About The All-Star Break: Heads Will Roll
About The All-Star Break: Heads Will Roll
By Tim Kabel
July 11, 2023
The Yankees limped into the All-Star break on Sunday, losing a game and a series they should have won against the Chicago Cubs. Aaron Boone made the mystifying decision to remove Domingo German from the game in the 7th inning on Sunday. German was winning the game 4-1 and had only given up one hit. More importantly, He had only thrown 74 pitches. Boone explained his Solomon-like decision by stating that he wanted German to go in the break on a high note. The man just pitched a perfect game. What could be a higher note than that? I doubt German would have forgotten about the perfect game if he only pitched 7 innings on Sunday.
Regardless, the Yankees lost. They are out of the playoff picture at this point. Their offense is offensive. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, "The Yankees' offense is like fish, after three days, it stinks.” The big news is that after the game, the Yankees fired their lead hitting coach, Dillon Lawson. It has been well publicized that Brian Cashman has never fired a coach in mid-season in 25 years. That tells us what he really thought of Lawson.
What caused Lawson to lose his job? I believe it was primarily because the Yankees' offense has been dreadful for quite a while. and whatever he was selling, the Yankees' batters were not buying.
However, the straw that broke the camel's back was the episode with Anthony Volpe. Volpe was clearly struggling, and many people were calling for him to be demoted to the minor leagues. He needed help. He needed someone to fix his swing. The Yankees employ three hitting coaches. Dillon Lawson was the lead hitting coach. It's fair to say that he did nothing to help Volpe.
We have all heard about the magical chicken parm dinner with Austin Wells, during which Volpe and Wells analyzed Volpe's swing and realized what he was doing wrong. He subsequently tweaked the swing and has been hitting much better since. This has been talked about everywhere and by everyone. The whole world knows that Anthony Volpe and Austin Wells fixed Volpe's swing. If that's truly the case, who needed Lawson? The answer was, not the Yankees. By the way, I guarantee you that Dillon Lawson will never eat chicken parm again in his life.
On top of the Volpe kerfuffle, there is the fact that Aaron Hicks has done better since he left the Yankees. Even Joey Gallo, who, to quote Foghorn Leghorn, "looked as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs”, while he was with the Yankees, has improved marginally.
Apparently, Lawson, who was steeped in analytics and statistics but had never played baseball beyond the collegiate level, was unable to reach the majority of the Yankees' hitters. His stated philosophy was: "hit strikes hard." That's hardly groundbreaking. I'm just curious about what he would have told Yogi Berra, who was notorious for hitting balls well out of the strike zone.
The Yankees have replaced Lawson with TV analyst, Sean Casey, who was a three- time All-Star in his career and is a member of the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame. Casey had a lifetime batting average of .302. He was also known as "The Mayor" during his playing career because of his gregarious manner and the fact that he greeted everyone on the opposing team who made it to first base with vivid conversation. I doubt that he will spend his time as the hitting coach skulking about in the shadows with slide rules and abaci, mumbling to himself about launch angles. I think he will actually talk to the players and work with them in ways that they may find helpful.
The move to replace Lawson was appropriate and probably, overdue. However, it can't be the only move. The Yankees need to rid themselves of Josh Donaldson and his fourteen hits before beginning the second half of the season. His days as a Yankee are numbered anyway. Keeping him serves no purpose. The team needs to bring up Oswald Peraza and let him play every day at third base.
The Yankees should also bring up Estevan Florial and play him every day in leftfield. That is not to say they shouldn't trade for another outfielder, such as Cody Bellinger, if he is available and not overly expensive. It is unclear when Aaron Judge will return. Until then, let's see what Florial can do. It cannot possibly be any worse than what Franchy Cordero does.
The Yankees should also either make DJ LeMahieu a roving backup in the infield, or trade him, if they can find a taker.
They should also address the catching situation. Because at this point, they have two backups. They should bring up Ben Rortvedt and let him play. He is well known to be a very good defensive catcher and he is doing well offensively in Scranton. I would stick with Jose Trevino and trade Kyle Higashioka for whatever they can get.
I am very interested to see what Sean Casey can do, particularly with the younger players such as Volpe, Oswaldo Cabrera, and anyone else who is brought up from Scranton. In his first day, he already exhibited more enthusiasm, flexibility, creativity, and interest in the players than Lawson seemed to.
The firing of Lawson also would seem to be a message of some sort to Aaron Boone. While it is true that he and Casey were roommates with the Cincinnati Reds, a firing is still a firing. I think it is fair to say that if things do not improve, Boone could be the next one to go. Perhaps the Yankees will borrow his philosophy and fire him after a win, so he can leave on a high note.