New York Yankees: Coaching staff brings old and new expertise to the Yankees

The New York Yankees and all the other MLB teams can’t make any major league transactions due to the lockout caused by the failure to come to a new agreement with the players union. The old Collective Bargaining Agreement ended on December 1st without a new agreement. As a result, Commissioner Rob Manfred immediately instituted the lockout putting everything on hold, preventing the Yankees from filling their many needs that include a new shortstop, number two pitcher, help in center field, and a new first baseman.

But, that lockout does not affect minor league transactions and other business, like acquiring coaches. The Yankees, with nothing else to do, have been busy signing several minor league contracts and firming up their coaches for the 2022 season. There will be a few familiar faces, but also more new adds to the staff than in previous years. The Yankees got rid of first and third-base coaches and hitting and assistant-hitting coach positions. Those are the new faces that will bring their expertise to the Yankees.

First, the Yankees signed to a new three-year contract with the returning Aaron Boone, who has brought the Yankees a 100, 103, 33*, and 92 win seasons under his tutelage. Then they hired ex-Mets manager Luis Rojas as their new third-base coach replacing the fired Phil Nevin. After a horrible hitting season last year, they concentrated on upgrading the hitting staff, firing Marcus Thames. The new hitting coach is Dillon Lawson, promoted from organizational hitting coordinator. He will have some strong backup with the hiring of Eric Chavez and Casey Dykes as assistant hitting coaches..

Matt Blake will return for a third year as the Yankee pitching coach on the pitching side. He will have a new assistant Desi Druschel. The Yankees also brought back bullpen coach Mike Harkey.

Dillon Lawson hitting coach:

Lawson will be charged with fixing the Yankees hitting. Last season was a miserable season for the Yankees’ talented lineup as they failed to hit the ball when it counted consistently. The team went through several hitting droughts throughout the season. Lawson has been the organization’s minor league hitting coordinator since 2018. He is a strong believer in analytics, and the promotion shows the Yankees’ strong commitment to baseball analytics. Before joining the Yankees, Lawson was a college coach at Southeast Missouri State and Missouri. In a stint with the Houston Astros, he also coached Carlos Correa.

Casey Dykes assistant hitting coach:

Dykes attended Western Kentucky University and played college ball with the Hilltoppers. He has a bachelor’s degree in sports management he earned in 2012. Dykes has an impressive resume being an assistant hitting coach for Western Kentucky, Bowling Green State University, Virginia Military Institute, and finally, as assistant hitting coach for the Indiana Univesity at Bloomington. The Yankees recognizing his expertise, hired Dykes as a minor league hitting coach in September 2019. In 2021, he was the hitting coach for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Yankees have now promoted him to assist Dillon Lawson, helping him to improve the Yankee’s hitting.

Eric Chavez assistant hitting coach:

Chavez flashed elite numbers hitting over a shining 17-year major league career. He had a .268 career batting average during his 13 years with the Oakland Athletics, two with the Diamondback and two with the Yankees. Now Chavez is returning to baseball as the new assistant hitting coach for the Yankees. Chavez is 44, it has been revealed that Yankee manager Aaron Boone has wanted to work with Chavez for some time.

“He’s got a really good perspective on the game, he’s very open-minded,” Boone explained on Wednesday. “Where he’s part of the hitting crew, which he absolutely is, he’s going to be more than that. I kind of view him as a little bit of a Swiss Army [knife], where he’s going to have a lot of different responsibilities, he’s going to have his hands on a lot of different things, and it’s a role that I feel like is going to evolve as he allows it to.”

 Desi Druschel assistant pitching coach:

Druschel attended Upper Iowa University and Mount Mercy University, playing baseball and basketball. He graduated from Mercy with a bachelor’s degree in 1998. He got his masters in athletic administration from Indiana University in 2001. He began coaching in 1996 with Vinton-Shellsburg. He has also acted at assistant coach at Indiana University and Mount St. Clare College from 2000 to 2001. He spent three years with the Franciscan University, where he was hired as head coach. He then spent nine years with Mount Mercy. He was then hired as director of baseball operations for the University of Iowa. He was pitching coach for the Hawkeyes in 2017. The Yankees hired him in 2019, and now he has been promoted to assistant pitching coach under Matt Blake. 

