Yankees announce the backroom staff for 2024, fans not pleased

The manager of the New York Yankees, Aaron Boone
AP

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The New York Yankees have unveiled their coaching staff for the upcoming season, featuring a blend of familiar figures and fresh additions to support manager Aaron Boone.

Following a disappointing 2023 season that fell short of expectations, the New York Yankees have made a firm commitment to retaining both general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone. While this decision has sparked mixed reactions among the fan base, it underscores the organization’s dedication to internal stability and rebuilding within the current framework.

Key players like Aaron Judge have voiced confidence in Boone’s leadership, and the front office, acknowledging the challenges faced last year, maintains faith in the core talent of the roster. However, the upcoming 2024 season places immense pressure on the Yankees to deliver. Any struggles resembling those of the previous season could heighten scrutiny and potentially prompt the team to reassess its direction.

As a historically dominant franchise accustomed to success, the Yankees find themselves navigating unfamiliar territory. Yet, amidst the doubts and uncertainties, there is an underlying optimism that sticking with familiar faces and building upon existing strengths can set the stage for a robust comeback season. Whether this strategy proves successful remains to be seen, but one thing is assured: the passionate Yankee Nation will be closely watching the Bronx diamond, yearning to witness a return to their team’s championship glory days.

Name Job
Aaron BooneManager
Brad AusmusBench coach
Matt BlakePitching coach
Mike HarkeyBullpen coach
Desi DruschelAssistant pitching coach
James RowsonHitting coach
Casey Dykes and Pat RoesslerAssistant hitting coaches
Luis RojasThird base coach
Travis ChapmanFirst base coach
Tanner SwansonDirector of catching

The coaching lineup for the upcoming season has been unveiled by the New York Yankees, blending a mix of familiar faces and fresh additions. This strategic move is aimed at propelling the team back into contention following a lackluster 82-win performance in 2023.

While the staff changes might not be as sweeping as some fans desired, they signify a new era for the Yankees, driven by the aspiration to revive the franchise’s championship legacy.

Yankees’ new bench coach

Brad Ausmus assumes the role of Bench Coach, bringing a wealth of experience as a player, manager, and coach. With a 34-year career in professional baseball, including managerial stints with the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics, as well as serving as a special assistant to various teams, Ausmus adds a diverse skill set to the coaching staff. His remarkable playing career is highlighted by three Gold Glove Awards, and he achieved top rankings in putouts and games played as a catcher. Having been drafted by the Yankees in 1987, Ausmus initially honed his skills in their minor league system before embarking on a successful journey in Major League Baseball.

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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching coach Matt Blake

Blake, aged 38, is set to embark on his fifth season as the Yankees’ pitching coach. In the 2023 season, the Yankees’ pitching staff showcased notable prowess, securing the second spot in the American League and third in the Majors for opponents’ batting average (.234). Additionally, they ranked impressively in various categories, including opponents’ slugging percentage (fourth in AL, sixth in Majors), opponents’ on-base percentage (sixth in AL, ninth in Majors), and opponents’ OPS (fifth in AL, 10th in Majors), along with a 10th-place ranking in ERA (3.97).

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X-@YankeesSlut

Since joining the Major League coaching staff in 2020, Blake has played a pivotal role in the Yankees’ pitching success. Noteworthy achievements include ranking third in the majors for strikeouts (second in AL), WHIP (second in AL), and opponents’ on-base percentage (second in AL). The Yankees’ pitching staff also secured impressive positions in opponents’ batting average (second in AL, fourth in Majors), K/BB (second in AL, fourth in Majors), ERA (third in AL, fifth in Majors), K/9.0IP (second in AL, fifth in Majors), and BB/9.0IP (fourth in AL, sixth in Majors).

Before his tenure with the Yankees, Blake spent four seasons with Cleveland (2016-19), starting as the lower-level pitching coordinator in 2016 and eventually being promoted to director of pitching development. His baseball journey also includes seven years as the pitching coordinator for Cressey Sports Performance and coaching the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League. Blake, a native of Concord, N.H., pitched for four seasons at the College of the Holy Cross, graduating in 2007 with a degree in psychology and philosophy.

