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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 10/2/23

Judge demands change; Casey possibly asked to return in 2024; Montas makes 2023 debut; Wakefield passes away; Higashioka reflects on Yankees tenure

New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images | Bryan Hoch: Aaron Judge didn’t mince words when reflecting on his team’s disappointing season. The Yankees captain shared his belief that “There’s some bigger picture ideas and philosophies that [he] thinks maybe need to change.” He also reiterated his support for manager Aaron Boone and that he was “looking forward to more years with him,” though he was far less forthcoming in his support for general manager Brian Cashman. Towards the end of his season retrospective, Judge urged for the analytics department to reevaluate how they’re interpreting the data and ended with a call for all in the organization to have greater urgency this winter and heading into 2024.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Just before the Yankees’ final game of the 2023 season, hitting coach Sean Casey revealed to the Post that the team has asked him to come back next season. The three-time All-Star and former MLB Network analyst was brought in mid-season after Brian Cashman fired Dillon Lawson, the first time he had done so in-season in over 20 years. Casey has the backing of several veterans in the clubhouse including Judge, though it’s worth mentioning that the team’s wRC+ was 96 under Lawson and 93 under Casey. Considering Boone was the driving voice behind the Yankees bringing Casey in, this news is seen as evidence that Boone will be back next year as well.

For what it’s worth, Boone tried to walk back Casey’s comments, but what was said was said.

SNY | Phillip Martinez: Frankie Montas returned from the IL in time to pitch in the penultimate game of the season, tossing 1.1 scoreless innings in the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Royals. He missed effectively all of the season after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery and has been one in a long line of disappointments brought in by Cashman over the last few years, pitching to a 6.15 ERA in nine games totaling 41 innings with the Yankees. It sounds like the two sides have mutual interest in a reunion next season as Montas is slated to hit free agency this winter.

NJ Advance Media | Kevin Manahan: Tragic news broke Sunday afternoon as we learned longtime Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield had passed away from brain cancer at the age of 57. The knuckleballer played for the Red Sox from 1995 to 2011 and is first in franchise history in innings (3,006) and second in games pitched (590) and strikeouts (2,046). He faced the Yankees 38 times while with Boston, with a 4.59 ERA in 188.1 innings, and is remembered among other things for surrendering Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (though he dominated the Yankees in that series otherwise). Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.

Sports Illustrated | Patrick McAvoy: Kyle Higashioka has spent half his life in the Yankees organization since he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft. And even though he has another year of team control remaining, the scheduled raise on his 2023 season alongside catchers such as Austin Wells and Ben Rortvedt carving out roles in the majors could combine to spell an end to Higashioka’s tenure in the Bronx. He’s been a more than serviceable backup backstop in his time, with the sixth-most framing runs (27.4) and 25th-highest fWAR (5.0) among catchers since 2018 and memorably caught both Corey Kluber’s no-hitter and Domingo Germán’s perfect game.