Lost in all the news involving Giancarlo Stanton’s public presentation as a member of the 2018 New York Yankees was the details on the team’s new coaching staff. While the Yankees have yet to announce the official group, things seem to have been finalized yesterday, barring any big surprises.
As we all know, Aaron Boone was hired as the team’s new manager earlier this month, despite the fact that he has no experience in coaching at any level. We also knew that the Yankees had independently decided to bring back Larry Rothschild as the pitching coach. Considering the extensive references to the pitching staff’s strikeout numbers under him, it’s easy to see that Brian Cashman and company are happy with what he has done for the team.
We will also see the return of Mike Harkey as the team’s bullpen coach and Marcus Thames as the official hitting coach. Thames has spent the last two years as the assistant hitting coach under Alan Cockrell. With Joe Girardi out as manager, it was no sure thing that Thames would have a job still, but it’s nice to see that the Yankees are committed to his development and value what he has done for the team.
New Additions in 2018
Josh Bard will serve as Boone’s bench coach this year. It was believed that Boone would choose someone with previous managerial experience, but he ultimately went with his former teammate from his days with the Cleveland Indians. Retiring after the 2012 season, Bard become a Special Assistant with the Dodgers and served as the team’s bullpen coach for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Carlos Mendoza will be announced as the Yankees infield coach who will be in the dugout during games. Marcus Thames and Mike Harkey are likely to named hitting coach and bullpen coach, respectively.— George A. King III (@GeorgeAKingIII) December 11, 2017
The team’s new third base coach is Phil Nevin, the guy the Astros took first overall in the 1992 MLB Draft instead of Derek Jeter. It’s funny how life, and baseball, works out sometimes. Since his retirement in 2007, Nevin has jumped around a lot, briefly serving as an ESPN analyst before working as a manger in Indy ball. He has also managed in affiliated ball at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, and served as the third base coach for the Giants in 2017.
We all know that the third base coach job can be tough after watching Rob Thomson attempt to navigate the art of sending the runner. Joe Espada may have been better, but he made his own mistakes at times. How about Nevin? Well, he did get yelled at by Buster Posey once, so that’s good.
After 12 years on the Yankees coaching staff, Tony Pena will no longer be with the major league team. The fact that he was taken off his assignment as bench coach likely showed that the organization was moving away from him. In his place as the first base coach will be Reggie Willits, who has worked within the organization since 2015 as the outfield and baserunning coordinator and specialty hitting coach.
At 36 years old, Willits will be the team’s youngest coach on the staff, and would actually be a year younger than CC Sabathia if the lefty were to sign with the team again. On a weird personal note, Willits “famously” moved his family inside the confines of his 60 X 32 batting cage in order to save money while they built a house. The New York Times even ran a story about it in 2007. Fascinating life decisions!
While the Yankees have decided not to pair Thames with an assistant hitting coach of his own, the team will have a seventh coach on the staff all the same. Carlos Mendoza, who had been serving as a coach with the Charleston RiverDogs, has been hired on as the team’s infield coach. The weird thing, though, is that Mendoza was an outfielder during his playing career. Yeah.
Previously, jobs like these have always been the responsibility of the base coaches, giving them something to do when they aren’t standing around and handing out high fives. Joe Espada previously served as the infield coach, so it’s interesting to see that the Yankees had to hire two guys to replace him.
It’s hard to get much of a sense of this coaching staff just yet. Boone is a completely unknown quantity, which is rare for these kinds of hires. We already know what we’re getting in Rothschild, but it will be interesting to see how Thames does with full control over the team. He got the assistant coach job originally because the young players loved working with him, so let’s hope that continues.
Boone has seemingly surrounded himself with several baseball lifers in Bard, Nevin, and Willits, which could really go either way. It’s hard to see how any of these guys will embrace advanced statistics, but we could all be surprised. The Yankees are hoping that this staff is just as good as Girardi without any of the bad qualities. That’s going to be a tough act to follow, so expectations should be tempered.