The bullpen coach

Harkey, aged 57, is gearing up for his 15th season as the Yankees’ bullpen coach. He previously held this position from 2008-13 and returned to the coaching staff for the 2016 season. In the 2023 season, Yankees relievers displayed remarkable performance, leading the Majors with a 3.34 ERA (619.0IP, 230ER). They also excelled in various categories, including opponents’ batting average and slugging percentage (.221 and .349, respectively), ranking second in HR/9.0IP (0.86, second in AL), and opponents’ OPS (.658, first in AL). The bullpen further secured positions in WHIP (third in AL, fifth in Majors) and opponents’ OBP (third in AL, sixth in Majors). Notably, according to Elias, this marked the 12th time in franchise history (since 1913) and only the second time in the last 42 years (since 1982) that the Yankees posted the lowest bullpen ERA in the Majors.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Harkey boasts an extensive coaching career, spanning 18 seasons on Major League coaching staffs. Apart from his role as Bullpen Coach with the Yankees, he served as the pitching coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2014-15 and spent the 2006 season as the bullpen coach for the Florida Marlins. His contributions also include seven seasons as a minor league pitching coach in the Chicago Cubs (2007) and San Diego Padres (2000-05) organizations.

Originally drafted as the fourth overall pick in the 1987 first-year player draft by the Chicago Cubs, Harkey had a noteworthy playing career, amassing a 36-36 record with a 4.49 ERA in 131 major league games (104 starts). His playing journey included stints with the Cubs (1988, ’90-93), Colorado Rockies (1994), Oakland Athletics (1995), California Angels (1995), and Los Angeles Dodgers (1997).

Blake’s assistant

At 48 years old, Druschel is poised to begin his third season as the Yankees’ assistant pitching Coach, marking his sixth season within the Yankees organization. His multifaceted role extends to his three-season tenure as the Yankees’ manager of pitch development from 2019-21. Before affiliating with the Yankees, Druschel dedicated five years to the University of Iowa, initially serving as the team’s Pitching Coach from 2017-19 and previously holding the position of director of baseball operations from 2014-17.

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The inception of Druschel’s coaching career dates back to 1998 when he commenced as an assistant coach at Vinton-Shellsburg H.S. (Iowa). Transitioning to the collegiate arena, he contributed to Indiana University from 1999-2000. His journey continued with a five-year stint (2000-04) at Mount St. Clare College (Iowa), where he began as an Assistant (2000-01) before assuming the role of head coach (2001-04). Subsequently, from 2004-14, Druschel left an indelible mark at Mount Mercy University (Iowa), commencing as an assistant (2004-05) and progressing to the position of head coach (2005-14).

A native of Vinton, Iowa, Druschel brings a rich background as both a baseball and basketball player at Upper Iowa University and Mount Mercy University (Iowa) from 1994-98. His commitment to further education is underscored by the attainment of a master’s degree in athletic administration from Indiana University in 2001.

New hitting coach takes over

At the age of 47, Rowson makes a return to the Yankees organization, bringing with him an impressive 22-year tenure in professional coaching. The upcoming 2024 season will signify his 10th on a major league coaching staff and, notably, his debut as the Yankees’ hitting coach.

Marlins' bench coach James Rowson in 2022.
MLB

Rowson’s recent endeavors include serving as the assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers last season, following a role as the bench coach for the Miami Marlins from 2020-22. His coaching journey also features a stint as the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins from 2017-19.

A native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., Rowson boasts a strong connection with the Yankees organization, having spent nine years within its ranks from 2006-11 and 2014-16. During seven of those seasons (2008-11, ’14-16), he held the crucial role of minor league hitting coordinator. Furthermore, Rowson served as the hitting coach for Single-A Tampa from 2006-07. Intermissions in his Yankees tenure led him to the Chicago Cubs organization (2012-13), where he initially served as their minor league hitting coordinator before being appointed as the Cubs’ major league hitting coach in June 2012.