Travis Chapman first base coach:

Reggie Willits, first base coach for the Yankees, decided to retire from baseball after the 2021 season, causing a hole in the Yankee coaching staff. Travis Chapman, a former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman and first base coach, has filled the spot. The 43-year-old spent seven seasons in the minor leagues with the Phillies, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, and Pirates. In 1,771 career minor league at-bats, he hit .286, with 41 home runs. Previously with the Yankees Charleston River Dogs, he has been coaching in the team’s minor leagues in various capacities for several years. Now he is the Yankees’ first base coach.

Luis Rojas third base coach:

One of the early moves the Yankees have to make was to replace third base coach Phil Nevin who was first after making an egregious decision with Aaron Judge, causing him to be called out twenty feet from home plate. The Yankees hired Luis Rojas, the ex-New York Mets manager. Rojas, the 40-year-old Dominican, was a coach for the Mets and its manager during 2020 and 2021.

During his playing career with the Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins Expos, and Nationals, he was a highly rated prospect, but an injury never let him reach his potential, said his father, the famous Felipe Alou. Rojas began his coaching career in the Dominican Summer Leagues when he coached for several years. He was manager for the Gulf Coast Mets, where he was named manager of the year for the South Atlantic League when he won the championship in 2013. The Mets named him quality control coach in 2019. When the Mets fired Carlos Beltran in 2020, the Mets promoted him to the manager.

*2020 was a 60 game season.

Report: Yankees settle on former Mets skipper as new third base coach

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After firing Phil Nevins after the conclusion of the 2021 season, the New York Yankees began the search for a new third-base coach. Extending Skipper Aaron Boone was a priority, and obviously, he was heavily involved in selecting his new assistants.

The Yankees announced on Monday afternoon they had settled on former Mets skipper Luis Rojas as their next third base coach.

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Per the Yankees PR team:

Rojas, 40, joins the Yankees’ Major League staff after spending the last 16 years with the New York Mets organization (2006-21), including the last two seasons as the club’s manager (2020-21). During that span, the Mets went 103-119 (.464) in 222 games.

Rojas was the sixth Dominican-born manager in Major League history. His father, Felipe Alou, was the first when he managed the Montreal Expos (1992-2001) and San Francisco Giants (2003-06) after his 17-season Major League career. Luis and Felipe were the sixth father-son duo to both serve as Major League managers, joining Buddy and David Bell, Aaron and Bob Boone, Connie and Earle Mack, George and Dick Sisler, and Bob and Joel Skinner. His brother, Moises Alou, also played 17 seasons in the Majors with seven different teams.

Rojas was integral in the Mets’ player development process and club-house culture, spending 16 years with the organization. Unfortunately, his time as a manager was cut short due to poor performances in the last two seasons. Injuries plagued the Mets’ pitching rotation last season, and Rojas was unfortunately unable to supplement losses with the talent on hand.

However, Rojas is a baseball-first coach and will bring plenty of essential experience with him to the Bronx.

What do you think of the new hire? Comment here!

Mets move on from manager Luis Rojas after disappointing season

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After finishing the season with an extremely disappointing 77-85 record when many people expected them to make a deep postseason run, the New York Mets decided that it was time for a change in the manager position.

The Mets declined their 2022 contract option on manager Luis Rojas, less than a day after completing another losing season and missing the playoffs. “These decisions are never easy,” president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “But we feel a change is needed at this time.”

Between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Rojas ended up with a 103-119 record, and finished fourth last year and third in the present campaign. He was always liked and respected by his players, many of which he managed in the minor leagues, but ultimately couldn’t land the Mets in October.

Alderson now wants to give his next president of baseball operations the freedom to hire the manager he/she likes.

The Mets’ next step

That position is expected to be filled by the Mets in the next few weeks. Several candidates have already popped out in rumors, most notably Theo Epstein, who took two much-maligned franchises, the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, to the championship in the 2000s and 2010s.

The Mets want Rojas to stay in the organization in a different, yet to be specified role.

“I want to share such heartfelt gratitude to so many in the Mets organization for not only the last two seasons as manager, but for the last 16 years in a variety of roles,” Rojas said in a statement. “In each and every position I held, striving for excellence was our daily mission. I will always hold the relationships and friendships, developed over the years, dear to my heart, and am forever grateful to have been able to wear the Mets uniform for so long.”

“He is a good man who represented the Mets with dignity and calm during two extremely trying years,” Mets’ owner Steve Cohen tweeted on Monday.

