Yankees not worried about inexperienced coaching staff

Aaron Boone’s revamped coaching staff is leaning more towards new industry standards — both in size and in the fact that major league playing experience isn’t required.

The Yankees staff for 2022 grew to 11 last week when they announced the hiring of six new coaches to replace the four who were fired or left last year. Aside from assistant batting coach Eric Chavez, whose 17-year big league career has made him the best-known name in the group, the new recruits have combined for one MLB game during their playing career.

While Boone brings a wealth of major league playing experience, in addition to his four seasons as Yankees manager, his staff have largely taken other routes to end up in the Bronx Bombers dugout.

“We’re trying to find the best coaches and the best people to impact our guys,” Boone said last week on a Zoom call. “Probably for a long time we were kind of stuck with the fact that it had to be a guy with major league service and has that career. It’s absolutely valuable and part of a checklist that ticks the box for many people. Experience matters, what they’ve done matters,… but we were probably also closing ourselves off to a lot of very good coaches, because in many ways that was a prerequisite.

Aaron Boon
New York Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“I think now we’re probably starting to follow more of an NBA/NFL model, where you have coaches who are really good at impacting players.”

Of the six new recruits, only Chavez (1,615 games) and first base and field coach Travis Chapman (one game) played in the big leagues before starting their coaching careers.

Third base coach and former Mets coach Luis Rojas played in the minor leagues, but the other three rookies — batting coach Dillon Lawson, assistant batting coach Casey Dykes and assistant pitching coach Desi Druschel – have ended their playing careers at the collegiate level.

More importantly, Lawson, Dykes, Druschel and Chapman are all products of the Yankees’ player development system. In line with the organization’s philosophy of analytics and data-driven coaching, they proved what they taught worked in the minor leagues, earning them promotions within Boone’s staff.

“At the end of the day, players want [know], ‘Can you help me?’ And, ‘Are you helping me?’ “, Boone said. “It’s ultimately the biggest litmus test and the biggest factor. A guy who doesn’t have a big league resume from a game perspective might have to earn a bit more, but once you demonstrate and show that you’re helping a player, that’s all you want. You have a short window to have a major league career. If someone from a coaching perspective that I know is helping and influencing me, at the end of the day, I don’t really care how I get it.

That was on display last season for the Giants, who had a staff of 13 under Gabe Kapler. The majority of the coaches had no major league experience. The result was an NL West crown, with San Francisco playing well beyond preseason expectations and racking up 107 wins.

Boone said the number of coaches on his team isn’t as important as making sure the Yankees hire the right people. But having Chapman take on on-court coaching duties will free up bench coach Carlos Mendoza to further assist Boone and his staff. And the addition of an assistant pitching coach and an additional assistant batting coach will allow the Yankees to better support their players in an era when there are a lot of numbers and information to digest before every game.

“There’s obviously more stuff readily available for guys to sift through,” Boone said. “But that’s not to say that when the coaching staff was smaller 20, 30 or 40 years ago, there weren’t huge responsibilities back then. All of this changes and evolves.