The Yankees made several coaching changes yesterday. First, long time General Manager Brian Cashman was given a new three year contract. Then the Yankees made some major changes to manager Joe Girardi’s coaching staff. Hitting Coach Kevin Long and First Base Coach Mick Kelleher were both fired. Surprisingly, Third Base Coach Rob Thomson survived the coaching purge to remain employed.
Thomson was the worst third base coach in the majors last season. The Yankees had more runners thrown out at home than any other team in the league. The person responsible for sending runners home? Rob Thomson. The Bombers were a terrible base running team, which made weekly to nightly base running blunders that ran themselves out of an innings. The person responsible for the Yankees base running? Rob Thomson.Mandatory Credit: Chad R. MacDonald.
Rob Thomson has been on Girardi’s staff since he became manager of the Yankees. He was initially the Bench Coach in 2008 before taking over third base duties before the 2009 season, where he has remained ever since. Thomson has been a member of the Yankee organization for 25 years so it would be difficult for the Yankees to completely sever ties with the man, but he should not remain the third base coach. He needs to be reassigned within the organization.
Perhaps he will take over the vacant first base coach position. He could also take over as bench coach if Tony Pena leaves for a managerial position or if Pena returns to coaching first. Thomson could also be reassigned as a minor league instructor. It really doesn’t matter where he goes at this point, as long as he is no longer sending runners to their doom at home.
Thomson’s current employment status is probably the most shocking part of yesterday’s coaching shakeup. The news that Cashman was going to get a new deal has been known for months. The writing was on the wall for most of the second half of the season that Long would be gone. Even the surprise firing of Kelleher pales in comparison to Thomson remaining the third base coach.
There is an argument that he was actually worse at his job and cost the Yankees more wins than Long. Over twenty runners were thrown out at the plate in 2014. How many extra games could the Yankees have won if they scored twenty odd more runs in 2014? How many close games did the Yankees lose by a run in extra innings that would have been won if Thomson didn’t send a runner to get thrown out at home? How about four? Because that’s how many games the Yankees finished out of the Wild Card.
Of course, it’s not fair to blame the Third Base Coach for the Yankees missing the playoffs this season. But he certainly hurt the team as much, if not more, than anyone. He is also a correctable mistake. The Yankees will be stuck with many of the same aging players next season but they do not need to be stuck with the worst third base coach in the majors again. This is a guaranteed upgrade because Thomson was the worst in the league last year, so anyone the Yankees stick out there can only be better. Hopefully, there the Yankees will make at least one more coaching change before next season, and that will be to get a new coach at third.