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Perspectives and Yankees Links: Eric Chavez and the Yankees Today

by Paul Semendinger

January 8, 2022

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The Yankees have been using an organizational approach that has, primarily, seen them employing coaches with little to no Major League experience. The Yankees have shied away from long-time baseball lifers. They have, more and more, gone away from former players. Their manager, even, was a novice. Before taking over as the Yankees manager, he had never coached or managed a professional game of any sort.

On these pages, over the years I have criticized this approach. I have also shown that the teams that win, most often have at least a few long-time baseball minds on the bench with the manager (and often times, the manager himself is also a long-time baseball mind).

The Yankees have eschewed this approach. They do not believe they need baseball-lifers as coaches to build a winning team.

But, that being said, a few weeks ago, the Yankees brought in a new coach with a bit of experience:

Boone Not Sweating Staff’s Lack of Big League Playing Experience

Yankees add former big leaguer Eric Chavez as they complete the 2022 coaching staff

Yankees’ Aaron Boone Explains How Eric Chavez Fits on New York’s Coaching Staff

Then, a few days ago, Buck Showalter and the Mets jumped in and grabbed Chavez from the Yankees:

Eric Chavez Leaving Yankees To Become Mets’ Hitting Coach

Eric Chavez opts to be New York Mets hitting coach just weeks after being hired by Yankees

This leaves the Yankees, again, with very little Major League experience on their coaching staff.

I think this is a big concern and a problem.

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Many of my feelings here come from the gut, from what I see from the outside looking in. The situation with Eric Chavez, alone by itself, is not a big deal. But I feel it represents what I feel have been the big concern with the Yankees for the entire Aaron Boone era. AS I think about it, though, it might not be fair to call this just the Aaron Boone era, because more and more it seems that Hal Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman also personify this approach. It seems to be an organizational thing, top to bottom and all the way through.

I think it comes down to a basic general feeling I have about the franchise. I see a lack of overall investment or seriousness of purpose with the franchise. I see a lack of focus, or maybe it’s energy. In short, the Yankees seem tired. Everything about the Yankees seems old and tired.

Often times, in so many ways, the Yankees just seem to be going through the motions. It just doesn’t feel like they are all in.

On the field, the Yankees, for years now, have played a poor brand of baseball. They don’t exhibit a lot of hustle. They lack good fundamentals. They often lack energy and excitement. There doesn’t seem to be much fire. The players don’t seem to be having fun. The Yankees brand of baseball, as a result, hasn’t been as fun to watch. The Yankees are a low-energy team playing a low-energy brand of baseball. It’s been this way for a while.

The manager has his set positions during the games on the bench or leaning on the dugout steps. He’s often seen blowing bubbles staring straight ahead. We don’t often see him engaging with the players or the coaches or talking strategy. We read reports that say that Spring Training is run with a sort of country club atmosphere. We also read reports that the players don’t really have a relationship with the manager. Clint Frazier talked about this after he left the team. Often times the perception is that Aaron Boone is disconnected from the game and his players. We have seen instances where Boone has been badly outmanaged. It seems that there are times when the game strategy is planned beforehand and then the games are played with the manager as a disinterested spectator in the dugout staying with the pre-game plan no matter what the circumstances. Often times, it just seems like he’s going through the motions. We don’t see a lot of fire from the manager, pre-game, during the game, or in the post-game interviews. “It is what it is,” he seems to say time and again. “We’ll get them tomorrow.”

Again, maybe all of this is just a perception on my part. Maybe. (Although much of what I have speculated about in regard to all of this has seemed to come out as facts over time.)

And the front office, and the owner, seem genuinely disinterested in making a splash with player acquisitions through big time trades or free agent signings. That just doesn’t seem to be the Yankees way any longer. Each year that the Yankees spend on the sidelines in the winter, there’s another excuse. One year it’s the luxury tax, the next it’s that the players aren’t as good as they seem or they want too much money… This year the excuse has been that the lockout was coming and that the Yankees were being smart by waiting to see the new CBA before going all-in. We’ll see if that holds true or if it’s just another smokescreen. I don’t think the Yankees will be spending big when baseball returns. I also don’t think they have the resources to pull off a big trade. I hope they surprise me, but I doubt they will. The Yankees will state that the asking prices for the big trade targets are too expensive and that the free agents are also asking for way too much. Remember, the biggest deals the Yankees made last year were ones that ended up costing the team no money. That’s the way they went about it at the trade deadline. “We will try to improve, but not if it costs us an extra dime.”

It’s not a good look.

Again, the Yankees seem tired. It’s a franchise that seems exhausted by it all.

None of this looks like a team that has fire, passion, energy, determination, will, or desire. Real, or otherwise, it feels like a franchise that’s just going through the motions. It’s felt that way for years.

And now they lose a coach, one that would have added something a little different, one that might have given the Yankees a little something they otherwise lack. No one seems upset or bothered by it. And maybe they shouldn’t be. But the look is troubling.

“Yeah (yawn), we let him interview with the Mets,” the Yankees say. “We’re happy for Eric. It’s a great opportunity.”

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe.

But I’d like to see my team showing a little more spark.

In the big picture, losing a coach isn’t a big deal, but to me it represents something bigger.

It just doesn’t feel like they’re all in.

Maybe they are.

I think they aren’t.

For a long time the Yankees have felt like a franchise just going through the motions – at every level. It’s all perfunctory. It is what is it.

It’s the fire and the energy and the passion… that absolute desire to win… that seems to be missing. It seems missing in every way, every day, and always. From the top down.

If they were all in, if they believed in everything they were doing, wouldn’t there be a little more spark, a little fire, some energy… somewhere?

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