If the Yankees need fundamental changes from the top down, the first step is replacing the coaches with the best that are already with YES.
If the Yankees can be facetious about the current state of the team, then so can I.
I’m proposing the chances of what I’m proposing – firing all coaches and bringing in the YES team of announcers – David Cone, Paul O’Neill, and John Flaherty, as coaches, plus the newest addition to the team Buck Showalter as manager – getting off the ground is minimal as best.
But think for a moment about the ramifications and the cultural change that would come to the Yankees; have a bunch of no-nonsense, all-in guys around the players every day, drawing from all that experience and knowledge…
Imagine David Cone talking pitching with Yankees starter Jameson Taillon, a similar type of pitcher – not necessarily to make adjustments to his mechanics or to push the analytics on him – but to talk pitching simply. How to use the corners of the zone effectively, how to make in-game adjustments when this pitch or that pitch isn’t working that day – these are the cornerstones of what makes a great pitching coach.
Or, for Paul O’Neill to explain to Yankees hitters how he learned to hit the ball to all fields, even with that inviting right-field porch as a left-hand batter at Yankee Stadium, and most importantly, how that adjustment lengthened his career and increased his value to the Yankees.
As for John Flaherty, please think of how he could blend with the non-All Star Yankees as a player with a pedestrian career, emphasizing the importance of being an excellent role player and how to prepare and stay ready to answer the call when your number is called.
I make no judgments about the Yankees’ current coaching staff, and I have no idea, for example, what Reggie Willits does or doesn’t do well as the Yankees First Base and Outfield Instructor. Nor am I a fly on the wall when Pitching Coach Matt Blake sits down with one of his pitchers to dissect his last outing.
But I do know this, and I suspect you do as well. When we talk Cone, O’Neill, Flaherty, and Showalter, these are pedigree Yankees with a history and knowledge, not only about baseball but an attachment to the Yankees’ legacy that cannot be overestimated.
You can’t learn it (the meaning of wearing the pinstripes); you have to live it, so it becomes a part of your soul.
Derek Jeter was often criticized for being a pure-blood Yankee. Some ridiculed him for reaching up to touch the sign before taking the field every day that quoted Joe Dimaggio, “Thank the good Lord for making me a New York Yankee,” but that’s what’s missing (except for Brett Gardner, who was around when Jeter, Cone, and O’Neill played, on this Yankees team.
Brian Cashman should know better because he was around too when Gene Michael and Bob Watson built a Yankees to last, and one that would claim four World Championship while barely missing a fifth against Arizona.
Maybe, as I’ve argued before, Cashman has lost or suffered from diminishing interest in his job, and with a no-show, no-care owner in Hal Steinbrenner, there’s no one there to give him a kick in the butt to wind him up again.
But whatever it is, the fact is the Yankees culture today has eroded to the depths of the play we see on the field today, 20 outs made on the bases, throwing errors on routine ground balls, and wild swings at the plate leading to strikeouts and “Thank You’s” from pitchers.
Now, you may have noticed that I’ve conveniently avoided the question about whether or not the YES announcers would want to leave the cush jobs they have now (O’Neill, for instance, makes a reported $3 million a year) to take on new posts, carrying all that responsibility and pressure.
Plus, David Cone has already responded to the plea he becomes the Yankees’ pitching coach, tersely saying, “I’m a broadcaster.”
I don’t know the answer to that question either, but I know it wouldn’t hurt to ask them.
Nevertheless, this is currently lacking within the Yankees, who have become stale, old, spoiled, and flat this season.
Would the Yankees have the (I’ll be nice and use the word) courage to do something as radical as this proposal, mid-season no less?
I’ll answer that one as soon as I finish eating the candy left by the Easter Bunny…
Here’s What Readers Are Saying…
Jim Kulhawy Love them all, but no thanks to anyone except Buck. We currently have a manager who has never managed at any level until he was graced with this job, and I don’t need a coaching staff filled with folks who have never coached before. I love them all, but you just can’t step into a job like that with no experience except having played the game and wearing the NYY uni. For 99% of the world, it doesn’t work this way, and we’ve already seen how it’s working now
CJ Claffey I know Cone doesn’t have any coaching experience, but if there is one person that will have an easy time transitioning from the booth to the dugout it is him. I would have him be the pitching coach.
Elisa Granata- Poitras They need to decide if they want it. Someone must also provide the leadership. Players must step up. Coaches can’t go out there and swing the bats for them. That is what the players are making the money for. Aren’t they supposed to hit the ball!
Hubie Mercado Paul as a batting coach and Cone as a pitching coach will definitely add some fire to the team.
Mike Harrington I definitely agree on Cone. He’s the perfect fit considering the organization’s love for sabermetrics. He’s got it in spades, but he also knows when to go from his gut. Not sure about Paulie, I don’t think he’d want to go that route. Personally, I think the coaching staff isn’t the big problem here. Phil Nevin for example is probably the best 3rd base coach this team has had in years. It’s management and the clubhouse that needs repair
Roberta Miller Certainly Coney and Paulie can analyze the team better than any of the coaches and particularly the manager.
Author’s Postscript 2:45 pm ET 6/8/2021
The singular point I had in writing this piece, is to call attention to the Yankees’ need to revive a lost culture, one that not only stresses winning but requires it. The guys in the booth are used as examples and pawns to make the point. I never dreamed any of them would leave the booth, nor do I believe (regretfully) the Yankees are ready to make wholesale changes of this kind. Keep the comments coming.