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Offseason upheaval in the Bronx begins with coaching changes

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The Yankees part ways with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere, as well as Phil Nevin.

New York Yankees vs Houston Astros Set Number: X161956 TK1

Well. It certainly did not take long for the Yankees to pursue new paths after a disappointing 2021 season that featured underperformance at the plate and entirely too many TOOTBLANs, especially at home plate.

Earlier this afternoon, Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that the Yankees would be parting ways with hitting coach Marcus Thames. A Yankees draft pick who later played for the organization as a big leaguer, Thames ascended to assistant hitting coach after the 2015 campaign. Following the 2017 season, New York promoted Thames to hitting coach and they posted tremendous years at bat, particularly in the homer-happy 2019 with a rotating cast of players.

However, after a wildly disappointing offensive performance in 2021, the Yankees decided to make a change.

Thames is not the only coaching casualty. Assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere joins Thames as a former Yankee coach who is now looking for a new job. Another Baby Bomber alum, Pilittere joined New York’s coaching staff prior to the 2018 season, but like Thames, he is paying the price for the Yankees’ dismal offense. In an interview with WFAN’s Sweeny Murti after the news was announced, Thames noted that a possible difference in philosophy of coaching between the major and minor league levels might have been the primary culprit.

New York also parted ways with third-base coach Phil Nevin. The Yankees struggled on the bases in 2021, making entirely too many outs at home plate. The former All-Star joined the organization’s coaching staff alongside Aaron Boone after the 2017 season, following a stint at the San Francisco Giants’ third-base coach. Nevin’s 2021 was rough for reasons off the field as well, after he tested positive for COVID-19, developed a staph infection, and lost 20 pounds.

It is tempting to try and read the tea leaves and decipher what this means for the skipper himself, Boone. But Brandon Kuty tweeted earlier that despite these coaching moves, the Yankees have not made any decision on the embattled manager’s future with the club.

If the Yankees look in-house to replace Thames and Pilittere, it is worth keeping an eye on Joe Migliaccio, the hitting coach at Double-A Somerset, and Dillon Lawson, the organization’s hitting coordinator. The two are long-tenured organizational coaches and Lawson was at the alternate site in 2020, while Migliaccio spent several weeks there in April 2021. Of course, as John outlined the other day, an outsider, Matt Blake-esque type hire could make plenty of sense as well.

These may well be the first of many changes coming to the Yankees this off-season. Best wishes to Thames, Pilittere, and Nevin as they likely look for a landing spot somewhere else in baseball.