Last Updated on October 26, 2023 at 10:40 am by Sara Molnick
On Wednesday, Yankees hitting coach Sean Casey revealed on his podcast, “The Mayor’s Office,” that he will not be returning for the upcoming season. The former MLB great cited distance from his family as the reason behind his decision. However, a closer look reveals a deeper disconnect between the Yankees and one of the finest hitters in baseball.
Upon his arrival, Sean Casey promised to implement traditional hitting philosophies, blending his understanding of analytics with a personalized coaching approach. Many veteran Yankees players appreciated their work with Sean Casey and publicly supported him as the hitting coach, even suggesting his return for the next season. Nevertheless, deep-rooted organizational issues persisted.
According to a report by Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, there was a fundamental disconnect between the instructional approach rooted in the organization’s farm system, which was developed by Lawson, and Sean Casey’s methods during the latter part of the season. This discrepancy may have contributed to the offensive struggles of several rookies after their promotions to the majors, as they had to adapt to different approaches and finally could have led to the hitting coach refusing to return.
Sean Casey cites distance to leave the Yankees
Sean Casey mentioned that it was a difficult decision for him. He explained that although he didn’t receive a specific offer to return, he believed he could have come back if he had chosen to do so. However, the ex-hitting coach clarified that the current timing was not ideal for him.
“Boone and I had talked about coming back next year and what that would look like,” he said. “I told him that I’m not going to be able to come back next year.”
The former Reds star cited family as his primary motivation for leaving, expressing his desire to focus on spending quality time with his two teenage daughters. Sean Casey described his time on the Yankees‘ coaching staff this past summer, which marked his first MLB coaching role, as one of the most fulfilling experiences in his life.
Sean Casey expressed his concerns about being away from his family for eight months, especially in New York, while they were in Pittsburgh. He noted that this was a significant factor in his decision and stated that he chose to return to what he was doing before he joined the Yankees.
“I just can’t imagine being away for eight months, in New York, while they’re here in Pittsburgh,” Sean Casey explained. “For me, I just decided to get back to what I was doing before I joined the Yankees.”
But Sean Casey’s Yankees disconnection was clear
In a desperate move, the Yankees sacked Dillon Lawson in July and appointed Sean Casey. Despite infusing the coaching staff with a new perspective and establishing excellent rapport with the players due to his extensive playing career and outgoing personality, the Yankees’ offensive performance did not see significant improvement.
During the first half, under Lawson’s guidance, the Yankees maintained a .231 batting average and a .711 OPS, averaging just under 4.5 runs per game. With Sean Casey taking the reins for the remainder of the season, the team’s batting average dropped to .221 with a .688 OPS, and they scored an average of 3.85 runs per game.
Lawson’s “hit strikes hard” approach may not have translated effectively to the major league level, but it has shown success within the Yankees’ minor league system. As the organization reflects on its performance this past season, one of its worst in three decades, this aspect must not be overlooked.
Additionally, within the organization, there were concerns raised about Sean Casey’s suitability for guiding the development of a new hitting philosophy within the Yankees, especially if they intended to deviate from Lawson’s approaches in the minor leagues. It’s worth noting that Sean Casey had no prior coaching experience before taking the Yankees’ position.
What to look for in Yankees’ new hitting coach
The Yankees find themselves searching for a new hitting coach once again, marking the third time in the past two years. They face a delicate balance in their search for Sean Casey’s replacement. They should prioritize finding a coach capable of connecting with hitters and enhancing their confidence behind the scenes, alongside an expert in applying analytics. In this regard, having Sean Casey during the second half of the season following Lawson’s tenure should have provided the Yankees with valuable insights into the type of hitting coach that would benefit the team in the future.
This isn’t merely a matter of swapping personnel and expecting instant changes in results. Aaron Judge, a prominent figure in advocating for organizational changes this offseason, would attest to this. While Judge had a favorable opinion of Sean Casey, he also voiced concerns about the way the Yankees deliver statistical information to players. To make strides next season, the Yankees need to find a way to translate the success seen in their minor league affiliates to the major league level, while also revising their organizational philosophies, particularly in terms of how they utilize available data.
It’s evident that the Yankees must also bolster their lineup. A coaching staff can only work with the tools they’re given, and a flawed roster poses limitations. General Manager Brian Cashman’s priority for the offseason should include enhancing the team’s talent, achieving lineup balance, nurturing young prospects, recruiting more left-handed hitters, and fostering the growth of budding talents like Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, and Jasson Domínguez, who are poised to become integral figures in the team.
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