Rowson embarked on his coaching journey with the Los Angeles Angels organization, contributing as a minor league hitting coach for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (2004-05), Single-A Cedar Rapids (2003), and Rookie-level Provo (2002).

His baseball journey began when he was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the ninth round of the 1994 first-year player draft from Mount St. Michael High School in the Bronx. Rowson, a former outfielder, spent three minor league seasons with the Mariners (1995-96) and Yankees (1997) before playing in the Independent Heartland League in 1998.

Hitting assistants

At the age of 33, Dykes is set to embark on his third season with the Yankees’ Major League coaching staff. Prior to this role, he served as the hitting coach for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2021, and he was initially assigned as the hitting coach for the Yankees’ Single-A Charleston affiliate in 2020, a season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before joining the Yankees, Dykes spent the 2019 season as the hitting coach at Indiana University, contributing to the Hoosiers’ Big Ten regular season championship and their top-ranking in home runs across Division I during the regular season. His coaching journey also includes a role as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Virginia Military Institute from 2015-18. Dykes initiated his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Western Kentucky, from 2013-14. A graduate of Western Kentucky, he played baseball at the university from 2009-12, earning a bachelor’s degree in sports management before completing a master’s in athletic administration in 2014.

Roessler, aged 64, makes a return to the Yankees organization as the assistant hitting coach, marking his 13th year with the team (also 2004-14, ’19) and his 37th season in professional baseball. In 2019, he served as a player development advisor for the Yankees, having previously held the position of director of player development from September 2004 through the end of the 2014 season. His extensive contributions also encompassed roles as the organization’s field coordinator from September 2004 through the 2013 season, hitting coordinator in 2005, ’12, and ’13, and a stint as the manager for Single-A Charleston during the second half of the 2006 season.

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X-@mets_fanly

Roessler spent the last four seasons (2020-23) as the assistant hitting coach for the Washington Nationals. Between his two previous stints with the Yankees, he worked with the New York Mets from 2015-18, initially as their assistant hitting coach from 2015-17 and then as the hitting coach for the 2018 season.

Before joining the Yankees, Roessler served as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Houston Astros from 2002-04. From 2000-01, he held the role of major league hitting coach for the Montreal Expos after being the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator from 1995-97. Between his terms with the Expos, Roessler was the minor league hitting coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1998-99.

His coaching experience also includes a tenure with the Chicago White Sox organization from 1988-94, where he served as the roving hitting instructor in 1988 and as the hitting coach for various minor league teams.

A Phoenix, Ariz., native, Roessler earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Arizona in 1983 and a master’s degree in sport management from Old Dominion in 1987. He was a collegiate baseball player at the University of Arizona and was part of the 1980 College World Series championship team.

Rojas stays on

At the age of 42, Rojas is set to embark on his third season as the Yankees’ third base and outfield coach. Before joining the Yankees, Rojas had a 16-year tenure with the New York Mets organization (2006-21), including a managerial role for two seasons (2020-21) where the Mets posted a record of 103-119 (.464) in 222 games.

Yankees third-base coach Luis Rojas talking to umpire after Blue Jays targeted him on May 16, 2023, at Rogers Center, Toronto.

Rojas holds a significant place in major league history as the sixth Dominican-born Manager. His father, Felipe Alou, was the pioneer in this regard, managing the Montreal Expos (1992-2001) and San Francisco Giants (2003-06) after his distinguished 17-season major league playing career. The father-son duo became the sixth pair in MLB history to both serve as major league managers, joining other notable pairs such as Buddy and David Bell, Aaron and Bob Boone, Connie and Earle Mack, George and Dick Sisler, and Bob and Joel Skinner. Adding to this baseball legacy, his brother, Moises Alou, enjoyed a 17-season career in the Majors with seven different teams.

