About the Off-Season: Hit or Miss
by Tim Kabel
October 26, 2023
Yesterday, Sean Casey announced on his podcast that he will not be returning as the Yankees’ hitting coach next season. He filled that role during the second half of 2023, after the firing of Dillon Lawson. At the end of the season, Casey indicated he would likely be back. He stated that although nothing official had been offered, both Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone wanted him back. Yesterday, Casey stated that this was his decision, as he has his two teenage daughters living with him and needs to be there with them. As someone who conducted investigations for thirty years, i am left with several questions and thoughts.
Casey seemed very gung-ho about returning as hitting instructor about a month ago. Presumably, he did not just discover that he has two teenage daughters at home. I imagine they were there all along. Therefore, I'm a little suspicious of this explanation. There could be something else afoot, and Casey is either attempting to save face or being gracious.
It's hard to evaluate what Casey did as the hitting coach in such a short period of time. However, DJ LeMahieu did make improvements and gave a lot of credit to Casey. In addition, several of the other players expressed approval for his way of doing things. Add that to the fact that Casey stated that both Boone and Cashman wanted him back, and something seems a bit off.
If Boone and Cashman wanted Casey back, does the fact that he is not returning say something about their futures? Remember, Casey was a former teammate of Boone’s in Cincinnati and is a very close friend of his. The fact that he was hired in the first place was seen by many as a way of appeasing Boone or reinforcing him in his role. Will we hear more in the next few days or weeks about the futures of Boone and Cashman?
The point of bringing Casey in to replace Lawson was to get away from the over-reliance on analytics and have someone with actual major league hitting experience as the hitting coach. It was felt that Casey would be able to do that and relate well with the players. By all reports, he was. Do the Yankees replace Casey with another former Major League player, or do they return to the analytics route? I think the answer to that question will give us a very good indication of the overall direction the franchise will be moving in 2024 and beyond. It seems that there is a general dissatisfaction among players, team officials, and fans with the heavy reliance on analytics. In my opinion, if the new hitting coach is closer in style to Lawson than he is to Casey, that would be a step backwards. It would also be a sign of organizational confusion. In short, it wouldn't be good.
I think it is safe to say that Sean Casey was a pro-Boone hire. If he was not brought in at Boone's direct request, at the very least he was hired knowing that Boone would endorse the move wholeheartedly. I think it is also safe to say that unless the next hitting coach is Bob Boone, whoever it is will not be as close to Aaron Boone as Casey was. Does this mean that Boone will have less control over the team? Does it mean that he is on his way out and whoever replaces him will play a role in hiring the new hitting coach? These questions will need to be answered down the road.
Is Sean Casey the only coach who will not be returning next season? What about the other two hitting coaches? What about other members of the coaching staff? What about the strength and conditioning coaches?
Sean Casey's declaration Yesterday that he will not be returning as the hitting coach opens the door to a lot of speculation and questions. It might be an isolated move that has nothing to do with the futures of Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone. Then again, it might be just the first in a series of moves this off-season. At the very least, it makes for a lot of interesting thoughts and discussion.