NEW YORK — In more than 20 years as Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman has never fired a coach mid-season and believed that all performance should be measured in a 162-game sample. This time he had seen enough.
As the Yankees continue to sit near the bottom of the league in many offensive categories, hitting coach Dillon Lawson was relieved of his duties after Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Cubs at Yankee Stadium.
“I grew up in an organization that constantly made changes during the season. Not that I was drawn to that during my tenure as general manager,” Cashman said. “But at the same time, when I feel I have to do it, I do it and face it with all my might.”
Cashman said Lawson’s replacement will come from outside the organization, while assistant hitting coaches Casey Dykes and Brad Wilkerson will remain in their current positions.
The post of chief hitting coach hasn’t been offered to anyone yet, Cashman said, adding that he’s internally building a list of candidates. Cashman plans to announce the hiring before the Yankees open the second half of the regular season on Friday against Colorado.
“There’s an opportunity here,” Cashman said. “I believe we have a lot of players who have the ability to find a higher position than they did in the first half. I’m looking for a unique personality.”
Cashman, who is in Tampa, Fla. to oversee the MLB Draft, said he had a phone call with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner on Saturday. During that conversation, Cashman suggested a change, which Steinbrenner congratulated.
The timeline suggests that the Yankees’ 3-0 loss to the Cubs on Friday night could represent a final crisis. New York was held to one hit through the eighth inning by right-hander Jameson Tyllon that night, and went in with a 6.93 ERA, the best of any pitcher who pitched 60 or more innings this year.
Scoring is a challenge for the Yankees throughout the season, and the Yankees entered the All-Star break with a record of 49 wins and 42 losses, and finished in 4th place in the American League East, 8 games behind the Rays. Overall, the Yankees rank near the bottom of the league in batting average (.231 — tied for 28th), hits (690 — 29th) and on-base percentage (.300 — 26th).
“Since I’ve been here, we’ve had pretty consistent high levels of aggressive production,” Cashman said. “It’s been a completely different situation this year. Ultimately, the end result isn’t the Yankees DNA we’re used to seeing.”
Their numbers have taken an even bigger hit since Aaron Judge passed away with a sprained right big toe. They’re 14-17 with their lowest batting average (.218), lowest on-base percentage (.288) and third-lowest runs since Judge crashed into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium on June 3. (117). A measure over the period.
“I wanted to give them a chance to work things out, but at this point I honestly feel like things aren’t going to get any better, at least as they stand,” Cashman said. “It’s not that the offense couldn’t be improved organically, but we feel the new messenger serves them better.”
Lawson, 38, joins Kevin Long (2007-14), Jeff Pentland (2015), Alan Cockrell (2016-17) and Marcus Thames (2018-21) in the last decade. became the Yankees’ fifth hitting coach. .
He spent his first three seasons with the team (2019-21) as the Yankees’ minor league hitting coordinator, where he spread the mantra of hitting hard. Prior to joining the Yankees, Lawson spent two seasons with the Astros organization, serving as hitting coach for the Single-A Quad Cities in 2018 and hitting coach for the short-season Single-A Tri-Cities in 2016.
“I don’t think Dillon can’t become a major league coach with consistent success,” Cashman said. “I think it’s part of the growth process and the learning curve. We’re still thinking about his world and we know what his abilities are like, but this time and place So I think it’s best to move forward with change.”