Steinbrenner consulted with players over whether Boone should return as Yankees manager

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner questioned current and former players along with staff on whether to keep Aaron Boone before deciding the New York manager will return next year.

New York faded from contention by mid-August and finished 82-80, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

“It was awful. We accomplished nothing. We didn’t win a division, didn’t make it to the playoffs, didn’t win a series in the playoffs, much less a championship,” Steinbrenner said Tuesday during an online news conference. “The fans didn’t get anywhere close to what they deserved.”

General manager Brian Cashman blamed himself for the construction of a roster staggered by injuries and underperformance but defended the front office, speaking later in the day at the general managers' meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I’m proud of our operation. I think we have a great group of baseball people,” he said. “I think we have a very strong process that has served us well up until what happened this particular season.”

Steinbrenner delivered a stern message when he addressed staff last month at the start of three days of meetings in Tampa, Florida.

“I told them this season is completely unacceptable, that we got a winning record — that's not an accomplishment, that's a requirement, as far as I'm concerned,” Steinbrenner said.

Boone, 50, replaced Joe Girardi before the 2018 season. Boone has a 509-361 record but hasn't reached the World Series, which New York last won in 2009.

Before deciding to retain Boone, Steinbrenner consulted with former players Andy Pettitte and Nick Swisher along with star Aaron Judge and a pair of former general managers who were hired as advisers last offseason, Omar Minaya and Brian Sabean.

“I think he’s a good manager. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s hardworking. The players respect him as a manager, they want to play for him and win for him,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s able to take all the information we throw his way.”

Boone is entering the final season of his contract. Steinbrenner said he typically does not consider early extensions.

He defended Boone's management.

“One of the misconceptions that’s out there, because I hear it from a lot of people, is that Boone makes every decision in the dugout during the game based on analytics,” Steinbrenner said. “That’s just not true. Analytics gives Boone and the coaches a lot of information, so do the pro scouts. It’s up to Boone during the game when he puts the the lineup together and then everything after, what he wants to do with all that information. Honestly, if you ask the analysts, they’ll probably say that too many times Boone makes a decision during the game that’s based on his experience, what he’s seeing, his intuition.”

Added Cashman: “To be said we’re guided by analytics as a driver, it’s a lie. But that’s what people want to say. I know I can’t change that narrative.”

Steinbrenner said he had 40 pages of notes following the end-of-season meetings, which he said at times were heated. At the recommendation of assistant GM Michael Fishman, New York hired Zelus Analytics for a yearlong review of its practices. The firm is headed by Doug Fearing, who has a Ph.D. from MIT and founded the Los Angeles Dodgers' research and development department.

“We’re going to look at their systems and their processes that they use to analyze data and make decisions,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re then going to take all that, what we’ve learned and compare it to what we do.”

Among baseball's biggest spenders, the Yankees had a payroll projected at $281 million. Asked whether he would consider adding a nine-figure free agent contract, Steinbrenner said: “Everything is on the table when it comes to free agents. So anybody comes to me with a deal, a piece that we feel we need to do what we need to do in 2024, I’m going to strongly consider it, yes.”

New York finished with a .227 batting average, 29th among the 30 teams, and was 25th in runs with 673. The Yankees have announced just one personnel move during the offseason: Sean Casey, who took over as hitting coach at the All-Star break when Dillon Lawson was fired, left last month.

“There’s going to be some big changes,” Steinbrenner said. “There's going to be changes some people might not consider significant, but Judge and I may because we’re doing this every day.”

Cashman recalled his early time with the Yankees, when New York had four straight losing records from 1989-92.

“I remember being a part of with a lot of great baseball people and teams that did not perform well and the finger-pointing that takes place in a losing situation,” he said. “What happens with a big market, you get a lot of people with a lot of opinions, you’re getting from outside the organization that are throwing daggers, from inside the organization, different people that actually you work with that have strong opinions about, well, if we went this way vs. that way? And it starts playing out in the papers and everybody starts picking you apart. That's what happens when you lose.”


AP Sports Writer David Brandt in Scottsdale, Arizona, contributed to this report.