When the season ends, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner will decide whether to retain Aaron Boone as manager — or whether to overrule general manager Brian Cashman and fire Boone after a highly disappointing year.
As part of his evaluation, Steinbrenner will almost certainly consult with captain Aaron Judge, with whom he has a strong relationship. I had heard through the grapevine that Judge would fight for Boone, but wanted to ask him directly.
On Thursday, I posed the question this way: If and when you are asked by Hal if Boone is the right manager for this team going forward, what will you say?
I added that I’d understand if Judge didn’t want to answer the question publicly.
“No,” he said. “I want to answer that. I’ve been with Boonie all the way since 2018. He’s the guy.”
“He has been there for us in good times and bad times,” Judge said. “The guy shows up and supports his players. You can probably tell by the amount of times he’s been thrown out of games that he always has our back.”
In recent weeks the Yankees have introduced an infusion of young talent into the roster, from Everson Pereira to Austin Wells to The Martian, 20-year-old sensation Jasson Dominguez. The organization knows that it is now developing players at the major league level while trying to win.
That changes the managing job from one that mainly deals with veteran stars to one who can nurture prospects as they try to become big leaguers. Is Boone the right person for that?
“I think [he] definitely [is],” Judge said. “He is a great person for that.”
Then the captain launched unprompted into a pitch for new hitting coach Sean Casey, a longtime Boone pal, to return next year, too. I had not asked about Casey.
“Some of the surrounding cast that we have coaching-wise and especially Sean Casey — he’s just one of the best baseball guys around,” Judge said.
“He has been great. Good baseball mind. Good at thinking about the pitcher. Has great baseball stories and has a great way to slow guys down — relax and go out there and play. He understands how hard this game is on a daily basis. He just keeps us loose and keeps us ready to go.
“So having another guy like that around Boone — they just go hand in hand to show these young guys what this game is all about. It’s not all about numbers. It’s not all about what happens on a computer screen. It’s about watching the game, reading the game, having fun with the game. I never forget why we play this game. So I’m excited to see what happens.”
So Judge definitely wants Casey to return, too?
“Oh yeah,” Judge said.
Barring a miracle playoff run, this is exactly the type of insight that Steinbrenner will seek in a few weeks’ time. And Judge has earned a seat at the table with the organization that, on the clubhouse level, he helps lead.
We already knew that Cashman will make a case for Boone — and now we can add that, according to Judge, “There are 28 guys in here that have his back.”