New York Yankees: The New Coaching Staff Begins to Take Shape
Saying the New York Yankees have been busy would be a bit of an understatement. They shocked the baseball world with a trade for reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, brought back Masahiro Tanaka, and appointed Aaron Boone as the new man in charge. Finally, they resigned the man behind it all, Brian Cashman, to a five-year extension.
While the Stanton news has been the talk of the team, and baseball as a whole, other important matters have been tended to. Typically, with a new manager comes an entirely new staff. Boone and Cashman have been hard at work in building the staff that will lead the Yankees next season.
Aaron Boone – Manager
By now, most Yankee fans have already acquainted themselves with the new man in charge. For those who haven’t, let’s take a look at the 35th manager of the New York Yankees.
As a player, Boone’s name has already been etched in Yankees lore. He played just half a season with the team but became a Yankee legend with one swing of the bat. In Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS against the rival Red Sox, Boone sent the Yankees to the World Series with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning. It was one of the biggest homers in Yankees history, extended the Curse of the Bambino and earned him the nickname “Aaron *bleeping* Boone” in Boston.
Now, that same Aaron *bleeping* Boone will be making an impact from the dugout. Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner chose Boone due to his excellent communication skills and knowledge of the game. That knowledge has been on display during ESPN broadcasts the past few seasons, where Boone has served as a commentator.
Skeptics saying Boone has no coaching experience are not wrong. However, it’s impossible that he would have been given this opportunity if Cashman and Steinbrenner didn’t think he was capable. Boone has the confidence, knowledge, and ability to handle the limelight that’s needed to succeed in New York. He has undoubtedly had that in mind while putting together the rest of his staff.
Larry Rothschild – Pitching Coach
The Yankees coaching staff will look different, but it’s not a complete overhaul. A handful of familiar faces will be back, including longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Rothschild has been with the team since 2011 and will be returning for his eighth season. He led one of the best, albeit young, pitching staffs in the Majors last year. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a one-year contract to stay with the team.
Before taking his first job as a pitching coach, Rothschild spent time as a coach, instructor, and manager. His managerial experience came as the very first manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998. He managed there for four seasons until he was fired in 2001. Although brief, Rothschild managerial experience should prove vital in a dugout that lacks any.
On the pitching side, Rothschild is one of the game’s best. Just last year, Yankees pitchers set a franchise record with 1,560 strikeouts, posted an AL’s third-best 3.72 ERA and kept opposing hitters to an AL-best .228 batting average. He’s also had four pitchers finish in the top ten for the Cy Young award in his time with the Yankees.
Marcus Thames – Hitting Coach
Another familiar face is former Yankee Marcus Thames. Thames will be promoted to the official hitting coach for 2018 after spending the last two seasons as an assistant to Alan Cockrell. With Girardi and company gone, the New York Yankees trust that Thames was good enough to keep around and ready for the job. The 40-year-old played nine years in the Majors, making two stops in New York. He was actually drafted by the Yankees back in 1996 and made his debut with the team in 2002.
Reggie Willits – First Base Coach
The New York Yankees will be without Tony Pena’s services at first base coach in 2018. Taking his place will be Reggie Willits. Willits, who’s actually a year younger than CC Sabathia, has been with the organization since 2015. He’s worked as the outfield and baserunning coordinator, as well as the specialty hitting coach.
Josh Bard – Bench Coach
Accompanying Boone as the bench coach is Josh Bard. Bard is a former catcher and played with Boone on the Indians. Since retiring in 2012, the 39-year-old has worked as a special assistant for the Dodgers. He also served as the bullpen coach for the team the past two seasons.
Like Boone, Bard has exceptional knowledge of the game. He was a great defender in his ten years behind the plate. His primary task entering Spring Training will likely be to work on Gary Sanchez’s defense behind the plate. Another obvious task is to learn and get to know the players and coaches he will spend every day in the dugout with.
Phil Nevin – Third Base Coach
Another new face in the dugout, and along the third base line, will be Phil Nevin. Since retiring in 2007, Nevin has kept busy. He served as an ESPN analyst for a brief time before beginning his managerial career in Indy ball. He went on to manage at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels before serving as the Giant’s third base coach in 2017. He’ll have that same role with the Yankees to begin the season.
Older Yankee fans may remember Nevin as a possible Draft pick heading into the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft. The Yankees instead ended up with Derek Jeter, and well everyone knows the rest. Now, Nevin finds himself donning the pinstripes after all as the Yankees new third base coach.
Carlos Mendoza – Infield Coach
Rounding out the coaching staff is another new face in Carlos Mendoza. Mendoza will serve as the team’s infield coach. Interestingly enough, Mendoza is the first strictly infield coach the Yankees have had in a while. Former third base coach Joe Espada handled those duties the past few seasons. What’s even more interesting is the fact that Mendoza never played the infield in his two-year Major League career. He’s served as a Minor League coach in the organization since 2009.
There are plenty of interesting storylines for the Yankees heading into the 2018 season. The new coaching staff is one of them. The New York Yankees under Joe Girardi have had a very similar staff for much of the last decade. Now, with a dugout full of new faces, it should be exciting to see how the staff acclimates to the rest of the team.