Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had never parted ways with a coach during the season in 25 years at the helm prior to today. But all streaks eventually come to an end and, after a dispiriting series loss to the Cubs in the Bronx, Cashman decided the time had come to make a change. It’s the first first midseason MLB dismissal for the Yankees since the late pitching coach Billy Connors was let go in July 1995.
2023 was Lawson’s second season as the Yankees’ hitting coach, after spending three seasons working in the minor leagues for the club and earning acclaim for his work down there. Ultimately, the message did not translate. Prior to joining the Yankee staff, Lawson spent two campaigns in the Houston Astros organization.
Surprising as the move is, given the Yankees’ reluctance under Cashman to make mid-season coaching changes, a glance at the Yankee offense provides enough evidence that a change cannot possibly hurt.
The “Bronx Bombers” boast MLB’s second-worst batting average (.230), trailing only the historically awful Oakland Athletics. The club’s .300 OBP is good for fifth-worst in the bigs. They’re basically league average in slugging percentage, which makes them the least-powerful lineup in the AL East. The team’s OPS is 21 points below league average, and they limp into the All-Star break with a collective 96 OPS+. Lawson can’t be expected to wave a magic wand and fix aging veterans, but the often-lagging results from Gleyber Torres, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Anthony Volpe (whose recent hot streak did not seem fueled by Lawson) can’t have helped matters.
And to think, a guy named Aaron Judge was part of that lineup for a considerable chunk of the first half. The lineup that lost to the Cubs today was headlined by Anthony Rizzo’s .257 batting average and .753 OPS, and he’s cobbled together a truly horrific .175/.309/.223 slash line in his last 30 games.
It remains to be seen to what extent this change will make a difference. But the status quo was untenable. It almost always sucks to see someone lose their job and we wish Lawson the best of luck as he moves forward in his baseball career. For now, the Yankees have not named a replacement, so that may be the piece of news to watch for as the club gets a few days off for the All-Star Game. (Cashman did later say that Lawson’s replacement will come from outside the organization and he hopes to have one named by this weekend.)
Read the Yankees’ full statement below, courtesy of minor league beat writer Mike Ashmore.