On Thursday, New York Yankees fans were hit with news that featured manager Aaron Boone losing three members of his coaching staff: third base coach Phil Nevin, hitting coach Marcus Thames, and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere.
Many expected some changes under Boone, especially if the Yankees were considering bringing him back as skipper for 2022 (and 2023?). That’s been the “prevailing notion” so far this offseason, with ESPN’s Buster Olney leading the charge on those reports/rumors.
But … BUT! Not too long after those decisions were made came a wave of more intriguing news. For starters, NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty reported that the Yankees were still undecided on Boone … and it’s unclear if he’d want to stick around with the front office “dictating” who will join his staff next season.
Seems like a fairly problematic issue to sort out before the skipper becomes a free agent in a couple of weeks, no?
And it’s really a point worth pondering. Many Yankees fans have assumed Boone has been acting as a puppet for the front office. That’s fair.
Do you think Boone is this much of a puppet, though? To the point where he’s going to let a front office fire some of his selections and then choose his new subordinates that will be working alongside him every day?
Source: Despite the coaching staff moves today, the Yankees are still undecided (as of this moment) on Aaron Boone’s fate. Part of the equation may be whether he wants to stick w/ the coaching staff the Yankees are going to dictate to him.
— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) October 14, 2021
Yankees: What to make of the Aaron Boone buzz and Mike Shildt news
That right there is a whole lot to unpack … but we didn’t even have time to do that! Because a few hours later, MLB insider Jeff Passan dropped a bomb on the baseball world and reported that the St. Louis Cardinals had fired manager Mike Shildt.
What?! You mean the guy who led this team to 17 straight wins and dug them out of the grave to secure an NL Wild Card berth, where they lost to the Dodgers on a walk-off home run?!
Passan later noted, as did Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, that the decision was made due to “philosophical differences” in regard to the direction of the team in 2022 and beyond.
Mike Shildt is out as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 14, 2021
A very qualified candidate has hit the market in unexpected fashion. Does this change the Yankees’ plans? It’s worth asking … even though we’re not keen on a change like this happening.
Let’s put it this way … do you think the Yankees front office is going to play tug o war with a potential candidate that may bring some pushback to the table? It’s fair to say the Cardinals front office has an analytical-heavy approach (as most do nowadays), and the Yankees have made that evidently clear with themselves over the last few years. Though Mozeliak declined to get into specifics of the “differences,” can we assume analytics was a big part of it?
On top of that, while Shildt has been successful since taking over managerial duties for the first time in his career midway through the 2018 season (he’s 252-199 overall and has made the postseason three times in the three full campaigns he’s managed), it hasn’t exactly been an easy ride for the Cards, who have played in a weak NL Central division.
St. Louis quite literally needed 17 straight wins to get back into the playoff conversation in the final month of the season and played second-fiddle to the Brewers, who were swiftly ousted by the Braves in the NLDS (they clearly weren’t as good as everyone thought they were). In their one division-clinching season back in 2019, they were the only 90-win team in the Central and then were stomped out in the NLCS, swept the Washington Nationals.
Then again, maybe we can blame this on the Cards’ front office? Many would agree that Shildt has done more with less, which is something Boone absolutely cannot say. Players such as Daniel Carlson and Tyler O’Neill have blossomed under his watch. He’s been to the postseason three straight years with a makeshift starting rotation and mediocre (at best) bullpen.
Conflicting thoughts here, and a lot to think about. All in all, at the very least, it’s setting us up for some drama over the next few weeks as we wait and see what happens with Boone and the rest of his staff.