 to 2000, and the 2009 team all won the World Series. He could use another title, which would probably also get him into Cooperstown, to quiet down the fan noise around him.

But Cashman has created a lot of problems for himself. For instance, the $70 million, seven-year contract extension for Aaron Hicks and trades for Donaldson, Kiner-Falefa, and Frankie Montas, which are causing headaches for Aaron Boone and his team in 2023. The group of position players is still too right-handed. After a lot of trades, there are now a lot fewer rotation policies. And it seems like the time has come for Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe to make up for the Yankees’ decision not to sign a star shortstop in the last two free-agent classes.

Hal Steinbrenner must wrest his father’s legacy

The Son of George has never been able to fully get out from under the shadow of his father. Now, he’s going to be compared to Steve Cohen, which is even worse. In terms of the luxury tax, the Yankees’ record payroll is more than $80 million less than that of Cohen’s Mets.

Steinbrenner was scared when Derek Jeter was booed when he said his name at a Hall of Fame ceremony for Jeter last September. It may have given Aaron Judge the best bargaining chip with the Yankees because he knew Steinbrenner knew how unpopular he would get if he didn’t sign back the most popular Yankee since Derek Jeter.

Steinbrenner could also really use a championship, if Aaron Boone’s team can win, to bolster his image. But he must not be too elated. John Henry helped end the “curse” by getting the Red Sox the 2004 championship. However, the first World Series trophy since 1918 and three more championships didn’t save him from being booed by Boston fans because they feel he has not put enough time and money into the team in recent years.

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