In 2019, Rojas assumed the role of major league quality control coach for the Mets. Before joining the Mets’ Major League staff, he managed various minor league teams, including Double-A Binghamton (2017-18), Single-A St. Lucie (2015-16), Single-A Savannah (2012-14), and the Gulf Coast League Mets (2011). Rojas also contributed as a MiLB coach for Single-A Savannah in 2010 and served the same role for the Gulf Coast League Mets from 2008-09. His journey with the Mets organization began in 2007 with the Dominican Summer League team.

Rojas also showcased his managerial skills on the international stage, leading the Dominican Republic National Team in the WBSC Premier12 tournament in 2019. Additionally, the Santo Domingo, D.R., native guided Leones del Escogido to a Dominican Winter League championship in 2015-16.

During his playing career, Rojas navigated the minor league systems of the Baltimore Orioles (2000), Florida Marlins (2001-02), and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (2003-05).

Old coach continues

Chapman, 45, commences his third season as the first base and infield coach for the Yankees, marking his 12th year within the organization. Concurrently, he embarks on his third season as the director of infield for the Yankees. Before transitioning to the major league coaching staff, Chapman assumed the role of minor league hitting coordinator in 2021, following a stint at the alternate site in 2020 as the assistant infield coordinator. Originally slated as the manager for the GCL Yankees in 2020, the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noteworthy coaching experiences include four seasons as a defensive coach for Single-A Charleston (2015-16, ’19) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (2018). In 2017, Chapman undertook the managerial responsibilities for the DSL Yankees. His managerial debut occurred in 2014 with the GCL Yankees 1, and he commenced his professional coaching career in 2013 as a coach for the GCL Yankees 2. Additionally, Chapman served as an assistant coach for the 18U USA National team in 2012, securing a gold medal in Seoul, South Korea.

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The Jacksonville, Fla., native was chosen by the Phillies in the 17th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft from Mississippi State University. Chapman’s Major League debut transpired in 2003 with the Phillies. His playing career spanned seven seasons across the minor league systems of Philadelphia (2000-03), Kansas City (2004), Cincinnati (2005), and Pittsburgh (2006), amassing a .286 batting average (507-for-1,771) with 227 runs, 117 doubles, 5 triples, 41 home runs, 286 RBIs, and 185 walks.

A big task for catching mentor

Swanson, 41, embarks on his fifth season as the Yankees’ director of catching and assumes a new role as the Major League Field Coordinator. His prior responsibilities encompassed quality control/catching coach from 2020-23. Before joining the Yankees, Swanson spent two seasons (2018-19) as the minor league catching coordinator for the Minnesota Twins.

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dailyrecordnews

A native of Seattle, Wash., Swanson spent nine seasons in various roles within collegiate baseball. Notably, he served as an assistant coach at the University of Washington from 2013-17 and briefly as the school’s director of baseball operations in 2012. During his tenure at Washington, his catchers received three All-Pac-12 Conference selections, with two being chosen in the first three rounds of the first-year draft. Swanson also held the position of head coach at Green River Community College (Wash.) in 2011.

In 2010, Swanson was a lecturer in the School of Physical Education and School Health while serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Central Washington University. In 2009, he was an assistant at Everett Community College (Wash.), and in 2008, he taught and coached baseball at Sultan High School.

But Yankees fans remain unconvinced

Coming off a playoff-less 2023, Boone enters the final year of his contract amidst growing fan discontent. While his popularity isn’t universal, he retains the support of General Manager Brian Cashman and Owner Hal Steinbrenner, leaving fans in a divided state, eagerly anticipating the outcomes.

The impending 2024 season serves as a pivotal test for both the Yankees and their revamped coaching staff. Can they surmount internal doubts and channel their collective talent to secure a return to the postseason? Only time will unveil the answer, but one thing remains assured: the Bronx faithful will be observing with a blend of cautious optimism and fervent hope.

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