Mets keep failing to produce with runners in scoring position

The New York Mets lost yet another one-run game this season, this time 4-3, on Monday in the finale against the Washington Nationals. They have a mediocre 27-27 mark in one-run games, according to SNY, and that can likely be blamed, at least partially, on two things: a not-so-reliable bullpen in the late innings, and a constant failure to capitalize with runners in scoring position.

On Monday, we saw the two situations: Edwin Diaz blew a 3-2 game and turned into a 4-3 defeat in the ninth inning, and the Mets went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

For the year, the Mets are batting .240 with men on second or third, which was the the eighth-worst batting average in that scenario before Monday’s game.

“We probably could have won more games, one-run, for sure,” Mets manager Luis Rojas after losing to the Nats.

The Mets need more timely hits

The Mets are currently 69-69, four games behind the division leaders, the Atlanta Braves. They are going to need more timely hits if they want to go to the postseason.

“We went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position today, and we had chances to score more runs, and it’d probably be a different game than 3-2 in the ninth. So I think that’s why most of those games weren’t probably won for the most part. The pitching has been responsible to keep us close. I know it’s a tough loss, and we’ll talk about that ninth inning and the walks and single there, but once again, 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, you just gotta finish. You gotta deliver. You gotta score the runs that you’re setting yourself up to score. It’s happened repeatedly for us this season,” Rojas explained.

Rojas also defended the Mets’ closer after he allowed two hits, two walks, and two runs to lose the game.

 

“Edwin’s done it for us all year. We’re not making drastic changes. I think the command is something he can bounce back from. He had a little stretch in the middle of the season where he was struggling with his command a little bit, and then he bounced back and started throwing more strikes. This is the last two games where he’s done it. For sure, he can work on things like this,” Rojas said.

Mets: Luis Rojas’ job is safe, per report

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The New York Mets have dropped four straight games and have a 9-15 record in the second half. That’s usually associated with a last place team, not one fighting to make the playoffs. Frustration is building up in Queens, and fans are already worried about missing the postseason yet another time.

The Mets’ collapse, however, is not threatening manager Luis Rojas’ job, at least not yet. According to New York Post’s Joel Sherman, sources close to owner Steve Cohen told him that firing Rojas is not an option right now.

After the recent skid, the Mets are 56-55. What was once a five-game lead in the NL East has turned into a fall to third place, 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies and half a game behind the Atlanta Braves.

The source close to the Mets’ owner said that Cohen “is not holding the manager responsible for the poor play.”

The Mets owner doesn’t want to overreact

Per Sherman, “Cohen believes this is a different time with a different type of player makeup than when George Steinbrenner used to fire Yankees managers regularly in bad periods for the club and/or to try to jolt players into better play,” the source said.

It’s also fair to point out that the Mets have suffered lots of injuries, perhaps more than any other team in the league. They are currently playing without their best position player, Francisco Lindor, and their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom, just to name a couple of examples.

Players such as Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Carlos Carrasco, Jose Peraza, Luis Guillorme, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Dellin Betances, and Robert Gsellman have all missed major playing time due to injuries, and another top starter, Noah Syndergaard, is yet to return.

The Mets are still relatively close in the NL East race, he reportedly doesn’t want to overreact, because, per Sherman, there remains a third of the season for the Mets to right themselves and win the division, the source said.

Mets Blow The Game Twice in 6-5 Loss To The Arizona Diamondbacks

The New York Mets are known for their ugly June’s, and the trend is continuing in 2021. They wasted a 4-0 and 5-4 lead in extra innings to lose to the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak and was a rare off game from the Mets bullpen.

The 10th inning had as much action as any in the game. James McCann made a cameo as a pinch hitter and gave the Mets the lead with a leadoff RBI double. The Mets could not get the insurance run around to score, and it came back to haunt them. Trevor May was called into action for the save after struggling and throwing 26 pitches the previous night. May did not have his best stuff and ended up allowing a two-run double to Pavin Smith, which capped off a terrific night for him. Smith also had a monstrous 435-foot three-run home run earlier in the game.

Overuse?

Rojas had Trevor May, Drew Smith, and Seth Lugo to choose from for the 10th inning. Smith seemed like the option if the game remained tied or the Mets extended the lead. Lugo seemed like an afterthought due to Rojas hoping to open his season in a low leverage situation. May is in the middle of a pitching slump and has allowed runs in four of his last six outings. Despite getting five days off before Monday’s outing, it is clear that he has not been at his best as of late.

