NEW YORK — In more ways than one, Aaron Boone kept his focus on the road ahead as he commuted to Yankee Stadium on a dreary Monday morning — the first meaningless regular-season game of his career in terms of postseason implications.
Boone said that his wet, wipers-and-headlights-on drive didn’t prompt him to consider the possibility that it might be his last home game as the Yankees’ manager; instead, his mind has already been racing about ways to improve the team’s fortunes in 2024.
Yet Boone — who is under contract for one more season — also said that he has yet to be definitively told if he will or will not return.
“I don’t worry about it,” Boone said. “It’s out of my hands. I’m completely comfortable with who I am and the things I can control. In my mind, I’m doing everything to head into the offseason prepared to put us in a better position to try and compete for a championship. That’s what the goal is, and until they take that away, that’s my focus.”
The Yankees were officially eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday’s 7-1 loss to the D-backs, which provided a jarring realization for Boone, who had reached the postseason in each of his first five seasons as a manager.
Boone steered the Yanks to a 99-63 record and an American League East title in 2022, but ’23 has been a much different story — with their record at 78-77 entering play on Monday, the club’s final week of games will see them attempt to stave off their first losing season since 1992.
“We have an expectation around here to be playing next week at this time, and unfortunately, that’s not the case,” Boone said. “We’ve got to ask some tough questions, and will ask some tough questions, and try to fortify ourselves better moving forward.”
It is believed that managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman (the latter of whom is under contract through 2026) have already discussed Boone’s future and are leaning toward having the 50-year-old Boone return in 2024.
A final determination will not be made until the baseball operations department holds its end-of-season meetings in early October. At least in his media sessions, Boone’s tone has shifted in recent weeks from a table-banging smolder to a more placid demeanor, which he credited to his faith.
“Whether things are going great or whether you’re in a really tough place, I’ve always been able to have a decent perspective on things,” Boone said. “All I can do is the best I can do.”
Yankees captain Aaron Judge said he believes Boone should return as manager. However, in an uncharacteristically cutting criticism, Judge stated on Sunday that he believes there is “a lot of stuff going on around here that needs to be fixed.”
Asked to provide specifics, Judge said: “We’ll keep that in-house, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Boone said he agreed with Judge that there are “things we need to change and fix and make sure we’re on the same page with everything.”
“You can’t just sit here and say that what we did this year is good enough to go into next year,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “You’ve got to, first, look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Why wasn’t this clubhouse good enough?’ It’s not like the personalities didn’t mesh. There was no divide in here.
“But over the course of the season, we just didn’t play well enough. There’s stuff behind that, but I think as you get into the offseason even more, you’ll be able to dissect what didn’t go well.”
Steinbrenner has said that he intends to have an outside company conduct a “deep dive” audit of the Yankees’ operations, pointing to “the analytics side of what we do” and “baseball operations in general.”
“We’re going to have some very frank conversations with each other,” Steinbrenner said. “This year was, obviously, unacceptable.”