Five keys for Aaron Boone having a successful spring training
The Yankees’ skipper is in the midst of his first major league spring training since his playing days, but in a role he has never embraced until this season. Spring training will be a huge test for Boone in preparing for the 2018 season and for creating his image and presence in the clubhouse. Here are five keys for Aaron Boone rocking the Grapefruit League.
The Yankees have the most talented roster they have had since the late 1990’s, and the sport, outside of Justin Verlander, sees them as the team to beat in the American League. They have reemerged as the “Evil Empire” in the majors, due to their star power and huge market wallets. The Yankees themselves need to embrace this label and run with it, and that starts with Boone himself.
Boone played with the Yankees, meaning he is well aware of the winning culture that is associated with the Bronx. After falling one game short of the World Series, 2018 is truly a World Series or bust season for the Bombers, and Boone has acknowledged. In spring training, Boone has to keep this mindset prominent and constantly remind the players that he expects the most out of them possible.
This team is young as a unit and the older players are reenergized. They are hungry to bring championship number 28 to the Bronx, and it all starts with Boone setting the bar high. 2017 featured career years out of some of the young Yankee stars, but the ceiling must have no limits.
Establish the chemistry
One of the dynamic components of last season’s squad was their chemistry. On top of their outstanding play, the 2017 Yankees were no strangers to gimmicks and celebrations. From the finger guns, to the Toe high-fives, to the thumbs down movement, to the Toe-Night Show, etc. the Yankees last season were the most fun team to watch in recent memory.
In order to keep this young team confident and ready to play day in and day out, Boone must continue to let the players be themselves and enjoy playing the game. Boone needs to find the perfect balance between intensity and chemistry, and spring training is the time to do it before the games start tom matter.
Gain the trust of the players
Despite the obvious fun this team had, one of the biggest knocks on Girardi’s managing was his tightness and inability to develop connections with the player. This aspect of managing is one that Boone has already stressed and made obvious even before spring training. He has talked to many players on the phone, got lunch or dinner with them, and even went golfing with Aaron Hicks. When a manager gains the trust of his players, they respond better to criticisms and suggestions, and it creates a better environment on both sides of the ball.
Boone undoubtedly is prepared for this job and has the baseball knowledge and personality to be successful, however that does not erase the fact that Boone is a first year manager. These relationships he forms over the next month are crucial for the 162 games that follow.
Find a lineup that works
This is a fantastic problem that Aaron Boone has due to the plethora of talent on the roster and in the minors. He has six outfielders that are all capable everyday players and four players who could hit cleanup for almost any major league team.
Boone has almost a month’s worth of games to tweak the lineup and play with different combinations in order to find what will best suit the team. With the Yankees' versatility as a team, there likely won’t be one set lineup that is used every single day, however, Boone can use spring training to find out where to position guys defensively and offensively to get the most out of them and their teammates.
Fill out the position gaps
The Yankees do not have a starting second baseman or third baseman, or an official center fielder or fifth starter as of the beginning of camp. They have a group of young players vying for the positions and a few journeymen veterans looking to earn another crack at the big leagues. These final decisions will ultimately come down to Boone, who will be getting his first up-close view of these candidates in spring training. These positions will be Boone’s biggest decisions during the month of March and his biggest test as a manager before the regular season.
Article by: Ryan ThomsFollow @RyanThoms_ Follow @BronxBomberBall