Either way, the loss should not have come down to extra innings. Marcus Stroman pitched five stellar innings before his confrontation with Josh Rojas after the fifth inning. Both benches and bullpens cleared, but no further conflict resulted from the gathering. Stroman struggled in the sixth inning by allowing Smith’s homer, moving the score to 4-3, and giving them new life.

Staying Alive

Rojas ended up getting his revenge against Edwin Diaz in the ninth. Nick Ahmed‘s single and error from Billy McKinney allowed him to get to second base to set the table for Rojas. With two-outs, Rojas found the hole between the first and second baseman to tie the game and give Diaz his first blown save of the season. Diaz gave up three hits in the inning, but none were hit particularly hard. The blown save was a case of Diaz getting unlucky with the defensive alignments behind him.

On Monday, Dominic Smith and Francisco Lindor showed signs of their power returning and did it once again tonight. Smith recorded a two-run homer and was robbed of a three-run homer, which resulted in a sacrifice fly. In the ninth, he walked and stole second base, the second of his career. Lindor had just one hit, but it turned out to be an RBI triple that ricocheted off the center-field fence. His average sits at .199 and has risen 16 points in the last five games.

The Mets cannot win every game, but this one is inexcusable to lose. They let the D’Backs hang around, gave them life after the bench-clearing issue, and failed to put the game away numerous times. Luckily the loss does not affect their division lead, which remains at 3.5 after the Atlanta Braves lost. At a 3:40 start on Wednesday, two lefties square off to finish the series. David Peterson takes the mound against veteran Madison Bumgarner.

New York Mets: Manager Luis Rojas’ job is reportedly safe for now

The New York Mets are currently playing under .500, with a 11-12 record after Monday’s loss against the St. Louis Cardinals. Outside of Jacob deGrom and maybe Brandon Nimmo and JD Davis (both banged up right now), most of the team starts have been struggling to show what they are capable of.

The New York Mets’ offense, in particular, has been a major problem throughout the season. With a 96 wRC+, they are 17th before Tuesday’s games, and they are last in runs scored with 76, although they do have a few games to play to keep up with the rest due to early-season suspensions.

That is why it didn’t come as a surprise that the Mets fired hitting coach Chili Davis and his assistant Tom Slater after Monday’s loss. After seeing the organization starting to make tough decisions, it is fair to wonder where they stand on manager Luis Rojas.

The Mets are not ready to move on from Rojas

According to Andy Martino of SNY, “the sudden firings of Mets hitting coach Chili Davis and his assistant Tom Slater — which didn’t turn out to be so sudden when you thought about it — led one to immediately wonder if manager Luis Rojas’ job status was also tenuous.”

Martino says that “any speculation about Rojas can die right here. His job is safe, per sources.”

In addition to the Mets’ inauspicious start of the campaign, Rojas also led them to a losing record last year, at 26-34. However, he has the respect of most of the players on the roster, and the front office wishes to give him more time in the position.

However, Rojas’ future with the Mets will largely depend on whether he can right the ship this season. As it turns out, he doesn’t have a contract for next season, but if the Mets can put together a successful campaign when all is said and done, he surely will have one.

Walker Get Heated, Mets Offense Goes Cold in Chilly Loss to Cubs 3-1

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The New York Mets are no strangers to ugly weather this season, but that does not mean they get used to it. Taijuan Walker started strong but did not have a happy finish at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Walker threw 3.2 hitless innings but failed to make it out of the fourth inning after allowing two singles and three consecutive walks. He needed 91 pitches in his outing and was thrown out in the 3-1 loss.

While Walker failed to make it through the fourth inning, his demise began in the third inning. The first of two errors from J.D. Davis allowed the first Cubs’ run to score on a straightforward play. Davis made two mistakes on the play: first, letting the ground ball come to him instead of charging it and then double clutching on the throw, which has become a bad habit. Simple mistakes like these were habits Davis needed to quit to be an adequate third baseman, and it happened again on his second error.

Walker Loses The Zone

When Walker gave up three consecutive walks, they all went to a full count, and a few tough calls did not go in his favor. The stressful at-bats and frustrating inning made Walker leave the mound bursting with anger. He took it out on home plate umpire John Libka, who, in all fairness, had a very questionable strike zone. Manager Luis Rojas also got the boot in the sixth inning due to Libka’s inconsistent zone. In total, Walker threw 3.2 innings, allowed just two hits but walked six.

Even if Walker pitched adequately, there was no offense to support him. Davis’s solo home run was all the Mets could scratch across against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. He was not unhittable but found ways to keep the Mets from putting up a crooked number. Arrieta allowed one run, three hits, and walked three over five innings pitched.

Their best scoring chance came against closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth with one out and the bases loaded. Brandon Nimmo struck out, and Francisco Lindor grounded out to leave the tying and winning runs on base. They left 10 runners on base and went just 1-for-6 w/RISP. The biggest positive is from their bullpen, who threw 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

The Mets look to start a new winning streak on Wednesday when David Peterson takes the bump against Zach Davies. The first pitch from Wrigley Field is at 7:40 p.m. ET.

Mets’ players and manager to give owner Steve Cohen a keepsake after first victory

The New York Mets won their first game of the season on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, a day after dropping their season opener in spectacular fashion. Manager Luis Rojas and the players certainly hope the victory is the first of many to come in a new era of Mets’ baseball led by owner Steve Cohen.

Cohen, a lifelong Mets’ fan, acquired the time last year by bidding approximately $2.4 billion, and brought Sandy Alderson to be the team president. Since then, the team has been extremely active in free agency and trade talks, as they brought shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland and gave him a 10-year, $341 million extension just before Opening Day.

As Albert Almora caught the final out in Tuesday’s 8-4 win, he handed the ball to Brandon Nimmo, who in turn gave it to Kevin Pillar. The latter passed it onto Rojas as a souvenir, a keepsake of the Mets’ first joy of the 2021 campaign.

However, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported that Rojas won’t keep the ball. Instead, he plans to give it to Steve Cohen on Thursday, before the season opener at Citi Field. Rojas want Cohen to have it as a memento of his first win as a Mets’ owner.

 A new era has begun for the Mets

“The first of many to come,” Rojas said afterward.

“The buzz and the excitement started at the early part of Spring Training,” Mets’ outfielder Dominic Smith, who it a home run yesterday, said. “And it all revolves around him. Obviously when he took over ownership, and the moves he’s made, he’s just been tremendous. Every move he’s made has been great. We’re just excited to see him take over in leadership and to see his passion and his will to want to come and win.”

Cohen couldn’t see the game live last night, but will be at Citi Field seeing the home opener from his suite. There, he plans to interact with fans.

Mets’ fans feel a new era is about to begin. And everything starts at the top.

Mets’ manager Luis Rojas ‘satisfied’ with decision to pull Jacob deGrom after 77 pitches

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The New York Mets, in their season opener last night, decided to pull Jacob deGrom, who was dealing on the mound, after throwing 77 pitches. That call has become controversial ever since Kevin Cash did something similar with Blake Snell in last year’s World Series, as it shows the marked division between two schools of thought: the analytical-driven people who say that having a pitcher face a lineup for a third time it’s not worth the risk, and the old schoolers who live and die with their ace.

Mets’ manager Luis Rojas called the bullpen in the seventh, bringing right-hander Miguel Castro even though the skipper had said prior to the game that deGrom’s pitch count for the contest would be near 100.

“Going out for the six innings and you guys saw the activity on the bases. And he hasn’t thrown in 10 days. So the conversations in between innings with him led us to make the decision of pulling him,” Rojas told reporters via Zoom following the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Phillies (link to the SNY article here). “…I know he was way under than what he’s built up leaving camp. But maybe the 10 days without throwing led to the decision during the game.

The Mets had already discussed the idea

The Mets’ manager said “it was an agreement between everyone after we got to that spot in the sixth.”

He later added that despite the result (the bullpen and defense blowing the game), he was “satisfied” with the decision to pull his ace.

The Mets’ pitcher confirmed that it was discussed before the game that he wouldn’t go as far as initially planned.

“That was kind of discussed where we’re going to be before,” deGrom said. “10 days without facing hitters, kept trying to throw bullpens but didn’t want to throw too many pitches with the hope of playing Saturday and then finding out that series is canceled so that was the last time I was able to throw. So it was kind of a how many ups thing, how many pitches not being in a game facing hitters for 10 days.”